Online CRM vs an Offline Solution

9 Dec 2019

It may come as a shock to some of you/ us, but the whole world is not exclusively dependent on an online CRM! There are (still) thousands of individuals and businesses that lead perfectly happy lives without accessing the internet, although in many parts of the world these are very much the exception rather than the rule.

I personally know a couple of people who happily ignore the beeping smartphone sat in their pocket. Their preference is to work from a paper spreadsheet that they hand-write and colour code with highlighter pens. Often this is a matter of personal choice – there are occasions when an offline solution can work for certain people. For today’s blog post we are looking at some reasons why people may opt for an offline business solution rather than heading for the cloud.

CRM Roots

The origins of CRM essentially stem back to the very first time a service provider tried to connect with their clients. This will have been via hand-written receipts, contracts, details stored in notepads, ledgers and that kind of thing. The very first CRM systems will have been big old filing cabinets creaking under the weight of folders and binders – the customer database.

As time went on, businesses recognised the value of this customer database, and implemented smarter methods of managing their client details. Enter the rolodex and remember the 1980’s, where any aspiring entrepreneur wouldn’t be seen dead without their filofax?

Whilst this helped get your customer details in one handy place, it meant the data was still stored in silos – unless everyone is sat in the same office, you don’t all have access to that data.


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The Digital Age

With the advent of affordable computers, that data got transferred from paper onto spreadsheets. This made it far easier to work with as you could chop and change the information to present it in your preferred format. This was a big leap forward as it meant you could email the data or copy it onto a disc. Even those not in the office could get access to your client database.

This did still mean that you worked from one master database. Managing data became someone’s responsibility and there was always be the risk that people using copies of that main spreadsheet were using information that is out of date. However, that all changed with the advent of cloud computing and the availability of online CRM.

Keeping your Feet on the Ground

We’re going to look at some reasons why a business may opt for an offline solution, given the technology available today.

Dodgy (or non-existent) Internet

For many of us it is hard to imagine that there are still plenty of paces with poor or no internet connection. It’s not inconceivable that for many businesses, when they were getting their CRM solution in place, online wasn’t a viable solution. Instead of an unreliable internet connection, they opted for software that can be ran on their intranet. This meant they could continue to work uninterrupted as long as the power was still on.

Security

We’ve all heard some horror stories of data stored in the cloud getting hacked. Spammers and scammers getting hold of your data, or conning people into handing over passwords to generally cause a lot of misery. Well how about giving the cloud a miss altogether! If you have your data stored locally you aren’t exposing your data in any way, shape or form to the outside world.

Ownership

After an initial payment, the software is yours to keep. There’s no need to account for monthly subscription fees, as you have bought your very own version of the software. Regardless of what happens to the software provider, your system is not going anywhere.


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Reaching for the Skies

So far, we have seen some credible reasons to opt for an on-premises solution. Let’s switch to look at some reasons why an online CRM alternative would make more sense.

When the Lights Go Out

As well as a poor internet connection, remote areas can be susceptible to power cuts and so your general tech infrastructure may be a bit wobbly. Once the power is off, your computer systems will be down. That fact is also true if you are using a pc to access your online CRM, but if you have laptops, tablets or smartphones, you can connect to your system whilst the electricity is being reconnected – resulting in zero downtime. You might be doing it by candlelight, but you are still working! If you’re reliant on a desktop-based system, that lack of power will bring you grinding to a halt.

Putting your Plans on Hold

An inconvenience of a solely on-premises solution is exactly that. Imagine getting home after work and suddenly you remember that most important thing… that you forgot when you were in the office?! Whatever it was may well have been of timely importance, but now it will have to stay put either until you’re back in the office the next day or after the weekend, or you have to change your evening plans and head back in to get the job done.

Loss or Damage

When we focus on the (very real) dangers of cyber crime, it is important to remember that physical crime is just as much of a threat. In the same way that passwords are hacked, physical locks are also broken. If you find yourself a victim of a burglary you have a multiple headache: not only have your belongings and your data gone, but they might fall into the wrong hands. Other disasters can occur – flooding, fire or other damage to property – rendering your computers useless and destroying your data. Putting your data in the cloud is a big step towards putting it out of harm’s way. It is worth mentioning the security measures you can put in place to keep your data as secure as possible. A safe password is every bit as important as the key to your front door.

Staying Up to Date

Most business are in a constant state of progress. You may start out focusing on a small market sector or specific product and somewhere along the line you decide to branch out. Since the software that you purchased outright is effectively a finished product, it makes bolting any add-ons either difficult or expensive, or maybe not possible. Cloud solutions are constantly being upgraded with new features, enhancements and fixes, so they are designed to grow with you as your business develops.

No Big Up-Front Investment

For non-proprietary software, you generally don’t pay a big lump sum up-front. Subscription-based online CRM means you usually pay a monthly subscription, and only as long as you need it. The big benefit is that you also tend to pay for what you use. Whenever you need to increase or decrease the number of users on your system, your pricing is adjusted accordingly.

The Conclusion

Taking the above arguments into consideration, what conclusions can we draw? One thing that is certain is that if you do not have internet in your offices, a cloud solution is going to be impossible! However, such scenarios have become increasingly unlikely, with very few places unable to connect. Given that fact, most software manufacturers including CRM providers keep their cloud solutions up to date, whereas the on-premises versions have been consigned to the history books. If you have the appropriate measures in place to keep your data safe, you can rest assured the cloud is a safe, speedy and easily accessible solution to your online CRM system requirements.

Tom Chapman
Tom Chapman
I work in a fairly new role here at OpenCRM as Customer Success Manager. I work with our clients and prospects helping them get the most from their subscription - it is a fun challenging role as no two days are the same. When not in the office I'll be either making a noise on my guitar or getting my trainers on for a run out in the Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors or the Lake District.