Many small business owners look to the cloud to improve their operations. That’s the conclusion of Brother International Corporation’s just released sixth annual “Brother Small Business Survey.” Among the 62% of respondents who use the cloud, 95% found the cloud beneficial to their company, with 69% citing the benefit of easier access, storage and analysis of data. Additionally, 34% of respondents believe the cloud has helped them save money.

Moving your business to the cloud

When it comes to moving your small business to the cloud, you have several options:

  • Public cloud: With a public cloud option, services are provided remotely in a multi-tenant environment. You share hardware, storage and network resources with other companies. The benefit of the public cloud is reduced complexity and lead time to deployment.
  • Private cloud: Private cloud also is remotely located but you use services and network resources entirely devoted to your business. The private cloud gives you more options for customization.
  • Hybrid cloud: The hybrid cloud is a combination of both public and private solutions. Your small business may use the public cloud for email management and the private cloud for data storage.

Three steps to get started with the cloud

Identify your needs: First determine which cloud option is best for your small business needs – public, private or hybrid. From there, review your current IT tasks and consider what your future requirements will be as your business continues to grow to help you decide what cloud-based application you need.

Ask questions: As you evaluate cloud service providers, compare their features, such as scalability and ease of use. Also find out about security measures to ensure your data against data breaches. You also want to know about uptime guarantees, since downtime is something your small business can’t afford.

Try before you buy: Before making a decision, test out various cloud computing options. You’ll want to be sure whatever option you choose is at least equal or better than managing the application on premise.

Internet of Things and more tech solutions

In other survey findings, roughly two thirds (67%) of respondents are looking to invest in making a tech change this year with 41% saying they would like to spend money on tech purchases or upgrades if they increase their revenues by 5% or more this year.

Regarding technology other than the cloud, a third of respondents indicated that they would like to deploy technology to take better advantage of the “Internet of Things,” — the ability to use familiar devices and services connected to the Internet and each other in new ways.

If given the opportunity to perform a tech “makeover,” 38% of survey respondents also said they would replace their current laptops, 20% their mobile devices and 13% their desk phones. Thirty percent of respondents also would like to start accepting mobile payments from customers.

What are your plans for making new investments in technology?