People have been talking about the “speed of business” for years. And to some extent, doing business well has always been about having the ability to quickly respond to shifting demands and market trends in order to remain competitive.
Today, though, the exponential acceleration of technology has been rapidly and disproportionately transforming the way companies operate and communicate. With this transformation, the idea of business speed has taken on a greater sense of urgency than ever. For small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) looking to gain or retain traction in their market, being agile is vital. SMBs need to respond to new opportunities immediately or they risk becoming obsolete, and going out of business forever.
One key to operating at the speed of business today is having faster communications—among employees, with business partners, and with customers. To address the growing demand, several technologies and IT architectures have emerged in recent years that support enhanced, easier, and faster communications.
Among the tools and platforms that can contribute to a quicker, more responsive organization are new data center technologies, cloud-based services such as software-as-a-service (SaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), software-defined networking (SDN), mobile devices, collaboration tools, and state of the art office equipment. Each of these enables users to get to the information and expertise they need quickly in order to complete their work and better serve customers.
To meet the need for speed, a good place to start is the data center. Because of the requirement for speed, SMBs need their data centers to be agile, accessible, and reliable. Whether IT is on premise or in the cloud, the technology infrastructure must be designed to support high speed access to information on a continuous basis, regardless of the location of users or the devices they use.
The cloud also rises to the top of the list of technologies that transform businesses into more agile organizations. Services such as SaaS and IaaS can be deployed quickly because companies are tapping into the existing resources of the cloud services provider. That means streamlining some internal operations, bringing products and services to market faster, and enjoying increased capacity for innovation. These big benefits are bringing many businesses on board at accelerating rates; research firm Gartner estimates that $111 billion will shift away from traditional in-house IT spending towards cloud-based IT services (like SaaS and IaaS) by the end of 2016.
An emerging technology called software-defined networking also provides opportunities for greater speed in SMBs. SDN enables companies to optimize network traffic and enhance user experience as a result. With this technology, network administrators can quickly identify, diagnose, and resolve network issues as soon as they arise. Companies have better monitoring and control of their networks, leading to a more responsive posture overall.
With SDN—and component technology network virtualization—companies can also deliver value-added services more quickly and easily. By leveraging a network virtualization architecture, they can provide rapid application provisioning across a programmable network with high availability and less downtime.
Within the category of SDN is the software-defined wide area network (WAN). SD-WANs apply software-defined technology to the networks that are used to connect corporate networks with facilities such as data centers and branch offices over long distances. An SD-WAN dynamically selects the optimum path for each application in use based on pre-set policies and real-time network performance measurements.
These newer types of networking technologies are replacing legacy networks that sometimes struggled to provide even basic connectivity. An SD-WAN can achieve lower latency in application traffic, enabling a faster, smoother experience for the user. These things add up to a more agile, reliable organization that can meet the accelerating demands of its customers.
Another technology category, mobile devices and applications, also helps to speed business processes and improve customer support. Today, SMBs are making use of a wide variety of smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other devices, either through company-owned hardware or bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs. Agile organizations empower their employees to use these devices to access data and applications via corporate networks, regardless of their location or which type of client device they’re using.
This increased mobility and convenient connectivity enables workers to be much more productive and responsive to customer needs. For instance, a sales or support representative can quickly access a customer’s transaction history while at the customer’s location, providing faster service.
In line with mobile technologies are the collaboration tools that enable employees to work together more efficiently and help speed up projects. By deploying a unified communications and collaboration platform, companies can enable employees to reach each other more quickly. With this kind of communications technology, workers can more easily collaborate and share information with colleagues, leading to the faster completion of projects and the ability to bring new products to market faster than ever before.
While accelerating and enhancing communications is important for success, SMBs can find other ways to grease the wheels in their organization as well. Upgrading office eqiupment with a focus on speed and efficiency is another effective way to keep operations running at an optimal pace. That’s why high speeds are one of the key features of HP PageWide printing technology, which was designed to help growing SMBs keep up with the accelerating speed of business. HP PageWide MFPs print up to 70 pages per minute, empowering employees to complete projects more quickly and deliver finished work to clients and customers in a more timely manner.
For businesses seeking advanced printing solutions, only HP PageWide printers can deliver the fastest speeds, affordable color printing, and at a surprisingly lower cost than expected. It all adds up to best-in-class total cost of ownership.