In the 1990s, starting a small company required significant capital investments in business technology. Anyone who launched a business in that time frame probably remembers the computers, shrink-wrapped software and business phones, and how much money that all cost. If you started a company more than 20 years ago, you probably still remember treating your first business computer with reverence, despite how little computing power you got for the price.
Today, flexible cloud computing and inexpensive Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) have replaced much of that old hardware and software, and dramatically lowered the cost of a modest yet powerful IT system. At many small- and medium-sized businesses, the people responsible for infrastructure planning still rely on old ways of thinking about technology investments, but cloud computing and SaaS have changed the game. That’s why SMBs need to rethink IT infrastructure, using different concepts and different economic systems in addition to tools that adapt with changing business environments.
Here are three tips to help you get started.
- View technology as an operating expense, not a capital expense: Technology is always changing, so why treat it (and pay for it) as if it’s permanent? The cloud and SaaS make powerful business tools available for a low subscription cost, lowering technical barriers to entry and often offering significant savings. Instead of paying one large fee upfront for your hardware and software, you can pay a lower monthly subscription cost.
- Require scalable technology solutions that adapt to changing business needs: A decade ago, you might’ve had to buy five boxes of shrink-wrapped virus protection software. But today, you can start by purchasing a single-user license and then scale up as your business grows. With cloud-based services, it’s easy to adjust your technology spending up and down to meet demand, which helps preserve your cash flow.
- Identify and prioritize support for those elements critical to business operations: If you run a retail store, for example, your critical technology likely includes point-of-sale tools to accept credit card transactions. Today’s cost-effective cloud processing will require a reliable Internet connection and someone to support that connection.
When it comes to buying or implementing IT infrastructure, small businesses need to think about what their business needs before spending any money. Follow these three tips and you’ll have a better knowledge of what exactly your business needs and why.
We’d like to hear your feedback. What tips do you have for creating an efficient IT infrastructure? Let us know by posting in the comments section!