The world has changed: the hardest question parents used to face was “Why is the sky blue?” Nowadays, our children are as apt to look up at us and say, “Mom, where is the internet?” At which point we take a deep breath and consider how we can explain cloud services and server farms to a five-year-old. Technology has evolved so much in the last two decades: first there was the outsourcing, and now there is an entirely new entrepreneurial class in America. In the next few years, businesses will spend almost $200 billion on cloud services; the trend toward outsourcing IT services also continues to grow.
Businesses do not want to spend money on anything they don’t have to. Lean manufacturing principles are also entirely applicable to small businesses, and employing a full-time IT person is rapidly becoming an antiquated notion. Business owners are asking themselves, why pay for services that I don’t need? Maybe your business only requires a few hours of IT every week: outsource your cybersecurity, your storage, and your computer maintenance routines to offsite staff and pay for services either monthly or a la carte.
The cloud services market model is saving businesses money: about four out of five businesses surveyed recently indicated that they are saving money by mitigating their spending for IT. Likewise, managed IT services professionals consistently report that they would rather work for multiple business clients than to sit in a single office and wait for a computer to have an issue. The shift toward an entrepreneurial business model is helping both businesses and IT professionals make more of their money and their time.
Another advantage to making the shift to a cloud computing model is that your business can save on computer infrastructure costs. The cloud model allows small businesses to use the same software as larger businesses: why should a billion dollar company have more effective accounting software than a mom-and-pop shop? Cloud computing understands that small businesses — and smaller towns and municipalities — should have the same programs running as their larger counterparts. In this way, the shift toward cloud computing begins to outline the democratization of computing, storage, and cybersecurity.
That leveling of the economic playing field has been one of the most positive shifts in the American economy in the past 20 years. Artists have access to free photography and drawing software, bakers can call up any recipe they need in seconds, and entrepreneurs can do their own accounting with programs that are widely available online. As more businesses store their employees’ records and other vital client information offsite — in the cloud — then we will continue to see more businesses who forego an actual office for a virtual one.
Business owners are able to rent conference space and meeting rooms now on a strictly as-needed basis, so why bother with a permanent office space? Small business owners across America are coming to grips with their need — or lack of need — for office space. New office options are also available for people who work from home. Why sit in a coffee shop to work when you could convert a steel shipping container or build another low-cost office option right in your own backyard? The rise of the remote worker has given many a small business owner pause: let employees create their own offices and boost worker productivity.
We store our records offsite, employ people who work for us from anywhere in the world, and we use the same programs that are used by what used to be called the captains of industry. As American entrepreneurs continue to sail our own ships into the cloud — services — will we still have a traditional business model after the next decade? We may not know exactly what the future holds, but the fact is that outsourcing has accidentally worked to form the new entrepreneurial class in America.