Let’s explore how cloud automation is crucial for small businesses and how it can help them stay ahead of the curve.
Businesses taking advantage of the cloud and outsourcing their enterprise IT infrastructure benefit from reduced costs and greater scalability to data accessible anywhere, regardless of location or device.
But the cloud can offer even more by automating processes and reducing the workload on employees. Words like automation often conjure up ideas of advanced and expensive solutions and technology that are restricted to larger operations with dedicated teams to oversee implementation and operations.
This couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to cloud automation. All you need is an internet connection and an “as-a-Service” subscription. Cloud-based software can free your business of costly on-prem infrastructure and free your employees from a range of time-consuming tasks.
What could you and your team accomplish with more time in the day? Freed from repetitive, often tedious tasks, your workforce could instead focus on meaningful, additive work that helps grow your business for years to come.
How Cloud Automation Is Crucial to Business Operations
We’ve detailed how cloud automation can help three crucial areas of operation for small businesses:
1. Supply chain management
Supply chain software hosted on the cloud can produce an efficient network of vendors to take your business to the top. Bring your supply chain up to date by automating basic processes.
Supply chain management involves many administrative tasks that can be automated seamlessly using cloud-based software. Purchasing, inventory management, fulfillment, and tracking orders all are improved by accurate automation.
For example, paying vendors involves managing critical business information (ensuring delivery of the product or services, payment terms, preferred payment methods, etc.), checking this information against received invoices, and authorizing payments. Each of these processes can require lengthy manual oversight. For example, you might put lots of time and thought into the following:
- Was this invoice net 30 or net 60?
- What payment method does the vendor use?
- They want the money wired—are wire transfers safe?
- Who authorized this payment?
The entire payment process is simplified with comprehensive supply chain software. Businesses can install approval workflows to only approve valid invoices, track invoice details, sync this information with accounting software, and take advantage of bill-paying software to automate payments so late fees are never incurred.
Cloud automation also allows businesses to connect every element of their supply chain to create an agile system able to respond to unforeseen circumstances. This means automatically updating inventory with each purchase and quickly finding alternative suppliers if the delivery falls through.
Businesses can optimize supply chain management for better service with a single real-time view of the current inventory and upcoming deliveries. All this data provides the opportunity for insight-driven business decisions. Use analytics to identify new trends and eradicate any inefficiencies at the source.
Finally, your business can expand its search for new vendors with supply chain management powered by cloud automation.
Cloud-based CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software introduces a number of automation opportunities to improve sales operations and boost conversions.
Effective sales automation can eliminate repetitive tasks across the sales pipeline (lead generation, follow-ups, targeted marketing, etc.) without losing the personal touch customers enjoy. Examples include scheduling sales emails, prioritizing leads, organizing meetings and sending reminders, onboarding new clients, and invoicing to get paid.
With software taking care of the small things, sales staff can focus on tasks that require human creativity and affect the bottom line.
Don’t think of automation as replacing employees. Think of it as a way to maximize the potential of your existing employees, boosting productivity and opening new doors to previously locked growth. With staff able to focus on closing deals, you can improve conversion rates and lose fewer leads.
Plus, hosting this software on the cloud also leads to simplified operations. With employees working from the same platform, they can quickly share information and build a unified plan for each potential customer.
The cloud means there is a single source of truth across the entire company, and information gathered is immediately accessible to everyone on the team rather than siloed away.
3. Protecting your data
The rapid digitalization of business operations, supercharged by the pandemic, has led to an explosion of cyberattacks. Businesses must have rock-solid cybersecurity policies in place to protect sensitive business and customer data.
By automating your cloud storage and backup, you are incorporating cybersecurity protections from some of the biggest companies in the world. On-premises infrastructure and data storage means relying on in-house expertise and potential human errors.
There is also a range of over-the-top cybersecurity solutions to protect your cloud network using advanced architecture such as Zero Trust Networking (ZTN) or Secure Access Service Edge (SASE).
On-prem IT infrastructure allows you to implement traditional firewalls and create a barrier around your sensitive data. In contrast, the dispersed nature of the cloud means companies must implement identity-driven perimeters and continually ask users to prove their identity.
Expand Your SME with the Power of Cloud Automation
Automating operations with cloud-based processes is the future for every business, regardless of size. Those that don’t get involved now risk being left behind in the future digital business world.
Running an SMB has never been more competitive, and owners need to uncover every possible advantage. Cloud automation brings a range of opportunities to simplify operations while reducing waste.
Whether it is building the best possible supply chain, optimizing sales operations and boosting conversion rates, or protecting your data, cloud automation is becoming an integral part of running a modern business.
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I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.