These days, it’s almost impossible to do business without the assistance of cloud computing applications. Cloud computing services take some of the heavy lifting out of data sharing and enable you to see changes in real time. They also make up some of the most powerful platforms available.

You can do almost everything on the cloud, from something as simple as uploading a file to highly sophisticated tasks like complex data processing, machine learning and analytics. But moving to the cloud comes with unavoidable risks as well, which might make you want to take another look at your business’ security infrastructure and training programs. Here are some of the most popular online applications — and how you can get the most of out of the cloud.

File Sharing and Document Creation

Some of the most popular ways businesses use cloud-based apps are for simple document creation, file sharing and storage. Many feel most comfortable with Office 365 integration, since businesses have been using the Office suite since the very early days of computing. Google offers a similar suite of tools in its G suite.

Regardless of which file storage platform you use, most systems feature an API for custom integrations, and many are compatible with other tools. All allow you to easily share files and update changes in real time for simple online collaboration.

Our cloud computing technicians will happily help you implement Office 365 or other cloud-based storage applications and migrate existing data over to the cloud. We can even assist in integrating cloud computing products like these with existing on-premises exchange servers for a hybrid cloud environment. Whatever your needs, we can help!

CRM and Sales Applications

When you’re chasing leads or juggling multiple sales accounts, it’s important that everyone — from your sales call center staff to your developers — knows where they stand with potential or existing customers. That’s exactly why cloud-based CRM systems like Salesforce are so popular with businesses — in fact, Salesforce was one of the very first cloud applications ever developed.

While Salesforce is probably the most well-known of these tools, cloud CRM platforms are about as numerous as the stars. Many applications specialize in a particular aspect of the sales cycle, from lead generation to marketing to engagement. There are also some industry-specific CRM systems, such as Firepoint, which caters exclusively to professionals in the real estate industry.

Perhaps one of the most powerful features of cloud-based CRM applications is real-time reporting. It is incredibly difficult to gather insights on your sales process if you’re still relying on outdated methodologies like spreadsheets. Almost every enterprise CRM system has a reporting feature to help you understand where leads exist in your sales pipeline and which factors impact conversion. You’d have to do a whole lot of manual work to get that kind of information out of a spreadsheet!

Communication and Conferencing

Whether it’s a chat application or video conferencing solution, communications platforms are instrumental to the modern workplace. These days, it’s almost impossible to get all stakeholders in one place at one time, especially when you work with a lot of remote team members or external vendors.

Communications applications simplify the process of getting everyone together, ensuring that no details get lost in the shuffle of email. Of course, to accomplish that, all team members need to be using the same communications platform. For this reason, we often recommend unified communications applications for our customers.

These platforms roll several different communications channels — messaging, voicemail, video conferencing and text — into a single cloud-based application connected to your VoIP system. In this way, they save your team redundant work: instead of opening several separate applications, you can launch video chat directly through text messaging or check your voicemail on your desktop. No more duplicate work!

Everything Else

These are some of the basic applications of the cloud, but there’s so much more you can do with it. In fact, it’s difficult to categorize cloud-based tools because so many modern software tools exist on the cloud. You can do almost any kind of task there — for example, some intriguing new cloud computing applications include analytical processing and artificial intelligence — and your work is saved automatically and easy to share with other collaborators.

However, security remains a pressing concern with cloud computing. Any time you upload data to the cloud, you increase its vulnerability. But the information you store in cloud-based applications is particularly at risk, since you have no way to know exactly how secure each app really is.

There’s not much you can do to protect sensitive data at rest in your cloud provider’s database — other than research your platform provider to check that it uses secure infrastructure and protections like data encryption. However, you can give yourself a little extra security when data is being transferred between your computer and your cloud provider’s platform. Using services like VPN, or an encryption service like HTTPS Everywhere, you can ensure that data in transit isn’t intercepted by hackers.

Taylored also provides complete security training for your team to help you stay up to date on the latest issues. We can advise you when you choose a cloud provider to get you one that’s secure. And we offer network monitoring and support to sniff out any unusual activity before it becomes an issue. Don’t let the computing potential of SaaS applications cloud your judgment when it comes to your business security!