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.”

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