You’ll have heard it time and time again – the business world is changing. It’s always changing, shifting as the markets do, as the new generations of consumers emerge and their buying habits change. It’s nothing new – doing business in today’s world is a completely different beast to what it would have been back in, say, the 1920s, or the ‘90s, or even 5 years ago! And just take a moment to imagine how your business will be operating in 2030.
Technology plays a huge role in enhancing the ways we do business. Implementing the right technologies that help your business to grow will see you thriving in the years to come. But which are the right technologies to implement? How can you go about finding them, analysing them and putting them in place in the right way? This is where having a strategy in IT becomes important, but most small business don’t even have an IT guy, never mind an IT department behind them!
So where should you, as an SME, start with your IT strategy development, what IT strategy challenges are you going to face in the journey ahead, and how can you overcome them?
You’ve come to the right place. Let’s jump in.
What Is An IT Strategy And Why Do You Need One?
Implementing technology isn’t as easy as walking into a store, picking up a box and taking it to the checkout counter. One of the top IT challenges that companies face is that technologies are not only expensive for companies to implement, requiring a detailed price comparison and implementation budget, but they are difficult to maintain.
Most technologies are not going to be plug-and-play, so to speak. They will require in-depth setup to ensure that they are working in the right way, are contributing towards your goals, and are secured against cyber threats.
An IT strategy is all about making sure that your business is planning for the future when adopting new technologies, and is making the most of the tech that’s already at your disposal. The right technology strategy will take into account financial planning, technology outlay and setup, training to ensure optimal adoption from your team members, and future enhancements.
What Are the Top IT Strategy Challenges & How Can You Overcome Them?
Now that you have a thorough understanding of what an IT strategy is and why you need one, you may be ready to jump in with both feet and start putting one together as part of your general business strategy. But there will be IT strategy challenges that you’ll face along the way, and the better prepared you are for them, the easier you’ll find it to overcome these difficulties.
1. Understanding Your Business' Unique Needs
No two businesses are the same. It’s another truism that’s touted over and over, but truisms are truisms for a reason. A lot of businesses make decisions around their technologies based on what their competitors are using. Which can see you spending thousands adopting tech which, at the end of the day, doesn’t meet your business objectives. All that time, all that money, all that potential, goes down the drain because you are left with technology that isn’t helping you reach your goals, isn’t being used in the right way, doesn’t gel with your business strategy, and simply becomes a drain on your resources.
Take a step back.
When thinking about the technologies that you should be adopting to help your business thrive, your strategy formulation should to take into account your unique needs. What is your goal as a business? Where do you see yourself in 5 years, and in 10. What are the problem areas that you can already identify? And how do you envision your technology aiding in all of those areas.
Once you have an idea of what you want your technology to do, you can start the next step – researching the available technologies that can help you achieve and exceed your goals.
2. Making The Most of Your Existing Technology
A lot of companies are always looking for the latest and greatest advances in technology. They can’t wait to put the newest tech into action for their business. But what they don’t realise is that the solutions already at their fingertips often already address their needs.
Take Microsoft, for example. So many businesses have been using Microsoft Office for decades, but how many are realising the full potential that the Office suite can offer? Microsoft is about so much more than just Word and Excel. The technology has advanced to encompass a full modern workplace solution, providing solutions to accommodate remote and hybrid teams, to help business transition to the cloud, and to keep companies secure against the latest cyber threats.
And yet, most of the time, businesses don’t see these enhancements, because they’re too busy looking for something new and exciting, not realising that they already have access to new and exciting functionality within the solution they’re already paying for.
This is why looking at IT challenges and solutions and putting together an IT strategy should involve taking an in-depth look at the technology you’re already using, how well it has been adopted by your teams, whether you’re using it to its full potential, and where potential vulnerabilities may lie that will need to be addressed first and foremost.
3. Budgeting For The Right Tech Investments
Most technologies do not come cheap. Even those that don’t require exorbitant outlays still require monthly or annual commitments that need to be accounted for with a tech investment forecast model. This will help you to gain a better understanding of your return on investment from the technologies that you implement, how they are helping you right now, and how they will contribute towards your future growth as well. It can also see you planning ahead and saving towards bigger technology outlays in the future.
The important thing about having a tech budgeting guide as part of your IT strategy, is that you shouldn’t find yourself with unexpected or unforeseen costs. The right technology budget will account for wear and tear, upgrades and updates, and when you have the right Managed IT Services partner by your side, helping you to follow through with your IT strategy in the right way, they will be able to predict where spending will be necessary in order to meet your technology needs.
4. Managing Risk And Staying Compliant
There is always risk involved when adopting new technology, and the threats are plentiful. You could invest in the wrong tech and find yourself years down the line banging your head against a desk wondering why, oh why did you go that route. But, more importantly, the more technologies you implement, the greater the risk of cyber threats.
The importance of IT security cannot be underestimated. It’s simple. The more platforms you’re using, the more vulnerabilities you have, particularly if the platforms are not being setup, updated and managed in the right way. And this is a particularly difficult scenario when you are dealing with confidential or personal information, since the more vulnerabilities you expose your business to, the greater the risk that you’ll run into compliance issues if an attacker gains access to your data.
However, this is an area that you can address within your IT strategy, ensuring that you assign time for an IT governance risk assessment audit, and that you have someone (whether an internal IT pro or a Managed IT Services partner) at hand to manage your technologies in the right way. This will ensure that your technologies are consistently and regularly updated, and that your data is stored, backed up and recoverable in case of a breach. Creating a compliance risk management framework will also go a long way towards mitigating various types of IT security threats, and managing not only the risk that your company faces when adopting new technologies, but ensuring your continued compliance with data regulations including GDPR and the POPI Act.
5. Managing IT Projects
As I said before, it’s rare that implementing a new technology is a plug-and-play scenario. The adoption of new tech is often a drawn-out process which needs to be managed as an ongoing project, rather than a once-off task. And it’s not just new technologies that become IT projects. There are plenty of opportunities for existing technologies to be put to new uses in helping your business to meet your goals. But finding the time to manage IT projects, particularly when you don’t have a full IT team available to your business, is a difficulty that is hard to overlook. This is inf act one of the IT Department challenges that even companies with full IT teams face.
Once again, this is where outsourcing your IT can be a huge boost to your IT strategy, and can help you to meet yet another one of the IT strategy challenges that SMEs face. By making use of an outsourced project management service, you can rest assured that your technology is being put to its best possible use, while at the same time focusing your efforts and your time where it’s needed most – on your business goals.
Get The Guidance That You Need to Make the Right Technical Choices, And Step Confidently Into The Future
Who Can You Turn To For Putting Your IT Strategy In Place?
As you can tell, there are plenty of IT strategy challenges that need to be addressed. But the good news is that you don’t need to face them alone. With the right Managed IT Services partner by your side, you can find yourself not just adopting new technologies, but implementing and making the most of the right tech for your business needs.
At Solid Systems, we believe in working with you to put together IT strategies that meet your unique needs and help you to grow your business, spend your time on the areas that matter most and, at the end of the day, make more profit. We are more than just your IT guy, but an entire team of IT experienced professionals, waiting in the wings to support your business in all of its needs.
Want to find out more about what sets us apart from other providers? Check out our Managed IT Services landing page, or book a consult today if you’re ready to chat about your unique IT strategy needs.