Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with a strong understanding of their markets, know by now that employing technology will help them grow and compete. But when it comes to IT, SME leaders tend to think of it as a double-edged sword.
Even if you recognise that technology is critical to supporting growth, productivity and competitiveness, as a CEO you may not know how or where to integrate new technology into existing processes, or be able to justify the upfront investment required to get started.
Cloud computing offers SMEs a potential solution to this dilemma. With the ‘cloud’, smaller businesses have access to technology normally reserved for larger enterprises. This gives you the chance to gain a significant competitive edge, and allows you to compete in a much larger market space.
Size no longer matters
Bigger organisations have a lot of advantages relating to their size and scale that traditionally SMEs couldn’t match up to with limited cash and capability. One advantage is the ability to invest in strategic IT infrastructure to support business operations. If smaller businesses with little to no IT budget wanted to do the same, they had to free up – or borrow – the capital to purchase hardware and software, as well as the necessary security and maintenance, which doesn’t leave much money left over for other activities.
But the cloud has levelled the playing field. Now, SMEs can access sophisticated IT solutions as a subscription service, giving them the agility to adjust more quickly to the market and customer needs.
For many larger enterprises, this isn’t a reality. Most have already invested thousands of dollars into the development of IT systems that use ‘old style’ technology, requiring their own hardware and data centres as well as a 24/7 team of IT experts.
Many of these organisations have begun the move to cloud models, but are hindered by red tape and lengthy governance processes. In the meantime, SMEs have an invaluable opportunity to gain ground by being more agile and catering to the demands of an increasingly tech-savvy consumer. As a recent article in Business Insider Australia states, “Thanks to the cloud, small businesses are migrating to enterprise grade technologies faster than their corporate counterparts for the first time in history.”
At the same time, the cloud is playing an important role in helping SMEs to overcome some of the traditional barriers to growth, such as access to capital and skills, scalability and management control.
In fact, research from Google and consulting firm Deloitte found that making use of cloud technologies is the key to accelerated business growth. According to the report, ‘Small business, big technology: How the cloud enables rapid growth in SMBs’, organisations that use cloud services grow 26% faster and are 21% more profitable on average than those that don’t.
In the same study, 85% of SMEs surveyed reported that cloud technology enables them to scale and grow faster, while 66% said that the cloud allows them to outperform their competitors. It’s this ability to leapfrog other companies and scale rapidly that makes cloud an essential part of any SME’s strategy.
The SME’s time to shine
Cloud is turning out to be the ultimate equaliser – it grants smaller companies access to enterprise-level technology that would otherwise be inaccessible without substantial investment.
Now, with little to no capital expenditure, your business can have a capability rivalling that of industry leading corporations. As a matter of fact, your use of the cloud may even enable you to offer a slicker, faster and less staff-intensive service than those larger organisations can only dream of providing.
With the cloud, your organisation will be in the best position possible to overcome the odds and grow, and with the right ideas and execution, you can even be a threat to big market players.