Historically, technology has been quite expensive to purchase for the first few years of its life. This has meant that access to many business-changing technologies has been often confined to big business and those SME’s that have done extraordinarily well.
Think of the PC in the early 1980’s, or the rise of mobile/cell phones, office networking and perhaps most importantly, the introduction of the World Wide Web through the 1990’s. Then, into the start of the new century, the ability to store mass data on locally hosted data servers, to host an e-commerce shop or to provide your staff with access to portable computing.
These technologies were game changers, though sadly, not for many smaller businesses till much later in their respective life cycles due primarily to price and implementation costs. By this stage, big business had often already forged ahead using the hardware and specific software tailored to the top end of town.When SME’s tried to utilize larger servers or install the software, it was often a case of the software being too powerful and too expensive for their requirements or the platform being shoe-horned to suit their business, or needing to wait till a less powerful package was created by the developers.
The growing majority of app designers are no longer distinguishing between big or small business, but rather, understand that the problems which afflict big business are often the things which keep small business owners awake at night and which thus need solving.
The commoditization of Infrastructure
Fortunately this scenario is no longer a reality. For around 5 years, companies such as AWS have been working on the commoditization of big business infrastructure – formerly Infrastructure as a Service – such as servers, storage space and hosting with the view that all businesses, irrespective of size or location should have access to the same levels of technology.
As a result, increasing numbers of businesses – both multinational and smaller firms – have moved to either a virtualized environment or the cloud proper, allowing them to minimize their overheads, have the knowledge their data is safe and accessible at all times and to scale as they need to.
IaaS in turn has lead to the development of new industries (such as Software as a Service), new companies and new services which even 5 years ago were not on the radar, but which look to help businesses capitalize on the ubiquity of the cloud and streamline their business. Whilst some are hardware based such as the smartphone, the majority are software – or in the more common vernacular of today’s market, apps – designed to help businesses and individuals in the accomplishment of their goals, irrespective of size.
Apps for Circumstance, not apps for size
Where once developers and companies often targeted their solution to companies of certain size, the growing majority of app designers are no longer distinguishing between big or small business, but rather, understand that the problems which afflict big business are often the things which keep small business owners awake at night and which thus need solving.
Whether this is the need to know where staff are, or what current stock inventory levels are, how to service clients better, or where in the project timeline everyone is up to, app developers know that the key to their ultimate success, is to help everyone succeed in their endeavours, not to pick and choose.
So, take heart if you are a small to medium sized business; the software and hardware tools you require are no longer the expensive, overpowered platforms that once dominated the landscape. Rather, today, due to the growing access we all have to the cloud and a raft of new services, the business playing field has been leveled, allowing any small business to scale as quickly as needed and to mix it with the big end of town, simply and affordably.