When most people think of a business IT network, they think of large companies for whom IT connectivity across many sites is an absolute must – but what about smaller business? Is a network necessary?
Here, we’ll look at sales objections, and exploring what an IT network can offer and whether your unique circumstances would mean that you’d see a benefit from the spend that IT so often entails.
Do you have a network?
Before exploring what a network does, it’s worth asking if you already have one as part of your business.
While the term ‘network’ offers up images of buzzing server rooms with thousands of multi-colored flashing lights, the majority of IT networks don’t look like this at all. In fact, if you’ve got a computer, an internet router and a printer, then you have a network – just one that’s quite small.
This basic starting point for a network is where most businesses begin – especially given the huge number of cloud-based services that are so readily available today.
While this basic type of network offers a huge number of benefits when compared to a standalone laptop with no internet connection, it can leave you a little lacking in certain areas. The good news is, scaling your network up can offer some huge benefits without a huge spend. Let’s take a look at what some of those benefits are…
What does properly designed network offer?
While a business network, at its core, simply connects a series of devices, the result is more than the sum total of its parts.
The connections that power a network are just the foundations on which a system is based – and there a huge number of associated benefits…
- Shared devices
Where devices often have to be connected to others individually, a network does away with this – so, a connection to the network can immediately mean a connection to the devices that are on it. This is extremely useful if you have printers, scanners, copiers – or even internet telephony systems that need wide us.
- Central applications
A huge number of businesses have key applications that must run to make their organization keep moving. In some instances, that’s going to be customer relationship management tools, telephone routing systems, accounting platforms, payment systems – or many, many more.
A network allows you to centralize these, meaning people can work on the same systems at the same time. Doing so creates a great level of collaboration (often in real time) – leading to a better end-user and customer experience.
- Central storage
In much the same way as applications can be centralized, storage can also be held centrally – then accessed by individual users or devices on the network. Centralizing storage means you’re moving valuable data to one server, allowing it to be accessed and protected appropriately.
As well as the security benefits of keeping company data in one place, it also makes collaboration far easier – as it removes the need for data to be sent between users.
- Remote access
If you’ve ever been out of the office, but wishing you could access your system for an important file or access to a certain application, then the idea of remote network access might be important to you.
Having end-users able to access your systems from an ‘out of office’ location unlocks a world of opportunity for many companies. Could you grow your business by placing contractors with your clients? Perhaps having all your systems to hand when you’re at an expo or conference would mean you’re able to take orders and boost revenue? Would you unlock recruitment opportunities if you could offer people work from home roles?
Whatever remote access means to you, it can only really be fully utilized when you’re running a well-configured network.
- Access control
The world of data is changing – and along with those changes come stringent new controls that mean data should only be accessed by people who need to access it – helping to lock down sensitive personal data of your customers, employees – and so on.
With a sophisticated access management system running as part of your network, you can have all your data held in one easy to maintain place – without the fear that it will be accessed by anyone other than those who need it.
- Centralized management
While the idea of a network might appeal – it can sometimes represent enormous logistical problems to bring multiple sites online – especially with the onsite configuration that’s needed for individual devices.
Getting your network started with an SD WAN system is the perfect solution when logistics look challenging. SD WAN (or, software-defined wide area networking to use its full name) provides an over-arching control that means your entire network can be managed from one central location. When it comes to setting up or administering additional sites, this is likely to save you a lot of wasted IT team hours…
What’s right for you?
Your business is unique – therefore, there’s no certain way of deciding whether or not you need the benefits that a business level IT network would offer.
The very best way to decide if a business network would be a good investment for your organization is to look at each of the benefits that a network could offer – then weigh those up next to your company goals.
It can be useful to think big when you’re looking at your company goals – especially because IT has often been the sticking point that holds businesses back when it comes to growth. Could you grow your business internationally with the right IT? Would a business network allow you to maximize the opportunities that come your way? Would an upgraded IT systems mean a better end-user and customer experience?
Certainly, a business network is unlikely to be cheap – but new leaps forward in cloud computing and ‘as a service’ subscription style payment methods mean unlocking exceptionally powerful network infrastructure doesn’t need a big upfront spend and weeks of engineer’s time installing the systems at your site.
If you’ve always viewed IT as a necessary evil, now might be the right time to look at how you can change your view – and consider what powerful IT systems could offer you instead…
What are the benefits of having an IT network for your company?
- Shared Devices
- Central Applications
- Central Storage
- Remote Access
- Access Control
- Centralized Management