Every week I am still blown away by what systems are available to the SME business world, as a Business Technology Specialist I keep abreast of new and exciting technologies and systems that my clients could take advantage of.  These include, but not limited to, systems that cater for CRM, Accounting, Business Processes, Collaboration, Project Management and Social Monitoring etc.  Many of the systems I look at are Cloud based and there are some very good reasons why I concentrate on these systems, but there is still a lot of hostility from the Business world when you talk about Cloud based systems so for now I want you to ignore how these systems are delivered and how you may work with them, and just consider what you get from them.

Functionality:  The systems I look have an interface that is designed for ease of use ideally suited to the SME’s market but the infrastructure behind them is Enterprise level. This allows the SME user to make use of functionality that was once only available to large corporations, functionality such as Collaboration and Mobility whilst keeping the implementation simple and intuitive.

Scalability: Over the years I have worked with a number of businesses that just kept growing and out paced their systems and infrastructure.  In one case this meant a re-write of key piece of CRM software, why would you not want a system that grows with you as you grow (or shrinks as you down size!!) and adds functionality as technology allows for it.  This keeps your costs as a function of you headcount, something you can plan to and at the same time keeps you ahead of the pack with technology.

Training and Support:  Yes we deliver training for our clients but in many cases they can do their own self-service training for free with us just covering the Gaps or industry specifics.

Compatibility and Mobility: I want systems that just work, not systems that need a specific level of hardware, working where and when I want on the devices that work for me.

Security and Redundancy:  Do you need high level security and system redundancy suitable for banks for your work, probably not but why not use it if you can, a 99.9% uptime sounds great to me.

So there are just some of the benefits of using cloud based systems but what are the downsides, these are the ones people often use, wrongly.

Cost:   After x years I could have bought the system, in most cases this is just simply not true when you take everything into account, however assuming it is, yes you could have bought the system that is on offer now, but you couldn’t have also bought the system you are using in x years time.  The PAYG offering means you get all updates to functionality as part of the monthly cost.

Internet Connection: Yes, this has been difficult over the past few years but connection to the web is much more prolific than it used to be, in addition changes in technology now means a lot of systems can allow you to be disconnected with changes synchronized next time you make an internet connection.

Security of My Data: Make the right choice and your data is more secure than you could ever have it, but if you have to have local copies then most cloud system offer some form of backup.

Business users looking at tomorrow will never see a benefit to cloud systems, for those looking to the future I can see no better way for a business to grow and to keep ahead of the competition.