UK telecom EE is launching a new suite of cloud apps specifically aimed at boosting small business productivity including office, publishing, and accounting apps such as Microsoft Office 365 and Sage One Accounts and Payroll.
EE’s new cloud services suite, known as “Business Apps”, also includes online file backup and sync service MozyPro, website and web shop builder Moonfruit, receipt and invoice manager Receipt Bank, legal document builder Legal Manager, credit checking tool CreditHQ, and helpdesk platform Zendesk.
Rather than bundle these services, they’re available à la carte, and users are charged a monthly subscription fee for those they use. Microsoft Office 365 requires a 12-month commitment, but other services can be purchased on a month-to-month basis.
Already providing high-speed broadband and “4GEE” mobile internet to much of the UK, offering cloud services helps further EE’s credibility as “Britain’s largest and most advanced digital communications company.”
“Business Apps from EE is a handpicked range of leading business apps designed specifically with smaller companies and sole traders in mind with deals and extras that are only available through EE,” EE Small Business Director Mike Tomlinson said in a statement. “With Business Apps and 4G on the UK’s best and fastest network, businesses can get more done – wherever they are, letting them spend more time on their customers and the things that really matter.”
Providing cloud services is a relatively new revenue stream for telecoms, but one that seems to be a natural fit. For instance, in 2012, (when Microsoft began allowing partners to bill customers directly for Office 365) US telecom Sprintlaunched Office 365 services for customers, and Indian telecom Bharti Airtel began offering Office 365 subscriptions to customers.
According to a survey of more than 1,000 UK small businesses conducted by Vision Critical sponsored by EE, 37 percent of small business employees said they believe they would be more productive if their bosses provided business apps for use on mobile devices. Still, only 22 percent of small businesses currently offer their staff apps for use at work. This could potentially cause employees to use outside cloud services that are not known to internal IT, which could easily lead to security breaches and lost data.
Virtually all businesses have a relationship with a telecom provider, giving them a unique position of quickly and conveniently brokering cloud services.