For small business owners, budgeting for IT-related services can be a bit of a balancing act. There are no shortages of wants in the technology space: the latest devices, updated hardware, new software, faster internet speeds, more bandwidth, etc. But each of those wants contains a matrix of associated costs, and the limiting factor most businesses are up against is a shortage of funds to satisfy the wants. So, tempering the expectations of the wants, decisions about technology are contingent upon by the budget, which tends to favor needs over wants. Unfortunately, that simple question: “What do I need?” can be the most difficult part.
If you buy more than you need, funds are wasted. If you buy less than you need, one of two undesirable results unfold: 1) productivity suffers, and the intangible, but vivid, notions of unrealized potential takes a toll in another area of the business, or 2) you end up using additional technology anyway (more data, bandwidth, upgraded service, additional software, add-ons, etc.) and spending more money in fees and surcharges than if you had been less conservative initially.
What are You Paying For?
We’ve battled data limits on smartphones for years and encountered the struggle of data caps in many facets of our personal lives (damn you Pandora!). But cell phone data isn't the only place that tech companies can charge customers for quantities of consumable product which the average user cannot easily track.
In a recent article published in the Wall Street Journal, Thomas Gryta and Shalini Ramachandran explore the commonly faced problem of Americans rationing web usage to avoid surcharges for high bandwidth consumption. Most internet service providers either enforce data caps (for example, WSJ reported that AT&T Inc.’s had broadband limits ranging from 150 gigabytes to 1,000 gigabytes on all of its plans), or offer more expensive options for unlimited data (an option that AT&T recently added).
One major source of frustration surrounding broadband caps, aside from the overage fees and surcharges, is the difficulty in measuring, or even understanding how many gigabytes are being consumed to perform various activities over the internet. Data usage doesn’t vary only on the activity or product streamed, but fluctuates with the device being used as the medium.
Small business options for internet services may present different problems than at-home packages. Often business packages don’t have an enforced data cap, or if they do, it is often a higher cap, but pricing still varies significantly depending on the internet speed desired.
One major internet provider advertises business plans (with no data caps) ranging from $69.95 per month up to $349.95, with the variables centered around download and upload speeds (download speeds ranging from 16 Mbps to 250 Mbps) and an “ideal” base of users.
Finding Out What You Need
If you’re a business owner with a tight grasp on the present and future technological needs of your operations (factoring in potential growth and availability of new technology), as well as a firm understanding of the actual gigabyte consumption that your business activities normally consume, and the processing speeds required for uninterrupted performance, then competitive shopping for IT services may not be as daunting a task as it feels for the majority of the American public.
Being confronted with so many options, so many potential surcharges, and a dose of IT language that doesn’t always translate, the decision about what you need and want vs. what you can afford becomes a heavy one.
Whether these decisions are around which internet service provider to choose, what data requirements you need, how much data storage will sustain you for the year, or the next five years, (not to mention the type of data storage, and any security measures appropriate to store data in the cloud), having a trusted, knowledgeable source of help, detached from the provider or company vying for your money, is essential.
IT Consulting Can Bridge the Gap
At Continuous Networks, our unique approach to IT consulting provides relief from the mental and financial burden of making uninformed decisions. Rather than struggling to calculate and anticipate your data and IT needs, while worrying about the financial implications, you can trust the experience and knowledge of the Continuous staff.
Our sole interest is in the continued success and growth of your business, and our way of aiding in that objective is through top-tier IT support. Considering your budget and conducting a thorough assessment of your IT requirements, Continuous Networks can help develop a solution that aligns with your needs, wants and budgetary confines.