Guest post by Gina Smith Business owners are continually seeking ways to increase their bottom line. The challenging economy makes this task even more difficult as declines in consumer confidence directly translate into slower sales. How do you increase your bottom line, especially when sales are sliding? The obvious answer it to re-evaluate your marketing strategy, develop new niche markets and consider diversifying your products and/or services. How and what your market should be examined at least annually, if not more often. But, chasing sales is not the only way to increase your bottom line. Sometimes reevaluating your infrastructure can yield some interesting options. For instance, shifting your information technology (IT) structure to a cloud environment can have a positive impact on your bottom line and help your employees be more productive. Let’s examine some ways small businesses are reaping the benefits of the cloud. Less Equipment and Reduced Maintenance Cloud platforms allow you to save and store all company data on secure remote servers. This can significantly reduce and possibly even eliminate the need for a local network. Less on-site equipment means fewer upgrade purchases and reduced repair and maintenance. The overall cost savings of switching to a cloud environment can be significant. Little or No Staff Required Reducing or eliminating your local network means needing less IT staff. This opens up the ability for you to hire additional staff in other areas, or choose to not “rehire” IT positions when an employee leaves your company. Increased Portability and Productivity Sales staff in particular benefit from cloud platforms. For one, the cloud gives them 24/7 remote access to any and all their data from any Wi-Fi enabled device. There is no need for employees to make extra trips back to the office in between meetings and appointments. This can translate into a tremendous savings in mileage reimbursement and wear and tear on company vehicles. “Data Insurance” Many small business are viewing the cloud as a sort of “data insurance” policy. All data is stored offsite on remote cloud servers. So, if your office falls victim to theft or a natural disaster, your data is still safe. Many companies also consider an additional backup service to protect their data in the event of a botched sync or user error. While the cloud has many benefits, it is important to thoroughly screen providers to determine which company and option(s) are best for your company. There are many articles on this topic to help aid you in your research. Don’t be afraid to interview different providers and ask for references. It is important to find the right fit to ensure maximum return on investment (ROI). Gina Smith writes freelance articles for magazines, online outlets and publications for companies such as spanning.com. Smith covers the latest topics in the business, golf, tourism, technology and entertainment industries.
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