When I started Clear Task in 2006 I was excited about the prospect of running our business using cloud solutions. As a small company we didn’t want servers or PBXs or backup disk arrays. But that was 2006. There was no Box.com, RingCentral, Rypple, or DocuSign for Salesforce. So we adopted whatever we could — starting with Salesforce and Quickbooks Online.
What a difference 6 years makes! By the time we moved offices a few weeks ago we were running our business using 100% cloud-based solutions.
Here’s a visual to put it in perspective:
What stands out?
- The sheer number of cloud applications
Prior to the cloud no company our size would want to deal with 18 vendors, 18 installs, 18 potentially different hardware and software requirements, 18 maintenance agreements, 18 renewals, and so on.
The cloud applications make it so much easier to buy, set up, and manage each service.
- The level of integration possible
While Salesforce is clearly our “anchor solution” the level of Salesforce integration achieved by 13 of the 18 vendors makes it feel like one cloud vendor — not 18 different ones. We do the majority of our work directly in Salesforce seamlessly using applications like DocuSign, Conga Composer, LinkedIN for Salesforce, and Reachable
I was worried about moving bandwidth intensive functions, such as telephony and document storage, to the cloud. Could they ever be as fast as traditional PBX and network drive equivalents respectively? We have all been on those annoying calls where someone is cutting in and out because they are on a softphone and don’t have enough bandwidth. My fears were unfounded. With the right bandwidth from Sonic.net and the right router quality of service (QOS) (QOS) configuration there is no phone latency.
- Salesforce possibilities
While we make no secret that we are huge salesforce.com advocates, we have not been shy about using other (and sometimes) competitive solutions where we felt they were a better fit for our business. (OpenAir vs. FinancialForce PSA, SuccessFactors vs. Rypple, Quickbooks Online vs. FinancialForce). With some of the technology advances and acquisitions Salesforce has made, especially Rypple for Salesforce, we will be revisiting some of these choices come renewal time. (We are already evaluating Rypple.) The range of AppExchange applications grows by the week and opens up so many possibilities and choices.
The average cost per user is $200 per month. I have seen more expensive cell phone bills. The $200 is an all-in cost for subscriptions. No hardware or maintenance costs.
Here is a picture of me unplugging our old Dell Blade Server, and the place the server occupies in our storage room. A salesforce.com AVP who visited our office recently suggested we mount it on the wall as a relic of times past.
It feels good not to be one of the cobbler’s children. Salesforce gives us what we need to run, scale, and make our business thrive It’s fun to be able to log into our own Salesforce instance on my sales calls to show people how we use the power of Salesforce and Force.com to run our business.