How a Powerful, Web-Based Database Application Can Streamline Your Business
In a business environment, data takes many forms.
Before the advent of computers, data was all captured in a world of paper. But in 1979, the world’s first spreadsheet, VisiCalc was introduced. Since there were very few computer programs at the time, people used VisiCalc not just for doing calculations but for storing all manner of data and even some using it as a word processor. As computers became commonplace, organizations had a tendency to store data in spreadsheets.
However, due to the inadequacies of the first spreadsheets on the market, software vendors began developing databases such as dBase, Paradox, FoxPro and Access directly on personal computers to store this information. This quickly proved problematic, as those databases could not be easily shared.
Companies would later install LANs or "Local Area Networks" to enable the sharing of that information, but this too left a lot to be desired.
Thankfully, the technology has continued to evolve - as much by necessity as by design. In an era when more people are working remotely than ever, web-based databases have become prominent. These bring with them a wide range of different benefits over traditional data storage options, all of which are more than worth a closer look.
What is a Web-Based Database?
As the name suggests, a web-based database is one that has been sufficiently optimized to work over the Internet as a truly web-based application. This is contrary to the "old school" approach to software, where applications would need to be locally installed on a machine and would essentially only be available in that location.
Think about how organizations approached software in the early 1990s and well into the 2000s. If you purchased an application for your employees, you essentially had to buy a license for each individual person. You would need to spend time installing that software on their workstations, one-by-one. If something needed to be updated, you would have to do so individually - meaning that if 50 computers all had the same software installed on them, you would have to perform those updates (and any associated maintenance) 50 different times.
If your employees needed to use that software, they had to physically be sitting at their desk. While remote desktop capabilities were certainly in their early stages, they left a lot to be desired as far as the user experience was concerned.
With a web database, on the other hand, everything has changed - for all-time and for the better. A web-based database provides users with a simple and effective way to use screens that make work productive, all while the application enforces all of your important business rules automatically. This gives people a chance to stop fighting their software so that they can start putting it to good use - which truly is the most important benefit of all.
Advantages of a Web-Based Database
All told, web-based databases bring with them a number of distinct advantages - essentially all at the exact same time. This is especially true when you compare them to a more traditional LAN-based system that most organizations are used to:
- The data contained inside those databases is accessible anytime, anywhere, no exceptions. So long as an employee has a device that is connected to the Internet, they can access that database and be just as productive while visiting a client halfway around the world as they could be in their own office.
- Web-based databases also give you the ability to serve data concurrently to different users. This makes not only the communication of important data, but also collaboration based on that data, easier than ever before.
- So long as you have a device with a web browser, you can access the information contained inside that database. The same is absolutely not true of something like an Excel spreadsheet.
- Perhaps most importantly, web-based databases can enforce business rules automatically - thus preventing organizational leadership from needing to do so. This keeps company processes and data both accurate and consistent, making sure that everyone is working from the same information and moving in the same direction at all times.
- Web-based databases are also known for their non-complicated user interfaces - ones that most people are familiar with and are comfortable working in. This again helps dramatically improve the user experience.
- Web-based databases provide data replication and fail-over recovery opportunities that allow businesses to get up and running as quickly as possible should computer systems fail. When you're talking about something as fragile as technology, issues are no longer a matter of "if," but "when." Web-based databases allow businesses to be as proactive as possible to that end, helping them avoid potentially catastrophic instances of data loss.
- Applications powered by web-based databases can be easily scaled to provide access to many users - allowing them to effectively grow and evolve as your organization does the same.
- Now, for the first time, clients who are external to the company LAN, can also be included in the workflow process thanks to the web-based database application - helping to forge better relationships with your customers as well.
Truly, any one of these advantages on its own would make web-based databases an investment worth taking. But when you consider them all as a collective, it's clear that this is one move that most organizations literally cannot afford to make.
Web Application with Database
One of the most important things to understand about all of this is that raw data in a database is ultimately not very helpful. Really, you're talking about a series of 1s and 0s sitting on a hard drive somewhere. To truly extract value from that data - to get as much insight out of it as you can - you need to be prepared to go deeper.
In other words, you need an application that can present data and operate on that data for users over the Internet. Web applications are the core to enabling this type of functionality.
Web-based applications allow you to enforce the process flow and business rules of your company, all in a way that lets you make sure that all employees are following the exact same processes that made your company succeed in the first place. This also provides the quality of information and productivity in a way that enables growth across the board.
Create a Web-Based Database from Excel
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to convert a traditional Excel spreadsheet into a web application with the click of a button. The process is just much more involved than that. Instead, you need a web application developer who can take the information inside the spreadsheet, and create a database and a web application that satisfies both the workflows and the needs of a business.
As your company expands, the complexity of the data you're working with does the same - meaning that you need to do more than just store data. You need to be able to act on that data, which is exactly what a web-based application is designed to do.
How to Create a Web-Based Database
When people store information in paper or in a spreadsheet, there is an implied process surrounding how that information will eventually be used.
To create a web-based database, an organization needs to be able to document both A) the data, and B) the processes which use that information.
With this insight in hand, organizations can create a new web-based database application that combines the data and those essential processes in a streamlined way, all in the name of making the company more productive and the operations more efficient.
A common tool employed to do this is Microsoft ASP.NET - a development platform that, when combined with the Microsoft SQL Server database, allows ASP.NET Core applications to be written and run on multiple different platforms and devices. In other words, it's a way to future-proof your efforts. Yes, it requires a certain amount of effort in the short-term. But once you do it, it will pave the way for the next decade (and beyond) of your organization's success.
In the end, understand that a web-based database application allows you to empower your employees to gain access to the essential data they need to do their jobs more efficiently. Not only that, but they can be productive literally from anywhere, on any device, at any time. They're also able to do so in a way that is inherently scalable - meaning it continues to grow and evolve as your business does the same around it.
Not only does this enable your company to operate in a more efficient way, but it also allows you to stay ahead of your competition - which may very well be the most important benefit of all.
To find out more information about our ASP.NET software development outsourcing capabilities, or if you’d like to discuss a web-based database application development need with Keene Systems CEO, Lance Keene click here to book a call with him. You can also download our eBook - Why ASP.NET Development Services Fuels Business Growth - to learn more about this essential topic.