I don’t know many folks today who run their business without a computer. For those who can, we applaud you. For those of us who rely on them every day, we can all relate to email and productivity tools as one of the key functions required to do business. With all of the choices available, the initial task of deciding on a provider for these solutions can seem daunting.
What features are you looking for? Is mobility a key part of your business? Will you be using multiple devices to access data? What are the various compliance features your business will require? These are the questions individuals starting a new company or wanting to expand their current business need to ask themselves before making a decision.
We run across companies weekly making a shift away from hosted mail solutions that just do not provide the flexibility, security and tool sets they need to create a productive work force. These companies are switching to an enterprise platform with all the bells and whistles. That isn’t to say you can’t run your business using one of the myriad non-enterprise solutions out there, but to say it can be limiting and often frustrating is accurate.
We tend to lean towards Microsoft’s Office 365 suite of products, although other solutions out there like Google Apps for Work can get the job done, too. The decision maker should be fully aware of the differences in applications, instant messaging and offline documents (some solutions like Google are pure cloud based with no local application to be installed).
The aforementioned solutions will provide the productivity applications (instant messaging, online storage and shared calendars) you need to kick your new business off in the right direction. However, as previously mentioned, Google does not provide a local instance of their applications, so if you find yourself on a plane with no wifi (looking at you Alaska Air) or in a cabin needing to update a document before your meeting on Monday morning you may be out of luck.
Both Google and Microsoft’s offerings are subscription based platforms, and while Google only offers a couple of choices, Microsoft offers many options to leverage their software. Like Google, Microsoft offers an online only subscription giving you access to their suite of cloud based Office applications, and in addition to that there is a subscription that allows you to install just the Office applications locally to your PC. Both companies offer options for compliance as well.
Already own Office 2010 or later? No problem. You can pay for just mail hosting with Microsoft, which conveniently includes other features like One Note with 1TB of storage, instant messaging and team sites.
If you are starting a new business, or your startup is growing and in need of enterprise tool sets to enable your staff to be more productive, take a look at some of the options; or talk to your trusted advisor for their input on the best solution for your business.
Brandon Cerocke is the director of sales and marketing for IQ Systems Inc.