In an article on new technologies impacting franchise operations, Steve Boese, a human resources blogger and professor of HR technology at the Rochester Institute of Technology said, “From here on out, it is very unlikely that you are going to see any new offerings from a vendor that will try to sell software on a disk that you have to load on one or more company computers. That's the old model and it's just not going to happen anymore.”
The new model? Cloud computing.
Cloud computing is one of a number of technologies changing the way franchises do business. It’s a way to centralize the data of a business by storing the information on a secured location on the web, not a computer. Since the data is housed on the web, and the web never gets turned off, the information is accessible at any time, from any location, and from a multitude of devices (computer, phone, tablet, etc.).
One reason companies across virtually all industries are turning to the cloud is cost effectiveness. Many cloud computing services allow users to pay for the number of users they have using the service. This helps franchises not waste funds on unused capacity. In addition, if more bandwidth is needed, or users need to be added, a cloud computing service provider can quickly take care of the business’ needs.
Operational efficiency is another benefit franchises can gain by cloud computing. “Many franchises have disparate solutions operating inside their business that don’t communicate with each other. This leads to costly inefficiencies and a loss of critical data analysis,” says small business consultant Barry Moltz. With the cloud, franchise leaders can enjoy a greater level of visibility into operations across their franchise system anytime they want. They can more easily see patterns and areas for improvement because all the data is being congregated in one place.
Thirdly, according to a study by Aberdeen Group, businesses that use the cloud benefit from faster recovery when issues arise. In the study, disaster recovery for businesses using the loud took an average of 2.1 hours compared to an average of 8 hours for those not in the cloud.
In addition, you may or may not be surprised to learn that cloud computing is environmentally-friendly. Salesforce UK states that using cloud computing “results in at least 30% less energy consumption and carbon emissions than using on-site servers.”
What are some franchise processes that can be automated via the cloud? Hiring is one. According to Multi-Unit Franchisee, about 65% of organizations have a partially or fully automated cloud system for background screening, recruitment and other hiring processes.
Cloud computing for franchises is especially helpful in fulfilling governmental requirements. For example, with information for all the units of a franchise in the cloud, franchises can easily ensure paperwork compliance with I-9 forms. Franchises can also maximize tax credits and incentives by having all of the information from their individual units for their respective systems in one place.
With viruses, data breaches and the like, it might be perceived that having information in the cloud may not be the safest way to keep information. However, consider that 800,000 laptops are left in airports each year – a considerable number of them business laptops. It’s not hard to imagine a representative for a franchise company being a part of that figure. If a franchise representative’s information is stored in the cloud instead of on a computer, there’s less cause for concern in cases such as these because the information wasn’t lost with the computer. Furthermore, if necessary, a simple password change can disable that computer’s access to the information that was accessed by the lost computer.
The bottom line for expanding franchises, and those that have any kind of growth aspiration, is the cloud is not simply the future, it’s the present. As D’onn Genovese, a San Diego franchisee of multiple Massage Envy franchises has said, “For us, cloud technology is the “secret sauce” for operating and growing our franchise. I have found that turning to technology to help run my own franchise business has helped save time on inefficient processes, while still ensuring everything is completed to my satisfaction. I know that my experience will resonate with anyone managing a quickly expanding and changing franchise. If you’re looking for a way to improve your operations, consider the cloud resources at your disposal. You might be surprised at what they can do for you.”