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There’s a sense in which “every business is a technology business.” After all, IT is central to the operations of every company, large or small. In fact, research and advisory firm Gartner estimates that global IT spending reached a total of $3.5 trillion in 2017.
In order to better serve your customers and beat your rivals, you need to make sure your business technologies are as correct and reliable as possible. Whether you’re a multinational firm or a mom-and-pop store with a website, being able to deliver a consistent, predictable, reliable IT experience is crucial.
This article will go over 4 of the most important strategic methodologies for small business IT network upkeep, support, and stability.
1. Install new updates
Technology is constantly changing and evolving in response to both external demand and new discoveries and innovations.
In response to these changes, you need to make sure you keep your software and hardware up-to-date. Upgrades and updates often include all kinds of useful and beneficial things—from new features and better user interfaces to bug fixes and important security patches.
But, much like going to the dentist, installing software updates has the potential to be a painful, even though it’s necessary.
For one, updates can be disruptive to business activities. Sometimes updates to critical applications breaking compatibility with other tools. And if nothing else, there’s the learning curve. When a program your team uses daily changes its look and feel, it takes time to adjust.
It’s easy to see why some companies fail to keep their technology up-to-date. In fact, half of people say that they feel “frustrated” by the experience of updating their software.
However, the effects of not updating can be nothing short of disastrous for your business.
For example, reporters found that the Equifax data breach of 2017, which exposed 145 million Social Security numbers, was “entirely preventable”. The exploit used by the attackers had been patched months before the network was infiltrated.
A simple software update would have stopped the entire attack.
2. Prioritize cybersecurity
Installing new software and hardware updates is just one of the best practices for businesses who are concerned about cybersecurity. (And every business should be concerned about network security.)
Malware and malicious intrusions are growing more sophisticated every day, eluding the experts’ best attempts to pin them down. Devastating ransomware, such as WannaCry, can effectively hold your systems hostage, refusing to give you back access until you pay a hefty ransom.
The average cost of a data breach is now over $3 million. And that doesn’t even take into account the long-term damage to your reputation among your customers and investors. Far too many companies are skating on thin ice by overlooking the importance of cybersecurity—whether intentionally or inadvertently.
Unfortunately, cybersecurity is a difficult problem for many organizations to conceptualize and address. Just like good physical security, the absence of good cybersecurity is really only noticeable when you suffer an attack. It’s hard for companies to assess either the level of risk they face or the effectiveness of their strategies.
For these reasons, many companies choose to join forces with a managed security services provider (MSSP). These strategic partners can help advise your business and take care of your network security services.
3. Migrate to the cloud
96 percent of companies now use cloud computing in some form or fashion. It’s fair to say that the cloud has fundamentally changed traditional business IT processes and practices.
For many organizations, especially those without strong in-house small business IT support, moving their data and applications into the cloud has been a game changer for reliable IT. By allowing a third-party expert to handle much of the support and maintenance, businesses don’t have to worry about downtime due to problems with their on-premises deployments.
Despite the strong selling points of the cloud, however, many businesses remain reluctant to migrate out of reliability or security concerns.
The good news is that companies who are especially concerned about the reliability of cloud computing have options available to them. Companies with a pressing business need for reliability can use a multi-layered cloud strategy with a variety of fail-safes and backups.
In other words, there are almost certainly cloud-based applications that would be a good fit for your business.
4. Manage your data
Reliability doesn’t just mean that your services are always up and available. It also means the products and services you provide are accurate and consistent.
In order to achieve this goal, you’ll need to get a better handle on your enterprise data.
For example, the same information may exist in multiple locations on different systems within your business. When that’s true, it’s very difficult to maintain the integrity of your data. One set can easily grow out of date as changes are made in other systems.
By establishing a database to serve as a “single version of the truth,” you can ensure that your enterprise data is always stored in a consistent and non-redundant manner. That makes for more efficient operations and more reliable data.
Final thoughts on reliable IT
Reliability is one of the cornerstones of any successful IT department. Your IT resources—software, hardware, backups and networks—all need to be reliable in order for your business to stand a chance at success.
Having reliable IT for small business means that your processes can work at maximum efficiency, without unexpected interruptions. It means that your business can reach its full potential, enhanced by the right technology, instead of technology holding you back.
If your company is struggling to meet the standards of IT reliability you need to run your business, you may want to reach out to your IT support partner. That’s why they’re there. Their strategic advice should help you achieve reliable IT services, boosting everything from productivity to ROI.
Ellen W. Jennings, CEO of BEI
Ellen is the Owner and CEO of Business Engineering, Inc.—or BEI—a Managed IT Services Provider. BEI was founded in 1987 and serves a variety of businesses in the U.S., with a majority headquartered right here in the Washington, DC area. Ellen spearheads the marketing and sales for BEI, while also serving as an account manager for several clients. She is loves to volunteer, read and cook in her free time. Ellen received her undergraduate degree in Computer Science at The University of Virginia and her MBA from the Harvard Business School. Connect with her on Facebook or LinkedIn.
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