IT is no longer a luxury that only large enterprises are entitled to; it is a necessity even for the small and mid-sized businesses to thrive and sustain growth.
By Vidya Vasu
The success of an SMB is defined by its speed of service delivery, reach, and quality. IT makes it possible for SMBs to aspire for a planned and successful growth. IT is no longer a luxury that only large enterprises are entitled to; it is a necessity even for the small and mid-sized businesses to thrive and sustain growth. Indian SMBs know that IT empowers them to deal with challenges not only in India, but also at a global level.
Unlike large enterprises, not all SMBs enjoy bandwidth in terms of time, talent, and resources to invest in training, implement new solutions or processes, or procure expensive hardware. In fact, many small businesses, operating on a shoe-string budget, have the constraint of getting it right the first time! Therefore, these adopt agile methodologies to ensure cost-effective IT, both in terms of hardware and IT management software. The approaches could involve having a small dedicated team in-house, outsourcing management to an MSP, or moving manageable resources to the cloud.
Two significant changes in the SMB landscape is the spurt in the number of SMBs in the last couple of years and the increased adoption of IT to enable business. The risks of not adopting IT to enable business far outweigh the risks of adopting IT. According to a study by Zinnov, India is home to over 50 million SMBs already, and this is expected to go up by another 11 million by the end of 2015. The exponential growth in internet adoption among consumers of different kinds of services favours Indian SMBs. This is an opportunity that SMBs want to tap, and increased IT adoption helps realize this goal.
Growth-driven SMBs invest wisely in technology to further their business. Again, just embracing IT doesn’t insulate these businesses from financial risks they’ll likely incur due to the lack of proper IT management. Improper management could mean several aspects of IT such as under-utilized hardware resources due to improper capacity planning, insufficient resources, holding on to incompetent or obsolete software, lack of appropriate monitoring and management tools, high turnover rate among the IT folks, and so on. Businesses must therefore plan to not only have good IT infrastructure in place, but also manage them well. Among SMBs, one of the challenges is to move away from legacy systems and to explore for competent management software.
Aligning IT to business
Interestingly, with a raise in the number of startups and a steady growth among SMBs, we see more and more businesses adopting IT. Among the startups, the IT and IT-enabled services companies seem to hog all the limelight. That said, the industries like retail, healthcare, manufacturing, and education are seen to be organizing themselves and are using technology to further their businesses. From a 10-15% IT adoption rate, the Indian SMBs are poised for bigger growth, and the next two years seem to be the defining years for most SMBs that take the leap. There is a paradigm shift in the way SMBs do business. They are no longer ‘conservative’ when it comes to adopting IT because they understand that today, technology drives growth. Options like private or public cloud infrastructure and a choice of solutions for managing these resources to ensure availability and business continuity makes IT affordable for SMBs.
The small and mid-sized businesses rely on high availability of their services and IT resources. Depending on the affordability and the skill-set of the in-house IT team, the SMBs decide on the tools they’d need to implement and manage their IT. Unlike large enterprises, there is very less room for trial and error or to set aside considerable amount of time for training IT staff and accommodate their learning curve. What the SMBs need is a set of agile solutions that are quick to deploy and work out-of-the-box. Basically, tools that are intuitive, don’t involve deployment consulting, and hand-holding. There are plenty of free or inexpensive alternatives to expensive management solutions. In fact, many large enterprises see the value of inexpensive alternatives for basic management and do not hesitate to switch when there is a need!
Free tools a click away
With continued increase in internet adoption, it is very easy for SMBs to find free or low-cost tools that address their IT needs. Most of these tools are available for instant download. All that the SMBs need to do is search the web, narrow down on a few choices, run a trial deployment, look at a couple of user forums or community discussions to know what the other users have to say, and take the plunge. Eliminating the need to go through a distributor, reseller, or a consultant helps reduce costs to a great extent.
Indian SMBs can leverage the value of free and inexpensive alternatives for all their IT management needs. When quality IT is free or inexpensive, nothing stands in the way of an SMB success. Here is to more IT and therefore more power to the SMBs!
The author is Head of the ManageEngine Community and Free Tools. Views are personal.
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