The cloud is here to stay. The internet-based data sharing, communication and storage solutions have woven themselves into our everyday life. After all, you’re using the cloud every time you check an email or social media on your mobile device. Want to harness the power of secure remote access for your business? This article pulls together some of the ways you can make the cloud work to your advantage that you may not have considered.
What is cloud collaboration?
When you store business data and software on remote servers, it’s said to be stored ‘in the cloud’. That information can be accessed by anyone with a device, an internet connection and the appropriate authorisations. This creates an incredible amount of flexibility and mobility for a business. There are some common cloud-based activities that businesses use, like email, but you can do a lot more with it, too.
How can you use the cloud?
Some businesses use the cloud for storing data and back-ups securely, but it can do so much more. The following list shows that communication can become incredibly flexible and responsive to both client and staff needs.
- IP voice and radio provides real-time video across all devices,
- Rich presence lets each participant join the collaboration at the best level according to their internet access stability,
- Group chat opens up larger, linear discussions between multiple staff members or stakeholders without the weight of an email chain,
- Single number reach creates the opportunity to be accessible via a single telephone number that operates across devices,
- Group video conferencing allows for multiple video and audio streams to occur at once, which works very well in dynamic environments,
- Universal user access opens the doors of communication to anyone with authorisation, no matter their location or device,
- Instant messaging helps staff to have questions asked and answered quickly and unobtrusively between individual staff, with the benefit of having these text-based conversations recorded for reference,
- Unified messaging works hand in hand with single number reach. All incoming messages can be banked in one place, regardless of format (voice call, text message, email, instant message). This reduces the time spent alternating between services,
- Click to dial audio and video calling expands the methods of communication with seamless transitions, like clicking or tapping on a phone number embedded within an email to initiate a voice call,
- Call pull, park and retrieve allows users to hold calls or switch them between devices with no loss of connection. This allows flexibility for staff and streamlined professionalism for clients.
How can cloud collaboration benefit your business?
How might these new applications benefit your business? It will depend on your operations and where you can see opportunity. Here are some of the most commonly reported benefits of businesses operating in the cloud.
Improved organisation: central accessibility means you’ve always got the most up to date version of files and software. There’s no more duplication or wondering if you’re editing the most up-to-date file. It’s far more efficient.
Higher participation levels: if all employees have equal access to information, you’re likely to see higher levels of contributions. Ease of accessibility reduces the administrative barriers to participation.
Improved access to large files: ever tried emailing large files or had them fail to send after an arduous attempt to upload? Use the cloud to store the files, and send a link to the large datasets or video instantly.
Streamlined access and tracking: get everyone on the same page. Centralise communication to make sure everyone is talking in the same place. It helps to document discussions as well.
Location independence: the freedom to work anywhere can reduce travel costs and times. It can also open up potential for hiring in the global marketplace. If an employee is able to access time-sensitive information from their mobile device, it may make the difference between a sale or not, better customer service.
Simple scalability: the ability to increase your operational capacity quickly and responsively. If your business expands (or something you post goes viral) you’ll need additional bandwidth and capacity in a short time. Operating in the cloud makes expanding and contracting capacity simple.
Responsive costing: pay for what you use. Often, cloud-based services are offered as packages. In general, the number of users, coupled with the amount of bandwidth that you require will determine your costs. There’s also no upfront costs, as there would be if you purchased your own physical infrastructure.
Security should be a focus
One enduring benefit of operating from the cloud is this: your cyber security challenges are primarily outsourced to the experts who are managing your storage. If your own area of expertise is not data security, you can trust that your IT company is making every effort to secure your data. They should provide 24/7 monitoring, and it should extend to every form of cloud-based operation that you use. Any Software As A Service (SAAS) will be up-to-date, which should mitigate any known security risks. This doesn’t excuse the need for robust end-user security policies, but it does mean that you have one less level of complexity to manage.
Is cloud collaboration right for your business?
One benefit of cloud-based operations is that it is very flexible. It can be shaped to suit almost any business situation. Cloud collaboration could suit your business if you have a mobile workforce, or you have offices in different locations. Businesses that have significant staff travel or out-of-office time could see faster communications and closer collaboration using mobile devices, instead of waiting to get back to the office to process queries or sales. Connect with us to find out how operating in the cloud could benefit your business.
About Mustard IT, your cloud collaboration partner
Mustard IT provide the design, build, installation and maintenance of secure IT cloud servers and networks. Our trusted team are experienced and able to explain complex issues to you in a language you’ll understand. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.