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Business in the Cloud

There are many reasons why companies of all sizes are shifting their tech resources to the cloud. It may be to accommodate and collaborate with distributed workforces. Or it may be to streamline and corral staff efforts.

There is an endless number of tech solutions available in the cloud, each with its own niche, pros and cons. Here is a roundup of some of the field’s biggest players.

business in the cloud

Cloud Storage

Storing files in the cloud allows staff to access them anytime and from anywhere. Rather than storing data on individual hard drives or internal company servers, data stored in the cloud allows for wider access and enables data backup systems.

Three of the leading cloud storage providers are Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive.

Number of Users
: Dropbox had 50 million users in 2011, after which it grew to 100 million in November 2012, 200 million in November 2013, 400 million in June 2015 and 500 million in March 2016. Google Drive had 120 million users in November 2013. It grew to 190 million in June 2014 and 240 million in October 2014. Microsoft OneDrive had 250 million users in November 2014 and 500 million users in October 2015. Microsoft OneDrive had the largest number of paid accounts, with 11% of users. Google Drive only had 0.42% of users paying, and for Dropbox, it was only 0.03%.

About the Services
: Dropbox offers 2 GB of free storage and sees 1.2 billion files uploaded daily. A stunning 4,000 file edits are made every second. Google Drive offers 15 GB of free storage and is integrated into the suite of Google services, so if you have a Gmail account, you also have Google Drive. Microsoft OneDrive offers 5 GB of free storage and is built into the operating systems of Windows 8 and 10.


Good communication is extremely important to small businesses, both within the company and externally. Of course, small business office phone systems are essential, but so is email.

Email: Globally, about one third of all humans have an email address, and 25% of all email addresses are business accounts. Slow growth is predicted for business emails. The average number of business emails sent/received per user per day was 122 in 2015 and will be 123 in 2016, 124 in 2017, 125 in 2018 and 126 in 2019.

Many companies are integrating chat-type products into their enterprise VoIP in order to reduce the email overload. There are many chat options available:

Slack: Slack is seeing rapid growth, and the average user spends 10 hours per weekday logged on. In August 2014, it had 140,000 daily active users and 40,000 paid users. By October 2014, it had 268,000 DAU and 73,000 paid seats, and it surged to 500,000 DAU and 135,000 paid seats by February 2015. In a matter of a few months, its April 2015 numbers reached 750,000 DAU and 200,000 paid seats; its June 2015 numbers hit 1.1 million DAU and 300,000 paid seats; in October 2015, it had 1.7 million DAU and 470,000 paid seats; in December 2015, it had 2 million DAU and 570,000 paid seats; in February 2016, it had 2.3 million DAU and 675,000 paid seats; and in April 2016, it reached 2.7 million DAU and 800,000 paid seats.

Hipchat: In 2015, 3 billion messages were sent. This is 43% of all Hipchat messages ever.

Google Hangouts: Google doesn’t disclose its user count. In the Google Play Store, it currently has a 3.9 rating.

Workplace (formerly known as Facebook at Work): This ad-free platform requires the user to make a business account that’s separate from their personal Facebook. The beta version was launched in 2015. By March of 2016, 450 companies (some with more than 30,000 people) were using the closed beta version, with 60,000 companies on a waiting list The tool was just launched publicly in October 2016 and is currently used by more than 1,000 companies.

Voxer: Voxer was founded in 2007 by two veterans who, after returning from an Afghanistan tour of duty with the Special Forces, saw a need to broadcast walkie talkie-like communication to all soldiers on the battlefield. In 2012, it had nearly 70 million users. In 2015, it had more than 60 million users.

Yammer: In 2012, Yammer was bought by Microsoft for $1.2 billion. That year it had 5 million users and 200,000 business accounts. In 2013, it grew to 8 million users. In 2016, the number of business accounts grew to 500,000.

We Chat: In 2015, We Chat had 549 million active users, and 82% of users were located in China.

Project Collaboration

Online collaboration tools aim to keep employees working together effectively and focused on the task at hand.

Trello: It had 500,000 users in July 2012, 1 million users in December 2012, 4 million users in May 2014, 5 million users in September 2014, 10 million users in October 2015 and 12 million users in January 2016.

Podio: Launched in 2011, it was bought by Citrix in 2012 for $53 million.

Asana: Founded in 2008 by Facebook alumni, Asana was valued at $280 million by 2012. In 2016, it was valued at $600 million.

Base Camp: Launched in 2004, Base Camp was valued at $100 billion in 2015.

GitHub: Launched in 2008, GitHub is a code hosting and collaboration tool for programmers. As of April 2016, it had 14 million users and 35 million repositories, making it the largest host of source code in the world.

There are a variety of cloud solutions available at a range of costs, each with their pros and cons. In addition to these off-the-shelf cloud tools, niche cloud apps are being custom-made for developers, engineers, creative teams and business operations. While there is no single solution that’s applicable to all businesses, it’s important to match the tool with the needs of the business.

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Ken Narita

Ken Narita’s marketing career spans two decades helping businesses large and small grow. Whether it’s been advising emerging startups, guiding clients from the agency side, or currently, leading SMB marketing at Ooma, Ken has always taken an empathetic approach to addressing goals, gaps, and opportunities. Previously at TriNet, from 2011 to 2017, he grew and led the revenue marketing team through a period of rapid change and growth where net service revenue consistently grew in a range of 15-20% per year and reached $650 million at the end of his tenure. Ken has led demand generation, field marketing, customer marketing, and marketing operations teams and enjoys the ability to integrate campaigns across all functions to drive results.

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