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Death of the technology middle man

As your small business chugs along, one of the key things to keep in mind is: How many hands are in your pocket? With so many technology-related expenses, there may well be a few.

Where middle men were once the cost of doing business – hooking up your phone lines, for example – many vital services are now available free or more cheaply, as advancing technology and globalisation axe the number of people taking a cut.

Staying on top of the technology game takes time and effort, but it’ll save you more of both in the long run. If you’re not the gadget-geek type yourself, it pays to keep someone around who is. At Mozo, for example, we don’t worry about phone hardware, installation or maintenance, because all of our phones are linked up via VoIP — a system I probably would have avoided for a few more years, sticking with the expense and inconvenience of Telstra out of sheer inertia, if it weren’t for a more savvy colleague. When we moved offices, we simply unplugged our phones, took them to the new office and plugged them in. No middle man, wait time or relocation fees. (And in fact, a few weeks after moving I noticed the wrong address on a VOiP invoice. When I rang to tell them, they replied, “Oh right, when did you move? Hope it went well.”)

Once upon a time, you had a roomful of switch operators. Then there was a handy (if expensive) hardware system. Now, the middle men are dead — and it’s an amazing break from the former constraints of office life.

In a similar fashion, we don’t pay a monthly retainer for an exchange server to manage our email (we use gmail, which offers 100 free accounts and branded email addresses). And we don’t have to constantly back up our documents (they automatically get sent to ‘the cloud’ for a small monthly fee and no ongoing hassle). So it’s worth looking at your ongoing expenses to see if there’s an innovation out there that can cut through the tape.

The current trend in new technology is to eliminate the middle man: the guys who charge (and overcharge) simply to connect you with something, be it your own documents, your own domain, or your phones. It’s always daunting to take the plunge (and you always want to make sure that a new system has worked well for a similar business before, say, trashing your current file storage system). But the rewards are boundless.

So once a new technology’s been broken in, it’s time to see if the middle men of old can be axed.

What do you think?

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Rohan Gamble

Rohan Gamble

Rohan is the Founder and Managing Director of independent finance comparison website <a href="http://www.mozo.com.au">Mozo.com.au</a> helping SMEs to compare business banking . As an entrepreneur who previously launched and ran Virgin Money in Australia, Rohan’s unique perspective on financial matters is shaped from years of experience as an industry insider and a driving passion to help Australians navigate the money maze. This blog aims to help business owners do just that.

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