I was recently asked about the biggest challenges facing small and midsize businesses today. My answer remains the same. The economy is challenging for many firms when it comes to capital, cash flow, margin and revenue. And, this will likely continue. At the same time, businesses have to compete in the global economy, a task in which most are not set up to do effectively.
Why? Often, it’s because they run on complex, fragmented legacy technologies and processes that are long outgrown.
In today’s environment, this kind of IT complexity kills growing companies by stifling innovation and change, keeping decision makers from the information they need, and creating inefficiencies that drive up costs and slow business down. But you can address this complexity head on – quickly and safely – by moving to cloud solutions designed for small and midsize businesses (SMB).
The perils of IT complexity
In my experience, most SMBs are still dependent on a mix of legacy software for everything from accounting to customer relationship and warehouse management. Sure, they may be using some cloud-based solutions for CRM or sales, but otherwise, they run a few IT systems that are loosely connected at best. But these legacy systems – and the fragmented processes they support – create complexity that makes just about everything slower, more costly, and less efficient than it needs to be. Imagine how frustrating the manual work-arounds, the slow reporting, and the duplicate and out-of-date data can be to employees at all levels.
IT complexity also creates rigidity that traps information and hinders business innovation, collaboration, and expansion. How can you branch out into promising global markets if your accounting software can’t generate country-compliant invoices or tax calculations? Or, what if you couldn’t complement your product offerings with new services because it would require a whole new business model?
At the same time, siloed legacy systems limit transparency into what’s really happening across your business. Sales may be able to provide management with reports, but there’s no integrated loop. And trying to get a lead-to-cash analysis, for example, is next to impossible. Without unified data, who knows the real state of the business?
IT complexity – which increases with every software customization and business change – also consumes limited IT budget and resources. Phone systems, laptops, and e-mail distract IT from core business systems running on SQL servers until there’s a problem. Expensive, but much-needed, software updates are repeatedly put off until the cost, effort, and business disruptions are almost unmanageable.
Simplify IT with cloud solutions
It’s easy to feel trapped by IT complexity. And, making big IT changes seems risky, costly, and too disruptive to daily operations.
With the availability of world-class business software that runs in the cloud, you can move to a simplified IT landscape and integrated business solutions that mitigate risk and complexity. In a matter of weeks, your business can have integrated software that’s an enabler of innovation, efficiency, and cost savings in the following ways:
- You always have access to the latest software and best practices.
- Data is centralized and ready for analysis and reporting at all times.
- Processes are tightly integrated across the business – and can even be integrated with other on-premise software.
- Upgrades are non-events, occurring several times a year without involvement from your IT department.
- IT costs are predictable, and downtime is no longer a concern.
- Your data is protected by enterprise-grade technologies that you could never afford to duplicate.
- IT can act as a true business enabler. And if your business needs new functionality or wants to support a new business model, IT simply requests that the requisite functionality be turned on, and it’s there. Yes, it’s that simple.
Even going mobile is easier, because in most cases, cloud solutions are mobile-ready. It’s time to do away with separate apps that must be created or maintained. Just run simple with one solution that does it all.
As an early adopter of cloud solutions, I can personally attest to the incredible cost savings and business efficiencies these solutions provide. We run much leaner and can allocate our IT experts to projects more effectively. Our teams can collaborate remotely, saving time and costs, and we always know where the business stands at any time. From a pure cost perspective, we’re saving each month because we’re not eating the hidden costs of on-premise software like upgrades, new servers and the utilities costs associated.
Our customers are realizing similar benefits. As shown in the figure, after implementing a leading SMB solution that runs in the cloud, one customer was able to double the size of its business while maintaining the same headcount – and improve gross profit margins by 15 percent!
This is not an isolated example by any means. Currently, 80 percent of our customers choose to move to cloud solutions, as they are realizing impressive improvements in terms of cost and efficiency.
Embracing best practices that increase efficiency and productivity
Make no mistake – moving to the cloud is disruptive, but in a good way. You have to let go of old, broken processes and embrace new, integrated, scalable processes based on best practices in the industry. The new processes may not support every refinement you’d made to your old point solutions, but the integration and efficiencies you gain far outweigh the losses. With best practice-based processes in place, your people can work simpler, smarter, and faster, clearing the path for them to meet your business objectives.
So – are you ready to simplify IT?