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The Pros and Cons of an Industry Cloud | @CloudExpo #SDN #DataCenter

The cloud has brought down the cost of operating a business

When call centers first came about in the 1960s, they were built over PBX systems. Private Branch Exchanges (PBX) are essentially a small-scale version of the telephone exchange and are typically handled by one of the few telephone network providers in the country. Fast forward to today, a call center software provider does not need to own even the VoIP line that is necessary to handle communication. The software can simply connect to third party VoIP services with the help of an API and get started on their service.

The cloud has brought down the cost of operating a business and while this is a good thing for the consumers, it also means a rise in the number of competitors one has to deal with. Service providers in saturated industries have tried to carve a niche by launching what are now known as industry cloud applications. In short, these are niche cloud applications that serve a specific industry or market segment as opposed to catering to the entire population.

A good example of this is telemedicine. Telemedicine is the use of telecommunications technology like smartphones and webcams to diagnose a patient remotely. While a lot of this diagnosis can be done over a generic tool like Skype, a number of healthcare businesses choose niche telemedicine platforms to offer the same service. Such tools are today available for different services across a spectrum of industries. While they are beneficial in some ways, they also miss the mark with other aspects.

Caters to Niche Requirements
Industry cloud tools are best suited for regulated industries like healthcare or legal. In the case of healthcare, service providers are required to comply with regulations like HIPAA which may not always be possible with generic tools. Industry cloud tools on the other hand can afford to customize their product to cater to the demands of their niche userbase. This is true not just with regulatory compliance, but also with product features. A cloud-based appointment booking tool specifically catering to dentists may include features like insurance management and charting tools that may be available with generic alternatives.

Expensive
Catering to a smaller subset of the target group comes with its own set of disadvantages. Generic tools have the advantage of keeping the product price low and making up for it in volumes. Industry cloud tools though cater to a smaller section of the audience and this prevents them from scaling up. Consequently, industry cloud tools like CRMs are often a lot more expensive than generic CRMs.

Innovation
This is subjective and depends on what your business specifically needs. It is a reality that the product development function at any business is finite and can only take up limited load. Because of their need to build industry-specific tools, industry cloud tools can often fall short on other innovative new features that are built on generic tools. An industry cloud tool that is also state of the art in the generic segment is often hard to come by.

Regardless of these various arguments, the choice to pick between a generic tool and an industry cloud app falls on the business user. One must remember that a major chunk of cloud tools today inter-operational with the help of APIs. So, businesses can choose to tread the middle path by picking generic tools for their various needs and integrating them through APIs. Depending on your business needs, this could not only work out cheaper, but could also work out better than picking an industry cloud tool.

More Stories By Harry Trott

Harry Trott is an IT consultant from Perth, WA. He is currently working on a long term project in Bangalore, India. Harry has over 7 years of work experience on cloud and networking based projects. He is also working on a SaaS based startup which is currently in stealth mode.

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