Global SMB Business Management
Most companies today are familiar with the cloud; using software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps and customer relationship management (CRM) for years. However, many businesses are now running the whole show from the cloud using the opportunity to drive inroads to new markets and profitable services.
According to research by Statista, in 2018 the US cloud market amounted to $34.9 billion for SMBs alone, with many adopting tech such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and sales and marketing automation platforms. Traditionally only available to large companies with unlimited resources, I believe that cloud-based business management tools are levelling the playing field for small-to-medium businesses.
The increasing availability of business applications allows SMBs to grow at a faster rate than larger competitors into the international market. Here’s why I think the cloud can help your SMB go global:
Cost-effective, scalable solutions
In my opinion, the total cost of IT ownership is made up of three main strands: capital, operating, and indirect expenses. On-premise hardware and software are generally more expensive, but this is eradicated in the cloud as your business will only pay operational costs for the functionality you need.
The cloud is proven to be a cost-effective way of growing your business as you go global because it’s scalable. This allows small businesses to evolve quickly without worrying about outgrowing systems, and you can enhance capabilities by adding extensions and apps when you need them. Many cloud systems are also pre-configured to suit global businesses too, making it easy to deal with different currencies and other international logistics.
On-premise systems can also introduce indirect expenses when you have a system failure or technical issues that cause data loss and downtime. However, the cloud is self-updating, enables secure backups, and your cloud service provider will usually proactively monitor, maintain and upgrade your systems over time.
Mobile, flexible working
Realistically, global operations are only ever going to be possible for SMBs that use cloud technology. Cloud solutions are not only borderless by nature, but they also contain the building blocks for successful international expansion.
The majority of applications today are designed to be accessed remotely — either on desktop, mobile, tablet or laptop. Employees can access information anywhere and anytime, as long as they have an internet connection. Many cloud apps are designed to be collaborative too, with instant messaging and reliable notification systems allowing teams to share information quickly and communicate seamlessly.
This added flexibility and remote nature of cloud applications gives your business the added ability to set up teams all around the world, while also affording them access to the same datasets, tools and communication as the staff in your office, allowing complete collaboration between all members of staff.
Enhanced security and compliance
Experience shows that moving your data off-premise and into the cloud can make it more vulnerable. But when going global and introducing the new platform, your business will gain increased security benefits. Firstly, when you migrate data to the cloud, it becomes centralized, providing visibility and control that isn’t possible across disparate systems and locations. This, in turn, enables businesses to apply 360-degree security measures.
Identity and access management also improve exponentially in the cloud. With cybersecurity attacks on the rise and the ever-present risk of data breaches, businesses need to put up higher barriers to unauthorized access and increase the effectiveness of identity verification. Machine learning can be used to detect and block suspicious activity, as well as understand normal user behavior to make it easier for those with permission to access files.
Going global also means complying with the various security regulations across different countries. Centralized data makes elements of data security easy to comply with; for example, deleting all data on an individual. Many cloud systems are also now pre-configured with industry-standard security measures.
Expanding your small business globally will take time. There is a lot to be gained from introducing cloud applications to help break the international market, but your entire organization will need to support the implementation to feel the benefits and help you build on the success you’ve already enjoyed.
By Kevin Ovalle