Is freemium worth it?
It’s true that using free apps or software can save a business thousands of dollars. For example, a Microsoft Office 365 licence can cost between $85-$210 a year (depending on whether you choose the basic Business Essentials, Business or Business Premium plan). Applications such as SharePoint, Excel, Word and PowerPoint come included, but if all you’re using it for are basic spread sheets and word processing, there are plenty of free alternatives you could use while keeping some money left in your wallet.
Google Drive offers a host of Cloud-based tools such as Docs (word processing), Sheets (an Excel equivalent) and Slides (an alternative to PowerPoint).
LibreOffice, an open-source suite of applications, is another free alternative to Office 365.
But choosing to go freemium rather than shell out a couple of hundred dollars a year will very much depend on how complex your business is, its responsibilities, customer base and what kind of data it handles. While apps such as those offered by Google Drive and LibreOffice cover the basics, they may not be practical alternatives to Microsoft Office 365 for most businesses.
Compliance, compliance, compliance
Depending on the size and type of business you run, the choice between free or paid can have a big impact on your compliance obligations.
Australia’s Privacy Act was recently amended so that from March 2016, companies are made liable for any data breaches committed by their offshore cloud providers. That means it’s essential you find out where your business data will be stored.
Some apps, whether you paid for them or not, will not meet Australia’s compliance regulations. It’s essential you do your due diligence before making any software decisions to help prevent your clients’ data falling into the wrong hands.
Are you not using what you already have?
Before you go shopping for a new business app or software, look at what you already have in hand. It might already deliver what you need.
Ninety-three per cent of business enterprises are spending money on software that is underused or, worse, not being used at all, according to Flexera Software’s The State of the (Software) Estate: Waste Is Running Rampant in Enterprises report.
It could be worth investing in software asset management services to possibly avoid this problem. A software asset manager can help ensure your business is getting the most out of its apps, while also helping to confirm that you comply with privacy legislation in this area.