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The 5 Best Ways For Startups And Small Business To Leverage The Cloud

The 5 Best Ways For Startups And Small Business To Leverage The Cloud

The number of cloud apps targeted at small businesses and startups has exploded in the past few years. While hundreds of new cloud apps come out every month, many of the categories are still not mature enough for enterprise usage. Some applications are highly suited to the cloud (such as communication management), while other applications (such as video editing) are still more suited to the desktop.

This distinction is especially important for small businesses who don’t have a big IT team to fix the issues. In this post, I will cover the top five cloud categories that have matured and are ready for small businesses to leverage the best out of.

1. Backup files and documents

This is one of the fundamental ways to tap into the power of the cloud and the most mature category in cloud computing. While traditional backups incur a high cost to keep updated, cloud apps provide easy ways to store, sync and retrieve data. In fact, cloud backup should be an essential part of every business disaster management strategy. While Dropbox is the leader in the category, there are also others in contention for the top spot. Read our review.

2. Create and manage documents

While Microsoft Office might seem indispensable, you should give Google Docs, Office 365 and Zoho Suite a try for document management. The advantages of cloud-based document tools include lower upfront costs (from as low as $3/user/month for Zoho), easy sharing of documents with coworkers and clients, the ability to work from multiple platforms, and an inbuilt backup solution. While the features have not yet fully matched desktop office tools, for most small businesses these cloud apps provide a convenient alternative at an attractive pricing.

3. Communication Management

Communication management is another category that really belongs to the cloud. The options include Google Apps for emails and chat, and Twilio and Skype for voice and text messaging. The advantage of using Google Apps over managing your own exchange or other email server include better out-of-the-box security, lower costs and top-notch spam management.      

4. Office Productivity Tools

This category ranges from project management tools to accounting and  Customer Relations Management (CRM) tools. Salesforce and 37 Signals are the leaders in this sector. Among the best tools available are Basecamp (project management), Highrise (CRM), Zendesk (customer support), Wunderlist (task tracking) and Freshbooks (invoicing and accounting).

5. Note-taking and Collaboration

As the work force gets increasingly mobile, it is imperative that collaboration tools are built to enable teams to get more productive in a dynamic setting. There are a number of cloud-based tools to undertake Web research and idea collaboration. Evernote is the leader in the category, although other tools such as Springpad are getting closer.

By Balaji Viswanathan

Balaji

Balaji Viswanathan is the founder of Agni Innovation Labs that helps startups and small businesses with their marketing and tech strategy. He has a Masters in Computer Science from the University of Maryland and has been blogging for the past 7 years on technology and business related topics.

2 Responses to The 5 Best Ways For Startups And Small Business To Leverage The Cloud

  1. Cloud computing is now leveraging SMEs to access new markets and promote their products and services throughout the world. The imperative to innovate in today’s business climate is encouraging more SMEs to consider the cloud for their technology value-add. The low cost of entry, greater efficiency and fast access from pay as you go hosted cloud services eliminating the need of internal data storage, CRM systems and email servers.

  2. Thanks for your post, Balaji. I would add one more to your list: security. SMBs often find it difficult and time-consuming to remain up-to-date on security defenses, but with security based in the cloud, they can ensure updates are automatically managed in real-time, and they never even have to touch it. Users should look for security-as-a-service solutions that offer stringent and comprehensive service level agreements (SLAs). Additionally, with security off their hands, SMB IT managers will free up hours of time to focus on other activities that will increase efficiency and innovation.
     
    Chris Halcon
    Symantec

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