As businesses of all sizes become more dependent on technology to build and sustain growth, there are considerations that must go into the purchasing and maintenance process. Another key consideration is the need to insure that there is a back-up plan should the firm be hit with a disaster, either natural or man-made. In making technology investments, companies should consider the following tips from AcronisR, Inc. (http://www.acronis.com/):
* Microsoft Vista: Microsoft launched this latest desktop operating system in 2007 and many business users are still trying to determine what to do with it. "Vista, despite all of its improvements, still has some hardware and software issues," says Walter Scott, CEO of AcronisScott. "Many businesses are waiting for Vista Service Pack 1 or until their next hardware upgrade cycle. If your current systems are working fine, stand pat; there is no urgent need to upgrade. Regardless of the desktop OS you use - Vista or XP - keep current versions of Windows up-to-date with the latest updates and patches."
* Collaboration: From telecommuters to road warriors, distributed workforces seem to be the norm rather than the exception. Therefore the need for collaboration technologies is greater than ever. "There are a number of great solutions to the collaboration problem including wikis, remote access software and web conferencing tools," said Scott. "Even something as simple as shared group calendars helps keep far-flung teams rowing in the same direction."
* Web 2.0/SaaS: Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS, and Web 2.0 are both terms used by the IT industry to illustrate how software and Web-based applications are taking center stage, upending the current standard of software residing on in-house servers and desktops. Hosted software services, such as Salesforce.com and Web-based mail, can provide immediate ROI and add the collaborative elements. According to Scott: "Accessing your applications though a browser means you can work anywhere, anytime, from any computer. It also makes for easier computer upgrades at the office since fewer applications will have to be re-loaded and updated."
* New hardware: New technology products are constantly being released. Before taking the plunge, consider the compatibility of new devices with the
others already in place. "Hardware companies come out with new versions several times a year, so look for the ones with all of capabilities you require first, then pay attention to how scalable the device is with an eye on when it inevitably changes again in another 6-12 months," advises Scott. "That way, your short-term investment will still be useful for a few years."
* Backup and recovery: Whatever technology a business chooses to implement, IT decision makers would be wise to have a fail-safe backup and disaster recovery solution in place - in advance. The best approach allows users to transfer all of their files and programs easily onto a new device - be it the same hardware or entirely different hardware - in a single step, not file by file: a so-called "image backup." Ideally, these are regularly scheduled backups, or done just before installing new software for instance, so there is always a recent version to restore if anything should happen.
"Small business executives don't need to be well-versed in obscure terminology or be expert in every technology discipline to make intelligent IT decisions," concluded Scott. "All that is necessary is a clear view of what business objective they are trying to accomplish. There are any number of IT professionals able to assist in decision-making and implementation including local resellers, system integrators and managed service providers (MSPs) among them."