July 11, 2015
From the way businesses are talking these days, the cloud is where it’s at. To be sure, cloud computing has certainly helped companies find new benefits that improve productivity, increase capabilities, and cut down on operational costs. Simply saying that businesses need to adopt the cloud, however, would be oversimplifying things. Moving to the cloud is no simple matter, especially when talking about small businesses. The challenge of adopting the cloud still won’t stop most smaller organizations. In fact, recent research predicts that 78 percent of small businesses will have made a full move to the cloud by 2020. The real question is whether small businesses will be able to make that move successfully. Smaller companies can increase the chances of cloud adoption success if they follow a number of simple steps.
1. Learn About Cloud Capabilities and Business Needs
Getting to understand the cloud is the first important step every small business should take. Small business owners need to know what the cloud’s capabilities are and how it can impact a company. At the same time, small companies need to identify areas in their own organization where the cloud can benefit them the most. Blindly moving to the cloud without fully understanding how it works can create numerous problems down the line. Identifying an end goal of how to use cloud computing should be a high priority.
2. Place Value on Simplicity
Enacting any new strategy usually comes with a degree of risk. The same is true of the cloud, and just like with any new technology, one should try to keep things simple at first. Cloud computing provides an open, scalable environment for businesses to use, but small businesses that are new to the cloud shouldn’t begin by installing a complex cloud architecture. Start simple and gain valuable experience before ratcheting up cloud use.
3. Outline an Organizational Vision
Change can be frightening, especially for a small business. Any time a new strategy is implemented, there will likely be many employees unsure if it’s the right thing to do. That’s why small businesses need to clearly explain why they’re adopting the cloud. Breaking down the benefits of cloud computing department by department, both on a large and small scale, can help employees understand why the change is happening and what they stand to gain from it.
4. Choose Public, Private, or Hybrid
Once a small business knows it wants to adopt the cloud, it then has to make the decision between using a public, private, or hybrid cloud. Each option comes with its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Public clouds, for example, are generally more affordable, but they can come with greater security risks. Private clouds, on the other hand, are more customizable but cost more.
5. Learn From Others’ Experiences
Keeping in touch with other similar organizations can help small businesses learn about how they adopted the cloud. Other companies can offer valuable insight on the best strategies to take when implementing cloud solutions as well as the pitfalls to avoid. Small businesses can also get an insider perspective on how to deal with cloud vendors’ differing pricing structures, features, and security capabilities.
6. Evaluate Multiple Cloud Vendors
Picking the right cloud provider is a crucial decision, one that shouldn’t be made lightly. When it comes time to investigate a cloud vendor, a small business needs to be thorough by speaking to multiple ones to find the best fit. Small businesses also need to find out as much information as they can about each provider. Ask hard hitting questions. Ask about pricing and reliability. Know how they would handle a security breach. A good vendor should be able to provide statistics on its performance and capabilities.
With that right strategy and plan, small businesses can feel confident knowing they’ll make the transition to the cloud relatively painless. Challenges will likely crop up along the way, but as long as an organization is prepared to adapt over the time, they should be able to make full use of all the possibilities and benefits of cloud computing. Over time, they’ll likely become experts themselves and be ready to adopt even more complex technologies.
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