Growth in Small Business Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has been around for a number of years now. In the last two quarters of 2012 we saw an increase in Birmingham based small business owners wanting to know more about the cloud and how it can help their business.
2012 was a busy year for us with many new clients coming on-board with all of them wanting us to assist them in moving to the cloud in some form. As Birmingham's only IT Support company that specialises purely in cloud based solutions we are in the best position to help these companies learn and transfer into the cloud. All our clients have saved a good amount of operational costs by moving to the cloud. Some of our new clients moving from Office 365 have saved a small fortune per year in the process.
For 2013 we expect cloud computing to grow massively as more small businesses take advantage of the cost saving and added functionality the cloud brings. If your company does not take advantage of it, your competitor will.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is a funny term and can be very confusing. To make matters worse there are many products which claim to be cloud based when in fact only a small element of the product is. SalesForce which provide cloud based CRM software made the video below and to date it is the best one we have seen explaining cloud computing. Its really worth a watch if you're not sure or need a quick recap.
3 Excellent Cloud Computing Applications for Small Business
Now you know what cloud computing is (you did watch the 3 minute video above, right?) here are three of the best Cloud based applications we use with our small business clients in Birmingham. These apps are ideal for any small business or start-up wanting to get the operational side of their business running well.
Google Apps for Business:
Google Apps for Business is one of the leading and most trusted small business cloud computing systems. Its Google's product to compete against Microsoft 365 and has been highly successful. Attracting business of all sizes away from Microsoft to Google Apps. Qualities such as a simple licensing structure of £30/user/year with everything included from email, documents, data and more. Minimal requirements of only a web browser to connect to the service. Access to all your stuff while you on the move through your mobile phone, tablet or laptop. And with it being 100% cloud based there are no regular updates to download and install and no new versions to buy. Are all helping to attract more and more savvy small business owners to Google Apps.
An additional point often missed is that Google Apps is cross-platform. Meaning it will run on any operating system, saving small businesses a fortune as they no longer need to pay for expensive Windows licenses and opening the window (pun intended) to using a host of alternative operating systems.
You can find our more about Google Apps on our website.
Kashflow is a leading cloud based accountancy package. We have been using it since the start of 2012. Being cloud based your finance team can access your small businesses financial data securely from anywhere in the world. Additionally, it plugs directly into HMRC so submitting VAT returns is a doddle. There is a big gallery of reports that can be generated so you know exactly what is going on in your business. In addition, Kashflow also manages your invoicing, quotes, customers and suppliers and whole heap more.
One of the nicest features of Kashflow is its ability to plug into many third party services. We use a company called GoCardless to take payments which are seamlessly and automatically entered into our accounts. Meaning our finance team no longer has to match payments to invoices - its just done.
Many of the big brand accountancy packages have cloud versions of their software. However, we are yet to come across a package as well built and functional as Kashflow. At £17.99 a month it is a no brainier for your business.
MailChimp is a cloud based Email Marketing and Email List Manager. Their product is really good if you need to send monthly emails out to your clients. You will get detailed reports of who opened your emails, how long they took to read them, which emails generated the most traffic or leads etc.
MailChimp has been in the email marketing business for a long time and abide by internet etiquette and laws and are recognised by all most all internet service providers. So the chances of your emails ending up in the spam label is greatly reduced.
MailChimp offer a free model that lets you send to 2000 email address per month. They also have paid packages if you need more features or a larger email quota. One nice additional bonus for Google Apps users is that MailChimp fully integrates with Google Apps.