For decades businesses have been tied to software upgrades and the high cost of their associated licences. With the arrival of the cloud it's now possible to break that cycle and move to a more convenient and cost effective subscription payment model for all the leading office applications.
With access from any internet connected device, the convenience of using cloud-based applications across your business cannot be overstated.
In May 2013, Adobe announced it would be moving its flagship Creative Suite to the Creative Cloud – a new subscription model would be used to access all their applications. This move reflected the impact that the cloud was having on the delivery and use of office and creative applications, where more flexibility was being demanded. Microsoft's leading Office suite also became available as a subscription with the creation of Office 365.
Philip Letts, CEO at the blur Group told TechRadar Pro: "In 2006 we were laying the early foundations for Blur Group's internal office systems and we made the following choices - Apple hardware and routers running Google Mail and Apps and soon to follow was Dropbox to connect outside files - and more recently splattering of Chrome boxes.
"My personal media has run off Apple for a while. Back then we decided that blur would be 100 per cent pure in the cloud - both internal and external systems. We have never deviated from this path. Being a cloud pioneer the early days were marked by compromise; today, it's about empowerment and agility."
For small businesses in particular, the adoption of cloud-based applications mirrors their use of other online services such as data storage, accounting and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) all of which are now available as cloud-based applications.
The lower cost and flexibility that these applications offer is ideal for small businesses, as they are agile and often run with teams that are spread over wide geographical regions. In essence, online applications are a superb fit for today's virtual enterprises.
To gain the most from using online applications in your business, planning your transition away from desktop installed software is vital. Businesses that have used installed software sometimes for decades need to take the time to assess the online applications that could replace their mission critical software.
In addition, staff training may be needed and also upgrades to existing services such as broadband internet that efficient cloud-based applications relies on.
What is clear is that moving office applications online has a number of significant advantages that small businesses in particular will appreciate:
• Lower costs
One of the key drivers behind any small business's move to cloud applications is to reduce their spending on installed applications. The subscription model enables your company to take control of its software costs.
• Flexible access
Maintaining a number of installed applications across several different devices is time consuming and expensive. With cloud-based applications such as Office 365, each application is available on demand from any Internet connected device.
• Seamless collaboration
Small business teams often need to collaborate together on projects. Cloud applications have collaboration tools at their foundation.
• Improved security
Working in the cloud offers high levels of security, as all data as it moves to any from the cloud is encrypted for maximum safety.
• Perpetual upgrades
Using cloud-based applications frees your business from managing upgrades. When a new feature is created it is simply available when the application is next used.
• Data backup and security
As the data created by cloud applications is also stored online, it is backed up freeing your business from this chore.
There is no doubt that the future of productivity applications is more cloud-based services. Small businesses in particular can develop these platforms to enable them to lower costs – but more importantly – become the lean efficient businesses that today's commercial environment demands.