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Keeping Your Head in the Cloud(s)

Regardless of what your company does or what you hope to accomplish, the Cloud can be a valuable place to focus at least a portion of your operations.

Audio Recording Production Tips and Techniques

And here’s the $64,000 question: “What’s one of the easiest things you can do to increase the efficiency of your business?”


There is certainly a myriad of possibilities when it comes to responding to that question, but perhaps the best answer is also one of the easiest to overlook. You could quite legitimately reply that staff training is a key player in helping things to run more smoothly, but even that can only yield a limited degree of benefit. Your team might know their job functions inside and out and be proficient in fulfilling the obligations of their daily duties, but even the most conscientious and hard-working employee can still end up being at the mercy of the cumbersome aspects of office technology.


But wait, you might ask, isn’t tech the key component of a growing and flourishing enterprise? It is, and yet, ironically, the very technology that we become so dependent on can sometimes place us at an operational deficit due to its own inherent constraints. For anyone old enough to remember the workplace of the 1990’s, you likely recall the bold proclamations of that era which told us that the ultimate goal for any business was to move entirely to a paper-free office environment. The commonly-accepted logic of the time was that paper was the culprit, the item which bogged us down, sapped our efficiency, and created physical challenges when it came to accessing, using, modifying, sharing, and archiving records. Eliminating this villain would therefore free every business to accomplish more with fewer staff, reducing operating costs and increasing profits as a byproduct.


There’s a certain element of truth to that concept, but it tended to play out a little bit differently in the real-world setting. Electronic records were truly revolutionary at first, but there were other logistical hurdles that became apparent as business became more and more immersed in the use of the technology. It might be incredibly powerful to enter data into a spreadsheet for advanced filtering and data mining, but this also required the person performing the data entry to save the record and then send it to whoever else needed to disseminate the information from it. This basic process was fine, but if multiple recipients needed to review information over a period of time, there was first the question of how to ensure that everyone was always looking at the most recent iteration of the spreadsheet.


This was easily solved by embedding the “save date” in the name of the record, but there was still an underlying challenge of how to accommodate updates that each of the spreadsheet’s recipients might need to make. Someone could modify whatever they needed to and save a new revision of the spreadsheet, but that then entailed ensuring that the updated copy was sent to all of the other recipients, as well as to the staff member who originated the spreadsheet at the outset. And it’s this very manual process that created the greatest difficulty, because ultimately, someone would mistakenly work from an outdated version of the spreadsheet, make modifications, and then perpetuate the error as it was sent out to everyone else. Suddenly, the incredible benefit of electronic data processing was thrown a monkey wrench and the efficiency of the business, which should have been ever-increasing as a result of technology, was now rapidly grinding to a halt.


One of the most effectual countermeasures to correct this situation is embodied in the concept of cloud-based computing. This method of collaborative work first came to widespread prominence in the early 2000’s and has been experiencing exponential growth since that time. It’s likely that you utilize at least some aspect of cloud computing in your own enterprise, but perhaps you’ve tended to generally shy away from investigating it at a more in-depth level. We’re inundated with an endless parade of new tech screaming for our attention, so it’s understandable that some businesses have yet to explore what this new method of operating can really bring to the table. This is unfortunate, because certain answers can be found in this approach that would otherwise be extremely difficult to come up with.


Cloud-based computing enables some particular problems, such as the spreadsheet dilemma, to be easily solved. Now, every member of the team can have simultaneous access to the exact same records, with the ability to edit and view changes real-time. By simply eliminating the pitfalls of the back and forth of file transfer, team efficiency can be tremendously improved. And one of the most powerful benefits is the fact that data is being stored in a location that can be accessed at any time from any location. If your enterprise isn’t quite there yet, or perhaps even languishing in the realm of physical folders and filing cabinets, it’s worth taking a deeper look at what this fresh perspective on doing business could mean for your company.


Although some cloud computing might be centered around a particular process or function, one of the most powerful embodiments of the concept is in the realm of overall business operations. Feature-rich platforms like Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams can enable entire businesses to carry out their daily functions in an environment where everyone on the staff has the same tools at their disposal.


Beyond simply creating and accessing records, your team can conduct meetings, communicate via the instant messaging component “Chat”, and essentially carry out almost every aspect of your operations. Customer Relationship Management software exists in a wide variety of cloud-based options, permitting extremely detailed tracking of your clients or customers through every phase of your interaction with them. Other cloud-based solutions that can be game-changers for businesses include such things as payroll processing and Human Resources services, and these are generally hosted by providers who offer multi-tiered packages that you can tailor to meet your own specific needs.


Truth be told, for as beneficial as cloud-based computing can be to the overall daily operations of almost any business, there are actually some detriments as well. Having the ability to access items from any location on any computer is a significant benefit, but it comes at the price of requiring you to always be in a scenario where you have the ability to connect to the internet. So what are your options when you can’t access Wi-Fi and are unable to connect via a personal hotspot because you happen to be outside of cell tower range? This especially becomes an issue in scenarios where you’re engaging in a process that involves interaction with other team members, but it can also occur even when you’re working in a completely solo capacity.


Perhaps you utilize video content creation as a major component in your social media presence or other operations, and end up doing a considerable amount of editing throughout the week. Online video editing options like Canva and Microsoft Clipchamp can be tremendously beneficial due to being cloud-based. By having the online application do the “heavy lifting”, even older or less-powerful hardware can still be utilized for robust video processing. But suppose your work frequently takes you to environments where it’s not possible or practical to be connected to the Internet? Or what it if your Internet service provider has an outage, or perhaps the application itself is experiencing server issues? Cloud-based processing is generally dependable and available on demand, but even the most rock-solid platform isn’t 100% failsafe.


It’s from that perspective that the whole concept of developing an array of “Plan B’s” can be a prudent step to take. Total dependence on cloud processing can be a dangerous proposition due to the unknowns that exist completely outside of your control. The safety net of backup processes can be a lifesaver in situations where you suddenly find yourself unable to go about business as usual. As in the example of video editing, having a downloaded desktop version of an editor software as a spare can enable you to continue working in those rare (and yet quite possible) instances when you can’t get to the Cloud.


The good news is that the infrastructure behind all this processing is a continual work in progress, ever-evolving and constantly benefitting from new developments. Most cloud solutions carry backup protocols and disaster recovery measures as core components, which can be tremendously reassuring in those scenarios where things aren’t working quite the way that they’re supposed to. As with any item of technology, cloud-based computing carries with it not merely one but many learning curves. This reality shouldn’t be a deterrent from investigating all of the potential benefits from utilizing the tech, but should instead serve to properly season your expectations when you do take those initial steps into this unique realm of doing business.


Regardless of what your company does or what you hope to accomplish, the Cloud can be a valuable place to focus at least a portion of your operations. Failing to embrace this approach might ultimately end up being a detriment to your business by default, as your competition embraces and grows within the structure of cloud-based computing. Keep dreaming, being willing to overlook the constraints and intimidation of having to learn something new, and you’ll no doubt find ways to use the Cloud to help your business to truly reach “beyond the clouds” in pursuit of great and lasting success.

 

Ready to elevate your business's efficiency and embrace the future of seamless operations? Explore the power of cloud-based computing and discover how it can unlock new horizons for your enterprise. Get ahead of the curve and ensure your business is always prepared for peak performance. Visit us at www.valorexcel.com or reach out to us at 240-329-9387 to learn more. Don't forget to check our recent videos on YouTube by clicking HERE. Let's navigate the future of work together!

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