How cloud computing is leveling the playing field for minority- and women-owned businesses

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By Mark Stone

Cloud computing has transformed the way companies of all sizes do business. But, the concept of cloud computing is for lack of a better term cloudy.

Cloud computing for consumers is entirely different than the cloud for business. Think of the consumer cloud as a storage space for people’s photos, music and documents; for business, it’s all that and more. Business’s use of the cloud includes offloading critical computing and networking tasks.

While mid- to large-size businesses have always had the budget to maximize data-handling efficiency, the cloud levels the playing field for small businesses. Without a large budget or physical space to allocate to network infrastructure, small and mid-size businesses need to do more with less. The cloud solves problems for businesses by storing and processing data in remote data centers.

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IBM is the No. 1 cloud services provider in the U.S., according to a recent International Data Corp. survey of U.S. market preferences. The IBM website explains the benefits of using the cloud for business, “It’s on-demand, always available and requires almost no setup or capital expense. Cloud services expand as you need them and don’t cost an arm and a leg. With cloud technology, mid-size businesses can compete with the big guys.”

Many minority business owners are also seeing tremendous benefit from cloud technology. Having access to technology that was once prohibitively expensive is leveling the playing field between the advantaged and disadvantaged. This technology is especially appropriate for younger minority groups who have grown up using cloud services with their smart phones or tablets as they enter the workforce or dive headfirst into the often choppy entrepreneurial waters.

Furthermore, cloud computing levels the playing field in ways we’ve never seen before. As much as we long for a world in which race and gender do not play a part in how we are perceived, this view is still not a reality. Today, with the wide range of products and services available to any and all businesses using cloud technology, we are all operating with the same opportunities and rights as our colleagues and competitors. By stripping away any biases or judgments others may have about us, the cloud can truly be a game-changer for minority business owners.

As the leading cloud services provider, IBM “works with businesses to figure out what they need, how to deploy services and where companies will benefit most.”To help minority businesses get a feel for how they can take advantage of the cloud for many of their IT-related requirements, IBM offers free trials of its Social Business suite, SmartCloud Analytics, SmartCloud Monitoring – Application Insight and even its SoftLayer virtual server offerings.

According to IBM’s research, “Cloud’s strategic importance to business leaders is poised to double from 34 percent to 72 percent blowing past their IT counterparts at 58 percent.” After polling 800 cloud decision makers and users, IBM’s study suggests that cloud can deliver far more than just efficiency. Pacesetting organizations are using cloud to gain competitive advantage through strategic business reinvention, better decisions and deeper collaboration.

It’s no longer a case of if your business will use cloud technology, it’s clearly a case of when.

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