Category Archives: SaaS

Has Cloud Computing Come Of Age For Small Businesses?

Has Cloud Computing Come Of Age For Small Businesses?

Cloud Computing For Small Businesses?

Whether or not cloud computing has come of age for small businesses or not is a question of fact. Its answer varies from one individual to the next. However, what is eminent is the fact that, cloud computing is a force to reckon with and so are its applications. In a recent survey that was carried out, more than 64% percent of all small business owners have a cloud application of one sort. For the rest, how can you leverage your business, so that it can fully benefit from the cloud solutions available?

Backing up data is like insurance

To small businesses, backing up of information is like insurance. You need all the records and data you can get for your business. Naturally, if a fire or any other calamity would strike in your small business, this means hefty losses. It would also mean an uncertain future for the business, including making it possible for one to close down.

As a small business therefore, having a way that can help you have these details in order and completely secure means you can have where to start in case of such eventualities. Of course data backup is easy with other platforms, but the cloud offers not-notch security and reliability to this end.

Streamlining operations

As a small business owner, you need whatever dollar comes your way to survive. This means that, you have to ensure your business processes, employees and other optimal resources are fully utilized. There are different ways your small business can leverage cloud computing to boost your profits and cut costs. Here are the most important ways:

  1. File sharing is an essential part in any business. Or rather, you can link it to task sharing, efficiently. Different cloud solutions allow you to share information with different individuals. It could either be internally or externally with suppliers, to make orders and feedback and so forth. There is no limit to how much time and money this can save you assuming you or a member of your lean staff had to make the travels. This would be really costly.
  2. Cloud solutions can also allow your employees to telecommute. If your business is smaller, you could close shop and work from home. The trickle effect of this capability is made of stone. You will cut down your work load, spend less on small tasks, outsource part of your work and so forth. This cost cutting will help boost your business objectives.

Economies of scale

This is indeed, the most effective part of the whole cloud computing platform with small businesses. In many cases, small businesses cannot compete with big businesses because of the economies of scale the former enjoys. However with cloud computing, there is no limit to the things your business can leverage better when economies of scale are involved. This can boost a business’ competitive advantage and propel it to greater heights.

In general, cloud computing has immense benefits to a small business. As a business owner, what you need to do is analyze your business. Once you know what parts efficiency can be achieved, go for it and implement the changes.

By Walter Bailey

5 Business Benefits Of Implementing A Cloud Based ERP System

Benefits Of A Cloud Based ERP System

For many years, businesses worldwide have made use of cloud technology to carry out various business practices and in particular those with a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) or a Human Capital Management system have benefited from it the most. Many shy away when it comes to a cloud based ERP system due to security fears but this is no longer as big of a problem as it is used to be thanks to the vast developments made in the field of Software as a Service (SaaS). As a result of this, the wheels of a cloud based ERP system have started turning and it is expected that by the year 2015 global expenditure on cloud based ERP systems will have increased by 21% according to research carried out by Forrester!

So with cloud based systems taking off as they are, what are the benefits of implanting it? Well, here are 5 benefits to get you started:

1.Subscription benefits

First and foremost, since all SaaS services are offered on a subscription basis, there are no unexpected costs. Customers know exactly how much the system will cost them this month, next month and every other month which is a very appealing prospect especially for smaller businesses whose funds tend to be considerably smaller. Even if the prices for the SaaS system do increase, they don’t tend to increase by a great deal.

2.Faster implementation

Management and setup of an SaaS system are all the responsibility of the vendor so there no real setup or installation process . Most parts of the system will come preconfigured and ready to be setup integrate into your business. This results in a much faster and simpler setup process which ultimately lead to a faster ROI since initial costs are lower.

3.Lower initial costs

Since an SaaS system requires very little in the way peripherals and such technology normally found in the average non cloud based ERP solution, the costs of running an SaaS system are much lower as well. The only maintenance cost to the customer would be the wage packet given to the employees using the software. What’s more, most ERP vendors allow for additional users to easily be added into the SaaS system without the need for any additional technology to be implemented so the system can expand easily if you ever need it to.

4.Fewer Responsibilities

Running an in house system means brings with it the added responsibility of dealing with any problems that may occur such as on-site hardware implications, software problems and network issues which makes troubleshooting an error somewhat difficult. However, with an SaaS system all of this is the vendor’s responsibility so the customer does not need to worry about any problems that may occur.

5.Focus on What You are Best at

Possibly the major benefit of implementing any SaaS system is the freedom that the customer benefits from since many of the responsibilities of running and maintaining the system are given to the vendor so the customer can focus on doing what they do best – selling the products and services they offer.

 

By Rashed Khan

Rashed has an MSc in Software Engineering and is a regular guest poster on business/technology related tolpics. Rashed is currently guest posting on behalf of ERP, manufacturing and distribution software experts Epicor who offer an SaaS based ERP solution.

The Day Hard-Drives Become Obsolete

The Day Hard-Drives Become Obsolete

Not too long ago, the only way to store data for personal users was on the hard-drive of a computer. After that came the use of disks, thumb drives and external hard-drives. This was the way of life for most users for years – until cloud storage. Today, cloud storage is growing in popularity and more users are skipping the traditional methods of storage and opting for the cloud instead. Cloud storage is essentially just a fancy way to back up information, only this time it is left on a server rather than a physical device that can be lost or stolen.

Today, cloud storage has expanded to allow users the ability to collaborate and update documents within their cloud in real-time. Document storage can also be synchronized on multiple platforms and devices, which mean what a user saves on their PC can still be viewed on their iPad. For users who are unfamiliar with cloud storage or are unsure where to turn, there are two major providers in the cloud storage community that have proven effective and offer a variety of services to meet the needs of private and business consumers alike:

Google Drive

Once referred to as “Google Docs”, Google Drive is a downloadable application from Google that allows individuals to use the features of Google Docs on their desktop as well as through the online browser. Files can be stored directly through Google Drive and accessed on a variety of devices. The one drawback to Google Drive, however, is that iPhone and iPad users will have to use their browsers on their device rather than an application since Google has yet to create an app for iPhone. Android users on the other hand will have direct access to their drive by using a Google Drive app.

DropBox

DropBox has a creative system that allows users to save directly to their cloud storage directly from their computer. No more logging into an online site and uploading files – with DropBox users just save like they would to their hard-drive. The advantage of DropBox for businesses is that if multiple employees are collaborating on the same project, the project will be updated in real-time, which means multiple individuals can work on the same project without waiting for another person to finish their portion.

Cloud storage and cloud computing are becoming the new method for safe, reliable storage. With more cloud storage providers offering a variety of features and accessibility options, it is no wonder the hard-drive is becoming obsolete. 

KoriLynn Johnston

Reasons Why Cloud Computing Remains Unpopular Past 2012

Reasons Why Cloud Computing Remains Unpopular Past 2012

There is no limit to what cloud computing can offer to individuals, corporations, academic institutions, and non-profit organizations. Cloud computing benefits cut across storage, working, communication, and so many other industries and functions. As yet, few people actually use it; or rather very few individuals are making the transition to it from the ‘inefficient, traditional and expensive’ forms or techniques.

These negative attitudes have been promoted by a number of reasons. Some are mere excuses where logic is called upon. Others are real concerns and thus form the basis of this article. People don’t use cloud computing for different reasons; and the most contentious ones include the following. According to most cloud computing industry experts, these could be the reasons why most people avoid cloud computing.

On top of the list is the cost of cloud cost computing. Premium and efficient cloud computing services remain costly for the regular business person and thus make uptake very slow or non-existent. Setting up, subscriptions, and service maintenance costs are high—so is the cost of doing business. Rather than setting up new systems at an extra expense, most businesses prefer operating on slow and inefficient systems which are (now) cheaper at maintenance level. Businesses don’t want an extra expense to devalue their present working servers, among a horde of other reasons. Of course, there is a valid opportunity cost explanation to justify why cloud computing is the cost efficient option in the long run. However, most businesses, small businesses especially, find this pretty hard to concur. As such, because of the cost debates, the adoption of cloud computing remains slow.

The second reason why cloud computing remains unpopular is because of security concerns. Security in the cloud continues to be a hot debate topic at most cloud computing conferences. There are hackers, thieves, and other malicious individuals who would benefit a lot from stolen data off cloud computing servers. Whereas most cloud computing providers offer some of the best security protocols that are difficult to bypass, people and businesses still have security concerns. These are measured on the basis of traditional businesses which have all their digital data stored within their premises; therefore, charging securing roles to a third, large party, is difficult.

Lastly, privacy is another big problem cloud computing faces, bringing a lot of negative publicity (hence, additional costs) to cloud computing industry. In a recent outburst, Steve Wozniak—Apple’s co-founder—stated that cloud computing would not be in the cosmos in the next five years, that it would become practically impossible to keep digital secrets because one firm will be having them!

These sentiments have been echoed elsewhere. Digital ownership will become a thing of the past. Of course where ownership is concerned, that’s enough for any self-caring person to avoid the technology. Overall, although some of these details are sensitive and scary, cloud computing remains a candidate as the technology to beat in the future.

By Walter Bailey

Proven Ways To Increase Competitiveness With Cloud Computing

Increase Competitiveness With Cloud Computing

As cloud computing is currently enjoying a wave of global discourse by the business community, it is projected that more and more businesses are adopting cloud computing services as the preferred way to do business. Senior Vice President of Research for Gartner, Mr. Peter Sondergaard claims that cloud computing sits among the top four trends that will change IT in the next few years. It is no secret that any business outfit that is still reluctant in the adoption of this technology is losing out on a lot of benefits. The early adopters, furthermore, are not sitting pretty and enjoying these benefits but rather are looking for more effective ways that they can harness for a more competitive edge in their field of business

Competitiveness is often acquired when a business attains an upper hand through practices or resources that will outperform its competitors. These practices, strategies or resources are those that will save the company money in cost reduction, those that will improve effectiveness and or increase revenue. Any business can indeed achieve competitiveness through strategic exploitation of cloud features as follows;

Cost Reduction

To ensure a higher ROI, which is a realization of your competitive edge, you ought to reduce costs as much as possible. The first cost that cloud computing will help hive off is the “cost of ownership” or the capital expenditure; the setting up and the maintenance of servers, physical space and staff.

This reduces significantly the need for a humongous capital base and ensures that small enterprises can go up against bigger businesses with bigger capital bases and still claim a competitive muscle. Cloud computing also ensures that businesses pay only for what they use and utilize through the ‘pay as you go’ feature of cloud computing.

Information & business scalability

To be competitive in the current market environment one needs relevant information; the correct data, forecasts and analysis that will help them make strategic decisions. The business may not have the necessary hardware and algorithms to access, tabulate and utilize such data but they can easily and cheaply access them through cloud service providers. Such data may include data on customer/consumer demographics or “socialknowledge” that will give you a competitive edge in terms of better market intelligence.

Depending on the current need, a company can keep up with the competition through the ability to easily and cheaply scale up or down-size their systems to fit instant or essential market conditions. This hassle-free scalability could not be achieved without employing the magic of the cloud.

Flexible working practices

There is a generational and perceptional change in modern day working practices where employees tend to be more productive when placed in flexible working environments like working from home or at their own time.

When Google launched Google Docs, it broke ground in the world of file sharing and document accessibility. This allowed anybody with an account access to a cloud ‘storage’ or virtual office facility where they can keep their presentations, spreadsheets and other office documents. This flexibility in access means that your employees can work from their preferred environments. They get increased internal and external coactions coupled with quick universal access for improved productivity.

The environment is also crucial because there is an increasing universal pressure on environmental concerns. There are a lot of people now with changed or changing perceptions when it comes to environmental sensitivity. Businesses can achieve a competitive advantage by addressing these concerns. You can go “green” with cloud computing as it cuts down your carbon emission by reducing the need for massive energy usage in the data centers.

By John Omwamba

3 Key Auto Areas That Stand To Gain Immensely From Cloud Computing

3 Key Auto Areas That Stand To Gain Immensely From Cloud Computing

Cloud computing has emerged as one of the greatest influencers of the global auto industry. Fortunately the influence the cloud is having on the auto sector is the kind that brings more hope to the industry than the kind of misery it is facing at present. Auto-mobile executives can at least bank on the cloud to streamline their manufacturing processes, cut down on costs and turn in the profits.

The following three critical areas of the auto industry stand to benefit the most out of cloud computing:

Energy consumption

Automotive companies have been struggling to cut down on their energy consumption, but to no good success because most of the approaches they used could not be sustained over a long time and yet ensure that efficiency and quality are maintained. But now there is a ray of sunshine for the industry, and this ray is coming in form of virtualization. Essentially, virtualization will reduce the amount of energy consumed in the manufacturers’ data centers while tackling the EOSL challenge head on. This creates perfect room for new equipment to find its way to the manufacturing environment, efficiently so.

Test & Development

The test and development arena is perhaps one of the most sensitive stage in any auto-manufacturing environment. Companies are constantly faced with the challenge of running and maintenance costs for the machines used in this stage. These costs often run high, they are seldom uniform and the whole exercise becomes extremely expensive in the long run. But with cloud computing, automotive companies can deploy automated provisioning via virtual systems which can equally be used to achieve effective de-provisioning. Images can be transited through the virtual platform, both offline and online. The cost of implementing the virtual solutions are far much low and practically sustainable.

Innovation

Without innovation the auto industry is as good as dead. It is one of the most significant areas of the auto industry largely because every company relies on some intelligent innovation in order to produce the kind of cars that will attract consumers and persuade them to reach for their cheque books. But innovation is also expensive because it takes resources, enormous collaboration as well as intensive research. The ultimate role of cloud computing in auto-innovation is mainly driven by intelligent software that are customized for different categories of the automotive industry. Cloud based software will cut down the hefty costs that go into configuration, hardware installations and annual software licenses. Engineers and innovation architects will spend more time doing innovation rather than spending valuable time to install, maintain and troubleshoot the traditional expensive software.

With these areas well addressed by the automobile sector, the auto-process as it were will transform from a complicated and tiring task to one where teams of designers and engineers collaborate throughout the manufacturing life-cycle, all in the cloud. These areas are definitely not all that the automotive industry needs to consider when implementing cloud computing solutions, but they provide a significant start point that could translate to impressive ROI if well executed.

By John Omwamba

iTunes vs. The Cloud

iTunes vs. The Cloud

I have spent over a decade building a collection of digital music. During that time, through many obsessive late nights, I made sure that my music remained in impeccable order. Each artist filled in, each album complete, and each year carefully researched. The library was organized by artist first, and then by album chronologically for each artist. Before the days of iTunes, I had to assign each file an ID3 tag individually, a process that took an unhealthily long time.

However, with the advent and quick rise of iTunes, inputting and maintaining music became immeasurably simpler. I would spend hours poring over my music and organizing it meticulously. I continued along this path for many years, and all was well. All was well, that is, until the cloud came and rained on my parade.

My iTunes library, now uploaded to Google Music en masse, has been relegated to the digital doldrums of my computer. Editing file names, artists and albums has become a chore, and one that I’m not man enough to undertake. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not even sure how to edit the details of my music once it’s uploaded. Is there a way? Please, someone tell me! Before it’s too late!

Now, I know that most streaming and storage services are just catering to the vast majority of people who do not have an unhealthy compulsion to organize their music libraries for several hours at all times of the day and night. But it would be nice if there were a service out there for the obsessively detail-oriented among us who cannot sleep soundly at night unless everything is in its right place. Sometimes the names of my songs are so altered in the upload that I cannot locate the music that I’m trying to find.

The cloud has undoubtedly made it easier for me to have extra space on my computer when I need it. And I can constantly update my friends about what I’m listening to and what they should try on for size. But, unless I’m using a streaming service like Spotify, I cannot upload my entire library to the cloud without sacrificing at least some of the meticulous cataloguing that took me days to achieve. Some might call this a fake problem. They’d tell me to let it go, to get over it. What’s the value in organizing a music library anyway? It’s not like it’ll sound any better.

That may be true. But the next time I can’t find the song I’m looking for in my own uploaded library, I’ll grow a little more bitter about the lack of customizability of Google Music, and this unintended consequence of storing music in the cloud.

By Jacob Hyman

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