Expert Advice for Medium and Midsize Businesses

  • IT
    July 23, 2018

Is It Time for SMBs to Get Data Smart?

Stephanie Hlavin
Principal, Content Marketing

It’s the second year Oracle has joined forces with Inc. Media to survey leaders of America’s fastest-growing companies to find out, among other things, what they credit their success to and what their spending priorities for the year are. As you can imagine, amidst all the responses, there were some interesting findings.

Like this plot twist: when asked to identify their main obstacles to growth and the biggest contributors to their success, the executives gave the same answer: scalablity, talent, and sales/customer retention. Basically, what landed them on the Inc. 5000 is also what they fear might throw them off. 

For these companies, short- and long-term success relies heavily on growing sales and managing the customer relationship (47 percent of respondents named this as a leading success factor), and having and holding on to the correct talent (this came in at a close second at 42 percent).

What keeps business afloat is also what can upend the entire apple cart. According to these small-to-medium business (SMB) executives, the #1 reason for success is customers (a healthy 58 percent of respondents cited customer experience as the leading driver of success). Yet those same leaders stated that managing security was their lowest spending priority. And only nine percent of the SMBs surveyed stated that data security was the most important area of investment for 2018.

Keeping customers happy and offering a satisfying experience requires keeping their data safe and secure. So why is it then that data security, one of the biggest threats to the health of the customer relationship, ranked so low? Perhaps the reason is buried in misplaced fear and misunderstanding.

Let’s unravel this a bit.

These Companies Know What They Are Doing

First, to land on the Inc. 5000 list, you have to pull off some rather impressive feats of business. The list isn’t a popularity contest, it’s a ranking based on financial statements that cover a three-year period. So yes, the people running these companies know what they’re doing. Achieving triple- and quadruple-digit growth for multiple years is not a fluke.

If we dig a bit deeper into the responses, we’ll find that 42 percent of respondents stated that integration across all their cloud products was their biggest objection and obstacle in the cloud. And for 28 percent of them, their biggest objection to using cloud is data security.

But this is where the goodness lies. Concerns about security and integration are one of the reasons to go toward the cloud − not away from it. The cloud shouldn’t be viewed as a barrier to success. The contrary. It should be an enabler. Here’s why:

  1. Piecing together solutions to solve problems only as they arise will result in a platform that doesn’t work well in the long term. For fast-growth companies like those on the Inc. 5000 list, a future-growth approach works best. The right cloud vendor can create a strategic plan that integrates solutions that are scalable–growth can be accommodated quickly and as needed with systems that all work together. Again, your IT infrastructure should enable growth, not constrain it. 
  1. As SMBs move more critical data to the cloud, security should scale with it to enable a secure environment beyond the firewall. Since not any one stop-gap will halt all threat factors, when data sits within the Oracle Cloud, it’s protected with multiple layers of defense built-in from the app down to the database.
  1. Among the respondents who stated that security was their most important investment area in 2018, 47 percent said improving awareness of best practices and training was a main focus. This is wise.

In the recent Oracle and KPMG Cloud Threat Report, 97 percent of organizations surveyed require that all or most cloud services be approved by the IT/security team, yet 82 percent of those same organizations express concern that employees and teams are violating those policies. A cloud access security broker (CASB) solution can close the gap by monitoring cloud accounts and preventing inside fraud with better processes and more awareness. For example, Oracle’s CASB solution can look at more than fifty-thousand types of SaaS apps, (Oracle and non-), giving IT a view into what their users are accessing (shadow IT), enabling consistent security control.

No matter the size of the company or whether you’re on this year’s list of the Inc. 5000 (and congratulations if you are), security should be a top priority, particularly if you want to stay in the business of growth.

If you want to know more about what it takes to make it to the Inc. 5000, read the complete report.

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