We all use cloud services in one way or another. When you access your Gmail, use Facebook and store photos online, you are actually leveraging cloud services. For small businesses, saving money, increasing productivity and enhancing uptime are some of the major reasons why a move toward the cloud computing platforms available today should be given priority. Regardless of what industry you are in, there are enough cloud computing tools to help you run your company in the cloud. Let’s take a look at some of the more common cloud computing platforms that you can leverage as a small business owner:
Harvest is a time-tracking and online invoicing cloud service. It offers users the ability to see a distributed visual report of a company’s resources. With Harvest, you can create online invoices, bill clients, get paid online and view employee and contractor timesheets. Harvest also offers detailed data reports that can be filtered by project, staff and in other ways. You can then determine how time is being spent, which easily helps to manage projects. The time-tracking feature is especially handy when working on time-sensitive projects or projects that are paid on an hourly basis. Time tracking using Harvest can be done anytime and anywhere. You can even track time via your mobile device, widgets, Twitter or Gmail.
If you deal with large amounts of data that need to be backed up frequently, then Carbonite is a handy cloud platform to easily manage your backups. It works for multiple computers within a small organization and keeps track of each computer that is running the application. Once installed, Carbonite does all the backing up in the background for each computer every time it detects an internet connection. Restoring backed up files is as easy as backing them up. With a few mouse clicks, files are restored to their original computers or to another designated drive. A browser-based dashboard lets you monitor the backup status of each computer in your organization.
ZenDesk is a customer help cloud platform that lets you centralize your customer conversations making it easy to offer support services. It offers ticket management, reporting and analytics tools, self service, branding & integration services and tools to make the customer experience quick, efficient and more manageable. Ticket management is especially critical to a business since it helps to quickly identify high-priority issues and respond to them, automate certain responses and collaborate with others. ZenDesk allows a user to monitor support trends, ticket volume metrics and analyze customer satisfaction ratings to better provide support to clients. ZenDesk also integrates with other products to provide a seamless experience across your organization.
In addition to the above platforms, Google and Microsoft have created their own cloud tools and services, and integrated them with their already existing services. When selecting a cloud computing platform, determine your industry, customers and employees and choose a platform that will result into a smooth seamless transition and that will most effectively serve the needs of all three.
What cloud tools and services have you been using and which would you recommend to other small business owners? Share your comments below.