All business owners need to be thinking about the future when it comes to scalability – regardless of the size of your business today. Do you have the infrastructure, and more importantly processes and technology that can scale when required so your business can evolve and succeed way into the future? Owning or managing a business, whether it’s a small or a large enterprise, has its difficulties, a major one being the ability to prepare for growth. It can be difficult to evaluate and predict how your company will grow in the future, at what velocity, and to what end. Every business needs to plan and understand the technical requirements that come with growth, in order to smoothly facilitate the rapidly evolving demands and capabilities of the business.
What is Scalability?
Scalability allows a business to grow and evolve over time without the need to rebuild from the ground up each time. Scalable technology should accommodate future expansion requirements and enhance returning revenue, while keeping operational costs at a minimum. Scalable IT infrastructure consists of technology that covers your current needs but will adapt to upgrades, expansions, or anything that requires additional resources. These resources can include software upgrades for new and better processes and integrations, extra hardware to increase the speed of processing and efficiency of the systems, or more storage space to respond to data growth. Your IT infrastructure should be built to utilise these additional resources effectively and offer increased output for short, medium, or long-term demands. Scalability may also mean adjustments in the workforce to meet the demands of your organisation, regardless if it’s right-sizing, expanding reach, or simply growing equally.
Why Is Scalability Necessary?
Can you create disruption in your marketplace? If someone else does come along and disrupt your customer base can you react quickly enough? With ever-changing market demands in such a fast-paced technological world, a scalable IT infrastructure is vital for maintaining a competitive advantage and allowing you to stay ahead by rapidly adapting to customer’s demands. If you can’t meet your customers’ demands – either now or in the future – someone else will.
Your technology and resources need to expand along with all other business processes and areas of growth. Without a plan for handling these advances, it can affect the quality and longevity of your business. For example, if there's a sudden rise in customers, there's going to be larger quantities of customer data needing to be processed, secured, stored, and managed. Without the right storage levers and network capacity, you can slow down your systems and create a decline in productivity when you need efficiencies the most. These are the times to be able to meet demand and capitalise on the surge.
A highly effective scalable IT infrastructure should be capable of supporting any type of expansion, growth, or venture without a complete redesign.
One such way is the incline in subscription-based software (often called software as a service/subscription – SaaS) which allows a business to adjust and scale resources accordingly, and without increasing operational costs too significantly. You simply pay for what you use. However, the licence costs are not the only consideration. Matters of storage, security, and the actual processing of the data needs to be heavily considered and challenged.
Having a scalable plan in place allows you to manage your business in a cost-effective manner, with predictable costs and minimal disruptions to your cashflow planning. And any investment in technology, however small or large must be able to provide a return in the long-run and reduce your day-to-day running costs.
Building A Scalable Business Model
Scalability is associated both with technology and business processes. When embarking on your scalable business journey, it's vital to take a forward-thinking approach when it comes to both factors.
Some businesses have the biggest growth potential but usually a lack of resources and therefore should be particularly mindful of their own scalability needs. Start by reviewing your company's key areas and create a business model that incorporates scalable technology, such as automation for repeatable tasks in those areas. Understand your key processes and flows, and work out how they can be improved, have greater resilience, and remove bottlenecks and single points of failure. Regardless of the quality and stability of the underlying technology, failure to understand and model your core processes will result in flawed business plans.
To stay competitive in this digital age, businesses need to be able to adopt new markets and innovations and scale their current technologies to meet new and (rapidly) changing demands. By planning and investing in the right technologies that will adapt with your business as it grows, your business will remain successful.
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