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The Real Promise of the Cloud? Connectedness


I’m not sure how many of you remember when websites were just static images posted to a static URL, but the reason many of you don’t is that companies and web developers quickly realized that if they wanted to keep everyone on the same page they needed a more dynamic system. A system that would let them publish updates to information, data and content easily, centrally and securely and make sure those updates appeared everywhere for everyone. So developers created web platforms and systems to turn all of those static web pages into connected, dynamic sites that could be updated, edited and managed centrally and distributed globally. Eventually tools like Softr, Squarespace, Wix, WordPress and all of the other tools out there made creating dynamic, connected websites something anyone could do and manage.

The same evolution has happened with CRM systems. The problem with managing CRM data wasn’t the ability to record it (that was done perfectly well in Excel spreadsheets for years) but in being able to CONNECT that data to everyone who needed to use it or add to it. Salesforce’s innovation wasn’t how to store or deliver the data, but how to keep it connected so information could be dynamically changed, updated and accessed by everyone across the organization. CRM development focuses on creating these interconnected systems that enhance data accessibility and collaboration. No mid-sized or larger company would now consider keeping all of their CRM software in Excel files—it just doesn’t make any sense to keep information that changes so frequently in static file formats. Now there’s a whole set of CRM systems that keep the company’s data connected: Base, ProsperWorks, and custom CRM development solutions.

This same promise of connectedness that the Cloud offers has now spread across the entire business landscape and replaced static documents and files — online invoices, surveys, mailing lists, project timelines, software development plans, email templates, and many others. There is, however, one big exception: sales presentations are still being built as static documents that are saved, edited and moved around the organization the same way they’ve moved around for decades.

If you believe that sales presentations are an important part of the sales and marketing funnel (and if you have a sales team, you probably do believe this) then why are you still building PowerPoints and saving them to a shared drive? The same problems of version control, outdated content, updated data, brand consistency and design quality that drove the new tools in web development, CRM, project management, invoicing, payments and so much more are just as bad when it comes to sales presentations saved as documents.

Tools like Box, Dropbox, ClearSlide, Google Apps and others help with moving and sharing files and documents but don’t fully deliver on the promise of Connectedness that the Cloud offers. Since they’re still based on the idea that each document is a static file, they don’t solve the problems of version control, management and updating. So even those some of these tools add features that improve collaboration, storage, delivery or analytics, none of them take the next step that websites or CRM tools have taken to turn critical business documents like sales presentations into connected systems.

CustomShow was built to solve the connectedness problem for sales presentations. Instead of just storing and sharing the same documents in the Cloud, CustomShow turns presentations into connected documents that can be built, managed and updated centrally, collaboratively and securely. So just as static web pages evolved into Squarespace and WordPress, as separate Excel files evolved into Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, stand-alone PowerPoint files have finally evolved into CustomShow presentations.

 So when evaluating new Cloud-based services like desktop-as-a-service that promise to streamline old document-based processes and workflows, make sure that they deliver on the true promise of the Cloud: Connectedness. Storing, sharing and delivering documents in the Cloud is just an incremental improvement over what you did yesterday; to revolutionize your business — and realize the true promise of the Cloud — you need to turn your document-based tools, remote working tools and workflows into truly connected systems.