Collaboration is crucial for every part of your small business. 

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the ensuing scramble to find remote working options, has called attention to the benefits of the cloud for business continuity and seamless online collaboration. That attention swiftly turned to adoption as the continued global health crisis highlighted the value and flexibility of cloud services for business purposes. More and more, small to medium sized businesses are learning about the benefits of cloud collaboration. According to Gartner, the worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 18.4% in 2021 to total $304.9 billion. 

Cloud collaboration makes it easy to:

Be Accessible

Many businesses have found that collaborating remotely—even with a small team—can be difficult without the right tools. Email and phone calls are not necessarily the best way to communicate and share with partners, colleagues, and clients. Cloud collaboration allows all team members to work together in real time no matter where in the world they’re located. In the Cloud, each team member can access files or data anywhere and anytime from multiple devices with internet access. Even if someone loses or damages a device, their data remains safe and secure.

Be Organized

Project members can see who else is viewing a document, communicate with each other through a chat function, and even assign and update tasks. Human errors are minimized since files are stored right where the team communicates. These tools help everyone stay focused and organized in one central place. The days of combining emailed documents and grappling with outdated versions is now in the past. A shared cloud document is always auto-saving and synced, so everyone with access can see the changes as they are made. Also, you’ll never have to worry about updating the features and tools because it’s all done for you.

Be Cost Efficient

Cloud computing includes fewer infrastructure needs and maintenance costs since hardware, repairs and replacing old equipment is never your responsibility. With your business processes on the cloud, you’ll never have to invest in on-premise software, system configuration and infrastructure installation. For the same reason, it also simplifies and minimizes the cost of software upgrades and implementations. Cloud-based collaboration enables you to cut on various office overhead costs which makes it ideal for small and medium sized businesses.

Be Scalable 

As your team grows, you’ll want collaboration tools that can grow with you. Cloud scalability means that you can increase or decrease your IT resources (ex. data storage capacity, processing power, networking) as needed. Scalability is one of the hallmarks of the cloud and a major reason that it’s popular with growing businesses. 

Our favourite cloud collaboration solutions:

  • Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams, as part of Microsoft 365 Business, is our favourite cloud collaboration solution. It was designed specifically to help teams work together no matter where they’re located. The cloud-based collaboration methods within 365 include: 

  • Video Conferencing

You can conduct virtual meetings for any situation, whether you’re calling a colleague, hosting a team meeting, or delivering a sales pitch. Microsoft Teams allows you to invite anyone with an email address to join your meeting, and let them join automatically or have them wait in the virtual lobby.

You’ll have the ability to mute participants, designate presenters, and screen share. By sharing your screen in a video meeting, you can run through presentations, documents, and slide decks. Participants can raise their virtual hand with the click of a button when they have something to say, or turn on captions to follow along in real time. There’s also the option to record your meeting in the cloud and share with participants later.

  • Group Chat 

Messaging and group chatting lets team members have a quick conversation about a project or tasks, or simply leave a note. You can also create shared to-do lists in a group chat, assign tasks to others, set due dates, and check off completed items. Team chat apps allow you to see the entire chat history, document any requests or changes to a file, and even review who contributed what to the conversation. If any team members couldn’t make the chat, they can review the chat history to catch up.

  • Secure File Sharing

In the past, you probably shared files by attaching them to emails. Then, the other person would add edits and send the files back to you. Now, cloud storage services offer ‘secure’ file sharing, so that they are protected from online threats and only accessed by people who have been granted permission. Secure file sharing includes not only permission-based access, but password protected access, two-factor authentication, file encryption, virus scanning, and ransomware detection.

Cloud Computing: Better Collaboration

The journey to the cloud has become even more obvious for businesses today since we’ve been dealing with the unprecedented operational impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability to communicate and share via cloud computing has been shown to enhance the quality of work produced and decrease the amount of time it takes to complete projects. In fact, that recent Gartner survey data mentioned above indicates that almost 70% of organizations using cloud services today plan to increase their cloud spending in the wake of the disruption caused by COVID-19.

Team members can get in touch with each other in whatever way they need, regardless of where they are located. This increases participation, with more frequent and efficient collaboration. And, with real-time data updates, your team always works on the latest version with one single source. For small businesses that need to be budget-conscious, mobile, and adaptable, cloud collaboration is pretty much essential.