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We’ve all been waiting for that great day in December. The snow is falling, the Christmas tree is up and we’ve stockpiled the mince pies. Yes, Cloud Computing day has finally arrived!

Today we’re asking small business owners all over the UK to try to ditch traditional locally installed software in favour of web-based alternatives. You’re already using KashFlow to do your accounting in the cloud – so what about the rest of your software needs? We suggested some other cloud applications a couple of weeks ago to get you started.

Let’s recap the reasons why I think cloud computing needs to be adopted more rapidly in the UK:

1) More Economical
Software-as-a-service It’s more economical than the traditional software model. Very important in tough economic times

2) Greener
Cloud computing is more environmentally friendly – no boxes or manuals to print, no physical boxes containing a plastic disc of data to ship around in petrol guzzling vehicles.

3) Collaborative Working
The world of business is changing drastically. Let me rephrase that: The world of business has changed drastically.
Without the ability to collaborate remotely with colleagues you’re going to be less competitive than you would otherwise be.

4) Maintaining our competitive edge
Emerging economies, especially India, are embracing this technology. If we don’t we will get left behind.

The main thing I personally want from this initiative is to see some real debate about why people do and don’t adopt cloud computing right now, today. The preliminary chatter is already proving to be interesting reading.

Jim Hatley at Geek.com got a bit cynical  suggesting it was just a PR stunt. I posted my response as a comment which you can read on geek.com if you’re interested. He also suggested individuals should be encouraged to embrace the cloud too, not just businesses.

Paul Miller made a very good point on his blog, Why the emphasis on online applications? Why not just data storage in the cloud?

Gary Kind from DoMoreWithSage.com pointed at the dumb terminals of 3 decades ago to make the point that we had now come full circle.

The reaction gets interesting when the very people we’re encouraging get the chance to discuss the idea of Cloud Computing Day, this happened over at my favorite web hang-out, UKBF. Unsurprisingly, one of the recurring themes was security.  Do the companies selling web applications, ourselves included, need to do more to address security concerns?

Before we started getting hundreds of people a week signing up to KashFlow, we used to make a point of talking to them all to find out why they chose KashFlow, or why not in the event that they didn’t convert their free trial into a paid subscription. Security was often mentioned by those that didn’t stick with us. We found that it was actually an emotional reaction rather than a logical one. Personally I find it virtually impossible to change peoples attitudes when their attitude and opinion isn’t based on facts. Is your computer running XP Pro behind a software firewall really more secure than our set up? I doubt it. I think some people are just not comfortable with the idea of their data being “out there”, although the numbers of people that think this way are rapidly decreasing.

So are small businesses over the UK embracing this concept? Are they pouncing on Google Docs and the like in vast numbers today? Possibly, but I doubt it. I expect Cloud Computing day will be more about what doesn’t happen (and more importantly, why) as opposed to what does happen.

We’d originally asked for your comments throughout the day to be posted to our Facebook group. With hindsight I suspect the UK Business Forums might be a better and more interactive platform for this – so if you’re getting involved today and want to post comments about your experiences please do so here.

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