Decades ago, small-business technology amounted to using a Hotmail account or Yahoo Messenger to communicate with colleagues and clients. ‘Cloud’ was synonymous with rain. ‘IT support’ is two bespectacled men showing up in your workstation to fix a slow-booting PC, and hiring a Managed Services Provider (MSP) was a foreign concept.

Today, businesses respond to customer queries through VoIP applications like Skype or social media messaging applications. Employees must have 24/7 access to office files and programs via the cloud. Companies should have an optimised website and online payment portals must be set up. To say that technology is different now would be a vast understatement. Here we compare key aspects of technology as it was used by businesses then and now.

Computing and storage

Then:

Cloud computing services had been offered as early as 1999, but its most significant period of evolution happened in 2002. During that period, businesses were already using computers and some form of cloud computing, but devices were limited to a single desktop connected to on-premises servers and cloud technology was not as common.

Now:

Now, the cloud is indispensable and continues to significantly change the way businesses use technology. It gave small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) a much-needed option to move some or all of their IT infrastructure to external servers that offered anytime, anywhere access. And based on reports, the public cloud services market is ‘projected to grow 18 percent in 2017 to total $246.8 billion.’ The cloud also revolutionised data storage by providing the on-demand storage services that expanded SMBs’ options and capabilities.

Mobile technology

Then:

Before, mobile phones served no other purpose other than as a communications tool. It was only when Blackberry messaging service became popular among professionals that mobile phones became a viable productivity tool.

Now:

Mobile phones are still used for communication, but they’ve taken a far more significant role in business operations. According to Nielsen, more than 50% of global consumers use mobile devices to compare product prices and make a purchase decision. As a business owner with an online presence, having a mobile-friendly site that makes browsing seamless for your potential customers is non-negotiable.

If you’re targeting consumers between the ages of 18-29, they probably have a strong bond with their smartphones and tablets. Given this dynamic, a business catering to that demographic would be smart to embrace mobile technology.

Collaboration

Then:

Email was one of the main communication and collaboration tools that businesses used. Today, its significance is being debated.

Now:

Collaboration is all about getting a trusted VoIP or internet-based telephony provider that can design and maintain unified communication (UC) solutions for your business. Effective UC systems let you communicate with colleagues, regardless of location, and/or reach out to external third parties in your choice of VoIP platform. The benefits of enhanced collaboration are not as easy to measure, but its value to most businesses are manifold: anytime-anywhere collaboration, faster and better engagement, and significant cost savings.

Network security

Then:

In the past, computer safety meant safely entering your password and making sure floppy disks were free from “computer viruses.” Protecting your computer by being extra-vigilant seemed enough.

Now:

Although creating a strong password and keeping it safe are still essential in keeping your network safe, it’s only a minor aspect of IT security. Malware, phishing scams, and spam operate in complex ways that would be unimaginable decades ago. Denial-of-service attacks can bring down a multinational corporation’s entire network. Hackers’ large-scale exploits can crash thousands of computers. Today, keeping your computer safe requires more than vigilance; it requires the expertise of an MSP that can cover all your network security’s bases.

While maintaining your own business’s server, network, and storage might seem fairly straightforward, doing so may prove impractical over time. Technological changes move at lightning speed, making it challenging for SMBs to keep up. Austin Technology’s experts provide SMBs with IT that addresses current needs and anticipates future demands. Call us now for advice.

By Austin

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