There were times when the majority of the commercial technology stack was controlled by Microsoft and Intel, this combination of two companies was so powerful that they were often referred to through a single term; Wintel. However, things have changed.This is probably more true of the technology industry than it is of others.
Cloud computing represents commoditisation of server infrastructure and has been enabled by the increasing power of processors coupled with the maturing of virtual machine technologies. In the past software companies that were offering a serious online service were forced to commission hardware pay for OS licences and other dependencies such as database servers. The costs associated with this were significant and required a long term contract to be signed with the data centre or company hosting the infrastructure. Better, more powerful processors and virtual machines allowed multiple clients to be hosted on a single set of hardware. In turn the hosting companies could adjust their pricing model to reflect their new found agility. Cheap computer power on demand has changed everything, from players to the technology stack being used.
With computer power as a commodity, new pricing structures become viable and attractive. In the past large sums of money were required up front by a provider to cover the costs of commissioning hardware and other one off costs associated with the infrastructure. The cloud allows providers to reduce or in some cases eliminate the upfront fees and provide their technology or service for a monthly cost. The Software as a Service or ‘SaaS’ model holds significant benefits to both the provider and the client. A major headache for software providers in the past has been around funding on-going development of their technology. A SaaS model provides them a steady revenue stream around which they can plan the forward development of the product. Their clients see a steady improvement in the service offered and don’t have to weigh up the ROI of upgrading to a new version of software when it is released.
One of the design goals behind the workflow management and operational improvement product b-workflow was to utilise cloud technology so that they could offer an attractive software platform at an affordable price. The cloud provides users anywhere anytime access to b-workflow. With database backups and product updates all included in the monthly per user fee, users of workflow software can concentrate on their procedures and checklists and can conduct them from where ever is convenient, the office, at home or on the road.
With a WYSIWYG style editor to design checklists, dashboards and a clean intuitive interface accessed through a web browser or smart phone, b-workflow is a highly flexible solution for mapping an organisations procedures and checklists. Date and time that items are completed at are automatically gathered by the system. Checklists can also obtain the geo-location that a checklist was completed at, giving a greater level of accountability for out of office employees, such as area managers or sales people completing remote checklists.
The combination of powerful mobile devices, cheap compute power and the SaaS pricing model enable software solutions such as b-workflow to be delivered in a convenient, efficient and cost effective manner.