Knowledge is power, they say, and that’s frequently used as a reason to try out a consultant. However, IT consultations can go far beyond simply providing information. The right consultant can help you lay out a roadmap for future upgrades, avoid dangerous pitfalls that could tank your company without the proper security, and secure data services at the right price.
When many people think about outsourcing, they think about offshoring or sending some of their services to a large, distant corporation. Understandably, that can make smaller companies a little worried. However, today’s outsourcing world is very diverse and has a lot of options for younger businesses. We’re seeing a lot of growth in what some are calling boutique services or local outsourcing to other companies that are at work in your own community. These local companies tend to specialize in data-related services and often offer consultation services, which makes them a great place to begin for advice.
That advice allows small businesses to sit down with someone and ask plainly, “All right, how can we actually benefit from outsourcing right now? What’s worth outsourcing for a company our size?” Newer ventures can benefit from choosing to outsource aspects of the company (anything from payroll to data virtualization) that they don’t specialize in, allowing them to focus instead on their core value offering.
This is a common goal for all consultations, but particularly useful in the tech field where small and mid-sized companies may not have the experience or knowledge to pick the right solutions. It’s a common issue in retail and hospitality companies in which business leaders are very much focused on the brick-and-mortar world and aren’t exactly sure where the industry is moving in regards to data management and online tools. A consultation can help outline the current state of the industry, what companies are doing, and what the best practices are for similar businesses.
This not only helps develop data and service goals for the company, it also helps businesses take a serious look at what their competitors are doing and how that is affecting their own products and services — competition analysis that they may not be capable of on their own.
How well do you know the data compliance regulations for your industry? What about the requirements for doing business with clients in a nearby country (yes, it can be very different)? Smaller companies need to be aware of all compliance laws and future requirements that may be coming around in the next year or two. A talk with an IT expert can firmly establish what is required and what isn’t, and help design a strategy to meet upcoming compliance issues with the right data services.
Don’t think that compliance can be avoided by small businesses. The IT world is particularly strict on compliance due to the increased number of cyberattacks and data thefts. The fines that can come out of failing to meet requirements regarding client data and privacy are enough to cause the failure of even large companies. Small ventures will not be able to survive the experience.
Let’s say that your growing business is familiar with data and tech solutions: You know what you are doing and you’re happy with the current tools you’re using. However, you are interested in expanding and adopting new services that may require some changes to the way you use data. When entering uncharted territory, a consultation is an excellent idea, not just to get new ideas, but also to make sure the transition will go smoothly. How will your old files move into a new system? Will you need to use different formats? Can your new services easily exchange data with your current tools? Will you have to change data management or maintenance tasks? Hashing these questions out with vendors can be time-consuming and stressful. A consultation with experts is a much smoother path forward.
Growing, agile companies are typically aware that they need proper protection for sensitive client data — but they may not know where to begin or if the security they are currently using is sufficient. IT consultations can tackle many, many security issues, but there are a couple of issues in particular that small companies can benefit from consulting about. The first is data insurance, which helps companies recoup some of the losses experienced during a data attack. It’s important to understand exactly what a data policy covers (hint: It doesn’t pay off any associated fines) and if it’s worth the cost for a specific business.
A related issue is finding the right data backup plan in case something goes wrong. Companies moving toward more complex systems of data management and hosted services should make sure that they have a unified backup plan that covers all important information — and that sometimes requires the advice of a skilled third party.
Where do you see your business in five years? What about 10 years? It’s dangerous to assume that a company can just drop service or software and pick up a new version when they start expanding years down the road. The reality isn’t so simple or cost-effective, and many growing companies find themselves stuck with technology that struggles to meet their current demands — as switching to a new solution grows more expensive and more difficult to plan. Don’t get caught in this pitfall. Instead, use an IT consultation to plan a roadmap for software that is based on your growth expectations. Choose services that are easy to scale up and change as needed in the coming years. There are a lot more scalable options now that cloud services have diversified, but it’s important to find the right choices for the future as well as the present.
Do you have a more specific question about what’s involved in a consultation? intivix provides IT consulting in the San Francisco area and can help! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 543 1033 to learn more.