The Blanchard Exchange has helped cut costs and streamline operations in other areas as well. Five years ago, as the company expanded globally, it encountered problems getting shipments of workbooks through customs in some countries. "We weren't in a position to pay off people in order to get them through," says Orletsky, adding that in one case, the company was unable to deliver a shipment to India, leaving "classes of students high and dry." The cloud-based exchange helps the company avoid such roadblocks. "There are no borders to digital transition of materials," says Orletsky.
The exchange is also more secure than earlier delivery methods. In the old days, the company used special bindings, plastic tabs and special colors to thwart pirating of its printed intellectual property. Now its materials are protected electronically.
The Blanchard Exchange will include homegrown digital rights management tools to keep track of what customers download and where they do it. "A lot of digital rights management platforms are so restrictive in terms of how people consume our stuff," Orletsky says. "We thought we could do it ourselves by having something useful and easy to use in an FTP platform and have people pick what they want and the number of copies they print."
Blanchard has also found another silver lining to the cloud: a disaster recovery solution. "Every company needs reliable off-premises storage," says Orletsky. "The cloud is where this stuff belongs. It's cheaper and more convenient than anything else."
He says the Blanchard Exchange will be fully operational in late 2013. The first phase, completed this summer, included storage and managed distribution of all electronic documentation in Amazon S3. Phase 2 will provide client delivery and some customer self-service. The final test phase will focus on modularization, which will allow customers to select their own courseware from a lineup of 300 products.
Customers Pay Safely With Secure Mobile App and Device
More than a quarter (26%) of the Computerworld 2013 Forecast survey respondents who are engaged in testing said they're developing security technologies. For example, Esco, an IT company serving the loan settlement industry, and its Portsmouth, Va.-based subsidiary MyCaPa have developed a secure Android app that's designed to eliminate the need to show a credit card when making a payment in a restaurant or store.
"Our goal here is to eliminate fraud," says Esco CIO Paul Robert. "The main source of fraud with credit cards is that the merchant has enough information from your credit card that if it gets into the wrong hands, then fraud happens. So let's eliminate that information from the credit card cycle."