Apps Exist for Businesses, Too, In Places You Never Thought to Look

You may have noticed the application revolution going on lately on the Internet. They appeal to consumers of all ages. Kids have apps on their iPhones that let them draw on an Etch-a-Sketch or watch YouTube videos on a special player. One of our CDYNE developers is quite fond of his virtual lighter with the very realistic flame.

There are fitness apps to keep you motivated; grocery store apps to help you find the right ingredients and the perfect recipe; money management apps, games, Sesame Street podcasts, and the list goes on. There are tools on the new IE8 that allow a Web surfer to get automatic weather updates or dictionary meanings right from his or her toolbar. When you think about how much new technology is out there for our individual use, the multitude of choices can get a little overwhelming. But generally speaking, apps are meant to make our lives easier, or perhaps provide a little light entertainment. That’s Web 2.0.: interactivity and collaboration – mashups galore.

But what about business?  Are we restricted to uses of Explorer, Twitter, and Digg?  Do we have to have a MySpace profile to be a part of Web 2.0.?   The answer is an emphatic “No.”

Web services are also part of Web 2.0.: cloud computing, SaaS – all the industry buzzwords floating around right now – may have you confused if you’re not a Web developer. What does it all mean? Is it safe to integrate my data with some other company over the Internet? Is extended storage “in the cloud” going to limit me or pose security risks and open my business up to lawsuits?

While there are security risks associated with any activity over the Internet and you should always read your terms and conditions for independent services, generally speaking, Web services are no more risky than a company intranet as far as security goes. And XML Web services, programmed in to your system or integrated into your software or Web applications, don’t hold on to your data. You keep your data, and the service provider carries the heavy workload of processing it, manages the “call center,” and hosts the databases of information that validate your records and provide you with demographics and contact information.

Web services, SaaS, and cloud computing are blanket terms that encompass a range of solutions that are best evaluated on their individual merit.

But the cloud – specifically XML Web services – can be a great tool for businesses, and you can use it to offer your customers add-ons to better retain them – or to validate their purchases and applications to protect yourself from fraud. You can automate phone calls to save staff time, look up people by phone number or address instantaneously, and perform many other actions that can streamline your organization without purchasing expensive hardware or hiring new staff.

Think of them as little business apps that add on to your operation and make life a little easier – for pennies on the dollar.

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