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The IT complexity paradox plaguing small business owners

The Role of Technology in Business

Business technology used to be simple in its infrastructure, yet required high levels of maintenance. For example, a fax machine answered only one particular need, was costly to maintain and required physical archiving. As such, IT was never critical to business operations but was a cog to keep the system moving. Fast forward to today, and IT has become essential for all industries and company sizes. From inventory tracking for a modest corner shop to tracing worldwide shipments for global logistics companies, technology is now critical to business success the world over.

Increased reliance on IT has added complexity to modern business operations; a single office laptop is connected to the Internet, a secured local network and other various data points to ensure an employee can work efficiently. Work emails are accessed on smartphones, meetings are conducted via VOIP (voice over IP), and personal and business lives are more interconnected than ever. Technology solutions need to keep up with the ‘Always-On Business™” needs of our globalised world.

Technology as an enabler

With IT becoming a key resource for successful business operations, it is important for companies building technology solutions to recognise the impact they have on corporations, big and small. Technology forms the foundation of most modern businesses. As such, applications and programs should enable employees to work with higher productivity levels. The world’s largest technology companies have focused heavily on developing platforms that enable collaboration and real-time participation for connected staff that may be working in different locations, or even on different continents. Offerings like the current incarnations of Microsoft Office or Google Documents, where one is able to share documents with teams and have multiple users working on the same file is very advanced, but a non-technical user does not feel daunted by its interface. Technology should be an enabler, and this means building solutions with intuitive controls that require little attention while they hum in the background to keep your business going.

Another example of this is data availability solutions. A modern, virtualised data centre handles all aspects of business operations, from email to database or inventory tracking, storing and securing customer data to running business-critical applications. The reliance on IT systems to drive the backbone of any modern organisation means that any downtime has a direct impact on productivity. Downtime can be caused by a wide range of factors, such as security breaches, system failure or user error. These failures lead to pressure on the IT function to restore services as quickly as possible to enable the business to resume operations. According to Veeam’s 2014 Data Centre Availability Report, application failure costs enterprises more than US$2 million per year in lost revenue, while a company can expect to face 13 unplanned downtime incidents a year. With real financial losses to consider, businesses need to ensure they can get up and running again in the shortest period of time to ensure business continuity without adverse impact on reputation.

With a few mouse clicks, the business should be able to recover data within minutes, not hours. A robust availability plan is critical for any business in the 21st century. Time is money, and the impact on the bottom line for a business to be offline for minutes, let alone hours, can be substantial. This simplicity and ease of use in the software we deploy has to become a permanent fixture for all companies. It is more crucial for SMEs, where every man hour is highly significant in delivering value to the firm.

The user-centric goal

Companies providing technology solutions need to realise that simple and intuitive applications are the way of the future. As our workforce is blended with data and smart machines, we need to stop equating complexity with quality. A user-centric approach to user interfaces and automated systems that just work without requiring constant attention should be the goal. As IT systems become more complex and ingrained in modern business operations, paradoxically, they must also become simpler to deploy, maintain and use. With simple and effective solutions at the disposal of modern organisations, less time will be spent keeping the lights on and more focused on driving real business benefit.

About the author: 

This article was written by Don Williams, Vice President, ANZ at Veeam

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