By Ali Reza
As technology continues to advance, more businesses are turning to cloud-based applications and services. Cloud computing allows them to access a wide range of services without the added expense of having to create and manage a physical infrastructure. Files and data are available at their fingertips from remote locations. This is especially beneficial for small businesses that are looking to operate more efficiently and cost effectively.
Cloud-based applications are available for a multitude of areas from customer relationship management (CRM) and human resources (HR) to accounting, project management, and more. There are hundreds of apps to choose from, so selecting the best one for your small business can take some time and research. Explore your options to see what fits your specific needs. Here are a few worth checking out:
Dropbox: Whether you have remote employees or are constantly on the go, Dropbox gives you access to your files when you need them. You can save any type of file including spreadsheets, photos, videos, and music and give others access from wherever they are. This makes file sharing a snap and keeps your email from getting clogged with large files. Employees can work from home or on the road and still have access to all of the files that they may need and share with others.
Skype: Forget costly international phone calls or traveling to meet with colleagues or clients. With Skype you can use your computer as a phone. You can video chat or message your contacts to hold meetings and talk in real time. In addition, you can also send and receive files. Keep in touch with the click of a button and see when others are available and online to chat.
DocuSign: Tracking documents that require signatures can be costly and frustrating especially if they need to be sent to multiple people. With DocuSign you can electronically mail important files and designate exactly where each person should sign. All they have to do is follow the program instructions and their electronic signature is added and the file is returned to you. This is a secure and legal way to quickly and efficiently get documents signed and have a digital copy on file.
Salesforce: CRM is an essential part of a successful business. With Salesforce you can boost your sales pipeline and better manage your leads throughout the entire process. You can also create more customized marketing tactics and collaborate more effectively. With the analytics component you can drive solutions and evaluate the impact of different strategies and projects. Choose one service or many services depending on your needs and customer interactions.
Google Apps: Google offers a wide variety of cloud-based apps that can be beneficial for keeping small businesses organized and connected. You can store and send files, share calendars for easier planning, and hold group conferences with Hangouts. Employees have access to the information they need when they need it and it can be constantly updated.
HootSuite: Social media has become an integral part of business, marketing, and customer engagement. With one app you can manage all of your social media accounts and schedule posts to be released automatically on the date and time of your choosing. Track clicks, shares, mentions, and interactions with your posts on different platforms to better analyze what is working well and what is not. If your business is using Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, WordPress, or any combination of these platforms, HootSuite can make social media management much easier and provide valuable data.
These are just a few of the apps available to help you better manage and grow your small business. Consider the time and money you can save by moving some of your services to the cloud and how much easier it could be to keep everyone connected and share essential information. Give employees more flexibility with where they are able to work from and how they interact with clients and data. There are also many processes in place to keep your information safe and secure while still allowing remote access to designated individuals.
If you are looking for ways to streamline operations, improve efficiency, and cut costs, it may be time to invest in some cloud-based applications for your small business. If you have any questions on what app is right for your business, feel free to contact me as I provide business consulting services to businesses of all size.