The Infinize Roadmap
Be first, be the best or be nowhere – this is the harsh reality of today’s high tech business environment. Certainty has become the key driver of corporate success. The question is “Will you see the competition coming?” Infinize’s future disruptive technology analysis tool provides a strategic roadmap that will move your company to the head of the pack. What Infinize’s proprietary roadmap offers, that no other product can, is the knowledge on how specifically to protect and leverage information to your advantage; growing and simultaneously future proofing your organization. Infinize provides C-Level suites and executive boards with a clear vision and an actionable plan to reduce risk, increase revenue and insure corporate success.
IT departments generally aren’t staffed with bad people. But they aren’t always the best resource for assessing your future IT needs. At best, they are extraordinarily busy people who constantly work in firefighting mode. Often, they have a natural but silent preference for solutions that have worked in the past. And sometimes, your IT staff may much more interested in protecting his or her turf than benefiting your business.In each of these cases, an outside consultant has the perspective and experience – and more important, a knowledge of future trends – that can make a substantial difference in your costs, security and efficiency. Building an IT infrastructure at, say, a giant like Google has a lot of advantages: large budgets, the latest technology, and strong infrastructure. But what if you are, say, a small business or a local manufacturer? Often you have none of these factors going for you.
This is why we have developed an expertise in IT consulting for what we call legacy organizations: those 50 to 800 person organizations that form the backbone of business in the US. Too small to have an extensive IT department, but large enough to need professional help. This is our sweet spot. Anyone can create good results in a world of unlimited resources, but we have a track record of helping legacy clients save substantial amounts of money, create sustainable IT infrastructure, and most importantly drive growth. With your kind of budgets and staffing.
Abandon or Reduce On-Premises Technology
Over the last 15 years, the way business operates has changed markedly. Offices host an often dizzying array of desktops, printers, monitors, servers, and network switches and other technology paraphernalia. But the cost of buying and maintaining all that hardware has severely dented the bottom line. Maybe it isn’t worth hanging on to all of it. As IT equipment ages and pricey upgrades or service contract renewals loom, weigh the value proposition of moving some of that IT infrastructure to the cloud. Compare the cost of running some of those functions in the cloud to the time and budget required by retaining them in-house. You may well relieve some of the burden and expense.
For some businesses, it will make sense to get rid of as much on-premises technology as possible and rely on the cloud instead. Others will need to figure out which IT functions they can move to the cloud to reduce complexity and cost—and do so as a complement to their on-premises equipment and software.
Start New Projects in the Cloud
If you’re happy with your current in-house technology, e.g., it works and provides value, consider using the cloud for new projects—perhaps for mobility, to analyze the customer database, or other IT functions.
The cloud will continue to grow as the default platform to launch any new project, whether a hot new mobile or social app, or rebuilding a legacy internal system.
Increased Cloud Backup and Recovery
An obvious area of expense and internal resources is backup and disaster recovery. We expect a sharp uptick in businesses that look to the cloud for data backup, data recovery, data archiving, and disaster recovery. Companies that want to invest in such off-premises services should keep these two issues in mind: the cost of the service, and how rapidly the cloud provider can deliver your data when a recovery is necessary.
Businesses should not rely completely on the cloud to safeguard them in the event of a disaster.
Any company sending data to the cloud would be wise to keep a local copy of the most recent backup. Keeping the most recent backup locally makes data recovery much faster than recovering from the cloud.
Sensible Data Archiving
Certain businesses have a legal requirement to keep every piece of data they generate or receive. And as the price of storage continues to plummet, it has become the norm to store everything and keep it for posterity.
But many businesses don’t need to hold onto everything. They can actually delete large quantities of data and only retain vital business data, such as customer information and financial records. As more companies store data in the cloud, a growing trend involves lowering cloud costs by being highly selective about what data they keep.
If data provides value to your business, then protect, store it, and treat it as a business asset but if there is no value, why are you keeping it?
Mobile Technology is a Must
As younger workers enter the workforce, they demand the ability to run business applications via smartphones. Similarly, bosses and staff who own the latest tablets or smartphones want to use them at work. There is simply no point in fighting the mobile wave—resistance is futile.
A growing majority of businesses regard mobile solutions as essential business enablers with 60 percent saying mobile solutions are critical to business. Mobile solutions also account for a growing share of business technology budgets when we compare findings over the past four years.
The primary reason most new businesses fail in the first two years is generally attributed to a lack of marketing savvy. Companies that make it past that initial period must continue best-practice marketing to remain operational. But with bigger competitors using all sorts of sophisticated marketing technology to attract customers, it is time for many business owners to up their game. Thanks to a plethora of cloud-based marketing applications, business marketing costs are much more affordable.
Choosing the right automated marketing tools may be one of the most important decisions a business makes.
Many vendors offer a solid, valuable approach for businesses, but because they’re designed for different types of business requirements; there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Thoroughly research different solutions to determine which best suit your business. Develop a short list that includes solutions that offer the capabilities and services you need, as well as integration with other solutions your business requires.
Don’t blindly buy into the marketing hype that most vendors serve up. The best way to progress is to attend a webinar or an on-site event where you can ask questions, and take advantage of free trials. Ask for references from customers that are similar to your business, and talk to them to find out about their experiences in deploying, using and getting value from that product.
Try to test-drive at least a couple of different solutions to get a better idea of the options, as well as which type will work well for your business.
Businesses in the U.S. are realizing the importance of connecting with customers throughout the entire buying cycle. As a result, they’re looking for integrated sales and marketing functions, typically provided within a Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) suite.
A large percent of business CRM buyers are still looking for basic contact management as provided in a standalone application for sales force automation (SFA). That’s no surprise. SFA is typically the first step for businesses to organize their customer data and track customer interactions across the sales funnel. As such, it’s long been the first thing businesses look for when it comes time to adopt a real CRM technology strategy.
Many of our clients are also looking for an integrated suite of multiple CRM applications, as opposed to a single standalone solution for just sales force automation, just basic marketing automation, or just customer service.
Bottom line: more businesses want fuller-featured CRM to better align marketing and sales. Perhaps you prefer a cloud-based over on-premises CRM systems?
CRM: Skip the Social Bells and Whistles
Social technology has no doubt been a great benefit to businesses perhaps a blog that attracts new clientele or a Facebook page with thousands of followers. But many small business forays into the social scene is difficult. It just doesn’t make sense for them to integrate their CRM applications with social media channels.
Rather than social functionality, we found that most buyers request basic CRM integration with popular email clients, such as Microsoft Outlook or Gmail, or calendar apps, such as Google Calendar or Apple’s iCloud Calendar. The ability to keep all professional calendars synchronized helps employees stay on top of follow-up reminders, tasks and meetings, regardless of whether they’re working within their CRM system or not.
Leveling the Playing Field
Whereas traditional software products were frequently categorized as “enterprise” or “small business,” cloud software is becoming an equalizer as vendors settle on user-based pricing. Software that might have been accessible only to large enterprises in on-premises form due to pricing models is now available to companies of all sizes (a small business can buy a single Salesforce license, for example).
Expect vendors to continue driving this trend, as it allows them to target functional areas within companies, regardless of their size.
Increased Security Awareness
While cloud computing paves the way to greater functionality and lower costs, it can also open the doors to outside attack. Businesses of all sizes must pay more attention than ever to security. But don’t just take a technology centric approach.
Security Awareness Training is particularly important in a cloud-based world. It helps make staff aware of attack avenues such as various scams that entice employees to click on a link or to open a document that gives the bad guys an all-access pass to your company data.
Even when an organization has published policies and has implemented many security procedures and technologies, it still needs to train its employees. Showing a few PowerPoint slides during a lunch-and-learn session isn’t enough. Instead have regular and repeated training followed by simulated attacks. Prior to the training, have your organization send fake emails to test how many employees click on a link or open an attachment. After educating employees on the various tricks of the trade, we recommend launching another fake attack. Over a few weeks, the number of employees messing up drops to near but not quite zero—thus the need to remain ever vigilant.
The rule is: think before you click.