The cloud remains one of the top drivers for business innovation, and for a good reason. Nearly a third of Australian SMEs are now using cloud technology to help run and grow their business, with figures from the latest MYOB Business Monitor showing that businesses using cloud computing are 35 per cent more likely to see revenue increases in the last 12 months than those that don’t.
Cloud is the biggest opportunity for SMEs to come out of the technology sector in recent years. It offers them enormous opportunity to leverage technology to transform their business in terms of productivity, customer service levels and even attractiveness to new employees.
Many business owners work to the mantra of ‘time is money’ and productivity is one of the most obvious benefits cloud computing offers to small businesses. MYOB has leveraged this to provide a faster, smarter way of working. The proof is in the pudding, with research revealing that online accounting reduces the amount of time it takes to reconcile accounts by an average of 10 hours per month.
So, why isn’t everyone using cloud? MYOB’s Business Monitor reveals that while financial and insurance industries lead the pack when it comes to cloud adoption (42 per cent), other industries such as agriculture and fishing are least likely to engage (12 per cent). While it can be assumed that established businesses would have more bandwidth to innovate, it is emerging businesses that are most likely to use cloud (42 per cent), ahead of the 17 per cent of established businesses adopting the technology.
For the SMEs who are still considering whether to transition, there are a few myths we need to address.
“I’m not tech-savvy”
This niggling thought is a mental game more than anything. Many business owners are already using the cloud without knowing it; consider the use of web-based email and online banking tools for example.
Technology in areas such as accounting is designed to make the transition to the cloud simple, regardless of technical ability.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”
It’s an old saying, which just not relevant to cloud technology. Keeping technology until there was a need to change may have made sense historically, but the cloud now presents SMEs with new opportunities for strategic growth, rather than being a must-do only when the technology becomes out-dated.
“It’s too expensive”
This is a common reason for avoiding IT outlay, however cloud has made technology more affordable than ever, with flexible payments normally on a month-to-month. This means SMEs are gaining a higher return for their investments as they are leveraging high quality shared infrastructure.
“It’s not safe”
People are often hesitant of what they don’t know, and the same goes for business owners looking to invest in online software. Security shouldn’t be overlooked, and SMEs need to prioritise security when making a decision on the technology provider they select.
Reputable cloud providers employ high levels of both physical and electronic security to protect their clients’ data. Industrial scale data centres have sophisticated security at all levels, compared to a home or office, meaning providers can facilitate a much safer environment for sensitive information than a small business is likely to be able to in their own premises
With this in mind, business owners are advised to focus on access control, putting processes in place for credit cards, passwords and occurrences such as a staff member leaving.
For Australian SMEs it’s time to make the move, especially for those looking for the business advantage over their competitors.
Moving to the cloud shouldn’t be daunting. It offers business owners the ability to harness productivity, profitability and flexibility; elements which work towards improving that all important bottom line.
About the Author:
James Scollay joined MYOB in April 2012 as General Manager, Business Division, and is now General Manager, SME Solutions.