Small and medium-sized businesses today include high-powered law firms, savvy financial service businesses, cutting-edge technology companies, manufacturers of precision-engineered products and countless other organizations that help drive the economy. In my travels, I have been amazed by how tech-savvy many of these SMBs are, leveraging technology in novel ways to achieve millions of dollars in revenue while supporting sophisticated IT environments that host multi-terabytes of data. Yet, despite their prowess, these SMBs are often at a disadvantage versus large enterprises within their markets. Undoubtedly, technology helps level the playing field, but, in some ways, technology inhibits SMBs from sustaining the advantages they possess.
The modern digital age has created more IT complexity. Classically, the IT environment was limited to financial operations and ERP systems, but today the whole organization is somehow dependent on the IT infrastructure. Not only are personal computers and e-mail pervasive, but organizations now have intranets, external websites, marketing automation tools, sales productivity tools, customer relations and call center management systems, content management systems, HR systems, design and engineering tools, laptops, mobile devices and instant messaging systems. It’s a long list, and this doesn’t even touched the surface.
Literally, every business process today has a dependency on digital information systems. The complexity created by these technological advances deepens the chasm between enterprises and SMBs. For enterprises that employ large technology departments, IT complexity is more manageable than for SMBs whose IT staff is, more often than not, working to capacity.
The IT team at many midsize companies consists of a small team, largely made up of IT generalists. Small organizations may only have one person dedicated to the IT function. The IT manager is challenged to expand staffing to meet the demand of new projects and emerging requirements of line-of-business departments. Of course, that’s not as true for larger enterprises.
The cost of information management
Large corporations are often better positioned to manage, secure and examine large-scale data. Large enterprises are better positioned to justify the cost of hiring in-demand data scientists to dive deep into massive data stores, as well as the cost of a variety of layered software applications and professional services to architect “big data” solutions. We’ve each heard about this or that startup that has internally developed a novel solution that is core to their business, but for SMBs overall, investments are selective, and they are limited by budgetary constraints.
Small and midsize businesses have often been underserved by technology targeted at the large enterprise. SMBs would benefit from more integrated, automated solutions that shield complexity and enhance productivity.
Taking a set of tools and technologies designed for large enterprise deployment and driving them down into a small business is a challenge for the industry as a whole. Conceptually, the desired features and functionally available to the enterprise as layered software, individual add-on features, and siloed software packages meet the needs of the small and medium business environment, but they can be daunting due to high additive costs, complex integration, additional professional services, and hard-to-come-by technical skills. As is often the case, the one-size-fits-all product approach to meet enterprise needs can result in additional software complexity and a bloated feature set.
How do you see the playing field between big enterprises and SMBs in how they manage IT?Like This