For brick-and-mortar businesses that don't specialize in technology, the need for IT services and solutions is often a challenging market to navigate. After all, why would a mechanic need a cloud backup server? Why would a bakery spend time learning about the differences between shared hosting and cloud hosting?
Here's why: 81% of potential customers shop online first. They not only expect businesses to have a website, they expect it to run great and provide useful information.
In short, if you want to maximize the number of customers you reach, you must worry about IT services and solutions. Don't worry if tech isn't your expertise. We're going to walk you through some of the key technologies and pitfalls.
Understanding IT Services And Solutions
The first tech hurdle most business owners face is finding the best website hosting provider.
First things first, what is it? A website host like ServerMania is a service provider that gives you the tools to make your website accessible on the internet.
Where things get tricky is in choosing a type of hosting service. There are three common hosting options:
- Cloud Servers
- Hybrid Servers
- Dedicated Servers
In a Cloud or Hybrid hosting plan, a server gets divided and each business has a slice to use to host their website, email, or any other service they host online . Your website gets hosted in one of the subdivisions as if it were on its own server.
The big benefit is that you get more control over the server settings and with Cloud Hosting, you can instantly increase resources as you grow.
Dedicated Servers are designed for businesses that need a lot of server power for their applications. The server is used by only one client, so you can max out the resources on the server as needed. It also allows for a server completely customized to your needs.
Cloud services cover such a wide swath of IT services and solutions it's not practical to talk about all of them. Instead, we'll highlight what cloud services are and how they can benefit you.
A cloud service is, at the base, a computer resource that you access exclusively over the Internet. For small businesses that aren't developing software, the main area of concern is software-as-a-service.
Software-as-a-service typically runs as a membership model. You pay a monthly or annual fee and a company gives you access to their useful software. This lets you avoid the up-front cost of buying software and upgrading it.
An engineering consultant might get 3D modeling software via SaaS, rather than buy it outright. A small film studio might get a subscription to pro-grade video editing software.
The SaaS model offers a few key advantages. The cost of entry is lower, which lets more people access the software. The burden of updates, security, and maintenance fall on the company offering the service.
A few types of useful cloud services include:
- Cloud backup and file sharing services
- VPN hosting
- Graphic design
- Customer relationship management
- Office suite
- Customer service ticketing systems
- Project management
Integrated Payment Options
A real pain point for most businesses is taking payments.
The days of cash, check, or credit cards are long gone. Now people want to pay using everything from Paypal and bitcoin to Apple Pay and Google Payments. For years, the only option was setting up accounts with multiple payment processing vendors.
Fortunately, integrated payment systems are evolving to take some of the sting out of the payment processing. Rather than creating multiple accounts, you use a single processing vendor for the majority of transactions. The trick is to select one that supports the options you see most often.
Virtual Private Network
If you or your employees spend a lot of time on the road, a virtual private network is often a good investment. A VPN offers you a way to securely access your own network, files, and even software while you're away from the office.
Let's say you're in a coffee shop with WiFi and you want to look at some files to prep for a meeting. A basic VPN works like this.
You log into the VPN through a service provider. This creates an encrypted connection from your computer to the office network through the coffee shop's WiFi network. You can look at the files without worrying that someone is stealing data.
A VPN is of particular value to any business that works with proprietary or classified materials.
Beware the Service Gap
For all the good that IT services and solutions can do for your business, you should remain mindful of the service gap issue.
For example, you can get free web hosting from some companies. In most cases, the customer service options are very limited. The services are often slow as well.
If you sell products through your site, slow customer service can cost you money. It's not worth risking your businesses reputation by saving a few dollars using a free hosting provider.
Always make sure you get all the information before signing up for any service or buying a solution.
Parting Thoughts on IT Services and Solutions
IT services and solutions are an integral part of the modern business landscape.
You must run a website that works cleanly, which means choosing the right kind of hosting service.
As with all business decisions, make sure you understand the details before you buy into any product or service.
ServerMania specializes in hosting, DDoS protection, and server management services. For any questions about our company or services, contact us today.