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IT Insight: Web-based solutions for your business

Technology. Isn’t it all modern by definition? “Modern” applications, however, are those applications that have been designed for the new millennium, the new way of doing things, the Cloud, web-based high-mobility applications. The difference is that applications that were very much rooted in the past, the late 90’s and early 200’s were linked and installed somewhere on a piece of hardware within your network. The current method of applications is to use them as a service. Today you either access applications via a browser or perhaps some other type of modern authentication method.

Web-based applications do not need to be installed on a hard drive.  There are no space limitations. This reduces costs for your business as it lowers support and maintenance via the web with its’ updates applied centrally. All your users can access the same up-to-date version which can be accessed anywhere with a web browser. Since Covid, with a large number of remote users outside of your network and your security controls, web-based applications are the norm.

A classic example of this “modern” software is within the medical industry, where legal requirements for EMR (Electronic Medical Records) really drive that industry. Many of these companies have designed their EMRs in a new way, where you can access them via a webpage or some other technology where they are less application-based on a device in your network, and more accessible from almost anywhere. With this sensitive data in the Cloud, it is centrally located so everybody needing your information can obtain it with the proper credentials.

Another three-letter designation that we use in our industry is “line of business” application, or LOB.  It is a generic term for whatever it is when we’re talking to a customer about your specific business applications.

For example, in manufacturing, an application that manages your manufacturing process from scheduling what it is you’re building to its deadline, to your vendors contact information, is common. Financial industries also have their own LOB application, leaning on contact management, with many being slightly different. At PCG, we have a ticketing management software that creates a ticket to track when an engineer, help desk, or anyone else is working on an issue from the beginning to completion.

If anything, the last two years have taught us that mobility is key. Before the Pandemic, many companies thought in terms of a monolithic structure: a building, employees within the building, and inside that building, servers and infrastructure that worked fine. Suddenly, the Pandemic hits and everybody is remote, home. Those organizations who had far flung sales forces, or groups who were always working remotely, were already at the forefront of this concept, where applications were as mobile as the people working.

Why do companies stick with older software? Often it is because that is what they are most familiar with, comfortable with, the version they know and understand. Maybe they don’t want to invest in training on a newer version of software. It is costly to try to retrofit an older application to do newer things. Perhaps the vendor that designed it in 2005 did not imagine a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that is available in the Cloud today. Users who are used to a workflow in a comfort zone need to examine whether it is worth learning how another vendor does it, for all the other advantages that a newer program brings with less headaches and more mobility.

Businesses should ask “has the application that drives my business been innovating? Have they been updating their method of deployment and ease since development in 2005? Is there a 2020 version we need to move to”? Applications for modern mobility are key as older applications sitting on your server may be impeding progress and profitability. If you need to contact your IT Department to get a new user configured on your server, you are using antiquated software. Web-based applications are more current, user-friendly, and able to be accessed from anywhere.

Have we explored the application? Where is it at? Has your current vendor been talking to you about a new version? Do they have a web faced version of it? If they don’t, have you thought about maybe some other ones; other vendors in this space; their competition? Maybe they’re innovating in a way that this company that you’ve been with for a long time just isn’t anymore. It pays to investigate.

What do you want to accomplish and how is changing direction to web-based applications going to help you accomplish those goals? Your users will be happier after the initial acclimation to it, it will be cost effective to eliminate on-site servers, and your network will be designed for the environment and the future you have planned for your company.

 

JoAnn Hodgdon is vice president and co-founder of Portsmouth Computer Group (PCGiT) with her husband David. PCG provides comprehensive managed IT services, business continuity, security, cloud computing and Virtual CIO services to their clients.  You may reach her at joann@pcgit.com  or at www.pcgit.com.