The cloud is changing the way we invest in new technology for SMEs. Luckily, we’ve got a guide for how you can do just that.
The world of business is evolving. If your business is to be successful you need to not only chose the right technology for your company but also know how to get the most out of your IT investment. However, this isn’t as easy as it might sound.
For starters, investment in IT has changed. In times gone by a company would simply invest in a one-time project; this could be boosting its customer relationship management systems or installing a new platform for employee e-learning.
Usually, once these projects had been completed they’d run for a number of years before being upgraded as a continuation or a completely new project. This would often involve new infrastructure in terms of servers onsite or hosted specifically for your business or project.
But the cloud has changed how businesses invest in IT. Today, companies put their money in tech as a set of services to be engaged with over time, which in turn has transformed how companies manage their investment.
Cloud services are built to be platforms that are ever-changing and evolving in the same rate as the cloud supplier can innovate and upgrade them. As an example, if you look at tech titans like Microsoft and Google, they’re all currently busy incorporating AI, machine learning and things like PowerApps as new additions to their platforms. Why? Because it helps ensure they can compete for market share of their platform. Like the great white, you either keep moving or you die when it comes to building the best platform for customers.
Fortunately, this is great news for SMEs because that means small-business owners can get access to more advanced technology at a lower cost than the IT projects of yore. But it comes with one small caveat – these companies must adapt to how they use the platform and how they budget for IT costs in a world where they essentially subscribe to a series of services from different providers as the toolkit for how they do business.
The first thing you have to look at is what the actual project will cost to implement. However, treat this initial cost of changing something as a baseline of future costs. Forget the idea of implementing something once and then be done with it. Instead, consider it the first expenditure to get the core up platform up and running. You’ll then have to continuously get back to it and ensure it’s performing optimally.
The leadership of the SME should be ready to spend a set amount of time each month or quarter to review their technology in order to get the most out it. This time is always time well spent as it will help you build better processes for your business using the tech.
To get the most out of your investment, it’s usually a good idea to find a technology partner that can offer you advice and help you implement the best changes for your company.
So what should you look for in a partner that is right for you?
Firstly, ensure your cultures are compatible so your ways of working mesh well and at the same speed as the partner.
Secondly, a good cloud partner should be committed to technology and learning. That way, you can stay certain they can keep helping you get the best from the platform and not just acting as a technology gatekeeper.
Thirdly, will the partner’s resources fill the right gaps in your business? For instance, the partner could be dedicated purely to tech or development if you already have the right training and support resources available internally; or you could need a partner to provide focus on training throughout.
Finally, you should also look for a partner that is on the same page as you when it comes to setting goals so both parties are driven to the same outcomes. If a partner is focused to deliver A and you are expecting B then disappointment is inevitable from the outset.
This leads us into how you can ensure you have a continuously good relationship with your partner. Fortunately, there are four simple steps to get this right.
Start by setting milestones for both your partner’s delivery and your internal delivery.
Ensure you have a clear and regular communication strategy between your team and your partner. All stakeholders must be clear about what has been achieved and what is still outstanding.
Also, give each other time. It may be worrisome to see those initial monthly bills get paid without much result right away but an agile approach will pay off over time as the risk is spread over the subscription.
That being said, have the outcomes and KPIs plotted that you want to see from your investment – as ongoing spend, you will want to see how this spend is contributing over time to your business outcomes.
In today’s fast-moving world, the business that uses technology correctly is the one that succeeds.
If you can wisely invest in the right partner and platforms then there’s reason to be bullish about the future.