Every time you upload a file to Google Drive or manage your international contact directory via Skype, you are tapping into the power of centralized computing taking place on the network 'cloud'.
In the business world, 'the cloud' has become a dominant trend. Consider the role Salesforce and other CRMs play to manage business leads (as opposed to tallying prospects on an Excel spreadsheet, for example) or the many online systems now available that let you do your accounting online.
Despite the obvious benefits of the cloud for the insurance distribution industry, agents/brokers have been a little reluctant to get on-board with this technology advancement. Irrespective of individual agent’s reasons for shunning the cloud, their unwillingness to adopt it is a mistake that is likely having tangible knock-on effects for their business.
In a previous blog post, we discussed how cloud environments can transform your business. Here, we will dig a bit deeper into the real benefits you can experience.
Take advantage of Salesforce Cloud
Salesforce Cloud remains the industry leading choice of CRM and even if you migrate to a more specialized solution later, using it in-house is a safe choice that brings many advantages. These include its cost being limited to an up-front annual subscription fee (rather than recurrent charges) and guaranteed accessibility from any device, whether mobile or desktop.
In addition, the system is fully primed for integrations, making upgrading from a legacy system a cinch, and utilizes sophisticated encryption and password technologies to guarantee the security of sensitive information.
Key benefits of the cloud for insurance agents/brokers
Although you may have heard a lot about the benefits of the cloud, you might still ask, “What is so great about the cloud that my insurance distribution business can’t survive without it?” Well, here are just three of the many ways that insurance agents can benefit from using the cloud:
1. Reduced IT expenditures
Previously, assembling proprietary software, or tailoring commercial, mass-distribution programs to handle unique in-house requirements, would have been a long, difficult, and costly endeavor involving a variety of IT professionals in the process.
In a well-manned software development team, everybody from the programmers, themselves, to user experience (UX) designers and quality assurance (QA) testers would need to be retained to ensure the success of a large proprietary software deployment (or the in-house configuration of an existing one).
For the most part, these concerns do not exist when adopting a cloud-based solution.
Cloud networks are now both widely available to match an organization's individual security and resource usage needs at costs that would have seemed impossible just a few years ago.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, last year's survey by IT trade association CompTIA showed that cost savings were the biggest enticement to encourage businesses moving resources to the cloud. And cloud computing has been estimated to be 40 times more effective for SMBs than deploying comparable resources in local environments.
2. Flexible, modular architecture
Thanks to the power and flexibility of cloud solutions, finding the perfect platform for your agency is now as simple as putting together a technical jigsaw puzzle, so to speak, with the help of an online development kit, or by tying the various moving parts (such as Microsoft Outlook and Office API connectivity, integration with a banking system) together through integration strategies.
In addition to allowing an underlying technology to meet your business needs without needing to build something from scratch, the power to add pre-configured modules also adds scalability to the systems as additional functionalities can be implemented without having to rewrite the entire code base.
3. Multi-tenant technology offers more security and easier system management
The cloud computing paradigm naturally creates economies of scale as multiple customers are able to bundle their purchasing power to afford powerful solutions that are centrally managed by a team or professionals. The benefits of this include centrally deployed upgrades, managed by a team of experts, as well as benefiting from the innovation of a company dedicated fully to ensuring the software functions as well as possible.
Systems administration, the technical discipline of up-keeping computers systems, is a complicated business.
This is particularly true in business environments where firewalls, and planned system upgrades all have to be expertly executed to ensure maximum uptime.
Outsourcing your server requirements to the cloud in this manner carries a multitude of benefits besides not having to worry about whether you have the latest security patch installed.
Physically, the need to store servers on-site in order to manage everything from email to web hosting, is eliminated. This also reduces the ongoing problems of upgrading systems and planning for adequate network capacity (and backup) as the business scales or shrinks - which is often an impossible calculation to make.
IT staff can instead focus their energy on adding value to the organization in ways beyond simply maintaining complicated hardware stacks.
Cloud is simply better
The number of all-cloud companies will quintuple within the next five years, according to market forecasts. The above are just three of the many reasons why your business should consider becoming one of them.