Competition is fierce in the small and medium business (SMB) IT solutions space today, with global giants Google and Microsoft vying with a multitude of smaller solutions providers for every dollar of IT business investment.
Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365 offers a range of plans for small to medium-sized businesses, depending on the scale of your operation. For those who haven't yet jumped aboard the cloud bandwagon, this subscription-based service comprises a comprehensive business platform with many potential benefits.
First and foremost, Office 365 should reduce operating costs – despite a slightly higher initial investment – by bundling so many IT business requirements together in a hosted environment that makes it possible for your staff to work anywhere with an internet connection.
With Office 365 these include, but are not limited to, cloud backup, web and office apps, and website and email hosting.
With cloud backup, you can automatically store documents in the cloud and access them via office.com. It’s difficult to overestimate the importance of this for SMBs, because if your data isn't backed up and disaster strikes, you literally might not have much of a business left.
With a cloud-based service such as Office 365, all your documents and applications will always be available, regardless of whether your office has been destroyed by a natural disaster or has even suffered a blackout. Most Office 365 plans come with at least 1TB of OneDrive storage.
Bigger storage and better security
Ensuring the security of your data – which is an even bigger issue now than it was just a few years ago due to the more frequent and severe malware attacks and viruses – is made easier in a cloud-based environment.
Office 365, for example, has built-in security and continuous compliance features which allow you to remotely wipe all your data from a single device such as a laptop or smartphone if it’s lost or stolen.
Office 365 also provides at least 25GB of hosted email, depending on your plan, through Exchange. This includes a customised domain name and features such as synchronised email, calendar and contacts which make coordinating staff much easier.
Additionally, website hosting tools make it possible to create and publish a fully hosted website.
Apps and their many and varied uses are one of the hottest areas in business solutions now, and Office 365 contains web versions of Microsoft staples such as PowerPoint and OneNote which let users edit documents from anywhere with a connection. Some Office plans include access to full desktop versions of software including Word, Excel, Outlook, Publish, Access and Lync, which come with the usual levels of Microsoft support.
A safe play for SMBs
A combination of large amounts of data storage, better security and 24/7 capability should make solutions such as Office 365 attractive for SMBs of all sizes, especially when you throw in greater workforce mobility and flexibility for good measure.