The Importance of Information Technology Best Practices in Business
In a connected world, the importance of information technology in business cannot be understated, and the quality of the infrastructure and focus of attention can often mean the difference between success and failure. This is especially true for small businesses. Establishing, running and maintaining a solid technology infrastructure can streamline operations, improve financial performance and better serve customers.
However, with so many solutions and providers on the market, it's often difficult for small business owners to identify exactly what IT support they need, how much to spend and whether they're ultimately making the best technology investment.
Here's some practical guidance for how your small business can onboard the right IT solutions and services that will meet your needs.
Understanding the foundations of IT
The type of technology your business needs will differ based on your industry. Still, several core technologies will benefit most small businesses.
1 A remote world
Experts estimate that at least 25% of employees will work remotely going forward. Small businesses that want to retain their best employees and attract new talent should consider adopting workplace collaboration platforms, video conferencing tools, meeting scheduling software, cloud storage, cybersecurity and document management systems so they can create an effective remote or hybrid workplace.
This list may sound daunting, but many providers offer all these capabilities in a single platform or facilitate easy integration between various solutions, so you and your employees can move seamlessly between different applications.
2 Social media and customer data
Regardless of any personal feelings about it, social media is a powerful tool for any business, so it's a good idea to invest in management software to schedule posts and track engagement on the platforms. Just be sure to investigate which platforms fit your business best, as there are numerous options.
Social media is also a prime place to collect customer data, which can be used in a multitude of ways, such as improving customer service operations or launching targeted marketing campaigns. Consider investing in a solid management platform to securely store and deploy customer data.
3 The cloud
As you assess solutions, you'll likely get the most return on investment by choosing cloud-based products. The cloud is so powerful because it allows companies to store data on virtualized servers, which means their teams can access information from anywhere, at any time and on any device. Investing in cloud-based tools and learning how to audit your cloud applications will give your small business more flexibility and improved responsiveness to customer needs.
Another benefit of the cloud is that you can scale your use up or down depending on how much data storage and processing capacity you need. For example, if your business experiences a seasonal spike in demand, you can just purchase a higher-tier service plan or pay for extra capacity on-demand.
Recognizing the importance of information technology in business, it's wise to create IT partnerships. Don't try to go it alone. It's far better to work with a qualified, third-party technology provider to give your business the best access to solutions and services—in fact, it's often more effective than bringing someone in-house.
With managed services, you completely outsource the build-out and management of your technology infrastructure to an experienced third-party service provider. This could be a telecommunications company that provides wireless networking, business internet and communications services, or it could be a cloud provider with a digital workspace platform that connects every critical application your business needs in one place.
A managed services provider also has security controls in place to reduce the risk of cyber threats, with some providing around-the-clock threat monitoring and mitigation services in the event a hacker is able to gain access to an application or system.
Aiming for continual growth
Ultimately, every business's goal is to deliver a top-notch employee and customer experience, and IT offers a powerful tool to make that happen.
Wisely targeted, it's one of the single best investments you can make. Understanding the importance of information technology in business can better position your venture to grow for years to come.
Financial insights for your business
This information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal or tax advice. First Citizens Bank (or its affiliates) neither endorses nor guarantees this information, and encourages you to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation.