Digital transformation, digital marketing and improved customer relations are among the top three challenges for SMBs in 2022. It makes sense: While a host of tools and technologies are now available to empower these efforts, effectively coordinating multiple solutions across SMB networks is both time- and resource-intensive — especially with limited IT staff available.
Even productivity apps, which are designed to streamline day-to-day operations, may in fact do the reverse. Instead of empowering teams to complete their work, managing the installation, updating and licensing costs more quickly and efficiently for on-premises tools can result in the opposite effect: Teams spend more time fighting with apps than getting work done.
Cloud-based solutions such as Microsoft Office 365 can help SMBs deliver on digital transitions and empower operational efficiency. Here’s how.
Why Should Small Businesses Move to the Cloud?
Before diving headfirst into the cloud, it’s worth asking the question: Why?
While there are myriad reasons to consider cloud migration, three are of particular relevance to SMBs. First is the shift to work-from-home. According to a recent Gallup poll, 53 percent of staff expect to work both in-office and offsite through this year and into 2023, while 24 percent anticipate remaining entirely remote. Apps in the cloud naturally support this ongoing shift.
In tandem with this hybrid transformation, many small businesses are downsizing current office spaces, meaning it often makes more sense to deploy cloud networks than pay for on-site servers and databases. Finally, cloud deployments are driven by operating expenses rather than their capital expenditure counterparts. This makes it possible for SMBs to better manage IT budgets both over time and month-to-month.
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What are the Benefits of On-Demand Productivity Apps?
With a case for the cloud established, what benefits can companies gain by deploying cloud-based productivity apps such as Microsoft 365?
Operational advantages start with tools such as Microsoft Teams that enable on-demand voice and video collaboration, and SMBs can also benefit from built-in security features such as email protection, Microsoft Intune for mobile device management, multifactor authentication, and single-sign-on. In addition, companies can easily increase their number of available seats, upgrade plans or purchase additional security tools.
Microsoft 365 is also evolving to meet emerging business demands. For example, the framework now includes flexible contact terms, in-depth support, and employee training to streamline implementation along with cloud-based walkthroughs to get staff up to speed ASAP. Authorized Microsoft 365 resellers, meanwhile, can help companies create customized deployment plans.
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How can Migration Services Help?
While SMBs can purchase and deploy Office 365 environments on their own, it’s often more time- and cost-effective to partner with Microsoft-approved migration service providers, such as CDW, to get solutions up and running as soon as possible.
Benefits of managed migration services include:
- Planning. What’s the best way from point A to point B? Migration specialists can help SMBs plan, design, pilot and test new Microsoft 365 deployments, as well as assisting in training staff to effectively use these tools whether they’re working at home, in the office or on the road.
- Configuration. Migration services can also streamline initial setup and configuration of cloud services, along with general security and device-specific policies to provide SMBs complete control of their environment.
- Deployment. Finally, trusted third parties can assist with local file and resource migration to cloud-based services, in turn reducing the risk of lost or damaged data.
For SMBs to succeed in digital-first environments, the shift to cloud is critical. On-demand productivity apps can help businesses make best use of new cloud resources and ensure remote and hybrid staff are equipped for productive performance anytime, anywhere.
This article is part of BizTech's AgilITy blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #SmallBizIT hashtag.
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