Robert Roach has the right kind of problem. As supply chain manager for Rana Meal Solutions, the world’s leading manufacturer of fresh pasta, he’s helping oversee the company’s rapid expansion into the American market. For that effort, he’s hurrying to build the technological infrastructure that will keep the company’s success on track. “We have the tiger by the tail,” Roach said. “We’re growing at a tremendous rate, and to continue to innovate with our products and increase our market share we have to be more flexible, more efficient and more disciplined in terms of our information systems.”
But it’s not easy. IT staff in mid-market companies like Rana Meal Solutions, which has more than 500 U.S. employees, face technology challenges that larger organizations have more resources to tackle. Mid-sized networks and data centers may be smaller in scope than those of big firms, but they’re no less complex. For Roach, that means ramping up to enterprise-strength data centers and trying to incorporate analytics in an operation that can still feel like it’s finding its digital footing. “I have to keep my systems compatible and compliant as I innovate, avoiding the kinds of small data errors that can ripple through the system and lead to huge problems,” said Roach.
With limited staffing and tight budgets, glitches ranging from minor bugs to significant security breaches can swamp IT departments at mid-market organizations—and undermine the efficiency and competiveness of the entire enterprise.
Luckily, Roach and others don’t have to go it alone.
The mid-sized dilemma
The digital revolution is changing nearly everything about how we work. Phones, tablets and even cars are linked to the cloud, keeping people connected around the clock. Companies are generating—and safeguarding—more data than ever.
This shifting environment presents acute competitive issues for mid-sized businesses. These organizations have to protect their position on two fronts, harnessing new technology to keep pace with the behemoths, while staying agile against scrappier start-ups. Put simply, mid-sized firms find themselves stuck somewhere in the middle. “In terms of technology, a medium-sized firm like ours has to pretend it’s operating as a large firm and try to do the same kind of work that a large firm does,” said Robert Hunter, chief financial and operations officer of San Francisco-based BAR Architects, a company with about 100 employees.
What’s more, most organizations don’t have specialists on hand to research, purchase and implement cutting-edge IT tools. It can be a risky predicament, especially when it comes to security. According to a 2016 study, more than 80 percent of mid-market companies consider data security one of their biggest concerns, and yet it’s likely few of them have on-site security experts tasked with keeping their systems safe.
These issues can be a big drain on both time and money. The fallout from cyber attacks, for example, can end up costing mid-market firms hundreds of thousands of dollars. But such disruptions need not be inevitable—at least not with the right partner.
Finding the right partner
Both Rana Meal Solutions and BAR Architects have found that when managing challenges like these, looking to outside experts can be a gamechanger. But it’s not just about finding someone to call when you need to reformat your hard drive. An effective partner can be a one-stop-shop for modernizing your information systems, addressing everything from data center modernization to IT automation to security. With that kind of end-to-end assistance, business leaders have the resources—and the time—to build for the future.
For BAR Architects, the partnership with Dell EMC has been critical. The firm’s creation, storage and sharing of complex architectural renderings requires top-notch IT infrastructure. “We use building information modeling software to create 3D designs that can then be automatically turned into 2D blueprints,” said Hunter. “Having that 3D model helps us communicate with our worldwide clients easily. Everyone can pull up the same model and look at it at the same time. Of course, to use this software, it’s crucial to have lots of processing power and data storage.”
Those offerings not only allow BAR Architects to deliver services to their clients that are high quality and on-schedule; they also form the foundation for continued growth. The company is currently upgrading to Dell Precision workstations—the deployment and ongoing management of which is outsourced to Dell EMC. BAR Architects has also bolstered its data center with Dell PowerEdge rack servers, laying the groundwork for at least a five-year hardware lifecycle.
Holistic approaches like this have proven effective. After working with more than 10,000 clients, Dell EMC has found that when executed well, a digital transformation can speed up PC deployment by 35 percent, complete projects 39 percent faster and reduce IT deployment efforts by 91 percent.
“A successful Dell EMC data transformation is overarching and ties everything together: data center modernization, IT automation, networking, analytics and security,” said Chanel Smith, a Dell EMC marketing manager. “Add consulting services and on-site assistance, and a mid-sized company is getting everything it needs to bolster its competitive business advantage, at a price that fits its budget.”
Managing the future
With the right partner, future success becomes easier to manage. Rana Meal Solutions’s current projects include refreshing laptops and workstations across its North American operations, building out the tech infrastructure for a new factory, upgrading network data storage and improving communications—all with enhanced security. Rana Meal also chose to leverage Dell’s deployment and support services to complement the new tech. “I needed a partner big enough and flexible enough to help me figure out how to do all this in a managed and centralized way.”
What Rana Meal Solutions, BAR Architects and thousands of other mid-market businesses have discovered is that finding an IT partner with the scalability and support of an industry leader is key to successful automation and digital transformation. With support from experts who can keep IT issues from spiraling, mid-sized companies don’t have to play catch-up with their competition—they can set the pace.
As Roach put it, “The truth is I’m not an IT organization. I make pasta. That’s why it makes sense for me to partner with the best technology experts I can find.”