IT helps businesses innovate, expand during recession

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by Yoji Cole
For New Pittsburgh Courier

Jon Hayes, president marketing and development The FishmanCo-Arbitronix-California, has just hired two employees, opened an office in Phoenix, Ariz., and in two months is launching offices in Miami and New York.

“The future looks good and expansion has been put together with very little capital,” Hayes says.

The FishmanCo-Arbitronix, a private crisis-management firm for corporations, negotiates down its clients’ debt and sets up payment plans for companies struggling to repay creditors. While it is a growth industry, Hayes and president/owner Jared Fishman are utilizing technology as a means to decrease cost at a time when every penny counts. The savings is helping fuel their expansion.

“Our ability to grow is a direct result of IT innovations,” says Hayes who has a background in information technology. “The fundamentals of cloud computing have allowed us to cut back on extensive travel and meet clients through video conferencing applications and we use Web-based CRMs [customer relationship management software] to update client information that is then shared throughout our footprint.”

When The FishmanCo-Arbitronix launches its new offices, Hayes will only have to give them a user name and password and teach them how to use the company’s Web-based file transfer and sharing software as opposed to maintaining servers, he says.

If the current recession has you thinking the country’s economic future is bleak, the technology industry might prove otherwise.

Technology that is familiar and easy to use is playing an important role in helping businesses improve productivity and adapt to, even capitalize on, competition and economic uncertainty. IT tools are helping organizations of all sizes reduce costs, operate smarter, more strategically and innovate.

Another company, HotSchedules.com Inc. experienced an annual revenue growth of more than 100 percent that could have translated into a cost of $60,000 for server hardware purchases. “Yet HotSchedules.com has managed to support an ever-expanding network, enhance its in-house server security and deliver maximum uptime to nearly 375,000 users—all while cutting hardware expenditures and stabilizing electricity costs,” reports Computerworld.

HotSchedules.com utilized Microsoft Corp.’s Hyper-V virtualization technology, which consolidated 42 physical servers down to four and effectively increasing its capacity significantly. Virtualization realized a savings of $8,000 per month in energy bills, HotSchedules.com CEO told Computerworld.

Large scale companies are also benefiting. A recent independent global study on virtualization management sponsored by CA, a global information technology management software company, reported that companies with more than $250 million in annual revenue said that servers, storage and applications are the most important areas to virtualize.

Of respondents to CA’s study, 56 percent use multiple platforms/vendors for server virtualization management, 35 percent are standardized on one platform.

The increased use of cloud computing, virtualization and business applications is seeing job creation in the IT sector as well.

“[Digitalization] has caused more jobs in the areas of communication and content development,” says Felicia Guity, general manager of OEM Channel Marketing, at Microsoft. “So there will be a need for people to manage cloud computing—to introduce [new software and programs] to new companies and new markets.”

The technology industry will create, “about six million new jobs and 35,000 new companies in the next four years,” says Guity.

A lot of that job creation will occur among small companies, the lifeblood of the economy. About 60 million Americans worked for small businesses, about 51 percent of the private, non-farm U.S. workforce, according to the Census Bureau and the Small Business Administration.

Microsoft, in addition to its virtualization technology, provides application software that enables businesses—from mom-and-pops to those that employ hundreds of people—to save and innovate.

“For small businesses it’s about how fast can they get to market and then maintain and increase their status in the market,” says Guity. “Our fleet of applications allows for greater output and makes seamless the transition from one product to the next.”

When businesses are able to save on expenses they can then create jobs. Microsoft applications allow companies to cut back on travel expenses through applications that make video conferencing more efficient; information is able to be shared and collaboration is accomplished at much less cost.

Through Microsoft’s application, virtualization companies can distribute software applications direct from servers to client computers, removing the need for time-consuming and costly installation on local machines, says Guity.

Microsoft Windows 7 reduces energy consumption with power management tools. Dell is utilizing Microsoft’s programs to reduce PC energy consumption by 40 percent across 50,000 PCs. The energy savings is expected to glean an annual savings of $1.8 million.

“We develop our software to meet market needs,” says Guity. “We educate our partners to understand how to save money and then we help them manage through the crisis. Then they’re prepared to take their business forward faster.”

The answer to the recession is out there for business owners willing to do the research and make a change, says Hayes. “If people do just a little bit of research—that’s the power of Internet—you can create ways to start or develop the type of business you want at a fraction of the cost. You just have to dedicate yourself to the research and execute the change.”

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