Byte Me Article 113 – Businesses behind in IT

Businesses Behind in IT
Business IT Special

2 March, 2013

Yesterday at midday the ‘Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland’ held a Webinar (called – Digital Readiness Study: The Results) to – discuss the results of a study!  The study involved a sample of 700 businesses and how they have or haven’t adopted digital technologies to help with the profitability of their business.  So, some of you will be asking – ‘what is a webinar’ before we go any further.

A webinar in some ways varies little to watching a Television broadcast from your local TV station – except that you are watching it live on the Internet.  They are usually of an informative nature so you would normally get to listen to a key speaker as well as seeing them on your computer screen.  Where a webinar differs is that it can be watched by an audience that can be located on the other side of the world and it can be interactive (the watching participants) can be allowed to talk / contribute if the host so desires.  You also need to register for a webinar to be given an access code to view the broadcast.  It is similar to a teleconference – just a slightly different flavour and with a different name – oh how our IT industry loves inventing names!

Unfortunately, I was busy and could not watch the webinar, but I can share our experiences in the IT sphere within Central Queensland.  For the purposes of this article I am splitting IT into two fields – the first is IT as used as a business tool and the second is IT used as a marketing tool.

2013-03-02 Byte Me Article 113 - Business IT Special

As a business tool IT has progressed quickly over the last few years.  The latest versions of Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, MYOB, Adobe and AutoCAD (to name a few) have become very refined and mature software packages offering incredible usefulness and yet few glitches.  We have also seen many of these packages offer ‘cloud based’ derivatives that offer geographically diverse companies the opportunity to centralise and easily share their company data.

All of the available software packages today are however limited by their execution and implementation by individual companies.  We often see poorly designed networks and badly maintained computers struggling to operate these software packages efficiently.  Below are some of the examples of problems that we get to see with new business customers nearly every week.

We actually have customers that are home users that have a far better backup system than many of the new business customers that we come across in Central Queensland.  Some of these businesses don’t even backup their accounting packages and most don’t backup important data such as customer databases, job management software and emails.

We are still striking businesses that don’t have a centralised document store and therefore waste heaps of time looking for documents or keeping templates like fax header pages up-to-date.

Even before Central Queensland receives the NBN we already have the infrastructure to setup remote connections to a work computer from the business users’ home or portable laptop – for an IT company this is a simple process that is easy to effect.  With this in place a business owner can check their latest emails or do wages and banking from a remote computer/laptop as though they were at work sitting in front of their normal work PC.  Very few companies take advantage of this.

An important part of business is cash flow – nowadays all invoices should be emailed to their respective destinations to avoid the typical delays of traditional letters through the post.

If you are employing an IT company to look after your computers and data then you are trusting them with access to private and confidential data that is on your network.  You have to be comfortable with and have faith in the IT Company that you are dealing with – or you need to find another one.

Not enough businesses are scheduling maintenance of their computers – they are waiting for them to break first.  This is disruptive and not cost effective.  Many think that because a new laptop or PC has a warranty then this will cover also cover them for viruses or installing bad software – this is not the case.  Just the same as Toyota will not cover your new Landcruiser if you drive it into a tree – this is what motor insurance is for.  Service level agreements provide the same benefits in the IT world – covering you for viruses, data retrieval, bad software removal and the restitution of data if a hard drive needs to be replaced.  This is normally a monthly cost and has nothing to do with parts and labour warranties.

Many businesses try to save a few dollars per month and operate on a home use Internet connection plan whereby they can wait days for a fault to be rectified.  Many also have an email address like [email protected]   Businesses should be using Telstra Business Broadband for their Internet connections and have a domain name such that they can have the equivalent of our [email protected] & [email protected] the same address – this is essential for effective communications.

Now, as far as IT being used as a marketing tool – this is an area where IT has progressed at an unprecedented rate over the last couple of years.  Not only are smart businesses using a website to target new customers but other mediums such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Flickr and MySpace help to target not only new customers but also to leverage better marketing and stay in touch with existing ones.

The sheer numbers of people using these social mediums is staggering – approximately one billion people are on Facebook!  Trade references or ‘recommendations’ and social networking are rife on these sites and there is no doubting the effect of this from a marketing perspective.  If a business is not pursuing these ‘sometimes free’ marketing tools then they are missing out on getting extra customers through the door!

It is easy to get left behind when it comes to keeping up with the so called ‘digital revolution’ and for a business this can prove very costly – especially if their upstart competitors just down the road are ‘IT savvy’.  It is also the ‘digital revolution’ which is (in some cases) making that huge retail outlet (with a good website) on the other side of the world a direct competitor to your business as well!

Google itself is a great source of IT information however it will still take 10 times longer to grasp IT terms and concepts than dealing with a good IT consultant and a good white board.  The same can be said for the implementation and maintenance of smart IT systems. 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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