Tedschadler By Ted Schadler

Did you know that three vendors with something in common grew rapidly during the last recession? WebEx, Placeware (now Microsoft LiveMeeting cum Office Communications Server), and Salesforce.com all grew during the last recession.

One of the reasons is that they offered valuable services — Web conferencing and sales force automation – that companies needed help with. But the other thing they had in common is that they packaged their offering as a cloud-based service with a pay-as-you-go pricing model.

This model offered three immediate benefits to cash-strapped companies:

  1. It was cheap and easy to get started with these cloud-based services.
  2. The business could buy the services without IT’s help, at least initially.
  3. It was easy to provision these services for business users.

That was seven years ago. Fast forward to Q4 2008 where Wall Street is undergoing a dramatic restructuring, nervous CFOs are putting the brakes on spending, and collaboration strategy professionals are wondering how to roll out collaboration services that will help companies ignite the teamwork and innovation that will dig them out of this recession.

Fortunately the world has a changed a lot in the last seven years, and there are now dozens of companies offering innovative cloud-based collaboration services cheap enough to get started with a credit card. And it's not just small companies. It includes Cisco, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and every hosted email provider large and small.

Looking for help on where to get started with cloud-based collaboration services during a recession? Here are three things to draw your attention to:

  • First, I partnered with Forrester CFO Mike Doyle and with Frank Gillett and Matt Brown (with great support from Sara Burnes) to write a report on talking to your CFO about the financial benefits of cloud computing. It starts with OPEX and the resulting low cost of entry hence financial risk of cloud-based services. This report is available to Forrester clients, but I'm happy to talk to others about the findings.
  • Second, colleague Rob Koplowitz and I are doing a teleconference on November 5th that's open to everybody on cloud-based collaboration. We'll review the landscape, talk about the financial benefits, and walk through the vendors. You can register here.
  • Third, colleague Chris Voce and I are putting the finishing touches on a pair of reports to help you assess whether to move your email messaging systems to a cloud-based provider. The short answer is, "Yes," in some key situations include email filtering, possibly storage, sub-15,000 person firms, and all your occasional users. Give us a shout if you want to discuss, and look for these reports in November.

Disagree, have concerns, ready to go? Comment and share.