People use iPhones and other mobile devices in all sorts of ways—texting, phoning, listening to music, watching movies. But to a large majority of business professionals, these devices and others like them, including today’s ever-lighter laptops, mean one thing more than any other—freedom to move. 

Think about it. Just a few years ago, the idea of telecommuting was more a dream than a reality, partly because it was hard to do. For the telecommuter, working from home meant buying or borrowing a desktop or laptop, then fighting your way into the corporate database through VPN connections that were slow and frustrating. For the business, telecommuters meant more work for the IT Help Desk, and more spending on network switches and other gear.

Today that model has been flipped on its head, thanks much to Internet-friendly laptops and other mobile devices, but also to Internet-friendly cloud ERP software. In fact, for years conventional ERP locked people and organizations in to conventional thinking and planning because of the high costs of change. By contrast, cloud ERP gives us the freedom to move, whether it’s user telecommuting or organizational decentralization and, at a higher level, the freedom to find innovative solutions. Here are two examples:

Telecommuting ROI

Telecommuting used to be difficult for a business to cost-justify because of the increased expense in IT resources, as well as the potential losses in worker productivity. Today, thanks to Internet-enabled devices and cloud ERP architectures, it doesn’t take a week, a day, or a high-priced CPA to figure out the ROI for telecommuting users.

The Louisiana Advocacy Center, a NetSuite customer, is a vivid example of how telecommuting can benefit an organization.

The center originally brought in NetSuite following Hurricane Katrina, because it didn’t want to risk losing conventional network connections in the event of another large-scale emergency. What they didn’t foresee, however, was having to deal with a six-month renovation of the center’s New Orleans headquarters. With a conventional ERP setup, they would have had to rent temporary office space, costing a minimum of $60,000. Instead, the Advocacy Center instead set up a telecommuting operation, with staffers working out of their homes or other branch offices.

Decentralizing Business

Want to take user mobility a step further, to include remote branch offices? Fine. Same rules apply. Setting up a new branch office used to be a major hassle and a major expense, and the more remote in terms of geography, the more challenging. Again, the business has to determine if the time and expense—for setting up servers, extending networks, and finding, hiring and training staff­—are justifiable based on the potential increase in business.  Today, thanks to Internet-friendly devices and cloud ERP, it’s much simpler to achieve a positive ROI.

And because cloud ERP isn’t limited by geography, it can mean more than just saving time and money—it can help a company develop a global footprint that would have been impossible with conventional ERP.

An example is Sundia Corporation, a multimillion-dollar fresh produce brand based in Oakland, California. With customer support in the Philippines, accounting in India and the executive team in California, Sundia needed to get operations up quickly while maintaining an efficient ongoing cost structure. It went to cloud ERP so its personnel around the globe can access, manage and even innovate with the ERP system in real time.

Brad Oberwager, Founder, Chairman and CEO, observes that Sundia’s organizational structure would have been untenable with conventional, centralized ERP. “We simply wouldn’t be in business with the old way,” he says.