The IT sector in Malta is flourishing, with revenues of €694 million in 2014, an increase of 10.2 per cent over the previous year. Over the past decade, its share of Malta’s gross value added has more than quadrupled, from 2.18 per cent to 10.09 per cent. But this success has brought with it intense competition, with many firms seeking niche markets in order to survive and grow.

Mid-tier audit and advisory firm Nexia BT identified the need for better IT governance in the local sector and saw an opportunity.

“Everyone recognises IT as important, but unfortunately it is often merely regarded as a cost centre. Often businesses engage in expensive IT investments or go to the other extreme where not enough investment to support business growth is undertaken,” the manager of its specialist advisory services Owen Baldacchino said.

“Often, when disasters strike and not enough planning would have been done to mitigate the situations, it would be too late to salvage matters as the damage would already have been done. Through our approach, we analyse how IT strategy is aligned with business strategy and then we design controls to measure the effectiveness of this alignment. Clients that acted on the report findings have reported immediate benefits such as process efficiency, resource optimisation and therefore cost savings.”

Databyte has also focussed on security as one of its product ranges. Director Frederick Micallef said that companies tend to drag their feet when it comes to security instruments for their IT systems – with potentially dire consequences.

“Many a time, they need the services of security specialists and consultants or, worse still, an unwelcome mishap resulting in data or operational loss before they are nudged into taking security up a notch or two. There is no hard and fast rule to indicate a ‘set’ percentage as a guideline to IT investment in security products, but 10-15 per cent is a good indicator,” he said.

Vioside, on the other hand, has specialised in apps for a range of companies and organisations, aware that the ubiquitous mobile phone can be an invaluable tool.

“It is true that a mobile phone can easily be a distraction during both our work and personal lives,” Chris Borg, co-founder and software developer, said.

Everyone recognises IT as important, but unfortunately it is often merely regarded as a cost centre

“However, at work, one can get into the habit of using apps only to plan ahead or to assist during the current task. With this discipline in practice, mobile apps can prove to be a great tool to improve one’s life – as long as the phone is put back down so as to get back to the task at hand!”

DataTech Consulting (Malta) prides itself on its approach towards the all-important SME sector, which very often cannot afford – or justify – the systems designed for much larger companies.

Paul Baldacchino explained that there are enterprise resource planning solutions, such as SAP Business One, specifically designed for use by SMEs.

“SMEs can opt for one application costing under €1,000, which will help them manage an entire business from sales and customer relationships to financials and operations. Such a system would help a small business streamline operations, act on timely and complete information, and accelerate profitable growth,” he said.

Websites have come a long way since the world wide web was launched and The Other Guys has opted for creativity as its unique selling point, obvious from the moment one visits the company’s own website. However, standing out from the rest of the crowd cannot come at the expense of function.

“Corporate companies and businesses have, without a doubt, become more open to being creative or stepping outside the box. The web industry evidently shows that sometimes design can prevent function, and the key to finding the balance is understanding the business and its consumer. Every brand has a personality; our job is to project that in a cost-effective and engaging way,” founder and director Jason Potter explained.

As companies grow, the IT services required become ever more complex. This is where SG Solutions steps in, helping them to use the cloud to their advantage.

“Most SMEs rely on one or two IT administrators to manage their IT systems. These administrators generally do not have the specialist skills required to manage complex IT systems, such as e-mail, databases, business continuity etc and rely on ICT service providers like ourselves to help implement and manage their systems. At the same time IT budgets have become tighter, but requirements for IT systems to be ‘always online’ have become more critical,” the senior manager for enterprise solutions Kenneth Bowman said.

“We have therefore seen many of our customers beginning to look towards the cloud as an opportunity to reduce their ICT costs. We have invested in our own cloud infrastructure and hosting services – PlumCloud.com Hosting Service. In this way they can benefit from enterprise-class solutions at a fraction of the cost required were they to invest in their own IT infrastructure. They also benefit from the expertise of a highly-skilled team of specialist engineers who monitor and manage the systems on a daily basis.”

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