Procurement 28 July 2015

The IT needs of a micro business explained

Virtualisation or the cloud can be a big help, though many busy business owners don't realise these are options
Virtualisation or the cloud can be a big help, though many busy business owners don’t realise these are options

No matter where in the world you are, the language of IT speaks volumes. Across the globe, businesses in different industries and of varying sizes are capitalising on the benefits that moving with the times can bring, each using technology to their advantage. So, does this mean that a one-size-fits-all approach should be adopted when thinking about how IT can benefit your business? Of course not.

Yes, one of the fantastic things about the scope of technology is that it allows micro firms with just a handful of employees to compete with their much larger counterparts. But does a tiny, niche sports car manufacturer need to be acting in the same way as Ford? And does a high street insurance broker have the same needs as AIG? I would argue not.

This is a subject so complex that it could fill an entire book. However, I’ll provide an outline explaining the main differences in IT approach for micro businesses below.

Flying solo

We’ve all heard the term one-man band, but some companies are just this when it comes to their IT support. While some small businesses have a dedicated IT professional, tasked with everything from sourcing new servers to fixing a plug, others tend to believe they can do without, leaving a manager or partner to resolve issues with computers – and at micro businesses, this is quite often the case.

In instances such as these, solutions such as virtualisation or the cloud can be a big help. However, in many instances the decision makers are so busy juggling the many different roles they take on, they do not realise that these are viable options for them.

Very often, businesses with few employees suffer from a knowledge gap compared to larger counterparts that have entire departments dedicated to resolving issues with IT and forward planning. Ironically, the ones who may benefit the most from innovation are sometimes the last to realise it.

Money talks

The harsh reality is that firms with a bigger workforce and more money are more capable of forking out for those large upfront investments. While cost issues faced by many businesses are not so much about the initial capital expenditure, and more the total cost of ownership, another of IT’s little ironies lies with the fact the purchase of IT systems is generally more cost-effective over a three-year cycle. However, affording them in the first place can be a struggle for many small companies.

Ignorance is bliss

Another factor holding micro businesses back in terms of IT development is the fact that very often, smaller workforces believe that innovative products and computing models, such as the cloud and virtualisation, are the preserve of the larger organisation.

The belief that new-fangled inventions are too expensive, too complicated and too radical for their needs is a popular one. However, there is universal appeal and in some instances, smaller companies serve to benefit more from such inventions.

Likely you will find that, even if you have no existing infrastructure to speak of, or anyone to look after it if you have, the cloud can be a godsend.

Resistance to change

Change can certainly take some getting used to, particularly in workplaces that have made use of the same IT systems for many years. Resistance to even the most positive changes is a common mindset for many businesses and its employees, but could hold you back in the long term.

Yes, micro businesses have fewer users and, by implication, fewer files and fewer applications, but technology can be a great leveller if adopted correctly – and this means that you could be set for big things by taking the step towards advancement.

Security issues

There is a common misconception among small businesses that they do not need the same approach to security as larger firms because there are fewer files to corrupt. However, the reality is quite the contrary. Leaving yourself vulnerable for this very reason gives hackers more chance of being successful. While sophisticated back-up and disaster recovery strategies seem out of bounds to many small companies, they actually need them just as much.

Moving with the times when it comes to technology can help businesses protect themselves in the digital age. Just one of the many benefits of welcoming change.

Image: Shutterstock

Albie Attias is managing director at IT retailer King of Servers

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