The connected small office

Can SMBs avoid the ‘four-year fate’ by thinking more carefully about their networks?

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The connected small office Verbrugghe: SMBs should be focusing on creating a connected environment
By  Hendrik Verburgghe Published  March 11, 2014

Nearly half of small businesses (45%) fail to survive their first four years of operation, so how can they ensure that they avoid the ‘four-year fate’?

Creating a more connected office is the best starting point, as this helps to power everyday office routines. But when making decisions about purchasing office technology, many SMB owners are focusing too much on basic factors, including up-front price, running costs and reliability, rather than recognising the value of office technology. The focus on cost is also an approach that often neglects the connectivity and flexibility needed to make an office environment productive and profitable. ‘Low-cost, low-maintenance’ purchases inevitably lead to a low return, with extremely limited flexibility and functionality. When choosing technology, SMBs should be focusing on creating a connected environment that works as hard as they do.

Is your toolbox up to date?
Creating a connected environment starts by addressing some of the most fundamental business challenges. Whether electronic or paper-based, every organisation processes a staggering amount of data each day, such as invoices, contracts and plans. Yet SMBs often rely on outdated, inefficient and non-connected technologies such as filing cabinets, USB printers and standard Windows file management systems, without questioning whether this is the right approach to effectively manage documents and data. Failing to manage document processes properly will quickly become a spanner in the works. Against the vastly competitive services landscape, efficient service delivery is the difference between success and failure — particularly in those crucial first four years.

While Wi-Fi seems to be a ‘must-have’ in today’s office, SMBs often fail to think one step further and see what value connectivity can deliver. Yet with more than 1.2 billion ‘smart connected devices’, such as tablets and smartphones, shipped worldwide last year, these business environments should be always-available and always-connected.

Time to upgrade
A good starting point is the information management process, because this is essential to every business. Many connected technologies, such as the cloud, Wi-Fi and mobile devices, can fuel this process and enable SMBs to manage information faster and easier than ever before.

This level of connectivity, and availability of business services, has delivered enterprise-level capabilities to smaller businesses without the associated upfront IT costs.

In whatever form it is applied, connectivity represents a huge opportunity for SMBs. It allows them to compete with big businesses with outstanding customer service. If SMBs capitalise on connected technology now, the ‘four-year fate’ could be easily avoided.

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