While I fully understand the pros of a web-based “cloud” solution, I also consider the cons. These being: 1) if our internet connection goes down, so does our database, and 2) less data security as the database would be stored on someone else’s server. We could still copy data over to laptops for use away from the office – it just wouldn’t be updated/synced with the office database until return.
I really really really encourage you to examine the online CRM options, such as SugarCRM, and the ones listed in the Google Apps marketplace (which is where I look to find services who are keeping up with the Joneses).Online apps are, without question or doubt, The Future. I cannot state this strongly enough. The services being designed now make both life and business transactions so easy and flexible. Businesses who don’t buy into this future are wasting money and productive time — consider the cost, time, and often frustrating effort of designing a custom database from scratch, on an expensive platorm for which you have to buy a seat for each workstation. With the online apps, there’s nothing to install or update, and you can use it outside the office. User training is way faster. I started using an online invoicing solution called Freshbooks recently, which has changed my life; check out the list of online CRM add-ons that integrate with their service. I understand the reservations about internet going down and such, but that brings up the larger issue that, just by dint of email, if you have a single internet connection, and it craters, it’s likely to bring your business to a halt, or at least a stall, anyway. Which is why everyone should have at least one backup connection, preferably starting with an iPhone or Android phone. The second one could be something like a MiFi, although some of the Sprint phones let you turn them into a wifi hotspot for a few computers, which is awesome. You knew I was going to say the next thing, but the most amazing and satisfying alternative second internet connection is an iPad with 3G. I’m very excited about how iPad and Android tablets are going to change the landscape, and online, cloud-based, Software-as-Service solutions are big, snow-peaked mountains in that landscape.