Accounting for 96 per cent of local businesses, SMBs are an important aspect of the Australian economy.
With numbers increasing as more budding entrepreneurs follow their dreams, implementing the correct IT solutions from an early stage is essential as it allows fast access to information and streamlining of a range of business operations.
Although the term ‘IT’ can seem daunting, it’s an important aspect of any growing business as it provides a range of essential services that can increase productivity and efficiency whilst also supporting growth. To ensure SMB owners can understand and acquire the right technology, there are a range of IT solutions available that are easy to use and that don’t break the budget.
So what do newly started businesses and evolving SMBs need to consider before they experience growth?
As we move deeper into the digital world, businesses are creating data at a rate that is outpacing older storage methods. These older methods, which include saving data to the desktop or to portable hard drives, may be cheaper to use, but can cause problems if a device is damaged or lost. Losing confidential and important company information has the ability to cripple a business of any size. The reputation of the business can be severely damaged and with the implementation of the new privacy laws, legal procedures could also become a reality.
To ensure IT costs are controlled and data is safe, small businesses should consider implementing smart storage solutions that are affordable, flexible and accommodate for growth.
Luckily, there are solutions available that make sense of storage and you don’t need a degree in computer science to implement them. Network Attached Storage or NAS devices are ideal for small businesses due to ease of use and storage capacity. Configuration time is minimal and devices can easily fit on or under a desk. Such devices also allow easy access for employees whether they are on a PC or mobile device. Simply put, smaller scale NAS devices incorporate the same characteristics of enterprise storage including security and accessibility, but have a SMB price tag.
The Mobile Employee
The mobile employee is not a new term, but still an area that SMBs need to consider when entering the business world. As employees bring their own devices into the workplace, employers need to ensure the security of these devices if they have access to company information.
By using mobile devices, the boundaries of a business can be extended. Employees can read emails on the train or conduct a conference call from home, the possibilities are endless. While this can be seen as a great opportunity to provide flexibility to employees, there are other associated issues that need to be addressed.
As mobile devices become more prevalent in the workplace, business owners should create security policies for employees to abide by in order to keep company data safe. This can be built into HR training of new employees and allows the business owner to clearly outline the rules relating to network connection. On top of this, safety measures including anti-virus apps and secure passwords can be introduced to limit the threat of a damaged, lost or stolen device.
When a business is in the development phase, implementing a wireless yet sturdy network is highly recommended, even if staff numbers are small. A strong wireless infrastructure will provide employees with the freedom to work wherever they want within the office, while still having access to the information they need.
Studies show that activity based working can fuel productivity as it is linked to employee happiness and greater work place collaboration. However, activity based working can only be successful if employees are given access to a robust company network that can handle increased demand. A low bandwidth network can cause immense frustration for employees. Slow access to webpages, buffering video and long download times will affect productivity and potentially the business’s success.
Built with the SMB audience in mind, affordable wireless management systems and access points are available that provide the necessary bandwidth for any number of employees. Such solutions can also be easily expanded if a business were to experience growth. With the days of desktop PCs diminishing, employers need to keep wireless connectivity top of mind to meet the growing requirements of digital savvy employees.
Life as an SMB can be challenging. A business owner needs to wear many hats including finance, HR and IT, to name a few. Being an expert in all areas is no easy feat, which is why effective and user-friendly solutions need to be used.
Having that light bulb moment and starting your own business can be life changing, but can easily slip away if the chosen IT solutions cannot handle change and growth. When starting your business venture, IT needs to be kept at the forefront of planning so the business has room to grow. Sourcing the right IT solutions for your business is crucial as it can safeguard company data, enhance employee satisfaction through innovative technology and most importantly, provide support when unpredictable growth occurs.
About the Author
By Brad Little, vice president and managing director, NETGEAR ANZ