It seems that the cloud has taken everyone by storm, with a proliferation of stories in the media of both its successes and its failings as a business tool. The cloud is everywhere and even those organisations that haven’t actively moved processes into the cloud are probably using it in some small part, for example through the use of Dropbox or GoogleDocs.
CRM is one of the driving forces behind many companies moving their data and functions into the cloud and there is no doubt that there are benefits to doing so. The decision on whether a cloud CRM deployment is suitable for your business, however, is not one to be taken lightly, and the more information you are armed with the better. Here is an explanation of some of the most prevalent myths and the realities associated with cloud-based CRM.
The four big myths
1) The cloud compromises data security
Data security is a big issue for any business and a common concern surrounding the cloud is that moving data and business processes online can expose a company to more cyber threats. In actual fact, the access to sophisticated firewalls, security protocols and data encryption that using a cloud service provider grants is a major bonus, particularly for SMES which are unlikely to install this level of protection on their own internal servers.
2) Operating in the cloud will result in disruptions and poor service quality
These issues came top of a 2013 Maximizer survey into the cloud: the biggest concern for 71% of UK SMEs. In reality, a cloud service provider is likely to have far better back-ups and technical support than the average SME, as well as a far greater level of computing power, maintenance capabilities and around-the-clock support.
3) The cloud will have an impact on how we do business
It probably will – but for the better. A common misperception is that moving to the cloud can ruin your carefully built up business processes, whereas in actual fact, working in the cloud will make it easier to search your customer database, update records, enable workplace collaboration, permit off-site work and access business intelligence.
4) The cloud is too expensive for the likes of me
Many SMEs are put off the cloud by falsely thinking that it is more suitable for larger businesses that can afford to take greater risks. Again, this is just not true: operating in the cloud cuts cost and risk for the majority of SMEs that use it because no expensive infrastructure is required, security is better and costs for IT staff, power and maintenance are reduced.
Why cloud CRM works
Cloud CRM evidently has some major advantages for businesses and particularly SMEs. Choosing a cloud-based CRM platform negates the need for the expensive infrastructure and security applications associated with an on-site solution, and operational costs are also reduced. In fact, the International Data Corporation estimates that almost every SME that uses cloud services lowers costs by 10%-20%. Software is also automatically upgraded on the host server, making it easy to keep up with technology without having to worry about the financial implication of an upgrade.
Another major benefit is that CRM system is scalable, offering businesses the opportunity to change the number of users at minimum cost. Our 2013 survey revealed this to be the cloud’s most significant benefit, with almost half of SMEs seeing it as an advantage.
Clearly, before making a decision on whether adopting a cloud-based CRM system is the right move for your business, it is essential to look beyond the hype and the misconceptions. Only once armed with the facts can you determine whether the business benefits outweigh any potential down sides.