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4 minute read

11/04/2017

Golden rules of buying tech for SMEs

 

Can technology make or break a business? The short answer is yes. And with around 385k new registered businesses appearing in the UK every year, it’s increasingly important to pay close attention to your tech choices.

It can be difficult to know what the best device and technology combination for your business is. Do you need a tablet or a laptop? A landline or a mobile broadband connection? Often people just default to consumer tech and services, not realising that the business equivalent is better equipped for their needs. For example, a home broadband connection doesn't always compare to Business Broadband when it comes to the regular speeds and uptime that your business needs to run.

Similarly, having tech that’s just not fit for purpose can also have a negative impact; an old laptop with a 30-minute battery life essentially stops you from flexible working – you’re constantly stuck near a plug socket.

Another issue is skimping on security, whether it’s not protecting every business device (that’s smartphones as well as laptops), making silly mistakes like checking financial data on free WIFI connections, or not regularly updating your software and hardware.

What you need to know

The options for the best tech, services and ways of working are seemingly endless, which is why we’ve put together an essential tech-buying guide for small businesses.

Check out the main types of tech you might want to buy below, which will help to inform your choices as you grow your business.

As a service technology

Setting up a business comes with many costs, not least of all the initial cash lump sum required for acquiring the essentials. ‘As a service’ technology provided via the cloud is a great option for businesses who need the latest tech and infrastructure - but might struggle to find the physical space, or pay for it up front. A service provider will work with you to determine your ideal set up and then you pay a set monthly cost for the term of the contract. It’s an easy way to kit out your business, and means you get the chance to renew your tech at the end of the contract.

  • No large initial investment
  • A service provider to recommend tech
  • A service provider to manage your tech
  • A manageable monthly fee
  • Renewed tech at the end of your contract

Cloud-based applications/services

Cloud-based applications are basically programs which are hosted remotely. You don’t store anything on your device - just log into the program and start using it. This is great for businesses who don’t have the facilities to install huge programs or pay a lot for them. Like ‘As a service’ technology, you can usually pay a monthly subscription for access, which takes the sting out of paying large upfront costs.

  • No large initial investment
  • Access to tech previously out of reach
  • Access from anywhere with an internet connection
  • No need for storage space or networking to share programs

Collaboration tools

When there’s no guarantee that you and your team will be working in the same building every day, let alone in the same country, having collaboration tools is essential. Using tools like Skype, Google docs or Yammer means you can have conversations, share files and share ideas no matter where you are in the world - and it doesn’t have to cost the earth.

  • Cheaply and efficiently stay in touch
  • Host meetings from wherever you are
  • Share and collaborate on files remotely

Unified Communications

Unified Communications covers the integration of all communication channels. It’s not one product that does everything, but multiple products that work together, providing a consistent experience. These can include any combination of the following:

  • Instant messaging
  • Web and video conferencing
  • Voice calling
  • Data sharing
  • Desktop sharing
  • Number forwarding

Cyber security

Today cyber security is more important than ever. Most of the biggest threats to businesses come from hackers and criminals looking to harvest your data. Understandably, many small businesses assume that they’re safe due to their size. While it might be easy to assume that big businesses are better targets, hackers also know that most small businesses don’t have the security set up to stop them. Ensure that your cyber security accounts for the following:

  • Training staff on best security practice
  • Regularly update software and firmware
  • Encrypt files and data
  • Install antivirus software on all devices
  • Consider a dedicated line and connection (essential for financial data)

Mobile solutions

When your office can be anywhere it’s important to have a connection that you can pick up and run with wherever you need to work. So, whether you’re working from home, on your commute, or in a coffee shop near the office, you’ll have a constant link to the internet and your business data. Travelling for business is another important consideration. If you don’t have a roaming connection then you may be forced to either pay a premium for extra data, or rely on free Wi-Fi hotspots, which are usually slow -  not to mention unencrypted, leaving your private data readily available for any hacker who might be monitoring the network.

  • Always on access
  • Lower cost of data when travelling
  • Better security than open Wi-Fi spots

Digital infrastructure

It only takes one rainy Saturday afternoon for you to realise that not all broadband is created equal. With lower latencies and user ratios, a dedicated business broadband gives your web traffic priority, and provides dedicated bandwidth to ensure that you have the speed you need to run your business. Not only this, but business broadband comes with guaranteed uptime, dedicated support and extras like business email and storage included.

  • Reliability
  • Extra tech support
  • Peace of mind

The future

It’s essential to stay up to date with tech trends in order to make your business as robust and future proof as possible. When you’re bringing the benefits of digital, mobile and cybersecurity into your business then you can and should be ready for anything.

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