Cloud Redefines Outsourcing in Multiple Industries

The stigma once attached to outsourcing is quickly fading as businesses realize there are many ways to send work offsite. Thanks to the growing popularity of cloud hosting, businesses are discovering that certain tasks can be completed by contractors and service providers directly from an online account. Third-party providers can log into the site and view and complete work without being able to access sensitive company information.

Outsourcing Transactional Tasks

As automation and outsourcing has replaced certain jobs, professionals are shifting attention toward higher-level tasks such as strategy and management. After obtaining a college degree and/or years of experience in a field, an employee is unlikely to be interested in a job that requires sorting through pages of data to find one item. These tasks can easily be sent to the cloud to be handled by an offsite employee.

Helping with the transition is that it is gradual. Large staffs aren’t being replaced by outsourcing. Instead, individual mundane work is being outsourced as current employees simply become too busy to handle them. This allows staff members to turn their attention to higher-level tasks, which pushes a business in the direction it needs to go to grow.

Software as a Service

Part of the outsourcing trend can be traced back to the growing popularity of Software as a Service (SaaS), which allows tasks such as HR and database development to be automated. Once automated, employees can serve in an administrator capacity, reviewing information and issuing approvals as needed.

The cloud has made it easier than ever for businesses to send tasks offsite. The many collaboration tools available today allow businesses to work together on projects in the same place, allowing for streamlined management of both onsite and offsite workers. This helps businesses save money without losing the team mentality that makes their organization strong.

Office 365: Embracing Software by Subscription

Instead of paying once for the basic world processing and database programs you use every day, how would you like to keep paying, month after month, for the privilege of using them? Microsoft is betting that’s actually going to sound like a good deal to its users.

The dominant workplace software company is trying what ZDNet blogger Simon Bisson refers to as a “bet-the-company strategy” in rolling out Office 365 not as software-plus-services but as fully functioning software as a service, with installed software as a minor piece of the deal.

Bisson notes that part of what makes this a big leap is Microsoft’s plan to let resellers bill customers directly for subscriptions to the cloud version of the software suite, Office 365 Open rather than handling the cloud service through a revenue sharing agreement.

Meanwhile, though, observers are wondering what this will mean for consumers. The current version of Office 365 includes various subscription plans for businesses, from $4 per user/month for a simple email-and-calendar setup to $20 per user/month for full access to Office programs both online and off plus hosted voicemail support, unlimited email archiving and other perks.

That’s all well and good for corporate users, but getting individuals to pay for a subscription to software is a different matter. PC World rounded up expert opinions on the subject and averaged their opinions out to predict that consumers won’t pay more than $6 a month for Office 365—and they’ll want to be able to install copies of the software on their computers. Even at that price, it might not be a great deal. PC World breaks down the math like this: The average customer keeps their software for five years. Office Home & Student 2010 costs $125 at a discount on Amazon and includes three licenses. That comes to $8.33 per license per year.