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by Jane Larson | March 18, 2013
Are smartphones and tablets taking over your workplace, becoming necessary tools for connecting with employees and growing your business?

If the answer is yes, read on. Advances in technology, coupled with changes in an increasingly global marketplace, are challenging business leaders. Better methods of integrating information about employees, partners, and customers to drive desired behaviors must be implemented. The ability to integrate information becomes a strong competitive advantage when skillfully combined with performance improvement initiatives, which is where integrated cloud incentive strategies come in.

Cloud computing connects, engages, and motivates people, because they can gather information more easily. It improves internal communication and fosters collaboration that can improve productivity. The social environment enhances sales effectiveness, because employees can more easily nurture competitive intelligence, find answers for clients, and stay updated on the status of their customers.

At ITAGroup in West Des Moines, IA, we operate our PerformanceSuite app for a Fortune 500 client as a cloud-based referral generation program housed in Salesforce.com. By using the cloud, the client's customer service reps (CSRs) have access to integrated data that helps them resolve issues quickly without geographic or infrastructure issues. Upon resolution, CSRs can instantly notify the sales team with details about a lead that could influence deal size and win rate.

David Reisner, ITAGroup director of strategic design and integration, explains: "With a cloud-based app, there's no need for data transfers to program websites. You eliminate the headache of manually transferring data from other websites or internal systems - saving time and money. You can easily communicate and build program excitement digitally."

Employee reward and recognition programs also become more robust and dynamic with the cloud. Imagine a world where peer and manager recognition can be immediately shared publicly and amplified by others. Jaimee Chism, an ITAGroup employee engagement consultant notes that "as cloud-based social recognition happens, role models quickly become evident and best practices that support corporate priorities and objectives are aligned and strengthened."

When information is shared, accumulated, and integrated in the cloud, it can also be compiled and analyzed for management purposes. Whether you're tracking participation, redemption activity, leadership, or other performance trends, you can monitor incentive spend and readily analyze ROI. Human resources reports assist with professional development and performance management, yet another benefit of using the social enterprise approach.

The ability to access information regardless of device, location, or operating system via cloud computing provides agility and reduces costs. "Cloud solutions are creating a new marketplace for incentive programs to happen," says Reisner.

If you're interested in cloud-based performance improvement programs, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do you require more immediate flexibility?
2. Do you need to direct programs to unique audience segments?
3. Do you need more cost-effective solutions?
4. Do you want faster speed-to-market for growth-spurt activities?
5. Are you willing to implement simple program rules?6 Are you able to move your sales process to the cloud? 

In the end, growth in web apps, ease of use, and greater acceptance of the cloud make it a natural vehicle for incentive delivery.

Jane Larson is a resource manager with ITAGroup in West Des Moines. She oversees the Center of Excellence under the Strategic Design and Integration umbrella and has been in the incentive industry since 1990. She can be reached at jlarson@itagroup.com.