Cloud Computing: Managing the Paper Trail Without the Paper

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Accurate information is the lifeline of business, a fact that’s demonstrated daily in the headlines that focus on Big Data and how to best manage, analyze and utilize the vast quantities of information that form the backbone of nearly every organization. Reporting requirements have expanded significantly, more and more businesses and federal agencies are procuring cloud computing services, and all of this is due to growing need for quick, accurate, reliable access to needed information. These days, it’s becoming more and more difficult to run a competitive paper-based business, which is why the cloud is proving to be such a differentiator in the daily operations of almost any sort of business or organization.

Each and every industry relies on timely information in order to perform at maximum efficiency. For healthcare, managing patient records, exercising accurate inventory management, securing data and tracking expensive assets are top priorities. For a nationwide retailer, the list expands to include financial data, invoice management, procurement, warehouse management, and reporting and accounting practices that must fall in line with Sarbanes-Oxley. Even law firms must employ strategies for records and contract management, given the requirement that they must maintain this information for at least 5 years. These industries, though different when it comes to the services they provide, share at least one common requirement: the need for secure and accurate data. For most, this is prompting a turn toward cloud computing services.

Some might ask, “Why cloud computing?” After all, business and industry have made it this far in history without it and performed well enough to be successful, to build up the economic backbones of countries around the world. Paper may be a little slower, but it gets the job done, right? And there’s no need to invest in new technology (just reams of paper and plenty of storage). However, it bears reminding that surgeons used to perform more frequent exploratory surgery before the MRI. Most patients did just fine, but it was slower, riskier, and ultimately unnecessary, generating pain and costs that were eliminated with advanced imaging technology. Translate that into an office where employees are tethered to a storage room filled with row upon row of dusty filing cabinets … it’s different from exploratory surgery, but it’s still a pain, still expensive, and still demands a lot of foraging for needed information.

To put it succinctly, yes, it’s possible to run a paper-based business as long as there are exemplary organizational methods involved. It will be slower, it will be more costly when compared to usage of technology, but it’s doable. However, have you considered what your competitors are doing? If your warehouse is run from clipboards, if your office deals with piles of paper invoices, if you must dig for every physical copy of a contract or a document, how is it possible to be competitive against organizations that can access and process information with a click of a mouse? The answer is it’s almost impossible to do so, and the gap between “the old way” and “the new way” is widening every day.

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