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Is the Price Right?

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Every business needs to be secure and just about every entrepreneur has understood that. So why do so few smaller businesses take the protection of their technology seriously?

There are a number of reasons for this, but for many it's sheer complication. Not that the companies offering security systems have configured their products so that you need a degree in computing to set them up properly, we're mercifully past that now in a lot of cases (though not all).

No, it's the pricing that's too complex for many. It's a bit like the mobile phone market was a few years ago. Everybody understood mobility was a great idea, then they'd investigate the prices of tariffs, of phones and end up realizing it didn't matter what the list price actually was because nobody knows what a "megabyte" of data actually looks like anyway. In the early 2000s, just before the smartphone era really kicked in, phone company launches were all about new tariff schemes.

The security software arena is just reaching a similar place. Everybody wants the right system for their business but there's nothing tailored properly out there at the moment. By all means there's something scaled down from an "enterprise system" - a system aimed at businesses employing thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people, with a full-time software administrator who understands what he or she is doing in front of a very complex screen. Breaking that down into a small business offering, for people with, say 20-100 people working for them, is not straightforward. You tend to end up with a lot of functions and software tools left in that you don't need, and although the technologists who designed it are convinced it's easy to operate, it isn't.

Then there's the price structure (these things always have a structure rather than a price, you'll notice). It remains a cut down version of an enterprise pricing scheme, based on a fixed amount of desktops and laptops and the license per user.

Here's the news, then. Real businesses don't work that way any longer. Asking the founder of a start-up to predict how many people he or she will employ in the medium rather than short term, with the world economy as choppy as it has been, is difficult. This is why utility computing, delivered as and when required to as many people as necessary and no more, is such an important concept for the growing business.

It depends partly on ensuring the components a business buys amount to no more and no less than the components it needs. So if someone is uncomfortable with administering their own technology that is no problem, they can work with a third party who will do it remotely. If they have a flexible workforce working on projects that is also no problem, they can scale up the number of desktops protected one month and scale it back down again.

The aim is to ensure people have the purpose-built small business technology all of the time, but also to be certain the costs are straightforward. Businesses want to pay for the functions they use and for the workforce that uses it, no more. A fair and accurate reflection of this serves all parties well - and that is what the new breed of security product and services offering provided by AVG is all about.

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