When starting a new business some of the most important decisions that need to be made are around technology.
You don’t want to end up spending a fortune on the latest high tech systems, and then experience the pain of watching them sit around gathering dust, while the rest of the business struggles to find its feet.
In saying that, on the opposite side of the ledger, it can be disastrous to experience rapid growth and not have the right platform to cope.
Ideally, you want to build a scalable framework that can start small and then ramp up as your business grows.
With more focus now than ever before on cybersecurity, flexible working environments and ever increasing marketing opportunities, considerable time and effort should be spent planning for, and implementing, technology that won’t leave you stranded.
Technology Requirements for a New Business
Each business is unique in its specific needs, however there are a number of core areas that are common to most.
There are several options that can be considered when it comes to deciding what actual type of devices your employees will use in order to carry out their day to day activities.
- Bring your own device (BYOD) & Virtual Desktops
BYOD is gaining momentum. Companies are foregoing hardware costs altogether and simply using their employees’ devices. Many choose to provide an allowance towards a purchase of an employee-owned device but leave the ultimate choice of the device to the employee.
Any device, any place, is now not only possible, it’s preferable.
It is true that BYOD has a number of security concerns depending on how it is implemented. It is never a good idea to mix company data with unsecured devices.
If you are going to head down the BYOD road it is important to draw a line between a user’s personal device and the requirements of the workplace. This can be done by implementing a cloud based virtual desktop system.
Virtual Desktops allow the users to log onto a secure desktop that can be accessed from anywhere. This allows your business to address the issues around data and device security and still gain the benefits of not having to outlay for hardware costs.
If you decide to go the traditional laptop and desktop route, in addition to the hardware, you will need to think about the following:
- Hardware costs and support
- User support
Unless you are planning on doing it all yourself you will need an IT help desk available onsite or outsourced to a third party.
Access to the internet is now as essential as having running water or power. It comes with its own set of considerations.
Things to think about:
Data security should be one of the biggest concerns for any business owner. It is extremely damaging for the reputation of any business if there is a loss, or leakage, of confidential information.
Note your requirements around:
- Multi factor authentication
- Physical security and auditing
- Compliance and process
It goes without saying that your new business will need a web presence. The specific kind of site you need can have a big bearing on the choices that you make.
- Will your customers be able to buy online and if so how will you process orders and payments?
- Does it need to be multilingual or are you only servicing the local market?
- How will it get updated on a regular basis and what software integrations are going to be needed?
A static informational website can be simple to implement. The more interactive and feature laden your website becomes, the greater the engine behind the scenes will need to be to drive it.
Often left as an afterthought it is important for every business to have a backup plan in place.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What is the crucial information in your business that needs backing up?
- How long should previous versions of your files be retained?
- How quickly does it need to be restored in event of disaster?
- Are you prepared for a regional disaster?
There are a number of choices to make around your Plan B. Make them wisely and always assume worst case scenarios.
No backup plan is worth relying on unless it is regularly tested.
Email & Communication
You will need to think about how you will manage your business’s email and communication systems. This can be as simple as signing up for a cloud service or you could have your own email server situated and supported onsite.
This decision can be made alone or in conjunction with your other choices. If you decide to take everything in house then you can also take on this. If you are headed towards a cloud solution then it makes good sense to include email and communications along with the other systems.
There will be a number of software packages required for the day to day running of your business.
Things to consider:
- CRM Solution
- Accounting package
- General office/admin package
Cloud office products have come a long way over the last few years with Office 365 and Google Apps now a popular choice for many new companies.
Software licensing can be a minefield to navigate with never ending options, terms and conditions.
If you don’t understand the exact terms of what you are signing up for consult with someone that can help you.
Mobile Technology and Remote Workers
Most businesses these days support and encourage remote workers.
Recent studies show that working from home and flexible hours are two of the biggest draw cards when it comes to job benefits.
How will your business support this? Will you do it yourself or push it out to the cloud?
There is a lot to think about including:
- VPN and security
- Device options
- Productivity monitoring
Where to Start?
One valuable exercise can be to find existing small businesses in a similar industry and ask them what have been their biggest technology challenges.
There may be some obvious pitfalls that you haven’t thought about.
From there you can build up your list of requirements, then it’s just a matter of figuring out which solution you will take on to get things started.
How Having a Cloud Mindset Can Help Address Many of the Challenges
Many of the costs and ongoing headaches from traditional approaches to technology are related to hardware, employees and licensing.
By approaching your technology requirements from a cloud based perspective you can do a lot to remove these factors from the equation.
Having virtual technology that is cloud based means that businesses can do more, with less.
There is no end of discussion around the total cost of ownership between virtual and on premise solutions and in some cases, especially those with extremely large file requirements, it can be the right decision to stick with on premise hardware.
The key thing is to do a deep dive into your technology requirements and then do a cost and effort comparison between the different options.
Aim to end up with a shortlist of options that meet (or mostly meet) your present and future requirements.
Technology is there to help you and assist your business. Make the right decisions and reap the benefits later on.