With technology playing such a key role in your business’ operations, taking the time to make sure that you have the right resources and tools in place is critical. As the new year gets underway, now is the perfect time to take stock of your current IT infrastructure, and decide where a few changes or improvements could have a big impact on productivity, efficiency, and profitability.
That’s not to say your business needs a complete technology overhaul, or that you should be making huge investments in the latest offerings simply because they’re available. Instead, focusing on making the most of your IT budget for 2017 should be your top priority. Investing smart in a few key areas will do more for your business in the long run than just trying to stay ahead of the curve.
Of course, changes to your technology should be about more than technology; any decision you make regarding your business should consider your business as a whole. To make budgeting for technology easier, we recommend taking a look at these five areas:
- Cyber Security – With threats like ransomware wreaking havoc on businesses of all sizes, and the frequency of phishing and social engineering scams on the rise, making sure your business has the latest security measures in place should be the first item on your technology to-do list. Today’s threats are designed to work around typical precautions, and rely heavily on human error to help them breach more sophisticated defenses.
Next-gen firewall, antivirus, and antimalware software are able to counter many of these threats when used together to create layered protection for your network and systems. Where traditional software relies on a routinely updated database to detect threats (think of it like someone feeding mug shots into a facial recognition program), these new versions update much faster, and look not just for threats that are known to them, but suspicious behavior on your systems that could mean an infection or intrusion is already underway (like your favorite crime fighting cyborg).
Data backup and Business Continuity go hand-in-hand with these security measures. The simple fact of the matter is that at some point, you will be targeted by a cyber attack that will test the limits of your network security. When that happens, your business needs to have a plan in place that will allow you to restore access to lost or corrupted files quickly, and get your operations up and running with minimal downtime.
- Outdated Technology – Every piece of hardware has what’s generally referred to as a useful lifespan. Once it reaches the end of that lifespan, the time, effort, and cost required to keep it running can quickly start to outweigh the cost of a replacement. The risk of hardware that has outlived its usefulness failing increases the longer it’s kept in use.
Aging computer systems will struggle to keep up with the pace your team needs to be working at, and may not be compatible with new software or applications that your business needs to adopt in order to stay current and compliant with your industry. Servers, copiers, routers, and even phones can become outdated in just a few years. Replacing or upgrading them at your own pace instead of being forced to replace them after they break down will put less of a strain on your staff, and your wallet.
Servers deserve extra attention when reviewing your business’ outdated technology. More than any other piece of hardware, this is the one you do not want to wait to upgrade. If a computer fails and everything on its hard drive is lost, it’s an inconvenience. If a server fails and everything stored on it is lost, that is a major problem. Your servers hold all of your valuable data, and likely play a very important role in your data backup and Business Continuity plan.
- Cloud Technology – The cloud has already changed the way most businesses approach technology. By giving you the option to store data, run applications, and make use of virtual workspaces, the cloud gives businesses access to tools and resources that would otherwise be too complicated or expensive for them to implement. Productivity suites like Microsoft Office 365 provide options for remote access to data and applications, increase collaboration and productivity, and give you the freedom to work from anywhere.
If your onsite servers are on their last legs, a move to a hosted server could be just the answer you’re looking for. The costs associated with purchasing, installing, and maintaining onsite hardware are removed from the equation completely, and the cloud’s scalability means you can easily expand the size of your hosted server as your business grows without having to buy an entirely new piece of equipment.
- Business Telephone Solutions – Relying on a legacy phone system to make and receive important business calls is likely putting your business at a disadvantage. As previously mentioned, the physical components of your phone system will eventually wear out, and repairing or replacing decade-old hardware is both difficult and expensive. But the most important factor to consider is your monthly costs. Once you’ve added features like long distance, call waiting, call forwarding, voicemail, additional lines, and any other features not part of the base monthly package available from your provider, you’re left shelling out hundreds of dollars for a single-purpose service.
Making the switch to an in-house VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone system allows your team to make use of their office line even when they are far from the office. At home, at a meeting across town, or on the road, the same great features are available to keep you connected to coworkers, clients, and associates, for a budget-friendly monthly fee. Choosing to go with a cloud-based VoIP phone system gives you the same advantages as an in-house system, but without the added cost of purchasing, installing, and maintaining hardware.
- The Future of Your Business – While everything mentioned above has the potential to improve your business right now and in the immediate future, you should be keeping your long-term goals in mind. Want 2017 to be the year you finally nail down that big contract? Consider switching to a VoIP phone system that allows you to be more available to your clients, and gives you more communication options to better suit their needs.
Hoping to expand? Moving towards cloud-based solutions that support the team and resources you have now, and provide fast, easy, and cost-effective scalability to accommodate any changes to your team and your business down the road will make that a much smoother process.
Technology is changing all the time, and in order to stay relevant and competitive, you’ll need to make an effort to keep up. The best way to make sure you’re making the right investments and budgeting wisely for your business’ technology is to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced IT provider.
Want to learn more about the ways InfiNet Solutions can help you make the most of your business’ IT budget? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (253) 350-2553. We’re the IT professionals businesses in Seattle, Bellevue, and Pacific Northwest trust.