Reducing Risk When Planning Your SMBs IT Strategy
This article originally appeared on Nov. 4, 2016, and has been revised to bring our readers the most up-to-date technology information.
According to the 2017 Intelligent Technology Index, 50% of technology influencers expect their 2017 IT budgets to increase, on average, 25% from 2016. Reducing the risk of IT purchases should be a primary focus for Small to Medium Businesses (SMBs) when creating a long-term IT strategy. Key components of an effective IT strategy include: building a roadmap, establishing a timeline, setting building blocks, allocating spend, implementing integration, deploying the strategy, setting up onboarding and providing support.
IT spending, overall, has climaxed within the small business sector, as the value shift from enterprise-level spending reshapes this industry. Furthermore, as mobility and cloud computing become increasingly accessible and affordable, forecasts are projecting ample growth with SMB technology spending in the years to follow.
What Chief Information Officers want
Although stakeholders across the business are often the IT decision-makers, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are the highest on the chain of command. So what are CIOs looking for in IT purchases? Solutions that:
- Deliver outcomes through IT services.
- Enhance the customer experience.
- Improve IT agility.
- Convert IT into a profit center.
- Create a seamless use experience.
Building your IT strategy
At the core of a good technology purchasing strategy is a strategy map. Getting yours in place is an incremental and smart first step. When you start to develop your IT roadmap, you should take the following factors into consideration:
- Reduced ownership cost: Software as a Service (SaaS) offers an average “five-year lifespan” and is the surest means by which CIOs can reduce IT spending and cost.
- Less implementation: Reducing reliance on hardware and software platforms, by migrating to the cloud, will help you improve success rates and curb costs.
- Outsourced services: Outsourcing to an IT managed service provider is an effective way to control costs and improve accountability.
- Hosted software: While this solution type comes with a higher integration cost, in the long run, the maintenance is less and the reliability is greater.
Cost vs. return on IT purchases
Thinking ahead goes a long way when making IT purchases. One of the most important metrics is cost versus Return on Investment (ROI). When considering ROI, you should also make sure to factor in productivity hours and time lost from your current technology solution; two commonly overlooked factors that help round out the worth of the actual return.
Net gain over cost also needs to include other elements, such as staff disruption resulting from inadequate and obsolete IT solutions. Other things that shouldn’t be overlooked include: cost of training and support, integration and deployment costs, disposal of old technology, and improvement of existing operations due to new technology.
The benefit of IT managed services
IT managed services also come with an array of capabilities to help your business manage existing operations and transform to meet future objective.
- Access to emerging technologies without the traditional in-house cost barrier
- Security and compliance that’s managed by a provider
- Expedited risk management that’s managed by experienced professionals
- Access to a pool of experienced IT experts
- Around-the-clock systems and software support for your employees
- Lower training and support costs overall
- A more scalable solution that can fit SMBs of all sizes
When devising your roadmap, it’s never a bad idea to consider leaning on IT strategy consulting experts for advice. Doing so can help you avoid missteps along the way, which could prove costly in the long run.