By now, most companies have been told that they can achieve numerous benefits by moving to the cloud. But it seems that newer businesses are more likely to understand the specific advantages that they can experience with the technology, whereas older, more established organizations are still hesitant to adopt the cloud because they are unaware of the individual benefits they will receive. The recent AT&T Small Business Tech Poll found that 51 percent of companies less than two years old utilize cloud services, while just 40 percent of businesses that have been running for 11 years or more employ the cloud in some capacity.

Older companies won't be able to wait much longer before adopting the cloud without getting left behind by their competition. Here are four of the biggest benefits enterprises can realize by deploying the cloud:

1) Back up and store data
Cloud storage services and data backup are two of the most popular uses of the technology among businesses. According to the AT&T poll, 63 percent of respondents who already use the cloud relied on these types of services. Utilizing online backup and storage features helps protect organizations from a variety of threats that can lead to disruptions in access or network downtime, such as malware infections and natural disasters. Working with a trusted service provider increases this protection even further, as they will often store client data on multiple servers so if one goes down, the others retain the necessary availability.

2) Instant computing power
One of the benefits that has made the cloud an ubiquitous technology is the ability to access computing resources on demand. This has made the cloud the platform of choice for many organizations looking to test new applications without making a large upfront investment. The cloud also makes it very simple for businesses to scale their service, easily accommodating surges in demand. If the new application that's been developed turns out to be a much bigger hit than anticipated, enterprises can immediately increase service without having to buy new servers that will sit unused once demand dissipates. 

3) Access to business software
After backup and storage services, the second most frequently used feature of the cloud is the ability to access versions of boxed software online. This includes the availability of programs for business processes like bookkeeping, word processing and contact management. The AT&T poll found that 46 percent of small businesses that take advantage of the cloud do so to access productivity tools online. Software based in the cloud allows organizations to eliminate licensing fees and improves mobility by enabling employees to access the necessary software from any Internet-connected device. Updates are made available automatically, increasing security and providing users with the latest features with no additional hassle.

4) Improve collaboration
Many organizations also find the cloud useful in enabling employees to work from home more effectively. A growing number of companies have a workforce that is dispersed throughout multiple locations, and collaborating between those different places can be difficult for colleagues without the appropriate tools. The cloud makes it easy to access file-sharing services and communication features so work can be edited in real time while co-workers have a conversation about the changes being made.