Small Business Technology: Is It Leveling the Playing Field?

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October 30, 2017 –

New technologies come online every day. Small and mid-sized businesses can be position themselves well for the future by adopting the latest solutions.  While some believe only larger companies can adopt new technologies, the latest cloud-based solutions are leveling the playing field.  In many ways it’s now actually smaller organizations that are positioned to be early adopters. Not only does this help them “keep up” with their larger competitors, it might just give them a strategic advantage.

Small and Mid-sized Businesses are actually in a Better Position to Adopt New Technologies

And there are several reasons for this.  First, for smaller and mid-sized companies, it is often a shorter and easier adoption and implantation.  Solutions can be deployed quickly via the cloud.  And because there are fewer employees, leaders can be train their teams more easily.  This training can include new business processes based on the new technology.

In addition, small business owners are often looking for significant time-saving technologies.  They need to do things as quickly as their larger competitors but with fewer resources.  Often they don’t have the luxury of throwing bodies at the problem (or opportunity).  Instead they will adopt and deploy new technologies that will save them precious time.

The overall movement to cloud-based solutions has also had an impact.  It has placed small and mid-sized businesses in a better position to adopt the latest technology. That’s because cloud-based solutions don’t require large up-front investments in hardware.  Which is one thing that has historically kept small business technology adoption low compared to their larger counterparts.  Today, up-front infrastructure costs are no longer a barrier to entry.

What new technologies should small and mid-sized businesses be considering to help with business operations?

Where you are as a business and what your biggest pain points are (as well as your biggest opportunities for growth) will dictate what technologies make your list.  But as a starting point, here are some areas to consider:

  1. Payroll processing – according to the Small Business Technology Adoption Index put out by PYMNTS.com, 66% of small businesses are using technology to generate payroll. If you are still processing payroll manually, this might be a good place to start your cloud journey.
  2. Accounting – moving to automated accounting system is often a natural next step after payroll. At $50 – $70 per month it is an affordable approach to tackle your accounting woes.  There are several solutions in the marketplace including FreshBooks, Xero, and Intuit Quickbooks to name just a few.  There are a lot of good options out there, depending on your budget and the features required.  It’s worth taking your time on this one.  PC Mag put together a nice article summarizing the top players.
  3. Invoicing – automating the invoicing process and receiving payments automatically (goodbye paper checks!) is a great next step for increased time savings for small and mid-sized businesses. Many of the accounting software providers discussed above also provide invoicing and payment solutions.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be exploring which new technologies can help small and mid-sized businesses collaborate better, run more efficiently, and create a great experience for their customers.

Until then, if you would like more information on how better technology can improve your overall business, please review our section on Technology Performance.

If you would like specific recommendations for your organization, feel free to contact us at info@xlingshot.com or 303-410-2845.

– The Xlingshot Team

 

Why More SMBs are Turning to the Cloud to Reduce TCO

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March 6, 2017 –

More small and mid-size businesses seem to be taking the initiative to learn more about the benefits of the cloud.

Determining why SMBs have this sudden keen interest in the cloud isn’t all that tricky.

If you shouted, “Cost Savings!” in a room full of SMBs, you’d undoubtedly be the center of attention. And it seems as if this is also the motivating factor as to why more SMBs are looking into cloud-based solutions to reduce expenditures.

Although it seems like an oxymoron to recommend investing in new technology to control costs, cloud-based solutions can be leveraged for a greater return on already inevitable operational expenses. By enhancing productivity and overall efficiency, the cloud could help spur business growth and profitability.

Here are few of the reasons more SMBs are opening up to cloud-based solutions…

  • Containing Costs – This is the big one. Every SMB wants their business to grow but that growth is accompanied by rising costs to maintain safe, reliable, and sustainable business technology.On-premise solutions are expensive.  If you’re paying someone $60K a year to manage and monitor your technology, and most of their day is spent performing routine maintenance tasks or running to the aid of the intern who complains that something is running slow, are you really getting a return on that investment? You can do better and your on-site IT support can do more for you.The cost for cloud-based solutions have been found to be anywhere from 35% to 50% lower than with on-premise solutions. This is because the cloud can completely eliminate most infrastructure costs such as servers, databases, backup, operating systems, upgrades, migration, physical space, power and cooling, and associated in-house or third party staffing costs.
  • Greater Flexibility – No doubt you’ve been privy to an office Happy Hour conversation or two about Infrastructure-as-a-Service (Iaas) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Is that crickets we hear? Okay, well since you’re in the dark, the flexibility of the cloud makes it really attractive to SMBs. IaaS and PaaS are two increasingly popular cloud technologies because of their flexibility when it comes to big data analysis.IaaS technology is flexible as it allows an as needed rapid deployment of resources. Basically, fast expansion to accommodate growth. SMBs can pay accordingly for this on-demand usage, giving them the ability to access and analyze the kind of big data seen at larger enterprises without having to pay for necessary hardware capacity.PaaS technology gives SMBs the ability to affordably increase or decrease data storage capacity as needed. Of course, there must be a need for big data analysis that justifies the use of these technologies. Many SMBs may be just fine using Microsoft Excel for data analysis.
  • Greater Mobility – Many SMBs are turning to the cloud to provide remote employees with access to communications solutions. Through the cloud, remote workers can use smartphones, laptops, and notebooks to access documents and files for internal and external collaboration.

As you can see, it’s understandable why the cloud is being seen by SMBs as the “great equalizer” to take their business to the next level and stay competitive with even the big dogs despite budget and staffing limitations. It also helps that cloud-monitoring services have simplified the monitoring and management of SMB cloud deployments, alleviating a lot of the fear about migrating to the cloud.

Visit the Cost Control section for more information on how to keep your IT costs in check.

For more information, please contact us.

Cloud Monitoring Can Be the Difference Maker for SMBs

February 27, 2017 –

It’s a fast-paced world. Not only do people want things, they want things right now. This sometimes-unnerving need for instant satisfaction has only intensified now that we have Wi-Fi and mobile devices that keep us connected regardless of where we are, what we’re doing, or the time of day. There is no longer any tolerance whatsoever for waiting. A business with a website that fails to load, or loads too slowly, will lose customers and leads to competitors.

So what has your business done to address this need for constant accessibility and optimal uptime? Do you feel you’re doing enough to meet the demands and expectations of your customers, new business prospects and those who have just now found you on Google?

If you’re a small-to-medium sized business owner, do you have confidence in your technology infrastructure? Can you say with certainty that your website, internal server, and mobile applications function smoothly, efficiently, and correctly?

When your IT team leaves work to go live their lives, are you confident that things won’t go bump in the night? That you won’t be ringing their cell phone while they’re out having dinner with their family, or worse yet, sleeping?

If you answer no to these questions, you may be one of the many small business owners who could benefit from cloud monitoring. And you’ll be pleased to learn that cloud monitoring can significantly improve all facets of your business – especially your service, productivity, reputation, and profitability.

What is the Cloud?

According to a study conducted by Wakefield Research, 54% of those questioned responded that they’ve never used cloud technology. However, the truth is that they’re in the cloud everyday when they bank or shop online and send or receive email.

Business owners, specifically non tech savvy small business decision makers, are still apprehensive when it comes to moving their server and web monitoring services to the cloud.  But FDR’s famous quote, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” definitely applies here.  The cloud is nothing more than moving the storage and access of your data programs from a computer’s physical hard drive to the web. There is nothing to fear.

Benefits of Cloud Monitoring

Obviously, these physical and virtual servers, their shared resources, and the applications they run on, must be monitored. This can be done from multiple remote locations and it’s called cloud monitoring.

Cloud monitoring makes it easier to identify previously unseen patterns and potential problems within your infrastructure–issues that may be too difficult for any in-house support staff to detect. For instance, monitoring ensures that your site is delivering accurate page content and is meeting anticipated download speeds. It can detect unapproved changes, website tampering, and compromised data.

The continuous analyzing and testing of your network, website, and mobile applications can reduce downtime by as much as 80%. The speed and functionality of e-commerce transactions are also optimized. Additionally, cloud monitoring tests your email server at regular intervals, which minimizes failure deliveries and other issues pertaining to sending and receiving emails.

Clearly, all of the above, along with the alerts that help identify and fix issues before they become catastrophes, make cloud monitoring an attractive way to gain insight into how end-users experience your site, while also enhancing their overall experience.

For more information, please contact us.

How SMBs Can Utilize the Cloud to Build Their Business

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February 13, 2017 –

There has been a lot of talk lately about the cloud and its ability to put small to midsize businesses (SMBs) and startups on a level playing field with large global enterprises. Can this be substantiated or is it a load of trendy hype to push SMBs to cloud-based solutions?  We’ve compiled this breakdown of how the cloud can be used to boost profitability.

The Convenience Factor

It once took smaller companies and startups weeks to launch and configure their own IT infrastructure. Doing so also required a ton of overhead costs. Today’s cloud technology provides the benefits of this very same infrastructure but on an as needed and on-demand basis. SMBs can build a technology infrastructure for themselves online in less than a minute.

For example, a smaller agency that provides apps for its clients, can turn to a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) cloud provider. A PaaS provides companies an environment that enables them to more easily host and deploy apps.  They do this by shielding developers from the hassles that come with the set up, configuration, and management of things like servers and databases.

Without having to worry about things on the infrastructure side, the company and its application developers can focus on creating innovative apps that will generate business revenue. Once their server is online and available, they can launch instantly with a 1-click deployment of their application.

Mission Critical Agility & Scalability

In the tech industry, everyone must channel his or her inner Maverick and Goose* because there is a need… a need for speed. Speed is everything and agility is mission critical. The cloud’s rapid provisioning of computer resources can offer additional storage space in mere minutes rather than weeks.

Having that kind of agility bodes particularly well for the scalability needs of SMBs. As business grows and the need to store more data increases, the cloud is flexible enough to resize your infrastructure on the fly and grow with you.

The cost of cloud-based solutions is much more beneficial to SMBs than the cost of traditional shared or dedicated hosting plans. This eliminates the high overhead that comes with buying dedicated hardware and hiring staff to run the servers.

Cloud technology has empowered SMBs by eliminating any need to make the same kind of costly upfront investments that large enterprise are able to incur. There is no longer a need for SMBs to spend thousands of dollars building out a massive infrastructure to support their big data applications. Better yet, backing up that big data is also inexpensive compared to traditional hosting solutions.

* Top Gun, 1986, in case you were wondering

Visit our Cloud Computing section for more information on how cloud-based solutions can help your business.

Contact Us at Xlingshot.com