This strange, tumultuous year has led many businesses to reconsider their operations, procedures, and processes. What may have worked well in a pre-pandemic world no longer flows as seamlessly these days.
As we head into 2021, your information technology (IT) team and strategy, in particular, are probably at top of mind for you and your business. With most businesses largely continuing to operate remotely in the year ahead, at least until a Covid vaccine becomes widely available, IT will keep serving as the backbone of your business and allow you to carry on smoothly despite the disruption.
That means that you’ll have to put a lot of thought into your IT goals for 2021, as your digital environment will be a defining factor for businesses no matter what your industry or niche. What should you focus on in terms of your IT strategy in this new year, then? Here are some ideas to incorporate in a year that will hopefully be less fraught with challenges and disruptions.
- Best cloud storage of 2021
Cybersecurity has never been a “nice-to-have” — it was always a mandatory part of your IT strategy — but now it’s more essential than ever before. This is particularly imperative as many businesses make cloud computing an integral part of their workflow — more on that below — since sensitive, personal information is out in the ether and must be protected.
Considering how many of your employees now have access to important data from remote locations while they work from home, you need to ensure that all protections are extended to any individual who has access to your systems and information. A sound cybersecurity infrastructure can stop data breaches and other attacks before they happen, repair them quickly, and curb the possible damage.
A September 2020 Kaspersky report found that the percentage of businesses’ IT spending on cybersecurity had increased three percent in 2020 compared with that in 2019. In the future, it’s likely to grow even more, as security and data breaches grow in sophistication and ubiquity.
Rely on cloud computing
You’re probably highly familiar with cloud applications by this point. Even if you weren’t relying on them before the pandemic, they’re now pivotal for keeping the work going while employees are largely staying at home. They make it possible to access important files, use pivotal tools like word processing, and collaborate with colleagues and others.
Next year, cloud computing must be a central part of your IT strategy, as the pandemic wages on and people must be able to access important materials and work with others from different areas and environments. We’re heading toward a world where people in all sectors will work remotely or at least partially remotely, and this is truly a step toward making your business location-independent.
Embrace Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Have you harnessed the power of AI yet? This can be a game-changer for your business, allowing you to resolve customer queries quickly and easily, enabling you to provide customized and personalized experiences for your users, and much more.
Take the chatbot as an example. It seems simple enough, but it can completely revolutionize customer service, cutting down on the time a human customer service representative needs to spend resolving issues and giving them back time to work on more complex issues that require their interventions. Meanwhile, the chatbot helps resolves customers’ problems in record time, much more quickly than a human could.
As the technology becomes more sophisticated, more and more organizations are looking to incorporate AI into their business models for a variety of purposes, with substantial benefits, from efficiency to cost-savings to improved experiences.
- The best VPN service 2021
5G offers so many advantages, from increased bandwidth and capacity to significantly lower latency. While it was previously discussed as a thing of the future, 5G is becoming more of a reality, with many cities across the world, including New York, Seoul, London, Dubai, Rome, Shanghai, Mecca, and others already offering it. In 2021, it will become more and more ubiquitous.
What does this mean for businesses? One major opportunity is the development of initiatives related to the Internet of Things (IoT). Because the capacity of 5G exceeds that of 4G substantially, the network can accommodate many more users and devices. This means more users and devices are able to communicate with one another, with little to no disruption or time lags, thanks to the ultra-fast speeds.
As 5G becomes more widely available, businesses will see plenty of new opportunities for improving services and products and will rely on a solid IT infrastructure to make these possibilities a reality.
Consider edge computing
Along with cloud computing, edge computing is becoming an important resource for remote work. This model is decentralized, and it places applications closer to the sources of their data, such as repositories, edge servers, and devices. This offers better bandwidth, reduced latency, efficiency, and more helpful qualities.
In contrast to cloud computing, edge computing is largely used for information that is time-sensitive, such as when individuals are controlling a driverless car. Gartner predicts that there will be a move away from more traditional data centers — saying that approximately 80 percent of enterprises will shut these centers down by 2025 — and edge data centers offer better opportunities for remote work.
We have certainly had a lot to cope with the business world and beyond in the past year. Hopefully, we are emerging from a crisis-ridden 2020 into a better landscape — technology, work, and others — for 2021. But as the pandemic continues, businesses will need to adapt to the current circumstances while also developing, growing, and innovating — thriving, not just surviving.
Defining and refining your IT strategy in 2021 is an important step for assessing your entire business plan. While it’s always important, it’s absolutely critical to ensure that you’re technology-strong now. From ramping up your cybersecurity efforts to considering new delivery models, these strategies will help you stay resilient this coming year and ensure that you’re prepared for new and current obstacles.
Malcom Ridgers, tech expert, BairesDev