Being part of a growing business is a wonderful thing, but it’s also fraught with concerns. Change is never easy, but it’s necessary for growth, so we have to embrace it and keep moving forward. Considering the future needs of your office involves basic factors like space, parking, and even furniture, as well as the very significant question of keeping up with the technology needs of the organization.
Technology represents a major line of your company’s office budget, so smart planning in that area can really pay off, both in productivity and in your bottom line. Staying informed about trends in technology use in business can be valuable in making the best decisions for your business.
In 2013, the NSBA surveyed more than 800 small business owners to gather information on their use of technology. Their findings indicated sharp increases in the use of cloud computing, smartphones, and tablets. The use of laptops also increased considerably: up to 84% from just 67% in the 2010 survey. Overall, 70% of the respondents felt that keeping up with technology was “very important” to the success of their business.
As a part of the study, the business owners were asked about their IT challenges. Here’s a look at the top 4 challenges related to technology in the workplace, all of which apply to the growing office.
1. Cost of upgrades
The biggest challenge for the business owners in the survey was handling equipment and software upgrades. This is something that has to be planned for when the technology is first installed. Experts at Entrepreneur recommend asking yourself some questions in considering when to upgrade:
→ Are you or your employees spending more time trying to accomplish tasks? For instance, does it seem to take longer to launch applications on a given PC? Has the network grown sluggish at handling routine traffic? If so, it’s probably time to consider upgrading.
→ Is your business using powerful new applications? If you’re planning to install processor and memory intensive programs, it’s likely your PCs will need to be upgraded. Digital video editing, for example, is extremely processor and memory intensive, and requires a large, fast hard drive for storage.
→ Have you added, or are you planning to add, more users to your network? If so, it might be time to consider upgrading the storage capacity and/or memory of your shared office server, or upgrading other network-related equipment.
2. Time required for repair/troubleshooting
Another concern involves wasted time. Technology makes us more productive, except when it’s not working. Depending on your tech support arrangement, it can take weeks or even months to get simple repairs done. The NSBA survey uncovered a trend toward placing more responsibility for this on individual employees. It’s often a good idea to compare the options of repairing vs. replacing technology. Arm yourself with good cost estimates for both from a trusted IT advisor.
One development that helps keep software snafus to a minimum is cloud computing. Software that lives on someone else’s server is their problem, and the vendors rather than individual users handle updates. The use of cloud computing grew from 5% in 2010 to 43% in the most recent survey.
94% of the survey respondents named cybersecurity as a challenge. Nearly half of them reported having been the victim of some sort of cyber attack. These can be very costly both in terms of money and time. Any technology plan for your office should include solid provisions for security.
4. Changes to infrastructure
Business owners are challenged by the need to update the physical tech infrastructure in their office. It’s important to maintain a long-term technology plan and make decisions that support it. Devices are increasingly compatible, and WiFi and mobile technology is gradually making hard wiring less relevant. Work can be done in comfortable areas, like lounges and kitchen areas rather than strictly at assigned desks. Keep this in mind as you consider where to put your tech dollars.
The modern workplace is changing fast...
Are you keeping up?