Best Practice Technology Guide for small, medium and start-up businesses
One of the most obvious factors that differentiates a small, or start-up business from a larger enterprise is the lack of a dedicated IT team. Typically, the owner or business leader handles those areas, but as a company starts to scale - managing IT can become a distraction from core activity.
Our accessible, work anywhere culture, brought about by advancements in cloud services and connectivity, has virtually eradicated the resource gulf that existed between large and small companies, and more agile enterprises can now scale their services based on ‘pay as you go’ consumption models.
And in this new era of working anywhere, at any time, and on any device - what are the core technology areas to focus on?
Baseline Equipment & Connectivity
Hybrid working practices continue to drive the need for flexibility and convenience, and whilst some desktop computers might be needed, most organisations prefer a combination of laptops, tablets, and smartphones for access to their systems.
A mistake made all too often by start-ups is a reliance on familiar ‘consumer-based’ technology, when a move to more advanced hardware and services may be required. Entry-level devices will have slow and limited processing and memory and will generally lack the power needed for business software and systems.
Networking and internet connectivity at the business premises must meet current operational and security requirements, with scalable options for future needs as the business grows.
It’s likely that systems and data will be your most valuable corporate assets and standardising the processes for purchasing, licensing, renewing, and updating systems is vital - everything should be documented and easily accessible when required. Microsoft Office is the ‘de facto’ choice for most businesses, whether using PCs or Macs, and as Google docs and a variety of browsers increase in popularity, organisations must determine which of the main application suites are best for their business. Email services and domain hosting options are available from cloud providers and web hosting companies, and technology partners will be able to host software and systems via online cloud services that no longer need to be installed on a computer.
With so much business now being done digitally – voice is becoming the forgotten application, but in many cases, businesses still rely on inbound customer calls. Telemarketing numbers and contact centre functionality and intelligent call routing may be required as part of a voice over the internet (VoIP) telephony solution, that also integrates mobile connectivity to ensure no calls are missed, along with a wider suite of multi-channel contact centre options including social media, email, web, chat and text.
Cloud services are an excellent foundation for small businesses to run and scale their operations, allowing them to keep pace with competitors and extend their services. Services are affordable, fast, reliable, and flexible - and companies no longer need to own and manage their own server infrastructure. Leading providers blend private and public cloud services together and they’ll ensure your systems are hosted and protected using the very latest technology - removing the burden of managing a computing and connectivity platform in-house. When choosing a partner, it’s important to consider any data privacy and compliance requirements, along with service and support arrangements, business continuity, and cyber security needs.
A failure to have robust cyber security protection from the outset means that small businesses are generally seen as more easier targets than larger organisations with established IT security practices. Cyberattacks are at epidemic proportions and recent unprecedented growth in the digital economy means rich pickings are to be had from companies who skimp on security.
Malicious hackers actively seek out organisations that don’t have robust protection in place, and whilst all companies are potential targets, those with business continuity services built into their cyber security ensure that their systems continue to function normally at a secure secondary location in the event of an attack. As with all things, levels of security deployed directly relate to the operational budget available, but a failure to recognise the consequences of an attack may be catastrophic.
Management & Support
The extent to which services are run in-house or via a third-party provider will have an impact on the amount of management and support required. Monitoring and management of systems and infrastructure that include routine maintenance, problem anticipation, and system downtime management and eradication will provide much needed peace of mind for business leaders. The services range from point products to wider solutions that cover a range of networking and hardware platforms.
The complexity of organisational infrastructure will vary according to the size of the business, the industry vertical and the amount of technology deployed. Seeking advice from the outset is the best way to ensure that current and future needs are accommodated. The planning, building, operating, monitoring and reviewing of infrastructure (and systems) is on-going, and the continuously changing technology landscape ensures all our digital transformation requirements will continue to evolve.
To discuss any specific requirements, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and our consultancy team will be more than happy to help.
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