Running a business well is a full-time job, so how to do you spin that plate and add growth to the mix, while avoiding breakages? You get familiar with the biggest tech challenges of a growing business, and stay one step ahead of them with the right support.
IT isn’t a solution to every business expansion obstacle, but it’s one of the few areas that can adapt on demand, smoothing the path to bigger and better things. It’s also something you can control, and that’s important, because there are so many other things in business that you won’t be able to.
Does investment in IT pay off?
Spending on IT upgrades alone won’t lead to a better bottom line, but understanding your business and making good decisions around the tech that supports it, will make a difference.
Indeed, the strongest correlation between technology and profitable growth is when investment is set against achieving specific business objectives, so it can be implemented, tested and measured.
To do that well, you need to think about:
- Where the business is now, and whether you’ve met or overachieved on your plans to date
- Where you want to be in six months, 12-months and 18-months’ time
- How you’re positioned in relation to your competitors
- Whether you understand your USP, and where you stand out in your consideration set?
- The strategic or operational barriers holding the business back or stifling growth
How all of that translates into practical IT projects, resource, implementation, time and budget, can be worked out with the help of your IT service provider. However, it’s important for the business to think about these things before they rush into IT tender situations, or start paying a company to look at solutions before pinpointing the problems you’re trying to overcome, and agree on the direction you want to take long-term. Once that’s clear, you can use IT to fuel your plans and overcome challenges.
3 common business expansion challenges, and how to meet them head on
1 - Data
Data management and protection, security and analysis have always benefited from good tech and smart IT, and with the GDPR set to make data protection a more arduous task, it’s the businesses that have invest wisely in terms of efficient and effective systems and expert advice, who will ultimately succeed.
IT can help create the control and security that the regulator wants to see, allowing businesses to use data effectively while remaining compliant. Remember, every business, big and small, will be expected to meet the same standards, so the sooner your processes, procedures and systems are equipped to deal with the new rules, the better placed you’ll be to compete and take market share from the companies that have dragged their heels.
That means data mapping to understand what data you have and how it flows through your business, as well as the ability to meet requirements for the likes of data requests and the right to be forgotten.
2 - Security
The biggest myth surrounding cyber security is the idea that the IT department has sole responsibility for safeguarding the business.
They’re fundamental from a software, hardware and best practice perspective, but no business should underestimate the added protection (and risk) employees across the business add to the mix.
A cyber security culture ensuring employees are up to speed on the threats, and the everyday precautions required to manage them, can prove invaluable. Simple things such as updating passwords regularly, knowing how to identify suspicious email and unsafe sites, and protecting devices that are used remotely, can significantly increase your network defences.
Very public cyber-attacks produced lots of red faces, as well as serious brand damage, for thousands of organisations across the world, including the NHS, last year. This highlights the importance of security and staying on top of machine management.
The best security policies are clear and simple, and if you don’t have the know-how in-house, you should work with an outsourced IT consultant with GDPR certification to foster that security culture. You should also have them run a security audit, and add enterprise-grade security software, to secure your traffic gateway – this is an important piece of kit in your overall armour, and a must-have for any growing business.
I’d encourage businesses to adopt a similar ‘belt and braces’ approach to business continuity planning. At the risk of sounding a little grim, it’s better to plan for disaster. ‘It won’t happen to us’ isn’t a strategy, and if/when things go wrong, you’ll want a recovery plan that kicks in fast, because the longer you’re down, the more the business, and your plans for growth, will suffer.
Attacks don’t do anything for a business’s credibility or consumer confidence, but if you protect it as best you can and an incident does occur, coming back fast and proving how well prepared you were to manage the business out of any potential risk, is the best defence you have.
3 - IT inertia
Inertia is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for any growing business. Scaling an organisation of any size comes with challenges – more detailed processes and procedures, better systems, improved networks, increasing staff, upskilling, outsourcing, not to mention getting management approval on everything.
Change doesn’t happen overnight, but companies that come together to make timely, well-informed decisions, and see IT as an investment, rather than an expense, are much more likely to reach their growth potential.
Appointing some technical leadership (if it doesn’t exist already) and working with an experienced IT partner can help make things happen not just faster, but for the right reasons, prioritising bigger wins, resolving inefficiencies quickly, and making changes that will help you grow short-term, and future-proof for the long-term.
The right IT support
The range of services we provide at pebble.it means your business can get the IT support it needs to not only meet your everyday tech requirements, but build towards expansion and increased success.
Find out how we can help you by getting in touch, and download our eBook on The Role of IT In Your Growing Agency: