According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small to mid-size businesses (SMBs) account for nearly all of U.S. companies (99.9 percent), and their numbers stood at 32.5 million as of 2021. With IT trends emerging at every turn and plenty of new technology buzzwords to learn, SMBs must stay abreast with the latest IT innovations to boost their market dominance. Here's our roundup of the top high-return IT investments for your business to consider:
1. Anywhere Operations
Anywhere Operations is a modern operating framework that empowers your staff to work from anywhere as they serve your clients everywhere. The three main drivers include: (1) a distributed network infrastructure, (2) a remote workforce, and (3) a dispersed customer base. This framework is people-centric, location-independent, and features robust and secure remote access.
- A reliable distributed infrastructure
- Improvements in the digital experience for team members and customers
- Significant cost-savings by eliminating overheads, like the physical office
- Cloud security-based access to facilitate safer remote work
- Attract a pool of diverse talent and reduce attrition with workplace flexibility
2. Digital Transformation
The adoption of digital technologies has accelerated in recent years as businesses of all sizes seek to capture their competitive edge.
Digital transformation is a foundational shift towards IT modernization and digital optimization. It enables organizations to leverage technology, people, and processes to pursue innovation, enhance business operations, and meet changing customer expectations to gain more revenue streams.
Digital transformation also involves adopting the latest digital business models, such as Anywhere Operations. Embracing this transformation ensures that your company enjoys greater digital integration, operational agility, an innovative culture, an empowered workforce, effective leadership, and fulfilling, sales-converting customer experiences.
3. Hybrid Infrastructure
Hybrid infrastructure is an IT environment designed around a combination of on-premises data centers, private clouds, and/or public clouds. Within this IT infrastructure, you can deploy operating systems and applications to any part of this environment according to your business requirements. This type of infrastructure is even more valuable as our technologies and conditions increase in complexity.
Benefits of Hybrid Infrastructure include:
- Ease of scaling to suit business needs
- Greater control of the company’s digital assets
- Enhanced security as you split assets between on-premises and the cloud
- Cost savings from being able to only pay for what cloud services you use
- Enables business continuity as it is easy to absorb workload surges with little to no disruptions
4. Distributed Cloud
The distributed cloud shares public cloud services across several physical locations. Meanwhile, the originating public cloud provider is responsible for all the operation, governance, updates, and evolution of the services. In other words, it can be defined as a geographically distributed, yet centrally managed distribution of public cloud services.
Historically, location has not mattered for cloud computing, but with a distributed cloud model, you can target location-dependent cloud use. A few popular examples of content delivery platforms that use the distributed cloud are YouTube and Netflix.
Gartner predicts that in 2022, 75% of enterprises with cloud IaaS will deliberately adopt a multi-cloud strategy. Multi-cloud occurs when your organization uses two or more cloud computing services. A multi-cloud deployment may refer to implementing multiple software as a service (SaaS) or platform as a service (PaaS) cloud options. However, it often refers to a combination of public infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) environments (for example, Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services).
6. Edge Computing
Edge computing is a distributed IT architecture where client data is processed at the periphery (or edge) of the network. The goal is to conduct data processing as close as possible to the originating source. Edge computing helps you routinely gather real-time data from many sensors and IoT devices in remote locations worldwide. Analyzing this data offers business insights and facilitates informed decision-making.
7. Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS)
Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) is a cloud computing product where the service provider offers virtual desktops to end-users over the Internet. DaaS is often licensed with a per-user subscription (such as Microsoft Windows 365). This is a good option for SMBs as the provider takes care of all maintenance, updates, and data storage for the backend operations. Also, the cloud service providers may manage security and applications for the desktop, or you can have each user manage these services.
Zero-trust is a security framework that requires all users (within and outside your organization’s network) to undergo authentication, authorization, and continuous security validation before gaining access to your applications and data.
Zero-trust addresses modern business challenges such as securing remote staff and hybrid cloud environments and fending off ransomware threats.
9. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) serves as extra protection across the access points to your business network. MFA uses several factors to verify each user’s identity to access an app, website, or another resource. It often requires two or more elements to confirm log-in credentials. How MFA works:
10. Cybersecurity Insurance
A 2019 survey showed that approximately 76 percent of SMBs suffered cyberattacks, and about 69 percent lacked cybersecurity insurance. Cybersecurity insurance reduces your business’ cyber risks. The coverage is critical as it addresses any loss from failing to protect stakeholders’ data or exposure arising from a vendor being compromised.
11. Technology Stack
A technology stack is a carefully selected group of products and services that, when developed and managed together as a cohesive stack solution, provides all the IT functions required to meet business needs. System administrators can deploy a technology stack of hardware and software solutions as a cohesive platform to support business operations.
12. Operating Expenses (OpEx) & Capital Expenses (CapEx)
Finally, SMBs must distinguish between operating expenses (OpEx) and capital expenses (CapEx):
— CapEx refers to spending to acquire, upgrade, and maintain physical assets (for example, properties, buildings, and IT equipment).
— OpEx refers to the costs of your daily business operations, such as annual service agreements, stationery, electricity, rents, and wages.
The CapEx framework is the traditional method of making IT investments, but it requires significant upfront spending. The OpEx approach to IT often involves your company leasing your IT assets, which are often bundled with essential IT services.
Pursuing cost minimization means shifting from the more expensive CapEx to scalable and lower-cost OpEx. Choosing the OpEx model for IT investments also means less maintenance and upgrades, no asset depreciation, predictable IT spending, and greater responsiveness to changes in the marketplace.
Transform Tech Buzzwords into IT Success
Are you interested in adopting and implementing any of these IT projects or models? Net Friends is the best source for managed IT services and technology planning. Our experts will help you leverage the best IT projects and solutions for your organization with a higher ROI to help grow your company. Contact us today to start reaping the rewards of these and other technology trends.
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