By using the cloud, SMEs can go toe to toe with bigger firms
Small is beautiful. In business, however, smallness can sometimes be a disadvantage.
The small-scale operations of small and midsized businesses (SMBs), for instance, prevent them from pre-qualifying for large volume orders.
They have limited funds for research and development to create better products or conduct a consumer survey to feel the pulse of customers.
The founder is the production manager, marketing director and CEO rolled into one, giving them little time to fully address each discipline.
There are ways, however, that SMBs can overcome these obstacles.
New technology is helping small-scale entrepreneurs cope with the administrative aspects of running a business.
Modern software and tools are displacing manual labor to streamline the process and produce quality outputs.
Digital-savvy SMBs tap into the power of computers and the internet to bring their firms to the next level of growth.
Cloud computing can further boost the competitive edge of underrated SMBs, by providing access to the technology, functionality and business benefits achievable by their larger competitors and their wealth of resources.
Simply put, cloud computing refers to the use of the internet to store, access, process and manage data rather than on a personal computer or a network server.
It is internet-based computing that allows sharing of resources, including business data, among computers and devices logged on the internet.
Cloud-based software can help automate repetitive tasks. Additionally, putting data on the cloud allows the different units of the business to collaborate in real-time.
The production unit can regularly coordinate with the warehouse and the office staff for tracking orders and scheduling deliveries.
This frees leadership from the day-to-day operations so they can focus more on strategic planning and providing directions for the growth of the enterprise.
The different operating units can also communicate on the fly including staff out on fieldwork.
Thus, the solo business owner gets real-time business sights into vital information on demand and gains a full appreciation of his business in real time, allowing him to make informed business decisions and take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
In contrast, large companies, while armed with the latest technologies, are saddled by their own internal bureaucracies.
Data are siloed and information has to be filtered by clearances along the organizational hierarchy. Decisions take time to make and opportunities could pass them by.
Cloud applications can improve operational efficiency and productivity.
Cloud-enabled data analytics software, for instance, help assess, predict and improve performance on the factory floor.
Other applications provide insights on ways to optimize sales campaigns and marketing promotions.
The cloud has also made e-commerce platforms easily available to SMBs.
SMBs don’t need a deep pocket to deploy cloud-based e-commerce, deploying ordering and payment systems to engage customers anywhere in the world.
With the cloud, SMBs can acquire the agility of a big business.
In fact, on the cloud, there’s no telling whether one is dealing with a small, medium or large enterprise. It’s the timely delivery of the right product or service that matters.
The cloud levels the playing field for small businesses. By tapping into big ticket but less expensive solutions on the cloud, SMBs can successfully compete in the big game. —CONTRIBUTED