5 Mantras for Star­tups to Deal with Chal­lenges, Sur­vive in the Chaos

We talked to Anand Naik, Di­rec­tor, Tech­nol­ogy Sales (In­dia & SAARC), Sy­man­tec on chal­lenges star­tups face and how to ebb the tide

PCQuest - - TECH AND TRENDS - — Mast­ufa Ahmed

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent global sur­vey con­ducted by a se­cu­rity firm among en­trepreneurs, of the small busi­nesses founded post 2008, 46% ex­pect to dou­ble their num­ber of em­ploy­ees in the next two years and 75% ex­pect rev­enue to grow more than 10%. Fewer small busi­nesses founded prior to 2008 are as op­ti­mistic, with only 12% ex­pect­ing to dou­ble em­ploy­ees and 39% ex­pect­ing to grow rev­enues by more than 10 per­cent.

While the sur­vey au­gurs well for starups, there are many chal­lenges that star­tups face to take their busi­ness to the next level. De­liv­er­ing a scal­able, qual­ity prod­uct is a big chal­lenge for star­tups. The prod­uct is be­hind sched­ule, sales aren’t meet­ing pro­jec­tions, or even cases where peo­ple are not sure of tech­nolo­gies to be em­braced to cust costs are ob­sta­cles that of­ten come on the way of the smooth tran­si­tion­ing of startup busi­ness. Hav­ing said, there are ways and means of com­ing out of the closet and re­vamp your busi­ness. Here we will dis­cuss tips for star­tups to sur­vive in the chaos, so­lu­tions for them to im­prove scal­a­bil­ity and more.

Tips for star­tups At the early stages, they need to fo­cus com­pletely on de­vel­op­ing great prod­ucts, build­ing a cus­tomer base, cre­at­ing aware­ness and re­call in the mar­ket and at­tract­ing the right tal­ent.

Star­tups need to be nim­ble in re­spond­ing to cus­tomer and in­dus­try de­mands. VCs and an­gel in­vestors keep a close watch on their ex­pen­di­ture and they don’t have the bud­gets for large IT im­ple­men­ta­tions. Since star­tups are com­pletely cus­tomer-fo­cused, they need in­for­ma­tion and IT re­sources that are avail­able and ac­ces­si­ble 24X7.

Scal­a­bil­ity is crit­i­cal; Pin­ter­est, for ex­am­ple, grew from 1 mil­lion users in July 2011 to 20 mil­lion users in July 2012. For star­tups to re­ally grow and make a mark, they need the right IT in­fra­struc­ture to sup­port such mas­sive in­crease in de­mand at a fast pace. Keys for star­tups to sur­vive in the chaos Look at IT not just in terms of in­fra­struc­ture, but in terms of the busi­ness need and in an in­for­ma­tion­cen­tric man­ner. IT can – and should – be a busi­nessen­abler; it should al­low peo­ple (em­ploy­ees, cus­tomers, ven­dors) to be able to ac­cess the in­for­ma­tion they re­quire re­gard­less of their de­vice/plat­form (through smart­phones, tablets, etc.), ir­re­spec­tive of lo­ca­tion or time. A de­gree of con­trol is also re­quired since star­tups don’t have the lux­ury of sus­tain­ing rep­u­ta­tion losses caused by data breaches, lengthy down­time or in­for­ma­tion loss.

Cloud as a de­liv­ery model is very well-suited for star­tups that don’t have large bud­gets to in­vest in IT up­front. In ad­di­tion, it takes the headaches of manag­ing IT out of the en­tre­pre­neur’s mind, so that he can fo­cus on their busi­ness with­out hav­ing to set aside a large bud­get for skilled per­son­nel on non-core ac­tiv­i­ties like IT. Star­tups can choose from one of three cloud mod­els. The cloud com­put­ing model of­fers vis­i­ble ben­e­fits that are look­ing for easy-to-use, re­li­able and scal­able ap­pli­ca­tions to en­able busi­ness growth. Cloud com­put­ing al­lows star­tups to dy­nam­i­cally scale their

com­put­ing ca­pa­bil­ity with­out hav­ing to in­vest in costly in­fra­struc­ture.

Mo­bil­ity is crit­i­cal to a startup – the new-age en­trepreneurs em­brace tech­nol­ogy in their per­sonal lives and of­ten use per­sonal re­sources for the ben­e­fit of the com­pany. This could range from us­ing their own smart­phones/tablets to ac­cess com­pany data, to en­cour­ag­ing em­ploy­ees to also do the same. Manag­ing mo­bile de­vices throughout their life-cy­cle there­fore plays a sig­nif­i­cant role within a startup en­vi­ron­ment. Struc­tured and well-de­fined poli­cies and pro­cesses around mo­bile us­age are needed from the word “go”, and not just af­ter an in­ci­dent oc­curs.

Star­tups – par­tic­u­larly in the e-com­merce and tech­nol­ogy space which seem to be the buzz­words right now – can go a long way in at­tract­ing cus­tomers through so­cial me­dia. Build­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties to man­age and make sense of large vol­umes of un­struc­tured in­for­ma­tion may not seem im­por­tant at the be­gin­ning, but can be a key dif­fer­en­tia­tor in win­ning cus­tomers.

Fi­nally, star­tups shouldn’t for­get to backup. Young en­trepreneurs may choose to boot­strap their way to suc­cess out of a garage, but this means they are sus­cep­ti­ble to down­time due to power shut­downs, sys­tem crashes and fail­ures. As sim­ple as it sounds, back­ing up in­for­ma­tion saves one of the most im­por­tant busi­ness as­sets – time to mar­ket.

Strong ser­vice-level agree­ments (SLAs) al­low en­trepreneurs to have the peace of mind that they are guar­an­teed what the ven­dor prom­ises, thus al­low­ing him to grow the busi­ness free of IT con­cerns. How star­tups can en­sure data pro­tec­tion These days busi­ness is not just about own­ing and run­ning a busi­ness but also be­ing smart about IT and re­lated tech­nolo­gies. And there is a lot to know when it comes to com­put­ers and tech­nol­ogy as the Web has lev­eled the play­ing field. To­day, com­puter se­cu­rity soft­ware is de facto to thwart po­ten­tial on­line dan­gers such as ma­li­cious mal­ware, spam threats and scams. Cus­tomer lists, ac­count num­bers, pass­words, con­tracts, and other vi­tal doc­u­ments are the lifeblood of the busi­ness. Hack­ing vic­tims typ­i­cally lack se­cu­rity sys­tems. And not only do busi­nesses need se­cu­rity soft­ware, but also need poli­cies for how lap­tops are to be han­dled, how to prop­erly down­load soft­ware up­dates (that link may be a virus), and how to se­cure mo­bile de­vices. Poli­cies, pro­ce­dures, and good se­cu­rity soft­ware are the first line of de­fense. Busi­nesses should de­ploy gen­uine se­cu­rity soft­ware that is le­gal, comes with sup­port and pro­vides timely up­dates to the prod­uct. To re­ally stay ahead of to­day’s stealthy threats, SMBs and star­tups need a com­pre­hen­sive se­cu­rity so­lu­tion that pro­vides:

End-to-end pro­tec­tion: The so­lu­tion must be so­phis­ti­cated enough to de­feat not only known threats, but un­known threats as well. Star­tups need to know that their crit­i­cal in­for­ma­tion is safe – wher­ever it’s used or stored. That means in lap­tops, desk­tops, mo­bile de­vices, and servers; in email; over the net­work; and in stor­age de­vices. They re­quire a so­lu­tion that au­to­mat­i­cally de­tects spam with­out re­quir­ing man­ual ad­just­ment of fil­ter­ing rules or mon­i­tor­ing of false pos­i­tives.

Rapid, re­li­able backup and re­cov­ery: En­sur­ing that data and the sys­tems it re­sides on are se­cure, backed up, and able to be re­cov­ered quickly is es­sen­tial in to­day’s busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment. Star­tups need to eas­ily re­store data or sys­tems and pro­tect against new threats through au­to­mated, event-driven back­ups. Down­time must be min­i­mized; that means users should be able to re­cover in­di­vid­ual files and fold­ers in sec­onds, or com­plete Win­dows sys­tems in min­utes.

Sim­pli­fied man­age­ment: For star­tups, sim­plic­ity is a sig­nif­i­cant pri­or­ity. Most of them don’t have the staff or the ex­per­tise to spend time manag­ing se­cu­rity. The se­cu­rity so­lu­tion they se­lect must be de­ployed with min­i­mal dis­rup­tion to busi­ness op­er­a­tions. So­lu­tions for star­tups to im­prove scal­a­bil­ity To­day, cloud and vir­tu­al­iza­tion al­low a great deal of flex­i­bil­ity and scal­a­bil­ity for or­ga­ni­za­tions of all sizes. Star­tups can pay-as-they-use and use avail­able IT re­sources more ef­fi­ciently, in­vest­ing more as the need arises, by lever­ag­ing these IT trends.

For a startup, the cloud com­put­ing model of­fers vis­i­ble ben­e­fits that are look­ing for easy-to-use, re­li­able and scal­able ap­pli­ca­tions to en­able busi­ness growth. Cloud com­put­ing al­lows star­tups to dy­nam­i­cally scale their com­put­ing ca­pa­bil­ity with­out hav­ing to in­vest in costly in­fra­struc­ture.

Strong ser­vice-level agree­ments (SLAs) al­low en­trepreneurs to have the peace of mind that they are guar­an­teed what the ven­dor prom­ises, thus al­low­ing him to grow the busi­ness free of IT con­cerns.

The cloud es­sen­tially frees or­ga­ni­za­tions of IT, bud­getary and op­er­a­tional con­straints that can keep them from mov­ing for­ward and achiev­ing busi­ness goals.

This model can be lever­aged for var­i­ous IT needs such as se­cu­rity, avail­abil­ity and backup – all three of which are crit­i­cal to the startup or­ga­ni­za­tions.

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