Amy from Indianapolis writes:

My job is moving a lot of stuff to the the so-called cloud. We are supposed to store files there instead of on our hard drive or a flash drive and a lot of our programs have switched from being on our computer to where we have to open up Internet Explorer and go to a website to do. They even switched from having Office on our computer to the subscription kind. Why is everyone in such a rush to go to the cloud? What’s the advantage over what seems like safer methods to me? If you ask about it at work, they say you are being resistant to change. Do you think this trend will keep going?

One (literally) ground-changing technological development for businesses is the use of cloud-based services to handle complex and routine tasks. Data backup appears to be the leading cloud-based service. More businesses now look to the cloud for secure data storage and backup, says Top Ten Reviews, which notes that cloud storage is safe from natural disasters among other benefits. In its 2013 Cloud Services Business Trends Survey, Ovum, a technology consulting company, found that the pace of all cloud-based services is accelerating, largely driven by cost-savings.

Today, businesses can turn to the cloud for more sophisticated services than ever before. CiteWorld looked at the top 50 services employees use, and while the list is dominated with email, file-sharing and social media, it also includes a few more sophisticated and user-friendly tools.

  • Constant Contact, for example, has built complementary marketing services around its popular email blast services including lead generation, website development and social media support.
  • Docusign manages electronic signatures—an extremely sensitive security issue—”trusted by millions of users worldwide,” according to the site’s landing page.
  • Intuit’s Quickbooks offers an online accounting service, which Forbes contributor Gene Marks predicts will essentially replace the in-house version. However, Quickbooks, which has dominated the market so far, may have some stiff competition with other cloud-based products.
  • Finally, job seekers and hiring managers have turned to the Internet for at least the past decade.

Even complicated, multifunctional business services, like call or contact centers, are now offered in the cloud. In recent years, these centers have become complex operations that deliver one-stop calling for customers and clients who have a number of needs. They handle inbound and outbound calls, schedule calls and handle tasks ranging from appointment scheduling to sales and order placements. Zipwire is one cloud-based contact center service that provides a myriad of intelligent services such as skills-based automated call distribution, computer-telephony integration which integrates phone and computer applications and workflow management.

The Appeal of the Cloud

Why are cloud-based services appealing to more business customers? Here are just a few reasons:

  • Software is updated more frequently, usually to offer more functions customers request. Cloud-based updates can be done without little to no service interruption.
  • The cloud saves on server space. A company can expand its services without having to purchase additional servers on the ground.
  • Cloud-based services can be accessed from any Internet connection, freeing users from being tied to a single portal.
  • Security is probably tighter in the cloud than anywhere else. This is an industry that is under the investment microscope; its leaders know that they will thrive only if they have top-notch security in place.
  • Many cloud services offer different service plans, essentially building in scalability.
  • Most cloud providers offer free trials for as long as 30 days. This is more than enough time for users to decide if they like the service. If they convert to become paying customers, their data are already in the system, providing a seamless transition.

For all of the reasons listed above, the trend towards cloud services will likely continue to grow.

~ Cynthia