Can small businesses really gain from moving to the cloud. Source: Shutterstock

Can small businesses really gain from moving to the cloud. Source: Shutterstock

Can cloud applications help small business owners go digital?

SMALL BUSINESSES owners know that digital transformation is key to surviving in today’s day and age and cloud applications, especially those offered as a service, are the most powerful tool at their disposal.

Software as a Service (SaaS) makes it possible for small business owners to buy into the same tools that multinational corporations have always had access to, without emptying their coffers or spending too much time on implementation.

Delivered on the cloud, SaaS offers many superpowers, including allowing companies access to cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and augmented reality — bundled into smart software that can be used right out of the box.

According to a recent forecast by IDC, public cloud spending will grow from US$229 billion this year to nearly $500 billion in 2023. Of this, the analyst firm pointed out that SaaS is the largest category of cloud computing, capturing more than half of all public cloud spending in throughout the forecast.

With all of the big-name software providers in the world creating SaaS offerings, this seems like a plausible figure, although some migration to the cloud might be hindered by regulatory requirements such as those in the financial services and healthcare spaces.

SaaS is expected to make a big impact on the market in the next few years. Here are five reasons why small business owners must hone in on the technology to maximize their returns on their digital transformation investments:

# 1 | Quicker availability

Speak to any software implementation consultant and they’ll tell you that rolling out a new piece of software in an enterprise, in the traditional way, takes more than a few months. Sometimes, such projects take years.

However, SaaS is designed in such a way that any offering offered via the model is immediately available and requires minimum customization before it can be rolled-out and scaled-up.

# 2 | Lower costs

Traditional enterprise-grade software cost companies in the millions, not to mention the money they needed to spend in order to cover incidental expenses such as customization, maintenance, and upgrades.

To be honest, understanding the complex cost of running such software needed a professional just to audit the licenses against the use case in question.

In the world of SaaS, however, small business owners just pay a simple fee per user to get on the platform. Additional services can be bought as upgrades for each user or through one-time invoices.

# 3 | Ease of management

SaaS is easy to manage, and it’s designed for small business owners to handle by themselves.

Take any SaaS platform and you’ll realize that the company that has built the offering tries their level best to keep pricing terms simple, ensure implementation is easy (since the cost of moving away from the platform is almost negligible), and usually shares the burden of maintenance.

# 4 | In-built mobility

SaaS platforms are on the cloud. Compared to traditional software packages that are installed on machines that are fixed to a location, SaaS offerings can be accessed from anywhere by design.

Not only is this incredibly useful for small business owners, but it is also a feature that helps them scale quickly and supports their growth in many ways — across departments and geographical boundaries.

# 5 | Data and information security

Cybersecurity is one of the biggest challenges for small business owners. SaaS offerings lighten the burden on small business owners when it comes to protecting data and ensuring privacy of customer information.

SaaS products are usually backed by strong vendors who are liable to thousands if not hundreds of thousands of customers across the world — and hence, their security measures are pretty strong.

As a result, small business owners get a strong and secure package to handle their data if they choose a reputed SaaS product.