Cloud computing has gone mainstream. As consumers, we can now store everything from holiday snaps to insurance documents on a cloud platform such as Box, Dropbox or Google Cloud, rather than upload them to a physical hard drive: it’s convenient, secure and often absolutely free. In the workplace, it’s a similar story except here, the emergence of cloud computing has truly been a game-changer. The disruptive, transformative effect on enterprise has been huge. Cloud removes the need for major investment in cumbersome IT systems, and facilitates flexible IT that grows with the business. Great for large businesses, but even better for SMBs, no longer restricted by legacy IT systems or small IT budgets.
Cloud is levelling the playing field for SMBs, enabling them to compete with larger business, and figures for its take-up reflect this. In the US alone, the percentage of small businesses using cloud computing is predicted to more than double in the next six years, from 37% to 80%1. The story is similar across Europe, with 65% of SMB respondents to a survey2 saying they use cloud services for file sharing and synchronisation and/or back up. Its popularity is set to receive a further boost from July 14th when Microsoft switches off its Windows 2003 platform, leaving servers unsupported and open to security risks. Cloud is a perfect alternative, as the string of benefits it brings to SMBs includes:
- Automatic software updates: no need to pay for software updates as these are built-in to cloud solutions
- Built-in flexibility: add or remove IT services whenever they’re required, perhaps to cope with seasonal fluctuations or business growth
- Security: the vast majority of cloud service providers have watertight security – it’s their lifeblood
- Cost efficiency: cloud removes the need for major investment in hardware and software
- Access to the very latest software: some applications that your enterprise may never have considered can be accessed through your cloud provider
- Improved collaboration: teams can access and work on the same documents
- Mobility: platforms can be accessed from anywhere, whether desktop, smartphone or tablet, in the office or on the move
- Enables ‘technology leapfrogging’: delivering all the benefits of large-scale, big-budget IT, without the costs
Businesses can move a diversity of tools and applications to the cloud, from CRM systems to HR and payroll applications. Research shows the most popular use of cloud in the enterprise is for email, with 66% relying on a cloud platform for this application3. But businesses don’t only communicate with email: physical post still has a significant role to play in the enterprise. Transactional mail in physical format – invoices, statements, renewal notices, quotes and policy documents – remains popular, and looks set to maintain its popularity for the foreseeable future. When you consider that 61%4 of us prefer to receive bills and invoices by physical mail, it’s clear the pressure is on for those businesses generating high volumes of physical and digital mail. Small businesses in particular rely on transactional communications to drive their revenue, and many need to do so in an accurate and timely way to achieve compliance but are typically more constrainted in terms of skills, time and resources.
This is where it gets exciting. Imagine if organisations could manage not just digital mail but physical mail in the cloud. Now, businesses can do exactly this, using a platform which combines innovative software design with all the benefits of the cloud, designed specifically to help SMBs improve the precision, accuracy and efficiency of physical transactional mail. Pitney Bowes’ Relay™ Communications Suite includes a cloud-based platform that works in a client’s existing technology environment. It gives them the much-needed flexibility to enhance content, channel, and the production process of their documents, creating real impact and ensuring business is geared up for growth. The Communications Suite also includes the latest physical inserters, which boost the speed, efficiency and accuracy of transactional mailings and again, are designed specifically to meet the business requirements of SMBs.
Cloud computing remains a transformative force in the SMB market. Its ability to improve the management and delivery of digital tools and applications is unquestionable. Integrating this with an ability to manage physical services is cloud at its very best.
1 Research from consulting firm Emergent Research and financial software company Intuit.
2 Survey by NetPilot Internet Security
3 Research featured on ec.europa.eu
4 Pitney Bowes Leflein Associates research