Posted by Robert Half on 01 May 2015
Super-fast connectivity is changing the way SMEs work. The advent of the internet, and the various connected devices and online solutions that have followed, has created a world of IT projects for businesses of all sizes. With digital tools at their disposal, SMEs can do more than ever before, and spend less money in the process. Technology is continuing to level the playing field, giving ambitious small businesses the chance to grow and compete with their larger rivals.
If you're running a small business, IT projects give you the opportunity to boost finance and find new efficiencies in business processes. But you need to have an SME strategy and a plan for IT, knowing where, when and how to implement the latest technology and solutions. Having the right IT expertise in place, in the form of employees with specialist technology skills and knowledge, is essential for small businesses to be successful.
Focusing your attention on the right IT projects can give your small business a real lift in 2015. With this in mind, here are three important areas to help drive SME growth:
1. Stalled IT projects and initiatives
It may be the case that your SME had plans for IT projects, which were put on hold during the downturn. With the economy now rebounding, this could be the time to press ahead with the long-intended upgrade.
The longer your small business persists with older technology solutions, the more potential value you miss out on. Product innovation in recent years means the latest tools offer greater functionality at a lower cost, helping drive productivity, and in both growth. By upgrading technology, SMEs can boost productivity and employee performance.
2. Cloud-based infrastructure
Moving to the cloud could help simplify IT provisioning, while keeping costs under control. Using services and applications online, delivered by a third-party infrastructure specialist, alleviates the need to make large capital investments in technology. SMEs no longer need to use their whole budget buying expensive servers and out-of-the-box software. Recruiting innovative IT professionals to implement this will help will free up valuable resources to be used elsewhere.
Cloud solutions are flexible and scalable, meaning small businesses can pay only for what they use. Usage can be scaled up or down according to demand. Employees can access software, apps, files and documents online from any connected location, on almost any web-enabled device, enhancing SME finance and productivity.
3. Product or service expansion
The latest technology advances can help your SME broaden its product or service offering. Ecommerce channels allow small businesses to sell goods and services online, without the need for a physical transaction. And with consumers spending more and more time using smartphones and tablet devices, there is a significant market for mobile technology and other online tools.
Technology advances mean any small business can reach out to consumers across the globe, not merely in their own geographical location. People can find out about a company's offering via the web and contact it easily. This significantly increases each SME's audience while increasing potential growth opportunities to get ahead of their competitors.
Accessing technology skills
The ability for any small business to invest in IT projects means tech professionals are in high demand. This means small businesses need to work harder to recruit skilled technology professionals - the people with the expertise they need.
Greater demand for IT staff can help to inflate salaries, making it more difficult for SMEs to bring niche specialists onboard. But companies who can communicate the benefits of working for a small business - such as opportunities for advancement, strategic involvement and flexible working - can still compete with their better-resourced rivals for high-calibre employees.