Small business owners have to constantly deal with the challenge of investing in skills and resources to ensure their company stays competitive, while also making sure they keep a tight hold on their budget.
One of the key enablers to doing business in today’s world is technology – go into any small office, and the desktop computers and laptops on employees’ desks are there for all to see.
But the true cost of IT for companies goes beyond what’s initially visible. Tucked away in a small air-conditioned room will be expensive servers that house employees’ data, customer information, financial records and payroll information, email servers, and more.
At present, small business owners have to provision for IT in their capital budget – buying all the expensive hardware and software needed to set up their company network and computers for employees.
Then there’s the human resource cost – IT specialists (whether in-house or outsourced) that are required to set up and maintain the company network, diagnose and fix computer and network faults, and ensure that software on all computers are up to date.
Neglecting this last part could seriously compromise the integrity of your network, your data, and possibly your business itself.
Thanks to advances in computing and improvements in broadband internet, small business owners now have an affordable, reliable and secure alternative to spending huge sums on their own IT infrastructure – software services in the cloud.
With the cloud, businesses no longer need the huge, upfront capital spend on expensive servers, and powerful desktops, but can rather invest in more affordable laptops or even energy-efficient desktop alternatives like the CloudGate.
With just a good internet connection on hand – it doesn’t even have to be the fastest out there – small business owners can access solutions for office productivity, image editing, human resources and payroll, enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, and much more online.
Since it’s all online, business owners no longer have to worry about security patches and software upgrades, unlike with software that’s installed on a computer.
Many providers only charge you for what is needed, making such solutions convenient for small businesses, with the ability to scale up as the business grows. This could include increasing the available data storage, unlocking additional features and adding on more users.
There are also many online data storage and backup solutions, meaning small businesses can dispense expensive network-attached storage devices and the need for regular backups of all their data.
Reputable providers have their redundancy plans and store companies’ data across servers in different locations – meaning that even if there was a failure in one of their servers, end-users might not even know something happened and can carry on with work as usual.
What all this means for the small business owner is that they can invest more of their capital into the actual business, and move IT from being a costly capital expenditure to a more affordable and customisable operational expenditure.