The business buzzword for the past few years has undoubtedly been the cloud. It has been utilised by organisations of all size and across all industries in their pursuit to ensure flexibility, increased collaboration and security.
In fact, 84 percent of UK companies have now adopted two or more cloud services according to a recent report by the Cloud Industry Forum.
So what do UK SMEs think of the cloud and how has it benefited them?
John O’Keeffe, VP EMEA, at Nitro believes there’s a clear collaboration benefit of doing business in the cloud. He comments: “There are many benefits to adopting cloud tools, especially as these kinds of services allow their users to openly and effectively collaborate even while working remotely. Although there remains a debate about which cloud model will ultimately emerge a winner, short-term we at Nitro believe the benefit of using cloud based products far outweighs any serious concern for those products hosted in the public cloud. We offer our own Nitro Cloud for online sharing, collaboration and eSigning. It allows colleagues to share documents and report files with a few simple clicks, enabling them to quickly and effectively get masters signed off faster – whether business-critical information, NDA agreements or even employment contracts.
In our view, cloud products simply enable the user to be more productive by collaborating more efficiently. This means less downtime for businesses, increasing their potential revenues as well as customer satisfaction, and an ability to respond quickly as needs arise.”
David Vine, MD of UK SMB at Concur is excited about the scalable opportunities cloud brings to businesses of all sizes. Whilst at one time, new technologies were only affordable and accessible to large enterprises the cloud means SMEs can now take full advantage too.
“Cloud has democratised the technology landscape. Whereas previously it would only be big enterprises that could tap into the ‘next big thing’, cloud models mean that SMEs can also now join the party. Rather than having to buy a huge system, they can buy licenses on a per seat basis. This scalability makes security, HR, finance and a whole host of other technologies now totally accessible,” comments Vine. .
He continues, “The cloud has also made it easier for SMEs to invest in technology. Whereas previously they might have been scared by the significant capital investment, that spend has now become an operational one which de-risks the process. The cloud means that companies of all sizes can access and benefit from big league IT.”
For Jon Cunningham, Director, Hob-Nob, it’s all about flexibility: “As an SME the cloud gives us access to tools we’d never otherwise have, it offers simpler ways of working, less frustration and more flexibility. A customised CRM system, powerful electronic time sheeting/project tools, centralised email and productivity software – all for a few pounds a month.
Traditional systems installed on a local server could cost thousands to licence and install – and that’s before you consider the hardware – this all poses a serious barrier to an SME having such solutions at all (15 years ago we ran everything from spreadsheets!)
Smaller frustrations are solved too; Google Docs allows our staff to edit a document simultaneously rather than later finding two people had made different changes to the same document. There are other benefits too, we can work anywhere, meaning advantages for our work-life balance – and our continuity plan is incredibly simple as a result!”