Cloud-covered collaboration or nebular nonsense?

These days, it seems as if everything in the business arena is about trying to get more for less. In an age where cost-cutting is necessary for commercial survival, where (at least perceived) environmental responsibility is fast becoming a common aim for firms and where there’s an App for almost everything, the benefits of incorporating the cloud in business practice would seem to require no explanation. On the contrary. While the most innovative corporates and trend-setting SMBs have all but fully embraced the space- and time-saving potential of cloud technology, for the rest of us it remains little more than a concept, one solitary word amongst a swathe of bits of poorly defined, high-brow and near-platitudinous vocabulary infiltrating our iLives designed to sound impressive when thrown casually into conversation.

Business publications and manufacturers of cloud-reliant software alike are seeking to propel society out of this state of ignorance and towards a better understanding of how this technology can benefit you and me. A recent article published by government-affiliated businesslink.gov certifies that overarching economical benefits mean the cloud has arrived on the scene not a moment too soon. The reduced reliance on on-premise servers means that both IT costs and environmental impact are cut simultaneously (the latter being something that, over the past few years, has provided a new arena in which businesses can compete with each other to attract investors by having more ‘green’ CSR strategies). Sunk costs to the firm are also slashed as the need to install software over the whole business is replaced by an internet-based alternative, and maintenance upgrades are managed exclusively by your chosen cloud application provider. What’s more, every business will be attracted by the possibility of saving money through outsourcing IT requirements which in turn will save on unnecessary staffing costs and allow a greater degree of focus on core aims.

Furthermore, cloud application providers such as Clinked (a new and unique cloud-based product from Rabbitsoft providing intrinsic collaboration software combined with an easy-to-use project management system) offer comprehensive scaling facilities. For example, a start-up firm may wish to purchase Clinked’s Bronze package, offering considerable data storage space (50GB) as well as a 50-person user limit for £149 per month; an extremely competitive price in the face of Rabbitsoft’s competitors. In time, as the firm grows and branches out into new (perhaps foreign) markets, this system can be easily upgraded to the Silver or Gold offerings in order to accommodate the increased space and personnel demands placed on the business by its own expansion.

With the cloud, just as data storage and collaboration is conducted remotely, so is everything else. This includes update facilities. When compared with this aspect of cloud computing, more traditional approaches come up short inasmuch as there are significant costs associated with buying new software, or even simply updating current versions. The fact that cloud application providers can serve to manage these updates on behalf of their clients implies a significant saving over constantly investing in new state-of-the-art technologies through traditional means. In addition, the collaborative nature of the cloud allows members of teams to have access to the documents and materials they need at every step, 24/7, and via a plethora of different devices from desktops to tablets and smartphones.

All this as well as data security guarantees and investment-attracting environmental advantages. In a high-paced, computer-reliant society where speed, quality and value are all equally necessary components in generating customer satisfaction, perhaps it’s time we all thought about getting cloud-covered.

greg