Buying cloud services instead of traditional hardware and software can save you money, and kickstart new opportunities for your business. But matching the many cloud services to the exact needs of your company can be a daunting task, which is why we’ve created this simple problem solver. Tell us what you’d like to achieve, and we’ll recommend an economical and easy Microsoft cloud service to fit the bill.
A quick reminder...
Here’s a quick reminder as to why cloud computing should be on your agenda:
Cut out the startup costs: cloud services are delivered online, so you don’t have to shell out on expensive technology just to get started.
The IT is someone else’s problem: security, resilience and availability are managed on your behalf, with a 99.9% uptime guarantee.
Cloud is flexible: Grow or contract your commitment anytime. You’ll never pay for more than you need.
So what do you want to do?
Here’s a typical list of business challenges. It’s highly likely that more than one will apply to your company’s operations. In all cases, though, there’s a reliable, cloud-delivered service from Microsoft which can help – without breaking the bank!
I want... to share files with colleagues
Email’s fine for sending small files; but it won’t do for larger files, and in any case, it’s hard to keep track of what you’ve sent, which version, and to whom. Windows Live SkyDrive is an online storage space with bags of room and powerful access controls- and it’s absolutely free.
I want... reliable email
Growing businesses need more than a freebie email account. Exchange is Microsoft’s reliable, secure and powerful enterprise-grade email service – as used by hundreds of thousands of companies around the world. And it’s now available to you in the cloud via Office 365. Set up your own domain name and you can have world class email (firstname.lastname@example.org) instead of freebie email (email@example.com). Exchange mail works just like Outlook, and is packed with extras like shared calendars too.
I want... an end to worrying about security
hat’s what the cloud is all about. When you use any of the services we’ve put online, you can be sure of a rigorous security regime - indeed, a much greater commitment to data security than most smaller companies can afford by themselves. In the cloud, you’ve got the same security credentials as companies ten times your size. You can also ensure the security of your own office PCs using cloud services – check out Windows Intune, the one-stop security and performance service for growing companies.
I want... never to miss another opportunity
Making the most of every customer and tracking every opportunity means juggling a lot of different balls at once. It’s no surprise that many potential customers of smaller businesses just give up – and end up going somewhere else. The solution is customer relationship management software, which enforces discipline on the sales process and ensures no customer gets left behind. It used to be the preserve only of larger companies, but now Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is available from £31.75 per person, per month. At that sort of price, you only have to rescue one deal from the clutches of the competition for it to handsomely pay for itself.
I want... to go green
Cloud services will help you help the environment (and cut costs into the bargain) in several ways:
Cut travel: instead of going to far-flung meetings, try the powerful videoconferencing, whiteboards and online meeting spaces in Lync Online, part of the Office 365 package.
Cut hardware: Cloud services are centralised, meaning you buy and install less IT hardware. And that means less IT manufacturing and less eventual landfill. By moving to the cloud, many larger companies are extending the life of their older PCs by up to two years.
Work anywhere: with go-anywhere access from the cloud, even the sofa can be your office. That makes for happy staff and less commuting too.
I want... to work better with colleagues and customers
Using online services makes collaboration easier and smoother. With Office 365, you can share documents and calendars with colleagues, business partners and clients. You can even work on documents together in real-time. Powerful collaboration tools include video-conferencing, secure instant messaging, intranets and file-sharing.
I want... to work better away from the office.
Then you’ll be pleased to know that all of the above services are as accessible on your smartphone, tablet or netbook as they are on a full-size desktop PC. Cloud services are all designed to be completely portable, giving you the same experience at home and on the road as in the office. Check out Office Web Apps, for example, which lets you read and edit Microsoft Office documents without any software, with guaranteed perfect fidelity, in a simple web browser.
I want... predictable costs
Competition in business has never been greater, and when times are tough, a little financial security can go a long way. Not only are Microsoft cloud services highly economical (Office 365 costs from as little as £4.25 per month), you’re always in control of your outlay. There are no hidden charges, and no nasty surprises round the corner: security, support, maintenance and service are all included. Pricing is on a simple per-seat-per-month basis.
I want... to look like a big fish, even though I’m a minnow
Not a problem. Try the simple template-driven website creation tools in Office 365, which you can have up and running in under a couple of hours. Or impress clients with the fully-featured intranet and collaboration services offered by SharePoint Online, also included in Office 365. With SharePoint, you can create and automate many business processes, from order forms to product specifications and everything in between.
I want... things to stay the same for my staff
Nobody likes upheaval. Microsoft’s Cloud services are designed specifically to look and feel like the Office tools –Word, Excel, Outlook etc. – with which you and your staff are probably already familiar. That means increased productivity and business agility without the pain of retraining or learning new software.
Find out more: read our new guide, “Putting Microsoft Cloud services to work in your business”