Your IT department doesn't want to hear this, but Google's suite of apps for business can't be matched for the advantages it brings to your company's ROI. It is time to retire the server email and, along with it, most of your server-based applications. With everything moving in the cloud, the Google Apps Marketplace has hundreds of applications that small business owners will find useful, and even those which aren't free are available for such nominal fees that any business owner will find the money well spent.
As a business owner, your priorities begin with your email. Where would you be without it? With a server based email you simply have email. However, with Google's robust system of apps, your email ties into your CRM, Calendar, Customer Support, marketing and project management systems. Most apps are free to start with small charges as you grow. You can have MailChimp free for up to two thousand contacts, so you can conduct email campaigns. If you need more, you can pay a little more to expand your reach. Insightly is a free CRM and project management tool for up to three users, then only $30 a month for six. Even though all of these are third party applications, Google integrates them all together. You can have spreadsheets, word processing, even document sharing. Google Hangouts provides the easiest video conferencing system around.
Hey! You! Get Onto My Cloud!
It can be argued that there is less control from cloud-based systems. Some maintain that keeping this inside your facility, inside your domain, is safer. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your IT consultant or internal team may not recommend this approach as it replaces the need for systems management. The US government is quickly deploying Google Applications in a safe, secure, low maintenance environment. The General Services Administration was the first federal agency to move all its e-mail to the cloud, awarding a $6.7 million contract to pay for Google Apps for Government back in 2010.
As we know, there is a growing backlash against Google. They really don't care about you as a human being; you are a customer for their advertisers. Still, if you have a credit card, then you should know that American Express and Visa have been gathering (and selling) information on you for years. Being offered a useful product by Google based on their knowledge of you is certainly better than being targeted by nameless others who want you to buy their useless junk.
The software is accessible anywhere there's an internet connection. You can work from home, or in-flight. You don't even need to purchase updates! It works on all your devices, and it's only $50 per person. There is no way that any business owner can get this level of sophisticated software, and this amount of functionality, for pennies on the dollar from any other source. There is nothing to load on a server, and there is no operating system to manage.
The future is in the cloud.
Ben Bassi, founder and CEO of CommonPlaces, is a seasoned Internet veteran and marketing executive. His extensive experience in Web-related business dates back to the early 'Ö90s; with a career specializing in digital strategy, planning, and marketing.