For small businesses, IT adoption and digital transformation continues to be a challenge. According to AT&T, 75 percent of small businesses are already eager to digitize their operations but 30 percent find it hard to do so. Many believe that adopting IT comes with high costs and their limited resources make it difficult for them to make the investment.
However, companies tend to overlook the potential impact digitization brings to their businesses. Customers now value speedy and tech-powered customer experiences. Because of this, digital leaders post larger gross margins compared to laggards.
If you’re a small business looking to digitally transform your business, the good news is that it’s possible. The key is to strategize and manage your IT adoption so that it wouldn’t cause unnecessary complications and ultimately get in the way of serving your customers.
Here are four ways you can avoid common issues that trip small businesses when adopting IT.
1 – Manage and Maintain Your Devices
Your IT devices and infrastructure are critical to your digital transformation, so you must ensure they are configured properly and run smoothly. Just because your computers boot up and connect to the internet doesn’t mean that they don’t need attention. Computers need to be periodically maintained, updated, and checked for vulnerabilities. These, however, can be tedious tasks requiring precious person-hours to do.
As such, you must have a convenient and efficient way to inventory, secure, and maintain your devices. Investing in solutions like Cloud Management Suite (CMS) could prove valuable. As a comprehensive IT management solution, CMS comes with features and functionalities that would allow you to effectively manage your infrastructure.
It can take an accurate inventory of all devices connected to your network by detecting them and collecting detailed hardware and software information. It can be used to deploy software and perform updates and patching across machines automatically. It also has remote access capabilities, allowing you or your administrators to log on to any device on your network to perform whatever tasks necessary. Having such capabilities could save you valuable time and effort compared to performing such tasks manually.
2 – Focus on High-Value Business Areas
While small businesses worry about the required monetary investment, the emergence of software-as-a-service (SaaS) has actually made enterprise-grade business applications accessible. Cost is almost a non-issue. The problem, however, is that overly-eager companies can impulsively adopt multiple solutions at once without considering their real impact on their businesses.
An efficient way to go about choosing tools is to focus on business areas where digitization could bring the most value. You may be tempted to put smart thermostats and light bulbs in your store since they’re all the rage these days and customers might find them cool. But if you still rely on analog payments, perhaps you should consider adopting a point-of-sale (POS) solution first especially now that customers are starting to ditch cash
Platforms like Vend, for example, not only provides retailers with means to accept various payment methods, but it also has inventory tracking, customer management, and loyalty program features that could enhance your capabilities to serve customers better than some trendy gadgets.
3 – Train Your Staff
Despite the ubiquity of computers and applications, you can’t readily assume that your staff could properly use them. It’s still quite common to encounter people claiming to be proficient in spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets who aren’t familiar with features such as functions.
Training staff with the proper use of the tools you adopt will increase your ability to maximize the benefits these applications provide. These tools are also designed with specific workflows in mind so be sure to teach the tools’ features and functionalities in the context of specific user stories.
Expect to encounter some resistance when introducing new tools so show them how these tools can make them more effective and efficient. Simulating real-world transactions and situations would also help them gain a better appreciation of these tools and lower their apprehensions to your digital transformation efforts.
4 – Secure All Your Endpoints
Small businesses are prone to cyberattacks since they’re known to put little security measures in place. They account for 58 percent of malware victims and also often fall victim to data breaches, theft and extortion. Losses from asset theft and business disruption to small-to-medium enterprises total more than $2 million on the average, which can be a staggering amount that your business may struggle to cope with.
It’s important to have a security measures in place. Installing anti-malware applications and enabling client-level firewalls are basic measures you can take. Fortunately, you may not even have to spend on these as Windows’ native security applications – Windows Defender and Firewall – do a good enough job to thwart common threats. Just make sure you keep them updated.
Speaking of updates, applying patches to your software and firmware could help plug the known vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit to gain access to your network. Deploying these fixes to all your devices can be done through IT management platforms. An IT management tool such as CMS could patch operating systems and software including those for legacy machines and even Internet-of-Things firmware.
Evaluate and Adjust
Implementing IT solutions and tools to augment your processes could truly transform your business. The improvements in efficiency and productivity that tech tools bring could greatly improve the quality of service you provide to customers and further grow your business.
However, it is important to note that IT adoption isn’t some sort of magical pill that would instantly solve your problems. You should still mindfully observe and evaluate how your IT strategy is affecting your business. Don’t be afraid to change direction and adjust if needed.
Careful planning, execution, and monitoring should guarantee that your investments would prove fruitful and have a positive impact to your bottom line.