Five Big Business Principles For SMEs Using The Cloud
With cloud computing, small businesses can implement principles that used to apply to enterprises.
One of the most impressive things about cloud computing is the way it flips our assumptions about company size. Traditional enterprises have an enormous resource advantage over SMEs, but cloud computing is so efficient that entrepreneurs are able to bring products to market alongside their global competitors.
If you are a small or medium-sized business looking to get the most out of your cloud platform, follow these five principles championed by large enterprises. You might be surprised at how well positioned you actually are.
- Outsource to Cut Costs
Outsourcing brings to mind images of factories in China and call centers in India, but it also plays an important role in small business. You are no longer constrained to hiring employees near you, or even to hiring full-time employees at all. Communication and collaboration over the cloud allow SMEs to engage in small scale outsourcing. Rather than restricting an employee or contractor search to your local area, find the best individual online and collaborate via the cloud.
- Focus on your Core business
The cloud is already comprised of software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and now even niche categories like payment as a service (PaaS, again), and the list of acronyms will only grow. Once your company embraces the cloud, it can be tempting to delve into each of these services, but not all of them will actually fit your business model. Make sure the cloud services you choose augment your business model, and not the other way around.
- Intelligence is More Important than Data
Enterprises have been collecting data for years, generating a couple quintillion bytes per day according to IBM. The problem is that most of this data goes unanalyzed and underutilized. Small businesses should focusing on getting the most value out of the information they already have instead of worrying about the amount of data their larger competitors have in deep storage. In the end all of that data is like binders in a back room gathering dust, not exactly a competitive advantage.
- Relationships Matter
It’s no secret that enterprises invest regularly in customer relationship management (CRM) tools. They understand that relationships are important and no one wants to do business with a nameless entity. In essence they are trying to recreate that small business feel to go along with their big business resources. Developing solid business relationships is easier for small businesses, but you still shouldn’t just try to wing it. Start using professional grade CRM tools to find weaknesses in your client retention policies.
- Plan for Growth
The cloud is naturally flexible, but you can still be held back by institutional bottlenecks. Enterprises bring in consultants to examine their workflow processes and root out inefficiencies. Even if hiring a consultancy is outside your budget, you should go through this evaluative process yourself. If your clientele were to suddenly double or triple, how would your business cope? Where would you struggle to keep up? Develop contingency plans for success so that you can jump on any opportunity that might present itself.
By Jan Brass
Jan is a tech industry veteran and self-described geek. An avid blogger, Jan covers cloud technology news and publishes opinion pieces on cloud computing on her blog, http://janbrass.org.