Do you read about the latest multi-billion Silicon Valley IPO and think, “how on earth do they make money?”
Do you catch yourself grumbling that your smartphone is full of gimmicks that you never need to use
Do you find yourself nodding along to conversations about the cloud while secretly thinking, “I have no what you’re talking about”?
Do you tolerate your office’s upgrades to modern technology, while secretly dismissing them as a passing fad?
If so – Psst! Over here! – Because this is the blog for you.
It’s true that a lot of jargon gets bandied around when it comes to tech, and between the hyperbole and the geek-speak it can be hard for a casual observer to figure out which innovations could actually help them, or why.
Sometimes, this leads companies to avoid making vital improvements that could propel them ahead of the competition. Sometimes, fear of looking old-fashioned mean they jump on every new tool that comes along, only to find that the overload makes their workflows more complex and confusing than before.
Which is a shame, because cloud technology isn’t complicated at all.
And it can be extremely beneficial, making you more productive and responsive, improving your client service, bolstering your security and cutting out the daily frustrations that slow things down and pile on the hours in your firm.
And perhaps most importantly, it works in tandem with your compliance obligations.
By moving your in-house applications, integrations and data to a well-managed, holistic cloud solution, you don’t have to worry about reconfiguring your systems to keep them in line with the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) rules.
As long as your existing setup is compliant, your enterprise-grade cloud version will replicate this for you, saving you all manner of headaches – and will actually enhance areas of the business such as continuity, security and disaster recovery.
But let’s start at the beginning: How does the cloud work? What even is the cloud?
The cloud is simply a catch-all term for things stored online, rather than offline.
It means that, rather than accessing all files and programs from your computer’s hard drive – requiring you to be physically at your desk to do so – these files and programs reside in a secure data centre and you can access these directly from any device that connects to the internet.
Typically, this lets you sign up for just one cloud subscription per person in order to work from anywhere – rather than buying multiple copies of programs and packages to install on every computer you use, often at substantial cost.
Service providers approach the concept in a range of ways, and it’s possible to sign up for “cloud” versions of just one piece of software or one aspect of your business – known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). For many businesses, though, this quickly becomes troublesome, requiring multiple logins and subscriptions with different providers, as well as headaches when the different programs fail to talk to one another.
A more streamlined alternative is to opt for a ready-to-go, Desktops-as-a-Service solution. This moves all of your existing program, integrations and file storage online in one step, essentially sweeping everything you use from local storage to being hosted online.
For you as the user, this takes very little adjustment – you don’t have to adapt to an unfamiliar system or interface. A decent cloud services provider will have dealt with the teething problems in advance, making sure everything’s up and running from day one.
And the point of all this is…?
In short, to reduce stress, cut costs and make everything run more smoothly for you and your clients.
Managed well, a switch to the cloud involves minimal effort from you, but you’ll feel the impact almost instantly.
For example, moving file storage online wipes out the need to constantly email attachments to colleagues (or to yourself) to collaborate on changes, make edits or simply continue working on a document from home.
Instead, you simply share access, adding comments or making changes directly into the document, or share files via secure document exchange, speeding up communication while keeping sensitive data protected from hacks or leaks.
You can dip into emails from wherever you are, checking progress or answering an urgent query. You can even make use of a spare 15 minutes waiting for a train or stuck between meetings to get on with work via your smartphone or tablet.
Best of all, you reap the benefits while slashing the need for expensive infrastructure, reducing outgoings, capital expenditure and maintenance costs.
Great for your cash flow, great for your client relationships – and potentially great for your work-life balance, unchaining you from your desk and cutting wasted time from your day.
The cloud is far from a new-fangled fad. It’s a chance to shift towards a leaner, faster, better way of working altogether.