Cloud-Based Computing: Jump on the Technology Train
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Cloud-Based Computing: Jump on the Technology Train

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Is your small business tech-savvy? According to a study of U.S. businesses by Zoomerang, most companies have in-house information technology services (IT). Just 22 percent of small businesses outsource their IT needs to vendors, which means the majority have embraced technology enough to make it part of their operations. But this isn’t the entire picture. Despite the widespread use of technology, most small businesses haven’t quite made the jump to super tech-savvy: cloud-based computing.

A notable 72 percent of small business respondents said they were “not sure what it is” or “not familiar” with cloud-based computing. Simply put, technology “on the cloud” means software that’s hosted on the Internet, instead of on your computer. Your e-mail, for example, is hosted on the cloud. This means you can access it from any computer at any time. Many small business owners are missing out on the convenience and lower IT costs of cloud-based computing. Here are a few services that you can find right online:

Cloud-Based Computing: Jump on the Technology Train

Financial planning
Your accountant may be right online. We took a look at the best accounting software for your small business, and some of the very best software is accessible right over the Internet. In addition to accounting, cloud-based computing can help you create a cash flow calendar, financial projections and inventory records.

Marketing
Your first introduction to marketing online has likely come from Twitter and Facebook. (Social media sites can help you manage accounts receivables too.) Other cloud-based software can help manage your online marketing. Social media managers, such as Hootsuite, help you maintain multiple profiles. Instead of sitting at your computer and sending out a tweet every few hours, these programs can queue tweets for you, sending them out on a pre-set schedule. The online software can also help you track brand mentions.

Vendor Relationships
Forget the rolodex: the cloud can handle these relationships for you. Maintaining healthy vendor relationships is essential to small business success. Multiple log-ins means your whole team knows exactly what’s going on at any given point. The software can manage any inquiries, track e-mail conversations and helps you keep up-to-date contact records.

Accounts Receivables Management
For many small business owners, slow or missing payments can be the kiss of death. However, an online solution could make getting paid much easier. As we’ve seen with mobile payments, convenience creates higher chances of getting paid. Cloud-based computing means all of your accounts receivables data is stored in one central location. An online software can help you create and deliver invoices, track payments and send reminders.

Potential Drawbacks
Granted, cloud-based computing may not be for everyone. You need reliable Internet service, and sometimes the provider’s website may be down for maintenance. (Although more reputable sites very rarely go down.) Look out for services that make it easy to export your information, so you can keep it on your computer and change services when necessary. For small business owners on the go, relying on online services may not be the best idea. However, if you have the Internet access and you want to save money and time with the help of technology, cloud-based computing may be the next step for your small business.

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