Peter Gima – Manager, Small Business for AWS in Canada.
What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021?
Over the course of 2020, we have seen unprecedented change in the market that SMEs operate in. Organizations that had operated in a stable and healthy environment were quickly faced with new conditions that threatened revenues and in many cases their business. So what separated the organizations that thrived during this period of change, from those that were threatened? Here are the top observations we have found from working closely with a wide variety of SMEs across Canada.
First, organizations that had the ability to quickly respond to a reduction in customers or revenue by reducing their IT infrastructure, we’re able to immediately lower their IT spend. We have since seen many of these organizations quickly spin up their IT infrastructure again as market conditions stabilized or improved, allowing these SMEs to nimbly handle increased customer demand and revenue opportunities. This was the case for a company that provides entertainment experiences for restaurants and bars. Their business model changed throughout the year as shelter in place orders due to COVID-19 heavily affected the hospitality industry. Another example is London-based VidHug. The platform creates video montages for special events.
At the start of the lockdowns in March, about 300 users engaged with the platform daily, but in four weeks, it ballooned to 130,000 people a day. At the time, VidHug had one employee – the cofounder. The service was able to scale to meet demand because of the elasticity of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud.
Second, agile organizations were able to quickly adapt their product or delivery models to capture new markets, including the ability to deliver services virtually, shift to an eCommerce model, or connect with new customers well beyond their traditional or local markets.
Third, customers who were collecting data properly were able to quickly analyze trends and leveraged that analysis to make smart business decisions including where to focus resources and to identify hidden opportunities.
As we move into the new year and develop new strategies, SMEs should take the opportunity to rethink how their IT model aligns with their business. Is their IT infrastructure limiting growth and innovation, and it is managed as a cost center? Or, is their IT infrastructure a driver of growth and innovation, and managed as a revenue center? Will SMEs be ready to take advantage of new opportunities? These are hard questions, but the answers may not be as difficult as they sound.