I’m increasingly leaning on web based applications and find that they are maturing quite nicely. I’ve been using Google Apps for some time to handle a number of things.
Zoho.com just announced a business version of its robust suite of business communication tools.
It’s suite of tools is robust, including a word processor, CRM, collaboration tool and several more useful tools. The business version offers a number of improvements over the personal and free version.
For small businesses, leveraging tools like Zoho dramatically speed up your collaborative environment. While Microsoft’s line of products are very good and “industry standard”, small businesses often need products that are simpler to use, possibly cheaper and faster and easier to install.
What’s inside the business version of Zoho?
Single sign on across applications
Company level administration console
Multiple levels of security including SSL
Document and data storage management self service
In August CDW released a report/study of some of its customers that have grown from small to medium sized businesses, with small being less than 100 employees.
One of the lessons learned was: Put the IT rubber to the business road. Capture the full advantage of technology your company acquires by looking for ways to apply it in production/project management, supply chain, business development and other high-return applications – and train your employees to use it.
Asked what their biggest IT mistake had been over the years, respondents’ top pick was, “Not taking advantage of the technology we did acquire,” and they ranked major technology applications for the most significant impact they had provided to the bottom lines of their companies.
If your business is still operating in a “PC” based mentality you are not leveraging technology to your full potential. This mentality is one where information is locked in hard disks or owned by fiefdoms of employees. Although a customer bought 5 leather bags from you, this information should not only reside with sales, or even worse one person in sales. Marketing should have a view into this customer data as well to better plan online advertising campaigns, for example.
Typing data into Excel and hitting save is NOT the way to go. Your data needs to be RELEASED (to authorized users) and leveraged, leveraged, leveraged.
Microsoft Office Live is a step in the right direction for many small businesses as it leverages the power of Microsoft Office. For others a tool from Zimbra, Google Apps, WebEx Office, HyperOffice.net or others might make more sense.