Cloud Considerations

August 31, 2009

For SMB’s thinking of dipping their toes into the waters of SaaS (Software As A Service) Karl Palachuk has some great due diligence questions to think about on his Small Biz Thoughts blog.

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From Hoovers Business Insight; The job title your customers REALLY want you to have

Right in with my previous post on; What Do You Do?

From Information Architected;  Strategy – Down from the Clouds

Execution is what counts – the rest is theory

From CIOZone;  SMBs Like the Internet

The percentage of SMBs that use the Internet to track sources of new business leads is now at 30 percent, up from 22 percent last year.

(Although I don’t think 30% is anything to write home about)

The Merchant Stand Blog; Top 10 reasons why you want your boss to read your blog

A rather humorous look!

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I know, I know! Too often there is a poor perception of the IT function, staff, or service providers in our SME businesses.

And as Michael Hugos at CIO.com points out, the IT staff often contribute to this negative perception!

While there are a dozen ways that your IT staff or provider can shoot themselves in the foot this way, often this perception of IT can be created and re-enforced through jargon laced techno-babble, poor communication and circular logic on the complexity that makes up IT.

Mr. Hugos brings up two great questions for IT leaders;

How can we in IT more actively include people in discussions about possible solutions? How can we more actively include them in implementing these solutions?

But It Can Take Two!

IT must clean up its own image, and must be seen as contributing to solutions, not as being a roadblock to them. I agree with that 100%.

However, I also think that in many cases managers and executives in the small to medium business can also be unintentionally contributing to this negative perception about their IT function.

How?

Simple; they do this by keeping IT as invisible as servants in a medieval castle.

Keeping your IT staff invisible, and locked outside the doors of any communication and conversation about goals and strategy truly leaves your IT team in the dark about methods of collaboration that can contribute to working solutions.

A second issue for many senior managers at SME’s is that too often we can fail to take the trouble to even help ourselves when it comes to technology. This leaves open risks, and an unwillingness to acknowledge the pros and cons of what technology can, (or cannot) do for our business.

Self Inflicted Wounds

In a conversation a few months ago, the owner of a small business that provides technical and IT support for other small businesses told me that he had just fired a customer, and that he was the third IT provider to fire this customer!

Apparently this customer consistently and repeatedly called with angry, accusatory complaints about difficulties on their business network and business computers.

Yet for the vendors, the problem was always the same.

In spite of repeated warnings, and having the newest anti-virus and firewall software installed on their network PC’s, this SMB owner never let them operate properly, secondly he would bring his kids into the office on weekends and let them use other PC’s in the office to play with.

And play they did.

After every abusive , screaming support call, the service provider found the affected PC to be riddled with viruses and spy ware from the kids playing on business PC’s.

This business owner then would be yelling at his service providers. His attitude was that he should never have problems in spite of his own irresponsibility.

The SMB Takeaway

As Michael Hugos states, yes IT must help themselves be seen as a source of answers, not a source of frustration.

But at the same time, you cannot leave your IT team or provider stuck behind the 8 ball either.

Stuck Behind the 8 Ball?

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Photo Credit: 60 in 3 via flickr

What Do You Do?

August 26, 2009

Rick Segal;

I ask everybody in the company “What do you do” and am always surprised how the company’s success trajectory can usually be linked to to the granularity of  the answer(s).

The above article is about technology based companies, but there is tremendous value there for all SME businesses.

In summary, if you ask someone in your business; What do you do?

The answer will usually be a functional answer such as I’m in accounting, or I’m in shipping.

Rick states that when you can ask that question, and the answer is how that position is benefiting your customer and your business, not just functional, Then you know you have yourself a high performance organization.

I think most of us can learn from that.

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Personally I believe that the broad term Social Media (too broad a term in my opinion) can assist SMB’s in communicating, providing service, or marketing to our customers.

But!

Like any initiative, you need to understand what you are trying to achieve. You need to understand your customers, your market, and most important, how they look for service or sales information.

In fact I have seen many small businesses that would truly benefit from social media, but that will be another post.

Below are a couple of great articles on the pitfalls of thinking social media without the planning;

Frank Reed on the Marketing Pilgrim blog; Social Media Is Important to Everyone – Not!

And Gene Marks over at Business Week; Beware Social Media Marketing Myths

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SMB IT Fail!

SMB IT Fail!

Nathan Eddy at eWeek wrote; IT Failing 1 in 4 Small Businesses, Says Effectiveness Index Survey

Initial results from a new online survey designed to measure IT effectiveness at small businesses shows almost one in four respondents score a “D” or “F” grade

The article, plus the referenced survey takes a look at the effectiveness of IT within the small to medium business space. Needless to say, in many cases, the results were not good.

We need to do better.

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Photo Credit fireflythegreat via flickr

Sorry, That Was My Fault

August 21, 2009

That can be so hard to say.

Fingers point, blame shifted where ever possible.

Mistakes should be a learning opportunity.

Practice saying it, practice accepting it – you’ll be better off

Sorry!

Sorry!

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Photo Credit spud murphy via flickr