Cloud based office solutions are generating lots of media attention.
Fueling their growth, according to research firm IDC, are the expanding “species” of mobile devices, the explosion of mobile apps and Big Data tools, and the growing availability of wireless broadband.
IDC indicated that Worldwide spending on public IT cloud services was estimated to be more than $40 billion in 2012 and is expected to approach $100 billion in 2016. Over the 2012-2016 forecast period, public IT cloud services are expected to enjoy a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.4%, five times that of the IT industry overall, as companies build out the infrastructure needed to deliver public cloud services.
By 2015, one of every seven dollars spent on packaged software, server, and storage offerings will be through the public cloud model.
Joining the plunge into cloud services are many companies including Apple, which just introduced iWork for iCloud, an application that is now in beta testing. Developers seem to be pleased with iWork in early tests. It will be released for use by the general public later this year.
iWork is Apple’s answer to Google Docs and Google Drive. Using cloud technology the goal is to enable users to create, edit and save documents, spreadsheets, and slide presentations across a myriad of devices whether it be a MAC, iPad or iPhone.
This solution is similar to other cloud-based applications which require only a web browser interface and Internet connection for use.
Overall these apps go a long way to pushing the concept of collaboration, improved workflow and idea sharing among office and remote staff.
For example, a salesperson traveling on appointments can use his or her laptop to download a new corporate slide presentation. Eliminating the need to have the right software installed on the device, the salesperson can edit the presentation through their web browser. They can personalize it with the name of a prospective client and add other key information pertinent to the customer’s needs.
The presentation can then be saved for real-time sharing with a manager or co-worker who can make additional changes or suggestions. Once finalized the presentation can be printed if possible and or sent electronically to the prospective client.
In addition management and staff can do calendar sharing. Appointments can be setup and scheduled without the constant flow of emails and phone calls.
As Apple pointed out during its iWork presentation, cloud-based apps are also available to create spreadsheets utilizing various templates to help speed the documentation creation process. In the case of the MAC user face you can also download Microsoft Word documents and edit them as well.
Other companies such as Salesforce, Oracle and Netsuite are pushing their cloud applications.
While migrating to the cloud makes sense for most businesses, and can certainly add to overall business capabilities, companies should take a deep analysis of their needs and operations before signing-up for a myriad of these applications.
In fact those thinking about eliminating their office desktop software all together should wait until they are comfortably entrenched with the cloud.
A combination of desktop and cloud applications make the most sense for companies wishing to take advantage of the latest technologies and opportunities the cloud offers.