IT Convergence and the "as a Service" model
In order to understand IT Convergence, it helps to look back a few years. There was a time in the not-too-distant past when you could go out and buy computers, a phone system, security cameras, and cell phones for your business without having to worry about how each one of those technologies impacted the other – they all operated as separate systems. Your phone system wasn’t connected to your computers, your security cameras recorded on to a VCR, and your cell phones were used by mobile workers to make phone calls and maybe send the occasional text message. This all worked fine for many years, but there were some drawbacks:
- Each system required an upfront capital expense, biting into cash reserves, and sometimes at the expense of other important equipment.
- Workstation and server software needed to be upgraded regularly in order to take advantage of new features. Often involving added expense, expertise, and time to install, leading to it being skipped.
- Phone systems, servers, and VCRs required a segregated, physical space that had specific electrical and cooling requirements.
- These systems required regular maintenance in order to run at optimum efficiency.
- Due to rapid changes in technology, computers and other devices became obsolete very quickly.
Over the last five years that's been changing and all of these disparate technologies are now coming together. Telephone calls now run over your internet connection rather than the “old fashioned”, aging, copper phone lines; a technology that is essentially 100 years old. Modern security cameras also use the internet to allow streaming and remote access from a smartphone, and High Definition video cloud storage replaces pixelated VCR footage and magnetic tape. Additionally, smartphones are now an extension of your phone system and computer network, allowing full office phone functionality and full access to customer/company data from anywhere. There are several advantages to this convergence:
- Due to many applications now able to run in the cloud, less on premise equipment is required. This lowers upfront costs, ongoing maintenance and operating costs, and helps reclaim some physical space.
- Cloud hosted systems and software applications include ongoing updates and improvements, ensuring that your business is always running current and secure versions of your business-critical applications.
- Convergence allows systems like your customer database, invoicing platform, dispatch program, etc., to integrate and share data more easily and efficiently with mobile devices and phone systems.
- Programs like Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) allow a small business to use the same software applications and equipment as larger competitors by using a subscription model rather than large capital expenditures, thereby leveling the playing field and providing fixed, predictable costs each month.
- Mobile workers are now able to be as productive and efficient in the field as they are in the office.
As any business owner will tell you, time is money, so saved time and lower costs equal increased bottom line dollars. Large companies jumped on this bandwagon many years ago, but small business has been slow to making the transition. Why is that?
Our experience has been that most small business owners are busy working at growing their business, and don't have a lot of time to devote to researching new technologies and/or how these convergent technologies can impact their business. They become overwhelmed at the prospect of purchasing either phone equipment or computer equipment once they realize that both systems now work together rather than separately. Budgets don’t allow for the luxury of having a full time IT staff, and most multi-discipline IT companies only work with larger enterprises.
The result of both of these scenarios is that business owners often experience the dreaded “paralysis of analysis”. They worry that they may waste money buying technology that won't integrate or support future equipment needs, so they feel it’s safer to not do anything.
What Solutions can Netwurx offer my business?
So what's the solution? Netwurx has expertise in the areas of telephony/phone systems, computer and IT networks, network security, IP video surveillance, and cellular devices. We are dedicated to using this experience to help small businesses learn how to take advantage of these converging technologies. We can help you develop both a short term, immediate plan to alleviate immediate operating gaps, as well as a long term plan that allows you to roll out additional technology as time and budgets allow. All of this is done with future growth and needs in mind. With a comprehensive plan, you can be sure that the dollars you invest today will not be wasted.
The first step is as simple as scheduling a time for a member of our staff to come in and chat with you about your business. No pressure, no hard sell – just one business trying to help another. Give us a call today to get the ball rolling!