2020 Cloud Rush – Why So Many Small Businesses Are Adopting Cloud

My Post (20).pngThe impact of the pandemic has led to a dramatic rise in the number of small businesses adopting cloud technology. With nine out of ten companies now making use of cloud IT and 60 per cent of workloads being run in the cloud, it has become the go-to option for forward-thinking firms. By providing them with the same technologies used by larger rivals, but without the need for capital investment, the cloud delivers an affordable way to innovate, automate and become more agile. Here are just some of the ways small businesses are benefitting from cloud adoption.

Awesome power at low-cost

In the age of digital transformation, companies need hi-tech solutions to help them compete. While technologies such as data analytics, AI, machine learning, IoT and automation are widely used, a lack of financial resources has left many smaller businesses out of the loop. However, by migrating to the cloud, companies can have access to the necessary infrastructure without having to invest heavily in setting up an on-site datacentre. All the hardware is provided by the service provider and paid for on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Furthermore, the cloud offers the ideal set-up for fast and easy expansion, enabling companies to scale up or down their IT resources on-demand, helping them to increase capacity in line with growth and cope with spikes in demand in a convenient way. Expansion that would take considerable expenditure and days of work to set up in-house, can be had cost-effectively at the click of a button.

New normal adaptation

The pandemic has led many companies to reassess the way they operate, especially with regard to their working practices. Across the globe, swathes of employees are finding themselves able to ditch the commute and work more flexibly from home as executives seek to downsize offices.

Cloud technology is a key enabler of remote working, giving employees the ability to access the company’s IT resources anywhere with an internet connection. Firms can also make use of software as a service (SaaS) packages, providing them with a multitude of business applications, such as Microsoft 365, with which to carry out their work.

These technologies enable employers to offer flexible hours, recruit staff from further afield and reduce office occupancy. What’s more, they can also monitor staff productivity and task progress, as well as tracking inventory and shipping.

Better collaboration

Over the course of the lockdown, the leading software companies have gone all out to improve the collaborative cloud-based applications that teams rely on. Existing apps have been enhanced and new ones created to provide far better video chat, messaging and document sharing platforms. Features such as group editing, instant syncing and project management, together with improved security, enable remote working teams to be assembled and collaborate on a wide range of initiatives.

Transformative technology in your hands  

The cloud is the ideal place to benefit from today’s must-have technologies, like artificial intelligence, data analytics and the Internet of Things. Indeed, many of these are cloud-native, with applications that can be deployed at the click of a button in a cloud environment. What’s more, a lot of these cloud-based apps are open-source, meaning that they are free to use.

This means small businesses can take advantage of the cloud immediately, accelerating their ability to benefit from data-driven insights. As a result, they can reduce costs, improve operations and discover new opportunities much quicker than before.

Solid security

While security is a concern for every business, small firms have an additional issue when it comes to providing the in-house security expertise and resources to keep their systems protected. Migration to the cloud removes many of these headaches as the service provider will undertake a great deal of this work on their customers’ behalf.

Cloud providers have to comply with stringent regulations to ensure their infrastructure is robustly secure. By migrating to the cloud, small businesses will be automatically protected by a wide range of sophisticated security tools, such as next-gen firewalls, intrusion prevention apps and malware scanners – all of which are managed and maintained by security experts. – Read more

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8 Key Trends in Digital Transformation

My Post (3).pngAs businesses try to adjust to the new normal, many will be looking to technology to help them move forward. Digital transformation can give enterprises a competitive advantage but investing wisely means keeping abreast of innovations and up-to-date with trends and developments. To help, here are some of the main digital transformation trends keeping boardrooms excited.

Analytics

Analytics has transformed the decision-making process, providing data and insights that help businesses identify problems, opportunities and solutions. The vast quantities of data available for analysis, including real-time data, means companies which don’t make use of it are at a serious disadvantage. It has applications in all areas of business: procurement, operations, logistics, marketing, communications, security, finance and HR; and with sophisticated analytics tools easily deployable in the cloud, it’s becoming much more widely used.

AI and machine Learning

AI and machine learning are the ideal partners for data analytics and enable businesses to do much more with their data. They speed up analysis, automate large scale processing in the scalable cloud and remove the bottleneck caused by human analysts. They also learn and adapt from previous analyses while providing results in user-friendly, easily digested, graphical interfaces that non-IT staff can make sense of.

5G

While the consumer generally sees 5G as a way to improve smartphone connections and speed up downloads, the deployment of 5G infrastructure will have a much wider impact that many businesses can benefit from. It will, for example, hasten the development of IoT infrastructures, such as smart cities, intelligent transport networks, smart vehicles and smart industry. At the same time, we’ll see a wider range of connected devices, making it easier for businesses to take advantage of the IoT and the valuable data it generates.

Wi-Fi 6

The next generation of wi-fi, known as both Wi-Fi 6 and AX Wi-Fi, provides up to three times faster processing and wireless connection speeds. Even better, it enables networks to handle far more connected devices, which is helpful considering the proliferation in wi-fi enabled gadgets being used in the workplace and the increasing amounts of data they send and receive.

Blockchain

Although it’s often associated with cryptocurrencies, blockchain has many valuable uses in businesses, such as tracking the origin and movement of goods in the supply chain and providing financial audit trails. It has applications in healthcare, real-estate, media, energy and local government and can be used for a wide range of purposes. – Read more

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7 Proven Ways to Boost Website Traffic

My Post (24)According to retail analyst, GlobalData, over 50% of UK consumers now shop online, with spending predicted to grow 30% by 2024. Indeed, by 2021, Statista forecasts 93% of internet users in the UK will be shopping online. While this is fantastic news for online businesses, it comes hand in hand with a growth in competition as more companies launch websites: 84% had them in 2018 compared to 70% in 2007. To be successful in such a competitive marketplace, companies will need to find ways of increasing website traffic and in this post, we’ll explain some of the main ways to achieve this.

1. Online advertising

For companies with new websites or those which struggle to get listed in search engine results, online advertising is often the chief method of attracting customers to your website. The main way to advertise is with Google and Bing, using paid search ads that appear in search results or display ads that appear on other websites. Alternatively, you can also advertise on social media sites. All of these options allow you to target specific audiences and track the progress of your campaign, helping to ensure your advertising budget is spent effectively. It can, however, be an expensive strategy.

2. Content marketing

Internet users aren’t always looking for products or services; quite often what they are seeking is information or ideas to help them solve problems. Providing content on your website which solves those problems can massively boost the number of people who visit as it can be found in search results and shared on social media. If that content subtly mentions and links to a product or service that you supply, it increases the chances of a sale. Take, for example, someone with a small garden looking for ideas to spruce it up. They find a blog article from a garden centre called ’10 ideas for revamping a small garden’ in which they find a picture of a table and chair set they like, together with a link to the product page. From this article, the visitor solves their problem and the garden centre makes a sale. This technique is widely used by businesses in all sectors.

3. Social media marketing

If businesses don’t want to pay for advertising on social media, they can always use these sites to promote their brand, their web content and their products or services. Social media is great for posting links to your website and with the ability to use eye-catching images and video, it can be a highly effective way to increase traffic, especially as other users can spread the word by liking and sharing your posts.

4. Improve SEO

Search engines are the main way consumers find the things they are looking for online, so optimising your website for them is vital if you want to improve the chances of your web pages ranking well in search results.

While the crucial factor in SEO is providing high-quality, fresh and relevant content on your pages, you must not overlook all the other key ingredients. These include having a well-structured, easily navigable website and placing relevant keywords in the titles, subheadings, meta descriptions and content.

5. A mobile-friendly website

A mobile-friendly or responsive website is a necessity in today’s online market. The main reason for this is the fact that users spend more time online on their phones than they do on laptops or other devices. Increasingly, users are also shopping more on mobiles too. According to Statista, at the end of 2018, smartphones generated the largest share of online retail revenue in the UK with many sources predicting the amount spent using mobile devices would double over the next few years to around £40 billion.

There are many reasons for this growth: there are more phone users, there is better internet access away from home, there are easier ways for people to pay using their phones and, importantly, more companies are providing mobile-friendly websites. For businesses, the last point is crucial, as without a mobile-friendly site, the growing market of smartphone shoppers won’t be able to fully access your store. That’s an issue which also makes search engines downrank sites which aren’t mobile-friendly.

6. Make use of email marketing

Email marketing has the highest ROI of any marketing technique and is very inexpensive to implement. There are various ways to grow an email list, such as using a pop-up that offers an incentive to sign up (e.g. 10% off your first order) or asking customers to sign up during the checkout process (e.g. ‘Get updates of our new products and latest offers’).

Once visitors have signed up, you can send marketing emails to them for free with links to your website included. Today, many companies combine email marketing with the use of personalised product recommendation software which tracks what a visitor has been looking at on the website and sends out emails with links to relevant products. This personalised form of email marketing can significantly increase traffic to your site. – Read more

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