This month, Mike Richardson, managing director EMEA at Maximizer Software in Bracknell, talks about cloud software and some of the benefits for companies looking to accelerate their growth.

Q. What is cloud software?

Gartner, the global research organisation defines cloud computing as “a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service using Internet technologies.”

Software as a service’ (SaaS) is delivered via the internet on a monthly subscription, as opposed to the traditional on-premise model where you pay upfront and install software directly on to your servers.

It’s a way of accessing a virtual IT infrastructure, available anywhere, anytime, with the power and security usually only affordable for the largest companies.

Q. So why do SMEs choose cloud?

Cloud helps you stay up to speed with the latest trends in major global enterprise software at a manageable, monthly cost. We see first-hand from our customers the incredible value that the cloud version of our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can deliver.

It reduces your reliance on in-house IT expertise and lowers the total cost of ownership of your software, because your monthly payments will encompass data storage and back-up, security and even software upgrades. Plus, it’s easy to add new users to scale your business quickly.

Cloud helps Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) provide more modern and efficient services to customers, because data is held in one place and becomes easier to tap into. This also improves internal workflows and team collaboration, making employees more productive – especially when working remotely.

Q. Is there a risk companies will lose control over their data?

One of the big myths surrounding cloud is that your supplier will take over control of your customer information.

In fact, even if they handle data backups and security, you still have full ownership of your data and its privacy and security should be guaranteed.

In every one of our cloud contracts, for instance, we highlight that customer data remains their own – we must not access it or use it in any way. If a customer leaves us, their data will be deleted after 30 days.

With the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), companies are quite rightly scrutinising data security - but cloud services from reputable suppliers actually bring greater protection than most SMEs could manage in-house. The data centres of your SaaS providers should be subject to the highest industry accreditations and be ‘Tier IV’-rated.

Embracing the cloud paves the way for SMEs to punch above their weight and achieve rapid growth. It may not be right in every case – but an experienced provider should help you to make informed choices that match your business needs.

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