Managed Technology Partners: Smaller Businesses Today Can't Afford to Go Without an IT Survival Guide.
In today's challenging economy, some small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are increasingly relying on "IT survival guides" to remain competitive. Still, many SMBs mistakenly think they don't have either the time or resources for this strategic approach. Quite honestly, they can't afford not to.
IT budgets in SMBs that I work with are facing - at a minimum - cuts of 10-20% from last year's levels. To survive and thrive, SMBs must evaluate the effectiveness of their IT operations to ensure they are efficient, and also to understand which strategic applications and IT services truly provide a competitive edge.
An SMB's IT survival guide should provide a clear understanding of where its IT dollars and resources are deployed. Too often they are mistakenly focused on the tactical needs of maintaining the status quo of the organization, instead of the strategic needs that help grow the business. SMBs today spend as much as 75% of IT time and 70% of the IT budget on tactical activities. By carefully evaluating these tactical activities, organizations can automate or out-source many of these tasks, reducing IT support costs by as much as 40%.
Here are five key areas where savings and efficiencies can most often be found:
* Management & Support - Companies can streamline support and administration processes, and even consider outsourcing desktop or general IT support to managed service providers to reduce those costs by up to 30-40%. Also, through initiatives such as volume licensing and subscription plans, SMBs can reduce their software licensing costs by as much as 20%.
* Virtualization & Consolidation - This approach gets rid of multiple and redundant server and storage silos for applications or specific services, converts remote users to a thin client platform, and optimizes storage applications across all servers to reduce support costs. It also saves on power and cooling - as much as 30%!
* Backup & Disaster Recovery - Despite the lessons of Hurricane Katrina and the Iowa River floods, many SMBs still store backups onsite and have disaster recovery plans that don't go much further than rebuilding or restoring their IT assets from tape. However, by improving their disaster recovery profile, they can protect their business-critical data, reduce recovery time, and significantly cut costs by as much 50%.
* Access & Mobility - Large enterprises have already turned to software as a service (SaaS) and cloud computing, and now those technologies are also enabling SMBs to gain access to and increase the availability of their applications from anywhere. SaaS and cloud computing enables SMBs to reduce or eliminate their capital expenditures and also reduce ongoing operating costs that their legacy IT systems would have required - often by as much as 80% - while extending the lifecycle of older PC equipment indefinitely. They can also leverage Internet broadband to reduce or even eliminate the costs of their T1 lines. In addition, a virtualized thin client approach for remote Blackberry users can greatly reduce connectivity costs.
* Telecommunications - One simple way for SMBs to reduce telecom costs is to identify and eliminate unused legacy lines and connections. A Unified Communications platform for voice, messaging, conferencing and presence management also reduces telecom costs by up to 50% and eliminates the travel costs associated with conferencing and meetings.
Finally, for any survival guide to be successful, it has to be specific and deliver actionable recommendations that align IT services with business needs. Only then can SMBs turn their IT departments into a strategic component that helps their businesses grow.
Peter Cowie is the Chairman and CEO of Managed Technology Partners (www.managedtech.com), a national managed services provider and Cisco Premier Certified Partner based in Boston, Mass. Managed Technology Partners helps SMBs optimize their productivity, business agility, and competitive edge while minimizing IT costs. He can be reached at (617) 265-4000.
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|Date:||Oct 7, 2009|
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