Ten years ago the online world was a very different place. Many of the big commercial players had websites, but only the really technologically advanced ones had transactional sites, as well as the infrastructure behind the scenes to service customer orders. To the small business owner the world wide web was still an unnecessary black hole, as telephone numbers were still obtained from Yellow Pages and the computer in the corner ran the accounts system and very little else.
Things have moved on at pace, and the boom in web design companies has seen many of these small business owners plunge into the world of the internet, with very little knowledge of what they could get out of it. High Peak businessman Michael Madden takes up the story. “Some were sold websites with a promise that it would solve all of their problems, whilst others took to updating their content on a daily basis, until it all became a bit too much for them.”
Today a search for “Website under construction” will return thousands of sites that are still to be completed, a long forgotten pipedream as the small business owner considers that he or she has enough to do simply running the business.
On another side of the fence, universities and colleges have been expanding into the area of internet technology, with demand from businesses and students alike driving this trend. Unfortunately, the opportunities for the students to practice their skills with real world experience are somewhat limited, with larger companies willing to offer one or two placements, whilst the smaller businesses consider that they have not got either the time or resources to support a student.
However, Madden sees a solution with his new company Legacy IT Consultants Limited. “I originally set the company up to help organisations improve or migrate off their old legacy systems, however the small business owner is often in a similar position, only the legacy is not as old,” he explained. “Our student based business model involves providing highly educated and specialist resource to design, build, maintain or improve websites. The students have generally been studying website design, content management or search engine optimisation (SEO), and that can be exactly what the small business owner wants. Legacy IT Consultants Limited match the student with the business, and an engagement can be one or two days, or much longer if required. The good news from the small business owner’s point of view is that we take on all of the management overheads, and much of the work can be done remotely, so the client does not even have to worry about the student needing to be supervised on site.”
It is a model that has already had some success, as Marc Thompson, director of Tomson (Buxton) Ltd in the High Peak, UK explained. “We used Legacy IT Consultants Limited and got a fantastic result. It used to take ages keeping our fruit and vegetable content fresh (no pun intended), but now its much more automated. We are also about to start publishing articles on the website that will raise our profile leading to increased business. After their initial success, Legacy IT then provided a full bespoke solution to our operations, and that interacted with the website too.”