In our last post, we talked about the consumerization of IT — the trend toward employee adoption of technology solutions outside the aegis of the IT department. Today’s technology-savvy end-users feel empowered to choose and implement the IT tools they need, from cloud solutions to collaboration tools to business applications.
This would seem to relieve IT of the burden of researching and provisioning technology solutions, while enabling employees to get the tools they need more quickly and at lower cost. However, the organization is left with a new set of problems: poor integration, inadequate security, support challenges, unnecessary costs and more.
Those issues can be summed up as a lack of an overarching strategy. Small to midsize businesses (SMBs) in particular tend to react to changing IT requirements rather than developing a one-, two- and five-year technology plan. The fact that individual users are now obtaining IT solutions on their own only compounds the problem.
This is unfortunate, because the right IT strategy is critical to business success. SMBs need to develop a clear picture of where the organization is headed and what technology tools will be needed to support those business objectives. Without a technology plan, SMBs often wind up dedicating significant budget to keeping the status quo while missing out on solutions that can boost the bottom line.
The technology plan doesn’t have to be rigid — on the contrary, it should recognize that technology is constantly changing and so is the business. The plan should emphasize regular evaluation of your existing technology in order to identify any operational bottlenecks, reliability issues or other shortcomings. Your employees are a good source of information about inefficient processes and workarounds that impede productivity. Armed with their input, management can then make more-informed decisions about technology investments and not face unexpected, and potentially costly, upgrades.
The involvement of an experienced technology solution provider can be invaluable. Someone who has their finger on the pulse of the IT industry can help you determine whether you should refresh your existing environment or move to a different platform. What products are considered best-of-breed? What are the tradeoffs in terms of purchase price versus ongoing maintenance and management costs? Are there any cloud solutions that could help improve flexibility, reliability and availability?
Once those decisions have been made, it comes down to developing a budget and working out the financial details. At this phase, your technology solution provider can help you balance your capex and opex costs and leverage its relationships with vendors and distributors to ensure you get the best possible deal.
The return on your technology investment hinges upon upfront planning and a solid IT strategy. Atlantic-IT.net, your outsourced IT department, can provide the knowledge and experience you need to make sound IT decisions.