Published on 1 December 2012
The era of free is almost here.
With their freemium pricing model, SaaS business applications have upended the software licensing paradigm. Cloud apps have hastened its demise. Although legacy systems are still available, small businesses and large organizations are clearly moving towards a business model underscored by free or extremely cheap offerings.
The benefit of this pricing mechanism is that they enable you to run your outfit using free apps that shore up productivity amongst your workers and enable mobility.
What's more, they enable you to focus on the effectiveness of your operations, instead of worrying about costs.
Here are four areas of your business you can run using free tools.
This is, simultaneously, the easiest and most challenging area of your small business.
High productivity involves integration across multiple channels and geographies and comes at premium costs. Until you use SaaS applications, that is.
Several cloud-based applications offer productivity applications for free. Google Apps is the most prominent example. However, other solutions are not behind. Zoho apps is one such application. Used by over six million people worldwide, Zoho offers a comprehensive array of applications to enable productivity for your small business. You can use the cloud-based app to manage your customers, set up appointments, create presentations and documents, and aggregate information. While pricing for their business apps is fairly cheap, most of their productivity apps are free. In addition, you can add a certain number of users for free into the system.
With their combination of reporting and big data, on-premise business intelligence apps can generally cost quite a packet.
However, this is not the case with cloud-based business intelligence apps. For example, Yurbi is an on-premise business intelligence app with SaaS-based pricing that connects with your database to generate intelligent data about small businesses. As an example, the application is used by local school systems to manage their reporting needs. The good part is that the application allows users to generate five free public reports for their needs. And, if you have already generated those five reports, you can delete previous reports to make the application free for a lifetime.
Because they require constant monitoring and human intervention (at least, in a majority of cases), support operations require considerable investment.
However, SaaS-based applications have made support operations geography- and person-agnostic. Several premium support tools offer free services for a certain number of users.
For example Desk.com revised its pricing structures to offer free services for the first full-time service agent. Subsequent services are enabled through flex structures. This is perfect for small businesses, which do not have large operations but would like to scale with increase in business and revenues. Similarly, Freshdesk also offers free helpdesk services for the first agent.
Of all the activities in an organization, project management is, perhaps, the most significant one. It encompasses multiple operational areas and provides product touchpoints at each stage.
Any good project management solution should be able to imitate project complexity, provide simplicity, and increase collaboration between team members. The good news is that most project management solutions fit the bill.
Again, Zoho is a front-runner in this category. Zoho Projects includes several tools that are focused on enhancing productivity and increasing collaboration among project team members.
Free or not, SaaS applications are only as effective as your use cases. Hence, it is important to conduct due diligence about the app's utility to your small business, even if the app is a free one.
Of course you can always use GetApp's AppFinder service to find THE application that meet your unique needs.