The IT Needs of Growing ‘Serverless’ Small Businesses (Hint: It’s More Complicated Than It May Seem)
Cloud applications have removed the barriers to sophisticated technology tools for startups and small businesses. You can find an app for just about anything you need to run a business – Accounting, HR, Sales, Marketing, Operations, Logistics...the list goes on.
Not only can businesses use web apps to get the tools they need, but they can also scale them up and down as seasonality or growth requires.
Many small businesses carry on quite well with this arrangement and need minimal external IT support. Often someone in the company takes on the responsibility to oversee technology tasks in addition to their other duties.
With Business Growth Comes Complexity
As the organization grows, however, this person finds that more and more of their time is taken up with IT, and their primary responsibilities get pushed to the back burner. The problem they see in front of them is that there are too many accounts to manage, and there are many unseen problems that are building steam as the company grows, adds more people, and creates and stores more data.
Eventually, when the business gets to around 30 – 50 employees, the complexity of every employee having multiple accounts and multiple work locations pushes the business to a point where everything crashes in on itself.
The crash can come when the person overseeing IT reaches a tipping point, when employees and customers become fed up with clunky business operations, or when there’s a data breach.
Neglect of Security Creates Vulnerabilities
Small companies often don’t pay enough attention to security with their cloud apps because they don’t know how their situation makes them vulnerable to a cyber attack. For example, the person overseeing IT may know how to add and subtract users, but they may not know how to limit permissions or access to data.
Then there’s network security.
You still have a network even if you don’t have a server.
Consider the internal network in your office with its routers, switches, and access points. Every device connected to your cloud apps could be a possible door to your business information if they’re not running up-to-date software and have adequate cyber security measures (like anti-malware) in place.
Then consider the home network for your remote workers, and you’ve got a lot of equipment that needs to be secured.
Another security vulnerability is created when data is scattered amongst all of the apps that different people and departments are using. Data backup might be an afterthought, or incomplete at best. More importantly, if data isn’t visible, it can’t be managed.
Size Forces Organizations to Centrally Manage IT
When these fast-growing small companies get to the point where they have people and data spread out all over the place and each application essentially acts as their own entity, they hit a ceiling. The solution is to find a way to centrally manage data as well as IT.
Staffing an internal IT department may not make a lot of sense and isn’t usually affordable for companies of this size, so outsourcing IT is the way most go.
It’s tempting to get the lowest level of IT support possible if you’re thinking that your needs are minimal because you don’t have any servers onsite. However, “you don’t know what you don’t know,” so most business leaders end up going about the task of looking for an IT provider who’s going to act more as a partner instead of just a vendor.
You’ll only reap the true value of your technology if you work with a company that understands your needs and can work proactively with you to leverage IT to support your growth and goals.
How to Choose an Outsourced IT Provider
It can be hard to evaluate different IT providers when you’re not technical.
If the IT company you’re talking to is only talking to you in technical terms, that can be a red flag. You want someone who’s going to have a conversation about IT with you in terms you understand. You'll discuss things like how it can enable your business and help meet your goals, including goals around managing cyber risks.
At the same time, be open to learning more about technology.
For example, learning about the difference between basic and advanced security tactics will help you develop confidence in your security posture, and will help you fill out applications for cyber insurance or required vendor assessments.
Here are some questions you can use to guide your conversations as you evaluate IT support providers:
- How will you manage security when all our apps are in the cloud?
- What are your best practices for managing “serverless” IT environments with cloud apps?
- What are your data backup policies?
- How will you help us integrate applications?
- How can you help us find the right solution to centralize data, user management, accounts, and files?
- How will you work with our vendors to ensure the security of our data?
How Southern California Businesses Can Do IT Right
When you’re on track for fast growth, you need an IT partner who can guide you in creating an IT strategy, as well as bring you a whole department of IT expertise. Contact us to schedule a free IT assessment and take the first step towards doing IT right.
About Courtney Casey
In an industry dominated by men, Courtney Casey, Director of Marketing for Accent Computer Solutions, Inc., is making her mark on the world of information technology. Courtney has been immersed in the IT field most of her life and has been molded into the tech savvy expert she is today. She began working for Accent while earning her Bachelor's degree from California State University, Long Beach. Known in the Inland Empire as the "Tech Girl," Courtney is a regular columnist for the region's newspaper of record, The Press-Enterprise. Her columns address topical news trends, new technology products, and offer advice on how to embrace technology or avoid common IT pitfalls.