The fact that every small business is different makes it difficult for owners to assess where they stand in relation to others when it comes to small business IT. For Dallas business owners, that “comparison to assess competitiveness” can generally be broken down into two camps.
It’s either more about where they are heading as a business in terms of keeping pace with today’s business-process/customer needs or preparing for tomorrow’s needs. When we look at the state of small business IT, that should be the general perspective that each business must take to see how its business compares to others.
While surveys and metrics are not always insightful, they can be very useful in comparing how your general SMB (small to medium-sized business) peers are doing with (or without) technology as they pursue their business agendas. For example, the recent Goldman Sachs 10KSB Impact Program Report showed that:
- Technology costs are a major concern for 47 percent of respondents.
- Twenty-three percent of that number was focused on new technology.
- Sixteen percent were focused on upgrades and maintenance.
The report synopsis suggests that this 47 percent is a breakdown between growth-oriented businesses that are looking to new technology and those businesses that aren’t defined by growth. In the latter, they are more focused on making what they have work better.
What connects these two groups is the fact that they all need a better understanding of what was available and affordable in terms of technology solutions that fit their respective needs. This includes a need for understanding how best to implement, maintain, and evaluate them, and how to integrate them into their systems and train up their employees.
This is one area where Dallas small businesses are generally in the same boat with other peers across the country. In its 2016 Connected Small Business Report, CRM platform company Salesforce found that 72 percent of small business owners are responsible for purchasing technology for their businesses. Equally important is the statistic that 83 percent do not have an IT staff.
The desire to upgrade small business IT is one thing, but being prepared to do so is another. According to a study by CompTIA, a nonprofit IT trade association, 47 percent of SMBs said they weren’t sufficiently prepared to use improved technology. This is directly related to the Salesforce study statistics showing an overwhelming lack of internal IT support. The CompTIA study further reveals the problem for many SMBs is that only 26 percent of SMBs use outside IT firms for installation and integration of technology, although that number is steadily rising.
Cloud services are one way that SMBs are preparing for growth and making what they have work better (per the breakdown of the 10KSB program report). As Business 2 Community reports, 37 percent of SMBs are currently integrated into some form of a cloud solution. These businesses cite the following advantages for making the leap to the cloud:
- Operational agility
- Ease of backup and recovery
- Improved collaboration
- The ability to work from anywhere remotely
Small business IT tools like Office 365 and other software-as-a-service solutions enable real-time collaboration for a mobile workforce. In addition, they provide automatic monthly software and security updates to ensure data protection without business-process disruption.
One last statistic drives home the point for the increased adoption of small business IT for Dallas businesses in relation to their peers. According to the Dell Global Technology Adoption Index, organizations using the cloud, mobility, big data, or security technologies experience up to 53 percent higher revenue growth rates than those that do not.
The key is understanding what, when, where, and how to implement IT solutions to achieve specific goals. Because technology is a means to an end, having IT support that can also act as a consultant enables small businesses to make technology decisions that ultimately further the business.