How Much Can You Save By Moving To Cloud?
Cloud services are a major improvement in standard business practices. Not only do they offer increased security, specialization, and peace of mind (thank you, automated back-ups), they can also offer significant cost savings for small businesses.
Paper A single office worker uses as many as 10,000 sheets of copy paper in a year. Ouch. Even buying paper at bulk business rates, you are looking at a hefty amount spent on paper. Imagine what would happen if you migrated all of your paper-heavy business functions to the cloud. All invoicing, forms, documentation, training materials, quotes and estimates, drafting, and financial records would no longer be dependent on reams of paper and toner refills. Moving paper-based functions to the cloud eliminates the paper cost, of course. It also eliminates maintenance cost for in-house printers, toner refills, and outsourced printing work. Equipment The servers needed to host your own data center in house, which is what many small businesses end up doing, can be a heavy one. Larger corporations usually have dedicated, large data centers, and mid-size businesses often rent space in a data center. But small businesses, working with a smaller budget, generally end up housing a rack of servers in the closet. That means you also have to maintain the servers and replace them when needed. Moving your data center to cloud-based services saves you the cost of the equipment itself (servers and racks) and also saves you on the maintenance cost and the energy cost of supporting those servers day in and day out. Small business also save on staffing costs; your time-strapped IT person can actually start solving other problems, and you won't have to hire more in-house tech support. The cost of ongoing IT support is usually wrapped up in the monthly fees your business pays for cloud services. Updates and Software How much did you have to pay to upgrade to the latest, greatest, newest, and absolutely necessary software? Cloud computing takes that whole system apart. Since cloud-based services are, well, cloud-based, the service providers can roll out regular updates and new features as they are developed. Updates simply become part of the service and are the responsibility of the service provider. One less thing off your plate and off your budget. Specialized Tools Specialized software, data analysis, and digital business tools can be a high-cost investment for a small business. Industry-specific point-of-sale systems, for example, cost thousands of dollars. Using cloud-based solutions allows you to get the functionality you need for a monthly fee instead of that hefty initial cost. Your small business gets access to the same quality in tools and services that your much larger competitors enjoy. It's a case of power in large purchasing: the cloud-based services can afford to purchase the increased processing power and dedicated developers that you can't. Why not take advantage of what that provides for your business and pay only a fraction of the cost? Interest and Fees If your small business cannot function without a reliable point-of-sale system or drafting software, you are going to do what you have to do to get that tool in place. Sometimes that means taking on debt, with fees and interest incurred, in order to keep your business doing business. The alternative offered by cloud computing, to pay by the month, in most cases, allows you to use the tools you need without incurring debt in order to do it. Avoiding interest charges adds up to significant savings over the course of a year. Moving to the cloud is not going to solve all your business challenges or automatically increase your productivity. It does have great potential to save your business the cost of unnecessary stress and unnecessary spending. Bitrix24 is a free cloud team collaboration platform. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB See also: - 5 Simple Things You Can Do to Improve Workplace Productivity - Intranet review checklist – seven must-have features for ANY intranet - Social HR 101: What is social intranet? - Mobile Productivity Dos and Don'ts - Are you treating your intranet as information dumping ground? - How we improved our ROI for PR tenfold- Free TribeHR Alternative
How To Replace Email With Enterprise Social Network
Is email dead? The answer is still being debated. But one thing is certain: While ESNs (enterprise social networks) are probably not going to completely eradicate email usage, they are fast changing the way people in the workplace communicate, share ideas and collaborate. Here are three ways ESNs are better than email: 1. ESNs increase work efficiency and foster better knowledge sharing. If you’ve experienced working for a company without a knowledge management system in place, email may sometimes work like this: If John needs information he thinks Ellen has, he emails her, to which Ellen replies – if John types in the correct email address and the email doesn’t get trapped in the spam filter, that is. If Ellen unfortunately doesn’t have the information he needs, John sends an email blast to his department’s distribution list. If nobody in the list can help John, he emails another department. If that department can’t offer anything helpful, on and on goes the quest for the missing information. In the event one of John’s emails finally finds its way into the responsible person’s inbox, there’s no guarantee that John will get an immediate response, particularly if the said recipient still needs to weed through 3,108 emails that include invitations fr om lunch buddies and discussions about the most recent Game of Thrones episode that are in no way tied to work. (Yes, email abuse does happen.) The scenario may seem a little extreme, if not depressing, but it’s not too far removed from reality, either. One good thing about enterprise social networks is that threaded conversations are visible to participants, and people who can’t directly help can tag or invite those they think can, quickly finding the experts and making knowledge sharing more effective. Plus, any time the same question or issue crops up, discussions are archived for review. 2. ESNs simplify data gathering, sharing and collaboration. You’re a team leader, and you need to gather your team’s personal information, as HR needs to again upd ate itsemployee database. There are several ways this can be done. One, send the team an email enumerating the data they need to provide. When everyone has replied with their answers, you’re ready to input the data into a master file. Two, direct them to a link in the company’s shared drive containing an Excel file. Ask them to download the file and fill it out. When done, instruct them to send you the filled-out worksheet as an email attachment. After which, you’re set to work on the master file. Three, if everyone has a working Google Docs account and the company’s VPN (virtual private network) doesn’t block access to third-party accounts, you can create a worksheet that you can then share with the team. As long as everyone is able to edit the file, the Google Docs file will also function as your master file. Option number three is, hands down, the best option in terms of efficiency. But what if not everyone has a Google Docs account? Creating one is certainly not a pain, but will the company allow it? Or what if the VPN or proxy server is se t to screen all non-work-related Internet addresses? Most ESNs, on the other hand, are equipped with document management features that allow users to share, download and collaborate on documents, videos and presentations. Document libraries can be made public or specific to certain users or group profiles. ESN activity streams also allow participants to post comments, attach new document versions, see changes and receive feedback – all in real-time. 3. ESNs ensure important announcements and communications are relayed and received. Now, consider this scenario. You’re a retailer, and new items are available for sale. You have several branches, so you send an email to your branch supervisors advising them of the new merchandise. You also attach a price list. The next day, you realize there were wrong entries in the list, so you decide to send another email containing the corrections. For some reason, one of the supervisors doesn’t get the second email, so he doesn’t know that several of the new items are actually priced 50% higher than originally indicated. This supervisor turns out to be your selling superstar, too, and the next thing you know, he has already disposed a big chunk of his branch’s just-delivered supply using the erroneous selling price. It’s a known fact that not all emails being sent reach the intended recipients’ inbox, and for business-critical communications, relying on email alone can be catastrophic to the company’s bottom line. Good ESNs have announcement features wh ere important notices remain plastered on the upper right-hand side of the screen until users acknowledge having already read or acted upon them. The above are just three reasons ESNs have the upper hand over email, and there are certainly more that this blog post doesn’t cover. The bottom line, however, is crystal clear: For easier collaboration and more effective communication within your organization, ESNs are definitely worth a shot. Bitrix24 is a free enterprise social network solution. Use promocode TIP10 when registeringyour free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB See also:
- Best free internal communication software and tools
- How to build successful inside sales team - tips from inside sales guru Josiane Feigon
- Keith Burton: Why email will never die
- Plan your day BEFORE you check your email and other simple email lifehacks from Graham Allcott - 5 Simple Online Calendar Management Tips
Lead Generation 101
For a business to be profitable, you need customers. Customers start from leads, and leads can come to you either through word of mouth or as a response to advertising. They can also find you through the search engines – that is, if you’re doing SEO (search engine optimization) right. That said, here are five things you can do to generate more incoming leads:
1. Start a company blog Gone are the days when weblogs were synonymous to personal online journals. These days, companies are positioning blogs as an online marketing strategy, no matter how un-sexy the thought of regular posting may be. By starting a company blog, your website ceases to become just an online brochure with product/service information, contact details, and such. Blogging gives your company a voice, an opportunity to be seen as an industry expert by providing your target audience with the educational information they need to make an informed purchasing decision. It also allows you to answer pressing industry questions and engage your clients and prospects in healthy conversation. If readers find your inputs helpful and insightful, your blog posts can get shared and your brand introduced to new readers you can potentially turn into leads. 2. Create great content Content is no longer king. Great content is, and understandably so. The Internet is literally underwater with content, hence, the terms “content shock,” “content fatigue,” and so on. Every day, people are bombarded with a great deal of content they’re likely unable to consume, which is why the content you put out there has to stand out from the crowd. Then again, what makes great content? As per Kissmetrics, the following are the characteristics of great content: • Original • Actionable • Has a strong headline • Provides answers • Maintains reporting accuracy • Engaging and thought-provoking • With images and video • Fluff-free Whether it’s for your own website or other content platforms, like sites you guest blog on, ensure that you’re creating no less than great content. When it comes to content marketing, quality trumps quantity every single time. 3. Use CTAs Calls to action are essential for every website, and every single page of your site must have one, not just the Home and Contact pages. A call to action is an instruction you give your readers to invoke an immediate response. They are important because more often than not, people need prodding before they actually act on something. A call to action can be anything – read a related article, visit your website, download an e-book, claim a discount voucher, sign up for a free trial, join your mailing list, and others. Calls to action, or CTAs, can be placed in an email, your website, an e-book, a blog post – anywhere in your marketing, essentially. Remember though, your CTAs must not be obnoxious, as these can negatively affect user experience. 4. Take advantage of social media Even for local and small businesses, social media is a vital marketing strategy, as it allows you to connect and interact with your followers. Timely quips – think Oreo’s blackout tweet at the Super Bowl – can even get your brand at the center of conversations. And then, there is social media’s link to search engine visibility. Neil Patel of Quick Sprout affirms that social is the new SEO. Now, if you’re looking for a specific demographic, like a job title or age range with specific interests, social media PPC (pay per click) advertising is worth looking into. Cheap PPC ads on Facebook can help increase the number of likes and/or shares for a YouTube video you want to go viral. Even your company’s Facebook page can benefit from this approach and significantly extend the reach of your future communications and campaigns. 5. Create an email list If you haven’t tried it yet, creating an email list may seem like a daunting proposition, but if you’re looking for a long-term lead generation strategy, neglecting the power of an email list may actually hurt your business in the long run. While we now probably have all heard that the money is not in the list, it’s a known fact that people are likely to check their emails every day, and email lists are a great way to rapidly and effectively disseminate messages to your subscribers – people who have expressed desire to receive your messages by opting in to your list. One clear advantage of having an email list is that you own it and have full access to it. Facebook and Twitter may be popular now, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll stay that way forever. Cases in point: MySpace and Friendster.See also: - Why your enterprise social collaboration strategy failed and what to do about it - Seventeen free remote employee management tools you should be using - 5 Email trends that will affect you and your business
- 5 Simple Things You Can Do to Improve Workplace Productivity - How to build successful inside sales team - tips from inside sales guru Josiane Feigon
- Free SugarCRM alternativeUse promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB