A cloud service offering for small businesses is an effective way of building deeper relationships with customers, and showing that you’re a responsive, innovative brand. But if you’re going to get it right, you need to take everyone in the business with you. And that means the sceptics too. So let’s look at some of the ways you can address doubts about the cloud.
The good news
The best place to start is with all the reasons why cloud applications make sense for small business customers.
- Most own software that needs updating every few years, and that requires upfront expense. Move to the cloud and it’s updated regularly and paid for monthly or annually, flattening out cashflow.
- By moving software into the cloud, businesses then have less need to own, run and maintain a costly infrastructure. And that lessens the need for 24-hour IT support.
- Licenses can be flexed and scaled, depending on a business’s needs.
- Colleagues can work collaboratively, no matter where they are.
In the UK 61% of small businesses are using at least one online application, with nearly half (48%) intending to adopt cloud services within the next two or three years.
Demand is there, and pressure is growing to move people there faster too. Some providers are forcing the situation by discontinuing desktop versions of software.
Users are being given no other option than a move into the cloud if they’re to keep systems up to date. We’re not at the tipping point yet but this is a consideration that will become more pressing.
How does this benefit your organisation?
You’ll find more detail about this in other posts on this blog. In a nutshell, by offering what’s basically an online subscription service to a group of highly practical, always up-to-date tools, you’re:
- Building a deeper relationship with your customers
- Evidencing your understanding of their needs
- Moving away from selling, towards support and advice
- Differentiating yourself from competitors.
What about data protection?
Top of the list of concerns that we’ve encountered about the cloud is how customer data is held: who owns it? Where is it stored? Both should be addressed head on and can be fairly easily overcome: contractually in the first place and with jurisdictional-located data centres in the second.
The importance of risk management
As with any area of innovation, you need to decide how far your business is prepared to go. That means undertaking an assessment of the risks involved.
While you probably have risk teams in place, they won’t always have the processes needed to review third-party digital services. Nor will they necessarily have the relevant technical knowledge of these services to understand how risks can be mitigated.
This is where your cloud service provider can help: filling in knowledge gaps, educating and working with people across your organization, whether they’re in compliance or brand.
Lateral thinking is often needed in other areas too. Banks, for example, are quite rightly used to having tight control of their infrastructure, who can access systems, and so on. Cloud service brokerages, like BCSG, should work with app suppliers to make sure that appropriate security audits are completed. And where concerns are identified, address them with solutions that are acceptable to the large corporate, without being too onerous to the smaller supplier.
The bottom line is that you have choices. Pragmatic use of technology trumps evangelism and skepticism every time.
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