The Role of IT in Small/Mid-Sized Business
In 2018 it is a safe assumption that most successful businesses depend heavily on some sort of internet connectivity, software, and computer hardware in order to conduct daily/weekly operations. Everything from daily credit card transactions in a retail environment to complex logistics software solutions to support shipping operations require near constant intranet and internet connectivity. Given this dependence, network uptime and reliability are a priority.
Almost every business and retail related credit or debit card transaction, invoice, or funds transfer is digital. Most custom software solutions to support manufacturing, logistics warehousing and shipping, and support operations such as human resources require either constant or intermittent intranet and/or internet connectivity. The more workstations or computers an organization requires, the more hardware maintenance and cabling solutions become necessary.
Many organizations choose to go without constant technical support. This tends to be an artifact of when the company was much smaller and has outgrown operator level maintenance for the network and equipment. Many organizations use provided hardware company support for devices, but this quickly becomes tedious and solutions tend to be reinstallation of software, causing data loss. These support methods are not reliable and have insufficient response times when network uptime/internet connectivity and software functionality are a priority.
Small businesses need experienced and trusted technology partners who are trained and proficient with current technologies and knowledgeable in their industry's operations requirements. The result is almost always more cost-effective, efficient, and profitable for the client.
All forms of business data require primary and backup storage solutions. Cloud storage is the current most reliable and cost-efficient means for backup storage. There are many cloud storage solutions available, and as companies grow, active management is required for data security and organization. There are many threats to data security and client personal information protection is a public priority. Threats include viruses, spyware, email solicitations, security failures, and data loss due to hardware failure or insufficient power protection. Costs of managing network, software, and hardware functionality as well as network and data security rises quickly when performed internally and many businesses opt for a fully managed IT services provider.
It is common for office staff to understand very few features available in the software applications they use. Many of the features, time-saving capabilities, and cost-reducing functions remain untrained and unused. Without full knowledge and training on the software and hardware capabilities, inefficiencies are inevitable, and errors go up significantly.
Many software solutions exist to simplify regular tasks or reduce cycle time for business processes. Training on these capabilities allows a business to fully realize the benefit of the software.
Most small businesses don't employ full-time trainers. Therefore, it's imperative that small businesses identify technology partners, training centers, or other programs that assist staff in maximizing software applications.
Mid-sized businesses and organizations with limited budgets, tend to employ managed services providers to support all of these functions, while very large businesses find efficiencies with internal full-time staff.