Cloud computing has made the jump from an exciting new technological concept and early stage application to a widely adopted business tool for small and medium sized businesses in a range of fields. The efficiency of cloud services means that these smaller users are able to utilise the same products and benefit from the same advantages as vastly larger and better-resourced big business and government.
But there’s no reason to just take our word for it….. at Tele2, we have just switched over our business systems to the cloud, using NetSuite, and couldn’t be happier. With that in mind, it seemed like a good time to explore the advantages that could computing could bring you as a personal, business or enterprise user.
By far the most common and easy to grasp advantage of switching to a cloud based system, is the cost savings that can be made by organisations. For example, a growing customer service company based in Australia would likely have to invest in file servers, a customer relationship management database, accounting software, payroll services, and, most likely a full time staff member or two to keep on top of all of the IT issues that these would present. And that’s even before taking into account the cost of securing the data and creating back ups in case of fire or hacker intrusion. With the advent of cloud based programs for all of these functions (and many more), the need for large investments of capital that stretch the budget of small business is almost gone. Monthly subscription fees provide the same service for a fraction of the cost, spread over a longer time frame, and the supplier often provides specialist support.
Small business, enterprise, and personal users also enjoy the flexibility that cloud based software delivers. For example, users who use a single cloud based system can all have access to the same set of data without having to route traffic through an internal server. Not only does this mean increased speed, it also means real-time customer service and decisions can be delivered.
For example, a garden services company might dispatch an employee to the outer suburbs of Noosa to do a job at midday. Another appointment in Noosa at 2 pm is cancelled while he’s working at the first site, but a customer from Tewantin has rung to enquire whether they can have their lawn mowed today. With a cloud-based software solution, head office can field the call and update the worker’s appointments. The employee never has to stop work to answer the two calls, meaning that he doesn’t run over time, and is more efficient on the job. His work schedule for the day can be adjusted from head office, and it will simultaneously update the schedule on the employees tablet, smartphone or laptop, which they can view when they complete the first job. This is simply one example of the range of applications that are available when using cloud software, from accounting to workforce management, resourcing, inventory and project collaboration.
The final big selling point for cloud software is the security of the data that a business collects. While it is difficult for some managers and business owners to relinquish control of their data, an analogy to a bank is a good one. Banks were once specialist custodians of physical assets of cash and precious metal, and the security systems they developed as a result were far superior to any that a single person or small business could implement. In the 21st century, cloud software providers are the specialist custodians of data, and have the same level of sophistication in their defences, which is far in excess of what small operators could afford.
Cloud computing is much more than an industry buzzword or fad, and contains the possibility of delivering real and measureable advantages to a wide range of businesses and users.