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Cloud Storage and Small Businesses | @CloudExpo #Cloud #IoT #BigData

Cloud storage's increased popularity in the SMB market arises from the numerous benefits the service offers

Everyone is talking about the Cloud, whether on the news or in advertisements from top-tier tech companies, such as Microsoft, Google, and Apple. More important, the small and medium business (SMB) community has embraced the Cloud. Specifically, more than half of SMBs in the US currently use cloud storage, according to a new survey from Clutch.

Cloud storage's increased popularity in the SMB market arises from the numerous benefits the service offers, such as the reduced cost of data storage, backup and recovery, improved workforce productivity from file sharing and collaboration, and additional disaster protection. These factors make cloud storage appealing to SMBs and will increase the rate of cloud storage service adoption in 2016.

1. A Better Bottom Line: Cloud Storage Cuts Costs for Small Businesses
Cloud storage services reduce the cost of storing data for SMBs. Regardless of the industry, all businesses have to store large amounts of data: from emails, to documents, to images, to presentations and more.

While onsite storage systems, such as a personal server, external hard drives and USBs, may assist an SMB with its file-storing needs, the equipment is expensive to purchase, implement, and maintain over time. For example, a personal server will cost thousands of dollars upfront, a price tag that does not include the never-ending electricity and maintenance expenses that are required to keep onsite servers running.

Conversely, cloud storage services connect you to off-site servers. This means the upfront and ongoing costs to store data on personal servers disappears - becomes someone else's problem. The fee to store and access data through cloud storage services is much more affordable.

"Managing servers in-house is expensive. By outsourcing our data storage, we saved on a lot of hardware and maintenance costs." - Mickey Luongo, vice president, Total Home Supply

Additionally, cloud storage allows SMBs to pay for exactly the amount of storage they need. Onsite equipment is either wasteful or not enough: you can either pay for more storage than you need or work on the edge of having just enough storage space.

Unfortunately, this practice leaves a business unprepared if faced with a sudden uptick in storage needs. With cloud storage services, all it takes is a click of the mouse to bump up your storage capabilities.

2. A Mobile Workforce is a More Productive Workforce
Cloud storage services not only reduce the cost of storing files but also improve workforce efficiency and productivity. The financial rewards are double-sided.

For example, cloud storage service providers, such as Google Drive and Dropbox, enable easy file sharing among employees, which facilitates collaboration.

Additionally, cloud storage circumvents the classic nine-to-five workday. Nearly half of SMB employees use a mobile device to access files stored on the Cloud, which enables completing tasks while on the go or at home.

3. Keep Your Clients Happy
A more productive and efficient workforce results in an improved client experience.

Clients love being informed when you are working with them on a project. Nothing frustrates a client more than having to wait for a call back when they have a question that requires an immediate answer. Because of this, it is in a business' best interest to remain in constant contact with clients, a task the Cloud facilitates.

"We are able to share project drafts in real time and get instant feedback from clients. It makes them feel that they are involved in the process and gives them that in-house experience." - X. Kevin Liao, founder, Illustria, Inc

4. Ultimate Protection: When Disaster Strikes, the Cloud Keeps Your Data Safe
Disasters happen.

Who can predict when a hurricane or tornado may spin in your direction and bring your office to the ground? Maybe a superstorm floods your office and all your electronic equipment is ruined, or, maybe an unattended cigarette starts a fire. The point is, you never know when something terrible will happen.

Let's look at two contrasting scenarios:

Scenario A: Your business relies on onsite data storage devices, such as personal servers and computer hard drives. If a flood destroys this equipment and all the information stored on it, your business will be affected negatively. You need the information that was stored on those servers, and, without it, what can you do?

Scenario B: Your business migrated to the Cloud three months ago. A flood destroys your office, but you do not lose all your data because with cloud storage, no matter what physically happens to your office, your files will be waiting far away on your cloud provider's server - waiting to be restored.

The Cloud allows SMBs to save money, be more productive, and protect themselves from disasters.

When you really look at it, the question is not, "Why do 52 percent of small businesses use the cloud?" but rather "How can 48 percent of SMBs still not see the benefits of embracing cloud storage?" As awareness and knowledge of how the Cloud and cloud storage can benefit SMBs spreads, Cloud adoption rates in the SMB market will increase drastically.

More Stories By Sarah Patrick

Sarah is an analyst at Clutch. As a member of the marketing team, she conducts research that aims to help businesses and consumers select and use different agencies, services, and software. Clutch is a Washington, DC-based research, reviews, and ratings platform that identifies leading software and professional services firms.

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