Home – New Forums Tech talk What do you think of web based software?

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  • #1001443
    Julie MT
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    Hi Devan,

    I’m happy to hear you did not find my previous post too cynical. I was a bit worried, actually, that I’d possibly overstepped the mark, and might have offended with my very blunt comments. Please be assured, though, that would never be my intention.

    Having thought things over a bit more, I’d like to add that while I do use some web-based apps, these tend to be recreational rather than work related.

    Apart from worrying about internet malfunctions that might prevent me from working if solely reliant on web-based apps, I’d want to retain the same amount of control as with computer based software.

    I suppose my arm could be twisted if data could be stored locally, while the “nuts and bolts” of the app itself remained online.

    I’d definitely require branding options to project my own business image to clients.

    If the app allowed files to be transferred between clients and myself, I’d need to be certain logins and passwords were hacker proof.

    Security and Encryption would have to be bullet-proof as my work involves processing of medical records.

    Just some further thoughts to ponder. Hope they help.

    BTW, I’m curious to also hear things from your perspective, i.e. what are the benefits of web-based versus computer based apps to the software developer?

    #1001444
    LeelaCosgrove
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    I am a big fan of web based software for a range of reasons.

    Typically, the per month cost is more affordable as a small business owner (I notice Adobe has noticed this and has begun offering their creative suite as a monthly subscription).

    It’s far easier to share documentation across the world.

    As a Mac user, web based software gives me cross-platform access to many software programs that would not typically have a mac version.

    Web Based Software as Service is totally the way of the future …

    #1001445
    Devan
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    Julie,

    My main reason for loving web based software is that it allows me to work pretty much anywhere! In my office, in my alcove study, on my sons laptop, on my wife’s iPhone – even on client sites or an internet cafe in the city somewhere.

    I am very big on building a “non location specific” business. Earlier this year, we spent a month in the USA, and it was great to be able to do all the usual things such as bill paying, checking projects and keeping in touch with clients – with about 80% of them being unaware I was on the other side of the world! That is a real buzz for me.

    I have two young sons, and my wife and I have decided that we want to build a lifestyle business that lets us choose when and where we work so that we could try and be there for our kids. I see web based software as being an excellent vehicle to achieve that.

    Cheers,
    Devan

    #1001446
    peppie
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    I have to say that this debate sounds a little like the old PCs verses Mac debate of the computer world. And it is just as much a debate in the video editing/production world also.

    May I suggest that for those of you who find web based applications and such a “can’t live without it” senario, please do not do be tempted to try to convince those of us who will not or cannot work in that sort of environment that we need to change because maybe we are missing out on something fantastic. If it works for you terrific, tells us of your experience because we are interested to hear and leave it at that.

    Just as also if you market that sort of product you would be far better off to go find the ones who want it, rather than try to convince the rest of us who do not.

    I for one work with software tools that cannot work online, simply not fast enough or powerful enough. Besides which, the most useful online tools I might use would be probably nothing more than web browsing, email and online banking. The rest I find interesting, but to be honest of no real use to me (maybe I won’t be able to change my mind on that until I can bring myself to be convinced of the merits of a Mac!!!!!!!!!).

    #1001447
    Devan
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    Paul,

    Thanks for your reply. However, I didn’t set this post up to be a ‘debate’ or a ‘selling’ exercise. I was genuinely curious to see people’s perceptions of web based software.

    As far as I know, no one on here has said they “can’t live without it”, and I cannot see any post where anyone has tried to forcefully convince everyone to try or buy a service they don’t need/want.

    Where I have put forward my own viewpoints, it has been in response to a question by another poster, and has been framed as such.

    Regards,
    Devan

    #1001448
    Devan
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    Hello again all, some fantastic responses in this thread. Apologies for not getting back to everyone sooner, but I have been a little busy…


    @Susan
    – thanks for the offer for marketing assistance – I may take you up on it when we get closer to launching some of our products!


    @Ken
    – Very interesting business model! And one that I think will alleviate a lot of the hesitation brought up here of people being able to get their data back and take it somewhere else. I would be interested to see how you go with this.


    @Kylie
    – Fantastic to see that the virtual workplace is working so well for you. We have contract ’employees’ in Adelaide, India and Romania too!


    @Louise
    – most of the popular online CRM software, such as SalesForce and SugarCRM (which incidentally, is what we use) offer the ability to download all your data as XML or CSV files. They also offer a programing API so that you could hire someone to develop a link to download all your data into a local Access database seamlessly on a periodic basis.

    @Leela – Great to hear your view. A lot of businesses cite the monthly cost as a disincentive, so it is good to hear that you see that as a benefit!

    Cheers,
    Devan

    #1001449
    peppie
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    Devan

    Not wishing to sound like I was having a go at anyone, maybe it was just my late night working mood and a bit of sleep deprivation. Yes, no one actually said “can’t live without it”, but the implication is there in some posts and at least one or two others (you included) do imply they are sellers of such software. In one case it was suggested that the customer needed to be convinced of the merits.

    Now I realise that can just be sales talk, but it seems to me to be better sense to not waste time “selling” to a client who doesn’t need it and go look for the ones who will buy before you finish the speal.

    Again I am not wanting to sound like a grumbler, but you did ask for opinions and I was just giving mine. Albeit maybe a little too blunt and direct, for which I appoligise if I have offended.

    BTW, you mention online CRM software, I have looked into this carefully and although I can see the merits for the present it seems to me it would take up more of my time to maintain such a thing than I would gain in benifit. But then, that is maybe just my opinion!

    #1001450
    Julie MT
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    Hi Devan,

    Thank you for sharing the advantages of web based apps from the designer’s point of view.

    I can certainly see why this appeals to you. The “F” word is also one of the reasons I prefer to work from home. “F”, for freedom of course!

    Thanks again for a lively and thought provoking post. 162a3d6d.gif

    #1001451
    2way Technology
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    My opinion is…

    Pro’s and Cons’ on both sides.

    I think it really depends on what the software is and what it’s dependencies are. I’ve seen some really bad scenarios of Web based and Hosted systems, but then I’ve also seen some great examples where it’s just so logical to have it done as a Hosted/Web based application.

    People talk about loving the fact that they can work from anywhere but this concept isn’t new, businesses have been doing remote access to systems for years. You don’t need your applications to be web-based to achieve the flexible office/access from anywhere model. You can do it right from your office.

    One area where we’ve found difficulties with Web Based/Hosted software is integration with local applications. For example, most people use Outlook and Exchange for email, by having a Web based CRM like Salesforce – the integration with Outlook & Exchange just doesn’t happen. You ultimately end up with two completely separate information stores and that’s when issues arise with duplication of effort, duplication of data, mismatching versions… etc etc. Sure there’s clunky connectors but they have issues.

    Most decent software these days is coming with an installable version of the software as well as a web-based version. For example, if you want a web-based CRM, Microsoft’s CRM has the Desktop/Laptop client as well as the web interface for external access via the browser.

    The one thing I think that has the potential to hold back Web Based and Hosted is the lack of long-term Economy of Scale, especially when the businesses usage has increased. Problem is, this is often 5 or 10 years down the track when moving off that Web-based or Hosted system is almost impossible.

    Web Based and Hosted systems are often cheaper in the early stages because of the low-monthly fees and are often cheaper for the first x years, but as the business grows and usage increases, so do the costs. The costs increase along with the increase in the usage. Often 1 unit of increase data stored results in 1 unit of cost increase, think about the 5 and 10 year affects of this. For businesses that do proper ROI and TCO analysis, they realise that as a long term investement, typically it pays off to own the systems.

    We looked at a client who is using Hosted systems, they’ve been with the provider for 10 years, during that time they’ve increased their numbers of staff, increased their storage of information – to the point where they’re now up to $10,000 per month. This customer wants to move off the Hosted model and back in-house but the sheer tasks involved are massive and costly (and risky), to make matters worse, sure the provider will hand over their data – but they will only supply 2 month old data to begin with… so they’re locked in.

    As time goes on, business owners will become more adaptive to the idea of private data being located on remote servers they have no control over, I just think it will take some time. Lets just hope there’s no major blunders before it happens as all it will take is one major exposure of data or a major intrusion that goes public to kill it.

    But, if someone can crack that long term EOS issue, I think Web Based/Hosted systems will have a better chance of taking things further.

    #1001452
    Devan
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    @peppie – Thanks again – your viewpoints are very welcome. As I said, I didn’t intend to do the ‘hard sell’ within this forum, I just wanted to find out what the genuine concerns were by business people across the board.


    @Julie
    – Thanks – I didnt expect the debate to get so ‘lively’ but I am glad that several people brought up points that I found really interesting. I have certainly learned a lot in the past couple of weeks!

    @2way – Appreciate what you are saying here. I have been pondering a lot of what has been discussed in this thread, and I believe that the best method would be to have a hybrid model whereby the software can be web based, but possibly hosted in house?

    Personally, about 50% of our web based software is hosted by ourselves, i.e. our own wiki, Outlook Web Access, Sugar CRM etc., with the other 50% being hosted by external parties, e.g. Basecamp, Lighthouse etc.

    One aspect of the web model that I probably haven’t espoused as much here is the collaboration. Because we from time to time work with contractors in other parts of the world, I find it is easier when we create projects etc., that we can set the access levels, and give them access to certain portions of the projects, i.e. to check out code, submit documentation and timesheets etc.

    This way we never have to worry about letting anybody into our ‘inner’ network as such. They can have an account in Basecamp without having to be a part of our email domain etc.

    #1001453
    Devan
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    @peppie – You are right. Maintaining a CRM system is a LOT of hard work, and requires discipline from all team members to keep it relevant.

    However, on the flip side, we have found that when a new or temporary team member comes on board, they can get an immediate handle on what is happening with each customer – what projects are outstanding, a history of our dealings with them, contact names and strategic notes etc.

    I am hoping that when I eventually want to sell my business, my CRM database will be seen as a valuable asset for the new owners to take on…but maybe I am just dreaming?!?! :)

    #1001454
    Adam Randall
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    My thought is that Web based apps will completely take over within 10 years.

    The biggest hurdle is high speed broadband, once the wire speed equals the processor speed, there is no incentive to keep things local.

    I watched a talk recently by Nicholas Carr when in Florida by someone who compared the current IT age to the age of electricity.
    There are many similarities and his main thrust was that computing will end up being as simple for the end user as plugging a kettle in.

    I tend to agree with this and am a bit concerned as to what that holds for the IT industry as a whole, the longer high speed broadband is prevented in Australia, the longer we will have an IT industry.

    These are the worrying signs for the future of IT as we know it (good for other small business though)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/14/technology/14search.html?_r=2&oref=slogin

    #1001455
    peppie
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    Devan

    If CRM works well for you then I am happy for you. I am very much flying solo and for now I have no aspirations to hire staff (unless I can interest my kids in what I do, and that could be). So it is the time/cost effectiveness that is my problem there. For now I just can’t see the benefit, maybe one day.

    Adam

    I wouldn’t be too worried about your job being redundant just yet. I have heard many predictions about where technology will lead us in the near future and most of them have been either totally wrong or off the track. The later usually because some other yet to be known or appreciated development takes things off in a completely different direction.

    I have worked with electricity and electronics in some form or other for over 40 years and that period is heavily littered (and I don’t just mean like street litter) with concepts and finished products that never grabbed the world. I would go so far though as to say that if anyone is ever brave enough to replace the PC (I mean the PC as it is still based upon the original IBM concept) with a design concept that is really useful and flexible – and reliable – (and I don’t believe the Mac could possibly suit the bill) then computer technology is likely to head in directions never before conceived.

    In the mean time, anyone would have to be extremely brave or foolhardy to predict anything more than 12 months ahead at the very most!!!

    #1001456
    shiotis
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    Devan, post: 626 wrote:
    BrightBiz – would be more willing to use web based software for “non important” tasks then? e.g. phone contact lists etc.? I am trying to gauge the uneasiness vs value of the data being stored on such a service.

    Sophie – Good checklist! Is your list actually in order of importance to you??

    Michael – I agree, I think that most business will need some sort of hybrid system early on, such as your example where it is web based, but hosted in house with the infrastructure under your ‘control’. From there, it might be an option to move it all to a managed data centre??

    Thank you everyone for your thoughtful inputs. Please don’t think that this is just a marketing exercise on my part. Whilst the information obtained will certainly be used to improve our business, I am really curious to hear viewpoints from a whole range of business people.

    As I said before, being a techie, I tend to have blinkers on when it comes to certain ‘real world’ concerns and assumptions! :) (no offence to the techies who responded here!) :)

    Hi Devon,

    I have followed this discussion thread with much interest and as always I have found that everyone has a different risk tolerance. As such the level of confidence with the use of web based applications is dependent on the way in which people use them, and how comfortable they are with performing the functions that are important to running their businesses.

    I had to think about my response, as I found that our needs as a software testing company differs greatly from the needs of our clients. For my company, the order that we determine whether we use web based applications is as follows:

    1. security (if we are choosing the software for data sensitive information – we have a 0 tolerance for any defects. So we need confirmation that it is secure, otherwise we don’t consider it.
    2. Backup and recovery of all critical data within timeframes (we have an acceptable level of 4hrs). If this cannot be done then again we dont consider the service
    3. Functionality (we consider applications that closest fit our business needs, rather than pick software that have many functions that we never use. We have to have 90% requirement fit for our critical business processes, and 70% for medium business processes)
    4. We have a medium tolerance towards performance (i.e. it is of medium importance to us therefore a 30sec-1 response time is acceptable. 5 mins is not:)…….
    5. How easy the software is, is not at all important to us

    Sorry for the lengthy reply, it is my opinion that at the end of the day, each business has different needs and acceptable levels of risks. The use, or non use of web based applications will be determined on their needs.

    Merry xmas all

    #1001457
    BrightSpark
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    Here is a quote from Computerworld 23/12/2008:

    “Microsoft may fear Linux on the desktop as much as it does the Mac. It’s finally taking Linux seriously as a desktop operating system.

    The threat to Windows comes entirely from “netbooks” — lightweight, inexpensive laptops that typically use Intel’s low-powered Atom processor and don’t come with substantial amounts of RAM or powerful graphics processors. They’re designed mainly for browsing the Web, handling e-mail, writing memos, and taking care of simple word-processing or spreadsheet chores.

    Netbooks will account for about a third of all PC growth this year, according to Citigroup. Shipments will rise at an annual average rate of 60% to reach 29 million netbooks in 2010, compared with 18% growth for standard notebooks, says a September BNP Paribas report. “

    Once Australia’s gets high speed internet most information will move over to IP technology. IPTV VOIP etc. Cisco has demonstrated using a Hologram over the internet. In the states there are already locations where you can watch HD videos over the internet. With the hype over cloud computing and more and more software moving to “software as a service” you will not be be able to go into a store and buy software. Even now if you read the EULA (End User Licensing Agreement) you don’t own the software.

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