If you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of years (and who hasn’t!!) you might have missed out on a new trend of technology called “Cloud“. Until now it has been viewed cautiously and sometimes skeptically as a bandwagon that will fade into the sunset pretty soon, however, the reason Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon and all the other big names in tech are investing in it so heavily is because it will end the credit crisis, save the planet and make is us all a lot happier in the process.
The Cost of Living
According to Monster.co.uk, the average salary for a man in the UK is £30,800. To get to work and back each day, Mr Average probably spends around £150/month (that’s based on my own, personal 12 mile commute and a 2-litre diesel car, driven sensibly, achieving between 40-50mpg).
That extrapolates out to mean an annual fuel bill of £1,800 (£150 x 12). It adds up doesn’t it!!
If he could work from home he would save about 80% of that fuel bill – if like me, he doesn’t do much driving around at the weekend – or a total saving of £1,440. If his employer allowed him to work from home, they could actually give him a £1,440 pay cut and (this is the important point I’m trying to make here) he wouldn’t notice ANY difference in the money in his pocket! The employer would save Employer National Insurance contributions too. However, if they chose to keep Mr Average’s salary, he’d be sitting on the pleasant end of an effective 5% pay rise.
People who work from home could reduce the annual mileage estimated to their insurer, saving cash there. Homeworkers pollute less, so the Government can look amazing on the International stage with regards our collective CO2 usage. The Government could give concessions on Road Tax to home workers to encourage and incentivise the practice.
Just think of what it would do to road congestion. Forget building any more roads, take the cars off the roads! There’s a huge amount of Local Government budget saved right there. That could all be put into schools and hospitals. Also, fewer cars means fewer collisions! The overal insurance bill for the country goes down!
It could save on childcare too! I know people who are paying£1,000 each month for somebody to look after their kids. If you work at home, that becomes redundant; you are the childcare! Employers can’t be expected to pay for you changing nappies or disentangling little Johnny from his Xbox 720 controller cable, so you’ll probably get paid a little less than your childless colleagues. Let’s say a “10% Family Concession”. However, as the economics make so much sense, the Government could give all stay-home workers a boost to their tax allowance, which combats the decrease in salary. But even if they don’t, you’re still saving that £1,000 per month!
With the majority of employees working from home, businesses could quickly down-size, saving enormous amounts of money on premises, heating, electricity, taxes, leases and security.
This isn’t a retreat or a surrender to the credit crunch. It is a surefire way of growing your business. Let me say it plainly:
- Your revenue doesn’t change.
- Only your overheads decrease (dramatically).
- As a result, your profit margins sky-rocket.
Cloudy With a Chance of Profits
The key to this gear-change lies in software, specifically, in the current trend for taking Line of Business (LOB) software and putting it onto “The Cloud”.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP), etc. Put it all on Microsoft Azure, or Amazon EC2, or Rackspace, and your business can enjoy the benefits of homeworking.
Whoa, Whoa, Whoa! What About Collaboration? Social Interaction? Water-Cooler Chat?
Yes, that is the weak point to my argument.
But! As long as the software you take into the cloud supports this collaboration and “meta-process” – processes around processes, or in other words, facility to discuss processes with others in order to make those processes effective – then this shouldn’t be a problem.
Social software is more than just a fad, phase or bandwagon. It goes hand-in-hand with Cloud software because it enables the homeworking benefits while minimising the impediment of a lack of face-to-face communication. So, cloud software should incorporate things like:
- Activity streams
- Instant messaging
- Presence Awareness
- Video conferencing
- Document sharing
Software such as Jive is doing just that. As proof that it makes commercial sense you only need to look at how Jive has performed over the past few months. The company went public in December 2011, and now, four months on, the share price is nearly three times the “$8-$10” the company initially expected.
Whichever way you look at it, the cloud is starting to make sense.
Cloud software could be that pivotal part of the global economic puzzle that puts the world back on-track…