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Starting a business of your own? Here’s a smart way to save money on essential software

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Have you had the experience of opening a company of your own - if you did you would know that one of the golden rules of survival is 'spend only what is absolutely necessary - until you have found somebody who can pay for what you do'

Is this a new rule - absolutely not. It must have existed since times immemorial, only probably the way it was applied has been changing

Office 1.0 - Ever since the computers have come in the mantra has been to minimize the extent of human intervention as far as possible so that you spend lesser money.

Office 1.5 - As we moved into the era of open source alternatives the push was not only use computers instead of humans wherever possible but also use the 'free options'.

Office 2.0 - But in the last few years the availability of software applications on the internet for all 'office activities' has drastically increased and the push now is to use online applications on computers instead of humans.

So what are the pros / cons of Office 2.0 over its predecessor ?

  1. You not only save on 'human capital' you also save on hardware - most of the processing happens on the web so a simple computer with a 'faster' internet connection will serve the need.
  2. Access your data anywhere.
  3. Smaller office space - why do you need it at all ? everybody just works from home :)
  4. Easy to share and collaborate
  5. Data is safer - at least from hardware crashes, computer disk problems etc etc.
  1. Data is not 'secure' - its out on the web after all
  2. 24*7 availability is not guaranteed - the application website might go down - but if I can get a decent % of uptime what does it matter
  3. Fragmented data - if you keep your documents on different websites getting a single view of your data might just get complicated
Before I end this post let me give a summary view of the various options for some of the activities in a typical office environment

Office applications - A complete office suite at ThinkFree or standalones like Writely, Google Spreadsheets and Thumbstacks.

Online Storage - Well Google Mail itself gives close to 3Gb. If you however need more you can try Streamload or XDrive

Collaboration - CentralDesktop and 37signals

Utility applications: Office 2.0 also needs mix and-match applications that merge various other online applications to give a single interface with interconnectivity between them. For instance, there is ShareMethods that merges many online tools giving you a search tool, word processor, customer management suite, and a presentation tool in a single package. Then there is a whole range of applications available online, right from small applications such as FreshBooks that lets you create invoices, to entire customer relationship management suites, such as for a fee.

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