Growth of cloud computing in Yorkshire and how I use the cloud for business
Guest blog post by Jonny Ross, digital strategist and digital marketing speaker, Fleek Marketing. Jonny explains how he uses cloud computing for business.
The UK’s Cloud Industry Forum reports that by 2016, four out of every five UK organisations had adopted at least one cloud application. My experience working with businesses across Yorkshire is that most are now keen to adopt cloud technologies, and those that aren’t are falling behind.
Yorkshire has always been home to great innovations, including in the field of cloud computing. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Yorkshire-based virtualDCS for a while now, and what they don’t know about cloud computing isn’t worth knowing. Described by TMT News as “the UK’s most cutting edge cloud services provider”, the virtualDCS senior team has shaped the cloud industry, pioneering industry-leading cloud solutions since the 90s.
It’s no surprise, then, that Yorkshire is a hotbed of IT innovators. And with the likes of virtualDCS ensuring organisations have access to a safe and secure IT systems, cloud growth in the region looks set to continue.
But why are businesses so keen to move to the cloud?
Described by Andy Brown of KPMG Enterprise Consulting as “a great playground”, the cloud allows businesses to innovate with minimal investment.
“If something has been a huge investment you are much more likely to feel that you have to keep on using it whereas if that’s not the case and you try something out, there is no issue if it doesn’t work out,” he says.
Here are just some of the benefits of moving to the cloud:
- Efficiency – Huge reduction in business running costs, negating the need for onsite servers and all the ongoing costs of running them.
- Innovation – Access to enterprise-level technology through the cloud, facilitating innovation, growth and change.
- Security – The cloud keeps your critical data safe through secure and encrypted solutions, firewalls, and backup recovery.
- Access – Immediate access to all your business data, wherever you are in the world and whenever you need it.
- Connectivity – Opportunity to connect worldwide, opening up avenues for education, collaboration and partnerships with experts and influencers around the world.
- Scalability – ability to quickly scale up and adapt alongside your business needs, without the risk of dated infrastructure investment.
Cloud computing has brought huge benefits at Fleek Marketing. I’ve always been interested in new technologies, and I love trying out apps and software to see what works and how I can improve business operations.
The business is now almost completely operated through the cloud – everything from cloud accounting to cloud project management – and automation frees me up to focus my time and energy where it has most impact: with my clients.
My top 9 cloud apps
Here’s a run down of some of the cloud-based tools I couldn’t live without:
- Google Docs: Rather than sending cumbersome email attachments of documents, I send links to Google Doc collaborative documents with real-time editing and tracking.
- Google Analytics: I spent quite a lot of time in Google Analytics, looking at how client’s websites are performing, tracking social referrals, setting and tracking goals, exploring where traffic has come from and how visitors use and move around the site.
- Wunderlist – a fantastically simple lists app. Not only do I use it to create action lists for projects, I also organise my personal life through it. My wife and I even have a shared shopping list!
- Insightly – This is our core CRM (customer relationship management) tool. We maintain all our contacts in here. It functions really well as a business development tracker, allowing us to track progress through the sales funnel.
- Teamwork Project Management – All our client work is organised into projects on Teamwork. I can assign tasks to people and send them messages, and only those involved with the project receive updates. We’ve set up processes for each type of project to ensure nothing gets missed.
- Xero – I love this online accounting software, particularly as it integrates really easily with my other business administration tools. As well as the usual bookkeeping and accounts, it also facilitates invoicing, payroll, inventory and expense claims. You can import bank, credit card and Paypal data and manage it all through an app (both iPhone and Andriod versions available).
- Evernote – This tool helps me to organise my brain! From saving ideas, copying text from the web and meeting notes through to creating action lists, all orgainsed into projects.
- Zapier and IfTTT – These apps are what I use for automation. They save me hours every day!
- Slack – And finally Slack, which is a quick and easy instant messaging service I use to communicate with team members, freelancers and project members – wherever they are in the world!
For a full list of cloud computing apps and tools that I recommend, have a look at my 99 top tools blog post.
As an early adopter in the website development and search engine optimisation (SEO) field, I have always found the online world to be inspiring and full of opportunities. Roughly 30% of my new business comes from LinkedIn, most often from conversations within business networking groups like The Yorkshire Mafia.
So operating in the cloud has always suited the way I do business. I wouldn’t be able to manage my business without it.