Eight IT Projects SMBs Should Consider Implementing
New developments and products are changing the shape of IT implementations for SMBs.
Small- and mid-sized businesses in the U.S. will be spending more than $125 billion in IT this year, according to researchers from IDC in a new report. This represents an increase from the close to $120 billion spent in 2010, and is projected in spite of the still-weak economy and other persistent problems such as limited access to credit to fuel spending.
The projected uptick in expenditure is significant, as it represents a rebound from the decline of some 4.2 percent in SMB IT spending in 2009. Obviously, current practicalities and economic realities do mean that SMBs continue to invest differently from large enterprises. In that vein, I thought that the reality projected by Justin Jaffe, IDC senior research analyst, in an eWeek report makes sense:
Vendors that understand how changing economic conditions and emerging technologies are affecting IT acquisition for different company size segments will have a considerable advantage in developing and marketing technology products and services for SMBs.
So what are some IT projects that SMBs may find themselves investing in? I have not seen the report, though I can think of three areas where either prices have declined significantly, or technology has reached a high level of maturity.
I spoke with Dirk Gates, CEO and founder of wireless LAN equipment maker Xirrus, recently. In his closing statement, Gates cautioned that businesses should "seriously consider deploying well-provisioned Wi-Fi" rather than wait to play catch-up at a later stage. And having observed the products entering the market from Xirrus as well as those from its competitors, I am inclined to say that the current cache of WLAN products looks very good indeed. For now, SMBs confused with deploying more than one wireless access point may want to read my post on managing multiple Wi-Fi access points.
The cost of storage has declined significantly over the years. The decrease has been quickened by the increasing affordability of much faster solid-state drives (SSD). Moreover, advanced business-grade network attached storage appliances - such as the Synology DS1511+, which is capable of very high levels of throughput and reliability - are also available in the sub-$1,000 price range for the first time. As such, SMBs still without a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery plan will definitely want to invest in a proper storage and backup infrastructure.
The affordability and portability of laptops will make an impact on SMBs, which have traditionally been much more cost-sensitive than the enterprise. Indeed, IDC projects that "the [laptop] form factor will surpass desktops in smaller offices, with 4.7 million SMBs expected to be using notebooks by 2015." I would offer a word of caution here: SMBs should make preparations against laptop theft from the get-go by deploying standard data encryption technologies. And while you're at it, do check out my six quick tips for a better laptop experience from last week.
Are you in the midst of setting up or planning to set up any of the above projects in your SMB? Feel free to chip in below. I would love to hear about your challenges or thoughts on them.