smb-tech-trendsCan  you imagine running your small business without a phone – desk, smartphone or even softphone – or email? In the not too distant future, you may be asking the same about cloud computing. Especially as workforces become more flexible, collaborative cloud-based services are making it possible for your team to work together wherever they are. Increasingly companies are adopting a more collaborative working relationship with customers and suppliers via the cloud as well.

You’ll find a range of cloud-based services to support employees working together, and as it supports your needs the customers and others you do business with. Services include storage, productivity apps and social networking. You also can move your email to the clouds.

Collaborating reaches new heights in the clouds

cloud computing with laptop and smartphoneAmong the benefits of cloud computing, you are able to take advantage of many leading-edge technology services and applications offered by cloud vendors that might otherwise be cost prohibitive for you to install on premise and manage and maintain. Such applications, which you can add as your needs change and grow, enable you to more effectively compete with the larger companies in your market.

With your information stored in the clouds, your team can access documents wherever they are just as if they were in the office. Because projects are stored in one location, anyone who is working on the project can access it whenever they need and make edits or updates, which appear in real time so they are readily available to everyone else working on the project.  Also a team member can invite others who may not even be on the same project to look at the project and offer input.

Collaboration and productivity also get a boost from services such as instant messaging for quick answers to questions and video or web conferencing for meetings scheduled or on the fly when something comes up related to a customer problem or need or an issue impacting your small business. There also are cloud-based interactive whiteboards for brainstorming, which enable everyone who participates in the session to see and use.

Choose apps based on needs

In deciding what cloud-based collaboration tools would be most useful, think about who will be accessing the information and what the reasons are that information needs to be shared. Also consider what systems – HR, payroll, customer relationship management (CRM), accounting and more – that the cloud-based applications need to integrate with.

Continuity counts

By storing your important information in the clouds, your team is assured of access to files and documents and each other if a disaster, such as a fire, flood or IT equipment breakdown or failure occurs. You and your team will be able to continue with your small business operations while you are recovering from the damages.

What cloud based services are you using for collaboration?