Comcast Business and Inc. have issued a white paper called “A Guide to Jumpstarting Technology.” It focuses on the essential components of a business technology plan.
The plan, which is a free download, says, “Any new business should include a technology blueprint as an integral part of its start-up plan; every existing business should adopt such a plan if it doesn’t already have one; and all businesses should revisit their technology plans on a regular basis.”
As the report says, “The best time to develop a comprehensive technology plan is during the start-up phase of a new business, but it’s never too late for any company to assay its technology needs and begin formulating a comprehensive strategy to address them now and well into the future.”
OK, so that’s nothing earth shattering granted. However, where the report gains credence is by reinforcing what some CIOs and others in technology might overlook. In effect, get down to the basics to make your technology plan.
The plan must cover essential building blocks, such as the need to keep pace with rapidly expanding bandwidth requirements, but it must also include a clear vision. “The vision is the foundation you build upon,” says Desiree Navadeh, vice president of client services at Speak2Leads (S2L), a developer of lead response management tools for small and midsize businesses in the report.
Specifics will vary based on several factors, such as business type and industry, but every good plan should include technology and services that are:
Designed for change. An advantage SMBs have over their larger competitors in the marketplace is the ability to change and react quickly to new needs and requirements. “You don’t want to lose this advantage by being stuck with proprietary or outdated technology that inhibits change,” says Doug Kobayashi, S2L’s vice president of technology. Look for technology solutions with flexible APIs (application programming interfaces), infinite customization, open source support, and a wide user base for product support and exchanging ideas.
Designed for growth. Technology designed for growth should complement, shape, and enhance your business. For example, SL2 leverages the growth of its cloud partner, which enables it to add international features to its application with little development effort. Scalable bandwidth is a critical consideration here. “The bandwidth you have right now may be fine for your current needs, but with global Internet traffic projected to triple by 2016, it’s a good bet your connection could become overwhelmed in the near future,” says Terry Connell, senior vice president, sales and sales operations at Comcast Business.
Designed for integration. That means looking for technology with lots of plug-ins. “As an SMB, you don’t want to spend time and money reinventing the wheel,” Kobayashi emphasizes. “The idea is to be able to plug and play into your required technology by leveraging the work others have already done.” Sticking with best-of-breed technology provides the greatest integration options; you just need to find and test the best plug-ins.
Your technology plan also needs to take into consideration BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and BYOA (Bring Your Own App). Both will have strong impacts on organizations in 2015.
The report says, “Allowing employees to use their own devices and apps can reduce capital expenditures for hardware and software, lower training costs, and increase productivity. BYOD/BYOA fosters greater flexibility and adaptability to change by putting control in the hands of employees and reducing the time it takes to introduce change into a business’s operating model. However, technology plans need to address management of this trend. SMBs need to evaluate the benefits versus the security risks and network usage that come with BYOD/BYOA.”
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