Web applications for business have come a long way. They used to be poor imitations of their desktop counterparts, with only one or two functions and not at all practical. But my, have these apps grown. Today’s SaaS business and CRM apps have become so powerful and useful that in many cases, they’ve begun to replace traditional desktop software such as Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, SAP, etc.
Desktop apps are great and all, but they don’t provide the same benefits as business apps that make use of cloud computing. With most SaaS apps, you only need a browser and an internet connection to access all your data online. That beats having to install annoying programs any day and gives you much more flexibility when working in teams. Cloud business apps have the added advantage of integrating with each other, so you can hook all your systems together.
To give you a better sense of how useful web apps have become, I’ve compiled a list of 15 of the best business apps and CRM tools that can replace some of the desktop business software you use. I hope you take the time to try them all out. You’ll be surprised how well they work.
Without further ado, here are some great web alternatives to the popular desktop business applications.
A lot of what we all do with our computers these days is online. A very large proportion of us forego the comfort of an email client and rely instead on a web based mail service such as Gmail or outlook.com. In recent years there has been a big push from a lot of big name companies — the likes of Google, Adobe and Microsoft — to encourage their customers to work increasingly in the cloud.
It is likely that the widespread use of webmail has helped to make the idea of breaking away from the confines of desktop software, but the ever-increasing popularity of smartphones and tablets can probably also claim some responsibility. The ability to work on the move on a smaller-screened device is obviously very liberating, but there are new considerations to keep in mind. It is all well and good being able to work away from the desktop, but there will probably come a time when you want to work on a regular computer rather than a portable device. Of course, you can plug your phone or tablet into your computer and copy files back and forth as required… but this is too much like hard work!
I’m a huge Dropbox junkie. I’ve got 19 GB of free space that I’ve managed to secure over the years (being a student and inviting friends used to help, especially before Dropbox really exploded over the past few years). But cloud storage is tricky, and I’m the paranoid type who believes you should never rely on only one storage solution — even if it is “in the cloud.”
I was intrigued when I heard about another cloud-solution that claimed to offer a few advantages to the Dropbox setup. It’s called NTI MiST. NTI has been in the software game for a long time, and have seen tremendous success in the industry. Read on to find out whether MiST continues to improve on their sterling reputation, or if it can replace or work alongside Dropbox.
The PC isn’t dead — far from it, really — but it’s far from the most exciting thing these days. The best selling deices are mobile, and when they’re not tablets and smartphones they’re ultra-thin laptops that put the priority on battery life and portability over power. There’s apps for almost everything, and even if all you’ve got is a browser, there’s a web app for almost everything as well. It’s been a long time since it was an absolute necessity to buy a copy of Office to write a document or throw together a simple spreadsheet.
And yet, there’s still plenty of things that you’re apt to need a traditional computer for. Yes, you still might need a full copy of Office from time to time, and rendering a video might be rather slow from your tablet. Perhaps you’ll want to compile software, or crunch some numbers in Mathematica. For that and more — well, actually, all you need is the cloud.
Cloud storage solutions like Dropbox and Google Drive are fantastic, but they don’t solve all the file-sharing needs you would have online. For starters, they require you to have an account to use them, and there’s no anonymity in sharing the file itself.
In the course of using the internet, you will often need different file-sharing solutions for different tasks. There is no one-size-fits-all service that gets everything done. So here are the best services for file-sharing, depending on what you need to do.
In the past couple of years, cloud storage has become more and more popular with people. There are so many different options to choose from: Dropbox, Bitcasa, Box, Google Drive and so on. One of the many advantages of cloud storage is that you can easily share a document with someone else. For example, if I create a document and put it into Dropbox, it is very easy for me to share a link with someone. I don’t have to type out an email and attach the document to it. That process, although easy, can be cumbersome and has some definite downfalls.
Now days, with so many people using cloud services, you almost expect most people that you share documents with to be using them. The problem though, is that there are so many different services to choose from and not only that, but what if you are sharing documents back and forth with someone who isn’t using a cloud service you are using?
Let’s say, for example, that you are using Dropbox, but the person you are wanting to share files back and forth with doesn’t use a cloud sharing service. That can definitely be a pain for you and the other person. That’s why today I am going to be reviewing a web application that will let anyone upload documents to your cloud service, whether they are using it or not. Let’s take a look at EntourageBox and see how the cloud can make you collaborative.
Right at the end of 2011, when everyone was gearing up for New Year celebrations, I looked at Lightspeed, a Mac-based POS (point-of-sale) designed for large retail businesses. It’s a mighty impressive piece of software but at over a grand for a single user licence (they start at $1,098 each — and that’s without the POS hardware!), it’s certainly not a cheap piece of kit.
However, since then, some major transformations have gone on within Lightspeed Retail, the developers. A few days ago, they acquired MerchantOS (a former rival company) and merged the two products into a new one called LightSpeed Cloud. Unlike the former product, which was confined to a single Mac, the new version now allows users to access their retail data from whatever device they are using — a real boom for retail businesses who use devices such as tablets and mobile phones in their day-to-day life.
I have a Dropbox account with about 50GB of storage space. There’s also a Box account with the same size. Then there’s Google Drive with 15GB, Flickr with 1TB, and so on and so forth. With so many different cloud storage services, there’s bound to be some confusion.
- Which account did I save this file on?
- Man, this document is on both Dropbox and Google Drive, but I can’t remember which one I updated last.
- I need to edit this file but it’s on my Box. I sure wish it was on my SkyDrive right now!
- Hmm, half this photo album is on Picasa and the other half on Flickr. How do I get the two together?
There had to be an easy way to take the stuff from one account and dump it into another. And I wanted a way where I could set up an IFTTT-like rule, where new files or changes from one folder are automatically synced to another. Mover.io promised those things, so I took it for a spin. (more…)
Listening to music via a browser normally involves YouTube – and by association the terribly annoying Vevo. If I wanted advertisements before a song I’d turn on the radio. Soundcloud is an alternative but unfortunately caters mostly to the Alternative genre.
The Drive Tunes extension for Chrome however promises a seamless listening experience straight from your Google Drive. As with most things good and Googly – it’s free, it works and isn’t chock full of malware.
On the face of thing’s all is well. But is it usable? Is there even a point to a browser music player? Oh, and does it play nice with Google’s other offerings? The plot thickens.
Beeminder is a goal tracking service that is not quite like anything that has gone before it. It can be used to log a wide variety of things you might do, from the number of times you go to the gym each week, to how dedicated you are to clearing out the clutter from your inbox.
I’ve been a fan of Beeminder since my girlfriend introduced me to the site. I fell in love and started using it to track the number of articles I was writing and various other goals. Seeing a graph indicating my progress is often all the encouragement I need to stay on track and stick with what I’ve set out to do, and I decided to catch up with Beeminder co-founder Daniel Reeves to find out where the idea came from.