Business Technology

Why cloud computing is an important factor for tech business growth

10 min read

27 July 2015

Britain is home to steadily increasing tech startup scene. According to the recent Tech Nation report, technology is the most important industry in the UK. And with 50 per cent of digital companies in the UK having been founded since 2008, startups are making up a massive part of that industry.

Advances in technology such as cloud computing are helping tech startups to start and grow in a scalable way. We have recently caught up with a number of successful tech startups who have shared their experiences of setting up and expanding their businesses using cloud computing.

First up we Ian Warford, the head of products at mporium. mporium provide clients with mcommerce sites in order to drive their online business experience both on desktop and mobile.

According to Warford: “Cloud computing for us has been a phenomenal asset. We currently use Microsoft Cloud services that enable us to implement high end technology in a matter of seconds that would have previously taken us a year. Cloud computing has helped to reduce our time to market, cost of development, time to implement as well as the overall complexity of working in the fast moving tech industry.

“By using cloud computing there is no need to invest in additional hardware or maintenance. It has helped to transform the way we run our business. Our advice for new tech startups is to use cloud services wherever you can. In the past procuring and installing new hardware would have taken up vital time and resources, but cloud computing offers businesses essential services on demand.”

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Next we have Lee Thompson, head of product at Loyalive. Loyalive has developed a live loyalty card app that allows users to store their loyalty cards on the phone, view live balances and discover what those balances are worth.

“Our operations are based in central London, but the various cloud computing platforms we use to deliver the business means we really can work anywhere. The recent tube strike on our launch day meant we had three developers and myself in separate locations co-ordinating the launch of our app remotely,” Thompson explained.

“We communicated using Google’s apps for business (which were super easy to setup), kept the chatter going with Slack, and uploaded our app to the cloud-based stores, all without missing a beat. Plus, the infrastructure of our app is hosted on Amazon Web Services – meaning we’re ready to scale in minutes as our user base increases, without the costly space, time or hardware overhead. It also gives our CEO peace of mind that when he’s at meetings with partners, potential investors, or even just at home outside office hours, he can still log in and see our apps performance, or stay part of the discussion with Slack, or edit a document on the go with Google Docs.

“When we moved offices two weeks ago, we didn’t have servers to set up. We didn’t have cables to run and permissions to set. We simply plugged in our router and got back to work – no additional costs, no additional hardware needed. It actually took longer to get our single phone line connected than it did to get connected and carry on working.”

Continue reading on the next page to discover how the cloud has supported operations in diverse companies including Kaldor, a mobile publishing platform, and small business human resources service HRLocker.

Below we have Zoe Walters, commercial director at Kaldor, which is the creator of Pugpig. Pugpig is a mobile publishing platform that provides users with editorial, authoring and content management system capabilities.

“As a small but fast growing software development house, our needs as a business are constantly changing, so finding operational tools that enable us to scale while keeping costs low is a priority. We use various cloud computing tools across our business, from accounting and CRM, to project management, subscription management, email, documents, spreadsheets, calendars and internal communications, it’s all in the cloud,” Walters said.

“One of the main benefits is flexibility. As our business grows the cloud services we use can scale with us to meet demand, which is important for business planning and putting in place a sustainable operational infrastructure. Low set up fees is another huge benefit. Historically the set up fees required to implement enterprise grade software would prohibit a small business like us from using it, but now we have access to a pretty sophisticated set of tools that enable us to provide services that rival our most established competitors.”

She noted that flexible working and improved collaboration are the key, adding that it makes a big difference to the speed and efficiency of the team’s work and productivity.

Walters continued: “As a software company we also know how time consuming software updates can be, with cloud computing this process is much simpler as the supplier manages the server maintenance so you don’t have to.

“On the whole I’d say cloud computing provides more pros than cons. However it’s worth pointing out a few disadvantages that we have found – most significantly (not to mention obviously) the fact that you are entirely dependent on the speed and reliability of your internet connection, and even the most established suppliers suffer outages from time to time.

“Security is another factor to consider, although you might find that cloud computing suppliers are able to provide better protection than you could on your own servers. For us the benefits of cloud computing are clear. So much so, that in May of this year we launched our own cloud-based service which is already in use by a number of existing clients, and has opened up the SME market to us, who previously didn’t have the budgets or infrastructure to use our product.

Finally we have insights from Adam Coleman, the chief executive of HRLocker. HRLocker have a unique perspective as they have used cloud computing to grow their company and product, but the offerings of HRLocker help small business to manage their HR needs economically using the cloud.

Coleman said: “We started the company in 2004 after I left my position as head of HR for O2 UK Sales & Marketing Divisions back in 2003 to become a HR consultant in Ireland. At that time we realised that we needed a HR product for startups in order to put them on a par with larger organisations in terms of their large scale HR capabilities, and so was born.

“Initially we wanted to provide businesses with five-500 employees a simple and easy to use solution in order to automate HR processes and enable these smaller companies to recruit like larger organisations. As a small company ourselves with only 12 employees, cloud computing has allowed us to create and provide our products that are now being sold in over 40 countries.

“But most importantly it’s the fact that HRLocker is accessed by our clients via cloud technology that enables us to provide these services in a cost effective and efficient way. We now on request run a three-hour seminar on how to use cloud to enable your business (IT, email. CRM, HR and Payroll for less than £300 per month) as we have done with our own business.”

If you are a tech entrepreneur looking to start a new venture, take on board the experiences of these successful startups who have used cloud computing to develop and grow their businesses.

Nigel Breddy is the managing director of Databax.