By now, there is no doubt in your mind that IT is very important to your business as it increases the return on investment. However, one thing that we must underline here is that IT is a cost and a hefty one at that. Is it something that a business can do without? Absolutely not.
To understand the cost, value and use of IT in business, let us look at it from the perspective of why you need it, where you need it, what you need, who will use it, when you need it as well as how much it is going to cost you. IT for business is very big and you cannot understand it all from this simple post. Today, even universities do offer the business information technology (BIT) courses, where students undertake study in IT for business only.
What is required to get started?
A lot is required, but how about you start with the basics of IT for business. Laying down the infrastructure is important and this is where the most cost will go. However, the good thing is that the infrastructure is only laid once and if values like scalability are considered carefully, then most likely for the entire life of the business, you will never have to lay another IT infrastructure. You need to have the best, though it will cost you more. Have a little of every platform. For example, you should buy PCs and Macs for your employees. Match the right software with the right software and you will never experience issues of a slow network. Buy a high quality server and high quality networking cables.
What about training your staff members on the use of the customized applications? What risks will you face? These and many more “what” questions need to be answered.
When do you need to incorporate IT in your business?
Right now. It does not matter whether your business is 10, 5 or 1 year old because you need IT immediately. The longer you wait, the faster your business competitors are doing it and that is where all business is going. If you are thinking of starting a business right now, the first cost that you should include in the capital is the cost of IT.
Who will implement your IT strategy?
So you know the importance of IT for your business and you probably have everything figured out… but not yet. You now have to decide who will do the job. Should you hire a professional team or employ an in-house team for the maintenance? Who does the job for you will depend on a few things and one of them is the size of the business. The bigger it is, the more intricate the networking, the cabling, the hardware, applications and software integration and so on and thus you might need to hire a team. If your business has a small number of employees, say, less than 60, then your in-house IT team can do the job and you can save money. Note however that should you choose to use your in-house team, you will still need the services of an IT consultant.
How much will you spend?
This will depend on a few factors, but some industries use more IT than others. For example, your IT consultant will tell you that manufacturing does not require a big budget for IT. However, telecommunications, health, insurance and retail will need a bigger and more intricate IT infrastructure. The good thing is that if you hire a consultant, they will advise you appropriately on what areas you need technology and if you are a big consumer of technology, they will advise you on ways to minimize the cost.
Why do you need an IT plan for your business?
You need an IT plan for your business because of the benefits that you will enjoy. Granted, IT is a cost, but if the value it adds to a business is more than the cost, well, you have to invest in it.
Here are a few of the benefits that you will get:
Storing information - In business, data is everything. Information is everything. Thus, a good IT system will gather data and store it safely on cloud or in the on-premise servers. This information will be processed later to generate valuable leads that will be pursued to generate revenue for the business.
Automate many of the processes – Leave time on your employee’s hands to do much more work and automate what you can. Automating some, if not all of the processes will make your business more efficient and customers will come back for more.
Work even when you are on the go – Who wants to wait until they get back to their workstation to do some work? You can now work from any place on earth as long as you have internet connection, thanks to the mobile internet devices.
Easy communication – You need to communicate with your suppliers in China or Taiwan, your outlets in South Africa, your employees back in the mother company and the field teams too. IT has made communication easier through web conferencing, video conferencing, chat rooms and many more.