The Cloud (a.k.a. the Internet) provides terrific technology solutions for small businesses. There are several benefits of cloud services including the ability to avoid costly hardware and infrastructure costs, infinite scalability, low to no cost of entry, and ease of access from anywhere in the world via the web. Here are a few of my favorites:
What would cloud services be without massive data storage capabilities! There are a ton of service providers in this arena. I prefer Box as it has a very easy to use interface, makes it very easy for customers to access files, granular security, and best of all…everything is encrypted so privacy is assured. Cost of entry is free with up to 50GB of storage. Learn more at www.box.com.
There are many cloud based accounting systems available. The industry leader is QuickBooks. Their QuickBooks Online offering starts with a zero cost of entry and provides industry leading accounting solutions. We use the plus version at $39/month and haven’t seen any drop off from the full desktop version. A few nice benefits: online banking integration, easy accountant access, access from anywhere via the web, a nice iPad application for basic functions, online payments, easy email invoices/statements, and great reporting. Over the last couple of years Intuit has made great quality improvements on this offering. You can find more at http://quickbooksonline.intuit.com/
Need a project management solution? Need crazy simple and infinitely customizable? Check out WeDoIst at www.wedoist.com. I love this cloud service, and you can get started for free. WeDoIst provides an excellent tool to keep projects moving along smoothly…works especially well with distributed teams.
HighRise is a contact relationship management system (CRM) that is super easy to use. 37signals, the creators of HighRise, do an amazing job of making beautifully simple software. If you dig web 2.0 stuff like WeDoIst, then HighRise is a no brainer. These guys took the opposite approach from SalesForce and made CRM fun and extraordinarily easy to use. You can check it out at http://highrisehq.com.
Another favorite cloud service is Carbonite. Carbonite allows you to forget about backup systems. Starting at $55/year, Carbonite provides unlimited storage and instantaneous backup protection for your desktops, laptops, or servers. Not only do you get off-site backup protection, you can also access your files via secure login from anywhere in the world via the web. File or system restoration is also a breeze…I’ve actually had to restore a system off of Carbonite. While traveling, I’ve often found myself grabbing files that I needed from my office system. If you don’t have a backup solution…install Carbonite today! Check it out at www.carbonite.com.
There are many amazing cloud services available these days; these are 5 of my current favorites. Leave a comment and let me know what your favorite services are. If you need help getting set up with any of the services listed above or if you want to talk about migrating your office to the cloud let us know about your project here.