Thoughts on what businesses actually need from the Cloud, not what vendors wish they needed.

Chris Bliss

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The Top 5 Overlooked Reasons Why Business Belongs in the Cloud

Obviously we’re drinking the cloud kool-aid: maybe you should too!

There are plenty of “Top 5 lists” with generic reasons for why businesses should migrate into SaaS and cloud computing. Scalability, cost, mobility – they’re good reasons, sure, but we’ve heard them before: what else does cloud computing offer? If you’re thinking about moving your business into the cloud but haven’t yet, here are five reasons that are often overlooked:

1. Clients notice. Traditionally, IT has served a “backend” role in business. With the exception of email and websites, most businesses hide their IT solutions from clients, and with good reason: IT is ugly. Cloud computing changes that. Many SaaS offerings and cloud-based applications incorporate new ways of reaching clients as part of their workflow solutions. For example, Solve360, a popular online CRM, allows users to “publish” select materials from project workspaces, enabling real-time client collaboration. E-signature services allow clients to sign documents via a slick, paperless delivery model, and Helpdesk software lets clients access knowledge base forums and ticketed support in a branded, easy to use online environment. When it works, clients notice that you’re new, different, modern, and “slick.” IT itself becomes a branding mechanism.

2. Smarter architecture. Amid all the fuss about cloud differentiation it’s easy to forget that, aside from being cloud-based, many cloud apps are simply designed better than their on-premise counterparts. This could be attributable to a whole host of reasons, the most prominent of which is that (good) cloud apps have been designed entirely from the ground up. Whereas most on-premise solutions have strong ancestral roots in software designed 10-20 years ago, cloud apps have been developed much more recently, meaning they’ve benefited from years of accumulated programming and business experience. Cloud apps are designed for modern businesses: most on-premise apps simply aren’t.

3. Usability. One of the great innovations of cloud-computing has been the focus put on end-users. Many legacy apps put function first and usability second (MS Access, anyone?), whereas good cloud apps don’t see a difference between the two. This key principle can’t be underestimated: software is only as powerful as the people using it. Generally speaking (and yes, there are exceptions to this) cloud-based software understands that people matter, creating a better user experience and increasing efficiency.

4. Integration. We just published a blog post blasting API integration, but it’s worth noting that at least cloud-based software makes API integration a viable and affordable workflow solution. Good luck getting anything to work well with a legacy app, especially on the cheap: compare that reality with the generous and freely available API’s that most SaaS and cloud-based vendors offer and it’s an easy sell.

5. Quality of Service. This only applies to SaaS, but it’s a powerful enough attribute that I’m listing it as an argument for all cloud-computing. In a traditional IT setting, clients have a one-time transaction with vendors, repeated every few years for product upgrades. In the world of SaaS, clients generally pay vendors month-to-month and upgrades and bug-fixes are released on a significantly ramped-up timescale. This means that: A) clients can drop out at any time, giving vendors a perpetual incentive to innovate, and: B) clients get a product that’s updated far, far more frequently than before. In addition, SaaS vendors increasingly have robust forums and user communities where support questions and feature requests are addressed quickly, effectively, and by multiple user types. This establishes a culture of support and user-driven innovation that has long been missing from on-premise software.

Obviously we’re drinking the cloud kool-aid. Maybe you should too.

More Stories By Chris Bliss

Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.

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