“The cloud” is a phrase that means something very different these days, due to the increasing use of cloud computing. But what exactly is cloud computing? And is it a good option for SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises)?
First, a quick definition, cloud computing simply means the software applications you use and your data are stored on remote servers on the Internet, rather than ‘locally’ on your computer’s hard drive or your own server(s).
That idea—of the data not physically being in the same place as you—used to sound scary to many. What about security? What about the risk of losing your data? Surely it’s best to have your data on a computer you can see and touch on your own premises?
Your data is likely to be more secure when stored in a cloud app, compared with storing it yourself on your own computer or server on your premises.
Why is that?
Your own IT security is likely to be far less robust than that of a cloud app provider. If you access the Internet and use email, then you are vulnerable even if you don’t use any cloud-based apps. Hackers can access the data on your computer or local network simply due to the fact that you have internet access. It’s like a door and a hacker often knows how to pick the lock.
Reputable cloud app providers, on the other hand, use solid security measures such as SSL certificates. This is the same level of encryption used by online banks.
Let’s face it: This bank-grade security protocol is likely to be far more secure than your own computer and IT security protocols.
Another advantage of having your apps and data stored “in the cloud” is that if your computer, server, smartphone, tablet or other device you use is lost or stolen, your data is safe because it’s not on the device. It’s in the cloud, stored securely behind encrypted passwords.
And your data is far more valuable than hardware. Hardware is easily replaced. Data is not.
A business using cloud-based computing could have its premises burn to the ground overnight and continue “business as usual” from another location as long as they had access to the internet. (At least from a customer, financial, accounting, human resources/personnel and other business data perspective. Clearly it does not apply to physical operational aspects of a business.)
A great aspect of cloud computing is that there are no more data backups to do. The cloud app providers back up your data automatically and they simultaneously store your data in multiple locations around the globe. This means that if one of their buildings was subject to, for example, a catastrophic earthquake, your data would be safe because it is also stored in different cities, or different continents.
With cloud-based apps there is no software to install. No software updates or “patches” to install. You just log in to each app and it’s always up to date.
Efficiency via Data Flows
Every business wants to be more efficient. It saves money. Saves time. And it allows you to provide even better service.
By adopting cloud computing and building an “app ecosystem” for your business you can eliminate a number of inefficiencies where data is being manually re-entered into multiple systems.
Your data can seamlessly flow from one app (area of your business) to the next without the added step of manual data entry. Manual data entry is not only an expense and an inefficiency that slows down your business processes; it introduces the opportunity for error.
Work to eliminate all manual data entry in your business. If you see anyone in your business manually entering data into an app, you should question why it’s being done. Look for ways that data could automatically flow into that system from another app where the data is already stored.
Where to start with ‘going to the cloud’
The process of going to the cloud starts with deciding on your cloud-based accounting system. That’s because your financial and customer data are crucial, and will receive and send data to and from your other operational areas.
Your ideal accounting platform will depend on your type of business. That’s why we love advising businesses as they move to the cloud.
If you’d like to sit down with us and have a chat about your move to the cloud, get in touch with the team at Fortunity on 02 4304 8888 to make a time.About the Author
Paul Bolton is a founding Director of Fortunity. He has worked in public practice for over 30 years in both Australia and abroad. Paul’s expertise is in business valuations, taxation law and business planning. Paul particular interests lay with Not-For-Profits and professional sports organisations.