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The Case For IT Solution Providers
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By Russell Morgan

A new Yankee Group survey released in conjunction with ITSPA reveals that apprehension about integrating new technology with old, affordability and fear of disruption to business operations are the top reasons small business owners frequently hesitate to embrace technological innovation.

It’s easy to understand why. Small business owners spend their time focused on managing their own businesses and don’t have the time to also become technology experts. Fortunately, there’s a common sense approach to this problem: working with a local, highly trained technology consultant. These experts – also called solution providers – make it their job to identify ways technology can increase productivity, and even contribute to the bottom line of the client.

Small businesses are poised for growth, according to Steve Hilton, director of small and medium business strategies with Yankee Group. However, they sometimes are afraid to move forward, and don't always successfully balance the fear of change with the need to adapt to customer needs. Hilton says technology is often a key component to improving productivity, but managers worry productivity increases won’t be enough to offset the additional cost, both in expense and potential impact on their businesses.

They’re leaving a lot of opportunity on the table. The irony is that increased efficiencies, better customer relationship management and service quality is what service providers offer. They do this through offering new or improved technology.

The biggest challenge for more than 50 percent of small business managers with 20 to 99 employees is the integration of different applications and systems that currently stand alone. More than 40 percent are concerned their technology needs are not being met as a result of an insufficient IT staff. If a small business does have an IT staff, they will be busy maintaining the current environment and don’t have the time or the technological sophistication to deal with integration issues.

In my experience, solution providers can fill this gap by helping small businesses realize the full potential of technology. They’ve got the expertise to build a technology roadmap for your business. This involves helping you understand, in business terms, how to migrate in a cost-effective and non-disruptive way from your current infrastructure to an integrated platform that delivers the tactical advantage you need in the marketplace, at a pace you can understand and afford.

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Russell Morgan is the president of the Information Technology Solution Providers Alliance
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