Cloud computing continues to enable businesses large and small to do more with less. For that reason, as much as 70 percent of all software, IT, and tech spending will be cloud-based by next year, according to the International Data Corp.
These startling numbers are among the reasons to believe that 2019 will see an arms race for companies looking to gain technological advantages on competitors — small businesses in particular.
The past year saw small businesses looking for ways to improve IT and business processes while mitigating risk and protecting data. According to market research firm Techaisle, this focus on optimization led many to invest in cloud technologies.
Cloud technology has been a tremendous equalizer for a minority of small businesses for almost a decade — a trend that will undoubtedly continue in 2019 as the overwhelming evidence of cost savings, security, and productivity from these technologies continues to mount. For example, a Microsoft survey found that 82 percent of companies cut costs thanks to cloud technology, and 94 percent reported security benefits since moving to the cloud. Similarly, Rackspace reports that 75 percent of cloud adopters were able to improve service availability.
The coming year will be about developing an infrastructure that allows small businesses to maximize the cloud’s benefits. That means investing in tools and people who integrate dispersed technological components so that they function as a single interconnected platform.
Broadly speaking, infrastructure development will guide spending in 2019, but the coming year will likely prove to be a starting point for trends that last well into the next decade. Look for these developments in 2019:
1. Hybrid cloud solutions will proliferate
More small businesses will shift to a hybrid cloud solution that enables them to determine which data and applications are accessed in the cloud and which are accessed locally. End users like customers won’t know whether they’re dealing with cloud or on-premise solutions, but they will notice general improvements.
Decisions to opt for dual usage won’t just be performance-driven. As industry regulations, customer confidentiality requirements, and other external factors arise or mature, small businesses will have to decide for themselves how to best navigate them.
2. Vendors will lead migration to the cloud
As more vendors move their applications to the cloud and embrace the SaaS model, it will make sense for small businesses to follow suit. Going forward, more small businesses will abandon on-premise installations for their cloud-based versions.
To understand what that might look like, a client of ours that operates hundreds of franchise restaurants across the Western U.S. was using a legacy on-premise accounting system and had to manually enter sales data generated from the point-of-sale systems in its restaurants — an expensive, time-consuming process. After moving the accounting system to the cloud, the company was able to connect those POS systems and automate the entire workflow, instantaneously importing that data to the new accounting system.
3. Tailored solutions will become more available
Increasingly in 2019, industry-focused small businesses will be able to harness software-as-a-service cloud platforms designed specifically for their needs. This is already happening to some extent in industries like healthcare, insurance, and financial services: in other words, markets that are already framed by complex regulations. In a regulatory environment that continues to change as we see new cases involving consumer data management (and mismanagement), customized solutions will become more necessary and more prevalent.
As businesses of all sizes began to realize that the cloud offers far more than cheap storage, cloud computing became synonymous with speed, efficiency, and innovation. For small businesses that want to begin harnessing the power of the cloud or to get more out of an initial investment in cloud technology, plenty of firms can help. The right provider will actively listen, ask relevant questions, and have a firm understanding of how cloud computing will allow you to achieve your business goals. Likewise, a strong partner will help you understand industry regulations and ensure compliance, enabling seamless computing for years to come.