A motivational speaker gives her tips on business success

Debbie Mayo-Smith: Your movement to the cloud


Debbie is running a Future Proof Your Business Workshop on November 26 in Whangarei and December 3 in Central Auckland. Click here to go into the draw to win a registration.

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

You know what it's like to open a can of worms for yourself, don't you? This is why I'm thanking my lucky stars I'm married to a CIO (chief information officer) and he can help me compost those worms.

I decided to run a workshop including among other topics, cloud computing. I sent an email to people who had registered asking what their concerns and/or questions were.

The diverse knowledge and questions! From those who aren't using cloud at all, to security concerns, will the government have access? and data transfer rates. Even archiving when you have all your data online. I initially scoffed at this - but Steve said it was a very valid question (and one people probably don't think of). The answer is that you can either zip it or there are services that provide cloud archiving. Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself.

My dilemma is the opening. How do I introduce cloud besides calling it online software and put it in context for a very diverse range of businesses, technical aptitudes, usages and knowledge?

This is how I plan to introduce it. Tell me what you think.

While every business is different, what you have in common are the activities required to run the business. For example: Accountancy, Human Resources, Marketing and Sales, Customer Service, Operations, Communications, Public Relations, Research and Development, Information Technology, Administration, Internal Audit, Procurement.

What differs in late 2013 and the future, is how you choose to run these activities. You can stay the same like an analogue TV. Or you can look to change. You can be chained to the office, maintain large infrastructure, travel and expense costs. Or you can shed some of this weight and do 80% of what you need with a smartphone/tablet in your hand/your staff's hand and an internet connection.

Change just to change is ridiculous. You do it to accomplish a goal, fulfil a need. Some of your goals would be: personal flexibility (small business owners and self-employed chained to their premises). Need to reduce operating costs. Improve sales. Improve the speed of doing business. Remove work. Improve customer service and add value.

How do you do this? By looking at what is feasible and rational for your business activities to be run - here it is - anywhere, by anyone, at any time. This recognises the differing needs of staff who work out of the office. Your customers, your suppliers.

Online can mean stored on the internet and also saved to your computer/other computers. The online version syncing with all to be the master.

The immediate bang for your buck are obvious.

* Web based mail like Outlook (the old Hotmail/Outlook Express), Gmail, Zumbra.
* Online document creation, sharing with Microsoft Skydrive or Google Drive, storage with Dropbox.
* Online meetings with Skype or Google Hangouts.
* Communication using social media.

Paid services
* The entire MS Office 365 Suite including Sharepoint and Lync (communication tool).
* aid Google business sized apps, Zoho.
* Online accounting systems - MYOB, Xero.
* Online HR - Frontier.
* Contact management - SalesForce, MS Dynamics
* The software that runs schools admin - MUSAC has an online version.

There is no denying that there is a cloud based software solution for every need. The trouble is separating the chaff from the wheat, and also determining if the effort involved in change is really what you need - at this time.

For example - even though I'm a raving fan of tablets and smartphones, my iPad sits unused (gave it to son number four). Why? 90% of my work requires typing and the small keyboards you can buy aren't suitable for my volume of work. My smartphone is stunning for my mobility requirements.

Another example: If you have an in-house bookkeeper do you need to switch to an Internet based accounting system? You might think no. However, have you looked at the financial side, instead of having someone full-time on premises (salary, desk, computer, floor space)? You could hire an off-site bookkeeper part time to do the work online. With the proliferation of online procurement, smartphones that can take photos of receipts and store online - there can be significant cost savings.

By the way - here's a link to a column I wrote earlier this year about Des Crosley - who is running his business Mouldem Plastics on the cloud.

Debbie is running a Future Proof Your Business Workshop on November 26 in Whangarei and December 3 in Central Auckland. Click here to go into the draw to win a registration.

Written by Debbie Mayo-Smith, One of New Zealand's most in-demand speakers, trainers and bestselling authors. Debbie works with companies that want more effective staff. For more tips and business ideas sign up for her free monthly newsletter.

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A motivational speaker gives her tips on business success

Debbie is one of the most in-demand speakers in Australasia; in the top 7pc of speakers globally and well-loved for her practical, plain talking technology quick tips. A best-selling author of sixteen books, Debbie has sharpened the activity of over 1 million individuals around the world through her presentations, training, newsletters, books and videos.

Read more by Debbie Mayo-Smith

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