The evolution of corporate computing technology continues to progress at a rapid pace, with organizations from myriad industries and sectors turning to these novel tools to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations. Between big data, mobility and cloud services, the average small business owner needs to play a much more integral role in the technology provisioning process than ever before, and this can quickly lead to several instances of strain when that entrepreneur is not highly versed in budget planning and allocation needs.
However, managed service providers are becoming far more versed in the common needs of today's business leader, and the best in the field will be able to take care of end-to-end practices from the planning stages all the way through to long-term oversight and support activities. From the small and medium-sized business perspective, the first step is to ensure that best practices are ironed out and implemented before the provisioning process begins.
Business technology planning is not necessarily an easy strategy to master, especially in the fast-paced corporate computing realm that most industries are dealing with today. By understanding not only what the immediate needs and pressure points are, but how one day's decisions will impact tasks that must be completed further up the road, the SMB will be in a far better position to excel over time.
Recognizing the biggest challenge
It is safe to say that the most common and problematic aspect of business technology planning is that virtually nothing stays the same for an extended period of time in the modern market. Rather, each type of technology is evolving quickly and very few options will remain simultaneously stagnant and relevant for businesses today, meaning that plans can be antiquated before they even begin to roll.
This is not to say that business technology planning is pointless, or inherently impossible, but rather that SMBs need to recognize why fluidity is the most critical aspect of provisioning. Furthermore, one could argue that flexibility is the most important aspect of IT management in the modern market, from provisioning to long-term oversight, and that plans without a certain level of agility will be the least successful.
Here are some notes to keep in mind when looking to recognize just how quickly technology trends change and evolve in the modern market:
- Enterprise mobility: In the mid-2000s, many companies started to provide their staff members - especially those who were less tied to a desk - with corporate-provisioned smartphones and portable computers. A few years ago, BYOD became the most popular approach to mobility, coming with an entire universe of new demands from a management perspective. Now, reports indicate that many companies are moving away from BYOD, and the changes will likely continue to come with time.
- Cloud services: Whereas the most common use of cloud computing technology began with software-based solutions, such as email and file sharing applications, the average company now has robust frameworks that are specifically tied to these services. The most innovative firms are leveraging highly fluid approaches to cloud provisioning, utilization and management, while those that are more stagnant rarely experience the same benefits.
In short, the biggest problem with business technology planning is getting bogged down in a one-dimensional line of thinking.
How to fix it
Luckily, the leaders of SMBs do not have to get overwhelming anxiety after realizing that the business technology planning process cannot simply be written and followed in a singular fashion. Instead, entrepreneurs and other decision-makers in these firms can use the very flexibility that new technology provides to keep planning procedures fluid and relevant over time.
Take, for example, cloud services, which will inherently optimize the agility of corporate IT infrastructure, platforms and software solutions when using a strong vendor of the technology. The scalability and affordability of the services will enable more rapid adjustments as novel deployments demand. This planning can be far more need-based and conducted in real-time.
It is important to note here that business technology planning is still a critical aspect of overall SMB management and leadership. Just because the market fluctuates rapidly, does not mean that business leaders can fly by the seat of their pants over time. Instead, the best approach to solving this problem is to have contingencies in place for each aspect of the plan.
Here are a few direct antidotes to this problem:
- Categorize needs with timeframes in accordance with market demand
- Have as much foresight as possible when planning forthcoming provisioning cycles
- Do not set purchasing plans in stone too far in advance
- Revise and rethink the plan at least once every couple of months.
Finally, using a managed service provider that offers a variety of solutions and has a proven track record of evolving along with market fluctuations might be the best solution to the biggest issues with business technology planning.