image courtesy of softwareconnect.org
In part one of this two-part article, we focused entirely on Microsoft Office 365 because of its dominance in the cloud based business tools market. In the final part of this series, we will focus on the competition for Office 365 as well as other applications that complement Office 365 and alternate communications strategy’s. It’s difficult to compete with a product that has such a dominating market share. To do this, the competitor must have vast resources in development and marketing. The primary competitor for Office 365 comes from Google and their product G Suite, which is built on Google’s Gmail platform. Gmail’s tremendous success in the personal email market has allowed it to be able to build a business product that is a formidable competitor with Office 365. Business Gmail, in the G suite business product, gives its customers the ability to choose an email address that includes the company domain. Additionally, it offers a shared calendar for setting appointments within and outside the group. Google voice adds additional features such as video and voice conferencing. Google has developed products that compete directly with Microsoft Office products Word, Excel and PowerPoint. These applications not only look and act like their Microsoft competitors but also interact well with them. Using Google Drive with these applications can allow collaboration on documents between users on the same account. Despite the disadvantages of competing with the clear market leader, Google has developed a competitive product both and functionality and price. (See figure 2 below)
To follow are some of the most popular business communication applications that provide additional functionality that Microsoft and Google’s communication platforms don’t provide.
Slack is a cloud-based collaboration tool similar to the instant messaging platforms many of us have used in the past. This type of communication’s best place in business is when faster attention or response time is needed than email typically provides. Users can be divided into chat rooms, or channels, for specific applications such as customer service. The content of all conversations, from the start, is searchable and documents can be attached from the desktop or via integrations with Dropbox or Google Drive.
Many small and medium sized business organizations that don’t have large marketing budgets will utilize a marketing automation platform like MailChimp. Marketing automation can take over repetitive tasks such as welcoming new subscribers and reconnecting with an abandoned cart from their ecommerce website. MailChimp will also automate e-mail marketing campaigns and provide detailed analytics of their success. MailChimp‘s popularity has grown as they have developed tight integrations with e-commerce platforms like Shopify and Magneto.
Those of us who have worked in a large enterprise are familiar with customer relationship management software or CRM. These software platforms are designed to build stronger relationships with existing customers, improve communication, and increase and track sales. The companies that create and support this enterprise software are technology giants like Oracle and Salesforce.com. The barrier to entry for these platforms for the small and medium business has been the cost of the software. Not only are subscription licenses expensive but implementation and support costs are very high. More recently a group of Cloud based CRM‘s such as HubSpot has allowed the SMB market to utilize CRM. With these providers, entry costs are low and sometimes even free. Just as important, their integrations with Outlook and G Suite make it easy to implement and support. Like Office 365 described in part one of this article, this software tool has leveled the field between enterprise and SMB.
These business communications applications rely on the ubiquitous nature of the internet and the cloud for delivery. Therefore, this discussion can’t be complete without mentioning the two leaders in the cloud market: Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft Azure. While these technologies have been discussed in previous articles (Azure, AWS), an important detail must be added here. Both technologies have been made so simple to login to their console and create cloud instances it has created a business problem, cloud billing scope creep. The console administrator can select resources needed, and the services can even sense when expansion is required. However, much of the billing algorithms for both platforms are transactional or based on cloud usage. This can allow the affordability factor of the cloud to reverse itself quickly and become a costlier way to build your infrastructure. To help our clients solve that problem, Two Ears One Mouth IT Consulting has created a Cloud Billing Analysis & Savings Service (CBASS). More will be revealed later regarding this service, needless to say we can analyze your cloud billing, make adjustments and re-validate the solution.
If you need assistance with your current IT cloud project, please contact us at:
Jim Conwell (513) 227-4131 email@example.com www.twoearsonemouth.net
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