Until a few years ago, it was generally accepted that smaller businesses had little chance of competing head to head with bigger players, even if they had a superior product or business plan. SMEs have often been limited when it comes to financial resources, people and infrastructure.

However, the rise and adoption of cloud-based applications have turned the business world on its head and gone some way towards leveling the playing field.

Global business and financial software company, Intuit, surveyed a number of small businesses across Australia, Canada, the UK and the USA and found that 64 percent of SMEs run in the cloud[1].

Closer to home, a study from the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that only 20.8% of SMEs have used cloud applications and related services, with 79.2% SMEs not having any experiences at all in using similar products and services[2].

The stats seem to highlight that while adoption of cloud-based applications is on the rise globally, Australian SMEs are not fully taking advantage of the benefits they offer.

Andy Lark, CMO of Xero, put it bluntly; “The early adopter eats the late majority and the laggards for lunch.”

How can cloud-based applications help your business?

The use of cloud services offers several benefits for SMEs that can ultimately affect your bottom line. These include:

  • Increased agility (users can work on pretty much any computing device)
  • Security around sharing documentation and IP (all the data is stored in the cloud which is backed up by the cloud hosting providers)
  • Data improvements (it is easier for companies to blend data from multiple sources and keep information safe)
  • Improved collaboration between employees (users can upload, comment and collaborate on ‘evolving’ documents)
  • Cost reduction (Reduced IT and resource overheads)
  • Increased employee productivity (Real-time commenting and messaging features increase collaboration speed)

An advantage SMEs possess is that their infrastructure and IT requirements are generally less complex than larger, departmentalised businesses, so it’s much easier to make new purchases through the cloud. Without the capacity or resources to manage IT in-house, it is often easier to adopt and work with a managed service.

What are the common cloud-based applications SMEs are using?

Common applications that SMEs are using include Google Drive, Skype, Dropbox and email marketing platforms such as MailChimp. More recently cloud services such as Xero and Microsoft Office 365 have become essential business tools to many Australian businesses.

Accounting – Applications such as Xero and MYOB allow you to access important financial information from anywhere. They require a small investment up front and no additional hardware.

Email and documents – Cloud storage solutions such as Microsoft 365 provide instant access to files wherever you are, improving file sharing with clients and colleagues.

Data – The cloud offers a reliable data backup solution so you never lose valuable business information.

So, if you haven’t started to think about moving your business to the cloud, now may be the time to give it some thought. Before you become a laggard!

[1] Global Intuit Study Results: Small Businesses Using Apps in Record Numbers

[2] Paid Cloud Computing in Australian Business

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