The Cloud is here to stay – what are its advantages?
The cloud has been around for a while now but what are the key factors that should influence your decision before taking the leap?
It’s really a question of what is best for the future of your business and that, by definition, means what is best for your clients and stakeholders. Plotting your way through the decision making process can be tricky – so here are a few pointers to inform your decision making.
Keep an open mind.
Change is always something that can cause problems and raise any number of challenges but businesses that don’t embrace change often fall by the wayside. It’s a question of balancing the needs of your business to modernise and reinvent itself against the constraints of large capital investments and staff training programmes. The traditional approach of on premise servers brings with it a certain amount of security – the data is safe and within your own hands. However, that places all the responsibility for backup, safe and secure storage and maintenance on your shoulders. Downtime and data los can be virtually eliminated by a cloud based approach and security is a given.
Take the long term view.
If you are charged with the responsibility for your firm’s data storage and management, you will be familiar with the challenges this can present and it may appear “safe” to stick with what you know and upgrade existing systems. The upfront capital costs involved in doing that can be quite considerable and you should consider whether this approach is financially beneficial to your business. Switching to the Cloud offers its own short-term costs and expenses but, over time, can provide you with a manageable infrastructure and, most importantly manageable costs. Expensive hardware upgrades can be replaced by a subscription schedule that takes the pressure off your cashflow.
Look at the different options.
Many law firms save and store everything. Over recent years storage has become much more affordable but the associated costs of backup are still there. Cloud based solutions provide the bonus of being able to perform backup in real-time if required, in duplicate or triplicate to address the data security and integrity issues and on a more phased basis dependent upon the criticality of the data to regular business operations.
What are the key differentiators?
The key benefits of cloud based solutions are:
- reduction in expenditure on data management
- greater security and ease of backup
- much shorter disaster recovery times
- increased data availability – less down-time
- increased access – cloud based data is available from anywhere – not just the office
- finances and resources freed up to allow investment in marketing, staff development and courting new clients.
So what does the future hold?
Law firms have been reluctant to move away from tried and tested systems and this has been heightened by question regarding security and data integrity. With all of these issues not only addressed by cloud based solutions but also significantly improved upon, it is likely the inexorable move towards outsourced data management will intensify in the coming year.
You don’t have to place all your eggs in one basket and the outsourcing of all data requirements is not essential but testing out some of the options first such as a move to cloud based practice management systems can provide a valuable testbed for the more wary and late adopters.