This week I’ve been working with a small company, coming up with solutions to their rather unique business problems. They have operated for a very long-time as a “paper only” shop. I was surprised to see paper based businesses still existed, but I have a feeling there are many more out there than I am currently aware of. I have been working in I.T. for more than 25 years, and just figured everyone in my world was using technology for work, but that is not the case! Showing a small business owner how technology can help them grow their business is really exciting, and creating a cloud environment allows us to address their goals, allowing them to work in ways they never imagined.
Why Cloud Computing for a Small Business?
This small shop was handed down for generations, and just kept doing things as they had always been done. They have a few computers and use email, but really just to print orders.
The challenge they faced is that if you have rarely used computers or automation, how would you begin trying to design your business to work with technology now? It is rather a unique position. Most businesses have legacy systems that sort of tie them into specific platforms or gives parameters they need to work within. But in this case, they are starting from scratch, a blank canvas, or really no canvas at all. We can design the solution to fit their needs without any preconceived notions.
The best solution in this case is to create a small wireless network, completely cloud based, with the right security configuration. Their sales force will be able to access quotes, documents, photos, and whatever they need from wherever they are, even from their phone. The owner that would like to start enjoying some time in a warmer climate can go, yet continue to work as if he's back at the office. With Office 365 he'll be able to access his client folders, communicate with his staff using chat, or making calls from his laptop and then easily turning it into a video call when needed, right from his laptop or smartphone. Cloud services will transform how they work, while delivering the following benefits:
Eliminating Hardware will Lower Upfront Costs
A handful of laptops or Surface Pro tablets connected to the internet without the need for on-premise servers will dramatically reduce their upfront capital expenditures which can be very challenging for new and established businesses alike. A single server can cost upward of $5000, not to mention an additional server needed for backup. When starting out in the cloud, you not only eliminate hardware costs, but you only pay for what you use. This allows you to scale up and down your capacity instantly, providing flexibility that offers another huge advantage.
Serverless Computing will Simplify IT
No local domain structure is needed, just a combination of Office 365, Azure, and SharePoint. This will keep things simple, safe, and easy to use. Reducing the complexity of your environment eliminates IT headaches, increases efficiencies, and saves money.
Cloud Hosting will Enable Employees to Work Remotely
The customer will be able to share files and exchange information seamlessly via SharePoint as well as Microsoft Teams. Remote or field workers will be able to access files and work from anywhere, on any device. Azure PaaS can be used to build a new billing system to keep track of their orders and services. Their existing paper documents can be scanned and loaded to SharePoint, and users can only access what they have permission to access.
Collaboration and Document Sharing will Increase Productivity
Although we chose to host their environment in Microsoft Azure, I could have just as easily used AWS to configure similar services. My team’s experience with the Microsoft platform steered me immediately to Office 365. The point really was that if there is no dependence on legacy systems, I would be able to build applications and document sharing platforms directly in the cloud using Azure, making Azure hosting the right choice for this SMB.
As technology continues to advance, I'm looking forward to helping more small businesses enjoy the benefits of cloud computing. As we usher in the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, there is no stopping businesses that choose to embrace technology.
For more information on Microsoft Azure, or how your business can benefit from Cloud Computing, call us at 877-843-5767 or visit our website at www.intellisuite.com.
To learn how to use Microsoft Office 365 to improve business productivity, visit the Office 365 training resources on the IntelliSuite Office 365 Learning Center.