Rethinking Small Business IT Needs
The shift to the cloud has left many organizations in flux when it comes to determining their small business IT needs.
Traditionally, someone was needed to look after all of the different pieces of hardware and software that kept your SMB up and running. But now, with cloud services and the growth of Everything as a Service (XaaS), it can be easy for organizations to eye IT when they’re looking to make cuts and save money.
The truth, however, is that most of these organizations need to rethink IT and how those roles can transition into a new framework. As we look at more and more platforms to handle our day-to-day tasks, we need to keep in mind what’s mission-critical to our businesses, and what small business IT needs will need to be prioritized.
That could be compliance with regulations specific to your industry, or it could be as simple as how different platforms interact and share information. No matter what, you need to make sure you have someone expressly looking out for your SMB and ensuring that the technology you use is serving your best interests. Here’s how you can rethink IT for your small business.
The Cloud Keeps Growing
Salesforce, a leading cloud application in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) industry, projects that cloud computing will hit $158 billion in annual revenue by 2020, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17 percent. That growth is expected to continue into 2022 and beyond.
What that means for SMBs is that we can expect more tools and data to live in the cloud than ever before. For IT, specifically, there is less data living locally and more investments in cloud services to serve small business needs. While things like network security and device updates remain a priority, the amount of support for network issues and local data storage is going to continue to fall off.
The cloud has many great benefits. For one, it gives your small business the resilience it needs to shrug off something like a natural disaster because you can access your data from anywhere.
Cloud computing means that you don’t need the same kind of hardware you might be used to supporting, and smarter AI solutions mean you can do more with less. All of this can lead some small business owners to eye their IT department as an unnecessary expense, but the truth is that they need to reframe their idea of what their tech team does and why it’s so important.
Tracking XaaS Solutions
One of the trickiest parts about relying on the cloud to solve everything for your business is keeping track of everything. At first, it works great. You need to do something new with your tech resources, so you sign up for a new service and get access to new tools.
The problem is that as these tools start to accumulate, it becomes difficult to coordinate them to ensure that you’re getting the best business results possible. There are many different ways that these problems manifest.
For one thing, make sure that someone is on top of the regulatory requirements for your industry and ensuring your SMB is in compliance. Even though you’re handing your data over to a cloud vendor, it’s important to realize that you’re not handing over your responsibility for compliance. Someone on your team needs to own those things and make sure that your XaaS solutions are on the level.
Most importantly, it can be easy to keep adding XaaS solution after solution to fill needs as they come up, without paying attention to how those platforms are working out long-term. You can find yourself subscribed to several different services with overlapping capabilities and learn that you’re not getting the most out of any of them.
Someone needs to be on top of tracking costs and determining whether or not you’re really getting the most value you can from the tools that you’re using, while at the same time looking out for more comprehensive solutions. In other words, you need to shift from a reactive IT approach (where you put out fires and fix things when they break) to a more proactive role.
Paying Attention to Security in a XaaS Environment
In a world where everything is a service, it’s easy to think that security is handled by your vendors. The truth is security should always be on your mind because, ultimately, your business is going to suffer if there’s a breach.
Much like compliance, someone on your team needs to own data security. That problem becomes even more important if your data is spread out across multiple platforms and services.
Part of that job will come down to how your business manages things like passwords, physical security, and network security. Part of that will also be about how well you evaluate your vendors on whether or not they can meet your needs and stipulate that in your Service Level Agreement (SLA). At the end of the day, data security is a mission-critical concern, and you need to make sure that you have someone on your team who owns it.
Managed services give you the security of hiring someone full-time to monitor your network and manage many of the day-to-day tasks without the cost of adding more headcount to your organization. Additionally, because managed service providers specialize in providing IT services to companies in need, you get the benefits of having an experienced team that’s as well-resourced as the best IT departments out there without having to spend like you are. With everything from 24/7 monitoring, to live threat response, to tech support for your team, you can rest easy knowing that you have a qualified IT team at the ready when you need them.
What You Can Do Right Now
With more and more day-to-day tasks moving to the cloud, it’s easy for some small businesses to start eyeing their IT staff when looking to make cuts and save money. However; that’s probably not the right move when looking at the bigger picture. Instead, rethink how IT for small business has evolved and how your IT employees can help your business adapt and grow in an age of big data, AI, automation, machine learning and more.
You need someone who will proactively look at your business needs and seek out new solutions that will help you get your job done better. At the same time, they need to keep on top of things like compliance and data security to make sure you have your ducks in a row. Here’s how you can start thinking differently about SMB IT.
● Look to move more resources to the cloud, but make sure that you have someone with the expertise to make smart choices.
● Keep on top of data compliance.
● Shift to a proactive IT mindset.
● Center security in everything that your business does on the cloud.
● Contact your ISP or Managed Service Provider to learn more about services that are available to your business.
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