Robin Lloyd, General Manager: HP printing and personal systems, Tarsus Distribution
Unlocking business value from your technology investments
IT has become so deeply woven into the operations of small and medium businesses (SMBs) that many do not even give it a second thought unless something goes wrong. Yet SMBs that are not working closely with their IT partners to uncover new opportunities to create business value from technology risk missing out.
In these times of accelerated cloud migration and digital transformation, you shouldn’t only be looking to your IT provider to fix broken printers or troubleshoot PC problems. Your IT partner should also be able to consult with you about ways to transform your business processes, deliver digital services to your customers, and ultimately unlock growth opportunities.
The right IT partner can help you compete and grow
Your IT provider can be an insightful partner that can guide your business modernisation and digital transformation plans. Getting the most from your provider will ultimately come down the people on both sides and their commitment to doing great work together. Find a partner that shares your goals and values, and they will help your business thrive.
Here are some ways to maximise the benefits of working with your IT providers:
1. Conduct an as-is analysis If you haven’t reappraised your technology strategy and partnerships for a while, take the pulse of IT in your company. What in-house resources do you have and which are you sourcing externally? What are your current pain points? How well does your tech support your current business needs? How do you anticipate your business will evolve in the years to come? What are your goals? Communicate your challenges and priorities to your providers, so that they know what you need from them.
2. Be strategic rather than tactical For many SMBs, IT has become a firefighting operation rather than an engine for growth. You can change this by finding an IT partner with business acumen and strong consulting skills. With the right provider, the conversation will shift from break/fix services and tactical deployments towards considering how IT can enable long-term growth and efficiency in your business.
For example, every business faces challenges around data privacy in the age of POPIA. Your IT partner can help you to not only comply with POPIA in the immediate term, but also to create a cybersecurity posture that provides a platform on which you can build robust remote working and digital commerce platforms to support your business into the future.
3. Create forums and channels for collaboration Constant and clear communication is the key to getting the full value from your IT providers. Request regular meetings where they can give you feedback, and where you can update them about developments in your business. Build a rapport with the person who manages your account, so that you know where to turn when you need help or advice.
4. Focus on a win-win partnership During these difficult economic times, it’s tempting to drive a hard bargain with IT partners or choose the cheapest provider. However, a good relationship goes both ways—it should be sustainable and profitable for the partner and deliver value for your business. Plan for a long-haul business relationship based on trust rather than choosing a partner solely on price.