3 cloud services that surged during COVID-19

Few people have framed the shock to the business world that has occurred as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic more succinctly than Satya Nadella. “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months,” the Microsoft CEO said in his quarterly earnings report to Wall Street last spring.

And as bold as the claim may be, it’s not overhyping the dramatic workplace transformation that occurred when millions were sent to work from home in the early days of lockdown. Practically overnight, offices were shuttered and core business activities—from collaboration to the review of confidential documents—all shifted from taking place in physical locations to occurring in the cloud.

The unexpected explosion of cloud services

Businesses were investing in the cloud long before the pandemic. Months before words like “coronavirus” and “social distancing” became common parlance, Gartner predicted that global cloud investment would increase by a reasonable 17% in 2020, with the worldwide public cloud services market increasing from $227.8 billion up to $266.4 billion. 

Of course, such forecasts did not take into account that a sudden surge in remote work would require businesses to be able to provide to offsite employees the same level of access, utility, and security for all work resources, in order to maintain productivity. In the first quarter of 2020, spending on cloud infrastructure alone was up 37%. And the cloud investment spree is bound to continue: nearly 75% of finance leaders say they are planning for a more agile business environment moving forward, with the cloud playing an important role in such strategies.

To prioritize investments, it’s worth considering which cloud services have surged during COVID and why each specific area is proving critical for business success.

1. Cloud communication

Whether it’s sharing status updates with colleagues, talking through a problem or brainstorming an opportunity, or providing vital customer service, communication is the backbone of business. But while it’s easy to take work home, it’s far more challenging to transport a robust communication infrastructure, critical as this may be. 

Enter cloud communications—team messaging, video conferencing, and phone that are accessible from any location and device. Without offices, meeting rooms and hallways to act as connectors, cloud communications allowed employees to connect and collaborate with each other (as well as with external partners and customers). But in a crowded landscape some communications tools are proving more beneficial than others. 

Though it is possible to employ individual dedicated apps for functions such as video conferencing, answering customers support calls, and so on, a unified communications system that combines all functionalities into a single platform can overcome multiple work from home pain points. For example, conducting all communications via a unified solution eliminates the need for each individual to use multiple contact names and apps. These can act as the enemy of streamlining, increasing complexity and wasting time whenever employees need to connect.  – Read more

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Converting In-person Training to Online Training

The surge in remote work this year has meant that many companies have had to reevaluate their L&D programs.

Despite the rise of online training, most companies prefer in-person training sessions. Research from Brandon Hall Group shows that 96% of companies provide instructor-led training, and according to Training Industry, most learners say they prefer training that’s delivered in person.

That, however, is not possible right now. The Covid-19 pandemic has put a halt to conventions and training days; it’s simply not safe to fly your employees out to a conference for several days of training with hundreds of other colleagues right now. Nor is it safe to pack a local conference room with employees and an instructor.

With many people working from home — the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nearly a quarter of American workers are working from home due to the pandemic — training will have to change. That’s especially true when you consider that many organizations are now hiring for virtual positions.

This presents a challenge for both the L&D departments that have relied on in-person training, and for the employees who are used to attending them. How can your organization move to a remote setting without disrupting your training? It may not be as overwhelming as you think.

Best practices for converting your in-person training for remote learners

  1. Remember that live training and online training have different strengths. If you’re thinking of simply recording the lecture your trainer would have given in person, popping it into a module and calling that a course, let me stop you right there. In-person training has lots of strengths – learners can interact with the lecturer, ask questions, and have conversations about complex or difficult concepts. The strengths of online training are different. With e-learning, learners can learn something quickly wherever they are, boost retention by repeating a module, or look up information they need when they’re doing a task. When you design a remote learning program, keep these things in mind as you choose your modalities. Which set of strengths will work best for your learners and your course material?
  2. Make use of micro-learning. In an in-person training, a lecturer might go over several topics in one session. That might work in person but online, shorter content is better. Chunk your content into smaller pieces, delivering a module on one topic at a time. That will keep remote learners focused, let them quickly learn when they need to, and provide a searchable library of content that learners can search when they need information.
  3. Supplement your existing content with off-the-shelf learning modules. Now that everyone is working remotely, it can be difficult to distribute some information to your team, like compliance updates and more general information. Off-the-shelf course libraries can help supplement your learning program. You can quickly and inexpensively add modules to your program, and the modules are designed by experts to be engaging and up-to-date.
  4. Love ILT? Keep it. Just because you aren’t able to gather in person, doesn’t mean you should throw out instructor-led training. Features like SAP Litmos’ ILT module let you add live or instructor-led training sessions to your LMS so that remote learners can get all the benefits of an instructor-led session without any of the risk.
  5. Don’t try to change a successful training program. You might have an extremely successful ILT training program, and you might be thinking that now — when everyone is working remotely and you’re investing in an LMS — is the time to expand that training program and make it available to the entire company. Before you do that, remember why that training works well in person. Is it because it’s delivered to small groups only? Is it the conversations that happen in that group? Are there activities that engage participants? Whatever the components of that program are, try to maintain them as well as you can. If it’s a program that thrives on small groups and engagement, don’t open it up to everyone at the company at the same time. If activities and conversation are important to the program, think of ways to capture that engagement in an online setting. Whatever you do, don’t hamstring your best training by simply trying to get it online as quickly as possible.

What do your learners want?

While learners do like in-person instruction, it’s not the only modality they like when it comes to delivering training. Training Industry found that virtual instructor-led training (VILT), e-learning and videos were ranked in the top five preferred modalities for all training topics. – Read more

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7 Ways By Which Small Businesses Can Take Advantage Of QuickBooks Desktop Hosting

Small businesses play one of the very essential roles in the US economy. They drive the job sectors, business innovation, and competition in the market. A recent report from SBA.gov has suggested that small businesses contribute 44% of US GDP.

Accounting plays a major part and helps these businesses to stay in the cut-throat competition. Managing it can prove crucial in the long run and will be instrumental in shaping the enterprises’ revenue and growth. However, accounting management is majorly based on the type of software that small and medium based enterprises use and implement in their daily work ethic. 

QuickBooks is one of the popular accounting software that small and medium enterprises use to manage their accounting activities and can be installed on office desktops. However, the local IT setup poses some restrictions on the accountants.

A better alternative is QuickBooks Desktop hosting. It is defined as the installation of QuickBooks versions by cloud service providers on their public or managed servers. It enables businesses to get access to any installed version of QuickBooks quite easily through any internet-connected device. 

So, here are some benefits of QuickBooks desktop hosting for small businesses – 

1. Reduced Operational and Upfront Costs

Using hardware resources to work on QuickBooks Desktop and store data files can put the financial planning of a small and medium business in jeopardy. Businesses may have to cut their budgets for core processes in order to accommodate the finances for hardware resources.

Opting for a cloud provider to host QuickBooks can be of significant advantage for small and medium businesses as the cloud provider installs your QuickBooks in their cloud environment. The provider also takes care of everything, from server maintenance to running costs. Also, with the pay-as-you-go model, the businesses have to pay only for the resources that they are using. 

Thus, QuickBooks desktop hosting saves a huge chunk of expenses for them.

2. Team Collaboration

When any version of QuickBooks Desktop like Enterprise, Pro, Payroll, or Premier is hosted on the cloud, it facilitates easy document sharing, both among the employees and their clients. This brings both the business and the employees on the same page and minimizes confusion among them by ensuring that there are no multiple versions of the same files. 

It even helps businesses maintain a healthy relationship with their clients, and bring in an energetic work culture for its employees. 

3. Data Security

With cybercrimes like ransomware, data breaches, malware, and phishing on the rise in recent years, small and medium businesses need impeccable security to maintain and safeguard their data from such problems. Hosting the QuickBooks Desktop on the cloud provides a business with the required security. 

As the cloud service providers deploy enhanced security measures like two-factor authentication, data encryption, Intrusion Detection and Prevention, user access control on their cloud, it majorly keeps data breaches, hackers, and cyber threats at a safe distance.   

4. Remote Accessibility

Desktop-installed accounting software can keep employees restricted to their systems. Even a lot of effort cannot increase business productivity, limiting the chances of growth. When a version of QuickBooks Desktop is hosted on the cloud, the user can easily access the data files from any location, with just an internet-connected device like tablets, personal laptops, or even mobile phones. 

It ensures that the user does not need to be in the office while accessing the data files in case of emergency work and implement changes in files irrespective of the location he/she is currently in.  

5.Third-Party Integrations 

When a version of QuickBooks Desktop is hosted on the cloud, third-party integrations can be easily implemented. Software like TSheets or Bill.com that are not part of QuickBooks can be seamlessly integrated when hosted on the cloud. 

Thus, the cloud solution providers help a small and medium enterprise to scale up both their accounting process and business in tandem. 

6. Disaster Recovery 

A major disadvantage of using local on-premise resources for QuickBooks is that in case of a disaster, the data loss is inevitable. But, when the same QuickBooks is hosted on the cloud, that data is safe from any human-made or natural disaster. 

The cloud service providers provide an automated backup of the data in multiple data center locations. It ensures that the data, if lost, can be easily retrieved through this backup, and even in the case of a disaster, the functionality of QuickBooks Desktop is not hampered at all. 

7. Accounting Made Easy

If the accountants working in a small and medium enterprise are habitual with the user interface of QuickBooks, then hosting it will not affect their productivity at all as the user interface remains the same. 

In addition to it, QuickBooks desktop hosting facilitates a paperless accounting environment where all the data files are stored digitally. Specific work like sales tax filing, electronic tax return filing, and inventory management can be done easily without the unwanted use of papers. It actually saves expenses and also helps the firm to reduce its carbon footprint on the environment. 

Final Note

Opting for QuickBooks Desktop Hosting solution can help these businesses be one step ahead of their competitors. QuickBooks desktop hosting solutions can provide enhanced features to take a bigger and better look at their companies, helping them to evolve financially, personally, and geographically. 

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