After reading an interesting piece at business Insider on how Toyota is building for its future by leveraging cloud applications and services, I had a few thoughts. One, is that every company these days has to be at least thinking about how IT and technology in general can be used to gain a competitive edge. Secondly, those same companies need to find methods to create these competitive differentiations in a faster, more affordable manner than via traditional IT development models.

In short, can cloud apps be that intersection between strategic vision and tactical, day-to-day operations?

I, of course, believe it can. Over the past decade I have personally seen businesses of all shapes and sizes take on various “as-a-service” applications to both quickly empower their workforces and customers, while also lessening the burden on IT. (To be fair, many times decisions were made for one of these reasons, not both.) As SaaS models turned into cloud apps – the benefit was only magnified.

Now, as we see the emergence of more simple yet powerful cloud application platforms – we enter what is potentially an even more exciting phase. With modern cloud platforms, even more individuals can be involved in the “strategy” aspect of IT. And, since true cloud platforms require zero on-site infrastructure, the tactical benefit to IT is amplified as well. Let’s use Caspio as an example. With a simple drag-and-drop approach to building apps, almost anyone in an organization can build tools and data-driven solution. Be it a small data capture form, or a true automation of a core business process, these solutions can come from anyone at anytime. Either IT or a Caspio admin can insure that the projects meet company specs, and maintain them without provisioning servers, checking for availability, etc. – it is all done by Caspio.

Also, the unlimited nature of the Caspio platform allows for more strategic vision with less tactical overhead as well. With older application models, using either per-user or CPU-based licensing – scale becomes an issue at many levels. Organizations must weight their vision against potential operating costs. And sometimes, tough decisions must be made and hard questions asked, such as “can we really afford to add this department as users and pay the huge monthly per-user surcharge?” or “can we expose this data or app to our customers on the web?” With Caspio and other true cloud app platforms, scale is not an issue. Add as many users as you like, build as many apps as you can envision – you will not incur additional fees for any of this.

Many businesses are just now beginning to see how the cloud can impact their business in a positive way. The smarter businesses are using cloud apps and other cloud tools to both gain strategic vision, while also decrease tactical resources. The best part, is that little up front costs are involved, making it a low-risk, high reward endeavor to start evaluating cloud platforms like Caspio right now.