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Inside Dental Technology
April 2020
Volume 11, Issue 4

In the Cloud, the Sky’s the Limit

Daniel Alter, MSc, MDT, CDT

The grander digital landscape structure in the laboratory industry requires a superior and robust digital footprint in order to facilitate expansion of our businesses. This digital footprint requires appropriate and skillful management in order to attain the desired and intended benefits. But how can laboratories of various sizes engage, manage, and optimize this technology, and harness the tremendous power and opportunities it offers? 

When one speaks of digital in the dental industry, the focus is typically focused on digital smile design and the manufacturing of dental prosthetics. While those are a big part of a laboratory's digital footprint, digital capabilities feature in so many ancillary functions that are critical to the business's success and require an equal amount of managing effort, such as: laboratory management software, customer relationship management (CRM), strategic marketing platforms, human resources and payroll, and data storage with appropriate and multiple redundancies, to name a few. A prudent laboratory owner and manager must monitor the efficiency as well as the security of their laboratory's expanding digital footprint. Many laboratories have invested in IT services, equipment/servers, and professionals to manage, maintain, and secure the large amount of data sets that are flowing through their laboratories. In recent years, cloud-based platforms have offered laboratories a different way of managing their digital footprint and in many ways have alleviated certain risks associated with data breaches, as well as the expenses incurred with deploying localized data storage and management systems. Furthermore, upgrades and data backup can become costly and disruptive when done during business hours, but for a reasonable monthly subscription fee, the cloud-based software is up to date 24/7/365, requiring no manual upgrades or data backup reducing the need for that level of technical expertise in the office.

Appropriate and reliable data storage and access to it is of great importance in a consistently evolving and growing digital manufacturing laboratory. Having the ability to store digital impression files, design files, images, prototypes, and all their modalities in a reliable off-site contact point can be incredibly beneficial. The laboratory no longer needs to be concerned with reaching their server's storage capacity or to create redundancies to protect against potential data losses, both of which can incur hardware upgrade costs. The cloud storage platform covers all of that, as well as access to your data files from anywhere in the world at any time of the day. However, it is important to do proper due diligence when selecting cloud-based platforms for your laboratory, so that the services align with your laboratory's needs; there are some big, well-known players in the space like Amazon and Microsoft, but there are many smaller niche cloud providers too.

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