Before understanding how a business can use the cloud, maybe we should step it back a bit and look at what the cloud actually is.
‘The Cloud’ is a catchall term that generally means data or services that are accessed through the internet. For example, DropBox is a cloud storage provider, you put your files and documents in it and then they are magically available to you from anywhere with an internet connection.
But the cloud does do so much more than just save you files on the internet. Running software, processing data, collaboration tools and more can also be classed as ‘in the cloud’.
But how can this be used within a business? Lot’s of ways:
Data Storage and Backup
Think about your business… what would happen if you lost your laptop? Do you have a backup, or was that on a USB disk in your (lost) laptop bag?
The internet provides another method of storing and backing up your data, simply send it to a service, they store it for you on a remote server, you can download and access it whenever and wherever you want. There can be problems with this, (Data Protection, cost, internet speed etc) but it’s beyond the scope of this article!
If you use G-Suite or Microsoft Office 365 you will know that these are Cloud based apps. Very business focused, they allow you to create, share, save and publish documents and more online. These documents are held within a restricted account for you and you team to access. As an example – think about a time-sheet you have created in Microsoft Excel. Rather than emailing it out to your staff, getting the form sent back to you 3 days later and having to add up all the hours and costs, you would simply have a single form published online that only your team can access. They can then input their details, which is auto-collated into a formatted report ready for you to sign-off on.
Job sheets, order forms, expenses, quotes and all manner of other forms could be created, making your life much simpler!
Finance and Bookkeeping
Xero, Quickbooks and Sage all have cloud services now, allowing you to manage your businesses finances easily whenever and wherever you want. There are other cloud based tools that can help – for example managing your employees expenses and receipts, adding online sales into you accounts software, online banking facilities.
Did you know that technically Whatsapp is a cloud service? You send data to it, which is then processed by a server and sent on to other recipients. Online messaging and email are also part of the cloud.
But other communication methods are also available using Cloud Services – for example GoToMyPC is a service that allows you to log into a remote computer securely to view it.
Slack is a collaboration / communication tool that is cloud based (have a go, it’s pretty good – www.slack.com).
Another way to communicate is by phoning people… yep, VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) is again, technically a Cloud service. There are loads of different providers who will give you a phone number (local or national) that can be accessed over the internet using an app or a desktop program. Not forgetting video-conferencing tools.
Where to start?
There is no point in just saying “We need to use the Cloud”. Think about the problems you need solving and see if there is a way for the Cloud to help.
Cayenne Digital have vast experience in helping business utlise the power of the cloud and the internet within their businesses, so get in touch to find out how we can help.