With 20 years’ experience, mainly consulting in the financial services sector, BrightRock executive director, Leopold Malan says there are five important issues that local companies should understand when it comes to cloud computing:
It’s time to join the bandwagon
Cloud computing is not as new to the South African business landscape as you might think, with an increasing number of business owners signing up for cloud-based products and services.
According to South African research firm World Wide Worx, there was a 10% jump in SMEs in South Africa using cloud technology between 2014 and 2015 – bringing the tally to 39%.
It’s not just a back-up service
Many people tend to associate cloud computing with data storage and transfer services like iCloud, Google Drive and Dropbox, but it offers so much more than that.
According to Ventureburn.com, South African companies utilise a range of cloud-based services, varying from email (83%), online backups (47%), online accounting (37%), project management (27%), to online CRM.
Work anywhere, anytime
We’re moving into an era where we don’t have to be office-bound to do our work and cloud computing is instrumental to this. Consumers of cloud technology are able to access information and services as long as they have sufficient Internet connectivity.
Under ideal circumstances, you also don’t need a desktop or laptop computer to access the cloud – up-to-date products and services are compatible with tablets and smartphones.
Cut down on costs
Think of cloud computing as the new outsourcing. If you have limited capital or resources, cloud computing is a fantastic way to cut costs. Systems like Quickbooks, Sage One, FreshBooks, Office365 and Abukai Expenses allow owners of small businesses to do big things with their admin.
The affordability of some of these systems make them particularly attractive – some solutions are offered at monthly fees in the vicinity of R200 to R300, and there are even payroll systems offering integrated solutions for as low as R22 per month, per employee.
That said, you need to do your homework before signing up for a cloud-based product or service; just like optional extras on a new car, add-ons can prove to be costly – not to mention a lack of technical expertise on both ends of the cloud-based relationship, which brings me to my last point.
The cloud is one of the safer places in a world where data disappears thanks to viruses and theft. Should any problems arise, you have the added benefit of not being responsible for fixing it – systems issues lie with the service provider.
Make sure that your cloud service provider has a proven customer service track record with experienced and knowledgeable technicians on the back-end who are able to assist you on a 24/7 basis. Also, be extra cautious with sensitive or valuable data.
One of the ways you can ensure that your data stays especially safe would be to opt for a hybrid system that allows you to use both your servers and the cloud as a backup. This will also allow you to evaluate the reliability of the service you opted for.