Presenting the case for the cloud to a business that has traditionally worked offline to embrace new technology is tough job. This is especially true if it is a B2B where the buyer and the seller come from non-technology industries. Most businesses in these industries operate at a hyper-local level, where phone calls and face-to-face meetings are much more effective than emails.
Despite the barrage of new technology that has come out in the last decade or two, we still do not have a real substitute for face-to-face meetings. This being the case, it is difficult for businesses to justify the costs they may have to make in order to embrace technology; especially modern ones like the cloud.
But before we go there, we need to see if cloud-based technologies actually make sense for offline businesses. Andrew Mason, a first generation entrepreneur who runs an equipment rental service in the construction industry says, “There is no doubt that technology can make job simpler and more efficient. To give you an example from my industry, building contractors traditionally make use of blueprints to understand the construction requirements. Often times, these blueprints are modified over time and it is a lot of hassle to keep all members stay updated on the modifications. This has resulted in a lot of rework and monetary loss in the past. Today, many contractors use iPad apps like PlanGrid to handle blueprints. This is a cloud-based service that automatically syncs the latest blueprint onto the accounts of all the individual members. The result is very little communication error between the various teams and thus improved efficiency overall.”
Mason makes a pretty important point–any business that requires coordination between various teams would do good if the communication is disseminated through a cloud-based system. Not just that, cloud systems also help with efficient content management without the need for an in-house resource to do so.
Besides all this, one of the most important reasons why a business that is traditionally offline needs to embrace the cloud is business expansion. The globe is shrinking faster than ever and this is a great thing for businesses. Businesses no longer need to be present in a country to find local customers. In such an environment where the world is one big marketplace for your products and services, the business with the better technology infrastructure to handle operations internationally wins. That’s because with global expansion comes issues that one may not have faced before. In a global setting, you no longer operate with one currency, one legal jurisdiction, one tax law and one time-zone.
There is a need to create one platform that will handle the requirements of customers from across the world. The thing is that this is only possible if the business has the technology infrastructure to handle international operations. For a local business, the biggest hurdle to expand globally is the financial viability of doing so. Cloud systems have often been recommended for their cost effectiveness and is thus a crucial stepping stone for local businesses to open up internationally.
All said and done, local businesses do not have to embrace technology yet. However, by setting up the infrastructure and expanding business to outside their traditional realm, these businesses can avoid the mistake done by movie rental companies that refused to acknowledge the arrival of Netflix and dismissed the service as a fad. We all know what happened next.
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