If you were in the market for a Rolex, and were offered one for $150, naturally one would assume it was a poor quality phony. Well, the reason cloud computing is so successful for small business is that it doesn’t fit that mould.
By Karl Sice, Head of Staples Technology Solutions, Australia and New Zealand
If you were in the market for a Rolex, and were offered one for $150, naturally one would assume it was a poor quality phony. Well, the reason cloud computing is so successful for small business is that it doesn’t fit that mould. Think more along the lines of: you get the real deal for as long as you need, and as many as you need for any occasion, but you are leasing it from Mama Rolex.
Small businesses are turning to cloud solutions in droves thanks to its efficiency, scalability and the feature-rich business apps on offer. It’s also very cost effective for many small businesses managing cash flow as the software expenditure moves from CAPEX to OPEX in the form of a monthly subscription fee, and hardware costs for infrastructure like servers are eliminated altogether.
However, there remains a great deal of confusion around what options are available and why they are so compelling. Staples Technology Solutions advises thousands of customers on a suite of different cloud solutions to help their businesses excel. The following three have proven to be the most popular starting-points for Aussie small businesses as they embark on their cloud migration journey.
Productivity and Collaboration - Office 365
The most integrated cloud solution of its kind, Microsoft Office 365, offers access to all the familiar Office software such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access and Publisher, as well as a suite of other features that Microsoft is improving on constantly.
More than the email management tool, Outlook, which most businesses use daily, Office 365 has a portal of additional features that provide easier communication and sharing. Office 365 makes remote working and sharing documents straightforward and secure with Office Online and SharePoint. Managing work during travel and offices offshore is easy thanks to Skype for Business, and integration with Yammer. Essentially doing business with clients around the world is now easier than ever.
Accounting – Xero and MYOB
Cloud accounting software has freed up hours of admin time each month for small businesses with easy to use solutions that even staff with no financial background can navigate effectively.
Xero and MYOB are among the most popular cloud products in this category and allow the user to easily churn out invoices, pay employees, enter expenses, review balance sheets and run effective P&Ls.
So what’s the difference between providers? Essentially these tools play a similar function although a review of the most recent online feedback uncovered newer kid on the block, Xero, has been applauded for its speed, ease of use and aesthetic appeal above MYOB.
End Point Security – Sophos and Symantec
Entrepreneurs and small business owners are by in large highly connected people. They live in an environment where they need to be reachable by staff if something urgent arises or by customers in order to never miss a sale.
Every remote device connected to the network: a smartphone, tablet or laptop creates a potential entry point for security threats. Many employees and business owners run multiple devices and are unaware of these potential threats.
Endpoint security cloud software, such as Sophos and Symantec, protects your corporate network when accessed via remote devices which protects customer data, commercially sensitive IP and other valuable information your organisation holds.
Overall, Aussie businesses are early adopters where new technology is concerned, a mindset that may have to do with our geographic location. Nearly every week I’m hearing about a new and innovative cloud-based system that could benefit business. It would be impossible to try them all so I would recommend small businesses invest in advice that can help them navigate what’s available and the right fit for their business. This will enable businesses to subscribe to the best solution specifically for them and not waste time or resources on what is unnecessary or irrelevant.
Karl Sice is head of Staples Technology Solutions in Australia and New Zealand which provides technology solutions to a wide range of businesses in Australia and New Zealand, as well as throughout Staples’ global network. Staples works collaboratively with its customers to enable procurement professionals to efficiently manage technology solutions, office products and services programs with a low cost-to-serve model.