Cloud-based computing or SaaS (software as a service) has shown to be both practical and popular in today’s business application world. Everything from enterprise CRM systems to photo editing has taken to the cloud and proven that the future is bright for “cloudware.”

So why have businesses of all sizes begun creating spreadsheets and managing their finances on the Web instead of using locally installed applications?

Ease of Implementation

Your software is ready to use before the ink on your signature is dry (although you probably signed the contract digitally these days). You won’t need to go out to everyone’s computer and install from a disk or network folder. Your applications are already out there, waiting for you to use them.

Once you sign up with a cloud-based GPS Tracking System, they send out a certified installation specialist who will install a GPS tracking unit in your vehicles (covertly if you’d like). Once the units are installed you can log in to the system and immediately begin tracking your vehicles.

No-Hassle Updates

When it’s time to update traditional software, every computer needs to be touched again. Sure, you can handle some software updates through centrally-managed processes, but there’s always going to be IT time involved and potential issues with each computer during the upgrade process. When the application is hosted by your vendor, the updates just happen.

When the GPS tracking provider needs to update their software, they will let you know if there will be any downtime (and strive to perform updates without downtime) and when you log in again, you’ll be good to go.

New Features Come Faster

Not only are updates hassle-free, they come more often. Web-based applications vendors have heavy competition and build their applications from the ground up to be extensible. This adds up to frequent improvements and leading edge features.

For example, while companies believe they have the best GPS tracking system on the market, they still love making them better. Without the headache of pressing new installation discs or posting downloadable updates, they are free to spend their time building new features and tools for their customers.

Lowered Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Expect low (or no) initial investment, fewer resources needed to manage systems, shorter implementation time and almost zero hardware investment. Without the overhead of traditional software, the best fleet tracking system can start paying for itself even more quickly as you realise savings in fuel costs, productivity, overtime and more.

Access Everywhere

By their nature, SaaS applications are available from any computer, and, in most cases, any mobile device. This allows users complete flexibility to work from anywhere and still have complete access to all information provided by the application. Some even provide a mobile version that looks and works great on most phones, PDAs and even the iPad.

Business Continuity

When your critical business data is hosted by a SaaS provider, it will continue to be available to users in the event of disaster or attack. SaaS providers take no shortcuts protecting customer data, and provide a level of security unavailable to most businesses. The best tracking providers invest heavily in providing the best uptime in the industry (99.9%). See an example of a company that invested several million dollars in data center infrastructure.

Opportunities to Share with Clients

When your data is available online, there are often opportunities to make some or all of that data available to your customers or vendors. Depending on the type of application, you might be able to share anything from account information to pricing data with people outside your organization. For instance, some allow customers to publish the location of their vehicles to their own Web sites. Some transportation clients find this useful for letting their customers know when their bus or taxi will arrive.

Integration Opportunities

Many SaaS applications provide APIs (Application Programming Interface) that allow it to exchange data with other SaaS applications. For instance, connecting your sales system to your order processing system. Since many SaaS applications have been built from the ground up with this kind of connectivity in mind, it’s usually easier to mix and match from SaaS app to Saas app. Another integration example is the recently announced integration between a gps tracking system and fuel cards, which provides fleet managers and business owners with unprecedented control over fuel costs.