While our calendars all say 2015, most desktop computer technology used by small and medium business (SMB) was placed in production over a decade ago. Software like Powerpoint, Outlook, Excel, and Word—applications that all of us use to get work done—have been incrementally improved over time, but like face lifts and tummy tucks, they are only masking the real problem—age. They were conceived and built in an era before the internet, before web browsers, before Google, before mobile devices.
In some professions, a decade reveals only incremental change (politics, anyone?), but technology is setting the pace for all other aspects of our society. Nowhere else in our culture is change more evident than it is with technology, which is pulling all of us into the future at a breathtaking pace.
Advent of the Cloud
Leveraging technology to run a business today is more critical than it has ever been. Many people wonder why everyone is so geeked on cloud technology. To paraphrase a ubiquitous term, “It’s the Infrastructure, Stupid!” Back in the ‘desktop’ days, everything had to be installed, connected, patched and updated—we needed to have servers to connect workers PC’s to one another, and a robust network to support it all. Not anymore. According to data from SMB Group,
“In 2015, cloud solutions are poised for hockey stick growth as more SMB decision-makers turn to a cloud-first approach that not only supports existing business models, but also enables them to develop innovative new products, services and business models.“
92% of SMBs now use at least one cloud business solution (Salesforce, GMail) and 87% use at least one cloud infrastructure solution (Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services). The huge amounts of money that were required to create your own infrastructure are no longer needed! Cloud providers can save you the money and sell you only what you need, when you need it.
Staying in sync with technology
But how do you leverage current technology, when it is changing minute by minute? Just in time product selection is the answer, but it isn’t the answer for everyone. The rate of change today is a significant cause of fear, as well as confusion and frustration for many. For some, the answer is to stick with what they know and leave the pain and confusion to others. Progressive companies, by contrast, embrace this rapid development environment that provides new cloud and mobile solutions like Uber and AirBNB for those that are willing to step outside their comfort zone and incorporate them into their lives.
Technology pros in the IT world are not immune to this trend to ‘hunker down’ and play it safe. In fact, SMB Group tells us, “while 86% of medium businesses have internal IT staff, they are typically IT generalists who lack expertise in newer technology areas such as mobile and analytics”. This encourages employees in many organizations to look for technology solutions on their own, completely bypassing their IT departments. Some estimates are north of 50% of total tech spend being outside the IT department, leaving IT to ‘keep the lights on’ and little else.
Following these trends, it is important that every SMB look carefully at the technology adoption strategy they choose. Technology partners are available and utilized by most SMB’s—
“67% of small businesses (1–99 employees) and 81% of medium businesses (100–999 employees) say that technology solutions help them improve business outcomes or run the business better. However, most SMBs don’t have the resources necessary to keep pace with technology on their own.”
The strategy that an IT partner implements for your business should reflect your company’s attitude toward new technology and how you want to utilize it. An IT managed services partner is a strategic ally or a potential stumbling block for your company in 2015. Make sure you choose carefully.