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Four IT challenges facing small and medium businesses

Here are the four key IT challenges that businesses need to meet in terms of their IT provision, if they are going to increase productivity and decrease costs.

IT cost reductions never materialise

Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) need to know what return on investment they can expect from their investment in IT support, services, applications and infrastructure. Yet despite the substantial amounts of money requested by users and IT departments, business cases for new investments often turn out to have been misleading or less than robust. The benefits promised in terms of increased efficiency and lower costs either don’t materialise or take so long to appear that the business need has shifted significantly by the time they are delivered.

In this scenario, it’s very difficult to manage current costs, let alone devise a strategic investment plan that will increase productivity. In-house IT staff often have a stake in the applications that are recommended. So they naturally tend to favour those projects that are technically interesting and innovative, over those that are less interesting but more likely to save costs. Cost benefit calculations in business cases can be tweaked in favour of maintaining the status quo in the IT department, and away from alternatives with more benefit to the business. It’s little wonder that CEOs are increasingly turning to business partnerships with IT providers who can take a more objective view of where the business needs to go and the most cost-effective technology that can be used to get there.

Cybersecurity and Data Protection are key risks

In May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation becomes law. Breaches of the new regulation will be punished by swingeing penalties. Yet few businesses have audited their data and infrastructure security recently, to ensure that it is robust. So why is this, given the level of risk to the business? One understandable reason is that no one in a business wants to carry out an audit that might lead to them being blamed for weaknesses. Another is that auditing cybersecurity involves a high level of specialised technical knowledge which many organisations simply don’t have. Many CEOs are currently initiating remediation plans, starting with an audit by an external IT support partner, who will report current and future risks without varnishing the reality.

The age of the IT generalist is over

This problem – that even large organisations can’t resource specialised IT functions – is a result of increasing complexity in IT. No IT department, however well motivated, now has all the expertise necessary for architecture design, infrastructure management, support, application development, security testing and all the other specialised IT challenges that they face. The problem comes when the IT department fails to admit as much because this denial puts the business at high risk of failed projects, data breaches, service interruptions and mis-directed investment. It’s far less risky to buy in services as and when needed, or to outsource on a long-term contract which provides transparency over costs and resourcing.

Change is rapid – and speeding up

The pace of change shows no sign of slackening. In technology, it is speeding up and in the next ten years we can expect another wave of automation, as intelligent devices, robotics and speech recognition finally merge and become every day realities in the business world. Most CEOs have enough to worry about looking after the core business. They need a source they can trust to deliver this business intelligence and help them to make better IT investment decisions. And they are going to have to look outside their IT departments to find it.

Topics: Managed Service, Security, Productivity

Written by Andrew Allen

As a Professional Member of The Chartered Institute for IT and his nearly 20 years in business, Andrew is able to connect with and help executives and owners leverage the power of technology to deliver lasting results.

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