4 Rules of Thumb for Considering Cloud Applications in Business | Cooper Mann Consulting Group

4 Rules of Thumb for Considering Cloud Applications in Business

With all the talk of cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service models, businesses are increasingly questioning their continued use of on-premises and “traditional” software implementations. Having heard that cloud applications are cheaper and better than locally installed solutions, some small business owners and IT managers are actively seeking alternatives to their current software selections. In too many cases, however, these business owners or IT managers aren’t looking at the longer term impacts of their decisions, and may be adopting cloud software solutions simply because it seems to be the way things are going these days.

via 4 Rules of Thumb for Considering Cloud Applications in Business | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

Small #NonProfits, Crummy Computers and the #Cloud | #Cooper Mann Consulting Group

Small NonProfits, Crummy Computers and the Cloud

There are many benefits included in the “value proposition” for cloud computing models, but there are some hidden gems in terms of how these outsourced IT models can specifically and directly address one of the biggest problems facing many smaller nonprofit organizations: they have to use old, outdated, and often just pretty crummy equipment. But now it’s OK, because even crummy old PCs can work just fine when the applications are hosted in the cloud.

Small nonprofit organizations often rely exclusively on donations to keep the business running.  Donations don’t always come in the form of dollars; sometimes donations include used computer equipment.  For many nonprofits, using donated equipment is the only option they have due to various budgeting constraints, and nonprofits need computers just as badly as any other business. Not only do these underfunded businesses have to try to operate with what most users would consider to be sub-par equipment, they frequently operate their systems and networks without the aid of skilled or experienced technicians.  For a small nonprofit organization, keeping up with business is tough when the computers and software aren’t able to fully meet the need.

To complicate things even more, many people working in smaller nonprofit organizations are mobile workers – functioning either as part-time participants or users who simply need to work from a variety of possible locations.  And they almost always have to use their own mobile devices.  Supporting a remote or mobile workforce is particularly challenging when even the most basic of computing requirements are barely met, so addressing the variables of everyone having their own mobile devices and remote computers is frightful at best.

via Small #NonProfits, Crummy Computers and the #Cloud | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

Turning a Product or Service into a Solution: the Value Add of a #Reseller | #CooperMann Consulting Group

Turning a Product or Service into a Solution: the Value Add of a Reseller

There is quite a bit of chatter on the web and among IT resellers about how opportunities to serve business customers are diminishing, yet business adoption of cloud computing, managed services, and mobile technologies is growing tremendously.  It seems that use of technology is increasing, but the opportunity for “traditional” IT resellers and channel partners to make money by selling IT-related products and services is diminishing.  This is not new, and is simply a finer form of the problem that has been revealing itself for years.  In order to provide value, suppliers must provide businesses with solutions to business problems rather than just trying to sell them products and services with a hefty profit margin.

Whether it is a physical item like a computer or an intangible item like consulting services, businesses will buy if they see value in it.  In the eyes of the consumer, the value is likely tied to far more than the item at hand; the value tracks to some expectation of business benefit to be achieved now and in the future.  Businesses will pay for solutions to problems they experience more readily than they will pay for shiny things or big ideas, and it is this truth that many “value added” resellers tend to forget even though it is part of their business description.

via Turning a Product or Service into a Solution: the Value Add of a Reseller | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

Migrating #Business #Data to the #Cloud #CooperMann Consulting Group

Migrating Business Data to the Cloud

When businesses elect to have their desktop applications hosted in the cloud with a hosting service provider, they are also electing to have their data hosted with the provider.  This point is not always obvious to non-technical users and those unfamiliar with the hosted application concept.  Many business owners have adopted an online or hosted application solution and then realized after-the-fact that their data was no longer present on their computer.  At least, no current data was present, and it was quite a surprise the day they wanted some information but could not get it because they were not connected to the Internet at the time.  An important thing to remember, and the essential factor in measuring risk associated with use of cloud services and hosted solutions, is that adopting online applications in almost any form means that the data associated with (and possibly even data remotely associated with) the application will also migrate to the cloud.

via Migrating Business Data to the Cloud | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

Client #Experience and Perceived #Value: It’s Looking Cloudy for #Accountants Working with #SmallBusiness #CooperMann Consulting Group

Client Experience and Perceived Value: It’s Looking Cloudy for Accountants Working with Small Business

Every day it seems there is another professional accounting or bookkeeping firm asking questions about now to get new clients for their new “online accounting” business.  Most of these professionals are likely missing the point that their current clients are probably already looking at online accounting solutions and services. Just like in the days when QuickBooks was beginning to take the lead in the market; today’s increasingly popular online accounting solutions are gaining popularity with the direct users, and are bringing those solutions to the professional community (not the other way around).  Professionals who wish to build their businesses on what the market demands would do well to recognize that the push to the cloud coming from their clients is a reflection of past activities, and firms riding the wave are much more likely to see success than those fighting it.

via Client Experience and Perceived Value: It’s Looking Cloudy for Accountants Working with Small Business | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

Business Data Storage in the Cloud: QuickBooks and Beyond

The term “cloud” has been applied to all sorts of online or Internet-based application models, and there are a great many approaches to developing cloud-based services and solutions. What this translates to is a volume of options and possibilities for information storage, management, and access in the cloud.

Understanding where information is stored, how it may be accessed, and how it might be transmitted to others becomes essential knowledge that business owners should have when they engage with any information technology (IT) solution or service. Yet the plethora of “simple, affordable, and instantly gratifying” services currently available on the web all but ensure that businesses will engage with one or more solutions that provide them with little or no information (much less control) over the placement and management of their data.

It Used To Be So Easy

via Business Data Storage in the Cloud – QuickBooks and Beyond : QuickBooks and Beyond.

Efficiency and Value with Cloud Accounting | Cooper Mann Consulting Group

Efficiency and Value with Cloud Accounting

For some accounting professionals, the problem is finding a way to provide services that are valuable to the client, and doing it in a way that makes it profitable for the provider.  Outsourced and online accounting models are the answer, employing innovative tools in the practice and with clients: tools and resources necessary to get more informed and run the business better.

With online accounting solutions the firm is able to increase profitability with the range of services offered, often adding clients and work without hiring more personnel.  Online solutions allow professionals and their clients to work from anywhere at any time, providing both with the freedom to focus on core business capabilities (and lifestyle).

via Efficiency and Value with Cloud Accounting | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

Security and Users: Change is the Only Constant | Cooper Mann Consulting Group

Security and Users: Change is the Only Constant

Managing user accounts and access to business IT assets is challenging, particularly as cloud and social computing models introduce new wrinkles in security and identity management. Information has become “mobile” along with the users accessing it, yet management of user behavior is even more complicated that trying to manage a digital resource.

If you look at the history of security breaches, you’ll find that many of them started with a user making a mistake – like losing a laptop or clicking on a phishing email, downloading bad software, or forgetting to report an employee termination to the IT dept – something which inadvertently created a vulnerability that could be exploited.  It’s tough to stop breaches because there are so many possible ways for them to happen.

If most security breaches start with a user mistake, then IT departments have their hands full because users aren’t static, unchanging objects to monitor and manage.  Users change, sometimes a lot.  It is this constant change which undermines the ability for some IT departments to meet the demand to adequately secure company information systems and data. Now is the time to take control of user security and identity management, creating automation and controls to protect business assets in a constantly evolving environment.

via Security and Users: Change is the Only Constant | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

Is it Cloud or is it Desktop? | #CooperMann

There are a few realities that users of purely SaaS-based solutions are finding, and among them is that most web-based applications don’t readily integrate with the desktop – and the desktop is still where a lot of the real work gets done.  Yes, users are increasingly mobile and are using smartphones and tablets to create and access information via mobile applications and services, yet the PC desktop – whether it’s an actual desktop computer, laptop or full-featured tablet – remains as the workhorse for business.

Even the most popular SaaS applications continue to rely upon the desktop and locally installed applications to get some of the work done (note that many Salesforce.com users still find Excel to be their most effective reporting tool).

In an effort to deliver mobility for those applications traditionally tied to the desktop, software developers have adopted two main approaches: redevelop the application for the web (which usually means bringing functionality down to a lowest-common-denominator approach), or applying a traditional terminal server or virtualized application approach and calling it “cloud”.

via Is it Cloud or is it Desktop? | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

Accounting, Technology and Small Business – The Best of 2013 from CooperMann | Cooper Mann Consulting Group

Accounting, Technology and Small Business – The Best of 2013 from CooperMann

It has been an eventful year, hasn’t it?  With the NSA lurking about collecting data, innovative new approaches to information and identity theft emerging almost daily, and complete turmoil in the IT services industry challenging trusted sales and distribution models, most of us have simply become numb to the noise.  Information technology is evolving at an increasingly rapid pace and the way people and businesses interact with and use technology is being forced to change along with it.  It’s starting to become almost, weirdly, natural.

via Accounting, Technology and Small Business – The Best of 2013 from CooperMann | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.