The Internet provides a wealth of information and tools that can help your company to run smoothly and profitably. But how do you find the right ones?
Thanks to today’s connected world it’s almost impossible for businesses to exist in isolation. The Web is a source of customers, of information and of tools to help things run efficiently. However, the Web is so vast that finding the resources you need can seem like tracking down a needle in a haystack.
Whether you’re looking to boost sales, manage your accounts or streamline your document management the best place to start is with an analysis of your needs. It’s pointless applying a complex solution to a simple task so take some time to work out what your requirements are and look for a way to meet them. Once you have an idea of what you need you can venture online.
As with most things on the Internet the place to start is with a search engine. Of course simply typing in a few keywords will get you thousands of results many of which won’t be entirely relevant. The key to searching effectively is to use the advanced options. Did you know for example that Google has a “Search near” option that allows you to find results close to your location? There are also various ways to filter your search results for greater relevance. Grouping a phrase in quotation marks means you search for them in the exact order you typed.
Harnessing the Cloud
A major change in recent years has been the introduction of cloud-based solutions for many business tasks. Using the cloud has many advantages. You don’t need powerful servers to run the software for example and all of the administrative tasks like backing up data are taken care of for you. It also makes it easy for members of a team to collaborate on projects if all the documents are stored online.
If you opt to use the cloud though remember that you’ll be reliant on your Internet connection. If your line goes down you may be unable to work so you might want to ensure you have contingency plans in place to allow you to get online access via a 3G connection for example. You also need to pay particular attention to security. Whilst cloud connections and storage are usually encrypted, make sure that you encourage your staff to use strong passwords and change them regularly.
There’s an increasingly large choice of cloud tools, especially for tasks like office work. It pays therefore to try out more than one solution and see which best suits your needs. Even with paid software there’s often a free trial to allow you to assess its suitability.
It’s important when looking for online solutions that you keep an open mind. Don’t be tempted to follow the crowd. Just because everyone else uses a solution doesn’t meant that it’s necessarily right for your business. Every company has its own needs and thanks to the Web you have access to a vast choice of solutions.
Smith is a freelance writer and former business analyst. To find out more about how software and online solutions can help your company click here.