Small business owners face many challenges. Among the most common are limited financial resources, access to talent, regulatory compliance, and keeping current on technology.
Perhaps not surprisingly, all these challenges are interconnected. Compliance and technology are expense centers not tied to most organizations’ core capabilities or revenue generators. As a result, dollars are often prioritized elsewhere. However, as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But if you are going to invest in the prevention, it’s important to know where you should invest and why.
Current IT challenges
To succeed in 2023 and beyond, small businesses need to overcome the most common current IT challenges. Here are the top four:
- Cybersecurity. Small businesses are increasingly under attack. Protecting sensitive information such as customer data and financial records is critical.
- Talent acquisition and retention. Small businesses typically have neither the need nor resources to hire an in-house IT resource, but implementing and maintaining technology systems is vital to business performance and continuity. The right support staff, hard as they may be to identify and retain, ensure your systems are effective.
- Integration and compatibility. New technologies are continually introduced that help small businesses maintain or gain a competitive vantage. Being aware of and ensuring all systems work together will make operations more sustainable and profitable.
- Budget. Technology can be expensive—to acquire, adopt, and maintain. Investing in technology is important to remaining competitive.
Relevant technologies for IT challenges
A number of technologies can help small businesses address these challenges.
- Cloud computing. Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provide small businesses with access to powerful technology without the need for expensive hardware and software investments.
- Mobile technology. Smartphones, tablets, and wide Internet connectivity make it easier for people to work when they want and wear they want. This is good for productivity, and it also helps a small business expand its talent pool.
- AI and machine learning. Small businesses can use AI and ML to automate routine tasks, gain insights into customer behavior, and access data that can help improve business decisions.
- Cybersecurity. Various solutions and platforms are available that can help small businesses strengthen their security infrastructure and practice. Robotic Process Automation can even help automate common cybersecurity operations to improve accuracy and performance while freeing up resources to tackle other IT needs.
Each of these technologies can help small businesses increase efficiency, improve the customer experience, and bolster security.
Balancing IT support and budget
Co-managed IT has become a popular model for budget-conscious, technology-mindful small businesses. In a co-managed IT model, business owners and or managers partner with an external IT service provider to manager their technology systems and support their in-house team.
- Staff augmentation
- On-demand expertise
- Improved security and compliance
- Enhanced productivity
- Standardized tools
- Reduced costs
An added advantage of the co-managed IT model is its flexibility. Your external partner can and should be able to scale up and down with the needs of your business as demand increases and decreases. They will also become an extension of your team. By learning your business, they will be able to offer insights and guidance to improve your overall operations.