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SMEs Must Adopt Emerging Technologies to Sustain Growth
Ajay Goel
Ajay Goel
MD- India & SAARC, Symantec
Goel has over 25 years engineering and sales leadership experience with multinationals, including... more>>
Economies in most parts of the world are reeling under recession whichhas crippled growth and triggered economic woes amongst businesses of all sizes.  SMBs in particular, are vulnerable as they generally have smaller customer base and limited product lines in highly competitive markets in comparison to MNC’s or bigger enterprises.
However, it is the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) whocontinue to play a vital role in the growth of the economy.  In fact according to SME Chambers of India, SME’s Contribution towards the GDP in 2011 was 17%, which is expected to increase to 22% by 2012. But while SMBs are powerful economic forces, they often forego new technology adoption for enhanced operational efficiency and lack basic IT security infrastructure,as they continue to grapple with the lack of resources, IT infrastructure and skilled staff. A highly competitive market and an evolving threat landscape have exposed this weakness and have left them vulnerable in front of both competitors and cyber criminals. Also, with automation being seen in the regular systems and processes, SMBs cannot ignore the importance of IT in business operations. How do SMEs sustain their business growth in such a scenario?
New Technology Adoption
The SMB requirements of today are not very different from that of large enterprises, as they also have to constantly deal with similar challenges of managing and securing information. The advent of new technologies such as virtualization and cloud is set to change the way SMBs are approaching their IT infrastructure. With benefits like streamlined operations and lower operational costs, technologies like deduplication, cloud, virtualization today is no longer an option exclusive to large enterprises. These advanced technologies help to increase efficiency, save money, and make the most of their IT resources.
According to the Symantec 2011 Small Business Virtualization Poll, about 72 percent of SMBs, across the Asia Pacific and Japan regions are considering deploying server virtualization, which is seen as the first step towards moving to the cloud. Operational efficiency is a high priority for small and medium businesses and cloud computing offers exactly that, while staying within their strained IT budgets. As conversations increase around cloud adoption, SMBs will need more knowledge and information about cloud adoption and its successful integration to their existing IT infrastructure.
The uncontrolled growth of digital data presents many challenges to the SMBs. One of the primary challenges lies in storing large volumes of data and managing data retention. Securing data consistently is also not an easy task. By eliminating redundant data across multiple backups or systems to reduce the amount of data stored, deduplication can reduce the amount of backup data stored.  As a result, businesses can dramatically reduce backup storage costs by consolidating and reusing existing storage resources. The cost effectiveness promised by virtualization makes it a highly attractive option for SMBs worldwide. Virtualization can optimize business operations and free SMBs from the typical operational hassles with fewer servers to maintain the same number of business applications. Virtualization also offers the potential to improve server scalability.
Safeguard data against cyber-attacks and natural disasters
With security threats becoming more complex and targeting critical business information such as confidential documents and customer data, it is abundantly clear that traditional antivirus products can no longer protect them completely. They need not just antivirus, but protection against  spyware, new phishing threats, and spam – that is, the kind of sophisticated threats that can evade traditional security solutions. The rise of mobile workforces amongst SMBs only complicates the issue. Employees using mobility devices for both official and personal use are especially vulnerable to malware and spyware. This is especially so for companies that lacks a dedicated IT team overseeing the protection of their digital assets.
Also, with the unpredictable possibility of natural disasters, small businesses need to do a better job of backing up their critical data. Disasters can have a significant financial impact on SMBs. Outages cause customers to lose faith in their vendors According to the 2011 Disaster preparedness survey by Symantec forty-four percent of SMB customer respondents have reportedly switched SMB vendors due to unreliable computing systems. Thirty-one percent of SMB customers surveyed stated that their SMB vendors have temporarily shut down due to a disaster.  
Cyber-attacks and natural disasters can cripple SMB IT systems in a very short span of time. How long will it take for SMBs to recover from that failure? When IT disaster strikes, businesses need to quickly restore failed systems in minutes to a specified point-in-time, without taking hours or days to manually rebuild and restore those systems. SMBs can ill afford to lose customers and compromise their business growth.
SME’s who are on the growth part and show increasing resilience in the light of recession cannot afford to lose momentum due to outdated technology, cyber-attack or natural disasters. These issues can be adequately addressed by emerging technologies which are both cost effective and convenient in usage. By staying aware of the latest threats and formulating appropriate disaster recovery plans SMBs can get ahead of their competition with increased customer loyalty. With the range of technologies available for protection and management of information, SMBs can comfortable stay on the economic growth path.

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