The invention of cloud computing has completely changed how we use and interact with software on our computers and mobile devices to do work. In the late 90s and early 2000s, most company offices were always filled with tens or even hundreds of software CDs. In those days, the only way one would use the software was by installing it on their computer from a CD.
Just 20 years later, using CDs to stored software is looked at as a thing of the past, thanks to new technologies like cloud computing. Today, both small businesses and large enterprises are embracing cloud computing, and this has revolutionized the way we work.
According to the 2020 IDG cloud computing survey, over 81% of organizations have at least one application running on the cloud. As cloud computing resources and the internet continue to get cheaper, we expect to see more organizations shifting to the cloud, thanks to the many advantages it has compared to relying on on-premise IT infrastructure.
In today’s article, I will discuss some of the ways cloud software has changed how we work. Let’s dive in.
1. Cloud software has boosted productivity at the workplace
Before introducing cloud apps, workers would often spend a couple of minutes or even hours making installations and configurations to desktop applications before they would be usable. A mere change in the settings of an operating system would sometimes destabilize how the software works, and this would lead to a lot of downtimes.
However, with cloud software, workers don’t have to worry about installing or updating applications; their entire focus is on using the app to do their core roles. Cloud applications are also very easy to use since developers only design them to be used in the browser. Cloud applications also reduce the number of parameters developers must consider while building the app, which shifts most of their focus to user experience.
2. Remote working is now the new normal
Today, companies can hire employees from different countries worldwide, thanks to the wide range of remote working tools available to facilitate collaboration. Tools like Google WorkSpace, Slack, and Office 365 have made it easier for teams to seamlessly work on projects remotely.
Remote working has significantly reduced operational costs of businesses since they don’t have to take care of costs like transport and utilities that workers would require if they were working at the physical premises. Now that the internet is getting faster and cheaper, we should expect more companies to embrace remote working than ever before.
3. It is now possible to work on the go
Most of cloud software providers also have mobile versions of their apps that make it possible to work from wherever you are. Now that smartphones are becoming more powerful, it is possible to do most computing tasks on mobile devices. For instance, most mobile devices are now capable of doing basic photo and video editing, so creatives can continue doing their work even when they are away from their computers.
Another good example would be the possibility of publishing content to your WordPress website right from your mobile device. All in all, working on the go enhances productivity and effectiveness.
4. We can now access all our work data remotely
Gone are the days when getting access to your work files was only possible at the office. Today, you can choose to store all your important work files on the cloud and access them via the internet wherever you go. Platforms like Google Drive, iCloud, and Dropbox have made it possible to store data on their servers and access it remotely using a computer or mobile device.
This is beneficial, especially for businesses that require employees to continue doing some work tasks beyond the traditional working hours. For instance, customer support and sales agents will always need to have access to work data all the time in order to offer customers the most appropriate solutions for their problems.
5. Collaboration is more efficient with cloud software
One of the major advantages of using cloud software is the fact that more than one person can work on the same project simultaneously. For instance, a team working on a software project can subdivide it into several sections to be handled by each team member. By using cloud applications like GitHub, everyone on the team will be able to see what their colleagues have done and the general progress of the project.
Some of the professions that have gained the most from cloud software apps include developers, graphics designers, and customer service agents. By using remote collaboration tools, these professionals are able to complete projects faster than when work is done in a fragmented manner, where members don’t get to see what their colleagues are up to.
6. More integration of the different work departments
With cloud software, it has become easier for workers to know what is going on in the different departments of the organization. Back then, information in the sales department would reach the engineering team only during meetings. But with cloud tools, everyone in the organization is able to get all information in the different departments in real-time.
This seamless integration of the different departments also leads to better customer service since everyone is aware of what the customers want and how best their department can help the organization achieve that. Companies that develop business applications have made it possible for apps meant for different departments to communicate with each other easily.
For instance, if you use a platform like HubSpot or Salesforce, all the information in the marketing department can be imported into other HubSpot apps. Having access to all this information in real-time has helped department leaders to make better decisions.
7. No need for very powerful machines
With cloud software, almost all the computing work is done on the server side. The only role that your local machine plays is to show the outputs and also accepting your inputs. This has eventually reduced the cost one has to incur in buying a work machine. The rise in cloud software is one of the reasons why the demand for Chromebooks has been high in the last couple of years.
Chromebooks are usually designed with inferior computing hardware when compared to high-end Macbooks and Windows PCs. The target market for Chromebooks are the people that rely on cloud software in their day-to-day tasks. If your workflow involves only tasks that can be done using web applications, there is no need to buy high-end computers that costs thousands of dollars.
8. Freelancing is becoming
The evolution of cloud computing tools has made the work of freelancers easier than ever before. With cloud apps like Fiverr and UpWork, freelancers can easily connect with clients without worrying about issues like payment and what takes place behind the scenes; all these are handled by the freelance platform and its partners.
Sellers and buyers on these platforms also exchange large files that are usually stored on cloud services like Amazon S3 for faster access and download. Without these platforms, it would be much harder to get freelance jobs from clients that you have never met before.
9. Cloud software has lowered the cost of IT infrastructure
With cloud software, it is now possible to run power-hungry tasks without investing a lot of money in procuring powerful computers. Since all the computing tasks are done from the cloud, the local machine is used to display results and accept inputs from the user. This doesn’t require a lot of hardware resources. The rest of the tasks are done on the server side.
The fact that costs of IT hardware have gone down has made it possible for small businesses and startups to perform computing tasks whenever the need arises. This has increased the speed of innovation in the business world because workers can now try out several experiments without being limited by computing power.
10. The role of out IT departments is evolving
Now that businesses are shifting to cloud software, IT technicians and managers are required to have a good understanding of how cloud applications work in order to offer assistance in case of their fellow employees get issues with these apps. However, some of the common tasks that they used to do with on-premise software no longer exist.
For instance, installing and updating desktop software is a rare task nowadays since most of the apps used in various companies are cloud-based. The reduction in the number of tasks the IT department has to handle has forced businesses to do away with most IT staff. Some small businesses can actually run without the IT department since most of these cloud applications are easy to set up and use.
Issues of corrupt drivers and crucial OS files do not affect the usability and performance of cloud software. So, any employer with basic computer skills and knowledge of how to use the internet can easily use cloud applications without finding a lot of challenges.
Challenges of using cloud software
Cloud software has revolutionized the way businesses operate and how workers do their day-to-day tasks. However, using cloud software also has a couple of challenges that any business that intends to use these apps needs to be aware of before making a move. Some of the common difficulties with cloud software include the following;
- It requires stable and fast internet
Using a cloud application without stable internet is very nagging and can significantly hurt the productivity of workers. If you intend to used cloud software at your workplace, one of the things you need to put in place first is stable and fast internet.
- Vendor lock-in due to lack of integration between cloud services
If you are using cloud applications by one company, it is always hard to cross over to another because you will likely lose a lot of vital data in the process. For instance, if you are using the Google WorkSpace applications, it is very challenging to migrate to Office 365 because you won’t be able to import all your data.
- Some applications don’t yet have stable cloud versions
Developers that initially had desktop applications are working so hard to avail their cloud versions in order to target the new market that is not comfortable using desktop apps. Several professional applications that have cloud versions are missing some useful features that are available in the desktop versions.
So, if some of the applications that your business relies on don’t have stable cloud versions, you will likely have to continue using these apps locally on your machine. This simply means you still have to incur the hefty costs of buying computing hardware to run these pro applications.
- Not assured of 100% privacy
Some businesses are still adamant about migrating to the cloud because they fear that their data might be sold or offered to third entities and the government without their consent. So, businesses with sensitive data do not feel safe running their applications and storing data on the cloud.
As more cloud computing applications emerge, the way we work will continue to change. The good news is that most of these changes are positive and tailored at increasing the productivity of workers. One of the major benefits that these tools have brought to the workplace is easing collaboration and working remotely.
With cloud software, workers can easily collaborate with their colleagues and accomplish projects much faster than ever before. This has resulted into more productivity and faster innovation at the workplace. However, like all technologies, cloud apps also have some drawbacks that anyone intending to use them needs to look into before taking the step.