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Opinion: You can't handle the apps!

29 Nov 2011

It has been said that we now live in a world that is content-rich like never before. However, this is an arguable point, as was pointed out to me the other day by someone more senior than myself. 

"We went through this in the 70s and 80s when multiple TV channels were made available,” the person said, "then in the 90s with the interweb.”

Okay, fair enough, it’s all a matter of perspective I guess. In creating the title to this article I was pondering the world today in relation to the number of cloud applications that are available for hire. There are literally hundreds of them when you consider the apps available for business, home, iPad, iPhone, tablets and the like. 

The other day I was with a client - let’s call him Paul - and was presented with a question on this very subject. 

"Sean, I know we need to do this, but how do we choose from the hundreds of applications out there?” 

Now normally I have a few quick fire answers to most things, but on this occasion I found myself searching my brain for an appropriate response. I resisted my first thought – just take my advice and pick the one we have recommended – and decided to run with the simple and straight forward approach. 

"Well that’s a good question Paul. The best way I can answer this is to explain the process we went through when making the same choice for our business.”

I told him how when we started our search, we uncovered 49 cloud applications that on the face of it could all do the job. Then, once our investigation got into full swing, we quickly learnt that all the marketing hype (which I like of course) was not to be relied upon when it came down to the nitty gritty.  Things like ‘portability’, ‘no lock-in’, and ‘seamless integration’ were somewhat loosely translated in the fine print. 

So, we created a list of must-haves as far as outcomes were concerned, filtered the list down to five, then asked some questions of the application provider:

- Do they have support people we can speak to on the phone?

- Do they have great 24-7 sales and tech support?

- Do they have videos for self-help?

- Do they have monthly billing options?

- Do they have ‘no contracts’ as an option?

- Do they have credentials in data protection?

- Is the solution portable, ie. can we retrieve our data and go somewhere else when everything turns to custard?

Once we had this sorted, we had a full demonstration of the two that met our criteria and made our decision. Simple really, and it only took two weeks from start to finish.

We’d made a great decision – so good, in fact, we decided to become a referral partner. 

You see, with so many cloud app choices available, people are becoming more reliant on other people (and businesses) that have gone before them, made a choice, and lived with the (hopefully) positive consequences. Makes sense, right?  Even if you have slightly different requirements to ours, the process of enlightenment can still be the same I feel.

"So Paul,” I said, "you can go through the same process, or, take my recommendation and save yourself the time and hassle”. 

And so we have another happy cloud app customer.

Here’s to your success.

Sean McDonald is managing director of Sales Systems. Go here for more.