by Andrea Palmer
Technological progress continues to enhance business operations. With advances come new pitfalls and opportunities for growth, particularly for the small business owner.
“With the popularity of ‘the cloud’ over the past five years, it’s been an unprecedented time for cloud- or web-based software solutions designed specifically for small businesses to function and remain competitive,” said Carl LeGere, owner of EmpireTech in Queensbury. The company serves many small businesses, with some emphasis on construction and medical areas.
Security is another large issue. LeGere said damage related to cybercrime is projected to hit $6 trillion annually by the year 2021.
“With this trend, it is critical to have a layered approach to cybersecurity,” said LeGere. “This should include training employees in security principles and phishing prevention, using multiple layers to protect your network and cloud data from attack, having a handle on what private or critical information is on mobile devices, and having a way to wipe those devices if they’re lost or compromised.”
“Larger companies have entire tech teams to keep them functioning and safe,” said LeGere. “Smaller businesses need a technology partner that supports them in the same way the larger companies’ tech departments do.”
“Small business owners are running their particular business, their specialty. They don’t have the knowledge to do everything,” said Kyle Fillion owner of Evolve IT in Saratoga Springs. The minute they start messing around with IT, they’re probably not paying attention to building their business.”
“Rather than a business owner trying to navigate all of the potential technology benefits and pitfalls by themselves taking time away from working on growing their business, they can talk over their needs and concerns with a knowledgeable engineer,” said LeGere.
“Employees of small businesses, as well as their clients, are counting on owners/management to be a part of the solution, for the future success of the enterprise as well as the security of customer data,” said LeGere.
“Often those responsible for making their companies’ technology decisions are faced with evaluating IT/MSP service providers,” said Craig Stephenson, administrative and compliance manager at Tech II Business Services in a “white paper” he provided on the subject.
“Many folks assigned to this task are not experts in the industry; therefore, they aren’t even sure what questions to ask,” he said. “Looking for a fair price is part of due diligence, for sure; however, be wary of what organization you let into your critical systems.”
“Keep in mind, if you give a provider keys to the castle, you better be comfortable with their reputation and who they are. “
“Ignoring cybersecurity in a small business is simply no longer an option,” he said.
“A big difference between a large corporation and a small business is resources. It takes a lot of resources to hire a full-time IT employee,” said Fillion.
“If a small business hires an IT person, they obviously have to pay everything that comes along with that person’s expense as an employee,” Fillion said. “More importantly, that person doesn’t come with support, or tools, or software. Those are all the things needed for economies of scale, to really help out a small business. Sometimes they think they’re doing themselves a favor by hiring a full time IT employee, when what they really need is a company that really knows how to do IT work.”
“We have a lot of backing behind us and a lot of economies of scale. We have a lot of software and tools available to us. We have hardware that can diagnose their issues before a problem even happens,” he said .
He said often, businesses don’t think they need that kind of support until something goes wrong. “Then it costs them a ton of money.”
“Our job is to be proactive. To make sure everything is running as smoothly as possible. We fix problems before they even know it exists. We send a monthly report detailing what we did. If they read the report, they start noticing they’re never down any more. That’s because we’re proactive in fixing issues before they become a serious problem,” said Fillion.
His business handles networks, PCs, laptops, servers, Wi-Fi, camera systems, and sometimes phone systems. “And of course the 24/7 service that goes along with that.”
“If anything goes wrong, we go fix it, no questions asked, because that’s part of the service contract,” said Fillion.
“The best thing to do is talk to a company that specializes in IT services, especially an MSP, (managed service provider).” said Fillion. “A good MSP will be honest and tell a small business owner where they fit on the spectrum of IT support needs. Not everyone needs MSP support, but more people need it than think they do.”
by Andrea Palmer