The internet has long been lauded for its power to let small companies operate well beyond their local markets and on a larger scale. A craft brewery can sell its beer around the world. That's awesome (really).
Today, the current wave of cloud computing is causing disruption for SMBs to a whole new degree. The cloud not only lets SMBs operate more efficiently – it lets them compete on a grander stage.
Clients and contracts that could once only be serviced by another large enterprise can now be well-served by an SMB. Here are six ways the cloud enables SMBs to perform like a big business:
More productive people
The cloud makes that old mantra of "doing more with less" come true. Employee access to a wider variety of workflow automation and collaboration solutions is only the first piece. Any quality SaaS makes sure you know how many other tools it integrates with. As the integrations pile up, so do the efficiencies.
Projects that may have once required a large staff to pull off can now be accomplished with far fewer, opening the door for SMBs to go after larger contracts.
Access to global talent
Remote working is on the rise. Business leaders predict this trend will continue. More companies are trying work models with no office at all. None of this could happen on such a scale without the cloud. An SMB doesn't have to be able to afford a satellite office to dip into a multiple talent pools.
Cloud services not only support and ease remote working, they also provide better tools to find great employees. The cloud hosts both third-party recruitment sites and recruitment/HR SaaS solutions.
Even where a position is local, an SMB becomes a more attractive place to work when it offers remote options. Particularly for Millennials, flexibility in the workplace is attractive. Being able to split time between an office and remote work provides that flexibility.
Having world-class talent on your team is always an excellent value proposition.
In some ways, SMBs have always been more agile than large enterprises. Fewer "decision" committees and approval layer gauntlets. Yet the cloud grants SMBs agility in the one area where enterprises used to have the advantage. A company no longer has to make large capital investments in hardware and software.
Provisioning more or less storage or processing is simple and cheap. SMBs can adjust their network needs according to their business needs. SaaS solutions bring their own storage and processing. This is how they also offer SMBs unprecedented access to analytical power. Enterprises aren’t the only companies to exploit Big Data and its potential for uncovering business insights.
The new software models also mean trying new software solutions is easier and less risky. Investing in a new software application isn't always the commitment it once was. SMBs can now respond much more quickly to changes in technology, their industry, their clients, or their business.
More sophisticated client interface
Some SMBs still have a mom-and-pop online presence. A brochure website designed a decade ago. Maybe a Facebook page. These aren't going to impress high dollar contracts.
But let's say the website does have an attractive, modern look. What can that look do for clients?
The smart business uses its online presence to maintain a client portal. The scope and complexity of the client portal depends on the firm’s business. A real-time metrics dashboard? Maybe a project planning and management space. Perhaps a simple interface where clients and the business can securely share documents and communications.
The point is that there are cloud-based solutions for a range of client-facing spaces. Having that option for clients improves both the perception and quality of the customer service an SMB can provide.
Focus on core competencies
The cloud giveth and the cloud taketh away (or vice versa). A world full of BYOD and cloud computing increases the complexity of IT management - no doubt. Security risks. Device management. Rolling out implementations and upgrades.
SMBs can outsource their IT and cloud management to experts. In fact, there are more administrative services that can be outsourced via the cloud as well. They're probably SMBs themselves. Just another benefit of the cloud. Now, SMBs can focus their energy and resources on their core business operations - the revenue-generating stuff.
About that revenue
The cost-lowering, revenue-enhancing opportunities the cloud has for SMBs is obvious. A company's ability to compete and service high value clients improves revenue. The means to reduce operational costs improves profits. I don't think anyone is really arguing against the cloud's positive impact on an SMB’s bottom line.
And let's not overlook reducing opportunity costs. PC World reports that 70% of companies using cloud services reinvest the money saved into the business. It can stabilize cash flow. Provide sweet employee bonuses. Invest in needed infrastructure. That craft beer isn't going to brew itself, you know.