Small business owners are turning to cloud computing services more than ever before. And, that can be a wise move—when done correctly.
The best cloud-based providers offer best-in-class security and convenient retrieval of data from anywhere in the world.
However, there are still small business owners who know about “the cloud,” but they are still relatively new to the concept. As they shift documents from desktops or in-house servers in the migration to cloud computing, questions inevitably arise.
Primarily, those questions stem from a desire to ensure data security. It is smart to be wary of this. Today, we are going to share tips on choosing cloud computing services.
What is “The Cloud?”
First, let’s begin with the basics for those who are aware of “The Cloud” but who might be unclear about what it is, exactly.
Below is a definition of cloud computing from the Oxford Dictionary:
In short, this means taking your data, a precious resource in your business, and moving it from your PC or server to a remote server via the web. Taking that leap of faith can be a frightening thought. Indeed, you should make this move with careful planning and a watchful eye on data security.
Pros of Cloud Computing
Here, we share three of the top reasons that small business owners are using cloud-based services.
Centralized File Storage
If you’ve been storing data on local computers, then you know the challenge of file sharing. Your staff probably sends files via email frequently. Instead of waiting for people to send files, you can access them yourself with just a few clicks.
This also means you can build a remote team, selecting from the best talent from around the world.
Saves on Expenses
The cost of maintaining servers and other hardware can be exorbitant. And, that’s not to mention the cost of powering those devices. Moving to the cloud saves money—you pay only for subscription fees to the cloud-based apps you need.
The saying goes that time is money. In that case, it can put a hurting on your business when your servers are down. Many cloud-based providers boast of 99.9% uptime—accept no less!
Cons of Cloud-Based Computing
Along with the three advantages, let’s look at three disadvantages of relying on the cloud.
It’s out of Your Hands
Once you move your data to a cloud-based app, it’s out of your hands. If you experience difficulty, you rely on their customer service and support team to help you resolve issues. It’s no longer a problem that you fix on your own time.
Hacking attempts on cloud-based providers happen more often than most of those companies care to admit. Careful assessment of the partners you choose is essential to ensure that your customers don’t fall victim to data breaches.
The question is not if a hacker will attempt to steal data. It’s in how robust your provider is as stopping those online bandits dead in their tracks!
Limitations of Apps
There are good apps, poor apps, and those that fall everywhere in between. Your user experience will only be as good as your selection of the best resources.
How to Choose a Cloud Computing Provider
Now that you know a bit more info about cloud computing, let’s move on to some tips on how to select a safe, secure provider that will meet your needs.
1 - Know Your Needs!
Before you can choose an app that checks off all the boxes for your small business, you must define all that you need it to do for you.
There are cloud-based apps to help you accomplish any of the following:
- Share files
- Send email marketing
- Collaborate with a remote team
- Collect contact data and leads
- Process customer credit card payments
- Provide customer support
- Manage projects
And, some subscriptions can provide multiple functionalities. For example, EmailMeForm collects data but can also send email marketing automatically once the user submits a form.
2 - Conduct Research on Apps before Subscribing
Small business owners need to receive a lot of bang for the buck.
Before you subscribe, investigate the cloud-based service you’re considering. Read reviews to see if other users are satisfied. Check out their FAQ’s to see if they will meet your business needs.
Also, check out the provider’s Service Level Agreement (SLA) to ensure that the scope of service is scalable. You might only need a small package now, but will you be able to upgrade as you grow?
3 - Be Mindful of Security
As you are assessing cloud-based tools and conducting research, be ever-aware of data security. Data safety is your responsibility as a small business owner.
Some things you should not compromise on include:
- Security certifications, including PCI-certified companies
- Encrypted data
- Multi-factor authentication
- GDPR compliance
We don’t mind tooting our own horn, right here. EmailMeForm checks off all those boxes. And, with our Vault, your data stores safely and requires multi-factor authentication for retrieval.
4 - Set Yourself up for a Great User Experience
Your business gives its customers great interactions. You should expect to receive the same in return!
In the last bullet point, we mentioned checking out online reviews.
Take that a step further. Check with the provider to assess whether they can provide the following:
- 24/7/365 support: You don’t want to be left holding the bag waiting for Monday when an app is acting quirky! The best providers offer round the clock support.
- Excellent documentation: You may be able to resolve questions or issues alone if the company offers excellent documentation. Look for plenty of knowledge libraries and how-to guides before you sign up—they could save you time later, potentially.
- Email or chat options: Cloud-based services almost always provide email support. However, the trend to chatbots enhances your interaction, so look for a chat option as well.
Final Thoughts on Cloud Computing
Cloud computing might seem a little bit scary, at least at first. After all, you are taking a leap of faith by placing your data in the care of a third party.
The key, though, is in careful research before you partner with a cloud-based provider.
Ensure that you choose an app that has upgraded security options when collecting sensitive data like credit card information (like our Vault). This will give you the peace of mind that stems only from knowing that you have made an excellent choice for your business.