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11/2/2011
01:22 PM
Kevin Casey
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10 Essential Cloud Apps For SMBs

Online tools let you get going fast and pay as you go, two factors that appeal especially to SMBs. From productivity to analytics, these 10 apps deserve your attention.
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Cloud applications, software as a service, SaaS, hosted services--no matter what you want to call them, online tools have become a growing part of the technology mix at a wide range of companies. The typical pay-as-you-go, per seat model--with little or no up-front costs--can be particularly appealing to startups and other small and midsize businesses (SMBs) that need to acquire productive, scalable applications without crippling their budgets.

While the total cost of ownership (TCO) and return on investment (ROI) analysis might look a little different at each company--and, contrary to some sales pitches, is not a slam dunk--SMBs are no longer beholden to traditional software licensing or hardware models.

The menu of cloud applications continues to grow, and they now cover most of the basic business functions, from productivity to analytics to social collaboration and beyond. Here are 10 cloud applications for a variety of needs that SMBs should at least be aware of--even if they ultimately go in a different direction. (For clarity of definition: We included any platform or tool delivered online and hosted off-site, usually on a monthly or annual subscription basis.)

The tools you choose need to fit your particular business goals and challenges. These are certainly not the only options out there, but if your organization has treaded cautiously into the cloud--or not at all--this list is a good place to start. It's also a good place to start if you're running your own solo show.

Of course, in this age of consumer IT, you'll also see some of these apps being used on enterprise machines--with or without IT's approval--by people or workgroups who need more flexibility than certain monolithic applications provide.

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dmorisseauv2x
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dmorisseauv2x,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/6/2011 | 4:34:38 AM
re: 10 Essential Cloud Apps For SMBs
SMB are much better off with an integrated approach, as to juggling 3+ separate, non-integrated business apps.

Many will start with a CRM, then continue to load on project mgmt/collaboration apps, billing apps, time tracking software, etc. Before all is said and done a team is jumping between a list of separate software that don't properly communicate... it's a discouraging and inefficient process.

Instead of going with a list of separate apps a business could go with a solution like WORKetc. Integrated CRM, project management, billing, time tracking, and support built together and intertwined at the core. This allows users to manage the entire client lifecycle in one place while easily grouping items together, i.e. grouping contacts, files, todos, timesheets, and invoices with a specific project.

Each function goes hand in hand for SMB, so why not keep it all in the same place and save time and money: http://www.worketc.com
Sahil Parikh
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Sahil Parikh,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/17/2011 | 3:52:35 AM
re: 10 Essential Cloud Apps For SMBs
Another tool that is good for project collaboration (specifically for marketing and digital agencies) is DeskAway (www.deskaway.com).
felixclark50
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felixclark50,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/24/2014 | 8:45:26 AM
re: 10 Essential Cloud Apps For SMBs
You have given a rich account of various useful cloud apps. We also use a cloud based collaboration application called proofhub for managing our projects. It enables instant and accurate communication and collaboration among our globally dispersed team members who are able to achieve timely and quality results. http://www.proofhub.com/ 
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