Small businesses often walk a fine line between trying to learn from (and, to a degree, possibly become like) their larger competitors and trying to differentiate from them. So when small business owners witness a mega-trend like the current cloud transition – whether that means re-tooling your entire system or just deploying one or two new cloud applications – they must continue to tiptoe this line.
The broad benefits of the cloud are clear, including cost, flexibility, scalability, and more – hence the widespread transition. Barely a quarter goes by without an announcement of lower prices from the major cloud platform vendors.
But for small businesses, the real key to success is actually using the cloud to widen the competitive advantages that come with their smaller size. One key advantage is client service. While larger companies are attempting to use technology to deliver personalized services to a huge number of people, there’s no substitute for the genuine and legitimate attention that a smaller business can offer.
With that in mind, perhaps the best tip for any small business eyeing the cloud is to make sure clients are top of mind when the move is made.
One of the most obvious examples of this comes with cloud analytics, which can directly improve client service. Consider, for example, Shelter Island Risk Services, an organization that helps companies identify and manage risk. Shelter Island has a variety of clients, each with a few users, and needed to deploy its analytics solution in multiple organizations.
The cloud allowed Shelter Island to do just that – and in an affordable way.
Cloud analytics could be a competitive advantage for a variety of client-focused small businesses, too. Have you historically packaged up data and results into static files and shared them with clients via email? As was the case with Shelter Island, the cloud can eliminate that delay and bottleneck by allowing the client to actually log in and directly access the data and analytics, pull up that report instantly, and then dig through it.
The applications of the cloud don’t end there, though. Improved access within the organization is another benefit. The cloud makes mobile access easy, for example. Small businesses should think about which applications would be more valuable if they were better integrated into the flow of business.;