Cloud computing on a school blackboard

If you think you don’t know what Cloud computing is, think again. The average layman will respond to the term with a blank stare, but when you explain the basic concept they’re quite familiar with the idea. After all, some of us have been using cloud computing for our personal e-mail requirements for years now – who’s got a Hotmail account?

Let’s look at it this way. In plain English, it’s like renting somebody else’s staff and premises to handle your business, allowing you to free up a lot of your resources, time and money for other purposes. As such, it’s ideal for anyone considering self-employment, or for anyone whose business is a bit top-heavy when it comes to administration.

In my world, the world of the virtual assistant, cloud computing is a godsend. It enables unprecedented collaboration and the VA can be even more productive, allowing the entrepreneur to delegate or outsource using a variety of applications and software hosted “in the cloud”.

Cloud computing may turn out to be one of the most positive developments for small businesses in many generations. Remember what you had to do to establish a small business before cloud computing became a feasible alternative. You had to invest in large upfront expenditure in terms of hardware plus the cost of software licenses could be astronomical. Businesses had to engage highly skilled technicians and IT personnel to set up their systems and/or to train the people who would be working for them, if not themselves.

The advent of cloud computing was perfectly timed when you look at the general trend in downsizing personal and laptop computers. They will soon only be portals connecting straight to the internet where everything you need will be stored.

As time goes by more and more applications are becoming available in the cloud. Office 365 and Adobe programmes come to mind immediately. Pay a monthly fee, get all upgrades as they appear and no costly upfront payments. If you search, you will likely find that any software application you use has an equivalent App in the cloud.

As cloud computing becomes more integrated in everyday life we are seeing continued investment in infrastructure and very high performance. Whilst data security may have been questionable at one time, now it’s almost taken for granted and there isn’t much of a risk of downtime in realistic terms.

Virtual assistants can and should be entirely at ease with the concept of cloud computing and able to coordinate all initiatives for the small business owner.