A question many IT departments, particularly those of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), need to ask themselves today is how to keep pace with accelerating business environments, increasingly interconnected processes and new technologies. How do they provide their companies with the tools they need to seize the opportunities presenting themselves, particularly as the global competition is growing ever fiercer? New IT technologies are surely a part of the solution. Yet, for many SMBs’ IT departments with their limited resources, the pace of IT innovation outstrips the capacity to keep up, thereby adding to their problem – as do new security risks and regulatory burdens such as the recently introduced European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In order to master this complexity, simplifying IT is key. A comprehensive solution as well as a partner providing a single point of contact and also access to managed services may offer the best path forward. Konica Minolta can be such a partner with its newly introduced Workplace Hub, designed particularly around the needs of SMBs. The IT services platform combines state-of-the-art hardware as well as best-of-breed software and solutions. It provides one-stop services for scalable, secure and reliable hybrid IT services to increase productivity and creativity. This enables IT to drive business growth, while at the same time optimising costs for the solutions and services required.
In today’s business world, IT has become the backbone of the organisation, linking different functions and serving as the essential pathway for information. However, the complexity of this critical infrastructure is becoming increasingly hard to manage. Moreover, IT infrastructure is threatened with an increase in potential security risks that requires a continual state of vigilance and constant proactive activity as adequate safeguards. This takes considerable expertise and resources to accomplish and hence many smaller companies struggle to maintain the necessary defence mechanisms. Indeed, a study among SMBs by the Ponemon Institute revealed that 73% felt insufficient personnel was keeping their IT security from being fully effective, while 56% cited insufficient budget. This is despite full recognition of the vital importance of IT security: the same study found that 96% felt that anti-malware was essential, 89% felt this about client firewalls, and 62% cited intrusion detection and prevention as being vital.
In addition to the cost implications of addressing security challenges, out-of-date and inefficiently managed IT infrastructure can also add to the burden. For example, neglecting to update server infrastructure in a timely fashion can add up to 148% in server administration costs while reducing peak performance by 39% and adding up to 40% in application management costs.
These figures show that tackling these challenges with the limited resources available to SMBs’ IT departments can only work if new approaches are taken. “More of the old” – increasing spending on infrastructure and investing more personnel resources – is simply not a promising path forward. This is where an integrated IT solution and managed services can provide essential relief, letting businesses reduce their total IT spend and focus on core business priorities instead: 57% of senior decision makers in SMBs would dedicate the time saved to dealing with other business issues, 48% would use it explicitly to grow their business.
Both the security and management overheads can be significantly reduced by working with an IT service partner to implement a managed IT services solution. By serving as a single point of contact (SPOC) for all things IT-related, such a partner can also help avoid the complex and time-consuming challenge of multi-vendor billing and support.
IT simplicity to tackle business complexity
While IT has become central to virtually all company processes, in most organisations this process has taken place organically and in a bottom-up fashion, with multiple solutions implemented to address varying business challenges. This creates information and IT system silos that prove inflexible as well as difficult to manage and scale. Furthermore, the nature of modern business, which is increasingly agile and independent of location, requires information to be accessible from anywhere and for anyone who needs it.
In this context, information silos serve as a significant obstacle to efficient operations. This can have a detrimental impact on employee productivity and satisfaction levels. According to a study conducted by Campana & Schott, fewer than one in ten employees are satisfied with the technical equipment that is currently available to them. Almost half are only partly satisfied or not satisfied at all. When asked what IT solutions and tools would best address such frustrations and improve efficiency, the most desired points would be availability of simple and intuitive tools and local access to documents. While it is evident that unreliable and inefficient IT solutions lead to unnecessary downtime and frustration, scarce resources and budget mean that SMBs can still find it difficult to overcome these challenges.
Regaining control and ensuring support
Designed to support, in particular, small and medium sized enterprises (SMBs) to future-proof their workplaces, Konica Minolta’s Workplace Hub is the company’s approach to addressing growing IT complexity by providing more efficient and effective management of the disparate array of tools, services and devices used by modern organisations. An exclusive study by Opinium confirms the strong need within the industry: 91% of senior IT decision makers in SMBs say such a solution would be very relevant to their company. With Konica Minolta MarketPlace, Workplace Hub provides a unified platform, bringing together software, licence management, automatic updates and cloud-based services in one place. As Konica Minolta makes sure that all services and solutions included here are compatible with the existing system and are up-to-date, managing them becomes effortless, and companies can rest assured that they work seamlessly and securely. This further ensures that the next generation of software and services can also be integrated into Workplace Hub. Monitoring is also part of the service spectrum of the Konica Minolta MarketPlace, providing reliable support and information on needed capacity adaptations when required.
This gives those managing IT a critical resource: control. For an optimal overview, Marketplace is therefore also integrated into the Admin Dashboard of Workplace Hub. This bundles all functions and services such as asset, application, user and WiFi management as well as storage and backup overview.
With regard to support and service, Konica Minolta’s approach is to offer one contract and a central point of contact to resolve any issues. Additionally, where needed, managed IT services can be included based on which solutions best suit the customers’ requirements. The managed IT services model helps to ensure that customers no longer need to dedicate resources to keeping infrastructure up to date and secure while also taking on the burden of day-to-day maintenance. Automated patch management ensures that the system is both up-to-date, running with the most current software versions and protected against security threats. Regular updates of software packages are managed and implemented by Konica Minolta. A quality assurance monitoring process takes place beforehand to ensure efficient updates to applications. With predictive maintenance as well as proactive monitoring and management, Konica Minolta makes sure that all systems run reliably in the background and can proactively take action and notify the customer in the event of any issues. For these flexible and scalable solutions, customers also need appropriate financing models. Konica Minolta has heard this call. This is why customers can use Workplace Hub on a monthly basis instead of making large investments in hardware that might not meet their needs in three years or even less. Capital expenditure is replaced by operational expenditure. The guiding principle is “using it, not owning it”.
With Workplace Hub, the IT team can ensure it is on top of critical issues such as data storage and security. While staying compliant with legal data security requirements such as the GDPR, users can also increase data encryption levels for added security and decide on the location of storage. The system has been designed to offer both flexibility and transparency: Customers can decide the location where files are saved – whether on Konica Minolta’s local file-sharing server or in the Microsoft cloud, on OneDrive, for example. Workplace Hub also provides secure and reliable backup to the Konica Minolta cloud in EU data centres located in Germany, and optionally to Network Allocated Storage (NAS) devices. This can be run overnight to avoid disrupting workflows, ensuring that the platform can be easily restored in the shortest possible time in the event of system failure or data loss.
Options depending on stage of development
Konica Minolta’s IT offering also seamlessly integrates on-premises hardware. It includes multifunctional printers, data storage, Hewlett Packard Enterprise servers, and WiFi access points. Workplace Hub is also equipped with an uninterruptible power supply and is designed to evolve continually as system updates and new features become available. In line with the focus on flexibility, the Workplace Hub category has different solutions to offer: Hub and Edge are the first solutions for the office space: Hub is an office-floor solution, while the rack version, Edge, boosts performance directly from the server room.
With Workplace Hub Edge, Konica Minolta complements existing IT systems as it integrates into a business’s server environment while optimising use of space. This solution aligns different systems into one unified infrastructure that brings together state-of-the-art IT components, an intelligent operating system and robust security. The solution is fully managed by Konica Minolta. By contrast, the Hub is designed to reside on the office floor, making optimal use of the 1 m2 space normally occupied by a multifunctional printer in most small and medium-sized businesses.
What to look for in an IT partner as an SMB
In a competitive and highly dynamic business world, smaller businesses must address the same security and data management challenges as larger enterprises. However, lacking the resources of a bigger organisation does not mean compromising on performance or safety. By drawing on the skills and resources of an expert partner such as Konica Minolta, it is possible for SMBs to stay in front.
 Ponemon Institute Research Report, State of Cybersecurity in Small & Medium Sized Businesses (SMB) sponsored by Keeper Security, 2017
 IDC, Why upgrade your server infrastructure now?, 2016
 Opinium SME I.T. Pain-point survey for Konica Minolta, 2018
 Campana & Schott, Social collaboration study, 2018, http://enterprise-communication-hub.com/german-social-collaboration-study-2018/
 Opinium SME I.T. Pain-point survey for Konica Minolta, 2018