Imagine this: You’re in a sales meeting. The client needs a non-trivial amount of your product. You know the product they want is in stock (you checked inventory before the meeting).
The meeting has gone well and the client is interested in how much inventory you have of another product. They’re considering adding those items to the order. You don’t know the number remaining offhand, so you go back to the office, look up the numbers in your system, and call the client. In the meantime, the customer has changed their mind and only orders the original product. You’ve still made a sale, and that’s great. But, If you had the information on the other product at the moment the client asked, your sale could have been bigger.
Here’s a second scenario: You’re in the airport waiting to catch a flight. Your supervisor is out of town and calls needing information on orders placed yesterday. They were entered into the computer, but you don’t have the software on your laptop to look up the information. You call Bob from your department, who is at lunch. Bob calls back, logs on and look up the order. You email your supervisor the information and barely make your plane. It was a stressful time waiting for the information.
Incidents like these happen every day. And, the lost time and potential revenue add up. Not having quick access to business intelligence hinders growth, depletes sales and lowers productivity. Cloud services (business done via virtual databases) are a key tool for doing business more effectively by eliminating time and productivity drains.
Now, imagine these same scenarios with cloud-based software:
Scenario #1 with the Cloud: You’re in the same sales meeting. The client orders the 45 red widgets and asks how many blue widgets you have in inventory. You click the CRM app on your tablet or phone and bring up the number: 55. You notice a lot of customers have been ordering blue widgets. In fact, blue widgets have become really popular, especially in your client’s region. The production schedule shows more blue widgets won’t be made for three weeks because a part needed to make the widget is backordered. (that’s how popular blue widgets are!). The client decides to order all 55. So, you enter his order, and the 45 red widgets and 55 blue widgets are deducted from your company’s available inventory so no one else accidentally sells the same blue widgets and causes a customer-service disaster. You’ve helped your customer see a trend in the marketplace while more-than-doubling your sale and increasing the demand for blue widgets.
Scenario #2 with the Cloud: In this scenario, your supervisor would have had that information at her fingertips. She would have logged onto CRM software through her phone, tablet, or laptop and could have access to the information instantly, saving everyone’s time and taking the stress out of catching your flight.
Cloud technology makes complex information available quickly from any device. Computing done on the cloud allows you to run programs from any mobile device. It’s not just a nice idea, it can make or break success: According to Salesforce’s 2015 State of Sales report, nearly 60% of high-performing sales teams already use or are planning to use a mobile sales app, and high performers are twice as likely as underperformers to use a mobile sales app. When they say business moves at the speed of change, they aren’t kidding---high performing sales reps call up information on-the-go.
Chances are, you’re probably using the cloud already. Email applications like Yahoo or Google are examples of cloud-based operations. The cloud is a network of servers used for computing power, data storage or application hosting. With cloud-based computing, data is stored on the servers and users can access the data from any device that connects to the internet.
Basically, there are three types of cloud technology: Infrastructure, platform, and software. Cloud infrastructure includes storage, backup, and security, while cloud platforms are a set of functions for customers (usually software developers) to create their own applications.
The most common type cloud service business owners use is for software programs. Called Software as a Service, or SaaS, software programs are available “for rent” and charged per user. Salesforce’s products are cloud-based CRM software.
What are the advantages of software on the the cloud? Easy access to view and share business intelligence tops the list of the benefits of cloud services. Other benefits include security and savings in time, labor and productivity.
If you’ve ever shown up to do a presentation on your laptop and realized you’ve forgotten your power cord, left your thumbdrive at home, or been in any similar situation where you don’t have access to the files on your computer, you’ll appreciate the easy access to files and information cloud software provides. With cloud software, the computing and data storage are handled on the cloud’s off-site servers. Whether it’s a PC, Mac, mobile phone, laptop, tablet, desktop, your device or someone else’s, with cloud services all you need is an internet connection to access your information and files. The ease and accessibility cloud services provides is one of the most important reasons for choosing cloud services.
Some people are hesitant to use the cloud because they’re worried about security. Let’s face it, any time you use a computer, you run a security risk. The chances of security breach are actually greater with on-premise data storage, however. Jim Lynch of Tech Soup explains, “When thinking about cloud security and availability, you should also have a realistic sense of your current technology situation...odds are that your security isn't bulletproof, you don't have 100 percent system uptime, and you may not have staff resources dedicated to IT management. In the cloud, security and management are in the hands of trained, dedicated experts.”
Cloud providers face greater security standards because it is their business to provide a secure IT environment. Ben Rossi writes in Information Age that “cloud businesses have to build secure data centres that are independently audited, adhere to standards such as Soc 2 Type II, and are used by hundreds to thousands of tenants.” Rossi continues, “Cloud businesses have more secure IT environments than the organizations they sell to. Why? Because that’s the product they’re selling.”
Data is also more difficult to access without authorization in a cloud environment, making it much more secure than on-premises applications. Most business owners are confident in cloud computing and use some aspect of cloud software in their business, trusting the dedicated experts in the Cloud infrastructure over their own small or non-existent IT department.
Some businesses are worried about the cost of cloud software. However, when savings in time, labor, productivity, equipment, software licenses and updates are taken into consideration, most business owners find cloud software well-worth the investment.
Companies using cloud services also require less on-site computing power. Because the data storage and computations of cloud software are handled on the cloud servers, companies find they have lower expenditures on hardware. Savings in time and labor are realized throughout companies that embrace Cloud technology. On the cloud, updates are automatic and require no attention from your internal IT, allowing a more streamlined IT department and savings in labor costs.
Salesforce CRM (customer relationship management) software is cloud-based for businesses. When companies realize the ease and convenience of having files and information always available across any device, they find they’re better able to follow up on leads, plan marketing strategies and make solid data-driven decisions. The time saved through cloud software translates into more time for income producing tasks.
Increased productivity is another advantage of Cloud services. Lost data, server downtime, and storage space are no longer concerns with cloud services. Because data on the cloud is saved in real-time and backed up by several servers, you won’t need worry about losing work in the case of a power-outage, power surge or human error.
Programs like Salesforce CRM allow companies to have their data all in one place, making it easy to see case histories and trends. According to Salesforce research, companies who use Salesforce Cloud CRM software experienced an average increase of 40 percent in their sales productivity and a 32 percent increase in their sales revenue.
If your business hasn’t yet decided to move towards cloud services, maybe it’s time to look up. Cloud services allow access to data from any device. CRM software run from the cloud enables sales presentations and meetings to run smoothly. When customers have questions, you have instant answers. With instant access to software, data can be updated in real-time, giving a better picture of your company’s information. Your entire organization has access to the same data, empowering better decisions. Considering all the advantages of Cloud services, the sky’s the limit.