SMEs are driving the adoption of new technologies

The rise of remote working, accelerated by the explosion in smart phones and tablets as business tools is forcing businesses to look beyond traditional IT management products, to a new breed of web-based technologies that give them centralised visibility and control of their IT assets, regardless of location, network or user.

We are currently seeing the SME market driving the adoption of these new technologies. Enterprise organisations, often seen as the early adopters of new technology in order to gain competitive advantage, are still largely wedded to the established high-end IT management tools that are tortuous to deploy, complex to manage and very expensive, in fact the very antithesis of the web 2.0 IT management technologies.

In a financially constrained environment businesses look to address their ‘must haves’ and looking at cost not only in terms of money, but also in terms of the human resource, and costs of set-up, deployment and on-going management.

The SME IT sector is perfectly positioned to take advantage of cloud-based IT management technologies due to the widespread adoption of outsourced IT contracts – small businesses outsourcing their IT to other small businesses. There are estimated to be over 15,000 IT service providers in the UK, the large proportion of whom fall into this category.

For these small, often owner-managed businesses, adoption of IT management technology has previously been prohibitive from both a cost and time perspective; however new breed remote monitoring and management tools remove technical and commercial barriers to entry. They can simply sign-up, deploy and they are up-and-running, with the benefits to their business almost immediate.

With no minimum contracts, no minimum commitments, and a pay-as-you-go pricing model so favoured by SaaS providers, the cost of the technology for businesses is proportionate to customer revenues.

I believe the future lies in three key principles – simplicity, choice and integration.

Simplicity – the provision of a core IT management platform that contains the key requirements for an increasingly mobile workforce:

  • Audit, so you know what’s out there
  • Monitoring, so you know what’s gone wrong, or is about to go wrong
  • Deployment and configuration, so you can automate your routine IT tasks
  • Remote support, so you can provide one-to-one device management when the need arises
  • Reporting, giving you complete visibility of your environment.

With the majority of businesses reportedly using less than 30% of the functionality of their office software, I believe choice and the ability of businesses to only have and only pay for the functionality they need is integral. Think of it as the Appstore for IT management.

Finally, integration, the holy grail of IT management is a single technology that ‘does everything’. We’ve yet to see it, so technology tends to be built around a framework that will integrate easily with other software.

Fundamentally, adoption of IT management technology amongst SMEs will be driven by wider economic market conditions – growing business looking to take on more clients, or grow their IT estate, without throwing additional headcount at their IT support function, or struggling businesses looking for efficiency savings. That said, by removing the two key inhibitors to adoption – cost and complexity – the right tools can dramatically accelerate market penetration of remote monitoring and management tools.

On the enterprise side, it will be the adoption of tablets and smartphones that forces IT departments to look outside of the established technologies, and to consider some of the new pretenders and we believe they will be pleasantly surprised by what they see – well-featured, robust, cost-effective and flexible IT management technology that delivers an eye-watering ROI and a ground-breaking simplicity.

Christian Nagele is currently responsible for business development, sales and marketing, and finance at CentraStage. Christian trained and qualified as a Chartered Accountant with PwC’s Growing Business-Middle Market Division in London, before spending 4 years with Cable & Wireless in a series of commercial, marketing and business development roles. In 2004 Christian joined Attix5, a data backup technology, as head of Business Development for the UK and was responsible for growing the UK revenues from £50,000 per annum in 2004 to £1.2m in 2007.