Are you having to do more with less? That’s the boat most of us are in. If you need answers to how to do more with less, then you’ll want to listen to the “Managing For Growth And Change In A Tough Economy” webinar that Anita Campbell moderated with two expert panelists from Intel and Sun:
* Chris Peters, End User Product Marketing Manager, Server Product Group – Intel
* Mac McConnell, Global Program Manager, Systems Group at Sun Microsystems
Let me cut to the chase with the street value and why you’ll want to listen to the full webinar: They share ideas and strategies to show the small business owner how technology can increase profits. It is not always a linear path to those profits, but in the webinar you’ll get practical ideas for increasing revenue and saving money.
The top line: The economy is improving, slowly. Numerous analysts and economists are talking about how we are near the bottom and a second half of 2009 recovery looks likely.
More interesting and relevant, in my view, is what small business owners stated: 41% of the webinar participants reported that they expected budgets to increase for the rest of 2009. Let me re-emphasize that: budgets are increasing, not decreasing. Only 18% in the poll expected budget cuts. That is a surprising and encouraging statistic, given the economic environment we are in. This is the finger on the pulse of the real marketplace.
Strategies and Tips
One of the most vivid points for me was a research study by Six Disciplines that SMB companies strategically using technology outperformed their competitors by 100%. It also tells us that smart spending now can prepare you for the inevitable economic uptick.
Another key suggestion was to remember the basics, which is not always so easy to achieve, but make sure everyone is on the same page. Communication is what makes the basics possible. Most valuable is to dig into the current sales numbers and forecasted pipeline — deeply understanding each and how they are connected.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is one way small businesses are saving money and getting ahead of competitors. It is pay-as-you-go with low monthly fees (usually) so there’s less upfront risk investing in a web-based program. Mac McConnell points out, however, that there are still risks just like traditional software. You get used to using the software and there’s an intangible switching cost, not to mention possible data migration costs. Another benefit of SaaS programs is that when the vendor upgrades, everyone gets the upgrade. If you’re curious about different SaaS applications, this is one of my favorite SaaS lists for small biz owners.
There was quite a bit of discussion around virtualization — the efficient use of the hardware, but you’ll have to listen to the webinar to get the full effect. Intel explained how they saved $19MM in its own internal operations by spending money today to refresh their server farm. Yes, that’s a big number, but they are a big company. However, significant savings are still very real for smaller companies by checking into vendor programs that offer trade-ins and trade-ups on your old hardware.
In addition, Chris Peters shared an online tool called the “Server refresh savings estimator.” It helps you evaluate the benefits of replacing server technology with the latest generation of servers.
One last point in the tips section, depending on the hardware, you might be eligible for rebates from a local utility company for power savings, as one example. The federal stimulus bill put in motion certain deductions as well as bonus depreciation. All worth looking into for cost savings on hardware and technology equipment.
Customer Case Studies
Three case studies highlighted how technology improvements increased customer support and acquisition. This can sound nebulous and like marketing-speak, but its not — if your technology platform moves slowly or takes a lot of configuration for each customer, for example, then newer hardware and software can help you get work done faster, which means greater profitability.
* Practice-IT is a rapidly growing online training company for information technology workers. VMware helped them to significantly expand their capacity to support increases in workloads as they add online courses and new customers.
* NaviSite, a medium-sized hosting company, has 17 data centers around the globe. They used VMware to consolidate the management of these centers and be more agile to customer needs.
* Catholic Diocese of Boise, a nonprofit with dozens of parishes, schools, and over 40 offices. They were able to reduce 28 servers down to 4, by implementing Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V to minimize costs and increase server utilization.
You can Follow the Twitter discussion here.
If you are trying to find ways to do more with less, please listen to and watch the full webinar: “Managing For Growth And Change In A Tough Economy.”