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Saturday, December 6, 2014

How Does Technology Support Small Businesses?

Technology is changing rapidly, and small businesses are enjoying access to better software at more affordable prices. Below are just a few of the many ways that today's technology is supporting small businesses.

Software as a Service

Remember when it used to cost thousands of dollars for business software plus expensive licenses for each user? New software investments also often meant investing in new hardware capable of supporting that software. None of this came cheap, making it hard for business owner to keep up with larger ones with deeper pockets. Today, powerful software is readily available in the cloud "as a service." Rather than paying huge amounts up front, Software as a Service costs are typically spread out and billed on a much lower per month basis.

What types of software can you get as a service? Here are a few popular types of SaaS offerings:

. Small business accounting software
. Customer relationship management software
. Content management software
. Asset management software
. Office suites (word processing, spreadsheets, etc.)
. Email marketing software
. Project management software
. Human resources software
. Team collaboration software

Cloud-based software is accessible via a Web browser, making investments in hardware virtually unheard of. Cloud service providers take care of all maintenance and upgrades, freeing small business owners from having to figure this out on their own or hire an IT tech to do it for them.

"As a service" solutions also grow with your small business. You can start out with just a few licenses and then add more (or remove) users as your needs change.

Data Archiving

It's not just software that now resides in the cloud. Document storage has also moved to the "as a service" model. For example, you're likely familiar with Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive. A recent innovation in this space has to do with data retention and archiving.

According to Dolphin, SAP Cloud Computing Solutions such as Content Archive Service for Cloud allows small business users to archive data and documents in the cloud for transparent "anytime, anywhere" access (Source: Dolphin, Cloud Storage for SAP Archived Data and Documents). Dolphin's Content Archive Service for Cloud is a Storage as a Service solution that connects to major public cloud providers like Google Cloud and Amazon S3. Cloud storage allows for cost alignments between SAP storage and the value of your data. For example, data you frequently use can be placed on high performance storage devices whereas data you need to archive but not necessarily access regularly can be placed in a lower-cost cloud storage service -- at significant savings.

Merchant Services

Cloud-based credit card processing solutions allow small business users to ditch the traditional credit card processing terminal and process transactions online -- or even on a smartphone with a small card reader attachment. Not only that, many cloud-based merchant services can be integrated directly within other applications such as billing software or an e-commerce store (Source: Accounting Today, Understanding How Technology Supports Small Business Success).

Small businesses now have access to the same enterprise-level applications their larger counterparts use, but without the need for huge upfront expenses. From Software as a Service to data archiving, merchant services, and beyond, cloud-based technologies are changing how businesses operate.

Works Cited:

Accounting Today, "Understanding How Technology Supports Small Business Success," - http://www.accountingtoday.com/news/payroll/understanding-how-technology-supports-small-business-success-72015-1.html

The author of this article has been an IT consultant for a number of years. Resources for this article can be found at http://www.dolphin-corp.com/information-lifecycle-management/sap-cloud-computing/.

By James J Hadley

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