2012 was an enormous year for cloud computing. Gartner research estimates that the public cloud market grew to a total of $109 billion worldwide, a nearly 20% increase over the previous year. Many businesses have jumped on the cloud computing bandwagon as it emerged last year, and yours may have been one of them.
From time tracking to payroll software, there are many ways your business can benefit from the cloud. And though we're a few months into 2013, it's never too late to assess and improve. It's important to consider your current cloud usage and future.
Take Another Look at Your Strategy
The CDW Cloud Tracking Poll found that while 84% of businesses use at least one cloud-based software application, only 38% have a plan for cloud adoption. If you don't have a strategy in place for how you research, implement, and use cloud-based programs, you could be buying the wrong service for the wrong reasons.
- Take a step back and look at how your business operates and what kind of software it needs in order to operate. Now look at your current on-premise and cloud-based software usage. Ask yourself: is it fulfilling your needs? Did you purchase your cloud SaaS because it was the right fit or because it looked like a good deal?
- Now take a look at your IT budget. Many businesses switch to cloud in order to reduce software and power costs. Has the switch to cloud made that happen? Why or why not?
Look for Gaps and Redundancies
It's difficult enough to manage your business when you have multiple programs performing multiple functions. You may have a POS system, CRM system, accounting and payroll software all managing different aspects of your business with greater or lesser integration.
The situation becomes even more complex when you combine cloud-based and on-premise software, purchased at different times with different goals in mind.
- Make sure you aren't paying for redundant features. If you're paying for business email on the cloud that comes with file storage, you shouldn't also be paying for a separate file storage service as well. Streamlining your services will save you unnecessary costs, as well as prevent confusion and aggravation when your employees must search multiple locations for one file.
- When you switched from an on-premise software program to SaaS, you may have lost some of your add-ons and other integration mechanisms that kept all your programs updated and communicating with each other. Check to make sure that none of your important features have gotten lost in the transition.
Keep Security a Priority
The thing that has made many business owners leery of joining the cloud is the fear of security breaches and fraud. While this is a healthy fear to have, it shouldn't stop you from expanding to the cloud -- only make you more careful about doing so.
Your security needs will differ depending on what sort of data you're putting in the cloud -- credit card information and electronic heath records have different needs and fall under different federal and state regulations.
- Saas providers should ensure the security of your physical data, processes, infrastructure, and technology, as well as data encryption, whereas other less-involved providers may promise considerably less.
- Third-party cloud auditors test the security of a provider's network; if you're unsure about the security of your data within a specific cloud program, request an assessment.
Before you make any more changes to your business cloud, you should look back at what you did in 2012. Come up with a plan for how you will work with the cloud in 2013, and stick with it.