IT Technology

A Small Business Guide for IT in 2018

Written by Nathan Skyes

Small and medium-sized businesses rarely have a dedicated IT department, team or even the proper equipment in-house. There are many reasons for this, but no matter how small a business is, it can still have the needs and difficulties of larger organizations regarding IT, especially in 2018.

There’s no denying the fact that small businesses need the advanced capabilities and support that large organizations have access to. But the problem is capacity, resources and manpower. Comparatively, a small business does not have the same budget, versatile workforce or capacity — physical and digital — to operate and maintain a vast system.

That’s where outsourcing and modern cloud computing platforms come in handy. Instead, any business can offset the responsibilities to a cloud provider, allowing a direct focus on the delivery of their products and or data instead.

Over 300 small business owners were involved in a nationwide survey regarding their use of technology. It was discovered that their adoption of IT and modern technologies gives them quite the edge over their competition — including big business. Furthermore, a 2015 study done by SMB Group revealed that 29 percent of all SMBs see technology as helpful to their organization.

What are the must-have technologies? Is your team and business ready to adopt them? Do you — and can you — trust cloud-based computing systems and platforms?

Mobile Is a ‘Must-Have’ Even for SMB

Mobile operating system traffic has surpassed desktop and millions of people rely on the platform for their everyday routines. That makes mobile an absolute must-have for any business, especially if they want to engage with their audience directly.

That translates to mobile-friendly websites and apps, mobile experiences such as contactless payments or location-based notifications, and more. But it also means improving security and privacy for data related to this medium and its many channels, too.

Remote and Cloud-Based Tools Foster Collaboration

Not long ago, businesses of all sizes usually had their teams congregate in a single location. That’s no longer the case — not just for global or nationwide brands, but also local ones. Thanks to cloud-computing, anyone can do their work from a random location such as home or a local coffee shop. While this may be great for productivity, it’s often terrible for collaboration. Except for the fact that cloud-based tools and software help foster collaboration in many ways.

Platforms like Microsoft Teams, for example, allow for accessible, convenient and reliable collaboration between team members from anywhere. You’d be silly not to take advantage of such a thing.

Managed IT is another form of this that involves outsourcing the work to a third party. It’s so popular, in fact, that managed services are expected to grow to more than $190 billion by 2019.

Business Intelligence for Forward-Thinking Decisions

Business Intelligence (BI) for a long time was only accessible to large organizations with the resources to deploy such technologies. This no longer holds true, though, largely thanks to a leap into software-as-a-service support for many systems that never benefitted from such a thing before.

Business Intelligence relies on big data and analytics tools to track, store, process, organize and finally convert data into usable forms. The trends and insights returned can be used to make more informed and reliable decisions. This is also called “predictive analytics.” You can know before you even launch a product whether it’s likely to be successful or not. You could even find new ways to engage and interact with your audience simply by reviewing performance data.

Cyber Security Is a Considerable Challenge

As a small business grows their reliance on technology, they will likely see their risks and vulnerabilities multiply as well. A SMB, in particular, tends to have a difficult time with cyber security because they don’t always have the resources and funds to keep up with modern solutions.

The best way to combat this challenge is to adopt holistic, rule-based, end-to-end solutions that are — at the very least — manageable. Believe it or not, cyber security can be outsourced too, often with better results.

Live Interactive Chat

In today’s world, it’s important that a business remain accessible to their customer base or audience at all times. Thanks to mobile OSes, consumers now have the bulk of the power when it comes to engagement. They decide when, where, and how much time they spend with your brand or various systems. If they decide to reach out to your chat support team during off-hours, it may result in opportunities lost.

Live, interactive chat tools — including chatbots — can remedy this by ensuring your availability anytime of the day or night, even when you’re not truly there. Chatbots can answer queries, provide account and personal details and much more — all without any input from a real human.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, you’ll notice a considerable shift towards outsourced and off-site systems and tools. That’s because, as a small business, your needs will continue to grow and evolve. Not only will you have to maintain these resources initially, but you’ll also have to grow with your success and customer base. That’s just not viable for smaller organizations with incredibly limited support, unless you get that support from outside your regular channels.

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About the author

Nathan Skyes

Nathan Sykes has a passion for writing about business strategies and emerging technologies. To keep up with his latest posts, check out Finding an Outlet or follow Nathan on Twitter @nathansykestech.