When it comes to keeping your business running simple, the leadership of growing small and midsize businesses today are in a unique position compared to older, bigger companies. They can choose to invest in traditional approaches to IT, like their predecessors – or new and simple IT, right from the start.
Many older, large companies grew up before the internet – let alone cloud computing. They evolved during a time when best-in-class was the watchword for IT – and this meant the adoption of lots of stand-alone, purpose-built legacy solutions that did their jobs well.
But ultimately, this approach has led to the business and IT complexity that’s currently making it hard for them to adapt, scale, and respond to business and market changes. They may have added new and cutting edge technology where it matters most, but their network remains a patchwork of old and new that just wasn’t designed to play well together.
Clued-up executives of SMEs are choosing a better path – one that will allow them to stay agile, scalable, and responsive, regardless of how big they grow. And in doing so, they can scale faster, respond to change faster, meet new customer needs more easily, and more effectively innovate for competitive advantage.
So many of the world’s most successful and emerging businesses could not have achieved what they have without the cloud. Chris Haroun puts it this way: “Netflix would be a luxury that only a charmed few could afford; Spotify wouldn’t be a bargain subscription music service; Airbnb’s business wouldn’t scale; Expedia wouldn’t run as efficiently; Uber would not exist and Pinterest would be a fantasy…” In fact, most technology startups are reliant on cloud hosting these days, to allow them to be agile, scalable and competitive in a way that we never could have imagined even twenty years ago.
As noted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, in their paper ‘Scaling SMEs: Building a Flexible Platform for Growth’, many SMEs are now choosing cloud-based applications that can be accessed via mobile devices – and at a very affordable cost, as the prices for accessing cloud computing keep dropping.
There’s no need to tie up capital in servers and other hardware, backup systems, and disaster recovery capabilities – or take on the ongoing costs of hiring people to maintain software and systems. This means you have more capital to invest in strategic areas, such as hiring new people to expand where you see the biggest opportunities for growth.
And cloud computing can help you avoid ever hitting the wall when it comes to growth and scalability. It can be used to build a flexible platform for growth – one with limited fixed costs so businesses have flexibility to strategically use funds as opportunities arise. These solutions also allow you to, for example:
- Start using software connecting your front office with your operations so you can centrally manage information and processes – instead of spreadsheets and a patchwork of fit-for-purpose apps that silo information.
- Easily operationalise state-of-the-art processes either through outsourced services (think payroll) or cloud apps that are constantly being updated and improved.
- Innovate faster by buying the process support needed to support new offerings, business models, and more.
- Access management information from anywhere, even from mobile devices – for example, billing and financial information.
These types of technologies are no longer out of reach for even the smallest business today – and when you start early with them, you can avoid the cumbersome complexities of many big companies and position your business for sustainable growth. By way of example, we at Soltius started with only a handful of employees back in 1996. In those days, key business processes could be handled with simple accounting and timesheeting systems. As we grew we pushed these simple packages to their very limits until it became a real business risk – our old server-based systems were in danger of crashing under the increasing load.
Last year we moved to a scalable, cloud-based business suite, SAP Business ByDesign, which means we can continue to grow without being held back by our IT. And as our business becomes more complex we can roll out further functionality on a single platform instead of trying to plug gaps in our processes with spreadsheets.
Is your IT strategy keeping things simple and supporting scalable growth?
Cloud Business Development Manager