A tech ecosystem is the overarching umbrella network that combines your business’ software, hardware and IT equipment. A well-designed ecosystem should work seamlessly, integrating your team and facilitating their work to reduce (rather than contribute to) common barriers such as accessibility, compatibility and security issues.
On average 20% of business expenditure is spent on IT for small businesses – and almost a fifth of that goes towards IT devices and support for employees. Clearly, it’s vital to design and invest in a good tech ecosystem right from the start, so that as your business grows your IT infrastructure can work for you, rather than against you. Redesigning an ill-considered system will cost more than just time and energy.
Our Growing Strains video series follows six UK-based companies on their journey from startups to flourishing business, and a common theme shows the importance of investing in appropriate IT and technology early. Today, therefore, we’re looking at how to ensure your tech ecosystem is working effectively so that it can engender business growth from day one…
Invest in the right technology from the start
You can understand the reluctance to invest heavily in technology when launching a business, but there are many reasons why it’s important to do so. For example, premium brands like Apple that require a short-term hit on the budget will ultimately pay long-term dividends, as Apple’s high-quality products work better for longer.
As with most things in life, with technology you get what you pay for, and by investing in Apple, whether that’s hardware (such as MacBook Pro laptops or iPhones) or software you can guarantee the products will be easy to set up, reliable and integrated brilliantly, making it easier for your team to be effective and efficient.
Despite higher residual value, companies will, in fact, save money in the long term as they experience fewer support tickets and require less software. In fact, research carried out by Forrester TEI finds that compared to a PC, running an Apple Mac will save you $843 over three years. Apple products also historically prove very popular with users, and that is important. A happy team is a productive team.
Install the best software for your business needs
Do members of your team need to work remotely or on the go? Are you hoping to scale up your business and add team members as your business expands? There are many questions to ask yourself when investing in tech, both hardware and software, and it’s helpful to identify your needs early on.
Regarding hardware, for example, if your team works remotely – or shares office space – you might want to consider portable options such as MacBooks or iPads for your staff, rather than a traditional desktop setup. This will offer them flexibility and versatility depending on where and when they are working. And if they all run on the same ecosystem switching between these devices will be easy, and the same goes for software.
Consider using iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) and cloud-based tools such as IFTT and Zapier. These products allow you to integrate various disparate software systems in the cloud and can help to automate resource-intensive manual tasks, such as data or information movement, particularly useful for accounting, stock taking, and data management tasks.
According to McKinsey Digital, opening up your IT systems to other services within your ecosystem can have multiple benefits for you and your customers. For example, integrating a third-party point of sale application (from the same ecosystem) with your own payment systems might help streamline a customer’s purchase process, making it easier for them to spend money with you.
Consider the Scalability of Your Tech
Many companies are tied into installed, rather than cloud-based, software licenses. These can be both very expensive initially, and cost a fortune to upgrade subsequently. As alluded to earlier, Brewin Dolphin, one of the UK’s largest wealth management firms, got its fingers burned in 2014 when the company decided to abandon completely its new IT systems (after three years of development) at the cost of £32m.
You should consider the longevity of any software and always use scalable technology to add users and devices as your business grows. Investing in cloud-based software means it is easy to upgrade the tools you are using without investing heavily in new tech infrastructure.
Additionally, ensuring your staff IDs are managed by an IDM system and your devices are managed on an MDM platform means that not only are your IDs safe and your devices regularly patched for security updates, but onboarding and offboarding of staff is quick and seamless.
As McKinsey Digital emphasised, using specialist vendors to support different capabilities such as mobile, search engine, CRM and payments allow you to accelerate business growth, scale up your services and tap into specialised talent as technologies evolve and demand spikes.
Encourage learning and development within your team
An often overlooked, but critically important, part of your tech ecosystem is the group of people using it – your employees. Even the best-designed tech ecosystem won’t work if your team doesn’t know its full potential.
Empower your employees to keep up to date with the developing technology, and put training in place so that everyone is on a level playing field in terms of experience and skillsets. After all, what’s the point in investing in expensive, top-quality tech if it’s not used fully? Hiring a professional IT Services company to support your staff, devices and infrastructure is a great way to make sure everyone knows exactly what your tech ecosystem is capable of, and how they can use it best. We spoke to recruitment platform YunoJuno as part of Dr Logic’s Growing Strains series to hear first-hand how important tech was for their growth.
At Dr Logic, we can talk you through everything you need to know about designing a tech ecosystem that works seamlessly for your business. Whether you need a hand with the initial setup and installation, or you need ongoing help in supporting your team – we’d love to be involved. Get in touch for a consultation.
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