There are over 5,000,000 businesses registered in the UK, with an additional 500,000 expected to be added annually. Of these, 99.2% are classed as “small businesses”, which means they have 50 employees or less. Although small, these businesses can produce significant amounts of data in the standard course of business to help gain insights, increase revenue or improve customer experience, but there is one thing here that is consistent – the need for tailored and reliable storage solutions that fit in with the business structure and goals.
Considering the current pace of business and the growth of data, it is crucial that small- to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) have the right data storage infrastructure. This goes beyond just providing greater capture and storage capacity, but must also offer greater performance, flexibility and agility to access information to help SMEs improve operations. No matter how businesses use their data, one thing that doesn’t change is the need for suitable, reliable storage solutions.
Technological developments and data growth
Having a suitable storage architecture in place is even more crucial as continuing rapid technological development means the data deluge shows no sign of abating. Indeed, recent advancements have created new opportunities and efficiencies. For example, modern offices, factories, and warehouses now often rely on machine learning and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, and these produce huge amounts of data that must be recorded and analyzed to optimize operations.
And it’s not just technologies integrated into businesses that can put increasing demands on data. As social media platforms move further towards video, this creates greater demands for content and data and thus, storage. Recent research has shown that depending on the resolution and quality of the content, video streaming can take up to 15.98GB per hour in 4K.
Director of EMEAI Field Engineering, Western Digital.
For retail businesses, other important data is customer details and buying behaviors, which are held for marketing purposes, particularly for email communications to drive traffic to web stores. In recent years, this has become more advanced, as algorithms can be used to ensure that targeted campaigns are directed to the most relevant customers, and personalized advertising is utilized to the maximum. The analysis of customer data leads to further data being created as insights which can be implemented into marketing and sales strategies.
The solution to data challenges
While data can play an important role in helping an SME become successful and explore more business models, if this data is not stored on a reliable storage solution, then it could be a huge opportunity lost.
There are several ways to store data, including cloud storage, and local external storage. Experts recommend using more than one form of backup and storing them in different locations so that in the event of theft or an unexpected event, data is still safe.
One option that will be suitable for many small businesses is a network-attached storage (NAS) system. It allows small businesses to share information via a network or over the Internet with those who work within the organization (no matter where they are). This makes exchange and collaboration more fluid, which minimizes costs and speeds up productivity.
The great advantage of NAS is that the data is stored centrally, thus facilitating its backup and protection, but at the same time, by allowing remote access and sharing. NAS systems complement an environment of work and collaboration allowing SMEs to save and share files from anywhere with an Internet connection, and have files organized in one place to help streamline workflows.
Whatever storage solution small businesses choose, as they grow and adapt, data is created in various forms for a range of purposes. Throughout the business lifecycle, no matter the sector or function, data is increasingly important in day-to-day operations, planning and analytics. Particularly as many sectors are facing economic pressures, it is crucial for businesses to use all means and tools at their disposal to stay ahead of the competition and data is a key part of this.
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Uwe Kemmer, Director of EMEAI Field Engineering, Western Digital.