CDW is one of the latest corporations offering Cloud-based services for sale. The company, which is known for providing storage media and equipment to businesses, will provide Salesforce.com access to its customers.
This move to the Cloud is no surprise for the retailer, considering CDW found in a 2011 tracking poll that 84 percent of Cloud users reported a noticeable savings by moving applications to the Cloud. The average savings reported in the poll was 21 percent annually. Acknowledging that Cloud-based offerings are the future of technology, businesses like CDW are finding ways to evolve offerings to keep up with trends.
“Traditional computer retailers like CDW are looking for more products and services to sell,” SmallBizTechnology’s Ramon Ray says. “Companies like Salesforce are looking for new avenues of marketing and sales opportunities.”
CDW won’t be the first company to offer a Cloud-based application to its customers. In fact, Dell sells Salesforce, as well as SAP solutions, Cloud hosting, and Cloud-based data center services. It’s a win-win for Dell, Salesforce, and Dell’s customers, who can obtain everything they need in one stop.
There is a downside for customers, though. Cloud-based software is often packaged in one-size-fits-all price plans, giving small businesses the option between having limited usability or having far more than they need. Salesforce.com, for example, has a basic plan for only $5 a month per user that only covers up to five users. This edition focuses on contact management but it doesn’t provide e-mail templates or a dashboard. To obtain these features, a customer must upgrade to the $15 per user per month edition, which includes multiple marketing features that a small business doesn’t need.
Small business owners often find themselves between plans, with no way to customize to add only those features they need. A small business with ten workers, for instance, may find itself stuck between an inexpensive plan for businesses with five workers or less and a much more robust system for businesses with fifty users or more.
In this case, Ramon Ray recommends custom consulting. If not offered through the reseller, the small business should go directly to the software manufacturer to ask if a package can be tailored to their specific business needs. Sometimes, custom solutions can save money for a small business.
So what’s the benefit of buying Cloud solutions through a retailer? Usually, Cloud-based solutions like Salesforce are provided as part of a much larger package of online services. ERP software, purchasing software, and other offerings may be available through a retailer, whereas buying software packages individually requires much more shopping around. Also, a small business could contact the retailer to even further customize offerings so that only the features that business needs are included. Elements of Salesforce could be included with purchasing and billing software without the customer having to work with three separate companies.
One final benefit to buying Cloud services through companies like Dell and CDW is the ability to tailor solutions to your particular business. Each business has different requirements and, by working with a consultant, the business can state its specific needs and receive exactly what it needs.