9 out of 10 – Small Business Owners…

9 of 10 small business owners identify the costs of maintaining and upgrading technology as their most significant challenge.

So, what are small businesses spending their IT budget on according to Ipsos? (Ipsos MORI is a leading market research company in the UK and Ireland)

IT Budget Spending

  1. Email

    (84%)

  2. Laptops

    (66%)

  3. Desktop computers

    (62%)

  4. Smartphones

    (55%)

  5. Outsourced tech support

    (48%)

  6. Landline telephones

    (45%)

  7. Mobile phones

    (43%)

  8. Cloud computing technologies

    (30%)

  9. Tablet devices

    (29%)

  10. Online storage

    (27%)

  11. File sharing

    (24%)

  12. Website development tools

    (21%)

  13. Video conferencing

    (15%)

  14. Online collaboration tools

    (12%)

  15. VoIP

    (11%)

  16. Development platforms

    (8%)

Specific applications such as Microsoft Office, Customer Relationship Management, payment processing, and many others were not included in this list. (Data collected 2014/2015)

Cash flow is at a premium in most small businesses, so every £ spent on technology should be well thought out.

Small businesses without the knowledge to make well informed decisions, whether it relates to specific or all technology needs, are advised to seek out a partner who can help. There is simply too much at stake to wade in willy-nilly.

As referenced above, nearly half of small businesses outsource most or all of their technology management and support.

For most, resources for IT specialists are limited by budget. Choosing the right service provider with the required capabilities can be a scary proposition, as many non-technical business executives have no or little technical training. This can lead to overdependence on the provider’s recommendations and, as a result, possibly wasted financial resources and technology that is not a proper fit for the outcome the business is trying to achieve.

Technology is changing at an exponential rate making it nearly impossible for those outside of direct interaction to fully understand and assess the right technology for them and the services provider’s capabilities.

Let me translate this –
If you more than busy trying to keep up with the current pace of your business, it is unrealistic to think you will have the time to understand what technology is right for your company. They key – as in all of the challenges – is to find the right partner who can do this for you, while you focus on what you do best.

So, your new product or service has hit its stride and you are gaining droves of new and returning customers. You now need to hire more people to help keep up with the demand. Create a new infrastructure to store customer data, process it efficiently and effectively communicate with staff and customers alike. Put systems into place to manage workflow, consider Customer Relationship Management tools. Your Google shared drive or free trial Dropbox account probably isn’t going to cut it any more.

Congratulations!

And, welcome to the next phase of your business. It’s a challenging one, especially when it relates to technology.
Step one should be to go get an IT Services Consultant, who has helped other small businesses do this before and one who has a good understanding of a wide-range of technologies, which will help your business successfully evolve and grow.

The choices you make now – will dramatically affect cost, performance, integration, ease of use, security, compatibility and many other business variables related to IT.

Thinking ‘Big Picture’ from a technology perspective will help to prevent having an IT infrastructure installed, which may not be fit for the future. The pain and costs that go along with undoing what you decided at this stage can be crippling further down the line.

The 30% of small businesses referenced in the “cost” section of this blog, who are using cloud, may be at a distinct advantage when it comes to scaling in a more cost-effective and operationally efficient way. Going to the Cloud offers a number of relevant models allowing users to map IT infrastructure to a specific provider, create cloud back up or data sharing platforms. Many operational software solutions, such as CRM systems, accounting software and much more – are today often cloud based.

However, it may it be better for your business to consider a hybrid model. Is an ‘out of the box’ solution more cost effective than a tailored solution? There are many questions small business owners have. The answers to these questions are fundamental in creating the right system of hardware and software – on premises/cloud/hybrid and easy integration with existing systems. These are some of the real challenges, which have to be overcome with care, to ensure your business can grow and stay profitable.

To summarize, there are numerous technology challenges that must be overcome for small businesses to succeed long-term. Getting some basic knowledge of technology, if you are not a tech-driven company is a good idea. A better one, is to ensure you have a highly capable partner, that can steer you in the right direction.

Now, more than ever before, technology and whom you entrust it to can make or break your success as a business.

Engineer Artur

It’s IT support, Jim, but not as we know it

When it comes to IT you just want the job done.
And you need someone you can trust to do it.
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