[caption id="attachment_14846" align="aligncenter" width="646"] hp offer cloud services across their range[/caption]
According to one recent survey of SMEs (SMBs, US) both the UK and the US markets, strangely enough, are not making the most of cloud services.
A combination of both ignorance and misinterpretation is preventing small business owners from structuring their organisation around the benefits that remote office working can give.
Despite the cloud not being that new, only one in four are using it. The full results have been uploaded as an infographic onto Flickr for an at a glance view of cloud services useage. As you'll see, both sides of The Pond are guilty.
It could have something to do with the fact that in the UK if you see a cloud, it's either going to piss down very shortly or you know you're in the middle of summer vacation. Or both.
Most cloud services have a free entry level
With banks really being tight-arsed in relation to whom they're lending capital, mortgages for business especially, using cloud services makes undeniable sense for the small-to-medium enterprise (SME).
For one, the basic infrastructure that you can get in SkyDrive with Windows, the iCloud with Apple or GoogleDrive for Android is free. Upload your documents, share the link to it or the folder you've popped it into and you're literally ready to use cloud services immediately.
There is an element in higher-level management even to this day that thinks using social media in works hours is bogus, an excuse to piss about on company time. The importance of building brand online and putting a responsible bod in control of social may be a step too far. There is another solution.
If you're only likely to share small volumes of data, but perhaps too big to e-mail as one attachment (above 5MB and you're struggling) and you've got the heebie-jeebies about staff using social media, virtual sharing devices like AVG CloudCare or Dropbox offer basic cloud services on free platforms.
This allows you to stay in control of the documents shared online but you can sync these cloud services to employees' PCs. Both Dropbox and AVG CloudCare have upgrades to increase the level of service or storage space if you decide you like it.
And that is, in essence, the problem. There's an automatic assumption that because it's new technology, it's complicated. Nothing could be further from the truth. HP wrap it up well in their definition of cloud computing; it really isn't as complicated as people make out.
If you can navigate your way around folders on a PC, Mac or Android tablet and use e-mail, you can use cloud services. They genuinely are like having a virtual office in the cloud without the headache of having to worry about your server uptime.
In business, there's competition. For those unwilling to embrace cloud services, they're likely to get left behind. It may be a headache getting your head around the concept, but these clouds have a silver lining well worth the learning curve.
Have Your Say: If you thought you could get away with it, would you check to see who's poked you during working hours? And have you had problems persuading your boss that building brand reputation online or using cloud services is the way forward?
If so, share this article with them and at least get them to consider the benefits of cloud computing.