We live in an information age, but the abundance of information that bombards us on a daily basis does not always have “sticking power”, regardless of how prevalent the message is in the media. One case in point is “Cloud Computing”. Most IT-savvy individuals wonder what the general “hoopla” is about this term. Accessing a software application from your desktop via the Internet is nothing new, but marketing executives have succeeded in re-packaging the process in a colorful new term. As obvious as this term may be, however, a recent survey demonstrated that 75% of small business owners have no idea what “Cloud Computing” is and how it can revolutionize their respective business models.
Either marketing executives need to shout that savings on IT infrastructure can be a reality or they should develop a new term that conveys this possibility. Cloud Computing is simply another outsourcing technique that can cut internal, fixed cost commitments by converting them to a variable cost structure that can be used as needed. A “pay as you use it” model is ideal for small business enterprises, especially in the technology area where costs in the past two decades have escalated at rates far greater than most businesses have liked. Cloud Computing is a response to this market need and should be a high priority for any small business owner in today’s highly competitive, global marketplace.
How does one proceed today to get a handle on “Cloud” solutions? Here are a few recommendations:
- Preparation: As with any business decision, it is best to perform your own due diligence. First, get familiar with the topic. There are numerous websites and articles devoted to this topic. Read as many as necessary to familiarize yourself with the terminology, capabilities, benefits, and costs before jumping headlong into an implementation project. Preparation and planning are key components of any strategy to reorganize your business model for the future. Shortcuts are ill-advised at this stage;
- Internal Staff Commitment: You will need to get your key IT professionals that support your business model to buy into the concept. Have them do their own research and come back with recommendations. Since the eventual outcome should reduce internal IT resources (the basic premise of outsourcing), there may be “inertia”. If this is encountered, outsource the project to competent consultants in the field.
- Assess Financial Impacts: Get your financial people involved, too. The need for hardware and software development should be reduced. They will be replaced with external costs of a different nature. Capital needs should be less, also. Investigate various working capital funding mechanisms that grow with your business, like business cash advance loans, for example.
The benefits of technology and innovation are now available for small businesses as well. IT infrastructure costs will drop, as well as the need for capital since simple business cash advance loans will suffice. Cloud Computing solutions can work for you, no matter how unique your business model.