For this week’s tip, we thought we’d talk about something that most businesses have already dabbled in: the cloud. If your business is like those that we interact with, you’ve already implemented some type of cloud service, but if you haven’t, you should know just how cloud-hosted services can benefit the small business. We’ll look at the benefits of cloud-hosted services and how to pick which services are right for you.
There are an endless supply of cloud-hosted services that any company can utilize to fill a need. In fact, many applications that you would use for your business have a cloud option.
If you are just buying software, why are they called “services”?
Not only are you getting the application, you are also getting the hosting, access control and other security options that are protecting your data, as well as the constant management and maintenance that these systems require; and, you are getting all of that for a consistent monthly rate.
Traditionally, software licenses were paid yearly and up front. However, the flexibility to acquire tools your business may only need for a short time allows you to do business without the eye-opening expenses that typically accompany these titles.
Another big benefit is that you gain increased mobility, since the application is available for anyone with a broadband Internet connection. It’s great for collaborative work such as content creation and project management.
How to Pick Which Cloud Services to Use
You know the software you use to manage workflow, customer relationships, marketing, productivity, and support. They are likely a costly line-item on your yearly IT budget. You use software to handle these parts of your business, because without them, they would be far too costly. So, some of your software, and the technology that runs it, should be hosted onsite, and managed and maintained by you. This is especially true if your business needs to meet government or industry regulations.
Take a quick look at how you handle your operations. Are there any parts of your business that you feel you are lacking tools for? Since any non-legacy software can be deployed through the cloud, considering your needs is where you need to start.
If you want to centralize your management, there are several options to choose from and most of these solutions have cloud-based options. The Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is one that many businesses use to manage their customer relationships. These platforms include features that allow you to manage your interactions, tasks, and contacts. More advanced CRMs, as well as Professional Services Automation (PSA) or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, provide a business with resources that will allow users to basically run their entire business, from procurement to distribution.
Many businesses utilize productivity solutions that are hosted in the cloud because it provides them with a scalable resource that will allow them to control software costs. Every business needs a spreadsheet program, a word processor, and presentation software. For this purpose, many businesses utilize cloud-hosted solutions that provide all these options to users.
Businesses often need specific productivity apps. These can be industry-specific software or just solutions that are designed exclusively for a business. In this case, there may not be any cloud services available, but if you are looking for the anywhere-anytime access that cloud-based services provide, you can purchase server space and host the application in your very own cloud platform. Since these applications will typically produce sensitive data, having more control over the system you are using to host it may be advantageous.
Some organizations are utilizing cloud-hosted security services to ensure that they aren’t inundated with unwanted traffic and malware. While most organizations have some form of network protection, by subscribing to security services you can receive the tools you need to ensure that your systems and data are secure.
One of the sectors of the cloud that is growing most rapidly is the use of cloud-hosted communications. Companies are switching to Internet-based phone systems, utilizing cloud-hosted email, and using cloud platforms to build better collaboration between their own departments.
If you are looking to add tools to your company’s tool belt, consider looking to the cloud. If you would like more information about how cloud-hosted services work, and how they can work for you, contact the team at Midnight Blue today at 412.342.3800 or click here.