It seems these days everything works in the cloud. Thanks to the cloud — or the remote data center that operates databases and software — you can pull your email up from a device in your pocket. You can start word documents on one machine and pick up where you left off on another. And you can budget your monthly expenses on a desktop, then record transactions from a mobile device after making a purchase.
The cloud is pretty fascinating, but how will your small business utilize it this year?
Cloud computing can give small businesses the technology boost they need to be more efficient. Here are some examples of how the cloud will help your business.
There’s a strong chance that if you open your smartphone today, you’re using apps (outside of your email app) that rely on the cloud.
Evernote is a popular cloud-based note-taking app that lets you scribble down a thought or idea no matter where you are. Think of Evernote like a basic word processor — it essentially has the power of Apple’s Text Edit app or Microsoft’s Notebook app — that is always with you. It lets you start a note on a desktop or laptop computer and review and pick up on it from a smartphone or tablet. And if you’re using a public computer, you can log on to Evernote’s website and use its web-based tools to review and edit your notes. If you become a die-hard Evernoter, you’ll start to tag your notes, clip photos and links to them and even pick up some of the Evernote-powered hardware, such as its transcribing pen, that can help you be extra organized.
Dropbox is another popular app that lets you store and share documents, photos and other types of files. You can then logon to Dropbox from anywhere with an Internet connection and pull up those files. Basic users that primarily want to store documents in Dropbox’s cloud will only need a free account with basic storage. If you’re a heavy user that stores a lot of photos and videos, you’ll want to upgrade to a paid account with more storage space.
Overall Storage & Infrastructure
One of the cloud’s biggest assets is its ability to rely less and less on big, bulky infrastructure. Long gone are the days where businesses have massive data centers running all of their computers.
Today, small businesses can buy as much space as they want using a third-party service, like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. These services aren’t only affordable, they allow you — the small business owner — to expand and shrink your business as you go on, so you’re not paying for wasted space. Back in the day, if you bought a massive data center to store in your facility, you’d need pay someone to operate it, but if you’re company ever had to downsize, you’d be stuck with that massive infrastructure.
The cloud isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, expect it to continue to evolve and help small business software.