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Keeping up with change is never easy, but in the past it’s been particularly difficult for small and mid-sized businesses. Unlike larger organizations that have more IT resources and can afford to invest in cyclical technology changes, small and mid-sized businesses have tended to be slow adopters of new technologies. Instead they find something that works, and then work it into the ground.

However, as we explored in the last column, things have been changing. With so many new competitive requirements in areas such as increased security, broader regulatory requirements, the need for round-the-clock availability, and increased customer expectations, simply using the same IT environment or IT approach is no longer a viable option if a small or mid-sized company wants to remain competitive.

So, what do they do? If they can’t keep doing business as usual, let’s take a look at what is important to small companies as they try to modernize and keep up with technology changes. Based on the conversations I’ve had with small and mid-sized companies, what’s important to them when considering what types of new technologies to select and how to roll them out includes:

  • Having a natural growth plan. IT decisions in smaller companies are usually made by the president, owner, or one of only a handful of IT personal. Once they’ve paid money for something, they hate having to pay money for it again, or replace it just because the technology has change—even when the old one is working fine. Thus, having a natural growth path with compatibility with future generations of technology is important to them. Technology vendors that force an organization to adopt one approach one year, and then another infrastructure the next simply won’t cut it.
  • Incremental approaches. In a similar vein, incremental approaches tend to be what smaller companies are looking for—though perhaps not always what they need, depending on specific situation. In many cases, the buying preference of smaller companies is not to do major, comprehensive overhauls of what they’re using, but instead, making incremental investments in solving one problem at a time. This is an important consideration for technology companies attempting to sell solutions to small and mid-sized businesses, as they need to make their solutions consumable in incremental steps, unlike a large enterprise/consultant-driven big-bang approach.
  • Limited risk. Astonishingly, some of the most entrepreneurial companies, owners and managers that have a huge tolerance for risk in business may have the least tolerance for IT risk. Since it’s often their own money, or money that’s directly tied to the profitability of the company, it’s much more difficult to part with then the yearly allocated budgets that managers in large companies find themselves disposing of. Overcoming this reluctance and providing organizations a cost effective approach to technology adoption is critical for change.


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