“Work Smarter” is the name of the article I read in the April 2008 Entrepreneur Magazine which has prompted another blog post about web applications and their role with small business. The whole idea of having my key business information and functionality in the hands of another company over which I have absolutely no control is frightful to me.
While unlike my computer security guru eldest son who will not do banking on-line, I do utilize net resources at least to some extent. Banking on-line with my brick and mortar based bank I have a level of comfort and “trust” with. That’s really not the case for me when it comes to companies which present themselves on the web with no “real” information about who they are or where they are. I suspect that I am not alone when it comes to my basic need for a company to “prove I can trust you” with sensitive information.
Please do not misunderstand — I see great value in being able to “just use” the technology available today rather than having to administer it. Perhaps I just know too much about what can go wrong — which at times actually helps me to trust a “perceived” expertise which I do not possess. For example, I have been a user of GoToMyPC.com since its very early days — mostly for the reason that I just didn’t want to deal with the potential security and configuration issues that setting up the remote access myself would have entailed, and my experience with other alternatives was not enjoyable - although alternatives did exist.
Businesses providing services can and do go out-of-business, they may change their offerings without notice (and unlike making a choice to upgrade desktop software to a new version or not, you have no choice). Being dependent on a great service that (perhaps) its founder(s) have managed to death is not a place where I want to be. There is a level of control lacking with any on-line service.
This is where perception is so critical. I consider using a service depending upon the nature of the service and the sensitivity of any data which I may use the service for. Basically I might start with a service with the thought that “…if it works out fine, great … if not, nothing really lost”. Remember the debacle of the internet domain provider that went out of business leaving many domains in trouble? I don’t want to participate in such a mess thank you.
Bottom line, I expect that I will continue to be very cautious regarding on-line services. In the meantime, I continue to learn more and more about web services and what they provide, and am continuing to refine my development of web applications.