New research has revealed small and medium businesses using cloud technology are much more likely to experience positive financial and operational results, yet most still aren’t making the move.
The latest survey out from MYOB has revealed that businesses using cloud computing were 53% more likely to see a rise in revenue in the past year. Despite this, just 14% of surveyed small businesses had adopted the latest technology.
“Despite the technology industry’s best efforts to teach others about the concept of cloud computing, our research shows a disconnect between SME cloud usage and their understanding of it.” MYOB CEO Tim Reed says.
Managing minions, conversing with clients and accruing accounts all from your portable computer... it seems like a lot to do. But if you design your business to operate entirely from cloud computing it can be like having an office on your lap.
For those unschooled in the cloud concept, it works like this.
Software applications, data and storage resources are all accessed from an external server via the internet. Instead of buying hardware and a software package, you rent it from someone and they deliver it online.
As long as you’re on the internet, everything operates as if it was on your computer. Simple.
To get a feel for how seamless the whole operation can be, let’s look at three very handy online applications that make the remote management process possible.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Apps
The most dynamic and helpful of cloud computing apps are in customer relationship management. CRM apps integrate your contact management, payment processing, automated marketing and task management on one simple platform.
The contact management features can build comprehensive customer profiles, detailing referral, purchase and email histories all in the one spot. Using this database, marketing campaigns can be easily co-ordinated with the automation of emails, faxes, voicemail and even letters to your client lists.
Another useful aspect is the ability to set up flexible, collaborative project pages where you can manage all your tasks and allow others to have their input in the process.
These CRM apps very affordable (Free-$600 per month), operate entirely online, and are centralised to allow everyone in your team to work on the same system remotely. It’s like having a marketing team, receivables department and meeting room all on your computer.
Intranet and Storage Apps
If you don’t need something as comprehensive as a CRM platform, or wish to combine other programs to similar effect, there are intranet and storage apps that serve the need for collaborative forums.
On these apps you can create project pages, to-do lists, meetings and schedules to share with your team. Everyone can then have ongoing input as well as see how business is tracking without the need for face to face meetings.
All your work can be stored for round the clock access by anyone you need, anywhere.
Once you’ve got the platform to get your work done, you just need to be able to engage your staff and clients from afar. Whether this is just to touch base or hold a conference, it’s important to get some ‘face time’ in and video call and messaging apps allow just that.
Instant messages are included on these platforms, and are good for informal, short messages, however the real value is in the video communication. These apps make it very cheap and easy to keep in the loop on a personalised level without being there in person.
With these three applications, along with a number of supplementary ones covering accounting to card scanning, it’s just a matter of migrating your business to your preferred system and accessing it from up in the cloud.
The added bonus is that you can stay up to date with the latest technology because you don’t actually buy the expensive software, you just pay for what you use.
You see, software is no longer a product but a service, and the flexibility it allows your working life is really up to you. Plus, on the back of the latest research, there are serious financial incentives of doing so too.Want more on small business tech trends? Grab the KBB Newsletter here.