A growing number of businesses depend on technology to increase efficiency, manage expenses, grow profitability and improve performance. Keeping up with the fast pace of technological change can be difficult for any business owner already burdened with the many tasks required to keep a company performing successfully day in and day out.
Staying on the cutting edge of innovation will help a business boost productivity, attract new customers, keep existing ones satisfied and fend off any potential security threats.
All business technology has a shelf-life, whether it’s that an app that receives weekly upgrades or that dusty server that’s been underpinning your IT infrastructure for years. For businesses of all sizes it’s vital to consider not only when to upgrade, but how to do so, if they are to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.
Technology solutions are a cornerstone of any successful business, irrespective of size and type
In an ever growing and evolving digitised world, technology has become one of the driving forces of a nation’s economy, and businesses stand at the forefront of this change.
For long-term sustainability, businesses need to foresee the scope of harnessing technology to drive performance and productivity for the longest period possible. Effective investments into IT solutions are therefore important issues for business owners.
Cloud services, productivity apps and online accounting tools are just some of the technological considerations for SMEs.
With many apps and services becoming more and more affordable, efficient and easy to use, businesses now find themselves saving time, money by implementing new technology. Here the five technology considerations every business owner should be aware of, much like essential technology trends (opens in new tab).
1. Embrace the cloud
If you haven’t already, it’s time to move to cloud-based services. The use of on-premise software and hardware is becoming extinct with the availability of cloud-based solutions such as Microsoft Office 365.
Cloud-based solutions like cloud storage (opens in new tab) and cloud computing (opens in new tab) offer greater scalability, security, efficiency and flexibility regarding access than their on-premise counterparts. Cloud-based services help save hard drive space and give peace of mind with automatic cloud backups (opens in new tab), plus they also make collaboration easier.
2. Collaboration brings the workforce together
The rise of the virtual workforce means that tools which facilitate collaboration will continue to grow in popularity. An ever-increasing number of office-based workers now regularly work from home.
Platforms such as Microsoft Teams (opens in new tab) and remote desktop software (opens in new tab) make collaboration between employees more accessible and efficient. Teams establishes a virtual, chat-based workspace that allows team members to chat, call, save documents and collaborate in real-time, without restraint.
It is vital employees and business partners work together to collaborate resources. This will allow for your business to improve and innovate going forward. Make full use of the resources you have available.
3. Cyber security still the number-one challenge
As business reliance on technology grows, the need to secure and protect sensitive information via antivirus software (opens in new tab) or similar becomes even more critical. Most businesses are not equipped to handle data breaches, often because small business owners underestimate how vulnerable they really are to cybersecurity threats.
As bigger companies have increased their cybersecurity, hackers have begun to target smaller businesses more. Once attacked, more than half of small businesses shut down within six months. Earning back customer trust is tricky, and fixing the damage just costs too much for most companies.
Meeting that challenge requires the use of holistic, end-to-end, rules-based solutions. Microsoft builds such comprehensive security (opens in new tab) into all its cloud-based products, to protect a company’s endpoints better, detect threats faster and respond to security breaches quicker. It prevents identity compromise, secures apps and data and safeguards infrastructure.
No matter how well prepared you think your business is, cybersecurity (opens in new tab) attacks can still happen. Cybercrimes are becoming ever more common and increasingly sophisticated. Educate your workforce and stay informed and protected.
4. Refresh your hardware
Deciding when and what to upgrade and update can be daunting. If you’re considering a refresh, you’re probably already overdue. Small business owners tend to look at hardware updates as a luxury, but nothing could be further from the truth. Keeping your hardware cutting edge will increase productivity and help you stay within budget. Upgrade the most important hardware first and gradually replace the rest on a schedule that works for your business.
Every business should develop a strategic approach to using technology and its power to support business goals. By partnering with an IT service provider your business can tap into unrivalled technological expertise and knowledge.
5. Business intelligence brings better decision-making
Business intelligence (BI) used to be reserved for the biggest corporations. However, the software-as-a-service revolution means that businesses of all sizes can now afford to use these tools. The capabilities BI provides to track, store, process and analyse data can lead to smarter decision-making regarding cutting expenses, finding new business growth opportunities and improving overall performance. Platforms like Microsoft SharePoint (opens in new tab) make gathering insights more affordable and make it easier to harness the power of big data and predictive analytics.
Knowing what’s coming next in technology is a tricky thing to predict. But it is important you keep an eye out on emerging advances in technology when planning your business’s future. Businesses of all sizes now have access to the kinds of tools and services that businesses a decade ago couldn’t even imagine.
However, there are now new challenges such as hackers, global competition and the breakneck speed of technological innovation. A little foresight and planning can keep your business secure and at the forefront of your industry.
Other considerations to keep an eye out for include the Internet of Things (IoT), which might seem irrelevant now, but will be hugely beneficial to small businesses in the future. Embracing big data can also do wonders for a business and help deliver relevant and detailed information about customers.
Another impending technology worth getting to know now is 5G networks. Unlike its predecessors, 5G is built for business; it’s predicted to be faster than 4G and much more reliable. This technology will make communication – particularly Skype video calls – much smoother.
The key to implementing any technology successfully is to adopt early. The businesses who get on board first will see the most growth.