In today’s challenging economic climate, businesses are looking or new, inventive ways to reduce overheads and maintain profitability. From changing suppliers to implementing energy-saving initiatives, financial savings can be achieved in countless ways, with many businesses now turning their attention to a business function that was once considered a cost burden: their IT.
As leading IT support provider to SMEs across the San Francisco Bay area, Centarus prides itself on providing solutions and support that are sensitive to the commercial and budgetary challenges our clients face. We know that when utilised correctly, IT can be a springboard for growth rather than a financial millstone around a business’s neck, and we’re keen to help our clients understand this truth from the moment they partner with us.
So how can this be achieved? In this short article we’ll explore 5 ways your business can rationalize and redefine its IT to save money while still accomplishing the same, or better, outcomes. As an added bonus, these strategies will also keep your team productive, agile and resilient in today’s competitive business landscape.
In your office, you likely have a number of desktop computers hosting communication tools and productivity applications, as well as servers that house business critical applications and services such as your business email platform and databases. In many cases, this can result in a lot of unutilized computing capacity: capacity that you’re paying to power and maintain.
Virtualization is a technology that allows you to create virtual instances of hardware and software resources, and consolidate them onto single devices (or fewer devices) in order to optimise resource allocation and simplify IT management. The benefits of virtualization are numerous, and include:
- Server Minimization. By virtualizing servers, business applications can be consolidated onto fewer physical servers. This could allow physical servers to be removed from the stack, freeing up space, reducing power costs and lowering hardware lifecycle overheads.
- Greater Flexibility. Virtual Environments can be provided, modified and deleted with ease since they aren’t inextricably linked to underlying infrastructure. Virtual Desktops for example can be quickly set up, providing employees with a tailored workspace that’s accessible from their own devices or using a lightweight, low-cost computer known as a “thin client.”
- Simplified, Centralized Management. Using centralized management tools, virtual environments can be monitored and configured from a central governance portal. This will make the job of your internal IT team easier, giving them more time to spend on tasks of greater value.
Standardize Your Technology
Technology standardization refers to a code of practice that seeks to assimilate technology across an organisation in order to maximise consistency of hardware, software and network configurations. By standardizing your technology as much as is practical, you’ll benefit from improved compatibility, integration and efficiency across your network, as well as a host of other benefits that could save your business money:
- Easier IT Management. With fewer operating systems, software programmes and device models to deal with, your IT team will be able to complete maintenance tasks more efficiently and be able to troubleshoot issues faster.
- Bulk Discounts. With hardware products and software services rolled out en-masse across your environment, you’ll be better positioned to negotiate volume discounts from vendors.
- Streamlined Training. With fewer systems for staff to familiarise themselves with, employees will be able to apply their IT training across you network without the need for further education and support.
- Enhanced Interoperability. By selecting systems and hardware that integrate seamlessly with each other from the start, you’ll eliminate the need for complex, custom integrations or time-consuming staff workarounds.
- Greater Scalability. Standardized technology allows you to hold pre-configured devices on standby that are compatible with multiple business departments. Ideal for scaling up at short notice, thus improving business agility.
Let Your team Work Flexibly
According to recent research, around a third of remote-capable jobs in the USA continue to operate on a remote basis, with most of these seeing employees split their time between home and the office on a hybrid schedule. Whether on a full or hybrid basis, remote working practices can carry a range of benefits for both employee and employer, including improved productivity, enhanced work-life balance and a reduced reliance on dedicated office space. This last point in particular could be a particularly effective way to save your business money, as by operating on a hybrid remote work schedule you could reduce the number of dedicated workspaces you need to provide and thus rent a smaller, more affordable office suite.
Remote working could also help solve your businesses persistent recruitment challenges. With employees less tied to a fixed location (your office) you’ll be able to source talent from a wider pool, allowing you to broaden your recruitment horizons and find the best people for those hard-to-fill roles.
Lastly, while we all hope that the challenges of the last few years won’t resurface any time soon, many businesses have discovered the value of remote work capabilities in times of crisis. By maintaining effective remote-capable infrastructure you’ll ensure your business is able to remain operational through any challenging circumstances that may arise, and ensure financial losses are kept to a minimum.
Outsource IT Support and Management
Around 24% of US small businesses have either an informal IT department, whereby non-technical employees are assigned IT-related tasks, or no IT department at all. This is understandable due to the resource constraints small businesses face, yet it’s no excuse for abandoning IT management responsibilities altogether; a reckless practice that could result in business-crippling IT downtime or a devastating data breach.
If you’re struggling to find the time for IT management, then you should consider outsourcing some or all of your IT services to a third-party provider. By doing so you’ll benefit from a range of technical capabilities on a cost-effective, fixed-fee basis, with ongoing maintenance designed to prevent costly outages and swift technical support available when you need it. Additionally, your IT support provider will be able to help you optimise and restructure your IT for improved efficiency and elevated security, often leveraging partnerships with leading vendors to source you the best deals on the latest technology.
Integrate AI and Automation into Your Workflow
So far we’ve talked mainly about ways to reduce IT expenditure by making efficiency savings and adopting innovative working practices, but what if there was another way to improve your bottom line by helping your team get more out of each working day? By integrating AI and automation into your workflows you’ll be able to do just that and allow your team to focus on revenue-boosting tasks and other activities that carry strategic value.
There are numerous ways to introduce simple, no-code automation into your workflow, from dedicated Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software that can be applied across segregated data stores to APIs that enable cross-platform communication and seamless data transfer between programmes.
Similarly, artificial intelligence can now be applied across countless processes to improve decision-making, reduce human error and improve efficiency. Some common use cases include:
- AI-Powered Chatbots: AI chatbots can be deployed in customer-facing roles to handle simple inquiries, resolve support requests, gather customer data, schedule appointments, and much more. By leveraging data from previous interactions, some chatbots can provide personalized and curated customer experiences, leading to enhanced satisfaction and improved sales.
- Predictive Analytics: AI-Powered business insight tools allow organisations to harness the value in data, with applications ranging from inventory management and demand forecasting to financial planning and marketing optimisation.
- Human Resources: AI-powered HR software can reduce the burden on staff by pre-screening job applications for the most qualified candidates, streamlining the employee onboarding process and gauging employee morale and satisfaction through frequent engagement.
While once synonymous with costly, capital-intensive projects and profit-denting maintenance, IT is now widely recognised as a strategic asset that can be exploited to improve profitability. Start a conversation with your IT provider today about ways your IT could save your business money.
We help San Francisco businesses leverage technology for maximum reward
Looking for value-adding IT Support to help grow your business? Operating from the heart of the San Francisco Bay area, our multi-talented, 20-strong team has the skills and experience required for the most ambitious projects. Our strategy-driven IT support is guided by our extensive experience helping organizations in some of the most technically challenging and compliance-laden sectors, with a desire to allay operational challenges, address regulatory hurdles and overcome commercial constraints central to everything solution we implement. Get in touch today, and find out how proactive, strategic IT support from Centarus could transform your business.