One of the most laudable objectives of technology is to help any company, regardless of its size, compete in a global market on equal ground with other competitors in the same sector. An unthinkable situation, until recently, that has become a reality thanks to the possibilities that Internet and other applications offer the user.
Small and medium enterprises perhaps have been the businesses that have benefited most from this situation, as they have been able to leave behind their local status and achieve a global position helping them to reach a level of competitiveness that until then had been practically banned.
Cell phone applications, the 2.0 Web and e-commerce have sparked major progress in the way that small and medium-sized enterprises interact with the outside world, but the real change would come later thanks to Software as a Service (SaaS) and Cloud Computing.
These two new trends in technology, closely related to each other, which still have a long way to go, are democratizing Information Technology because they allow (and will continue to in the future) even the smallest of companies to obtain the most modern infrastructure and applications to expand their business.
According to Access Markets International (AMI) in its latest report on the adoption of cloud services in the SMB market, 12 percent of small businesses around the world and 24 percent of medium businesses use some sort of SaaS. Figures that might be considered incipient, if it wasn't for the fact that the same study predicts that small and medium-sized enterprises will spend up to 95 billion dollars worldwide in cloud technology by 2014.
Advantages and Challenges
If we look at some of the advantages of cloud computing it will be easier to understand the boom that this technology is experiencing.
Firstly, we must understand that most systems department of small and medium enterprises won't study new market developments and assist in their implementation. The use of applications that, at first, might seem complex, is made easier thanks to the use of SaaS and cloud software. Which allows the SME to forget about any type of installation, support or maintenance.
Not to mention the cost savings associated with this strategy, as organizations pay only for what they consume and have at their disposal the ability to adapt quickly to sudden changes in their requirements, ie. They have the scalability to meet strong demand peaks.
Also, Cloud Computing allows managers of organizations to work from anywhere and at any time, because the applications are available on the web 24 hours a day and you can access them through a myriad of devices: smartphones, PDAs, laptops... something fundamental for small business entrepreneurs who invest a lot of their professional and personal time on business matters.
As we see, there are many positive aspects to this technological revolution, however there are still some challenges we need to take on to perfect this practice. Firstly, an awareness campaign has to be promoted within organizations, because their success will be mainly based on the confidence of a third party, secondly, it would require a greater commitment to safety by the supplier because when you work with the Web critical business information can be compromised, and finally, there is a lack of development time, time for businesses to access all kinds of applications through the cloud.
Document software in the clouds?
Although some companies are already offering document software applications through the cloud to its customers, security has become a real challenge when offering these applications to organizations.
In the future there will probably be an encryption technology so advanced that confidential documents uploaded to the Web will pose no threat to the security of an organization. However, even though some people will think the contrary, the time has yet to come, at least regarding pure cloud documentation systems.
What we can see are the first steps of a technology that will eventually consolidate itself in the coming years concerning document software. There are already some companies that have chosen to adapt their document applications using the software as a service model and have achieved dramatic savings in their income statements.
An alternative that has already been discovered by some small and medium enterprises and according to all analysts, a strategy that will experience significant growth in the coming years.