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Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Technology is so important to a modern small business that even the smallest IT glitch can have enormous consequences. But there are ways to minimise – and even avoid – the damage.

Woman stressed with laptop

History is full of IT horror stories. In 1983, an infamous Soviet computer glitch falsely detected incoming US missiles and almost caused WWIII. In 2014, Amazon UK hurtled into chaos when, for one hour, an automated pricing glitch meant that around 75 million items were accidentally sold for one penny. In 2015, a computer error in the US state of Washington incorrectly released more than 3,000 prisoners before their sentences were up.

While small businesses mightn’t have to deal with rogue missiles, the costs of mismanaged IT add up. So whether you’re starting, scaling or diversifying, it’s worth finding the best tech solutions for you – and knowing what you’ll do if they fail.

How tech helps

The answer to “What is office tech?” was once simple: computers and the internet. But running a successful business in 2019 can entail anything from having the right cloud-based infrastructure to plugging into the best social media platforms.

Pause for a moment and consider the influence tech has on your workplace. Chances are that even if you’re producing an analogue service or product, tech plays an important role. From payroll management to all-out automation, 21st-century commerce is fuelled by technology and digital services. 

Why tech fails

You may remember the moment in the 2010 Facebook-origin film The Social Network when a pyjamaed IT boss is woken up in the middle of the night by news that (a fictionalised) Mark Zuckerberg crashed the Harvard server.

There are a few lessons to glean from this scene. Chief among them is that technology never sleeps – a fiasco can happen day or night. And the repercussions can be damaging, and even dire, for your business.

The list of potential tech problems is endless. Often it’s something you might be able to fix yourself: lagging computers, wi-fi issues, inert printers. But then there are the big failures that grind your business – and your productivity and profits – to a halt: cyber security threats, server crashes, hardware blowouts. These are cause for huge concern and need a professional, undivided response that, unfortunately, small businesses often don’t have access to.

One big reason your business’s tech might fail could come down to a well-worn reality of labour: undersupply. There’s currently a shortage of IT workers in Australia. A recent Indeed survey found that 86% of managers and recruiters found finding and hiring tech talent challenging. The gap is unsurprising, given the constantly evolving skills required for IT as new technologies, products and trends constantly emerge and shift the landscape.

Consequently, the cost of bringing IT in-house can be prohibitive for a small business, which mightn’t have a large hiring budget and needs to remain flexible.

How to avoid tech failures

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to tech. While SEO management might be a top priority for one business, digital marketing could be key for another. And when your tech fails, you’ll most likely be looking at a mix of in-house and outsourced remedies.

In-house solutions are usually the harder budgetary pitch. Staying competitive means staying tech-savvy and up to date, which does cost money. But the business-stopping implications of poorly planned or constantly failing tech show that it’s never worth skimping on IT infrastructure.

If hiring or buying in-house tech resources isn’t viable, you can outsource. This will help you stay light on your feet and take on up-to-date technologies when you need them – without having to do the product research yourself. Cloud storage, for instance, often lets you pay as you go and increase or reduce your storage as you need to – while a traditional office server has fixed storage capacity and wears out over time. An outsourced tech expert will know how to set up the right solution for your business.

Preparing for tech failures – and putting processes in place to minimise their disruption or avoid them altogether – is a business decision. And like the other components that drive your business, your tech requires careful and ongoing attention. Consider whether an in-house or outsourced solution is right for you and, importantly, act before it’s too late.

Thinking about outsourcing your tech demands?

Telstra Business Tech Services provide a wide range of options, from 24/7 on-call support to expert tailored advice.

Find out moreThinking about outsourcing your tech demands?

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