There are so many questions in my mind about this topic, including managing the transfer from email to document saving, multiple identities and the increased possibility of spam or identity theft. I'm looking forward to learning more from your articles as you continue to lay them out. Thanks for your insight and expertise.
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Email Can Make Life Easier If You Plan Properly
Wouldn't it be great to have anywhere access to all your email, at any time, from any computer? It takes a plan to get there but it's not as difficult as you might think.......
One of the most important and widely used communication tools is email. There are many ways to access and send email. Since we're looking towards your future with technology -- let's start with one of the most common requests I hear today. That is: for an email system that is available from any computer anywhere. Most businesses use an email program like Outlook or Outlook Express to download mail directly to one computer. This is still the most common way to use email today.
As technology evolves, it's common for us to want access to our email from anywhere. You may have a laptop and need to get your email on the road. You may want to download and send email from an iPhone or Windows Mobile phone. You might be visiting a client and need something that is in the email on your computer back at the office. This is where the promise of cloud computing comes in. The idea is that your "Stuff", your email, your documents, your contact list, your information is stored on computers that are hosted elsewhere on the internet. You then access "Your Stuff" including email from any computer using a browser connected to the internet. Some people have been able to access their email for years using web mail provided by Google, Yahoo, and others. Their stuff is stored in the cloud and they just access it from any computer using a browser and logon.
Larger companies have the resources to host their own email on their servers. But for most small businesses (less than 10 users) -- a server and the resources to maintain it are not economically feasible. It can also be argued that many of the companies who do have servers and IT staff, could more economically handle their email on the cloud. Only you can decide what's best for your business -- but I would strongly suggest that web based email options are a good fit for most small businesses. Regardless of where and how your email is hosted--it's important for any small business to begin branding their identity for the long term. That is -- your email should be linked to and handled in such a way that everyone can readily identify your business by your address--by your domain name.
If you don't already have a domain that can be associated with your business -- Get One!! Regardless of the size or type of your business--technology should help to identify you and what you do. Technology can help to brand your business and make it readily accessible to your customers. To be more recognizable as a brand--you need to have your own domain name. Domains are relatively inexpensive (about $10 per year) so you may over time want to hold multiple domains for your business. Once you have a domain registered, you can then take advantage of multiple methods to deliver and send your email. Each person in your business can have individual email at your domain. You can also setup generic addresses for departments where multiple people are served by the same email address.
Preferably with your own domain and the customized email it offers, you can begin to layout your strategy. I strongly recommend that your plan moves you in the direction of anywhere access to your email. You don't need to do it all at once -- you can start simple and make small changes to how you do things over time. Keep in mind that it doesn't matter if you have one or 50 email addresses--that all of these options can be scaled to match your needs. Some are more scalable than others, however. I'll list off some of the more common options:
1) With your existing email address set it up in a traditional way that downloads your email and sends it from one computer. Not a very futuristic system--but it works.
2) If you have a laptop--you can setup the email client there and carry your email with you wherever you go. Keep in mind that if you setup the same email address on multiple machines--that you might end up with email in several places. This can hamper your effective use of email and is not recommend. There are ways to synchronize email between machines but for the most part, I feel they are too difficult and not the best way to go.
3) Another option would be to use the web mail offered by your domain host like GoDaddy or any of the other ISP's. I don't recommend using an unbranded address from your ISP or email service. You should have an address at "yourcompany.com" not an address at Yahoo.com .
4) If you are already using email that isn't under your domain, create a transition plan to first move that to your domain and then onto a system that will give you access from any computer.
5) Setup a Microsoft Small Business Server with Exchange and remote web access to allow your users access to email and other company information through the server. This may not be a viable option for many Small Businesses because of the high initial cost and the required IT support to keep things running over time.
6) Choose an online hosted service such as Google Apps or Microsoft's new BPOS system. This would be my recommended option for the long run in most any small business of less than 25 users.
As you look deeper into your crystal ball to create a technology plan, it will likely seem more and more complicated. I would encourage you to seek out and learn about the terminology. But more importantly you should seek out and establish a relationship with someone to help and advise you on technology. Seek out a trusted advisor when it comes to technology. It's been said that you don't need to know everything -- you just need someone to call when you don't have the answer. Nothing could be more true when it comes to technology.
Next we'll compare online hosted email systems to the more traditional methods. In the mean time learn more about the terminology. If you don't already know someone--find a friend who is tech savvy to help when you get stuck. It will be good for your friend and good for you. Someone to kick around the ideas with. I'll look forward to hearing your thoughts and questions via the comments here or at my blog. Until next time.....
Have a Great Day,
Learn more about the author, Rusty Lee.
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Posted by Alexis Mason, Vancouver, Washington |
Jul 24, 2009
- technology plan
- small business
- cloud computing