What does it take for a company to scale up fast? It takes good people committed to meeting productivity gains through the smart use of technology.
Small to mid-size companies need increasingly sophisticated world-class enterprise technology solutions. Unlike their behemoth corporate counterparts with staffs in numerous specialties, the smaller business owners’ strengths usually rest only in one or a few functional areas. Planning the IT effort to deliver productivity gains at a lower cost is often not among their skill sets.
Pitted against giant firms with their retinue of in-house staff and paid consultants, smaller firms lose out on experiencing faster returns on investment and the far lower operating costs that result from a smartly integrated technology platform.
“Small and mid-size companies need solutions that increase IT performance, security and business processes while improving the bottom line,” says Omar Yakar, CEO and co-founder of Agile360, a technology consultant and engineering firm.
Smart Business spoke with Yakar about how smaller companies can level the playing field, allowing them to compete with large players with their powerhouse-computing infrastructure and seamless flow of information, yet with the agility inherent in a small and nimble player.
How do better access strategies help a business grow?
First, you need to define the term ‘access’ within an IT context. Access refers to how you get to the information on your hardware and software. The question then becomes, who is capable of accessing the applications and what data ought to be available to them, regardless of the location? Can your constituencies retrieve the information they need from a variety of locations?
A good adviser can consolidate all your different applications, whether they are Windows applications that must reside on a local desktop, Web-based, client/server or a mainframe application into one simplified, common-access strategy.
The result: the right people whether they are your employees or business partners can view information deigned for their eyes only, wherever they may be located.
In many cases, must the way an IT department interacts with users be redefined?
In a way, yes. A firm’s IT department will put together a network of computers with a reasonable understanding of the costs of building and maintaining the data center, but it often does not understand the cost savings that a centralized access delivery strategy will provide.
While it’s convenient for a user to access an application from anywhere, you must also have a handle on who is trying to retrieve information and for what lengths of time. This is critical to an efficient operation. You need to know the speed and the effectiveness of how information is delivered. Such information influences how much you will spend buying and maintaining servers, storage space and a network.
If the benefits of a desktop refresh can be realized in 10 percent of the time and at one-third the cost, imagine the impact that can have on the economy at large.
How important is it to be able to control access?
A case in point is the damage caused when an employee’s PC with valuable personal information, such as customers’ Social Security numbers, is lost or stolen. Should such information be stored in a PC, or would it be better to access the data from a centralized system where the data will sit? Or if it must be stored on a PC can we encrypt the data so that it cannot be compromised?
Today, government auditors increasingly ask businesses whether their vendors have implemented security efforts that prevent the unwarranted release of information. The tight regulatory constraints that big firms face now have trickled down, forcing smaller operations to adopt industry-standard security mechanisms.
What should companies look for in an IT adviser?
One option is to look for a holistic approach. That is, how existing technology affects your productivity.
Also, look for thoroughness. A good adviser will come in with project management discipline; provide a methodology, or a plan of action; and offer documentation that illustrates how a system is configured and how to keep it running.
The adviser should be affordable. Gartner Research claims that the industry average for deployed application access per desktop costs about $3,500. That is more than three times what it might cost $1,100 for a company like us to do a centralized application delivery.
Make sure the adviser will get in and out quickly. There should be no need to keep the adviser under contract for extended periods, other than requested assistance with ongoing maintenance and support.
Finally, look for a company that is empathetic to your needs to accelerate your business agility.
OMAR YAKAR is the co-founder and CEO of Irvine-headquartered Agile360. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (949) 253-4106.