Software has come a long way in recent years and is now characterised by Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud-based software. The benefits of this type of software are endless and include the ability to easily update it, to ‘rent’ it as you go requiring no upfront exorbitant fee, accessibility and the technical support provided by the host or founder company. There are however challenges to consider and adapt to cloud-based software, which we shall highlight in this article.
Safety is a huge concern of many customers with software integration and cloud computing. And this is absolutely justified as, with a connection to the internet, the software is essentially connected to the same platform millions if not billions of other users are. In fact, in 2014 a survey revealed 59% of respondents said they mostly use the cloud or cloud-based software for data storage. Now as you can imagine, this data needs to be protected.
The software needs to be capable of being a gateman essentially for the company’s data. It does this by authenticating and authorising individual access, both to on-site information (on hard drives) and information which is stored in the software in the cloud. The software also must be able to encrypt the stored data, which is a requirement under several operating regulations. The cherry on top would be if there was software that can allow access and integration with social media platforms and mobile applications without compromising the firewall and while still stringently protecting company data. Believe it or not, this can be done especially with inventory management software.
With the increasing adoption of cloud-based software, IT departments are starting to feel a little redundant. Historically, IT departments have been the driving force behind company decisions as the attitude has been that a certain new technology is needed to get the job done. However, this has shifted to company management deciding what objective they want to achieve and then finding a software solution from a third-party that will meet their needs. Essentially anyone can access a range of very expert and technical solutions with a few clicks of a mouse. Additionally, software seems to be more and more intuitive for the end-user which certainly empowers the company as a whole, but only exacerbates the redundancy of an in-house IT department.
It is important to note that companies are realising the need for a dedicated cloud architect when making the transition to cloud computing and integration. The cloud architect is an invaluable person with skills in installation, scaling and flexibility, networking, administration and has knowledge on the best security measures available.
Loss of control
There are two sides to control and cloud computing which may seem contradictory. On one hand, cloud computing gives control to the end-user as it is quite straightforward to find a technological solution and install it cheaply. However, once the software is installed, the individual relinquishes a lot of control and visibility over the software application. While this may not bother some people, there needs to be understanding and trust between the provider and the company to ensure the company can voice their needs and have them appropriately met by the software host.
We have highlighted three of many challenges that software integration brings. However, it is not all bad and in fact, cloud computing and SaaS remain a number one choice for many users due to its scalability, cost, accessibility and that it can be customised for individual needs.
The challenges faced by software integration can be largely minimised through proper planning involving advice from the relevant parties. If due diligence is taken at this stage, then the company can experience a smooth transition from on-site software to cloud-based software.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.