3 Unbreakable Rules Of Business Technology
Like it or not, technology in business has become one of the driving factors behind so many companies.
It’s no longer a game of who you know, what you sell or your unique selling point. The top-performing companies are using technology to beat out the competition and see year on year growth even during uncertain times.
In this article, I am going to discuss my perspective of running an IT support business and what I see as working across our client base.
There are three areas that we will cover as part of this topic.
By the end, you will have a clear understanding of exactly what technology can do for your company once you understand the frame of reference IT providers such as us have in the local marketplace.
IT & Technology Are An Investment, Not A Cost
Many see technology, IT and information associated with it as a cost. Someone has to support all those laptops and desktops your staff use.
It costs just to maintain those machines, and there’s the additional cost of upgrades, replacements and repairs.
It is understandable to have this viewpoint when it comes to technology and your business. Yes, these are costs, but they will be providing the basics needs your business has to function. Just like the lights and heating in your office, IT is essential.
Where the investment lies is a long term strategy and view of how technology can help achieve efficiencies and transform fundamental elements of how your business operates.
A simple example of this I experienced last year when visiting a small coastal town. I visited a restaurant for a quick bite. They had a QR code on the door that I was told was required to order food. I reluctantly scanned the code and installed the app.
I found a table and began to order and pay for my food via the app.
The first human interaction was when the food was served.
I was stunned at the efficiency this small coastal restaurant had put in place.
With the power of a simple mobile app, they had reduced their operational cost by almost 1/3. There was no need for a cash register, no need for someone to take my order and no need for someone to collect payment.
All because of this one app.
Now the question I have for you and your business. What processes currently are you doing manually that could be automated with software & technology?
Secure Your Data Protect Your Clients & Staff
Cyber security is a threat we all have to live with now. Gone are the days of a simple virus that would stop your computer from working.
Cyber crooks are actively holding many small and medium businesses to ransom and encrypting their data, and asking for money.
You will only ever hear about large scale data breaches, but almost every business is under fire from these types of attacks now.
It’s no longer enough to secure the business. You now need to have a recovery plan of what to do when your IT system is hacked and a playbook on how to respond.
If your current IT provider has not put in place any process or playbook for your most critical business functions that rely on technology, now is the time to act.
With a practical response and recovery plan in place, this will give you a competitive advantage and ensure the smooth running of your IT systems even when they do get hacked, which is only a matter of time.
The question is when you get hacked, not if you get hacked.
Finally, we come to the most powerful element to business technology, and that is having an awareness of the data that you are knowingly or unknowingly collecting that you can leverage to transform your business.
All of the IT and technology systems that you run in your business collect data.
A good example of this is the social media giant Facebook. It collects data on all user interactions to build up a vast dataset that can be used by its advertisers to target their ideal customers.
Facebook has taken steps to leverage this data in many ways, including machine learning algorithms that predict customers based on past actions.
Now a good guess here is that you don’t have the same resources as some of these technology giants; however, they have provided tools for small and medium-sized businesses to make use of the data in their business intelligently to drive digital transformation in a solution like the Microsoft Azure Cloud.
It’s time for your business to take action on these new ways of working and technology. We would love to explore the opportunities you have with all elements outlined above and look forward to speaking with you.
Click this link and find out how we can work together.
Virtual IT Director (vCIO)
Technology has become essential for modern businesses, and professional management of that technology, especially post-pandemic, has become increasingly critical.
The speed of change and the rapid adoption of cloud based products (SaaS) has made it increasingly unviable to retain in-house support. Not only because of the cost, but because it has become far too time-consuming, too difficult for internal IT staff to keep abreast of constantly evolving, new technologies, whilst simultaneously managing their employer’s business network.
In large companies, the IT Director or CIO manages all corporate IT systems and strategies, to ensure optimum performance. They will manage any associated budgeting and ensure that the best possible value is being achieved.
In an ideal world, all businesses would have an expert IT Director/CIO in charge of IT strategy, infrastructure, design, and implementation of the right IT solutions throughout the company.
But the actually cost becomes a real barrier, because experienced IT directors are very expensive, making this option impractical for most SMB type businesses.
Most businesses today take the decision to outsource all IT responsibility to suitably qualified IT Managed Services Providers (MSPs). The obvious benefits being substantial cost savings, but also the MSP is likely to employ a larger team of qualified and experienced technical experts.
In practice, many IT Managed Services Providers (MSPs) today, will include a virtual IT Director/vCIO as a valuable element of their support provision and at no added cost to you, the client.
This helps them to provide a complete, end-to-end service, ensuring expert management and maintenance of your entire IT infrastructure.
In many cases, the vCIO service will be fully supported by advanced back office systems and delivered through regular Account Management meetings, virtually or in person.
It is designed from the ground up to provide a range of very comprehensive benefits, including:
- Identifying what cloud services would be most beneficial to your business
- Helping you plan your IT spend so that maximum value is achieved
- Ensure effective alignment between your business’ aims and your real IT requirements
- Design and management of any IT projects
Advancements in technology, in particular cloud based products, which have seen a dramatic increase during the pandemic, are helping businesses to grow more quickly than ever before, and at the same time, increase productivity and profitability.
But many of these cloud based technologies are highly advanced and complex, and can present a serious risk to unwary businesses, which in turn drives an increasing need for effective, professional management of these systems, especially when it comes to your mid-to-long-term business plans.
Most MSPs employ larger teams of expert IT engineers, and because they have the ability to rotate responsibilities, their technical staff are always able keep their training up to date with current technologies. As a result, they will typically offer a far wider range of expertise than an in-house team could.
Because of their larger teams the virtual IT Director/vCIO function might actually be an entire team of expert technologists and industry professionals, with many years of combined experience in all aspects of strategically managing advanced IT systems.
What this means is that your business benefits from the expertise and vast knowledge of highly skilled and experienced team, helping you optimise your systems and drive you towards your business goals.
Your business can gain all the benefits from many years of experience, gained while operating in diverse IT environments, without having to pay for a full-time board level executive.
A Virtual IT Director/vCIO will always ask the right questions to help formulate IT recommendations, designed to help your business become more successful.
The Virtual IT Director/vCIO will always have your business foremost in their thought process and make only appropriate recommendations, ensuring you are fully informed and ready to make the right decisions.
The vCIO will oversee your entire IT infrastructure, ensuring everything is operating as it should.
They will guide your business’ digital transformation and help you to remain competitive, whilst at the same time, keeping a tight control on your costs.
The virtual IT Director/vCIO role your MSP provides, will deliver effective and affordable skills to ensure your IT systems are working for your business and not the other way around.
It is an effective and cost-efficient method of getting the very best out of your technology budget.
3 Ways Your MSP Can Help You Forecast Next Year’s IT Costs
Regrettably, when clients are assembling their quarterly or yearly budget forecasts, they often forget to invite MSPs to the board room table. The reason for this is because a lot of providers are viewed as “fixers” rather than as the strategic planners that can be used to effectively guide budgeting discussions. Managed service providers can offer a wealth of invaluable insight, benchmarks, supporting data, and reference experience that you can be used to project IT costs.
Your IT budget says a lot about you, as a business owner. It can indicate whether or not you have developed a plan for the future of your business, whether you are willing to fund that plan, and whether or not business leaders value the benefits of technology and the impact it can have on driving success, or if they still view IT as a minor function. Your budget should reflect the strategic plans that you have for the upcoming quarter or year by assigning funds to projects that you have given high priority for attaining the goals and objectives that you want to attain. Your IT budget can also be used to drive innovation and truly advance the success of your business.
Here’s a look at three ways that you can use your MSP to help you forecast your IT costs for the upcoming year.
Leverage Capex/Opex Accounting Rules
Back in the dark ages when businesses handled their own data centers and invested large sums of money in the IT hardware that was needed to handle their data centers, it was fairly easy to separate capital expenditure from a company’s standard operating budget. As IT has progressed, it’s objective is no longer focused on using cost-effective, temporary infrastructure to providing more advanced technology that effectively support strategic initiatives in the present cloud computing-centered environment.
Correct the Past
A lot of businesses are bogged down by highly complicated landscapes that demand more resources than are actually justified; however, their IT budgets are comprised of insufficient funds in order to correct legacy issues. Instead, they focus on allocating funds to keep the lights on, and then fund the projects that will meet the business’ most urgent needs, which can end up being very problematic. Instead of taking this approach, give the most pressing needs your attention so you can modernize your efforts.
Plan for the Future
Your IT budget shouldn’t focus solely on the strategic needs of your company for just the next year, but rather, it should include your objectives for the next several years; between 3 to 5 years, ideally. The top CIOs achieve this by making sure there is access to money that can fund the goals for the future of their company.
When you know what you want several years into the future to look like, you can then determine what things need to look like in a single year, and thus, you can allocate funds appropriately. While it’s true that you’ll likely need to focus more of your funds on immediate needs, by looking several years into the future, you can start planning for that future when you’re planning your budget for the upcoming year.