Technology drives businesses today, regardless of size or industry vertical. It’s how we communicate, distribute information, drive revenue, interact with customers and solve business problems. However, for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and startups, technology implementation is another in a laundry list of issues that can be a struggle to tackle due to the most common of problems: lack of resources. Typically, those resources fall into a few camps:
People: Depending on the nature of your business, you may not have the human capital to commit to identifying technology solutions, integrating them into your existing systems, maintaining those solutions, training your other employees, etc. Deploying and maintaining traditional business software is a time-intensive process, so there simply may not be anyone that can be dedicated to new tech.
Time: Time, as always, is money, and businesses are often at a loss for both. Buying cycles can be exceedingly lengthy, and while decisions are being made the work still has to get done. This can lead to inefficiencies and a lack of productivity as technology purchasing decisions continue to drag on for months at a time.
Money: Building out secure networks and integrating the various pieces of your business is an expensive proposition. There’s equipment and software to buy. There’s training time, which eats into your employees’ normal responsibilities. And as technology has grown and evolved, the monetization of that technology has often grown increasingly complex, requiring considerable investment, knowledge and deft negotiation.
One of the primary drivers behind the explosion of cloud technologies that are utilized for a variety of business needs, such as file storage, customer relationship management and collaboration, is that utilizing the cloud can help alleviate almost all of the problems listed above. Cloud solutions let your business leverage the strengths of an enterprise-grade network infrastructure for a fraction of the cost. With the technology hosted, managed and updated off-site, you don’t need to commit extensive human resources to maintaining your new implementation. And, the time factor is virtually eliminated; a majority of cloud technologies can be accessed through a simple web browser or on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, making deployment as simple as flipping a switch.
The proliferation of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) philosophy is a potential benefit for small businesses and start-ups; your employees likely already own the devices they need to get work done. BYOD can significantly reduce your organization’s equipment costs and deployment difficulties, provided that you choose technologies that are mobile-ready. Pursuing mobile-friendly business applications and technologies for your company’s email, customer relationship management or collaboration tools allows your employees to leverage their existing devices.
Whether seeking to deploy cloud technologies, on-premise solutions or a hybrid approach, the knowledge required to choose the right technology solutions for your business can be daunting. Often, your organization needs an objective, outside opinion or simply the experience and expertise of a technology veteran to help address your technology needs—in other words, you need a consultant. While hiring a consultant can sometimes be an expensive proposition in and of itself, the cost savings long-term from choosing the right solution and the expertise gained can be invaluable to the overall health of your business.
Josh Erwin is a blogger for PGi, meeting experts and providers of video conferencing and collaboration software solutions. Josh explores technology trends and their impact on consumers and companies of all sizes. For more on the benefits and challenges of successful telecommuting, download “The Yin + Yang of Telecommuting,” a free eBook from PGi.
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Photo: Ben Stanfield, Flickr, via CC BY-SA 2.0