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Decentralised computing linked to SME data loss

Silverfern IT media release 10th March 2012

Small businesses running decentralised IT systems with no strong central linking, are probably missing business opportunities as a result, leading IT service provider Silverfern IT has warned.


“When businesses start to grow, they naturally install whatever IT they need to get a job done, but just the minimum,” explains CEO Liong Eng, a 20 year industry veteran.


“They end up with a growing number of ‘silo’ systems, often scattered over locations, with no central linking. So there is no proper data sharing, no tracking across business units, no ability to compile deep data on the business operations and especially on customers. Client relationships are not maintained and opportunities pass unnoticed.”


A simple example is addresses. Companies need to keep track of the important people in companies, who make decisions – and this often changes rapidly. Typically local sales people know this, for their clients, but the latest data is probably stored on their desktop and is slow to transfer to a central database, if it happens at all.


“The company misses the opportunity to cross-promote to that client,” says Mr Eng. “They may under estimate his importance, if for example he is involved in multiple areas of his company’s operations, but they see only one or two.
“There are many examples of how amalgamating data can improve market intelligence and lead to more effective operations.”


Other issues include backups, data integrity, compatibility, data security (including departing staff) and fraud detection, all of them compromised in a decentralised system.


Mr Eng believes many companies put up with this for too long because they have a mistaken idea of how much it will cost them to transition to a centralised system.


“People think that means a mainframe and they can’t afford it,” he says, “but the line between a desktop computer and a small mainframe has become blurred and costs have come way down.


“We can show case studies where medium sized enterprises have made immediate operational gains that have more than offset the costs of change. In one case just completed, we replaced five unreliable servers with just two new machines, so there were even capital and maintenance savings in the medium term.


Mr Eng concluded, “Losing data or not knowing what’s really going on is an unacceptable risk in today’s tough business environment. Anyone running a decentralised system should review it immediately to see how they can get it under proper management control.”

 
IT first as SMEs lead in Cloud

Silverfern IT media release 15 March 2012

 

Rapid uptake of cloud technology by small and medium businesses is reversing the traditional trend of the first new IT, says industry veteran Liong Eng.


“In the past, new technology has started out at a high price that only big companies could afford,” he explains. “Then as the installed base increased costs would start to come down and the technology would filter through to smaller businesses.


“With new cloud technology, small businesses are leading the charge, even getting ahead of their bigger competitors.


“In fact, the smaller the company the more likely they are to be totally cloud based: they see the advantages and they go for it with s speed that big companies with complex IT structure and procedures cannot.”
Mr Eng puts the switch down to the immediate cost savings cloud can deliver.


“Instead of being a new expense, Cloud can be an immediate cost saver, with major capital investment converted to more flexible fee for service and savings on internal support costs. So there is no financial barrier.”


Mr Eng believes however that the real driver is capability– and that SMEs are demonstrating they can be more flexible to adapt to the technology turn it into market advantage.


“A good example would be sub-contractors to the mining industry,” he says. “It’s a booming industry but it’s also up and down and much of it is project based, so contracts come and go.


“There are a lot of small companies competing, but each time they get a contract they have to gear up their IT to support it, that takes time and soaks up capital. At the end of the project they may be left with IT they have no use for.


“With cloud they can gear up in days and gear back down immediately the project ends.”


Cloud is enabling smaller companies to look and act – and compete – like much larger enterprises. Mr Eng predicts it’s a trend that will continue.


“In nearly twenty years of delivering IT support, this is probably the most exciting new technology we’ve offered our clients. We’re an SME too: we’ll be looking to grow with them.”

 


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