"The cloud." When we speak with galleries, we hear a lot of misconceptions about the cloud.
So what exactly IS the cloud and should you trust your gallery's inventory, client and sales data to it?
The Cloud Defined
In the past, we had no choice but to store data on our computers or on physical storage devices.
For instance, you probably keep artwork image files in folders on your computer. Or you may have purchased a large external hard drive for the sole purpose of storing the gallery's historical sales data. You may even carry around certain files on USB thumb drives so that you can access them when you're not at the gallery.
When people talk about "storing data in the cloud," it means they are storing their data in a remote database maintained by a third party.
The Internet provides the connection between your computer and the database, and the third party (for example, a software provider) maintains the database to ensure it is secure and functioning properly.
Benefits to Galleries of Cloud-Based Data Storage
Although it may sound scary to store your gallery's inventory, client and sales data in the cloud, cloud storage provides many benefits -- and increasingly, cloud-based storage is the preferred way to store important data and information in every industry.
Automatically Secured and Backed Up
Most galleries' concerns with cloud-based storage is that it's not secure, and they worry about losing their data. However, that is far from the truth.
When using a third party database, you get the benefit of additional security through encrypted data transfer. At ArtCloud, for example, all our gallery customers' data is encrypted as it is moved between their computers and our remote databases.
Beyond that, almost all databases are backed up multiple times per day to ensure that even if you accidentally delete all your sales information, you'd be able to recover it without too much issue. At ArtCloud, we back up our gallery customers' data 4 times each day, and have never had an issue with data loss.
Access Any Time, Any Place
With a cloud-based gallery management system, you have access to all your data 24/7 without having to carry around an external hard drive or USB. As long as you have access to a smartphone or computer, you can log in to view, interact and update your data.
Updated in Real-Time
One of the primary benefits of cloud-based data storage is that your information is always accurate and updated in real-time. If you're visiting clients and one of your staff members sells a piece at the gallery, you'll see that piece marked inactive as soon as it's put on an invoice.
In other words, there's no chance that you'll inadvertently offer a sold piece to a client -- because you'll always be able to see your inventory data in real-time. If you're storing data on a hard drive or on your computer, on the other hand, you're working with outdated information.