Cloud computing 101

CloudsMost busy entrepreneurs these days have a computer and a smartphone. Many have heard about the Cloud, but aren’t quite sure how to use it in their business.

If that’s you, then read on for five quick and dirty facts about using the Cloud to make you and your business more efficient and productive.

1.  What is the Cloud? 

The Cloud is a metaphor the marketing gurus came up with to describe the Internet. Essentially, working in the Cloud is your ability to have anytime, anywhere computing and access to your information—without ever having to know much about the technology.

2.  How does it work?

In the old days, all your information and software was stored on your computer’s hard drive. This meant you had to be on a specific computer to run the installed software to access and use that data. Cloud computing frees you from this scenario. Now, all of your data and software (called web apps) live in the Cloud where you have access to it from wherever you are when you go online, from any device.

To work in the Cloud you need a:

  • computer, smartphone or tablet
  • connection to the Internet
  • web app

3.  Is it safe to store my information in the Cloud?

It’s becoming much safer to have your data stored in the Cloud. Of course, there is always the risk of potential hackers and criminals.  Your best defense is a strong password and ensuring the password is kept confidential. For more tips, read my previous article: Take control of your passwords.

Make sure the Cloud-based service or app you are using is reputable and provides information to you about how they keep your data safe.

4.  How can I use it in my business?

You’re probably already using the Cloud in your business, you just don’t know it. For instance, if you access your email from your smartphone, that’s Cloud computing. You’re using a web app on your phone to access your email account. All of your emails are stored on a server in the Cloud by your email hosting service.

Other ways you can use it:

  • Accessing contact information
  • Sharing documents
  • Backing up your data
  • Tracking expenses
  • Taking notes
  • Managing projects
  • Tracking tasks

You name it, there’s an app for it!

5.  How much does it cost?

The cost of Cloud computing depends on your needs. Many web apps are free, or at least have a free version. You must determine if the convenience and increased efficiency justifies the cost. Set a budget and work within it.

Cloud computing can help you streamline your operations and enable you to be connected to your work while you’re out of the office or on the go.

Like any change to the way your business runs, take small steps. Incorporate the Cloud into the parts that require a boost, such as backing up your data or tracking expenses. Once you experience the ease and convenience of having all your data at your fingertips, you won’t look back.

Now it’s your turn

How do you use the Cloud in your business? Share your comments below and let’s continue the conversation.

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