Catching Your Competitors Off Guard: It s Time to Upgrade Your Small Business s Network

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1 Catching Your Competitors Off Guard: It s Time to Upgrade Your Small Business s Network 1

2 It s no cliché or a mere excuse: the global economy is as sluggish as analysts say. We ve all seen countries around the world encounter varying degrees of financial turbulence. If you re a business owner in one of the industries affected, you may be feeling the impact of these challenges on your bottom line. In times like these, most companies seem to focus on one thing: tightening their belts. We can understand why this approach makes sense. After all, why continue spending in areas such as marketing, advertising, payroll, and employee benefits when their salespeople may not be able to bring in the revenue? The Economic Winds are Blowing 2

3 But what holds true for most of the world doesn t necessarily hold true for Manitoba. Although most of us in Winnipeg and beyond have felt an economic crunch in the past few years, the fact is that Manitoba s local economy remained relatively stable even during the turbulence and it shows signs of significantly improving before the end of Positive Signs for Manitoba for % Predicted Increase in exports 1 $13.1 Billion Expected rise in goods 2 5.8% Unemployment rate as of April % Projected Gross Domestic Product (GDP) 4 This figure outpaces projected 6.3% export growth for Canada overall. Up from $12.3 billion in Below Canada s unemployment overall 7.2% rate. RBC Economics Provincial Outlook for 2013 Manitoba s economical growth. 1 Export Development Canada forecast. 2 McNeill, Murray. Manitoba exports on the rise for Winnipeg Free Press, print edition. November 14, Page b5. 3 McNeill, Murray. Strong Manitoba economy pushes down unemployment. Winnipeg Free Press, online edition. September 7, RBC. Manitoba's economic growth to stay the course in 2013: RBC Economics. Press release. March 19,

4 An Even More Positive Development Manitoba businesses plan to increase their capital outlays by 8.5% in In other words, there s revenue to be won by companies that provide goods and services to other companies. But even if you only sell to consumers, Manitoba s overall economic health will surely be good news to you. All of this presents you with many opportunities and a significant challenge. Why? Because as your business grows its client base and expands its product and service offerings, you ll likely be competing with major Canadian players. To put it another way: The higher the stakes, the larger the competitors you re bound to encounter. Don t let competitors intimidate you. Ironically, the global economic slowdown presents you with the perfect opening to outpace your larger competitors. While enterprises look for ways to trim budgets and staff, you can put systems in place that streamline the way you do business. In doing so, you ll be ready to win new deals and enter new markets as the Canadian economy completes its recovery. 4 5 RBC.

5 How can you better position your company to compete as the economy picks up steam? Assess your company s needs by asking: Does our company s growth sometimes put a strain on our processes and systems? Have our business processes been audited within the past year? Have our business systems been reassessed within the past two years? Can our business systems grow along with our headcount and volume of transactions? Is our time-to-market decreasing year by year? Is our access to information improving each year? Does our current business software offer a clear upgrade path for when our business reaches a new level? If you answered no to any of these questions, it s time to take a closer look at how technology can support your business growth. Tough Questions About Your Current Technology 5

6 When your company first started, it probably relied on out-of-the-box business software to keep track of finances, HR, inventory, and vendors. But to be truly ready to take your business to the next level, you need to make sure your hardware and software are up to the challenge. By putting the right technology in place today, you can redefine your business processes to reduce costs, increase overall efficiency, and shorten your time to market for greater competitive advantage. Small and mid-sized businesses (SMB s) such as yours can t continue to delay major technology decisions. The longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to catch up. Now is the Right Time to Consider Making Changes in Your Hardware and Software Infrastructure 6

7 1 ERP isn t just for large companies. It wasn t too long ago that enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms were, as their name suggests, the exclusive domain of enterprises. But ERP vendors have spent the past few years rethinking their strategies. Whether it s out of a desire to help smaller companies, or simply an urge to pull in more revenue, the leading ERP vendors now offer packaged versions of their platforms that are easily compatible with smaller companies. Not only do these SMB versions of ERP platforms go live more quickly than their full-scale counterparts, but they re also configured to require less IT support. With assistance from a skilled technology partner, you can go live in 3-6 months, get the training you need to maintain your solution in-house with even a small IT team, and start reaping the productivity benefits that your current out-of-the-box business software can t provide. 2 ERP platforms offer excellent value for smaller companies. In another seismic shift that benefits the smaller end of the ERP market, vendors have changed the way they bill for their solutions. Rather than charging based on the functionality they ve installed, vendors now invoice based on the number of end users in a customer account. That means a smaller company with just 10 to 20 users can take advantage of the same powerful software as its much larger counterpart across town but will pay much less for the privilege. Seven Reasons to Reevaluate Your Technology Plan Today 7

8 3 Server technology has come a long way. If you haven t shopped for a server in the past decade, you may be surprised at how much more processing power you can get for your dollar without higher hydro bills. For example, IBM System x servers provide a clear step forward in server technology. These new wave of servers are designed to address the growing concerns of server underutilization and energy waste. With IBM System x servers, you can expand memory as needed rather than simply adding more processors to ensure optimal performance for multiple workloads. You can also use this increased memory to run more virtual machines per processor. This helps you consolidate to fewer servers, curb your energy usage, and contain your per-processor software licensing costs. 4 Building your IT infrastructure doesn t have to include a larger IT staff. Want to increase your ratio of employees-to-it-staff as your company grows? By maintaining your systems with the same number of IT staff, you can dramatically improve your bottom line. It s simply good business sense to investigate the possibilities of working with a managed services provider to get IT assistance on a pay-as-you-go basis. The right partner will deliver only the services you need no more and no less to keep your systems up and running. 5 Costly, time-consuming IT training is a thing of the past. Don t want to invest thousands of dollars training your IT staff in functions they ll rarely use? This is another good reason to work with a managed services provider. The best IT partners have a fully-complemented, trained and certified staff to help you with the latest business hardware and software technologies. By engaging these experts on an as-needed basis, you ll get the benefit of their years of experience without having to foot the bill for countless hours of technical training. Seven Reasons to Reevaluate Your Technology Plan Today 8

9 6 The future is mobile, social, and cloud. There s no doubt about it: you ll have to compete harder for talent in the years to come. Today s employees don t just choose an employer based on who offers the most money or the best company benefits they also want to use their favorite devices and social platforms to perform their daily duties. Your current business software systems may be doing a decent job of helping you crunch the numbers and maintain communications with customers and suppliers, but chances are, they re not optimized for today s newest technologies or trends. Consider transitioning to a platform that lets your employees work exactly the way they want to work without compromising the integrity of your network. Otherwise, your best and brightest employees may be tempted to find an employer with a more enlightened vision of technology. 7 Now you can get IT infrastructure and ERP platform support from the same provider. Yes, there are many firms that provide capable IT support, and many that can support your SAP or Oracle business applications. But there s only one in Manitoba that can meet all of these needs with one phone call. Read on to learn more. Seven Reasons to Reevaluate Your Technology Plan Today 9

10 If you re seriously considering upgrading your business hardware and software and are looking for expert advice, consider what Prophet Business Group has to offer. Prophet is a leader in helping Manitoba's growing companies solve complex business challenges with smart technology solutions based on quality thinking, extensive business expertise, and innovative problem solving. To keep your ERP system at its peak, our team of experts can draw upon 18 years of focused industry experience to address your support needs. Our ERP staff includes four designated accountants who can develop an intimate knowledge of your greatest financial challenges and priorities as well as your software. Prophet s highly-skilled IT support team can draw upon decades of industry best practices to support your technology infrastructure. We d love the opportunity to tell you more in person. That s why we re offering you a complimentary network evaluation. During this no-cost engagement, a Prophet Business Group technology expert will: Meet with your IT staff to discuss current challenges and needs. Run diagnostics on your network. Provide a detailed report on what s working, what s not, and where your greatest IT priorities lie. To schedule your free network evaluation, please visit our website or call (204) today! Request Your Free Network Evaluation 10

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