Whether it’s a restaurant, auto repair center, cinema, or grocery store, every business can benefit from technology and digital solutions. While some technologies – like CCTV cameras for physical surveillance – are relatively easy to implement and maintain, other solutions such as an e-commerce website are more complex, and may require experts to carry out installation and provide maintenance.
IT support providers like Mustard IT can help small to medium scale businesses develop hardware and software solutions that enhance productivity and boost profitability. In an age where technology and digital devices have become so intertwined with everyday life that they have changed the way markets operate, businesses need to be armed with the right digital infrastructure to stay in the game.
E-commerce has been around for quite a few years now, but online shopping isn’t just about visiting a website anymore. Technologies related to e-commerce are drastically evolving, and as the number of people who have access to the internet increases, the online market is also growing rapidly.
In many places across the world, e-commerce and digital selling were only side projects for many small businesses while they mainly relied on brick and mortar store sales. After the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, these side projects came to the forefront as physical stores remained shut. However, it isn’t just that businesses are now far more concerned with selling online; it’s also about how they’re selling online.
Businesses are now using Augmented Reality (AR) technology in combination with e-commerce, and the online sales and user engagement results they’re receiving are unprecedented. The addition of AR to the online shopping experience couldn’t have been at a more perfect time than the COVID-19 lockdown, as this allowed people to fully experience and understand AR-powered shopping.
The experience was so significant that many people are still using this method to purchase products rather than visit stores now that they are open.
After the COVID-19 lockdown, economic activity has slowed down tremendously all over the world. Even with businesses now re-opening and life coming back to some degree of normalcy, a countless number of people are taking the hit of unemployment as businesses simply cannot afford to keep them on board.
This – combined with the fact that job availability was already sparse before the lockdown – means people are finding it difficult to make ends meet. In such circumstances, e-commerce is a great solution for entrepreneurs and individuals looking to employ themselves, both from an economic and operational point of view. There are benefits to e-commerce over a brick and mortar store, though that doesn’t mean online selling is easy or problem-free. The input of an IT support team will be even more important for purely online-based businesses. Below are four valuable considerations entrepreneurs should keep in mind when shortlisting a potential IT support provider.
Proactive, Not Reactive
Hardware breakdowns and software crashes are bound to happen sooner or later and, in most cases, without warning. In some cases, the business may have a backup solution or a spare device that can be used in case the other malfunctions. However, when it comes to problems that need an expert to resolve, it’s better to have a team that’s proactive rather than reactive.
An IT support team can significantly reduce the number of problems and the amount of downtime a client faces if they’re continuously monitoring their system and keeping an eye out for possible problems. More than just monitoring the network and infrastructure, a proactive support team will assist the business in getting resources that have better reliability and easier maintenance.
Frequent system checks and meetings with the clients’ IT team are important steps in ensuring close to zero system downtime.
Experience and Expertise
A good IT support team will be one that has enough experience and industry knowledge to manage a clients’ system, rather than learning and experimenting with the clients’ machines. The best way to ensure a team knows what they’re doing is to make sure they have certifications and qualifications in relevant fields.
Many technology vendors not only offer certifications, but also provide on-going training to keep professionals who are servicing their products up to speed about the latest developments and changes. A support team should be knowledgeable about other software and hardware which are associated with their field of expertise. This well-rounded approach delivers the best value for the end-user receiving the support service.
This is an aspect of digital infrastructure which is often taken lightly by small to medium scale businesses, as they assume they won’t be a victim to cyber-crime due to their size. Unfortunately, they’re unaware that the majority of cybercrime business victims are small businesses. An IT support team need to be experts with system security, as there are so many aspects of digital infrastructure that need to be secured. Moreover, the lack of security in any one place could compromise the entire system.
A support team will also be responsible for training and educating a client and their staff on how to best manage their system to ensure system safety. A business can rely entirely on the IT support provider to keep them posted on updates and developments. Security is one area where a compromise cannot be afforded.
Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
Service Level Agreements (SLAs) mean the IT support company will provide clients a guaranteed response-time. In other words, if a problem arises, the support team will begin working on the issue within a specific amount of time.
Naturally, the lower this is, the better – but this doesn’t mean the issue will be resolved within that time frame. It only ensures the IT support provider will start fixing the problem. Having a clear SLA makes processes significantly easier for everyone. It should also be made clear what will happen in case the support provider is unable to meet the SLA.
Finding the Best IT Support for Your SME
By keeping the four key considerations above in mind when searching for a trusted IT provider for your SME, you can ensure your business will be kept in good hands if – or when – disaster strikes.