Wednesday, April 13, 2016

7 Ways The Furniture Industry Will Benefit From Cloud Computing

Keep your head in the clouds.

Cloud computing has been around for years, but companies have revolutionized the way they have embrace and use this technology in the last 20 years.  The fundamental process of connecting devices and data through the web has made business easier and will shape the way sales are handled in the contract furniture industry.

So what is "the cloud" anyway?

In short, the cloud is the Internet.  If you wanted to be more practical you could say the "cloud" is a server that is connected to the Internet, where all of your files and designs are stored in one central place that can be accessed on various devices.

A good example of a "cloud computer" these days is a cell phone, an iPad, a laptop, desktop, or even a watch.  This includes any device connected to the web that is ready to interact with information from the cloud.

The cloud gives you the ability to save, manage, and edit your data on the web, where it is safe from theft and lost data.  Let’s look at the 7 ways that the cloud will benefit designers who work in the contract furniture industry:

1. Control costs

Let's discuss the bottom line first.  When you look at software for your business, numbers are the first thing you evaluate.  Each software user in your business equates to another hefty expense added to your yearly budget.

One of cloud-based software’s top benefits is its pricing flexibility.

The modern software model today is moving toward subscription-based licenses. This step reduces your costs to a monthly expense which can be adjusted as your business expands and contracts.

Because the technology resides in the cloud, these changes will be made instantly. The beauty of the cloud is that it helps you avoid costly, long-term software license commitments.

2. Backup and recovery

Did you spill coffee on your laptop again?  Did you drop your cell phone into a full sink of water?  Did you throw your tablet across the room after a bad day at work?  How about the virus that deleted all of your files on your work computer?

Accidents happen.  We all know that files or designs residing on a laptop or desktop computer are vulnerable and could be lost at any moment.  Maybe you remembered to back them up on the network drive, but often this isn't the case.

When your files are in the cloud, they are not only accessible anywhere, they are also backed up automatically, no matter what happens.

3. Improved collaboration

You may remember the days when you had to email a shared document back and forth multiple times until you finally reached the final draft. Oh wait... You probably still use this editing method now!

When your files are in the cloud, they can be accessed from a central point on the web.  Now it’s much easier to edit documents, make notes, and view designs in real-time with your co-worker or client who could be miles away. 

This concept has been popular in the past couple of years on the document level (sharing Excel and Word files).

Take it a step further, at OFCDesk, we want to explore this concept on a grander scale. We give you the ability to share your designs via the cloud.  We love the cloud and that is why our software lives there.

In the contract furniture industry, clients can be located anywhere. Often, you may work with multiple partners to close a deal or assist a customer.  Cloud computing allows this to happen faster, making work easier and gives you instant peace of mind.

4. Instant software updates

 The days of the annoying, recurrent pop-up that tells you to update your software will be a thing of the past. 

Soon, there will be no need to have your IT person imprison your computer for hours during valuable work time.

Cloud computing gives the software developer the ability to change and update software constantly, without disrupting work or making you wait weeks for a new update to fix or improve functionality.

This also means that new features will be readily available to you. You'll have new tools to increase your efficiency monthly and often weekly, as developers make regular changes to the software.

5. Scalability and Customization

Cloud based software shapes itself to your workflow and demand.  Because the software runs off an Internet server, it can be customized to match the changes in your business.

Cloud-based computing also helps with server space and licenses.

As I mentioned above, software subscriptions can be added or removed on a monthly basis, due to your current work demand.  This is important when you look at contract furniture dealers which are primarily project-based businesses.  Projects come and they go. Cloud software can easily adjust and track these changes.  

Server space is the next important flexible area for cloud-based software.

How much space do you need to store your award winning designs or renders in the cloud?  There is often a limit.  More server space can be purchased to adjust to the number of files and designs that you store in the cloud.

6. Work anywhere you want

This is commonly cloud computing's number one benefit.  Because your documents are in the cloud and the software is often accessed via a web browser--you now have the ability to access, edit, manage, upload, download, and review your files anywhere there is a device and an Internet connection.

We take this a step further with our new Connect tool. The cloud-based software gives you the ability to access your CAP designs and edit them on any web-enabled device.

7. Big computer capabilities

When I talk about a "big computer," I mean a computer that has the ability to work harder, longer, and smarter than the laptop or desktop sitting on your desk.

Big computers (servers in the cloud) help designers render and visualize their designs faster, without eating up their own resources. 

How long does it take you to render a product on your computer?  Did it take a long time, and were you able to work while your computer rendered your image?

Cloud technology gives you the ability to create your design and to render your masterpiece in the cloud, without slowing you down.  Let the computer in the cloud do all the work while you move on to the next task in your day.


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