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Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

They might seem like pie in the sky, but cloud services offer plenty of down-to-earth benefits for your business.

Cloud services aren't just about cutting business costs, they can also offer a major productivity boost to improve your bottom line.

The "cloud" can be a rather vague term, but businesses should think of it as a form of strategic outsourcing – handing over the job of maintaining IT systems to someone who can do it more efficiently and effectively. You’re likely to save money by outsourcing to the experts, but the real benefits of the cloud come from improved flexibility and mobility.

cloud over laptop

You could do more for less

Cloud services help put enterprise-grade IT systems within reach of small businesses, giving them the tools to take on much larger competition. But many incorrectly discount cloud services as simply email and online storage/backup – there’s more to them than that. Online offices can use collaboration suites like Office 365 Business to offer greater flexibility, while the cloud can also deliver business tools such as accounting packages, point of sale, human resources, customer relationship management, business intelligence and supply chain management.

Another benefit to the cloud is that pricing can be designed to scale with your business – charging per user, per month to help small businesses find their sweet spot. What was once a significant upfront capital expense, investing in software and hardware, becomes a much more manageable monthly operational expense.

Subscription pricing also tends to include free upgrades, further smoothing out your cash flow, and it's easy to add new modules such as enterprise resource planning as your business grows.

Play it safe

The cloud might sound intangible, but your encrypted business data is residing in an enterprise-grade data centre. It's most likely better protected against fire, flood, theft and prying eyes than if it was residing on a server in the back room of your office.

Get mobile

The cloud doesn't just put better business tools at your disposal, it also helps ensure they're at your fingertips when you’re on the go.

Once data and business systems are in the cloud, small businesses are able to access them from a wide range of devices. With a shared data bank, hot-desking around the office becomes a more viable option, and helps staff stay productive when they're on the road or working away from the office.

Even if you work from home you can benefit from shifting to the cloud. Along with staying productive when you're away from your desk, you've also got a Plan B if disaster strikes. Should something happen to your workspace, you can sit down at any compatible computer and pick up where you left off.

Server in the sky

Services like Telstra Cloud let you set up virtual servers online, only paying for the resources you use, rather than investing in new on-site servers which might often sit idle. If you need a temporary development server for a new product, or extra computing power to support the occasional major project, then paying for a virtual server in the cloud might be a smart business move.

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