The economic picture may be improving, businesses large and small remain focused on streamlining their operations as much as possible.
It’s here that cloud computing (i.e., the delivery of applications as internet-accessible services) can help business owners improve productivity, keep both employees and customers satisfied, and cut costs. How, exactly, can the cloud make businesses work better? We identified three top areas:
1. Increased Collaboration
Dropbox is a great example of a cloud-based product – and it also illustrates how the cloud can boost worker productivity.
Dropbox, as its name suggests, allows users to store their files in a secure locker on the web. Files may be uploaded, downloaded and shared at will; all a person needs to use the service is an internet connection and a Dropbox account.
Dropbox both obviates the need for physical storage media and invites users to collaborate on document creation (even across great distances). Dropbox – and competitor services like Box, SugarSync and SkyDrive – permit easy file sharing and make collaboration all but instantaneous.
Just how useful are cloud-based file-storage services? Look at the data from RingCentral’s latest customer cloud survey: Sixty-seven percent of the business owners whom RingCentral polled earlier this year are already storing documents in the cloud.
2. Remote Work
Cloud computing can improve productivity in other ways, too. By adopting cloud solutions, a company can grant its employees the ability to work from virtually anywhere. That, in turn, helps bolster worker morale – and gives a business the flexibility to quickly respond to customer demands.
Salesforce.com – the customer relationship management application – demonstrates how shifting key processes into the cloud can improve engagement among both employees and customers. Salesforce, like Dropbox, is accessible from any computer with an internet connection, so it allows access to customer files from any and every location.
With Salesforce, customer issues can take handled on the go, giving both employees and customers greater flexibility and a more enjoyable service experience.
Even though cloud solutions like Salesforce are relatively new on the scene, they’re already helping to support the remote work market. A late-2011 RingCentral survey demonstrates the growing popularity of remote work: Nearly three-quarters of business owners said they’d let their employees work remotely over the 2011 holiday season, a sharply higher percentage than was recorded in prior years.
3. Cost Savings
Our final (and maybe most persuasive) argument for migrating to the cloud is the matter of reduced costs. Handing control of essential processes to a third-party service provider may seem counterintuitive, but the savings that come with cloud-based solutions are often too great to ignore.
RingCentral offers an example of the cloud’s inherent efficiency (and cost competitiveness). Because it requires no hardware and carries no maintenance costs, RingCentral can help a business save thousands of dollars on its phone service. We estimate that a 10- to 20-person business will spend approximately $20,000 less upfront (and thousands more due to lower monthly charges) with RingCentral than with a traditional PBX.
In more ways than one, the cloud has the potential to upend how business is conducted. Whether you helm a 300,000-person corporation or a three-person start-up, cloud-based services can improve how your company works.