A new client for Amaxra told me about how a recent power outage resulted in his business losing an entire day for all employees across the company. But this company isn't a factory dependent on electricity to manufacture tons of perfectly-machined widgets; it's an office where employees do all of their very expensive and hourly-billed work on computers. "It didn't matter that my employees' laptops all have batteries," the frustrated business owner told me. "Our internet was completely down, so none of them could get online to get to their documents because it's all in the cloud."
This real-world scenario is common amongst the typically small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs) who choose to be cloud-only workplaces. In the past few years, many SMBs have embraced the cloud-only workplace model with apps such as Google G Suite and Salesforce. The advantages are obvious: all your users need is a working internet-connected device running any operating system and a web browser. All work is done online so there's no software to install, your data is available from anywhere thanks to the cloud, and your company doesn't need many onsite IT resources because there's nothing "onsite" to manage. It's also no secret that cloud-only software is always sold at the lowest price when compared to the competition. So, cost-conscious SMBs naturally gravitate to that internet-bound model.
But take away that internet lifeline—either due to a power outage, an accidental cutting of the lines, or traveling outside the service area—and the cloud-only model is no longer viable. Amaxra consultants have heard some cloud-only software salespeople counter this objection with "that's rare" or "it's only one day." Without sounding too presumptuous, I doubt many salespeople trying to get an entrepreneur to sign a cloud-only software contract have personally worried they might not make payroll for all company personnel after losing "only one day" of productivity.
The advantage of offline software
The lack of any significant offline productivity points to an uncomfortable fact: There is a bigger cost to using cloud-only software than many companies ever consider. Cloud-only software is only as good as your internet connectivity. At Amaxra, we often point to the benefits of a Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium plan such as the tight integration with artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and other productivity-enhancing features that are made possible by the cloud. But we also advise our customers that a key advantage of choosing Office 365 Business Premium is that the cloud is not required to operate. Even if your corporate internet is down, every Excel spreadsheet, Word document, PowerPoint presentation, and Access database file is editable via the offline apps. It's this offline app advantage that should be a crucial decision point for most SMBs since the lack of internet connectivity does not sideline all your company's A-players when using Office 365 Business Premium.
Calculating the hidden cost of a cloud-only workplace
However, since cost is typically the decision point carrying the most weight with SMBs, the less expensive Google G Suite appears to be a better deal than Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium. The Google G Suite Business plan costs an even $10 per user/per month while Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium costs $12.50 per user/per month. Most business owners with twenty employees would already have done the calculation that choosing Office 365 over G Suite would cost them an additional $600 per year.
But think about the real-world scenario of the G Suite user who experienced a power outage: That company lost a standard eight-hour day's worth of productivity (and revenue, etc.) because they had really had no good option to work in G Suite without internet connectivity. If your company had twenty employees and all of them were physically unable to work for a standard eight-hour day due to G Suite and a lack of internet, then ask yourself:
- Would your business take only a $600 hit and is that acceptable to your business?
- Are you comfortable with "saving" that $2.50 per month/per employee in the wake of that potential revenue/productivity hit?
- What additional features would Office 365 Business Premium need to have other than just offline apps to warrant spending an additional $2.50?
If you're looking for an answer to the last question, then consider that Office 365 Business Premium also includes a built-in business invoicing solution, a mileage tracking solution for Android and iOS smartphones that is extremely useful for employees who get reimbursed for travel, and a customer relationship manager (CRM) built into the Outlook email client. For SMBs currently without a CRM solution such as Dynamics 365, the built-in one for Outlook in Office 365 Business Premium does a great job showing customer communication history (both email and instant messages), reminding you of important sales-related tasks in your calendar, and tracking all deal activities. These three features in Office 365 Business Premium have no analogues in the $10 per month Google G Suite (or even the $25 per user/per month G Suite Enterprise option). Amaxra feels these features represent a significant enough value to cover the additional $2.50 per user price for Office 365.
For most SMBs, Amaxra recommends you consider your business as a cloud first rather than a cloud only workplace. By strategically moving certain IT and
business processes into the cloud, your business can cut costs and be more efficient. In our experience, this cloud first model usually results in
the maximum ROI with the minimum risk to your organization. Our expert consultants can help your organization to calculate your risk tolerance for
the cloud and determine the cloud-first productivity options to match your budget and desired business outcomes.