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The benefits of cloud computing outweigh the risks

Just as cloud privacy scares hit the papers, we can confirm that nearly half of all British SMEs have embraced and championed the cloud. That’s according to a new survey by Vistage, the private executive advisory group. With the right precautions in place, it’s possible to uphold even the strictest risk management policies while taking advantage of the flexibility and capital cost reductions available via cloud computing.

The poll surveyed 439 CEOs from leading SMEs, 49 per cent of whom confirmed they are actively using cloud services and a further 11 per cent reporting they plan to make cloud investments in the near future. Among the key benefits business owners love about the cloud include mobile flexibility and easy access to company data – perks that could potentially double as eye-raising risks. 

The great risk debate

But there are other risk-reducing advantages of working on the cloud, such as superior disaster recovery thanks to regular data logging. The cloud can also grant you faster access to new business resources and tools, preventing you from lagging behind competitors as a result of slow software uptake and implementation. 

There’s also the cash flow consideration, with 22 per cent of SMEs saying they use the cloud to make substantial savings across their IT functions. World-leading IT research analysts at Gartner have further confirmed that a third of all business sector IT budgets go straight into cloud services. So many are wising up to the true potential of the cloud, and it could be time for your firm to explore the possibilities too. Otherwise the real risk is paying out of pocket for services that can no longer keep up with your needs. 

Targeted cloud solutions 

The Vistage survey found that the top three business uses for cloud computing include: 

  • Customer relationship management 
  • Web hosting 
  • Work document storage 

And the impact on overall business strategy hasn’t been as huge as some might anticipate. 39 per cent of respondents said their “strategy has changed very little/not at all” and a further 22 per cent said their strategy had only “changed somewhat” since introducing the cloud. By working with your risk management departments and pinpointing potential pitfalls early on, you can raise any concerns with prospective cloud providers and put secure solutions in place from the outset.

Vistage CEO Steve Gilroy argues the cloud can even offer more streamlined security if you opt into the right resources: “The safety benefits of the cloud are also of great importance to SMEs and mid-sized businesses, which unlike their larger counterparts are not able to afford expensive IT support functions.” And these tools are only going to evolve as cloud computing makes further advances.  

Employee feedback crucial to cloud success

"Many SMEs are now also experimenting with new solutions and giving departments and staff much more freedom to identify new tools and solutions that allow them to work faster, with increased flexibility,” adds Gilroy.

It’s easy to monitor the results of particular initiatives because many cloud-based solutions improve visibility of work processes and productivity across the company. This is especially useful when you have a mobile workforce or international colleagues based abroad.

The risks associated with trying out new systems are minimal as there are no irreversible investments, setting cloud solutions apart from traditional software-based services. “Many solutions also allow organisations to try new things at lower cost and lower risk,” says Gilroy.

All this suggests the cloud is impossible to ignore – and could even lead to the downfall of traditional computing solutions altogether. Make it a firm-wide initiative to assess the possibilities today and embrace a more contemporary IT set-up tomorrow. 


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