It’s that time of year… Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday are upon us. I’m like many in that I’m always on the lookout for the newest piece of trending technology, whether it fits in the palm of my hand or exists “somewhere out there” in the Cloud.

For the past 2 months, I’ve been writing about technologies that were once “bleeding edge” – promising new technologies that might change the world… or crash and burn like a plane without wings.

This month concludes this series on trends in technology, and I’d like to explore two of the most ubiquitous pieces of tech in small business, starting with email. All of us have an email address, and most businesses have left behind generic AOL, Yahoo, and even Gmail email addresses and opted for “branded” email addresses when it comes to professional communication.

Until recent years, if you wanted a high quality email system and custom email addresses for your business such as “c2itconsulting.net,” you’d have to pay thousands of dollars for an on-premise email server, build a strong firewall to protect your system from hackers, and pay a professional big bucks to maintain, protect, and routinely upgrade your system.

Massive cloud-based email systems such as Office 365 and G Suite (formerly Google Apps) have shifted the paradigm when it comes to the need for on-site servers for email storage. You can now outsource your entire email platform to these Internet based systems. Not only does this save you thousands in hardware, software, and professional service fees, but it also opens doors of opportunity to your small business that you may have never thought of when you were “doing it on your own.” Whether it’s shared calendars across your organization, a global address book for everyone to use, or high-quality antivirus and spam protection baked right in, cloud-based email is a great example of bleeding-edge tech gone mainstream.

In addition to email storage, cloud-based file storage has become a powerful piece of technology to leverage value in today’s small business. You can share files across computers and users, access your files from anywhere, and expand the size of your file system as you need it, rather than buying more than you need up-front.

Both of these technologies provide tremendous opportunities for small business. However, they are not immune to attack, and it’s still important to consider and ensure your backups, malware, and antivirus protection barriers are in place. Just because something is managed by Microsoft or Google doesn’t make it immune to attack or downtime.

When it comes to bleeding edge tech, the Cloud has long since become a tried and true piece of today’s technology puzzle. Whether you’re using it to store email, files, your accounting system, or simply pictures of your kids, it has become a part of our daily lives, and is both equipping and empowering small businesses to do more with tech than they ever could before.

For publication in the Hendricks County Business Leader – December 2017

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Chet Cromer is the president of C2IT Consulting, Inc., a Plainfield-based technology business that provides websites, mobile apps, and IT consulting/support to businesses across central Indiana. He can be reached at chetcromer@c2itconsulting.net or (317) 721-2248.

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