By Rudy Lukez, Director, ERP Product Marketing, Oracle
Remember the PalmPilot?
How about Apple’s Newton?
If you do, I’m sure you wouldn’t trade your iPhones or Androids for these relics. Yet I’ve found that many small and medium business leaders are willing to stick with outdated enterprise technologies or shy away from modern cloud applications because they lack familiar interfaces.
Failing to migrate to the cloud can significantly hamper your future growth plans. After all, no matter which key programs and applications you currently use, functionality and user designs constantly evolve to make better use of new technologies—while, at the same time, adapting to new devices and evolving user expectations.
If you hope to leverage technology to grow, manage and improve your business, you should adopt evolving application design paradigms and open standards.
Let’s face it: yesterday’s spreadsheets and last decade’s user experiences aren’t going to support growth efforts in new markets at home and abroad. You need to look at the big picture and determine where you want your organization to be, not just now but in the near- and long-term future.
Every vendor likes to talk about their clean and simple-to-use interface. Without a doubt, easy to use interfaces can help any employee get up to speed quickly on a new or updated application.
Yet, a shiny or familiar interface alone won’t keep users happy and productive if they find it’s missing some key functionality.
It’s like the popular expression in Texas used to describe cowboy-hat wearing drivers of perpetually clean and expensive pick-up trucks: “All hat and no cow.”
Translation: looks great, but does it do any real or meaningful work?
In other words, popular look-and-feel solutions alone are never enough. No design that stops at the interface can overcome implementation and performance problems. And, if the functionality is not there, or it is difficult to connect your data, why bother deploying software simply based on its packaging?
Decide up front what kind of functionality your SMB needs—not just for today, but to support all of your future plans. Then look for a cloud solution that fits those criteria.
Nearly every piece of software today is designed for ease of use, but picking a familiar look and feel cannot be the only—or even the first—consideration. Don’t settle for what’s comfortable. Look under the covers to match functionality with your current and downstream needs.
We hear a common theme again and again when talking to SMB executives: “I need to understand how my business is doing.” Clarity and insight are what they want from their software.
Unfortunately, this is very hard to get when you’re using multiple clouds from multiple vendors. Data gets stuck in silos that are split up across customer service, sales, finance, HR, and other departments. Trying to pull all of the data together is an undertaking that many SMBs can barely manage at the end of the quarter—let alone on a daily or even monthly basis. This work detracts from your efforts to grow and move forward.
Often, business applications seem to function only as vacuum cleaners of enterprise data. Trying to extract meaningful data from these digital vacuums is not easy, and it is certainly never pretty. And the work is even more difficult when the vacuum cleaners are bought from different vendors.
With a unified cloud, this all becomes much easier. You have all of your applications running on the same data model, pulling information from the same database, and displaying it in real-time dashboards available to all lines of business—from the CFO who needs today’s numbers for a board meeting, to the HR manager who wants to know how many positions are currently open. It may be a cliché, but the suite really does win.
When it comes to cloud solutions, scalability and performance rank among the most important considerations for SMBs. If you have plans to expand internationally, you’ll need systems that accommodate your global growth goals as you expand sales and operations into new countries.
The long list of things to think about includes: translations, data protection laws, country payrolls (including multiple taxes), compliance with local regulations, reporting across multiple entities—and that’s just the starting list.
SMBs entering new geographies need highly configurable processes so they can quickly adapt to legislative and organizational changes—without disrupting the business.
For example, payroll processing is a major event that requires significant transaction workloads for a brief period—usually every two weeks. Each paycheck requires dozens of deductions, with different tax, pension, and insurance rules for each country. And every deduction requires at least one transaction—making your finance cloud work overtime to get everyone paid the right amount, in the right currency.
Not many HR and finance systems have the functionality—and the scalability—to handle global operations. But a few cloud technologies, from established vendors such as Oracle, are regularly benchmarked and optimized to handle even the biggest transaction volumes. SMBs can rely on a cloud they will never outgrow, at a price point that they can afford.
So, when it comes time for your small or medium business to move up to the next level of success, don’t be held back by familiar looking software designs—or by sticking with the technology you’ve always known. Break out of your comfort zone, discard the bias, and look for a cloud that can handle your evolving business needs.