London-based BCSG partners with large brands to offer a cloud application marketplace for SMBs which allows businesses to purchase and manage their apps from one location.
In July, the company struck up a partnership with EE to support its Business Apps offering for small and medium-sized business customers. EE's apps cover areas such as managing finances, engaging customers and web publishing, in addition to tools that help with productivity such as Office 365 and Sage One Accounts and Payroll.
TechRadar Pro spoke to John Davis, managing director at BCSG, to find out more about the company's service model and why SMBs should consider business app packages in the cloud.
TechRadar Pro: How can your cloud-based app platform help businesses?
John Davis: Businesses get unlimited support on whichever applications they subscribe to, only need one username and password, and one monthly bill. BCSG offers a full service model that covers areas such as customer support, billing and operational management and training and channel management.
TRP: Why should small businesses use cloud systems and these business apps?
JD: The apps offered through the marketplace are designed specifically for small businesses, and most importantly they offer flexibility as they can be accessed anywhere, anytime. They are simple to use and do not require an IT manager to install, set-up and maintain them. Furthermore, the apps will grow over time with the business, meaning additional users can easily be added or removed with minimal hassle.
TRP: What process do you go through in creating an app package?
JD: We work in partnership with the large brands to identify the right apps to offer their customers. The apps need to address the key needs that small businesses have and the challenges they face. As any business owner knows, this ranges from managing finances to finding new customers, all of which are time consuming and cause headaches for small businesses, this is where the apps step in. They are chosen for their ease of use so that, no matter what their tech competency, the business should easily be able to use the apps with no trouble or complications.
TRP: What are the disadvantages or costs of using a cloud system?
JD: Because the apps are cloud based, the data isn't stored on your desktop or device, meaning that if there is no internet connection then your data cannot be accessed. Another concern of data being stored remotely is security, these concerns are heightened due to the amount online security has been in the news recently.
However, there is an advantage to data being stored remotely, if for example your device is lost, stolen or crashes you will still be able to access all of your data that is stored in the cloud. Cost wise, the customer is charged on a monthly basis, however this does means there aren't any large upfront costs and the business gets access to all application updates as soon as they are released.
TRP: What makes this innovative and different to other systems or platforms?
JD: The modular approach means that every client can pick and choose from a menu of features to design a bespoke proposition and user interface tailored to their brand. As well as providing the platform, we also help large brands to develop a go to market strategy, so that they can develop the reach and awareness of their service. We offer training and support so that employees feel at ease with the services and are able to explain the benefits to customers.
TRP: How can businesses ensure that their employees are at ease with using the apps?
JD: What is important here is the level of support that is offered along with the apps. BCSG's dedicated customer service team offers an unlimited amount of assistance via email, telephone and web-based chat. Business owners also need to ensure that their employees are educated on how to make the most of the apps that they have chosen, including increased flexibly and productively.