by Ramon Ray
Published on 27 April 2012
Online software (aka cloud apps), as opposed to traditional software installed on your computer, enables you to move your business forward faster, easier and cheaper than ever.
As the cloud becomes a more popular option for small business, your choices for accomplishing what you need done expand.
Let's look at a couple of examples on how the cloud can be uses and what are the pros and cons of working in the cloud.
Two Examples Of How To Use The Cloud
Let's take file sharing and online backup.
In the past, file sharing was done by emailing files, file transfer protocol (FTP), USB flash drive or by mailing a DVD or external hard disk. It was a clunky and slow process. Today it's not unusual to use online software to drag and drop a file to a folder and have it synchronized to another computer - anywhere around the world - in minutes.
Think about financial and accounting software.
No longer do you have to deal with sending files to your accountants or members of your team. They just log on and can view the financial documents they are authorized to view.
Online software means that the data on your cell phone - presentations, documents, images audio and video - are available on your tablet, computer and notebook at the same time.
Another powerful feature of online software is integration. This means Mary in Sales can have her client records in an online database or software and Jeremy in Marketing can access this data in different online software through APIs which help the different software tools talk to each other. This is not only efficient, but it minimizes opportunities for error - no need for retyping data where mistakes can arise.
There Are Pros And Cons Of Working In The Cloud
Running your business in the cloud has a lot of advantages.
It's more productive because programs can be accessed anywhere with any device. It's cost effective. No worries about outdated software or upgrading licenses. Plus, there's a lot less hassle. You can worry about running your business while the cloud provider manages the tech stuff.
But before you jump into moving your company completely into the cloud, there are some things you should consider.
Choose the right vendor. Poke around and talk to others who have used the service. Reputation with businesses similar to yours is important. And understand how your data will be secured and backed up. Once your data is in another company's hands you want to ensure it's safe and will always be accessible. Most important is to make sure the customer service is top notch. The best customer service departments for cloud services are staffed with specialists who are available 24×7×365.
And don't forget to test the service. Most popular cloud applications offer a 30 day free trial so take advantage of that before you dive too deep.