Top cloud software solutions for business
In 2013, Australia was leading the pack in terms of cloud adoption. No surprise there, considering Aussies are known as early adopters of technology. Whilst others are still unsure of the benefits of cloud computing, the majority of businesses here have already been using at least one cloud service. SME’s in particular are using the cloud to expand or upgrade their IT infrastructure at reduced costs.
Right now there is no shortage of cloud-based solutions for businesses in the market. To get you started, here are the leading cloud-based solutions for SMEs:
A cloud-based office suite offers anywhere, anytime and on-the-go access and cost savings over traditional desktop software.
- Office 365 – If you rely heavily on Microsoft Office to get things done, this suite is perfect for you. Aside from your basic Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Outlook for emails, you’ll also have SharePoint (site builder), Lync (instant messaging and video conferencing), Skydrive (storage),and more. Microsoft takes care of the IT maintenance tasks such as patching and infrastructure support costs. It’s compatible with PC, Mac, and tablets. Plans are available for small business, midsize business, and enterprise.
- Google Apps – Its basic features are very similar to that of Office 365. You have Docs (word processing), Sheets (spreadsheets), Slides (presentations), Gmail (emails), Drive (storage), Talk (instant messaging), Hangouts (video conferencing), Sites (site builder) and Google+ (social network). Your email comes from your own domain (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) and you can access 24/7 customer support, benefit from a 99.9 per cent uptime guarantee, add unlimited users, business controls and security. You can choose between two plans or sign up on a 30-day free trial if you want to test it out first.
- Zoho Office – Developed by ZOHO Corporation, Zoho Office has an easy-to-use layout and contains Writer (word processing), Sheet (spreadsheets), Show (presentations), Mail (emails), Calendar, databases, note-taking, wikis, customer relationship management, project management, invoicing, and other applications.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
One of the most important things to keep track of in business is your relationship with clients. It is also essential to give attention to your investors, pay vendors, and track employee workflow. Doing these tasks separately is tedious. But with cloud-based CRM software, you can manage all these effectively. For a small business, a CRM system may simply help put data in the cloud, making it accessible in real time, across any device. But as you grow, a CRM System can quickly expand to include more sophisticated features. The top cloud based CRM systems are:
- Sales Cloud (SalesForce) – Arguably the most popular CRM solution in the market. Sales Cloud supports your business objectives whether you are looking for a solution to provide basic customer/contact management and activity tracking or you need a more robust sales pipeline, quoting and contract management solution. It allows you to run your business on mobile, manage content in social media, get insights, optimise campaigns, set metrics-based goals, give coaching notes and more.
- NetSuite CRM+ – If you want a real-time 360-degree view of your customers, this one is for you. Basic features include sales force automation (SFA), marketing automation, customer support and service, and flexible customisation. Netsuite also claims to be the only CRM solution that is completely integrated with the back office order management, fulfillment, and financials.
- SugarCRM – Is an open-source, web-based CRM solution. It’s a complete CRM solution that automates your core sales, customer service and marketing processes. You’ll have real time sale performance dashboards and you can customise charts and reports based on key metrics.
- OnContact Software (WorkWise) – Has a functional design with various visual menus including customisable categories and options. It has split-screen view which allows users to view multiple windows at a time where you can do sales automation, market automation, analytic tools, contact management, collaboration tools, and channel management.
Cloud-based financial applications are slowly becoming the norm for businesses due to its many benefits such as access from anywhere, integration with other popular third party cloud applications and banking software, better backup, quicker bug fixes, and immediate access to upgrades.
- MYOB LiveAccounts – Is the main player in Australian bookkeeping. It’s a well-supported, double-entry accounting system with live bank feeds which shows automatic recording of all business account and credit card transactions. It uses a sophisticated error checking system to verify every transaction made.
- Xero – This Kiwi product can handle everything from invoices and customer payments to expense management, purchase orders, payroll, inventory tracking, bank account reconciliation, financial reporting and more. Xero can integrate with a wide range of eCommerce, point-of-sale (POS), customer relationship management (CRM) and other business applications.
- Saasu – One of the earliest cloud-based accounting solutions that has grown slowly but steadily ever since. It supports invoicing, expensing, purchasing, subscription payments, bank feeds, international currency, payroll, timekeeping, even inventory management.
Video Conferencing/Collaboration Solutions
You can always use Skype, Chromebox, Google Hangout, Microsoft’s Lync and other readily available online video conferencing platforms for your meetings. But you don’t want to risk a very important meeting with an unstable and unreliable platform that’s affected by existing firewall restrictions, incompatibility with existing systems, bandwidth constraints, etc.
What you need is a high-quality and reliable cloud-based video conferencing solution that can be conducted from a variety of different devices and across multiple networks.
- Telstra Hosted Video Conferencing – This is a much simpler and cost-effective alternative to purchasing complex infrastructure. Their solutions can also interwork with your existing infrastructure should you wish to utilise your previous investments. Core infrastructure is located on their network and managed by Telstra, while equipment such as video units, cameras and speakers are located at your office. You also have the flexibility of different types of network access (Telstra Next IP video network or your existing Telstra Next IP data virtual private network) depending on your needs.
- Blue Jeans – It’s multi-vendor, multi-device interoperability. All parties can easily connect to the same Blue Jeans meeting using their platform of choice (Cisco, Polycom, LifeSize, Microsoft Lync, or Google Video Chat). They recently added record and share features to its platform, allowing participants to record video, audio, and web meetings, and also share recordings with colleagues, partners, and customers.
Knowing what’s available and which options best suit your goals and needs is crucial to your business success and staying ahead of the competition.
Providing the leading managed IT services and IT services in Sydney, Centrix can help you assess the best cloud options for your small business or large enterprise. Contact us if you’re ready to make the move.