Enterprises require solutions designed with their size and complexity in mind, yet many large-scale organisations, driven by economic pressure and the desire to save costs, are tempted to adopt software developed for small to medium businesses (SMBs). Ian McAlister, General Manager at CRS Technologies, strongly advises against this.
“Decision-makers need to understand that they are going down a slippery slope when installing SMB offerings in their enterprise,” he warns, “as the long-term damage is more significant than any immediate capital gains to be had.”
Definitions on what constitutes an enterprise are varied and differ from geographic locations. In the South African context, it can mean companies ranging in size from 1 000 to 10 000 employees. It therefore stands to reason that relying on SMB solutions (typically designed for organisations that have a few hundred employees at most) for enterprise needs is a fundamentally flawed approach.
“Of course, enterprise solutions are more expensive and complex and generally take longer to integrate into the existing business operations,” McAlister continues. “But for all this, they provide organisations with the feature-rich, automated and advanced customisation features needed for their size and scalability requirements.”
SMB solutions are also more likely to tap into populist approaches that might not make business sense for an enterprise. These drive an app-centric culture in the organisation, and while there is nothing wrong with embracing a more mobile environment, the compliance requirements around data protection are significantly more complex for an enterprise.
“Once decision-makers realise they have grown past the SMB stage, they must understand that their software requirements across the organisation have shifted. This evolution is part of doing business, but it requires a willingness to embrace continual change when it comes to their IT needs.”
“Much attention has also been placed on the cloud-centricity of SMB solutions. However, for large organisations, the delivery mechanism used (such as cloud versus on-premise) does not matter if the solution is considered an enterprise-class one,” says McAlister.
“Organisations must focus on putting in place enterprise solutions that suit their specific internal needs, irrespective of the industry sector in which they operate. So, even though SMB solutions are less expensive and easier to implement, the question to ask is, what long-term gains can be delivered to the enterprise? Furthermore, the competitive nature of the market means an organisation can ill afford to lose momentum against its peers who are spending the time and resources to effectively integrate enterprise-class solutions in their environments.”
The potential to leverage sophisticated and innovative technologies in an enterprise environment makes too much business sense to ignore simply for the benefit of a more cost-effective SMB offering, McAlister concludes.