An interesting recent trend in small business management is the attention now being focused on the urgent matter of keeping up with technology. In the not too distant past you could simply buy a basic computer, install a fairly unsophisticated office or finance management suite, plug in the fax and phone, and away you went! Sure, the internet was an interesting tool which you resorted to sometimes, and you even received some important business news via email. …
Gone! That’s over. Many small business owners/managers are finding themselves in a situation now where they realize the IT part of their business is not only a selection of handy tools you could resort to in order to help efficiency; it’s actually become indispensable to stay competitive. And the worrying aspect of this trend is that the growth in the range of tools, both hardware and software (or devices and apps, to use the current lingo) is staggering. To get your head around the latest equipment available, and to be able to afford to pay for it all, has become one of the great challenges for the small business owner.
The current climate in IT development provides a great opportunity for a serious appraisal of the systems able to be developed by businesses using the Linux range of free operating systems, as well as the vast range of alternative desktop environments and free application software available from the open-source community. Every small business owner just needs to look up how much their business has spent over the years on software licences to realize this is an area where a lot of money has been spent.
Where Linux comes into this is something the serious small business manager will be showing increasing interest in in the near future as a viable and cost-cutting alternative.
They are already asking why they need to be paying so much for software, when lower cost options exist. And the simple reason is: lack of confidence combined with a lack of awareness of alternatives.
Until now, it has been a matter of perception. Linux has had the reputation for being difficult to use and not user-friendly. A quick browse through the screenshots on this link will illustrate how well-developed the desktops are nowadays, and the range of apps available.
People have often had the impression that, as the software is for free (i.e. the GNU licence its being developed under does not allow for the software to be sold for profit) that it can’t be reliable or supportable. Well, Google and Amazon, to name just a few of the giants, don’t seem to be too concerned that most of their servers are run by some form of Linux- based software. And did you know that Android tablet you’re using has a Linux-based operating system inside?
See the following link for an impressive collection of free open-source software: Scourceforge.
Strong Signal IT is passionate about Linux, and the open-source software community. We have many years of experience implementing and investigating and playing around with a variety of Linux flavours. We see the way forward for the smart small business owner of today is to embrace the many options available when designing their IT system. Typically, this won’t be the business owners themselves (they’ve got plenty other things in the business to focus on!) But they will learn to work together with an IT team that can give them choices which prioritize not only stability and security in the business, but also profit.
One of the great features of Linux and open-source software is the cross-platform development, which for the business owner means that many of the freely available applications can be used within an existing Windows environment. (You’re probably already using the Firefox web browser, the Thunderbird email client, Skype, Dropbox, WordPress to name a few.) It is possible to minimize costs without a wholesale migration of the business’s IT system to Linux. For example, there are many successful networks running Linux servers with Windows clients.