To contemporary small business owners, the emergence of cloud technology was a gift from above - it offered an opportunity to consolidate and share information internally and with clients without exorbitant travel expenses, had the potential to eliminate paper from the workplace and streamlined the rate at which a business could work effectively. Cloud hosting has certainly revolutionized many business sectors, but a number of small companies aren't aware of the emerging uses of the immensely popular solution. Here are five ways to make sure your investment in cloud services is used to the highest possible degree:
Security comes first
Above all, cloud security is the most pressing issue in storing information remotely - if a small business can't be certain that its information is safe, then it is dooming itself to a potential information breach. Customers should be well aware of their provider's security policies and should consider using a third-party service to ensure that data is monitored by more than just one entity. Industry blog Network World recommended in a security report that a cloud hosting customer should be well aware of the primary provider's terms of service before beginning a relationship, and to plan how to be notified of security breaches in an effective manner by any and all providers.
Having a plan to deal with a compromise of information is a useful tool on which providers may be able to collaborate with a small business - that way, should a breach occur, it can be extinguished without panic and in conjunction with a company and its cloud provider.
Find applications relevant to your business
The use of productivity applications can be extremely helpful in improving business efficiency at any given office, and many additional apps are available for specific industry sectors. Especially if a company makes use of business phone services, applications can be used to communicate with clients and the office, make financial transactions and maximize productivity.
Business Insider compiled a list of applications that can help employees make the most of their time on the cloud and block out external distractions. Among them are ETA, an application that coordinates departure times to get staffers meetings on time with public transit, FocusLock to block social media applications from a phone or computer for a given time to prevent distraction and Google Wallet to manage and pay for business expenses. Most applications are available at a low cost and can be easily integrated into existing small business solutions like mobile phones and tablets.
In addition, many cloud service providers offer a customizable plan for small businesses that keeps a company's core mission and desire for productivity in mind to best serve internal employees as well as a specific communication line between a business and their customers.
Loop in cloud technology with other relevant services
Using more than one provider when creating a cloud solution can get needlessly messy - there are a number of companies that can save a small business money by rolling in multiple services beneath the same payment umbrella. This saves valuable time by giving the organization a go-to point for all IT troubleshooting, as a provider can offer extended service with professionals prepared to help with anything from a security issue to a website glitch, depending on the range an organization elects to use.
When using a VoIP business phone service, it's simple to integrate applications and technology into the cloud-based system, and VoIP also be used with a mobile device. For the sake of a small business' purse strings and sanity, a completely comprehensive solution is the way to go when launching a cloud-integrated business model.
Maximize use of video conferencing
One of the most useful innovations in the cloud in recent memory is its simple integration with video services. While small businesses used to allocate a good deal of money to travel, a productive business meeting can now take place without the airport hassle, thanks to a secure Internet connection and VoIP technology. This can improve a business' bottom line by thousands of dollars and allows employees who are able to remain in the office to accomplish far more than they would be able to from a hotel room across the country.
Organize, organize, organize
When managing documents using the cloud, a company must have a specific idea of how it wants its information organized in order to maximize the technology's use. Many will elect to use a calendar system to streamline the way they arrange meetings internally and with clients, while others will put a heavier emphasis on developing an email system and providing effective paperless document management for their employees. Your cloud service won't be able to serve your business unless you know what you want from it.
No matter what your small business solution is, cloud technology can be harnessed to make a business more productive and help it to stay ahead of the competition.