Conquering Small Business IT Challenges
Bennett McDowell and his wife Jean run TradersCoach.com, a retail and informational portal that educates investors about risks, rewards and strategies for stock, bond, and commodities trading. Though the McDowells are based in San Diego, the Internet has
enabled them reach customers in 58 countries.
“Technology is at the heart of what we do,” says Bennett. “In addition to our web presence, we use video and audio conferencing and desktop sharing tools to work with our customers. We also need easy online document sharing and a reliable email platform
that we can access from the office and on the road.”
In the past, the McDowells ran their own on-premises application and email servers, relying on an IT services provider to help maintain their technology infrastructure. This kept staffing costs low, but IT was still a significant expense. In addition to
capital costs for hardware and software, even electricity was a significant expense when TradersCoach.com ran its own servers. Power costs in southern California run very high, and in summer there is the risk of rolling blackouts that could knock the whole
business offline. Having servers on-premises also meant that TradersCoach.com was responsible for backing up its data, with the risk of potential liability issues if important documents were lost.
An Answer in the Cloud
TradersCoach.com turned to IT services provider Agile IT to migrate the company to Microsoft Office 365, a subscription-based cloud service providing email, instant messaging, on-demand web and video conferencing and productivity applications.
“We’ve cut our IT costs by 80 percent, and we can now rest easy knowing that all of our information is reliably archived and that we can access it from anywhere there’s an Internet connection,” says Bennett.
TradersCoach.com uses Office 365 to host web conference calls to train customers on how to use its software, and the team also saves documents and presentations to the cloud using SkyDrive. Bennett also uses Office 365 web apps to author books and share
them securely with publishers and editors.
Bennett’s advice for other small business owners who are looking at Office 365: “Don’t hesitate at all, just do it. The cost, reliability, and ease of access are perfect for a new or established business that wants a comprehensive package of desktop and
mobile services without a big up-front expense.”