So, here’s the critical question – ‘Can I really save large amounts of cash swapping PCs and local networking for budget tablet computers and the cloud?’
Let’s face it reliable tablet devices can cost as little as £70 and printer/scanners can be had for as little as £40. That’s a low overhead and if you can get away with minimising expenditure to that level why doesn’t everyone jump on the bandwagon?
Computer experts and advisors will caution that any start-up business should factor in capacity for expansion, redundancy to cover equipment failure and a whole host of additional features, all of which add costs. And cost, as we know, have a habit of mounting up.
It’s that well intentioned cautionary advice that holds many back from taking full advantage of the latest in computerisation and making huge savings into the bargain.
What we can do here is examine a number of scenarios, comparing the latest innovations in business computing to the older more expensive options.
Small and Medium Sized Business Scenario. This time let’s take a small business with 5 employees in the wholesale provision market place. The owner employs a salesforce of three and two administrative workers, while running the business from a small industrial unit. IT consists of six PCs, two of which are desktops and four laptops. Plus, a small file server running Windows Server 2012 Essentials for all 6 users and as a platform for a MySQL database. The database is administered by the owner and data is entered and updated by the staff via browser application across token secured remote access from their PCs. Office 2016 is installed on each PC.
The alternative in this case utilises 6 Office 365 E3 licences, 4 Linx tablets replace the laptops and two budget PCs (£200 each) replace the networked office based machines. The server, switch and cables are replaced by a single BB router which allows connection for each of the office based machines to access the Internet, and the company Office 365 site. Osprey, or similar, MiFi units are provided for each tablet user. Smartphones may also be provided to the tablet users if they can be justified, but the Linx tablets will allow for both Skype and Skype for Business communication. The MySQL database is moved to one of office based desktop PC and is synchronised to a range of SharePoint lists in O365 via Microsoft Access (part of the Office 2016 suite provided in the O365 subscription). Data entry and update is performed via the SharePoint lists and replicated back to the database in real time.
Savings here start with much reduced hardware cost. Are incremented by a massive reduction in software licencing with the elimination of separate Office 2016 licences for each user and of the server licencing. As the local area network no longer exists there is no requirement for secure token access. These improvements are enhanced by efficiency savings gained by having real time data updates across the working team.
The great thing about O365 cloud storage is that the data becomes available on all registered devices immediately it is saved on any one device. The result is a net cash saving, increased working day productivity and, as a bonus, more free time Security is also enhanced as data can be stored both on the device(s)and in the cloud. Nothing is lost in the event of loss or damage to any local device. Mobile Device Management can be used to ensure that data on lost or stolen devices cannot be accessed by anyone unauthorized.
The Office 365 trend - ‘Office 365 First-quarter 2015: Consumer base reached 12.4 million. First-quarter 2016: Sales of consumer products and cloud services climbed 6% and subscriber base grew to 22.2 million. Office continues to be a steady driver of sales for Microsoft. In the past three months, Microsoft has benefited from growth in subscribers and higher sales for each Office 365 license.’ - http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/21/technology/microsoft-earnings/index.html
Chris A Watkins provides help and support to a small number of businesses in the field of automated workflow. This is especially relevant for organisations wishing to utilise the full power of SharePoint online in O365.