I’m going to discuss how you can use cloud technology to improve your business on a small scale to begin with. I’m also giving two examples of how real world businesses can do just that.
Today, I’ve been looking at some of my online services. Services I use on a daily basis. I thought a moment discussing some of those services would be helpful to you.
You see, moving to the cloud isn’t a yes or no, you either do or you don’t strategy. I believe you probably have moved some of your data to the cloud without realising it.
So let’s look at some examples of cloud services which will help you start to see how cloud technology is capable of helping your business processes, your customers and ultimately your profits.
To do this, I’m going to start at home. Let’s learn something from the big players.
iTunes has been around for a while now, but the introduction of apples’ iCloud, and now Match has really become a service of value to iTunes users. If you are unfamiliar with this it allows you to add devices, such as your iTunes PC/MAC iPad or iPhones to Match. This then gives you the ability to access your music from your PC/MAC on any other device that is part of your Match group.
It’s a clever way of giving users convenience, as well as ensuring loyalty. Convenience to download instantly tunes from iCloud that you have purchased on another device but also saves space on smaller devices such as iPhones. You only download and store on the phone what you actually listen to on that phone. It ultimately serves as a backup for your purchased music also.
This is a shining example of cloud technology at work. I love it, and I’m sure you do to if you use it. – iCloud is a free service but Match costs £21.99 per year at time of writing.
Now SkyDrive, Microsoft’s cloud based storage platform, allows you to access your data from office and home on PC/MAC iPhone and other mobiles too. You download and install SkyDrive on each device, there are both MAC and PC versions as well as mobile apps. This service is free and comes with 7GB of storage. It uses a Windows Live ID, if you don’t have one, getting one is easy and free. If you have a Hotmail account or Xbox Live account you can use that.
Another superb cloud service. This is a real business tool for me so if you don’t have it yet, get it. It’s secure and easy to use.
Here is the link to the SkyDrive demo and signup page.
Kindle from Amazon is another great cloud based service. I love the fact I can have multiple books on multiple devices. I have Kindle installed on my Office PC, my home PC, as well as iPad and iPhone not to mention a Kindle. With Kindle you link them all. If you stop reading a book on one device, no matter which device you pickup, you can carry on reading the same book from exactly where you left off. Fantastic.
Amazon offer this completely free too.
Let’s just stop a moment and think about that. Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon offer these services. They are either cheap or for free to their clients and ensure loyalty whilst capturing data on what we do. We can be targeted with highly focused advertising. Amazon know what you read and offer you books you are most likely to want. iTunes does the same with music. With both these services you are more likely to buy from them again.
These companies are becoming part of your life. Why would you buy a book from elsewhere if you can’t add it to your Kindle collection and have it available from anywhere? Why buy music from another provider and only be able to listen to it in one place?
So what is Microsoft trying to achieve? Well, when you see Windows 8, you’ll realise it is the most cloud centric operating system to date.
If you want to buy music from another provider such as Play.com for example, SkyDrive gives you access to that music on any other SkyDrive linked device too. Thus undoing the tight grasp that Apple – their rival, has on it’s user base.
Microsoft’s long term strategy it to move everyone to the cloud. Cloud services run on hosted server platforms and Microsoft want to dominate that space with their hosted platform Azure and by companies using Hype-V virtual servers. They see that as a major market space for their operating systems. Cloud services also eliminate licensing piracy.
So you may be using more cloud services than you realise today.
Let’s not forget Google!
Google Maps – a cloud service, Google Search for mobile, Google+ Google’s entire business started as a cloud service and they have the biggest head-start. Google Circles is their answer to Facebook and Twitter – more cloud services and I’m sure you know LinkedIn for Business social networkers.
So what cloud Strategy do you have?
Some will take part, use these new technologies for their own benefit, whilst others, the creative ones, the innovative entrepreneurs, will find a way to offer services using the cloud. Which will you be?
How can you offer better services to your clients using the cloud?
I can help you with that, if you let me. Just to make my point here are a couple of give-away ideas to get you started.
We have a van that comes around to our offices at lunchtime. It toots it’s horn to let everyone know it’s there. This might work but generally it just annoys the hell out of everyone on our estate.
They make good food but they always turn up when I’m on the phone and I nearly always miss the van. Our nearest shop is 30 minutes walk or 10 minute drive with crap parking.
If you owned a sandwich van business wouldn’t you have a twitter account? or use SMS messaging to let your customers know when you will arrive? If you use SMS you can group customers by estate or stop point. Then with a simple tap on a smart phone you can send a text message to your next stop.
Sign up for a free account here – Text messaging your clients is OK so long as you don’t target them with constant adverts.
This isn’t hard to do. Not hard at all. With twitter, you could tweet that you are on your way next to “ABC estate and have some fantastic hot pasties on board today”! Your customers following you would know to end that call. ( I might even buy something!) If you followed them back – and you should, then they could Direct message you with a request or two.
If your customers know you are coming then you would probably double your sales. Go one step further and have someone write a mobile app that allows customers to place lunch orders – BINGO – You could even take the payments and save carrying so much cash!!
(Maybe I’ll start a sandwich van company and beat you to it)
Use Schedualicity.com to allow clients to book appointments with you. It will send reminders automatically to them as well as keep you up to date with your appointments calendar.
Great for hair salons or treatment services such as clinics or optometrists.
My point is, the world is better connected than ever. 4G is on it’s way and this improves drastically internet access across the UK. Blog post on the impact of 4G next week.
Help your clients get everything they want, quickly, easily, efficiently and you will get everything you want too.