Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are lagging behind their enterprise counterparts when it comes to cloud adoption. With the new year (and new decade) fast underway, a recent Microsoft study showed that more than 96% of enterprises are using the cloud, compared to only 78% for SMBs. And while the use of cloud-based productivity apps like Office 365 has steadily grown among these smaller companies, their continued reliance on legacy software in key business applications such as ERP or accounting is impeding them from competing effectively with today’s top players.

Given this situation, moving to the cloud should be an obvious priority for SMBs, but many myths and misconceptions still exist regarding the benefits of cloud technology. Below are the ten most crucial and game-changing benefits that SMBs have reported after investing in cloud solutions.

1 –  Greater profit and ROI

Simply put, companies that move to the cloud make more money. And not by a small percentage, either. SMBs that invest in the cloud report up to 25% growth in revenue and up to 2x the profits over those who don’t. Embracing the cloud is simply a better path to faster growth. Additionally, cloud deployments provide a greater return on investment (ROI) than traditional on-premises software projects, especially in ERP and CRM. For example, Nucleus Research determined that companies that use Microsoft Dynamics 365 see a return of $16.97 for every $1 spent. That’s well above the average for on-premise ERP and CRM applications.

2 – Lower costs and CapEx

Cloud subscription models eliminate up-front capital expenditures (CapEx) like the high cost of hardware and software licenses for projects like ERP software implementations. They also eliminate server and infrastructure setup, update, and maintenance fees—not to mention the resources saved on software upgrades, energy costs, and underutilized computing resources

3 – Unparalleled business flexibility

Cloud software allows small businesses to remain always-on regardless of location. In today’s mobile and cloud-first world, the ability to be productive on any phone, tablet, or laptop provides the flexibility required to quickly adapt to changing information and business needs. This means more agile operations and happier customers

4 – Faster IT innovation

The hassle and cost of routine IT maintenance tasks can be effectively offloaded to the cloud, enabling IT resources to focus on more strategic tasks like addressing problems, improving user experiences, fostering user adoption and best practices, and getting more value out of systems and processes

5 – Seamless, automatic software updates

With cloud computing, all software updates are handled automatically, so critical systems always have the latest functionality and security features. This effectively ensures that all the benefits of a vendor’s ongoing R&D nvestments are transferred to their customer’s business, without that business having to dedicate any time or additional resources

6 – Cost-effective scalability

SMBs need increased flexibility to grow and scale without hassle. With the cloud, as an SMB adds users, generates more transactions, or adds more data, services dynamically scale to manage the workload. This eliminates the need to pay for more hardware or maintenance to support business growth. As a bonus, SMBs only use the energy they need for their cloud apps. Since servers aren’t running idle waiting to be utilized, operations become more energy efficient, reducing the carbon footprint of the business.

7 – Improved collaboration and productivity

Digital, cloud-based workspaces offer the opportunity to collaborate more effectively and remove data silos to enable greater employee productivity. Additionally, cloud-based office productivity suites and all-in-one business management solutions possess integration capabilities that simply can’t be matched by on-premises software.

Cloud computing also allows teams to be productive, regardless of their location. This enables businesses to offer flexible working arrangements that create a healthier work/life balance and happier employees without sacrificing productivity.

8 – Seamless software integration

Cloud applications are typically compatible with Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that simplify integration, while automation tools like Microsoft Flow facilitate stitching them together without any custom code. Data and systems can be connected like never before, resulting in new levels of speed and efficiency.

9 – Superior security and data protection

Small businesses are the most common victims of security breaches. In a recent study by ComScore, over 40% of small businesses were worried about data security before moving to the cloud. After making the switch, 94% of businesses reported security benefits they had been unable to achieve with their previous on-premises resources.

Furthermore, physical hardware protection has always been a challenge for SMBs. Laptops get lost or stolen all the time. In addition to the replacement costs, there is the even greater cost of losing important or sensitive data. When storing and backing up data in the cloud, however, data is available and protected regardless of what happens to personal devices.

10 – Increased competitiveness

Moving to the cloud gives SMBs access to enterprise-class technologies that were previously only available to the industry’s top players. With the cloud, any business can run on the exact same systems used by the largest, most sophisticated companies in the world, enabling them to innovate and act faster than competitors that manage on-premises legacy systems.

In conclusion, with cloud software now available that is purpose-built for SMBs to run their sales, marketing, service, accounting, operations, supply chain, and project management activities—all from a single, connected solution infused with AI and advanced analytics—there’s never been a better time for small and medium-sized businesses to make the move to the cloud.

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