In January CompTIA, the preeminent information technology trade organization, released their annual IT Industry Outlook 2018 report. Within the report I found a write up titled Small Businesses Embrace Technology, But Gaps Remain really interesting. Based on their survey of SMB’s perception of their overall IT spend they found 12% believe they are spending much too low, 28% somewhat too low, 47% spend about right and 9% feel that they spend too much.
Evaluating Return on Investment (ROI) for IT spend is difficult. Oftentimes individual perception supersedes a true understanding of what is happening ‘behind the scenes’. The top five reasons that technology ROI falls short are described as:
Ongoing maintenance expense – 41%
Required upgrades – 37%
Staff time needed to operate and/or maintain equipment – 37%
Upfront cost – 36%
Complexity and/or poor user experience – 32%
Interestingly, these points encompass subjective and objective thoughts but they all boil down to falling short on one thing – expectations. Technology is difficult in general and as a non-technical person owning an IT company I totally get it (don’t worry I have a very technical partner!), but it’s up to you as the decision maker to understand everything or hire an IT company to bring you recommendations and manage your environment. To be candid, unless you are naturally a technical person or find it fascinating, trying to understand everything is difficult at best and ridiculously time consuming as worst, pulling you away from running your business.
While it is still common for larger companies to have in house staff to manage IT, I would argue that it is much more cost effective to hire an IT company to assist you and you staff with your IT needs. And I can back up my claims with proof of a ROI! Of the SMB survey respondents, 75% of them use a technology partner. If you compare the numbers though, many of those 75% responders are frustrated with their perceived lack of ROI. So how do we bridge the gap? It all boils down to communication.
The top five reasons listed above are a great framework of an ongoing conversation that you should be having with your IT provider. Challenge them to give you an accurate estimate of time and financial commitment and hold them to it. A solid IT partner will welcome the conversation and as a result you should have a better understanding of what you are paying for and you will hopefully have a stronger working relationship based in mutual respect and trust. You can’t do business without IT and IT companies cannot do business without you so we all need to be working to bridge the gap!