With about three-quarters of all companies using at least one cloud-based application or storage service, cloud adoption is a matter of “how,” not “if” for small businesses. As more and more workloads shift to the cloud, decisions now focus on choosing the right cloud environment for each application and use case, optimizing business processes, and increasing efficiency.
In other words, cloud adoption is essentially a given. The more pressing question is how to maximize the value of cloud investments. As we head into 2020, here are three cloud trends that are directly relevant to small businesses that plan to expand their use of the cloud.
1. The Value of the Cloud for Small Businesses Has Moved Beyond Cost Savings
The primary motivations of early cloud adopters were financial. Instead of dealing with high capital expenditures for on-premises equipment, pay a monthly fee to access the tools and services you need. Get out of the business of managing and maintaining technology and shift those responsibilities, and costs, to a cloud provider. The cloud even reduces energy consumption and saves you space.
A Salesforce study found that six in 10 small business leaders report difficulty in implementing new technologies. Consequently, ease of use was the top factor when evaluating new technologies. Many small businesses are moving to the cloud to simplify the implementation of new tools and services.
For example, the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) cloud model is becoming increasingly popular as small businesses access tools such as Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce and QuickBooks via the cloud. You can access the same features and functionality without the burden of purchasing and maintaining an on-premises version.
An IDG study found that the top drivers of SaaS adoption are less time spent on updates and maintenance (62 percent), increased productivity (55 percent), improved access and reliability (53 percent), and a better user experience. Employees can access the tools and resources they need anytime from any location, allowing them to seamlessly collaborate and respond quickly to customers.
2. Cloud Security Concerns Are on the Decline
The IDG study found that security concerns about cloud adoption peaked at 67 percent in 2015. By 2018, that number had been cut nearly in half, as just 34 percent of respondents cited security as a barrier to cloud adoption. Similarly, concerns about compliance dropped from 35 percent to 26 percent, while concerns about information governance dropped from 35 percent to 23 percent.
Security-related concerns about the cloud on are on the decline for two major reasons. First, cloud solutions have matured and gaps in cloud security that may have existed five years ago have largely been addressed. Second, small business owners are recognizing that cloud environments have more advanced security software managed by teams of security experts, making cloud environments inherently more secure than on-premises environments.
That said, it’s important to keep in mind that cloud security is a shared responsibility. Depending on the cloud provider, you could have more security responsibilities than you realize. Make sure you understand what security controls are available and which ones are your responsibility. Also, security tools and user permissions must be properly configured to limit access to sensitive data.
3. The Cloud Opens the Door to Innovative Technologies for Small Businesses
According to a Deloitte report, 70 percent of artificial intelligence (AI) adopters will access AI through cloud-based software, while 65 percent will use cloud-based development services to build AI software.
The use of advanced technologies such as AI, machine learning, big data analytics, the Internet of Things, and blockchain require equally advanced infrastructure and a high level of technical expertise. Most small businesses have neither.
As a result, small businesses are relying on the cloud as the underlying architecture, the development environment, and the delivery mechanism. This allows small businesses to implement emerging solutions without building, managing and maintaining the systems that support those solutions.
Essentially, the cloud will serve as a platform for and driver of innovation, enabling small businesses to purchase the resources they need, when they need them, for as long as they need them. This makes it possible to constantly improve without constantly purchasing new, on-premises technology.
Ancero specializes in helping small businesses in New Jersey and Pennsylvania harness the power of the cloud. If you’d like to discuss how cloud applications, cloud data protection and cloud infrastructure can be leveraged to take your business to the next level in 2020, contact us to schedule a free consultation.