Why look to the cloud?

When looking to improve business efficiency, many companies look to software. By improving internal workings, business owners hope to cut overheads, increase income and thereby boost the bottom line.

It's true that using software can achieve these goals. All or part of any business can usually be improved by the judicious use of technology. Whether it's removing repetition, streamlining, enabling group working or saving on man hours, it's usually pretty easy to work out the time taken for any investment in technology to have a return on that investment.

In order to avoid an upfront investment in technology, many business owners are, these days, looking to the cloud to provide suitable business efficiency savings, while keeping costs manageable.

Zoho, WorkStream, AtTask and a host more offer cloud based services that promise to improve the way we do business. But before very business owner leaps in feet first, it pays to consider all aspects of cloud based solutions.

Cloud services are, for starters, one size fits all. As the person in charge of how a business runs, you'll have to be prepared to make some changes to the way you do business. Your organisation will have to be shoehorned into the way the cloud application works. This leads to far from ideal results - at best, inconvenience and at worst, processes now take longer due to the stipulations of the cloud software.

Data security is another issue that worries many. We all go to a lot of trouble to ensure that there is a proper backup strategy and disaster recovery procedure covering our precious data, but seem to be willing to commit the innermost workings of our companies to third parties. Do you really trust cloud providers, unknown and possibly distant parties, to hold all your business secrets?

And what if the cloud provider is sold, or is taken over. Will the new owners honour any agreements made at the relationship's start. Who actually owns the data? And what use is it being put to under the hood?

A bespoke business application has many advantages that can counteract many of the qualms about cloud-based solutions. As developers we've written literally hundreds of databases that address an individual client's needs and our experience can help minimise many of the negative issues that cloud computing raises.

Firstly, as every solution is written to order, a company's working methods can be encapsulated in the way the software works. There's no having to bend methodology to suit the constraints imposed by a pre-existing system.

Secondly, you retain the data; onsite if you want it. That means that no-one else holds your precious secrets, your contacts database, your project planning schema, your comments and notes on suppliers and clients.

At igeek we give our clients intellectual ownership of their applications, meaning that it can be sold on by you, the customer, taken somewhere else, added to by third parties - whatever you see fit.

Finally, as your business changes, taking on new challenges and exploring new directions, your business application can change as well, accommodating you and your business. One of the joys of FileMaker, our chosen development platform, is malleability - the ability to change and mold to new shapes, to encompass new concerns. igeek will be with you as things change, ensuring that you get the best out of your application, improving your bottom line and trading as well as you possibly can.

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