Just about every day you probably hear something related to “the cloud” on the news, in the paper, online, or on the radio; and you might wonder what in the world all the hype is. You might even wonder why you should care especially as it relates to your business. For everyone wondering what the cloud is and why you should care, this article is what you have been waiting for.
As I write this I notice there are a few clouds coming into Bend and I suddenly realize that the 360 days of sun we get really means that if you even see a small shadow, that’s considered a sunny day; but this article isn’t about those types of clouds, rather, it’s something you may want to get familiar with as it could be a critical business tool and a way to leverage a competitive advantage. Read on to find out why.
The cloud, also known as cloud computing, is really just a term for storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. So what does that mean?
One of the best examples of using the cloud for your business is Quickbooks. You already know you can install it on your computer, but you can also choose to use it from the Internet and avoid installing it on your computer entirely. You can use Quickbooks in “the cloud” get the same functionality and use it from anywhere at anytime without installing any software (as long as you have Internet access).
Another example a lot of people use is Dropbox. This is a like having a huge file server (storage) without really having any hardware or equipment involved. Remember that time when you needed quick access to a file or folder and it was at the office on the file server? Well, with the cloud you could have access to that file or folder anytime you want even on your tablet.
Lastly, we have also seen how Microsoft is moving their popular Office suite online and you can now use full versions of Word, Excel, Project, and Powerpoint entirely online without installing it on your computer. This means you have access to all of these programs from practically anywhere and even on your iPad as of last week.
These are just a few examples and in later articles I’ll show how you can do even more from the cloud, but generally speaking the following business benefits can be quickly realized:
• Faster, quicker access to business programs and information
• Lowered hardware and software maintenance costs
• Ability to work from nearly anywhere at any time
• Consistency and security
• Protection from losing information
• Less installs on individual computers
There are caveats to using the cloud, and I’ll cover that in a future article but suffice it to say it’s not the perfect answer for every business or for every situation. However, you can take advantage of it to help remain competitive, reduce costs, and create incredible customer experiences, which is important as we see global competition on the rise even here in Bend, Oregon; because your competitors aren’t necessarily the ones down the street – they could be half way around the world and a click of the mouse away.
Consumers have a lot of choices for just about every product and service so it really comes down to providing an incredible customer experience thus creating loyal fans of your business; and being more efficient, responsive and innovative is where you can do that even if you sell clothes in a basement.
TDI, Technology Solutions, (Technology, Design, Innovation)
61239 Fairfield Drive, Bend