A woman is standing on the stairs in an office, using a tablet.

Moving to the cloud is easier for SMBs than large enterprises.

When should small businesses begin moving to the cloud? The sooner, the better. As companies grow, so do their technology needs, and cloud solutions grow with them.

Say you’re starting a new business. In the beginning, it’s just you and perhaps a few partners or employees. You’re in startup mode. It’s all jeans, flip-flops, and foosball tables while you work out of someone’s garage (at least in Silicon Valley). For most entrepreneurs, it’s usually more like jeans and flip-flops at the kitchen table. Either way, it’s an exciting time, and a simpler one — at least in terms of your telecom needs. Outfit everyone with a computer and a unified business phone system, and you’re up and running.

As the business takes off, you hire a few salespeople who need customer relationship management (CRM) software, and then a bookkeeper who needs accounting software, and then a marketer who implements a new email marketing platform.

These tools can be costly, and they work best when they work together. That’s the beauty of moving to the cloud, or better yet, starting out in the cloud.

All the Cool Kids Are Doing It

Businesses of all shapes and sizes are moving to the cloud. For larger companies, this can be a large undertaking. It often requires abandoning legacy systems in which they’ve made a sizable investment (which stings a little), transferring large data sets (not a picnic for IT), and overhauling business processes and workflows (not a picnic for anyone). The effort is worth it, as there are many cloud migration benefits, including scalability, reliability, increased mobility and better analytics and reporting. However, there’s no question that it’s a big job.

Smaller companies have an advantage, since they can start out where enterprises want to end up: in the cloud. Of course, more established SMBs might have already invested in traditional software, onsite servers, and communication tools that aren’t in the cloud. Still, it’s easier to make the jump sooner rather than later.

It’s like moving to a new home when you’re 25 versus when you’re 45. In your 20s, a couple friends with pickup trucks can move you and your IKEA furniture in an afternoon. By the time you hit your 40s, you’ve accumulated heavy furniture and so many keepsakes that you need a team of movers and a small fleet of semi-trucks.

The same is true for IT. The smaller and sleeker the organization, the faster it can transition to the cloud and start to reap the benefits.

Three Ways Moving to the Cloud Can Jump-Start Your Small-Business Journey

Cloud solutions help to boost productivity, lower IT costs, and build scalable infrastructures. That’s good news for any company, but especially for small businesses that want to accelerate growth.

Whether you’re running a startup or an established business with hundreds of employees, cloud technology enables you to do the following:

  1. Get Champagne Technology on a Beer Budget: Because cloud solutions don’t require hardware investments or lengthy implementations, there are fewer up-front costs than with traditional software. They require little, if any, onsite IT maintenance. And with the pay-per-use model of most cloud solutions, if you only have a dozen employees, you don’t pay the same price as large corporations with hundreds or thousands of users.
  2. Satisfy Your Inner Goldilocks: With traditional software, small businesses often have two choices: Buy enterprise-level solutions with bells and whistles they don’t need, or buy slimmed-down versions they’ll most certainly outgrow. One is too big; one is too small. Yet cloud solutions are “just right.” They’re also highly scalable, so you can add new features, users, and storage space if and when you need them. You can also scale back as your business fluctuates.
  3. Make Your Toys Play Nice Together: Cloud solutions don’t just help people communicate more effectively. Many cloud services providers design their technology to communicate with other technology. These cloud integrations can streamline workflows, improve collaboration, and provide better insights into customer and company data. For example, when you integrate your phone system and CRM, you can automatically log calls and track customer interactions. When your CRM and accounting software work together, customer data stays up-to-date in both applications. When your marketing automation platform can pull data from your e-commerce tools, marketers get better customer insights and can improve lead generation.

In a nutshell, moving to the cloud gives your team access to cutting-edge technology without breaking your budget. Your people and your technology can more easily work together and work from anywhere.

Interested in the cloud? Vonage CEO Alan Masarek recently spoke at Enterprise Connect at a panel titled, “What Role (If Any) Should Cloud Communications Play in Your Enterprise?” You can learn more here.

Taylor Mallory Holland

Taylor Mallory Holland is a professional writer with more than 11 years of experience writing about business, technology and health care for both media outlets and companies. Taylor understands how enterprise mobility and cloud technology can reshape industries and provide new opportunities to streamline workflows, improve employee collaboration and reimagine the customer experience. She is passionate about helping business leaders understand the impact that emerging technologies can have on communication, operations and sales and marketing.

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A man sitting at a desk, talking on an office telephone.

Moving to the cloud can improve communications with colleagues and customers.

Even before the first executive walked into his or her office with a new iPhone nearly 10 years ago, mobile technology had been having a huge impact on how people worked. Armed with their Blackberry and Palm Treo mobile phones, enterprise employees could send and receive emails and check their calendars while binge-watching episodes of “Entourage” on DVDs mailed to their homes from Netflix. Those were heady days, friends.

In truth, of course, that was all child’s play compared to what’s happening now. As business technology matures, enterprises are moving to the cloud to even better leverage its productivity benefits. Here are just a few examples of how forward-thinking digital enterprises are using cloud, mobile, and other technologies to transform their businesses:

Communicate and Collaborate with Colleagues, Wherever They Are

Mobile technology liberates employees from the office, but unfortunately, it can be difficult for a dispersed workforce to, well, work together. Older or limited conferencing platforms can be ill-equipped to handle mobile participants, making effective collaboration and even basic communications between office and mobile employees difficult, if not impossible at times.

By moving to the cloud and adopting cloud-based communications, enterprises allow employees working anywhere — and using any device — to participate in audio and video conference calls, message colleagues (even within other apps), and have fully functional connectivity to project collaboration software.

These cloud-based unified communications platforms can also help businesses scale. For example, Acrylic Tank Manufacturing (ATM), a maker of custom aquariums, was struggling with hypergrowth stemming from its higher profile as a star of Animal Planet’s “Tanked” reality TV show. The company switched from its old phone system to a cloud-based system that included unified communications features. The new platform routes calls more efficiently, allows voice messages to be read or listened to from multiple devices, and enables video conferencing with third-party vendors making special parts for ATM’s aquariums.

Access CRM Databases, Customer Histories, and More Business Information

It used to be that if you were on the road and needed customer information quickly (as in real-time), you were out of luck. Today, though, apps and services are easily available to authorized and authenticated users via the cloud.

For example, Handi-Ramp, a manufacturer of products for wheelchair accessibility and fall prevention that counts the White House and Statue of Liberty as clients, uses an enterprise Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) platform that powers the company’s office phones, business applications, and softphones while providing full integration with employees’ mobile devices.

In addition, the platform integrates Handi-Ramp’s Google apps, including email, calendar, and contact software. Further, the company’s sales force can use its mobile devices to connect automatically with a CRM system. The end result is more productive and effective sales and support teams, which results in higher revenue and greater customer satisfaction.

Gain Insights Into and Establish Personal Relationships with Customers

Mobile devices and apps are providing retailers and other businesses with unprecedented amounts of data about users’ search, shopping, and physical habits, such as where they go and when. This allows retailers to understand and anticipate customer needs and personalize the shopping experience in a way that increases sales and brand loyalty.

Cosmetics and beauty products retailer Sephora uses geolocation data and personalized mobile app alerts for users who are close to one of its stores, informing the customer of special deals. Adweek reported that Sephora is also driving mobile sales by integrating a Tinder-like swipe feature that allows mobile and desktop users to navigate rapidly through makeup and beauty products, as well as an app that allows its Snapchat followers to make purchases by downloading a screenshot of the desired product.

With the help of cloud, mobile, and communications technologies, companies can better manage their internal and customer-facing processes to become more efficient, more flexible and more productive.

Is your business ready for transformation? Contact a Vonage Business representative to take the first steps toward increased productivity and customer engagement.

About Chris Nerney

Chris Nerney is a technology writer who covers both enterprise and consumer technologies. He has written extensively on cloud computing, unified communications, enterprise collaboration, VoIP, mobile technology, big data and analytics, data centers, converged systems and space technology. His writing has appeared in Computerworld, CIO.com, Data-Informed, Revenue Cycle Insights, Network World, ITWorld and many other technology publications, including enterprise whitepapers. Chris lives in upstate New York with his wife and three children.

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