How can small businesses future-proof IT infrastructure amid market uncertainty?

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The demands on small businesses to ensure that their IT infrastructure is up to the task both now and in the future have never been greater.

Being able to keep pace with competitors is a constant struggle for any business, but a global pandemic has only added greater urgency for the need to maintain and upgrade IT systems. Working remotely, online selling and the need to interact virtually with everyone from customers to supply chain partners, has put reliable and robust IT at the very top of most companies’ priority lists.

Some have been better placed to adapt than others; a survey by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found a fifth of UK-based small businesses which remained open during the crisis, increased or enhanced their online presence, while 39% increased their use of digital technologies to facilitate working from home.

Ultimately, standing still is not an option in a volatile market, with ever-changing customer expectations.

The need for investment

Central to dealing with these changing market demands is reliable, affordable and scalable infrastructure technologies which underpin the modern business. Servers, networking equipment and data storage solutions are the staple IT requirements for growing organisations and small business owners know it.

This move towards a different world was reflected in a recent survey of UK small business by IDG, which found 71% of those interviewed said their main reason for upgrading their IT systems was that modern business requirements were outpacing their existing IT setup, with most of their investment planned for technology that facilitated home and remote working.

It is not only the impact on a company’s ability to do business either, but also to attract and retain the employees who are critical to business performance and growth.

The pandemic has sped up the move towards new ways of working such as the hybrid working model, with technology at its core. Indeed, it’s becoming increasingly clear that employees are more demanding about what tools they’ll use, with one such study revealing 1 in 4 employees saying a negative technology experience would impact their career decisions.

Beware Catch 22

While small businesses are forced to confront the existential need to maintain and upgrade their IT systems during not only the pandemic, but the changed world it will lead to, they are faced with a big challenge.

The crisis, and the resulting worldwide economic fallout, have led to levels of unprecedented commercial and consumer uncertainty. According to the ONS, last year saw a drop in GDP of more than 9% in the UK, the biggest collapse in output for 300 years.

Company IT spending reacted accordingly, with IDG’s Role and Influencer 2020 study showing that 64% of IT small business budgets either stayed the same or shrank.

This has led to a Catch 22 situation because, in essence, the time when small business most needs to invest – is the time they feel least comfortable doing so. This puts a greater emphasis on cost control, vendor support and delivering IT differently from the ‘big bang’ launches of the past.

Seeking affordable and reliable solutions

Squaring the circle of maintaining investment and future-proofing IT infrastructure, while keeping costs in line during uncertain times, is something small business owners are increasingly conscious of.

The aforementioned IDG survey found that 83% of IT decision makers considered things such as cost and discount in mind when purchasing IT services.

With Dell Technologies, small businesses can get the flexibility of enterprise-grade technology at affordable rates and with trusted expert guidance along the way.

As an end-to-end partner, Dell helps small businesses from the very start of the project to the end, from initial consultancy and scoping exercises to the deployment of best-in-class storage, networking, servers and security solutions – all of which are backed up by readily available support services from Dell Technologies Advisors.

In addition, Dell’s Financial Services offering enables small businesses to access this industry-leading technology, while deferring payment for up to 180 days via Dell Financial Services, while services such as ProSupport with SupportAssist can proactively identify and resolve IT and PC issues as and when they arise.

By accessing these types of services, small business can invest in IT and retain their competitive edge, without having to make any large upfront payments at a time when liquidity is a concern.

To find out more, or to speak to a Technology Advisor, just visit Dell.co.uk to find out more. Alternatively, find out how to optimise performance while reducing IT costs.