There are many articles that cover the benefits of cloud technology in a broad sense, but in this article, I focus on what we see are the most relevant practical benefits to small businesses like pubs and bars.
Cloud software is quick to download and start using. If you’re looking for a new system and it’s available via the cloud, the only factor determining how quickly you can start using it is the time you have to get it up and running.
Try before you buy
With most cloud software you have the opportunity to try before you buy. If a system doesn’t end up doing what you need or you just don’t like it you just don’t sign up when your free trial ends.
A free trial does still take an investment of your time and effort so it makes sense to check any new software covers your key requirements before embarking on one. For more on this see our article on finding the right epos for your pub.
Access from anywhere
Because you access cloud software over the Internet you can access it from anywhere with an Internet connection (pretty much anywhere these days).
This is handy for geographically dispersed locations and teams, but perhaps, more importantly, helps facilitate the flexible lifestyle many of us aspire to - we can still check in on sales from that beach in the Bahamas (ok maybe from home in-between nappy changes…)
Automatic updates and improvements
As you pay for cloud software as an ongoing service you always have the latest updates and features. There’s no need to upgrade to a new system when the one you have is out of date.
With technology advancing more quickly all the time, this aspect of cloud technology will only become more important, as traditional hardware systems will be out of date in increasingly short timeframes.
Low or no capital expense
While you will need some hardware to use some types of cloud software, an EPOS, for example, this is generally off-the-shelf hardware that costs far less than bespoke hardware-based systems. It is also usually standard hardware that can be used with other software should you decide to switch, or worst case has resale value.
With other types of cloud software, such as an accounting package, there are no hardware needs at all, other than a laptop.
Your cloud-based software will be running on a high spec server in an air-conditioned, dust free, data centre. There will be high levels of physical and software security. There will be an uninterrupted source of power and Internet. Your data will be continually backed up. The resultant levels of reliability for the hardware your software is running on will far exceed anything you could achieve at your premises.
Easy to switch
If at any point you decide your cloud-based software isn’t working for you, you can cancel your subscription and switch to a new system. You don’t have to negotiate with the vendor to take the system back or try to sell it secondhand.
An extra bonus of this is that cloud software providers, knowing you can switch easily, are motivated to ensure the software continues to meet your needs for the long term, rather than just making the initial sale.
Just as you can access cloud software from anywhere, cloud apps can also access other cloud apps. This means there is a huge range of other applications your software can be integrated with.
This is really powerful as it means you can choose specialist best in breed software for each operational area and link them all together. Your EPOS can send your sales straight to your accounts package for example, or to your staff scheduling system.
As technology filters into more and more aspects of our lives and businesses, being able to link different apps together in this way will only become more important.
These are some of the key practical ways we see cloud software helping the businesses we work with. There will though be some cases where cloud software isn’t the right option and if you’d like to discuss whether cloud apps would be a good fit for your business, contact one of our team for a free consultation.