Digital transformation is evolving business technology from tactical support to a strategic platform for companies of all shapes and sizes, and the most profound impact comes in the form of competitive advantage. Digital technologies enable small firms to operate at the scope and scale of large corporations. That’s why we advocate in this space on a regular basis that business leaders in any position think about their IT resources – hardware, software and people – like the “big-time CIOs” do.
But truth is sometimes executives at small firms shouldn’t follow that philosophy, because the typical SMB doesn’t have the deep pockets and breadth of staff that big organizations do. So, while SMBs confront many of the same trials and tribulations of managing IT as corporate CIOs, they may not be able to apply comparable policies and solutions to similar circumstances.
That’s what was in our minds as we reviewed a recent article in CIO magazine discussing “hard truths” enterprise IT managers must learn to accept. We noticed two situations when SMB leaders confronting the same technology challenges as corporate CIOs should think differently than their big-time peers:
“Five years ago, one of the biggest headaches IT managers had to deal with was the emergence of BYOD, as employees used their own smartphones on the job,” columnist Dan Tynan writes in CIO. “Now, with a few clicks of a mouse and a credit card swipe, they can bring their own data centers.”
Researchers call this business phenomenon “Shadow IT” and estimate that as much as 80% of workers in organizations with more than 1,000 employees circumvent their company’s IT department and use (or buy) applications that reside chiefly in the cloud. This trend continues to vex corporate CIOs as they work to standardize IT operations and control the costs of readily available new technologies, such as virtual assistants fueled artificial intelligence.
Well, for SMB executives that sort of standardization and control has been unobtainable and prohibitively expensive for much longer than five years. So, SMB leaders who embraced the flexibility of mobility quickly learned that developing and implementing a BYOD policy was operational efficiency rather than a “headache.”
- When the Cloud Must Be Grounded
Per Tynan, at the start of this decade more than 40% of CIOs responding to a Gartner survey believed they would be running most IT operations in the cloud. Flash forward to last year, when another Gartner study predicted nine of every 10 enterprise CIOs would adopt some form of hybrid IT infrastructure.
Well, SMB technology managers have been observing their corporate counterparts’ IT mistakes for much longer than the last decade. But yes, the trial-and-error period of enterprise cloud implementations during the last several years has provided small firms with valuable object lessons. Principal among them: Assessing cloud computing requirements takes a deliberate, phased approach, which accounts for needs that vary by industry and the markets you serve. Managed Services Providers (MSPs) can help with this long-cycle process – and, meantime, fill any cloud skills gaps that appear.