If you're a business owner that's looking to the cloud for business solutions, you may be overlooking an enormous opportunity to capitalize on new innovations. Cloud computing has finally come into the mainstream, and its proponents are well aware of the numerous benefits that can be found in the virtual realm.
Those offerings come in a range of forms, such as virtual backup, improved file-sharing and other handy collaboration tools. It has also opened the doors for cloud-hosted applications to take the business world by storm. These applications can serve to replace traditional software that is loaded onto work computers and purchased at a considerable cost — and without much flexibility.
Of the pack of different apps providers currently serving the market, Google Apps for Business has quickly established itself as one of the best resources for businesses of any size. Read on to learn how Google Apps can transform your business operations for the better.
The Google Apps Suite: An Overview
Google Apps is actually a portfolio of different tools and applications all made available under the Google Apps umbrella. In the simplest terms, this product is a package of software applications typically used in the daily routines for most businesses, and many private computer users. Google-hosted email, calendars, documents and storage space are all made available through Google Apps. You don't have to install anything on your computer — once you set up an account with Google, you have access to all of these products.
Better yet, they're all fully integrated with one another, thus making it easy to email a document and perform a range of other tasks. And many of the applications found in Google Apps are also capable of being shared with multiple users.
Saving Big on Software Costs
Today's standard workplace computer is likely outfitted with Microsoft Office, a suite of programs similar to Google Apps and coming at a large but one-time cost. One of the downsides to this software — particularly in today's fast-changing world — is that this software doesn't advance with the times. In a few years — and maybe less — you'll be working with a vastly outdating software system that needs to be upgraded. That's another cost, and in a few years you'll run into the same problem once again.
Google Apps is a much more cost-effective option. For a one-time $50 fee, a business can create an unlimited number of accounts, all of them with access to the Google Apps suite. They also get 25 GB of free email storage, customer support around the clock, and almost continuous uptime — an important metric for any business. The savings are even more abundant with medium-to-large organizations.
Plus, the software is consistently updated, so you're always on the cutting-edge.
Improved Workplace Communication
Multiple workers editing or collaborating on a document or project can communicate in real-time through Google Apps. And the Google Chat featured, which is installed as a sidebar in Gmail, can allow online chatting to occur in the workplace. You don't have to walk around and find someone to relay a message to them — you can simply find them in your chat tool and communicate at your convenience, and in a snap.
Some tech experts will tell you that certain functions available through Google Apps that have been surpassed elsewhere. The difference is the degree of integration that each of these functions has with one another. When you log in to Gmail, for example, you immediately have all your other Apps within one click's reach. And with all of these various functions constantly communicating and sharing information with one another, users have to do very little work to keep each function up-to-date. That means less time dealing with software and more workplace efficiency as a result.
Free Yourself From Your Desk
Sometimes work demands that you leave your desk and the office as a whole. In the past the challenge has been doing work adequately while operating in a remote location. Without access to software and files, you could be severely limited in what you can actually accomplish out of the office.
But if you're using Google Apps to handle your work, you can access all of this from any computer with an Internet connection. Communication, collaboration, word processing, scheduling, you name it — it's all easily available wherever you go, freeing you up to work remotely without hurting productivity.
Most businesses I'm familiar with have found that the transition to Google Apps isn't a hard one, and it can yield some pretty significant changes to workplace productivity — while lowering costs at the same time. Keeping overhead low is key for any organization, but especially small businesses and startups. Regardless of your company's developmental stage, it's worth seeing if Google Apps can reinvent your office.