20 Years Since The First Website Went Live (6 August 1991)

The 6th August 2011 marks an important technological milestone – 20 years since Tim Berners-Lee put the world’s first website ‘live’. Here Adrian Smith, Managing Director at IT company, Flexsys, identifies the top 10 changes to revolutionise SME IT since the early 90s.

1. Websites
Company websites offer the opportunity for SMEs to sell themselves to a truly global audience. A recent report from TouchLocal calculated that 92% of UK SMEs now have a website, using it as a helpful tool to provide information and promote the business and its capabilities.

2. Cost
In the same way as there’s no longer a distinction between a ‘home’ and a ‘work’ computer (as there was in the 80s and early 90s), advances mean there is now no real difference between SME and ‘big business’ IT. Enterprise-level IT and security systems are in easy reach by working with the right provider – SMEs no longer need to put up with sub-standard systems because of budget constraints.

3. Resources
Outsourcing IT enables owner managers and/or in-house IT resource to free the time otherwise spent on dealing with day-to-day issues. Earlier this year, Bret Taylor, Chief Technical Officer at Facebook admitted that his biggest mistake in business was ignoring the benefits of hosted servers at his previous job. Although this saved the company some money in the short term, Taylor revealed that “it meant we had to maintain them ourselves, and there were times where I’d have to wake up in the middle of the night and drive down to a data centre to fix a problem.”

4. Communication
Perhaps the most recognisable change is how businesses communicate. The onset of email presented a completely different system of interacting and became an accepted communication tool within a matter of years.

5. Networking
Social media has also revolutionised how decision makers deal with one another. What began as a way to socialise with friends, has transcended through to the business world – most notably via LinkedIn and Twitter. Companies recognise the reputational benefits of having a greater online presence that extends beyond their corporate site.

6. Advertising
Given the downturn of the past few years, advertising budgets have had to work harder. Thanks to social media, the potential to maximise spend can prove extremely rewarding for companies tightening their belts. Campaigns going ‘viral’ through Twitter or Facebook have the potential to reach a much wider audience than traditional advertising methods, often at a fraction of the cost.

7. E-commerce
Businesses can now reach a much bigger trading base, with transactions quicker and simpler than ever before. Indeed, according to research from Paypoint and the IMRG, 59% of UK small business managers cite the main benefit as being able to reach more customers; 36% acknowledging the ability to trade globally.

8. Flexibility
The advent of cloud technology means that businesses can capably work from any location – just as they would do in the office – with no reduction in their applications. There is also the flexibility to purchase IT like a utility; as a ‘metered’ rate dependent on usage and demand, akin to fluctuations in the heating costs between the Summer and Winter months (although some prefer the peace of mind of working with a fixed-cost provider).

9. Mobile
Today’s mobiles operate more like computers than phones and users are treating them as such. Cloud computing has allowed for a huge revolution in mobile internet and there is an increasing move towards full conversion with the launch of Microsoft Office 365 on mobiles. Business owners can also use tailored apps on their computers and smartphones – making the move to a more ‘mobile business world’ a reality.

10. Time saving
The dawn of the internet has sped up many business arrangements; from organising a meeting through Outlook; to booking flights for a business trip abroad.

Two decades of change

Flexsys has been at the forefront of SME IT for twenty years and has witnessed these, and many more, developments first-hand.

Says Managing Director, Adrian Smith: “SME IT has come a long way since the early 90s and the pace of change is so fast many companies find it difficult to keep up. That said, it always amazes me that while business owners don’t hesitate when investing in the latest smartphone or gadget, they often neglect ensuring their IT is up to scratch.

“With cloud computing SMEs can capitalise on perhaps a more viable pay-as-you-go model and reap the rewards of increased speed, greater flexibility and access to the latest applications – without the upfront purchase of physical hardware and the associated costs.”

Visit flexsys for more information.

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