Any practical means that can be utilized to help your business develop should be considered, and in today’s digital world that means knowing all about the online software that is available. The trouble is that the subject is something of a two-edged sword, as there is plenty on offer that can be useful for a wide range of businesses, but there are also other offerings that may be of low quality or add layers of difficulty instead of helping you to get a job done faster and more efficiently. Both big and small companies can benefit from using online tools and software, but in the end it all comes down to knowing exactly what you need to do before you go looking for a solution on how to do it.
Online communications software takes many shapes and forms, mainly because the idea of fast communication lies at the very heart of the interconnected world in which we live. From applications such as Freshdesk, the online helpdesk and ticketing solution, through to the free and paid-for versions of MailChimp, the leading email marketing solution, there is certainly no shortage of software that can be put to good use.
However, keeping in touch with clients and customers can also mean getting to grips with social media. Every business should have some level of social online activity attached to it, as end users are now becoming used to being able to have direct and clear lines of communication with business via platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Having a social media element to your marketing strategy need not be expensive or difficult to implement, as long as you have a clear idea of how you want to go about things. Again, there are free versions of some of the most popular social management tools such as Hootsuite available, so that you can get a good idea of how they work before fully immersing yourself and your business into the online social scene.
Level playing field
One of the great things about using online software is that it gives even the smallest and newest start-up a chance to compete with the big boys on the same playing field. The fact that the Internet gives any business located anywhere a chance to deal with other companies and customers direct, wherever they might be located, means we are living in a unique age of international commerce.
Knowing how to use search engines, especially Google, to your company’s best advantage is probably the most basic element of all online software offerings that needs to be mastered. Although it is difficult to think of the search giant’s basic functions as online software, Google offers many free tools that can help you maximize your online traffic and learn how to analyze data to make changes to your operations that can really make a difference.
If your business needs a way to securely share information with employees and customers, you might need to look at customized software that can provide a bespoke solution. Various mobile applications can be altered to suit your exact requirements, and intranets and extranets can offer top of the range connectivity with the highest safety considerations built in.
Where online software really comes into its own is in the areas of business that are common to most operations and where solutions can be applied to the widest possible client base. For instance, accounting software has long been a good solution for a business that wants to keep bookkeeping duties in-house and only use professional accountants when strictly necessary. Although this has been a cost-effective solution for many years, the actual suites can be expensive to install and will usually need regular updates and upgrades. More than that, even though they have been developed over the years to be relatively easy for non-professional accounting staff to use, they still require some knowledge of bookkeeping systems, and often staff needs to be specifically trained on how to use a certain package.
Recently, a true online solution has become popular because it has an extremely easy to use interface and provides 24/7 access from any Internet-enabled device. Offering a range of solutions for invoicing, including support for variable taxes and more than 150 different currency symbols, https://invoicehome.com/ provides flexibility and professional results via a straightforward, no fuss service.
Possibly the biggest buzz phrase regarding online software in recent times revolves around cloud computing. The fact is that most of us are probably already using some form of cloud system, simply by backing up photos on an iPhone or taking advantage of storage and delivery systems such as Dropbox or WeTransfer. Essentially ‘the cloud’ is based on the concept of remote storage on massive secure servers, rather than a process of developing ever-increasing storage capacity on individual devices. One of the results is that devices themselves can become lighter and cheaper, with the added security implications that if an employee loses their device, important or confidential information won’t be lost along with it.
Making use of cloud systems makes sense for a business because it means access to unlimited amounts of secure ‘off-site’ storage, so even the most dramatic or devastating disaster scenario won’t affect the information that your business needs to continue operating on a day-to-day basis. Going back to the basic communication elements, cloud systems also mean that workers out in the field can access as much information as they need without having to rely on personal storage mediums they carry with them.
The future of software
With any of the most important business software systems always having a licensing element attached to them, the actual ‘ownership’ of a suite or application is not really the question. As already mentioned, the initial outlay for some business software can be prohibitive for smaller firms, so ‘hiring’ it as and when needed makes perfect financial sense. Increasingly, in the world of ‘big data’, it is the information itself that is the important thing for most businesses, and so the easier and cheaper it is to use that data via online software solutions, the better it is for the bottom line of any company.