As an IT professional, I have served businesses for decades and almost every interaction I have with owners, managers or administrators has taught me that technology isn’t for you.
Stay with me. I’m not insulting you – but if you are a business owner, I am speaking to you.
If the estimated 28 million small businesses in the U.S. are seen as a huge driver to the national economy, why are they lagging so far behind in implementing technology into their operations? In 2014, the Microsoft Office team put that question — and much more — to hundreds of businesses that operate with 500 or fewer employees to measure the familiarity with modern technology. The results prove my assumption: technology isn’t for you.
According to the official Microsoft Blog Firehouse:
Eighty-six percent of small businesses say keeping up with technology is important to their business, but 60 percent surveyed do not use cloud technologies. The survey, commissioned by Microsoft Corp. and conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, also said 60 percent of these smaller businesses attribute increased revenue to technology, but 10 percent are not even familiar with the cloud.
And it isn’t just the cloud that is unfamiliar to small businesses. The Small Business Administration’s studies reveal that it has only been in the last few years that smartphones and company websites have been adopted. This doesn’t even come close to using advanced technologies such as time-tracking and management software, VoIP telephony, email management or Disaster Recovery.
Business owners wear many hats and bear many of the responsibilities of their operations. Frequently they have to run the whole show. Yet they must have a flexible approach to staying competitive- and part of that demands using technology to increase their productivity and profitability. To do this they must go mobile; engage with customers on social media platforms; use technology to gather and analyze key data; allow VoIP and Wi-Fi technology to save them money and gain customers; access their data and tools using multiple devices from any location, and protect their data with redundant backup systems and disaster recovery plans.
I have seen few business owners with the time and technical expertise to adopt new technologies, or even maintain and protect the ones they have. Instead, they crawl along, trying to fix problems along the way and constantly struggling to keep up, even when they have an IT staff member in-house. They waste labor, time and money, yet still believe the myth that they cannot afford Managed IT.
That’s why I declare that technology isn’t for you. You have your own work to do. Technology should be for a trusted partner who can think with you, offer realistic solutions and make things work- so that you can do your own work.
Now small businesses must look much farther than ever before, they must change the paradigms that have served them in the past and begin to adapt to the ever-changing demands of a world dependent upon connections.
- Mobile Technology is a must. With younger workers and a multitude of devices and smartphones, the mobile wave is integral to survival.
- Networks must be optimized and secured against constant threats.
- Reduce on-premise technology and increase cloud services to manage complexity and cost.
- Implement solid backup and recovery strategies to prepare for the increasing number of events that cause disruption.
- Standardize sensible data archiving.
- Acquire automated marketing tools and integrated marketing.
- Engage audiences with social networking and authentic storytelling.
- Increase security awareness both in-house and in the clouds.
- Design their websites to work on mobile devices (93% of small and medium-sized business sites are not responsive).
- Downtime from slow or inefficient technology must be reduced.