As a business owner, there are two prongs of information technology (IT) that you need to deal with. The first is that of your own company, everything from desktops to smartphones to servers whether they are remote or on site. The second prong is the technology of your customers and clients. Your business needs to be able to adapt to the specific technologies they use and bridge any differences with a common interface.
Too often, companies focus on their own needs without considering the wide range of technologies that make conducting business on the client’s end far easier. But most companies are trying to sell a product or service that is not technology related. The owner then needs to decide how to address the problem. On the one hand, technology is an essential part of a business being competitive in the global marketplace. On the other hand, the business owner’s primary focus needs to be on generating sales and income to keep the business an ongoing concern.
From this point, there are two options the owner has. One is to hire the IT personnel required to maintain the various systems so that there is an on site presence to deal immediately with any problem. The alternative is to outsource the work to a managed services company who will do all the necessary work from an outside location. Managed services is often the choice for companies that are not too technologically dependent since the hiring of staff involves additional expenses such as benefit packages, employee taxes, and a generally higher operational overhead.
Regardless of which option the owner chooses, there will a general concern for computer repair. This can be outsourced as well, with managed services companies eliminating the need for any equipment on site by connecting to their clients through high speed cable connections. The concern is greater if the equipment is on site since any downtime can cost the company thousands of dollars a day. In today’s world of mobile technology, this concern extends to computers and phones that are used out in the field to access critical company information essential to the operations of sales personnel.
At this point, given the alternatives, managed services of your IT functions is the most cost efficient, problem-free way to keep technologically current while being able to conduct your business without becoming a computer guru. The other choice is to hire the necessary staff and install the equipment on site. The following conditions may warrant taking this route.
- If the data used is extremely sensitive and disclosure could seriously damage the company’s profitability
- If the nature of the business is heavily oriented towards technology
- If the expense of using a managed services company cannot be cost justified
New business owners need to recognize, rather than resist, the continuous flow of emerging technologies that can give a competitive edge if used properly. However, this does not mean that owners need to be so technologically astute that they lose sight of what business they are in. A business manager needs to be astute enough to recognize the advantages and bottom line costs of any new technology, and how it can benefit the company both in the short term and the long term. Armed with this knowledge they can develop strategies that will continue making them competitive in the marketplace.