Cloud technology is revolutionizing the way that IT manages employees, data and customers. Through the adoption of cloud-centric operations, companies are realizing unprecedented flexibility by becoming unchained from the limitations of in-house data storage systems. The significant reduction in maintenance of these systems has facilitated new possibilities and opportunities to offset, or even eliminate, expenses related to data storage, access to that data throughout the company and customer account management. Cloud technology, combined with mobility, has liberated companies to get more return out of the investment into their business.
The Standardization of Mobile Devices
In the past, companies often had to issue mobile phones to their employees if they intended them to be used for work, or at the very least, many would provide an allowance for mobile charges. Today, however, almost everyone has a personal smart device and many have unlimited calling and data plans on their phones. This is especially a benefit for companies with field service workers that would like to update their field service management operations from manual processes to automation of their service business.
As a cost savings measure, companies are now leveraging the Bring-Your-Own Device (BYOD) concept to reduce overhead. This has become so pervasive that it’s increasingly being established as a standard of practice for employees to use their personal mobile devices for work without further compensation. The exception may be in the use of tablets as they are still considered more of a luxury item compared to the smart phone. Nevertheless, BYOD is saving companies thousands of dollars per year. This is due in part to the marriage between cloud technology and mobility.
Liberation of Working Capital
Some may say that cloud computing shifts investments from asset-based capital expenses (CapEx) to operational expenses (OpEx). This is not an accurate statement. While it is true that the initial investment for on-premise data storage may be made as an up-front expenditure, so can an investment in the cloud. Likewise, both can have investments paid over time.
One of the greatest benefits to investing in cloud technology is the reduction of additional expenses. On-premise data centers require maintenance; human capital hours to maintain the services, parts and accessories needed for upkeep and service, significant investment into software and application upgrades, and the ability to cover the costs for scaling the storage as usage and memory demands increase.
Cloud technology, on the other hand, does not require these additional expenses. When a company’s data is hosted through a hosting service or a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) vendor such as FieldAware, these expenses are absorbed through subscription fees. This reduces the need for greater working capital, enabling the investment of funds into other areas of the business.
In field service-related businesses, this could mean more funds are available to better compete in the marketplace. For example, a company may choose to invest in improving their website making it easier for a visitor to find information that will convert them to a viable lead. Or, in the case of a medical equipment manufacturer with service teams, an investment may be made into better diagnostic equipment. A heavy equipment dealer may reallocate funds to purchase a greater inventory of parts to ensure field engineers can make repairs to reduce downtime in one call or complete an upsell while on site. All of these help companies position themselves against their competition.
Better Service and Savings for Customers
Today’s savvy customer knows that they have the advantage in the market. If they decide that a business is not meeting their needs, they can easily shop to find an alternative to their current provider. What’s posted in association forums, LinkedIn groups and other digital feedback resources can help a business to retain or gain customers.
The flexibility and long-term cost savings provided through cloud technology can be a key component in competing for customers. The impact on cash flow and working capital can also provide a business the option to pass savings on to their customers. This can be realized in a few ways, such as through:
- Direct reduction in the costs of goods and services to customers.
- Investment into the development and improvement of existing products and services.
- Training customer-facing field service engineers – they make a direct impact on the quality of the customer experience.
Each of these can provide a competitive advantage and encourage more opportunities for customers to share positive feedback in both digital forums and when referring potential new business.
A field service company that takes advantage of the cloud not only realizes cost savings, but it creates opportunities to improve their business. This freedom results in better positioning in the marketplace to win and retain customers that will not only appreciate your brand, but also evangelize your business to their peers.