Technology strategies for growth in mid-sized businesses
The power of connectivity. Connecting with an idea to create a business. Connecting with the resources to launch a business. Connecting with the innovation to grow a business. Connecting with employees, customers, clients, and collaborators to run a business. All of these connections are powered through the right technology.
Although leaders often drive initial ideas and develop the strategies for business growth, it’s the front-line workers, field workers, cashiers, customer service reps, managers, sales teams, and so many others who bring the vision to life through customer interactions. And in mid-sized businesses (the definition of which varies…250 to 2,500 employees, single or multi-location, revenue range, etc.), these team members often wear multiple hats to help the business thrive on what may be limited resources.
That’s why the right network solutions are critical. These solutions must be reliable and help to maximize efficiency and productivity. Business owners need peace of mind that high-speed data can securely flow between endpoints—machines, tools, applications, and devices—so everyone in the business can efficiently do their jobs, no matter which hat they’re wearing.
How mid-sized businesses adapt for technology changes
The past few years have brought us active learning on the art of what’s possible in business. Much of this has been powered by advances in technology and its rapid adoption as companies work to keep pace with consumer demand. Emerging or disruptive technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and 5G solutions that were once merely options are increasingly becoming table stakes in many industries. And cloud adoption—and the cloud connectivity that enables it—is fueling more “as a service” models. The benefits of flexibility, security, and cost savings are making the cloud more of a requirement than an option.
We see how mid-sized businesses feel the need to adapt and adopt these technologies to solve some of their biggest challenges. For example, the worker shortage means that being short one employee may feel like three hats need to be filled. Our customers in this segment know that technology is the answer but they struggle with where to begin and how to prioritize. And if they’re still on a legacy, copper-based network, they may not have the capabilities and features needed to support the adoption of new tech, high-speed data demand, and the required bandwidth, speed, and low latency it requires.
How can these businesses prioritize and take the needed, bold steps into the right technology solutions?
Four priorities in strategies for business growth
If you’re a leader in a mid-sized business, you might be asking yourself the same question. We’re here to help you find the right solutions to these pressures and prepare for future growth.
Although the challenges you face are diverse, their solutions often fall under the categories of modernization through technology, financial management, or workforce optimization. Yes, these are big buckets, but the good news is that there are four actions you can prioritize to make them easier to navigate.
1. Network modernization.
A reliable network is the foundation for both operations and tech adoption. We’ve mentioned the limitations of legacy networks built on copper. They simply cannot support essential tech like high-data applications, tools, and machinery, video intelligence, or cloud connectivity. Network modernization, the migration from copper lines to fiber internet, is the solution for moving your technology forward.
You may wonder why you should consider a network upgrade if your systems seem to be working. For a mid-sized business, it comes down to three essential factors: operational efficiency and its benefits, cost management, and growth positioning. A core tenant of operational efficiency is reliability. This is not only in coverage (such as the 1.4 million miles of fiber globally ), but the resiliency to withstand aging, as well as disruptions like the weather. In other words, a modernized network is more dependable for better uptime, as well as how efficiently it moves high-speed data. A fiber network also has greater security benefits built into the network itself—for example, unlike copper, it can’t be tapped into physically.
Another important benefit of network modernization is that it enables digital transformation—the creation or integration of new digital technologies throughout the business. By capitalizing on the bandwidth, speed, and lower latency of fiber and 5G, mid-sized businesses are equipped to adapt to the rate of change that has accelerated tech adoption. The opportunity to capture and analyze the right data potentially means easier adoption of new tech for faster return on investments. And for the worker shortage, it can lead to a better overall experience for employees (e.g., lower employee churn) and customers (e.g., better loyalty and increased revenue).
2. Cost Management.
The migration to fiber is an excellent example of how mid-sized businesses can shift expense pressures. The shift to a fiber network, which also means a shift from CapEx to OpEx, enables a business to have tighter control over their roadmap to roll out new tech across the business while also maintaining the flexibility to change direction as business needs change.
In addition, prioritizing cost-effective solutions, seeking ways to reduce overhead expenses, evaluating and negotiating better vendor contracts, and optimizing your operational processes are all ways for any business to better manage cash and maximize profitability through times of change.
Integration of IoT is another way to manage costs. It enables you to collect data to make smarter decisions about operations, such as warehouse efficiency, driver and vehicle performance and logistics, and retail on-shelf inventory. Not only can these benefits of IoT enable you to operate more efficiently, but also manage costs associated with equipment uptime, regulatory compliance, and sustainability.
3. Growth and expansion.
Two important strategies for business growth worth prioritizing for any business are scaling operations and entering new geographic areas. How can technology help with this?
The first step to scaling business operations is level-setting where you are now. Sometimes it can be sobering to take a look at where there may be inadequacies in how your business is operating. From a technology perspective, this means taking a microscopic look at potential inefficiencies and overlooked opportunities. These include day-to-day tasks in the office, overall production, and operations.
Understanding your infrastructure—your network and how your tech integrates with it and shares or communicates data between platforms, applications, and is stored—enables you to think beyond a “good enough for now” mindset. Consulting with experienced third-party technology experts who know business can help you to see what’s working well, where not to invest, and what you can change over time, in alignment with your growth opportunities and goals. This puts your business in a stronger, more flexible position for funding, operational efficiencies, and negotiations with potential partners. And with these partners, there may be opportunities to share data so you can gain the maximum benefits from your collaboration.
Part of growing at scale may include increasing your geographic footprint. Although today’s world of eCommerce expands what’s possible for businesses of all sizes, some companies need to add locations to better serve their customers. This may include storefronts, warehouses, or distribution centers. More location types means more data from diverse technologies and endpoints, and a greater need for your business to have the foundation of a robust network.
An important way we help our customers expand their footprint is through our fiber footprint, but also through a 5G network that serves approximately 288M customers. We double down on that coverage through business internet and voice and collaboration solutions that makes connecting technologies and endpoints easier for our customers as their business grows.
The future of networking
Rick Welday, EVP-Enterprise Markets at AT&T Business shares the how we’re bringing new standard of networking to our customers.
4. Talent acquisition and retention.
While some companies may hesitate to prioritize their network and technology infrastructure, this step can have a lasting, positive impact on addressing the labor shortage and can be an important strategy for business growth. Comparing strategic technology investments to the costs of churn, which includes training and retaining a new hire (more daunting as “skilled” workers can be difficult to find), using technology to operate more efficiently and improve productivity can help ease labor shortage pressures.
Businesses that use tech to improve job functions may help you to attract and retain top talent. IT professionals under the age of 30 are more likely than non-IT workers to leave a company.1 These younger workers are trained for modern tech. When they work for a company that doesn’t use the latest, it can contribute to their departure.
In addition, workers of all ages, but especially adults under the age of 30, expect workplace flexibility and the ability to work away from the office. A strong IT department can help open the door to support a hybrid workforce. Business and IT leaders have learned that this mobile-first model enables them to attract more talent. It also, however, contributes to the number of endpoints that can access the network, which makes network security a bigger priority.
Network security strategies for business growth in mid-sized businesses
The considerable pinch for talent might be felt more in IT than any other department. The ripple effects from not only a lack of qualified staff but also fewer or competing resources can cripple any business. However, considering that small and mid-sized businesses face more cyber threats than enterprises, this pinch has become a vice grip. It’s pushing mid-sized companies to prioritize IT spending, and for many, security.2 This becomes even more complex in highly-targeted, data-rich industries like manufacturing and IoT healthcare that have many independently owned mid-sized businesses for cybercriminals to target.
Earlier we discussed how sharing data with business partners can help you grow. There’s one caveat: your business partners’ endpoints become your endpoints—and as a result—their vulnerabilities can affect your security posture. Integrating this level of collaboration can help mitigate security risks, potential downtime, and costs associated with reputational damage in the event of a security breach. Note that a secure network that’s built from reliable, secure fiber, and 5G connectivity adds the core protection needed to have better peace of mind in connecting with other businesses.
The FCC has stated “every business that uses the internet is responsible for creating a culture of security that will enhance business and consumer confidence.”3 The challenge for business owners is ensuring you’re taking the necessary steps to protect your business and customers’ alike. The good news is you’re not alone.
Our customers rely on our cybersecurity consulting professionals to help them assess, prioritize, and plan for data protection. This is one of the key strategies for business growth because it enables you to help protect your business and keep your customers—and your reputation—safe. As your business grows, it’s important to have security that starts at the network in place that can grow with your business. This gives you a foundation that can better withstand cyber challenges.
The solution in a new standard for networking
While there may be unexpected events that can affect your business, having a flexible, reliable network gives you better control to reduce their impact. It’s through your network that you can connect the tools, applications, and the cloud to operate more efficiently and with the security and redundancy required to help prevent business disruption.
We help our customers—mid-sized businesses like yours—build a foundation that can withstand unexpected events. Our goal is to help you plan ahead, be resilient, stay prepared, and continue to grow. Building a strong foundation today lays the groundwork for the future. We have the experience to get you there.
Our experience has taught us that businesses today need a combination of three essential factors to address the challenges they face: network reliability through fiber and 5G, security that starts at the network, and experts who know business who can help you simplify technology decisions. At their core, these factors aren’t new. However, we’ve redefined them to meet the unprecedented business challenges of today, which includes pain points like supply chain bottlenecks, labor market pressures, and evolving customer needs. These factors also acknowledge that there is a very positive side to today’s business landscape as well—more opportunities to learn and anticipate customer needs, make work easier for employees, integrate new technologies, and innovate faster than ever.
For mid-sized businesses, we know all of this can seem overwhelming. We’re here to simplify the path to successfully meeting your goals so you can provide the quality experiences your employees and your customers deserve.
Why AT&T Business
See how ultra-fast, reliable fiber and 5G connectivity protected by built-in security give you a new level of confidence in the possibilities of your network. Let our experts work with you to solve your challenges and accelerate outcomes. Your business deserves the AT&T Business difference—a new standard for networking.
Learn more about AT&T Business networking solutions or contact your AT&T Business representative to connect with an expert who knows business.
¹Lucas Mearian, “Why young tech workers leave – and what you can do to keep them,” Computerworld, June 13, 2022, https://www.computerworld.com/article/3663431/why-young-tech-workers-leave-and-what-you-can-do-to-keep-them.html
2Joseph F. Kovar, “10 Midsize Enterprises Reveal Their 2023 IT Spending Priorities,” CRN, September 23, 2022, https://www.crn.com/news/running-your-business/10-midsize-enterprises-reveal-their-2023-it-spending-priorities?itc=refresh
3"Cybersecurity for Small Businesses, Federal Communications Commission, Accessed June 14, 2023, "https://www.fcc.gov/communications-business-opportunities/cybersecurity-small-businesses.