If you’ve ever witnessed a network crash or viral attack, you know that some problems can only be remedied by an elite force of technology experts. Fearful of the catastrophic (yet unspecified) consequences of messing with electronic business systems, most of us leave it to the nerds to manage our networks, databases and hardware. But do we really need them for everything? Surely in this golden age of touch screens and smart devices there must be a way to take charge of our electronic work world. With customizable online database management, the DIY data revolution is here and placing control back in to the hands of Small and Medium Business’ (SMBs) and the people who work in them. And those naughty little experts are about to feel the rub.
Executing the set-up or migration of a traditional Database Management Systems (DBMS) is bound by three major components; application software (and associated software), implementation, and annual support maintenance.
Let’s break it down. Databases like Oracle and SqlServer are run on a complex software and hardware infrastructure that relies heavily on well-trained humans with Java, Net, c++ programming skills to make it all go. Making it all work also means complicated system configurations, long implementations, longer testing phases and expensive support calls to care for onsite servers.
Online Databases, Meet the Cloud
Market research firm In-Stat, reports that American businesses will spend $3 billion on cloud computing and managed hosting services in 2012. By 2013, that number is expected to reach $13 billion.
Ascending to customized online database management saves users from the woes of programming, storage and functionality because these systems are already operating on the web and in the cloud where data will be stored. Designed to be highly intuitive and user friendly, online databases providers design these tools with the average Jane in mind. Using drag and drop methodology, users can construct a meaningful framework to hold their tables and records and build powerful customized applications capable of integrating with email and reporting schedules.
No clunky data storage devices or administration on site frees up space and lowers your energy costs. An added bonus; housing a customized database on the net won’t end in total information loss if an onsite computer or server bites-the-dust. No hardware, no melt-downs, no nerds.
Knowing is Half the Battle
Creating a customized online database allows users to include personalized applications that analyze and share information in ways that are meaningful to their work. But what the heck does that mean? In a survey undertaken by freelancing site PeoplePerHour.com, 43% of 1,300 SMBs interviewed in the UK indicated that they didn’t know what “cloud computing” meant. So what do you need to know to get started?
Hosting your own database online means transforming buckets of numbers, names and dates collected over months and months,
into rich, multi-dimensional data sets and monitoring tools. Start by deciding what your needs are and what kind of information you need to record, store and revisit. This includes everything from capturing records and information associated with a single client or individual to large transactions and the links between them. Constructing on-screen forms involves identifying and adding all the relevant information fields needed to create a comprehensive picture of your business partners and transactions. Online systems allow users to create an account from scratch and gives them total control over the architecture, forms, and tables in a matter of hours or days.
Completing an inventory of needs and outcomes takes careful consideration but it’s time to get serious and talk about what really matters: making it look good! Any customized online database service provider worth its salt will give you the tools to achieve a personalized common look and feel that is applied consistently throughout your system. Users can set custom fonts, colors, and photos to accompany records and reports and in some cases apply professionally designed themes with a single click.
Back to the Future
Imagine for a moment that it’s the mid 90’s. You’ve a just purchased your very first (ridiculously expensive) DVD player and are blissfully preparing to enjoy the luxuries of improved picture and sound quality. But wait! These VHS tapes simply will not fit in the disk drive.
Similarly, upgrades and migrations for traditional DBM Systems are a huge undertaking. Businesses are once again at the mercy of the nerds to program complicated interfaces connecting old and new storage platforms and ensure the two are communicating effectively.
Most SMB’s function on a mixture of Access forms, Excel spreadsheets and other data storage applications that have been mashed together for months if not years creating a data Frankenstein. Not to worry. This monster-mash of formulas, tables and client info can be easily (and quickly) transferred to your customized online database. Excel files are simply imported with fields auto created and populated while Access files are ushered in through simple plugins that allow data to upload in minutes. Some providers even have capabilities that enable secure synch-ups with 3rd party data applications. It’s also worth mentioning that newly imported files can be immediately refined and shared over the web in real-time and that browser based systems load faster on PCs and mobile devices.
It’s official; SMBs must be more agile, adaptable and frugal than ever before. Selecting an online database management system that is easy to use, performance based and cost effective is essential to keeping business’ in fighting form.
And you don’t need an expert to tell you that.