The process of tracking assets has evolved; from pen and paper to spreadsheets, to cloud-based asset tracking solutions. And, with these advancements, comes a welcomed increase in the accuracy and quantity of data collection. Thus resulting in an improvement in the efficiency of recording assets throughout day-to-day business operations.
Over time, the development and modernisation of technology, such as the use of IoT (Internet of Things) devices and RTLS (Real-time Location System) solutions, have resulted in an enhancement in cloud-based capabilities. So much so, that buyers expect cloud capabilities to be part of modern SaaS (Software as a Service) packages.
In fact, 90% of Comparesoft users prefer a cloud-based solution when it comes to managing assets. Not only that but a recent survey by 451 Research that found 90% of organisations using some type of cloud service.
What Is a Cloud-Based Asset Tracking System?
The premise of cloud-based software is to be able to access data at any time from anywhere. This data can be accessed over an internet connection and through a specific Web page or mobile App.
Cloud-based software works by storing data with a third-party vendor, on their servers, and paying them a fee to access it. As payments are usually in the form of a subscription pricing model, investing in a cloud-based solution can be inexpensive. This is also helped by minimal start-up costs and zero investment in on-site servers or operating systems.
While a vendor plays host to your data, you are able to edit and update it on various devices in multiple locations. This makes it extremely handy for field employees who need access to key asset data in order to complete work orders.
In terms of a cloud-based asset tracking system, businesses can efficiently collect more accurate data while reducing spending. For example, with real-time tracking devices, users are able to access an asset’s current location and know when it was last used. This type of data can help to reduce the number of assets that are lost or stolen from the workplace, removing the need to spend money on replacements. In the US alone, theft of cargo assets costs an estimated $30bn (£23bn) a year.
With the total global cloud market estimated at $178B (£137B) in 2018, cloud-based platforms continue to rise in popularity and are becoming common practice for most businesses. And, with its reduced initial costs, a cloud option can come with a whole host of advantages. Including easy and quick deployment, an option to scale, and better accessibility.
However, there is another viable option for tracking and collecting data that has minimal cloud capabilities; an on-premise solution.
What Is an On-Premise Asset Tracking System?
Although there are various options (namely SaaS, IaaS and PaaS) there is really only one alternative to a cloud-based solution; on-premise.
An advantage to implementing an on-premise system is the complete control it gives to a business. This is because it’s solely operated on-site and specifically installed on business-owned devices. Not only does this allow for greater control, but by having crucial asset data stored in-house and on on-site servers, it also increases security.
But, as opposed to cloud-based asset tracking solutions that can be purchased through a cost-efficient subscription model, an on-premise setup can be expensive. It requires a large investment in servers and needs a dedicated area of the workspace to install them. It then needs an IT team that can install, operate, upgrade and update the system.
These figures are taken from the sherweb.com calculation tool that compared cloud-based solution costs with on-premise. They’re based on installation costs, maintenance cost, replacement costs, hardware refresh rates, and support costs.
With high operating and up-front costs, plus the average 12-24 month implementation period, it’s no wonder 94% of businesses plan to reduce IT setup and maintenance costs with cloud infrastructure.
5 Benefits of Cloud-Based Asset Tracking Tools
A key feature of a cloud-based asset tracking system is its ability to provide access to data from anywhere at any time. By tracking, recording and collecting enough significant data, businesses are able to build an asset register with complete accuracy. This entire register is then accessible to all business personnel through a specific Web page or mobile App.
This also means data can be accessed and updated on a range of devices including desktops, smartphones, tablets, and laptops, from various locations. Locations such as in and around the workplace, across multiple sites, and in the field; particularly useful for field employees such as a vehicle mechanics. Depending on the data that has been collected, an asset register could include useful information such as work orders and their current status, current and historical usage, maintenance and repairs schedules, and current working condition.
Track Assets in Real-time with IoT
Advancements in cloud software systems have paved the way for the use of effective tools, such as IoT devices. The term IoT refers to everything that is connected to the internet. This can include mobiles, wearables, smart applications, and any device that is able to connect and “talk” to other devices. By doing so, an IoT device can transfer data over a network without human-to-human interaction.
Particularly effective in terms of tracking assets, IoT can be optimised through the use of equipment such as Bluetooth receivers and RFID tags. These IoT-enabled devices can be updated with copious amounts of data and then attached to a relevant asset. Users can then send a request to an IoT receiver and access all of the data regarding the attached asset. This data could be real-time location and condition, current maintenance schedule, and usage information.
IoT-enabled equipment, especially Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) devices, are also affordable and require minimal power to run, meaning a longer battery life.
Levels the Playing Field
On-premise asset tracking systems can require a huge amount of investment in infrastructures, IT teams, and hardware. Not to mention the installation, deployment and security costs. Therefore, they are usually limited to businesses that generate a high amount of revenue; i.e. large companies and enterprises. In fact, the differences in market value between large and small businesses are widening, as shown in the image below.
But cloud-based platforms are gradually levelling the playing field in terms of managing assets and closing the gap for smaller businesses.
With cloud-based asset tracking, the need for investment in IT infrastructure isn’t required. By collecting and storing data on third-party vendors, smaller companies don’t need to purchase servers or clear space for installing hardware. The capabilities of a cloud-based system mean they’re now able to compete with larger companies who use on-premise solutions. In fact, they can have similar data storage sizes and accessibility features as large businesses. They can even have access to better support systems too.
But, there can be one sticking point; the cost of data storage. As a business grows it collects and records more asset data. To store this new data, businesses may need to expand their existing data storage plan with their vendor. Whereas at first, a few hundred megabytes of storage was fine, a time may come when a business is required to upgrade its data storage plan. This can be pricey, with Terabytes and Petabytes of data being notoriously expensive.
Access to the Latest Features and Updates
While businesses may consider a solution based on its modern capabilities and ease of use, the main benefit of implementing a cloud-based system is its access to the latest features and updates. As a vendor is likely to have multiple customers, they are able to collect enough data based on customer reviews and support to introduce new features and updates. Along with essential security updates.
These enhancements can be rolled out instantly and overnight; when business operations are at their lowest, in a bid to avoid any harmful downtime.
Have the Option to Scale Up and Down
Depending on the deal that a business has in place with its third-party vendor, they may have the option to scale both up or down. This could mean adding more data storage and support systems as a business grows. Or even lowering a data plan and reducing certain functionalities to save costs.
As a business begins to track more assets and collect more data, it is common to increase data plans. But it’s also common for a vendor to offer the option of scaling down. This could be if a business needs to cut costs, or even if they’re using much-less data than first thought. And, unlike an on-premise setup, the action to scale a system in either direction can be taken almost instantly.
How to Find the Right Cloud-Based Asset Tracking Software
By using our software comparison tool, you can access a list of the best cloud-based asset tracking solutions. Our aim is to make the process of finding asset tracking software as easy and as simple as possible. By providing us with the right information and answering questions based on your current asset tracking system, we can gauge what you need to better improve your business operations. The questionnaire takes less than a minute and asks up to 5 questions. Including what assets you track, how many assets you track, and what industry you’re in.