Nowadays going online is no longer about having a simple website – a ‘shop window’ or brochure site – and although a number of businesses have turned to e-commerce to drive sales, most haven’t maximised the opportunities the web presents us with.
As the world becomes more and more globalised, businesses are realising the benefits of automating processes and are moving more of their core systems to the web to generate income or to increase efficiencies. Businesses can leverage the power, flexibility and connectivity of the World Wide Web in a number of ways; whether via web services or web solutions that integrate with the rest of the business, or systems that slash operating costs, as well as streamlining businesses through real time information sharing, business automation and staff/stakeholder/client collaboration.
As application development has undergone a transition over the last few years, with the migration of applications from traditional client/server designs to the internet, it is important to understand what has driven this change and the advantages and disadvantages of implementing web based solutions in your business.
One of the most important advantages web-based solutions present us with is that an online software can be accessed from anywhere in the world. Today, remote and mobile users make up a large part of system users. Freed from the constraints of the traditional office, these users expect to access corporate information and applications from anywhere in the world, any time of day, from virtually any type of device. Instant communications among employees, customers, suppliers, and other strategic partners – no matter where they are – is becoming increasingly critical.
With internet connected laptop computers and the emergence of new wireless devices users can choose from a wide selection of cheaper, simpler and more convenient devices for handling corporate and personal information.
In addition, online solutions do not require a large up-front investment in software or support contracts (which can get quite expensive). A web-based product also changes the database licensing cost from a per-seat model to a concurrent user model. This results in decreased deployment costs ranging from 25 to 75 per cent.
Another advantage of web-based applications is the reduced cost to install and deploy, upgrade and support the application. Web-based applications are installed centrally on a single server. For businesses this means substantial savings because there is no need to visit each user PC to install the software. On-going maintenance is also easier as new releases of the software are installed centrally, eliminating the need to update each workstation.
Online software facilitates safe transfer of data files and built-in security features can also be integrated with other applications and platforms. Good online software also makes provision for creating back-ups for your data so that you can access your data even if something goes wrong with your account. As the software is online it reduces the burden on your computer systems and allows an organisation to benefit from the associated cost benefits as the amount of hardware required to run their systems is reduced.
Web-based solutions also offer a lot of flexibility for future changes as they are typically highly scalable. Another plus is that the front-end interface of a web based system tends to be more user-friendly since it incorporates the design conventions we have all become accustomed to on the web.
When opting for an online solution it is important to ensure that performance-related issues are catered to. Poor performance can spell disaster for users if the application is meant to function well in real-time. Performance is however only an issue if the application is not written correctly. The business requirements need to be understood so to ascertain the performance requirements upfront.
Technology is constantly upgrading and provides organisation with opportunities to leverage its advantages. Software development is increasingly shifting towards web-based solutions however websites in their purest forms are like the tip of an iceberg – what’s visible is only a small part of your business.
What really keeps the clock ticking is the 90 per cent below the waterline – the rest of your business. It is here that you can easily leverage the range of powerful capabilities that the worldwide web presents us with in order to provide a host of financial and operational efficiencies.
Converting business processes to web based applications provides organisations with the opportunity to save time and money, and improve the way they interact with clients, suppliers and business partners - from turning a website into a virtual 24/7 sales person with the power to drive sales around the clock, to online document and file management systems, intranets for sharing across locations, to billing systems, online project management and payroll.
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