In the modern business environment, we frequently talk about scalability. We want to see our businesses grow. Even if a company isn’t hoping to become a unicorn, it still wants to maximize its potential. But what does scalability really mean and how does IT contribute to the process?
What is scalability?
According to Investopedia, scalability can be defined as a company’s ability to “maintain or improve profit margins while sales volume increases.” This is an important target; when small companies go viral, for example, they may not be able to keep up with their suddenly increasing traffic. They may see websites crash due to insufficient resources or product shipments go awry because of production backups.
Another place scalability matter is when a company has intermittent growth. Sometimes growth ebbs and flows. For example, retail businesses tend to be busier during the holiday season, and tax accounting companies have more to do from February to April than they do throughout the rest of the year. Being able to amp up services when necessary, and then drop them down again when appropriate, is a key feature of an adaptable company that is successfully scaling.
How does IT help
So how does IT figure into this equation? When it comes to scalability, IT helps keep everything on track so that the rest of the business has fewer pain points. Just a few ways this happens include:
- Anticipating and managing licensing needs so that companies aren’t stuck with too few licenses and too many people needing to access programming.
- Maintaining security so data is protected. Being proactive by removing old accounts and passwords, watching for signs of cyber threats, and ensuring that employees are trained regarding the increased risks of phishing and whaling attacks, which are on the rise.
- Finding opportunities for software and hardware improvements, such as preparing the company for cloud migration or spearheading a BYOD policy initiative.
In many ways, IT has become the core of how businesses function. Take the example of cloud migration. When a company focuses its business on cloud computing, it dramatically changes who can access their company resources and when. Companies gain the ability to hire around the world and to free up workers who would prefer to telecommute. This can save money on physical office space and improve employee morale – which can help a company grow.
At the same time, IT can help identify the weaknesses in legacy programs. One system’s security might be insufficient while another’s may simply be outdated. Many software companies have abandoned their desktop systems in favor of cloud computing; it’s easier for them, too. IT can help find ways to shore up those legacy system weaknesses in the cloud or fully migrate business data to an equivalent system in the cloud.
IT can also spearhead initiatives to bring virtual servers online. Virtual servers can be fantastic for companies that have a fluctuating business throughout the year. For example, a retail company can make sure they have enough server space to handle their website traffic in December without needing to pay for that space all year round on a legacy hardware system. When companies are discussing scalability, the IT team must be in the room, or the conversation will never be complete.