As the last few years have shown, no one can predict the future and when it comes to running a business, circumstance can often lead to downfall. Economic decline, natural disaster, public uprising…. and while we can’t protect our businesses against every eventuality, we can try to reduce or eliminate the impact that certain events might have on our success.

Enter future proofing

It’s not a new concept – far from it – but advances in technology in more recent years have meant that future proofing can now be taken to a different level. Almost all businesses use IT and for most, technology is essential. But keeping up with the ever changing world of IT can be costly with new gadgets, processors, apps and operating systems constantly begging to be purchased or upgraded.

So when you make your investment, you want assurance that it will meet your needs not only now, but in the future – as your business grows and circumstances change. And you want a system that can help you to plan for the unplanned, protect you against the unpredictable and keep costs to a minimum.

Enter cloud computing

Cloud computing, Software as a Service (SaaS), hosted solutions, virtualisation… without going into techy geek mode, they amount more or less to the same idea – your data, software, apps and programmes are hosted in “the cloud” – off site on your service provider’s servers, giving you instant and secure access to your IT without the need for capital investment, upgrade or maintenance fees.

What’s that got to do with future proofing? Well, it can help you plan for the unexpected in a number of ways…

First, there’s disaster recovery. If a future event renders your business premises unusable – let’s say fire, flood or theft – then cloud computing enables you to simply pick up, change location, and continue with business as usual. All you need is an internet connection and you can connect to all of your company data, emails, apps etc. in the same way as you would in your office. Think the chances of fire, flood or theft are fairly slim? Well yes, let’s certainly hope so. But that’s the very essence of future proofing – preparing for unforeseen events.

So as you can see, cloud offers a flexible approach to computing, and this flexibility can prove invaluable not only in escaping the pitfalls of disastrous events, but in providing the perfect IT platform upon which to grow your business. Microsoft’s cloud solution, Office 365, is based on a per user per month cost model. So as your business grows and you take on more staff, you can simply add more seats to your account (at a cost from as little as £6.50 per user per month).

Which leads me nicely onto cost. If you don’t know what the future holds, you don’t want to be spending money that you don’t have to. Particularly in unstable economic times. Cloud can help you to keep hold of your cash for that unplanned rainy day by enabling increased cost control. If you take a hosted approach to your IT, then there’s no need to worry about storage space, updating software, licencing, server maintenance….

Essentially you pay on a monthly basis to rent your IT as a service, rather than purchasing and looking after expensive kit. So, the capital cost is greatly reduced, it becomes easier to budget and when you expand, or (heaven forbid) downsize, then it’s a far simpler task. You have the flexibility to do so without the risk of investing in expensive hardware.

And finally, although many people fear the safety of their data under a cloud solution, it is actually a far more secure approach to computing than the traditional on-premise set up. Data centres are seriously secure. Some, for example, boast 24/7 security staff, state of the art CCTV, motion detection and key fob access – so a multi-layered line of defence.

Some also have full air conditioning, a VESDA smoke and fire protection system and is supplied by two national grid feeds with two 2MW generators providing enough energy to sustain a seven day power outage. So the chances of your data being lost of destroyed, are really very slim! Can you say the same of your own offices?

So there we have it – an IT solution to future proof your business against (almost) all eventualities. While neither future proofing nor cloud computing can be responsible for protecting you against every event that might be thrown your way, it can certainly help to keep your business running if circumstances change. And in this day and age, can you really afford to leave anything to chance?