Mark Constantino Jr is on a mission – to convince small business operators and managers that there is nothing scary about cloud-based computing. “The cloud is just the internet,” says the US-based information technology expert and co-CEO of tech-help solutions company MyCloudCure. “It’s just the way that everything is interconnected from country to country, from continent to continent.”

MyCloudCure began in New Hampshire as MC Computer in 2012, doing remote technical support for major retailers. It soon added managed IT services, website design/hosting solutions and mobile app development to its portfolio, and became a “one-stop” IT shop for businesses using the cloud. Late last year, MyCloudCure formed a partnership with GeoOp to assist North American customers with their mobile workforce management software, and Constantino recently launched a podcast, #AskMyCloudCure, to answer questions about technology, entrepreneurship, business and networking through the cloud.

The cloud allows small businesses to use the right tools and be more productive

Constantino says some people see the cloud as a dark and dangerous street. “The services we consume and the apps we use as tools are like vehicles driving on the road,” he says. “There’s an inherent risk in [using] this – some people don’t want to necessarily go where they haven’t been before, because they’re not sure. Their brains are designed to be in safe mode, to always be sceptical and worried, and this usually holds people back from trying new kinds of technology.

“I think humans have always evolved to use their tools in even better ways, and the cloud is really just a representation of a global, digital highway system – the information superhighway. You have to be careful that you have all the right tools, support and security you need to get you from point A to point B.”

Cloud change

Constantino says the cloud has fundamentally changed the way small businesses operate in 2016. “ Business owners and consumers are statistically within two metres of their phone at all times, and all of these devices are on the internet,” he says. “The cloud is just what connects all of us to our devices and our data.

“Technology has changed, the way you operate a business has changed, marketplaces have changed, but strangely many businesses haven’t changed. The true nature of a small business is serving customers and providing value. That hasn’t changed since the birth of small business, but the vehicle that drives you to the attention of consumers of small businesses today has certainly changed.

“The cloud connects all of us to all of our devices and our data”: MyCloudCure’s Mark Constantino

“Have you or your business changed with that change? Have you embraced or resisted that technology evolutionary shift? We must learn to adapt while focusing on our strengths, outsourcing our weaknesses and leveraging technology to execute on what truly matters in business today … or fail.”

So how do you convince trades and service businesses to throw away their whiteboards or simple Excel spreadsheets? Constantino says the key is assuring them that the cloud provides a much better way to leverage these tools, anywhere, anytime. “It’s really just about trying to break it down for people that as long as you have the right tools you can get there faster now. You can get there easier. You can get there and do more jobs in less time. You can help your business grow in ways that just wasn’t possible 10 or 15 years ago.”

Productivity gains

Constantino says one of the greatest benefits of modern cloud-based software today is its flexibility. Early digital software was highly specialised, which meant it was only available for a single use or able to be used in a single system at one time. Now it can do multiple tasks and be aligned with other software you use to provide a fully rounded business solution.

“The fact that things can be interconnected is just that next evolutionary shift of things becoming even more connectable, in a sense,” Constantino says. “Instead of using five tools to get the job done, now you can use one. I think it’s a requirement to be using these kinds of things, compared to the old ways.

“It’s up to the individual to want to strive for more, to dream bigger and faster. They need to say ‘I want to get more jobs done using the right tool’. Many folks are probably just content doing the five or 10 jobs that their business does everyday, but what if there was an easy way to get more jobs done in less time?”

Security concerns

One of the major worries for companies looking to move to cloud-based solutions is ensuring their business information is truly safe. With customer details and other valuable data available anywhere, Constantino says security will always be an issue for businesses using the cloud.

Cloud-based apps are more flexible, easier to use and safer than ever

“From your Snapchat or Instagram photo/video, to the contacts in your phone, to your online banking data or even your social media profile, your data and privacy is important to more than just you,” he says. “In business? Your online data is your business heartbeat and you keep an eye on it using the right tools.

“Data security will always remain a concern for businesses on the internet. So it’s important to adopt the right technologies for your business while finding the right support network to keep you safe.”

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a security protocol that establishes an encrypted link between a server and a client, allowing the secure passage of any sensitive information. This typically includes login names, passwords and credit-card details to be secured (encrypted). Reputable cloud-based software uses 256-bit SSL encryption, which is the industry standard for internet banking.

Everyday use

But a trapdoor is waiting, even for those who choose to take the leap from their old pen-and-paper ways to modern-day cloud-based software. Constantino says many businesses risk abandoning new technology that’s designed to help, if they install it the wrong way or don’t use it to its potential.

“People say: ‘I want to get this kind of tool because I know it’s going to help me, but I have no idea how to get it and how to use it’,” he says. “That’s really where I believe we come in. We say ‘listen, we can set up a system to help you not only understand this and make sense of it, but we can help you with an implementation plan to get going. Over the next 30 days, these are the steps we’re going to take you through to get this set up and working for you’.

“Really, it’s just a coaching and training program, where we take businesses through the entire processes. They do a lot of the work on their own but we consistently help them better understand the technology from beginning to end.”

Final advice

Constantino says mobile businesses must jump aboard the cloud express if they want their companies to grow in 2016, but it must be done the right way.
“It’s all about choosing the right tool, and making sure it’s a reputable brand,” he says. “It’s important that you kick the tyres, that you get your time in looking at the manual, to really do your homework to know that this is what you want and need for your business. Sometimes though, you won’t know how to make those decisions on your own. This is when you should seek your own trusted adviser.”