Why small businesses should embrace digitalisation and the cloud

While many small businesses are taking up technology in new and rewarding ways, some organisations are reluctant to adopt cloud technologies due to concerns around security and cost. Ironically, disruptive technologies like digitalised data management and cloud are the very investments that can help small businesses compete more effectively with larger players, regardless of the industry they operate in.

Digital transformation and cloud are key business buzzwords for a reason. Businesses are successfully transforming their operations through digital technologies delivered via the cloud. This approach helps businesses save money and operate more efficiently. Quality cloud technology helps small businesses effectively manage masses of digitalised travel and expense (T&E) data, mileage reports, invoices, and receipts. These benefits can all significantly boost competitive capability for small businesses.

Disruption is occurring across many industries as organisations find new ways to leverage technology and the cloud to either achieve incremental improvements or build completely new business models. It’s important small businesses understand the true scope of the opportunity presented by digitalisation and cloud technologies, and don’t shy away due to misunderstandings about security, cost, and complexity.

There are four barriers and opportunities presented by new technologies and cloud:

1. Lack of understanding holds businesses back

When organisations collaborate with the right partners and understand the cloud opportunity as it relates to their business, they can achieve impressive results. Implementing digitalised document management and cloud storage doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. In fact, the best new technology can be integrated into workplaces seamlessly, and offer employees easy- to- use, consumer-like apps that capture and digitalise data, storing and managing it in the cloud. It’s critical small organisations view digital transformation and cloud as accessible and beneficial, rather than intimidating and unnecessary.

2. Security concerns are mostly unfounded

Many organisations believe that releasing their most critical information into the cloud will create security vulnerabilities. However, organisations of any size are no more or less likely to be the victim of a cyberattack if they use the cloud. With strong security measures in place, which should be a prerequisite regardless of infrastructure, organisations can move to the cloud with confidence. In fact, employee information and finance data is safer stored in the cloud than physically filed away, where it can be stolen, copied, or damaged.

3. Skills shortages can affect small businesses disproportionately

Unlike large enterprises with big IT budgets, many small businesses don’t have the skills in-house to manage the cloud, making them reluctant to invest in cloud technologies. However, by partnering with the right providers, small businesses can overcome their own lack of skills and leverage those of their partners.

4. Cloud-based technologies can deliver significant benefits

Small businesses that move critical business applications to the cloud can benefit from being able to access the latest versions of these applications with modern features that boost their business capabilities. This is harder to achieve with on-premise applications that require lengthy and complex upgrade projects. Furthermore, when information is in the cloud, employees can access that information along with critical business functionality on their work or personal devices, regardless of where they are in the world. This helps them become more productive and engaged in their work and can avoid situations where important tasks are postponed until workers are in the office.

Businesses shouldn’t avoid moving to the cloud out of a fear that it’s less secure or more expensive than traditional ways of doing business. For most small businesses, it will actually deliver simple cost savings and efficiency improvements that can help the business compete more effectively.

Fabian Calle, General Manager – SMB, SAP Concur ANZ

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