Cloud computing makes a lot of sense for small and medium businesses. Saving on costs and providing an agile, dynamic service is much more easily done when you’re not relying on aging hardware and one-size-fits-all software.
So, what are small businesses choosing as they adopt cloud services? We’ll take you through what we think are the 5 best cloud based services and what they can offer your business:
Xero has been a player in the cloud-based accounting arena since 2006 – so small businesses can be sure they’re working with an established and well thought-through product if they decide to adopt it for their accounting needs. Being cloud-based, you can get an accurate handle on company finances from any device at any time – whether that’s cash flow, up to the minute transactions or just overall account info.
It’s not just the bigger picture financials that Xero does well, there are also great tools for handling personal expenses – down to the review and approval of individual receipts, as well as an area that lets you manage supplier, bill and payroll payments – all vitally important when it comes to managing business relationships.
If you’re one of the many small businesses whose marketing strategy includes maintaining a social media presence – then finding an easy to user interface that covers all the important networks is a must. Hootsuite does exactly this. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and WordPress – plus many others are fully compatible.
When there are so many bases to cover and so much information to put out, managing social media for your business can feel like a daunting task. With Hootsuite, you can post across multiple platforms with a few clicks – and when you’ve got to grips with their scheduling tools – you’ll literally be doing it in your sleep.
Marketing experts will tell you, no matter how impressive your social media following – a business can live or die by its email marketing strategies. Mailchimp helps you to do it right – giving you a place from which you can manage your mailing lists, newsletters, campaigns and more.
With the aid of a ‘what you see is what you get’ email builder, you can produce professional looking email campaigns that look like you’ve spent years honing your design and coding skills. Send your mails with the help of some simple but powerful targeting tools – and delve as deep into the results as you want with unrivalled analytics tools.
Now all your smart cloud-based marketing has developed opportunities and customers – SalesForce is by far and away the best way to manage those relationships. From its development in 1999 SalesForce has been cloud-based, so you can say goodbye to the cost and complexity experienced with other CRM software.
There’s far more to SalesForce than being just a customer database – in depth sales, service, marketing, customer retention, brand community, app integration, ecommerce and analysis tools means that SalesForce is likely to always offer more features than you’ll need – until you’re a global enterprise!
1. MICROSOFT OFFICE 365
Our number one is a product that stands head and shoulders above any other cloud service out there – Microsoft Office 365. Part of the reason we’ve put it in the top-spot is how unbelievably adaptable it is – which we feel is one of the biggest reasons small businesses should be adopting cloud based services.
Being cloud-based Office 365 stands alone from Windows – meaning it can be used over a wide variety of devices and operating systems; whether that’s from the comfort of your desk – to tweaking and emailing a quote 10 minutes before a big presentation, miles from the office. The huge OneDrive for Business storage solution keeps everything neatly in one place.
Office 365 takes a huge amount of anxiety away from small-business decision makers too, whether that’s removing logistical stress – like knowing your data is safe from disaster, compliant with the latest legislation and accessible always – or reducing the IT headaches of working across different versions – with different licences and costs. Office 365 is neat, there’s simple per-month per-user costs and above all – it’s secure.
With 365, Microsoft have taken a new approach to the features offered by the product. Rather than hoping that their one-size fits all businesses – you can select from a range of options, meaning you’re getting a product that is perfect for your small business.
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