Far too frequently, I hear small business owners grumble about how they would love to incorporate new technology or utilize new services, but that they simply are challenged to take advantage of the technologies intended for large enterprises, whether it be the complexity or price. I say that this approach is narrow-minded.
No, the practices and solutions used by smaller companies are not only just as effective as whatever systems the big guys turn to, but larger enterprise organizations are increasingly looking at how SMBs run their operations in order to improve themselves. Don't believe me? Here's what Forrester analyst Nigel Fenwick said about this trend in a recent blog post:
"We are going to see a seismic shift in big business in the coming years: there will be an increasing appetite to source generic capabilities from vendors and business partners; at the same time CEOs will focus increasingly scarce human capital resources on improving their strategic capabilities - the capabilities which give them a competitive edge," he wrote.
Why all companies are now thinking small
The reason companies of all sizes are trying to run their operations like a small business is that new technologies allow them to. It all has to do with technology procurement and what IT advances over the past five to 10 years allow us to do.
Think back decades ago, when some of the technologies we now all take for granted - like the personal computer and the printer - were just emerging on the scene. At that time, the only organizations that had enough resources to obtain and maintain all of the latest tech solutions were the major enterprises.
However, thanks to the rise of the cloud, social media, mobile devices and big data, everyone has access to the same business tools. After all, a company of any size can use Facebook to market themselves effectively, and even the smallest of business can use cost-effective yet powerful cloud computing tools.
"It's been clear for years now that small business startups don't build massive IT departments and big operations teams," Fenwick wrote. "Instead they focus on the capabilities which truly differentiate them in the marketplace - their strategic capabilities. They hire experts in these capabilities as employees and continue to improve their differentiation. At the same time, they look to source their more generic business capabilities from business partners and technology service providers."
Now that technology is no longer an obstacle, one trait in particular stands out as a major benefit of being small: Flexibility. Anyone who has ever worked for or dealt with a major corporation knows far too well how long it takes to implement any new decision. In this day and age, that lack of speed can torpedo any quality idea. Luckily, SMBs are not weighed down by unnecessary bureaucracy and can put an idea in place in no time, and having the right communications tools such as chat, presence, screen share and conferencing can make these decisions move even faster Big companies can only - and do - wish for this ability.