In the next several blogs we will be taking some excerpts from Tim’s book, 21st Century Technology for Small Business.
Today we will define what we mean when we say that technology should add value to your business. We will also give you an outline of some of the topics for our future blogs.
You may be the owner of a small business or you may be on the management team of an organization and are tasked with making sense of today’s technology. Maybe you are a doctor and have a comprehensive education and skills in medicine or in manufacturing and Information Technology (IT) is not your area of expertise. The fact is you can’t do much in your business without having some fundamental knowledge of technology and understanding its impacts. Unless your industry is in some sphere of IT, you did not get into business intending to be troubled with these matters. When you pick up the Wall Street Journal, the local newspaper, or a trade magazine you are exposed to topics like cloud computing, network security, managed services, cool new gadgets and a myriad of other themes. What does all this mean? More importantly, what does this mean to your business? The authors of a textbook for business as it relates to IT state,
Information technology can be an important enabler of business success and innovation. This is not to say that IT equals business success and innovation or that IT represents business success and innovation. Information technology is most useful when it leverages the talents of people. Information technology in and of itself is not useful unless the right people know how to use and manage it effectively. (Haag, Baltzan, & Phillips, 2005, pg. 7)
The purpose of technology should be to add value to your business. It is easy for some IT professionals to get caught up with technology for technology’s sake. If your organization has money to burn than it might be acceptable to purchase the latest impressive gadget for all employees. If you are like most business managers you don’t have money to burn. In one of my jobs as IT manager for a manufacturing company I had the pleasure of having the Chief Financial Officer as my boss. It was not pleasant justifying every dime spent on IT but it was a good learning experience for me. I had to show a return on investment (ROI) for everything I proposed, justifying every purchase. The function of IT should be to add value to your business. IT should give your organization the tools to have a competitive advantage over your competition.
In future blogs we will cover some of these topics:
Purchasing Equipment and Software
In the blogs on purchasing we deal with keeping costs below budget. We reveal to you some things you can do to save money on equipment. We give you some tips regarding software and the different forms of software licenses. Cloud computing is described and how it may be an option for some applications in your organization.
If your office has more than one computer or you would like to share equipment you can benefit from a network. We speak to the difference between a peer-to-peer network and a client/server network. We introduce you to the most basic equipment a network will need and the function of each. Could your company benefit from having a wireless network? Is your network secure?
Computer and Network Security
A computer virus or a hacker getting into your network can bring your business to its knees. In this section we define some of the more common forms of malicious software. More importantly we tell you how you can protect yourself from these threats.
Does your company have a backup plan? We will learn the importance of backing up your company data. Believe it or not, there are more businesses out there without any form of backup than those that do. We cover the different ways you can backup data and details of each. In fact, did you know that depending on your industry you may be required by law to have a plan B? Check out this blog for my favorite key word when it comes to this topic.
Your Company’s Database
Whether you realize it or not, your company most likely has some form of database. Some organizations have more than one. This could be QuickBooks, Peachtree or some other accounting software. Your sales department might use ACT! or some other application to keep track of clients and prospective customers. In this section we will discuss how you might make the best use of these tools.
The ROI with managed services is primarily in minimizing down-time. It is less expensive to manage the system daily than to pay employees while they wait until the system is functional again. More than ever in a down economy it makes sense to use managed services. We have even had small home-based businesses ask us about managing their system remotely.