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Transforming the way businesses work through cloud technology

By Alex Tebbs, founder of unified communications specialist VIA.

Cloud technology has revolutionised the way we work in recent years. Its growth shows no signs of slowing down, with almost half of the UK’s small businesses saying they will invest in cybersecurity and cloud technology this year, highlighting companies’ willingness to adapt and invest in the latest software and tools. Doing so allows businesses to offer the best possible customer service and stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the competition.

As with many things in life, there are sceptics - people who believe that cloud computing is just a phase that will pass. The stats indicate otherwise. There is also a misconception that cloud adoption costs a fortune, takes a long time to implement and results in a less secure infrastructure with users having less control over their data; this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, this type of technology is one of the largest facilitators of efficiency for businesses and more likely to be safer than your existing systems.

Cloud technology and the modern workplace

So how has cloud technology actually improved the way we work on a day-to-day basis? Firstly, it has massively helped reduce the amount of time and management required for basic business admin, such as payroll and expenses. These processes are now sped up via simple to use apps, and businesses can even set up direct debit collections through systems such as GoCardless, which can be integrated with other cloud-based software.

As well as its positive impact on accountancy, cloud technology has helped businesses to become more collaborative and connected in their approach. Resource sharing is now super easy, through the use of apps like Google Drive and Dropbox, while Google Docs enables colleagues to work in and amend the same document in real-time. These functionalities have never been so important, as more and more businesses chose to adopt flexible working policies allowing their employees to work where and when suits them best. Advanced business communications have also made it possible for staff to keep in touch via a range of platforms, no longer tied to a phone line but able to utilise unified communication solutions like instant messaging, VOIP and mobile devices.

The fact we can work remotely and be just as efficient has opened up new opportunities for budding entrepreneurs. Cloud technology removes the barriers to entry that used to exist in the form of property and hardware installations, and replaces them with easy to access cost-effective business solutions.

On every entrepreneur’s mind right now is the impending arrival of GDPR. Cloud technology has improved business security in so many ways that it’s hard not to be bought into it. There are apps out there that let individuals choose who and how people access their documents, while others offer extra security with end-to-end encryption and two-factor authentication functionality.

With everything ‘in the cloud’, the need for paperwork has been reduced too, and slowly we’re seeing more businesses strive to become paperless, or near to paperless as they can. It’s more productive and secure to work this way, but it also serves as a great example of how the cloud is helping the environment.

The cloud in 2018 and beyond

As discussed earlier, cloud technology has proved to be more than just an industry buzzword. The statistics show that businesses are bought into the benefits it can provide and are willing to invest more in this area. With GDPR just around the corner, companies will be taking the time to review their software and tools too, and those striving for a fully-integrated approach are likely to adopt cloud technology.

At the start of the year we predicted the rise in ‘smarter offices’ with technology playing an even more prominent role. Smart offices of the future will take an integrated approach to things like their communications platforms, meaning it will be much easier for businesses to facilitate remote working and cross-location collaboration.

Slowly, firms are realising that cloud technology is not just an option, it’s the new way of working. In the near future, it wouldn’t be surprising to see everyone ‘living in the cloud’ both at home and at work. But the cloud of tomorrow won’t be the same as it it today because it’s advancing at such a rapid pace. Companies are already working on the combination of AI and the cloud, which is an exciting prospect that we could see trending sooner than we think.