Thoughts on what businesses actually need from the Cloud, not what vendors wish they needed.

Chris Bliss

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Tools matter and so does cloud computing

I had an embarrassing moment with a client this morning when they (gently) reprimanded me for being too excitable over a SaaS service (Smartsheet, for the curious). I’m paraphrasing here, but after explaining the service and my reservations about it, the client reminded me: “It’s just a tool you know. Not Heaven or Hell.”

Well, we all get excited and I’m no different, but my client had a good point. For most people (myself not included) cloud apps aren’t valuable in and of themselves. They’re a means to an end but not the end itself: exciting, shiny new tools but tools nonetheless. They’re only valuable and cool because they help businesses do business in better ways.

It’s worth pointing out, however, that although Batchbook and Highrise and Salesforce and Solve360 et al can’t do your job without you, they’re still pretty damn good tools compared to the tools of yesterday. In fact, they represent a critical stepping point away from an archaic means of business – that of filing systems, installed software, on-premise servers, etc – to a new business paradigm of dynamism. What do I mean? I mean that the strong points of cloud computing – its user-friendliness, mobility and scalability – meet the needs of modern business in a way that old tools can’t. Business today is fast-paced, fluid and capricious and it needs an IT infrastructure to match. The cloud offers that.

Ask a carpenter and they’ll tell you to keep your saws sharp and your bearings greased. The tools of business aren’t any different. I may be too excitable about the stuff, but, well, it’s my job… and it’s also the future.

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Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.