Why look to the cloud?

We’ve all heard the saying before, “Look to the cloud” or “Move to the cloud”, which essentially means “Use the Internet for as much as possible.” All of the information and services you need to manage your business is out there, it is your challenge to figure out what skills and tools you need to leverage by using the cloud, and it will be to your great advantage to do so. 

The Internet began serving the general public as far back as the early 1990’s. By the late 1990's, it became increasingly obvious that it would become the primary means and method to conduct commerce.  Those that ignore doing business in the cloud do so at their own peril.

A concept and trend that is increasing and should be seriously considered when talk turns to “the cloud” is forming partnerships with complimentary service providers to leverage a stronger and better-rounded one-stop shopping experience for business and consumers, making the sum of all parts greater than each individual offering.

Banding together with unknown service providers can potentially be dangerous, adding a layer of risk to the partnership that there may be a scoundrel amongst you. There can be bad deeds perpetrated by a partner, intentionally or not, that will reflect poorly on all service providers in the partnership.  To leverage the cloud and form sound partnerships with service providers, know the quality of the people you partner with. 

To avoid issues when developing a cloud partnership with other service providers, establish rules of engagement to ensure all parties adhere to ethical and honorable partnership behavior and under what conditions someone can be "kicked off the island".  Establishing this agreement can ensure partners’ understand what constitutes acceptable behavior, thus alleviating or diminishing risk when dealing with potentially legally problematic behavior.

Businesses that come together to form cloud partnerships to can include those who provide accounting, payroll, legal, real estate agent, printing, graphics, insurance, financial planning and services, and webmaster services.  Ideally, forming cloud-based partnerships would include service providers that each participant would be proud to form a partnership with.  The webmaster, who can be paid or unpaid in this cloud partnership, ensures the partnership is being presented on the partnership web page in an appropriate way.

Search Engine Optimization for all parties’ websites is an ancillary benefit of forming partnerships with complimentary service providers through the cloud.  Partners reap the rewards of adding more links to their website which helps boost the score of a website in the “eyes” of the Search Engine website crawlers because each partners website hyperlinks to the other partners’ websites. Paying attention to your Search Engine page ranking is very important, because how your website is ranked by search engines directly impacts where your company shows up when someone searches for your services using commonly searched keywords or key phrases. Cross-linking from your website to others and having others link back to your website will positively impact rankings.  After all, if your website is not in the top 30 of a search result, your website will not likely to be seen by someone in need of your services. Essentially, without sound rankings, you and your website are most likely invisible to most people searching in the cloud for services.

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Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (www.ubcc.com), a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology. Ken attended Oxford and Southern Illinois Universities and earned degrees in Accounting and Business Education, with a minor in photography. Ken has designed payroll and accounting software and systems since 1981, is a frequent presenter for national association CPE seminars, a contributor of editorial content for well-respected accounting publications, and speaks at state and national accounting professional events.Ken's blog postings provide readers with insight into how technology trends (i.e. Google, Microsoft, Apple, the FCC, Verizon, the Internet, Web Apps, Web security, etc.) will impact payroll and accounting professionals and business owners.

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