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Should IT be viewed as a cost?

IT often finds itself at the heart of budgeting and business decisions, with discussions often going along the lines of; ‘why don’t we just pay for IT services when something breaks?’; ‘Can’t we look after it ourselves?’; ‘Is it necessary to be spending X amount on support just in case something breaks?’

What many businesses fail to see is that IT systems underpin almost every process in today’s modern workplaces – from employee communication to order fulfillment, without IT most business would struggle to function and remain profitable, but why should we change the way we view IT and IT support?

Now-economy

IT and the NOW economy

Over the course of the last decade we have slowly shifted into a ‘now’ economy – a time where consumers expect an instant interaction. Spoilt by the wealth of ‘now’ applications like Uber and Netflix, consumers expect every business they interact with to function in the same way. Obviously if you are an estate agent you cannot (yet) teleport your client into a house viewing by the same token that if you are a legal firm you cannot solve the case within an instant. The point here is that while new ‘right now’ style applications continue to appear, businesses need to be mindful of this switch in consumer expectation. If a client is emailing you they want a response pretty soon after sending it. If they are trying to contact you via phone, they want you to pick up within a few rings, not to be left on hold.

To be able to address these demands you need to be confident that your IT systems can scale with your needs, they are reliable, and that they are not going to put you into spots of bother when experiencing really busy periods. If you have a potential client who is trying to get a quote via email and your systems are down, the chances are they will already be in contact with a competitor before you can respond to their query. If a lead phones in and your phone lines are down, again there is a high chance that they will go elsewhere. Can your business really afford to let leads walk away like this?

customer-experience

Customer experience

What if it wasn’t a lead trying to contact you when the phones were down, what if it was a long-standing client with a pressing issue? Consumers now expect near instant interaction with customer services too – take businesses like Tesco for example. They now have a separate Twitter channel dedicated to customer service to deal with this evolving expectation. All you need to do is look at their feed and you can see the sheer number of queries they are expected to respond to within minutes. Obviously, it would be highly unusual for SMBs to deal with this number of requests, however consumers fail to understand this. While the likes of Tesco continue to respond to queries within 5-10 minutes, consumers and clients alike will expect your business to behave in the same way.

The health of your IT is highly important

While your operating systems may not appear to be broken, when dated systems and software no longer receive supported security updates (soon to be Windows 7) they leave many open holes for attackers to use to enter your businesses network. Attackers can exploit these vulnerabilities to their advantage, using them to infect your networks with pieces of malware, often in the form of ransomware very similar to the style of attack the NHS faced back in 2016. The attack shut down multiple NHS trusts across the country and forced thousands of appointments to be cancelled. What would happen if your businesses infrastructure crippled and left your systems down for a number of days? Clients would surely be left with a bitter taste in their mouth, wondering where you were during their time of need. This is incredibly detrimental to the level of service you deliver and severely impacts their perceived customer experience.

Aside from the need to ensure your systems stay up to date and are fully patched, it is also crucial that you regularly monitor the health of your hardware, more specifically servers. According to Dell, server performance erodes by 14% annually, so, by the fifth year of its life, your server might only have 40% of the performance it had when it was new. When scaling your business, it is crucial that your server performance can keep up with demand, but as this research shows the more your server ages the less it can do – a bit of a problem when you are expecting your systems to keep up with your growing business.

View IT as an investment, not a cost

Hopefully this post has demonstrated why this shift in viewpoint is crucial for any business hoping to achieve some serious growth. Without up to date IT systems and hardware you are very limited in how far you can scale your business. While IT and IT support expenditure is technically a cost, it shouldn’t be viewed as one. An initial layout on IT is truly an investment – without it you will struggle massively.

At Complete I.T. we pride ourselves on our consultative and proactive approach. With our remote monitoring systems, we can monitor the health of your infrastructure without you even realising. We get alerted whenever an issue begins to develop which allows us to solve the problem before you are even aware of it and before it has a chance to cause crippling downtime. We provide all of our clients with an IT roadmap which ensure that your businesses use of IT continues to help you achieve business objectives and aligns to your strategy. See which Complete I.T. office you are local to.

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