By Deb Kohls on April 22, 2014 at 9:34 AM
In the travel business, one would not suggest or even think that talking about clouds would be good for business. However, I still am amazed at the number of business owners who are reluctant or in some cases, don’t understand how cloud computing has become integral and yes, even necessary to sustain our businesses and impact our customer’s lives.
But stop and think about it . . . clouds make rain so clouds are “rainmakers”!
The processes that are replicable and redundant in any business are best delivered via the cloud in today’s economic environment. This translates to real cost savings and improved time-saving processes.
In the past, software solutions were delivered via license and the business owner was left to incur the cost of implementing and managing local networks to connect user desktops to important systems, backups, security and fail-overs. Often these costs inhibited growth and ROI because the business was required to focus attention and cost on non-core competencies (like delivering excellent customer service) and focused a disproportionate attention to solely maintaining infrastructure to run daily operations.
With the internet, business computing has dramatically changed the focus of expense to embrace the cloud as a viable and necessary methodology for reducing costs while improving efficiencies in time and redundant processes.
Yet not all clouds are the same. In the software as a service business, (SaaS) or ‘cloud computing’ it seems everyone claims to deliver service via the cloud. There are, however, distinct differences which should be considered when assessing the transition of your business to the cloud.
It’s like our co-founder, Joe Kiernan, remarked, ‘putting a new battery in a 10 year old car does not make it a hybrid!”
What makes a true cloud computing environment is the management of the software entirely via the internet.
If you have been using the same software company and they suddenly claim to be delivering the same software via the cloud, you should ask a few questions. For instance, is your guest data residing in the cloud where it is protected in professional, secure data centers? Do you have to ‘schedule’ upgrades to your system in order to receive the latest new software releases? Or are upgrades instantaneous when the software provider issues a new feature? Do you have to ‘synchronize’ your PC to the cloud in order to make sure the latest information is current in the system?
True cloud computing is delivered via an internet browser and should not require applets or software to access the software.
Additionally, you should make sure your ‘cloud’ solution can work on any device . . . PC, tablet, or smartphone. This means that your access to the business application (not to be confused with the consumer access) should be directly via a login through an internet browser and URL.
Finally, cloud platforms are generally built to enable web services. A technical term, I know, but extremely important when planning your future technology needs. True cloud systems are ‘open’ and provide an easy way for other software to connect so that even greater efficiencies can be delivered to the business owner.
For instance, a property management system is largely operational . . . managing guest data, tracking revenue, reporting, upselling additional services/product, and overseeing daily operations from sales and marketing to housekeeping and maintenance. Powerful property management systems should be able to easily connect with marketing systems (OTAs, GDS, advertising/distribution systems) that manage emails, loyalty programs, customer reviews and other important connection points that make doing business easier, faster and less expensive.
So . . . in the end, CLOUDS are good for your business. They save you time and money . . . a REAL rainmaker!