Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Advantages of Cloud Computing– Part XXIII – Flexibility II

I’d like to dig a little deeper into the ‘flexibility’ issue regarding cloud computing as it best supports small business’ ability to change rapidly in the face of overwhelming odds. Business practices are not keeping up with technological changes as they are occurring at an ever-increasing pace. A ‘wait and see’ attitude is no longer excusable and may result in abject failure.

We are not lawyers or politicians, and most of us don’t have in-house CPAs to keep us from getting hammered by laws and changes in accounting rules that affect everything we do. Ignorance is no excuse, and that kind of indictment against small businesses is unfair. I talked to a client today that is facing horrendous fines and penalties, because they didn’t know they were breaking a federal law regarding a payroll issue. There are so many of those laws. Our government expects us to know everything, and if the truth be known, all of us are most likely breaking laws at this very minute and we are unaware of it.

During the Irish potato famine in the mid-19th Century, the Irish population starved because the British government exported most of their edible food to feed the people of England. Our own government is in the process of doing the same by taking our profits to run a bloated bureaucracy. This bureaucracy is turning over every rock, exposing every little mistake to procure every penny they can find, while adding enormous penalties and crippling taxes to increase their funds.  Most of us cannot afford to go it alone, but then, we can’t afford not to either.

The Internet has given us the flexibility to collaborate with others like never before. It is only natural for us to expect this to extend beyond social networks.

Here’s one example: Small retailers do not have the resources to manage their company’s inventory properly. By the same token, it can’t simply be ignored. If you sell goods to consumers, the movement of those goods is the life’s blood of your organization. So, retailers have embraced whatever programs available to try to control their stock.

Today, all but a few of our customers have migrated to the cloud. Because of the flexibility to collaborate with others, we can perform many of the mundane tasks for our customers that were unheard of when we sold computers and software and provided telephone support. Being on-line with our clients, we have become a very important part of their day-to-day operations. Just today, I received a phone call from a client who wanted to know who entered a certain transaction on February 15. I was able to give them an answer in less than a minute. The cost for this service was nothing, as they make one small monthly payment for all of our services combined. Before that, I was asked by another to reproduce a paycheck from 2007.

Doing these kinds of things on a day-to-day basis has caused us to rethink our role within our customers’ organizations. Our computer can monitor the sales of thousands of products in as many stores. We can tell our clients when they’re out, when an item is sold below cost, when its turn rates are waning, when it’s dead, etc. Millions of little jobs, heretofore impossible due to the human costs necessary to perform these operations, became second nature when our large data center got involved.

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