One of the most commonly searched phrase associated with the Cloud is "what is Cloud Technology". This may surprise some, as early adopters have embraced the Cloud as a revolutionary way of enhancing business IT, but to others it remains a complete mystery. This is perhaps to be expected, as cloud technology is flexible, adaptable and what's more, can be integrated with existing IT systems that together can provide dramatic improvements in people productivity and competitive advantage.
To illustrate this, let's take a hypothetical Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) with around 10 employees. This is a business bursting with creative ideas and innovative solutions for their clients, powered by the enthusiasm and dedication of everyone who works there. But today is a Thursday, it's been raining all day and the most important project of the month, a proposal for a new client, is quagmired in a swamp of edits, revisions and last minute additions. In fact, no one's even sure which edition of the document is the most recent and, having already seen 6 different drafts in the last forty minutes, the project leader is about ready to give up and crawl under her desk.
Situations like this are no one's fault. Big projects are inherently collaborative processes and without the input and ingenuity of several people, they would undoubtedly lack both depth and quality. But too often, SMEs find themselves without the kind of technology that allows truly collaborative work, applications like Lync which allows people from all over the world to share ideas via video call, make multiple revisions to a document that can be seen by all parties in real time and even whiteboard fresh ideas which can then be added to the project.
So, why are SMEs struggling along without the technology which allows their innovation and creativity to shine through? For many, the applications which allow this kind of collaboration were traditionally part of large and expensive Cloud networks, which require large overheads to set up and maintain. In a global economy only just emerging from recession, these costs are unjustifiable for SMEs and the solutions themselves are often simply too big to be practical in a business of 8-10 people.
Let's return to our hypothetical SME, struggling to complete an important project with sharing and office technology from the mid 2000's. What if they could be provided with the aspects of a large cloud system they really needed, say Microsoft Office 365 with Lync and OneNote, integrated with their existing office IT system? They could collaborate on the final draft together, bring in via video call the research team from New York they used in the planning stages of the project to double check all their data and best of all, have a completed project ready for presentation before the end of the day. The project manager can come out from under her desk too.
This is the essence of Doherty's CloudToo® project. Having worked with SMEs for years, we have created a solution that is flexible, affordable and innovative, letting SMEs perform at their peak without overloading them with technology. It's about letting people run their company without barriers, holding open the doors to progress using Cloud technology adapted for the creative, the ambitious and above all, the small businesses.
Why not also check out this Guardian blog post, exploring the ways in which Cloud technology is helping SMEs level the playing field.