Improving Staff Workflow with Cloud Technology
We live in an increasingly high-tech world, and this ongoing revolution has had a huge impact in the corporate world. The state-of-the-art office equipment of yesteryear—electric typewriters, copying machines, and the like—have been replaced with machines that can perform equivalent functions much more accurately and dependably. Certainly, few people would deny the usefulness of personal computers and affiliated devices in the workplace. Even so, not everyone is willing to take advantage of one particular innovation from the tech industry—we’re talking about cloud technology.
What is cloud technology? It’s fundamentally a way of performing certain computing tasks, from simple data entry to viewing employee training videos, over the Internet rather than on a specific device. All data is saved in “the cloud”—that is, on servers that can be accessed by authorized personnel from nearly any Internet-connected device. Many companies have enthusiastically adopted cloud technology, but a lot of others remain reluctant to climb aboard this particular trend. To a large extent, this reluctance can be traced to a lack of knowledge—the cloud, free as it is from conventional technological constraints, seems forbiddingly mysterious and elusive. But, by ignoring the cloud, you deprive your business of the many workflow benefits it can provide; we’ll take a look of some of these below.
Convenient Access to Work Materials
With traditional computing setups, employees are limited by their ability to access the specific desktops/laptops they use to carry out their job duties. Word processing documents and other materials are typically stored locally on a particular computer. However, this limitation is increasingly burdensome in our highly “connected” 24/7 Internet world, where it’s not always convenient to wait until Monday morning to update important documents, check messages, and so forth.
With cloud storage, though, personnel can perform a lot of work duties even away from the office. This useful feature is linked to the cloud’s independence from specific devices. Work materials are stored in a centralized location that may be accessed from any number of places, provided that the worker has the right authentication data (e.g., passwords). This is particularly advantageous for personnel on vacation who prefer to “check in” on occasion while they’re gone.
The cloud also expands a team’s collaboration options. The best way to illustrate this feature is through example: Take a word document or infographic that is being worked on by multiple parties. The old-fashioned way of handling this situation is to email the material in turns from one employee to the next. In this arrangement, one worker has access to the material while the others wait. In the cloud, however, it’s possible for multiple parties to edit the document at the same time, without the need to send emails and/or make multiple copies that might conflict with one another. It’s one way to boost personnel productivity.
One of the more common problems in corporate environments in the ongoing struggle to keep all important software and hardware packages properly updated. Software patches, for example, must be applied in a timely fashion to protect hardware against bugs or malicious hackers. With some offices, however, this can be a difficult procedure, as there are many desktops and laptops that must be individually updated. They may also differ in the kinds of updates required, as not every department will have the same suite of software programs. In short, it can be a real hassle to keep everything up to date. For that reason, many companies simply decline to execute these updates on schedule, but this causes its own set of problems. If employees do not have properly updated software to work with, this can easily cut into productivity—and it often does.
With cloud technology, updates become substantially easier. That’s because this technology stores everything in a centralized, Internet-accessible area. Software in the cloud is shared by all personnel and, when it’s time for an update, it’s not necessary to run around the office ensuring that every workstation is compliant; all that is required is for you—or the third-party vendor responsible—to update the software stored on the cloud. Software extensions and customized features can also be easily included with the update.
Hardware and software isn’t cheap—that’s one of the hard truths that businesses have to grapple with. A lot of the time, companies are forced to straddle a very thin line between spending too little and too much money on their IT equipment. For obvious reasons, it’s a bad idea to have too few laptops or desktops on hand to accommodate workflow. But what happens when there is a sudden surge of demand in the company’s services? If the business can’t provide clients with the timely service they require, it will damage the company’s bottom line. In these cases, businesses often purchase new equipment to handle this temporary increase in workflow, but when matters settle back to normal, the company often finds itself stuck with a lot of useless gear, having failed to recoup the expense.
This situation isn’t a problem in the cloud, however. Because of its freedom from standard devices, the cloud makes it easy for companies to simply purchase more resources when needed, and only for the time period needed. There is no extra hardware to buy. This scalability gives companies convenient access to the resources they need 24/7, with no workflow interruptions during times of high-volume activity.
Enhanced Data Security
We’re all aware of the hazards posed by hackers and other Internet-based threat actors who have designed to steal and/or erase your valuable data. This is another task that a third-party cloud provider can help you with, by providing 24/7 monitored support of your system. But keeping your data safe isn’t just about ensuring that it’s safely out of the reach of hackers from halfway around the world. Crashing hard drives and power failure can also take their toll, as do natural disasters (e.g., flooding, tornados, earthquakes). All of these events have the potential to destroy equipment and cause the premature loss of your valuable data—which, in turn, can seriously interfere with the ability of your personnel to carry out certain mission-critical tasks. By moving everything into the cloud, you can avoid prolonged downtime after disaster strikes.
Improved Customer Communications
Many companies struggle to answer customer queries and complaints without undue delay, which can lead to loss of revenue if a significant number of clients decide that their needs are not being met. Cloud technology can be used to enhance an organization’s call-center capabilities by providing a platform for managing and routing inbound/outbound calls in an optimal way.
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