Decades ago, the dawn of the information technology age and the introduction of computers into the workplace revolutionized the way that business was done. Soon after, the Internet brought its own revolution and with it the age of instant business communications across vast distances. Today a new revolution is taking place which is changing the way that businesses interact with both of the above. This is the revolution of cloud technology.
What is the cloud?
If you’ve heard the term but aren’t quite sure what it means then the cloud might sound like some sort of strange and airy concept that has no relevance for your business, or some new buzzword thrown around to impress. But the cloud is something very real which has the power to change the way you do business.
Cloud computing has been made possible by the Internet, and the cloud itself is also roughly synonymous with the Internet, but it goes beyond the concept of accessing and sending data elsewhere via your computer. Cloud computing enables users and businesses to access software and storage space that is not physically present on their own computer. It does this by using a client interface on the user’s computer to operate software installed and running on another remote computer, which could potentially be located thousands of miles away. This communication process occurs via the Internet.
How can the cloud benefit businesses?
So all well and good; the cloud makes remote computing possible. But what good is it to businesses?
Well quite a lot actually. Firstly it makes it possible to access your data or a particular software package wherever you are in the world, from virtually any computer with an Internet connection present. This can be particularly handy if you tend to travel a lot but need to access information or a suite of programs as if you’re present in the office, or if you have staff who work from home or multiple locations.
Secondly, cloud computing can be more affordable and practical than the usual arrangement. Rather than having to have bang up to date computer systems each running a physical installation of a piece of software and with enough spare capacity to store associated data, you can simply have some lightweight computing machinery at your end and let the servers at the other end do all the virtual ‘heavy lifting’.
A practical example – Cloud accounting software
To home in on a specific example, cloud accounting software is something that virtually all SMEs can benefit from. There are a variety of accountancy packages out there which enable you to ditch the accounting books and paper financial records entirely. But much more than this, they can provide you with 24/7 access to powerful software tools to analyse your finances and create important documents as and when you need them, wherever you happen to be.
And when it comes time to grant another employee or computer access to the software, it’s as simple as upgrading your cloud accounting software package at the server end, rather than fiddling around with installations, permissions and extra licences. Intuit has a good range of accounting software available.