IT Productivity Enhancement Tool or Business Distraction?
No one running a business wants to talk about servers, switches, the network, software, etc. (unless that IS their business) you simply want your technology investment to work and do what it is supposed to do.
Technology is a distraction for small business, probably as much as it is a productivity enabler, in some cases. For small businesses that do not have or cannot afford an in house IT staff, but find themselves manages their own IT infrastructure, this is almost certainly the case.
Doctors, lawyers, plumbers, electricians, restaurateurs, or hoteliers, it makes no difference, IT is part of these and almost every other business, but it is often an afterthought in terms of what role IT will play in the business.
We see small businesses that are struggling often not because of some flaw in their business model or the economy, but because of IT, or the lack thereof, is negatively impacting the ability of the business to generate revenue.
To be fair, it can be a difficult line to walk. Businesses need technology to be at their most efficient, but cannot justify the cost of a full time IT staff needed to keep their servers, email, applications, databases, backups, security, firewalls and PCs running.
For 20+ years, small technology services firms filled this skill gap for businesses with varying degrees of success along with the business owners’ kid, a college student intern, or an employee that raised their hand in the wrong meeting and found themselves in charge of all things IT.
The problem with this model for small businesses is that the productivity benefits and/or cost savings that technology is supposed to provide is tied directly to someone out of the control of the small business, forcing the small business to rely entirely on the integrity and availability of the IT partner.
The question is not if technology equipment will fail, but more a matter of when. As with everything else that has moving parts, including computers, they will eventually fail. Of course redundancies are built into the design to eliminate the risks associated with the most common component failures, but full redundancy is not something most small businesses have the budget to build.
The goal of most small business IT providers today is to reduce or eliminate that gap between a technology failure and being fully operational.
Our goal as a Managed Services Provider with proactive correlation engines is a bit different, we want to spot that problem in advance, and where possible, prevent it from ever actually happening in the first place.
IT should not distract small businesses from their key business objectives, reducing costs and improving productivity and profitability. IT should simply be a service like electricity, there when you need it, not there when you don’t.
If you spend more time thinking about or worrying about technology than the business the technology infrastructure is supposed to support, it is time to make a change. There are too many good options out there to have to tolerate that for any length of time.
Technology should be an enabler for small business, not the distraction that it can often become. Finding a firm that can manage your entire infrastructure for you or host everything in their data center and provide everything as a service might be a path worth considering.
Managed (technology) Services, as it is called today, vs. the Systems Integrator or Value Added Reseller of years past, should provide every business with some consistent benefits.
Controlled IT Costs – IT should be able to be maintained and managed on a fixed fee basis, simplifying budgeting and quantifying what will need to be spent on IT annually.
Leveling the Playing Field – Managed Services should give small businesses access to the same quality of resources that large companies enjoy, allowing small businesses to level the technology playing field considerably.
Greater Depth of IT Expertise – While small businesses may have one or two technology people on staff, a Managed Services provider will likely have 5x the resources if not more dedicated to managing all facets of a small businesses IT infrastructure that an internal IT staff could never do because of the sheer economies of scale that come from supporting many customers with the same talent pool.