Cloud computing solutions should be the natural option for small businesses. In a recent survey released by Spiceworks, 62% of the SMBs interviewed reported that they are using some type of cloud application. Most of them are using cloud services as tools for file-sharing, but haven’t moved into online productivity applications. According to the survey cloud-based productivity suites have the lowest adoption rate. Nearly two out of three businesses have no plans to use cloud-based productivity suites. Only 14% of those surveyed are currently using cloud-based productivity suites, and another 22% are thinking about adopting these services sometime in the future.
Especially for small businesses, the cloud environment brings the most valuable benefits. The physical infrastructure deployment and maintenance, the need for specialized IT staff and the expensive software updates are just some of the aspects small businesses would not worry about if they would switch to cloud-based applications. But let’s see what kinds of productivity tools are out there in the cloud for SMBs:
- Online file storing and sharing tools. There are many options online now, which I discussed in my previous article: The Best Cloud Storage Solutions. The best cloud-based file storing and sharing tools are Dropbox, Microsoft SkyDrive and Box.
- Team collaboration tools are able to track tasks assigned to different people, and support projects milestones. Some of the most used team collaboration tools are Evernote, Teamly, and Basecamp.
- Email is one of the first tools that went to the cloud. Cloud email services are easy to setup and use. Plus they give access to critical information anywhere, anytime. The most used webmail services are Gmail and Outlook.
- Document collaboration tools allow employees to work together simultaneously on a particular document, spreadsheet or presentation. Google Drive, Office 365, and Zoho.
Cloud computing offers small businesses the great opportunities to reduce their costs, increase agility, and focus on their operations. Productivity applications such as email, documents, communication and collaboration are business-critical. Moving them to the cloud environment requires serious consideration of provider capabilities. A cloud computing vendor must provide reliable and secure services.
Photo source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1271673