Tech malfunction more disruptive than absent employee, small business owners say

smb-tech-trendsNext time one of your employees calls in sick, tell them to take two aspirins and text you in the morning. A crashed computer however is an entirely different story. Small business owners indicated just how much they depend on technology to run the business.

In a recent survey of 500 U.S. small business owners conducted by Brother International Corporation, 75 percent of participants indicated that a crashed computer is more disruptive than a sick employee. In fact, 77 percent indicated that a tech malfunction has negatively impacted business through a missed deadline or business opportunity. Furthermore, 86 percent noted that over the course of the past year, office productivity suffered due to technology not working properly. As a result, 31 percent said they would give up a week’s vacation to ensure tech malfunctions never happen in their business again. (Considering how little vacation most of you take, that’s no small offer.)

Despite the critical role of technology in running a small business, tech choices can be daunting. Among survey participants, 66 percent say they frequently are overwhelmed by the amount of technology available to help run their business. Cloud computing was one example. Only 28 percent said they completely understand the concept.  Among those who use it, the breakdown is: 35 percent for data storage only; 21 percent for document management and 17 percent for business applications, such as customer relationship management, accounting and human resources.

Plan for the rainy tech day

IT support engineerConsidering how important technology is to running your business, you want to be prepared for the inevitable ‘sick days.’  Small business IT tech support provider Invision suggests that regular maintenance is critical and can save money in the long run to keep things running smoothly. Still even regular maintenance won’t prevent the occasional virus from disrupting your operations. If you get a virus, respond quickly to avoid even more damage.

Invision also recommends that anytime you upgrade your servers be prepared to upgrade your small business tech support budget, since server upgrades take time. In general, to avoid huge upgrades expenditures, the firm advises:

“If you have 10 workstations, replace two a year so you won’t get hit with a lump sum all at once. A good rule of thumb is to replace servers every five years, workstations every five to six years, laptops every three to five years and printers and monitors when they stop working or you want to get your hands on new technology.”

Choose the right tech mix

When it comes to choosing technology, as we recommend in Plantronics SMB Big Trends report, spend time assessing your technology needs today keeping in mind how your business will change over the coming years. Make technology choices that help pave the way to your future growth.

Also, if you are not already a member, consider becoming part of the Spiceworks community – it’s free- for peer level IT support and advice.

About Judi Hembrough

Judi leads Americas Marketing strategy and go-to-market programs for the Small and Medium Business (SMB) customer segment at Plantronics. Judi has been a marketing director at Plantronics for 10 years in various roles focused on Strategic Alliances Marketing, SMB and Home & Home Office solutions. Prior to Plantronics, Judi was President of William-Christie Associates, Inc. -- a management consulting practice, for 10 years where she guided numerous companies such as Palm, Intuit, CBS MarketWatch and HID, in driving new initiatives.