When you have just launched your startup the about of available information can be overwhelming, particularly in information, communications and technology, that is if your startup is not centered around one of them.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when you are considering the right hardware and software tools for your business needs:
- Getting it right from the start: Information and communications technology (ICT) is the use of computers and other electronic media to record, store, retrieve, process and transmit data and information. Having a proper ICT setup doesn’t necessary mean you need to have a huge budget allocated for IT.
- Data is important and it can effect your business both positively and negatively: Data are the facts and figures that usually come from measurements and observations. Information is data presented in a form that is useful for a specific purpose. Knowing your data and processing it correctly and efficiently is a major key factor in running a profitable business.
- Cyber security is real and always comes first:
- System integrity.It is important that all programs operate correctly to process data as expected. Malware such as trojans, worms, viruses, ransomware, spyware or adware can affect an application and prevent it from operating as originally programmed, changing the data that has been entered, and rendering any information inaccurate or incomplete.
- Privacy and confidentiality. Connection to the Internet potentially allows access to information to anyone else connected, anywhere in the world. Security systems are necessary to ensure that only authorised persons have access to information that is of direct relevance to their own relationship to the business, and that hackers cannot get into the system. Engaging in e-business means that sensitive information such as credit card and bank account details may be stored on the system, so security for this information is vital. Such information can also be intercepted during transmission over the Internet, so security in transmission is also important to maintain confidentiality.
- Know the costs and benefits of your E-Commerce / E-Business: When deciding which information and communications technologies to employ within a small business, and whether or not to establish an online e-commerce presence, the business owner should weigh up both the benefits and costs of all available alternatives. A cost–benefit analysis allows a business to evaluate alternative courses of action by weighing up the different measurable disadvantages and advantages of each option.
- Size your IT budget to align with your business needs: When starting a new business, it’s always best to hire a consultant to give his opinion to how to setup your IT budget, keep in mind an individual consultant and not a sales person who only cares about selling you a solution.
- Use information technology for your marketing efforts and lead generation: Use the many types of digital marketing tools that are available out there. Using Web 2.0 tools and technologies helps small businesses reduce marketing costs and increase marketing effectiveness.
- It allows the business owner and employees to establish a reputation for expertise, by providing detailed information on products and services.
- New ideas for products and services can be put to the public to gain comment and feedback.
- A blog is by its nature informal, so it can present a human face to the public and build trust with customers.
- Select your software wisely: While it is very tempting to own the latest technology, it is important to select hardware and software that can best help achieve the objectives of your business. For most small businesses these would be typical objectives:
- Improved profitability through increased efficiency and keeping costs under control.
- Growth of the business and increased market share by improving customer service.
- Improved staff communication and the exchange of information between employees.
- Hardware vs cloud: Choosing your hardware is very essential in the early stages of the business, going cloud instead of traditional hardware model reduces early setup costs and the hassle of managing your systems. It also allows for easy expandability and growth of the system with high uptime availability and backup solutions.
- Keep in mind these key terms for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR):Data Privacy: Complete protection of personal data and prevention from sharing it with third-parties.Personal Data: Any information relating to an identifiable natural person, such as a name, or an identification number (email, Social security number, IP address, etc.), or combining one or more factors specific to the identity of that person (ex: name + address)Consent: The explicit user approval of the usage of his/her personal data, as specified by the organization. The approval can be revoked at any time upon the decision of the user.Processing: Any operation performed on the personal data level, such as collection, storage, alteration, retrieval, erasure, or destruction.
- Here’s a roundup of some essential tools for SMEs:
About The Writer:
Fouad Fattouh (ITIL, PMP, ISO, COBIT Certified) has been an ICT professional, trainer, and consultant since 2003, working with multinational companies in Lebanon, UAE, Cyprus and UK. Co-founder of Creative Consults, an IT and Digital Marketing Consulting firm, that focuses on helping entrepreneurs’ setup their startups in the best cost-effective way.
Fouad’s training at Berytech is part of a series of monthly Essentials Workshops organized by the Business Support Department, hosting a different expert each time in the fields including business management, human resources, marketing, and finance.