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When I was young, it was always appealing to think about how much better it would be when I would grow up. I’d get to drive, I could do anything that I wanted to do, and I wouldn’t have to come in at a certain time. Being bigger and older seemed like the best thing to be—complete freedom, complete flexibility, and the ability to do things just the way you wanted.

But now that I am a bit older, it seems like there are a lot of things that I didn’t think about that aren’t quite as great as I would have liked. I have a never-ending list of phone calls and emails to follow up with for work, I have to spend more time managing both my business and personnel financial accounts than I ever would have imagined, and I’m simply nowhere near as nimble, energetic or agile as I used to be. It turns out that being bigger doesn’t necessary mean that things are better—different perhaps, but not necessary better.

It’s actually not that different than what we’re seeing in the business market, where larger companies don’t always have all the advantages that smaller and younger companies do. For years, it seemed like the deck was stacked against smaller companies—especially in the IT arena. Large companies had large staffs of IT experts to digest and understand new technologies. They could roll out large ERP, CRM and specialized packaged applications to address business process and data management issues. They could install large data warehouses to collect, consolidate and manage critical business data and generate forecasting and management reports. In short, it seems like large enterprises have the skills, the financial resources and depth to always come out ahead of the smaller companies.

Small companies, on the other hand, are typically faced with limited (or no) IT resources. IT infrastructures and applications change only when they absolutely have not, perhaps even after they have to, and not a minute before. Experimenting with new technologies or approaches is almost unheard of. Making do with what is familiar and works—whether it’s a cumbersome set of spreadsheets for sales forecasting instead of a specific sales or CRM system, or paper-based system for tracking shipped orders—is the order of the day.

On the face of it, it’s definitely an uneven match up—small and mid-sized businesses face a range of challenges in today’s market, especially when they’re competing against large, global companies. They lack IT expertise and resources, have limited funding and cash available, and simple don’t have the time to focus on building enterprise-class systems. Unfortunately, the business changes over the past five years have only made things worse.


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