Making Sense of the Cloud for Small Business

Marketing podcast with Rhonda Abrams (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

No matter if you refer to the way you work as using the cloud or just getting more done virtually, or offsite, Internet based and hosted applications have become the backbone of how small business runs today.

yettis doings via Flickr CC

I pretty much run my entire business using cloud based web apps.

The following web based tools make up the backbone of my daily business operations.

  • Dropbox – My file storage, quasi server and backup tool
  • Google Apps – Collaboration, sharing and storage
  • Central Desktop – Project management, collaboration, communication
  • Evernote – Idea storage, to do, bookmarking, note taking
  • Delicious – Bookmarking and RSS content
  • Reeder – Consumption of RSS feeds
  • GMail – Hosted email for my domain and team
  • Infusionsoft – CRM, email marketing, shopping cart and affiliate management
  • Zen Desk – customer service

About the only thing I don’t do online is bookkeeping. I still use QuickBooks on a local computer but my bookkeeper accesses it from her desk 1000 miles away.

Even mid sized businesses and those with proprietary applications are moving to the cloud and using integration services such as Dell’s Boomi to patch the holes and get everything to play nice.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Rhonda Abrams, USAToday columnist and author of Bringing the Cloud Down to Earth – How to choose, launch, and get the most from cloud solutions for your business.

Abrams’ book takes this often over jargonized topic and as she suggests, brings it down to earth. Even you’ve hired a consultant to help you move your business processes online this is a great way to get a quick education on the subject.

In this episode we cover just what it means to move your business applications online and how to do it, how not to do it, what to consider and things you may not have even thought of.

Web based applications offer small business so many opportunities to compete with even the largest of organizations by providing functionality that would have costs hundreds of thousands of dollars in hardware and support just a few years ago for pennies or less.

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  • Alcides

    Springpad is also pretty awesome for notes. I also use Mindjet with Dropbox and Freemind.

  • Brad Patterson @ Evercontact

    Fine post, John.  I love the cloud applications you’ve mentioned.  

    I just wonder what the ROI is on delicious when compared to Reddit, StumbleUpon or Scoopit?  Of course it’s useful for personal bookmarks, but do you find the sharing/viral potential as strong as these other similar services?  

    Best from Paris, Brad 

    • ducttape

      I get lots of ROI from Delicious based on how I use it, but I don’t use it for traffic – I do use StumbleUpon for that as well.

  • Rox Davidson

    Wonderful post  here John, these are actually some of the tools that are also essential for business online aside from helpful these are also easy to use. Thanks for sharing this one!

  • ChrisHalcon

    I was really glad to hear your discussion with Ms. Abrams included security in the cloud. It’s a top consideration for companies of all sizes as they move to the cloud, but especially for SMBs that typically have fewer defenses. What’s quite interesting is that many SMBs could actually improve their security by moving to the cloud. The reason for this is that, by providing the same service to many organizations, cloud providers can afford to invest in providing reliable and secure systems beyond what many SMBs could do themselves. And organizations are coming around to this fact: 87 percent believe that security in the cloud will be at least as good as it is now. One key is requiring the cloud provider to adhere to a suitable security service level agreement (SLA) to keep your information and applications safe and accessible.
    Chris Halcon