Both the present and the future of business operations lie in the cloud, there is no point in denying this. In fact, Gartner has projected that the market for public cloud services will grow by 17.3% in 2019 – totaling $206.2 billion.
It’s important to note that the modern concept of cloud computing is still relatively new in the grand scheme of things (less than two decades). That said, we are in an interesting time of transition where many businesses are still in the adoption phase. If executed properly, cloud-based services can do wonders to help small businesses cut down on essential technology costs, as well as ensure that operations run smoothly and securely.
Now, the exact process of adopting the cloud is going to look a little bit different for every small business. The good news is there are a handful of overarching principles to make the transition as pain-free as possible.
Let’s dive in.
Understand the "why" behind cloud migration
This is perhaps the most important ingredient to a successful cloud adoption. Nearly every business knows how important it is to get up to speed on the cloud, yet pinpointing the “why” can be a struggle for many.
Step one is to outline your priorities.
- Are you looking to lower overhead costs in the long run?
- Set yourself up for better scalability?
- Boost performance and efficiency?
- Add security?
- All of the above?
Once you detail out your priorities, you need to identify your most important areas for cloud adoption. In general, many businesses elect to start with essential company operations, like CRM and finances.
For small businesses, accounting tools like CloudBooks for example are ideal for taking the bulk of day-to-day tasks (like invoicing, time tracking, and expense management) off of manual spreadsheets.
As a cloud-based tool, this program is designed to scale and remain organised as client volumes increase.
In regards to CRM, ConvergeHub is one of the more contemporary cloud options for small businesses.
The platform is built to centralise all customer data to simplify critical business functions like personalised marketing, customer service, and even Salesforce automation.
As you plan out more and more of your cloud adoption, you need to have clear-cut objectives with defined KPIs to lay the groundwork for success – just like any other project.
Look to the future
The beauty of the cloud is that it has created a plethora of opportunities to grow and expand with ease. However, understanding your needs in terms of flexibility must be at the forefront of your adoption process.
Before you make any decisions on which cloud platforms you will adopt or how you will execute the migration, you should have an idea of what your small business will look like in one, two, or even five years down the road. This will be critical when assessing the scalability of each potential platform, storage capabilities, user accessibility, and overall feasibility.
Ideally, the cloud solution(s) you choose should grow with you.
For example, let’s say you currently have a central headquarters for your small business where all employees work. In this scenario, accessibility and collaboration are typically very easy.
As you bring on more employees, you might decide to source more and more people from out of town working remotely. Therefore, your cloud solutions will need to accommodate more, decentralised users. These people would need to have secure access to data centers and company processes – which would need to be a big priority as you gauge the capabilities for cloud solutions.
As you don’t have a magic crystal ball showing you the future, planning ahead can be tough. The most important thing is to assess your realistic options for expansion as a small business. In the process of shopping around for cloud programs, you want to have options, not limitations.
Make sure all critical data is backed up
As you start to make your moves towards the cloud, you need to be very, VERY careful that you don’t lose any of your precious data. Believe it or not, this is easier said than done.
Before you make any sort of move towards cloud adoption, take your time and do an extremely thorough off-cloud backup starting with your most important business information. This is not just for peace of mind. Organising and maintaining your backups allows your IT team to quickly restore the data during the migration and minimise the risk of data loss.
To save yourself a heap of struggle, you are wise to look into a specialised backup and recovery solution that can efficiently replicate your backups to a public cloud – like Microsoft Azure.
Poorly executed backups can set you back months – or even years. Don’t take any risks or cut corners here.
Hire the right help
If you aren’t a seasoned IT expert, managing a full scale cloud adoption will almost certainly be chockful of speedbumps. Keep in mind, cloud adoptions are rarely (if ever) 100% pain-free. Even though it might come with a high price tag, outsourcing to an agency that specialises in digital adoption/transformation is money well spent. To reiterate, a poorly executed cloud adoption can land you in very hot water.
There are many advantages to utilising a professional firm to help with cloud adoption.
First and foremost, these agencies are well-trained and prepared to keep your data safe throughout the entire process. Two, they know the best strategies for minimising downtime. Three, even during downtimes, you want to have the capability to keep operations running as normally as possible. Digital transformation firms are specialised in helping to make sure business runs as usual as you migrate to the cloud. Lastly, many of these companies offer services to train your employees to become proficient in the new technology. As they have (ideally) been on the migration project since day one, they should know your system well enough to get everyone up to speed.
Even if you have the slightest doubt about your own capabilities (or that of your team’s) to ensure a seamless cloud adoption, do yourself a long term favour and leave it to the experts.
Over to you
Cloud adoption is a monumental step for a small business. Depending on how well you plan and execute, it can either be a blessing or a curse.
From communication services to accounting and CRM, cloud solutions are huge enablers of long term survival in today’s business world. With so many options out there, these aren’t decisions you can take lightly. Keep these tips in mind as you plan your cloud adoption strategy.
Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.