The importance of а healthy IT infrastructure can’t be stressed enough. Just consider the following. A major data breach or downtime can tank your business. It’s therefore quite surprising that many companies are still behaving casually when it comes to handling their business IT.
Sometimes, it’s due to a perceived lack of resources. Other times, it’s just the lack of awareness about the extent of damage they can suffer by not taking it seriously. Given the consequences, the well-being of your IT systems should be your top priority. After you get it handled, you’ll be able to relax and move on to other parts of your business.
What technology can do for your business
Businesses have come to realise that technology equals survival. Without utilising the latest the IT, your business is likely to be eaten alive by competition. There are several business aspects that have greatly benefited from technology. We’ll go over some of them below.
The most obvious example here would be all the emails we send and receive in our business capacity. Imagine if you lost access to your emails for even just three days. Your business would come to a complete halt. But that’s entirely possible. You might get hacked, the server that holds the emails might go down, or you might experience one of countless other bad scenarios.
But it’s not just with emails where business communication relies on stable IT. If you’re keeping up with the times you should be utilising video-conferencing, creating documents in network and cloud locations, sending links using something like skype, and so much more.
Technology-based communication is simply faster and more efficient. Information can be delivered instantly anywhere, anytime. As a result, emails, IM tools and video conferencing have become the preferred means of communication. Tablets, notebooks, and smartphones have evolved into tiny mobile offices. People can make video calls and hold “face to face” meetings at multiple locations.
Marketing & Advertising
Long gone are the days where marketing meant Radio, Billboards, and TV. Technology has made it easier for small businesses to compete with big corporations.
We owe a lot of that to things like email marketing, pay-per-click advertising, content marketing, social media, video marketing etc. All of these are accessible and affordable to small and medium-sized businesses. And all of them rely on your IT.
If your IT isn’t running effortlessly, it will lower the efficiency with which your team can do marketing and advertising. Whether that’s running social media or doing email marketing. Your IT needs to run effortlessly so that your people can do marketing effortlessly and get you all of the new customers that you deserve.
Nowadays most businesses can benefit from utilizing CRM software of some kind. These tools have helped revolutionise customer relationship management. They do this by making it easier for companies to nurture their relationship with prospects and clients.
Good CRM systems help collect, store and categorise valuable customer data. By segmenting their customer base, companies can devise a more targeted, personalised sales approach as well as a better strategy to maintain existing clients and customers. In a word, using a CRM will help your business grow faster.
Whatever the CRM that you’re using, it is crucial to have it within a well-functioning IT environment. If your CRM is cloud-based and some of your devices experience network issues, it means your manager can’t access the CRM when they need it most. If you’re using a local CRM and you don’t have a good backup plan, you can potentially lose a priceless amount of CRM data. Your ability to utilize a CRM is only as good as your overall IT infrastructure.
This is where good IT expertise is crucial. All of us love the fact that we can store so much of our data digitally these days. Unfortunately, that makes many people take it for granted. It’s very easy to assume that just because you save something as a digital document, that it will always be there for you, easy to fetch and utilize.
The reality is a bit different though. Unless you have a well-developed strategy, your data storage can work against you. Files can go corrupt right when you need them most, crucial documents can go missing and storage devices can fail. This is why it’s crucial to understand the best ways to store and safeguard data.
That means there are two areas you need to learn more about
First, you want to learn the best ways to store and organize your data. This is primarily a productivity concern. It refers to knowing how to build a local or cloud network that makes the data easily accessible. It also includes things like procedures on organizing that data.
Secondly, you want to learn everything you can about data safety. This refers to things like computer security, utilizing the right hardware, having proper backup procedures and crafting good disaster recovery plans.
Of course, if you hire a quality IT provider, you won’t need to spend all your time studying these things. You can just outsource all of this.
Why it is important to be proactive about your business IT
It’s almost impossible to run a business without a proper IT infrastructure in place. Let’s just take security as an obvious example. Just imagine if you left your physical offices unlocked every night. That’s exactly what you’re doing if you let your IT infrastructure go unsecured. If you don’t give your IT systems the attention they deserve, you can end up losing everything in no time.
There are many reasons to be proactive about your IT resources. First, prevention is cheaper than damage control in the aftermath of unexpected system failures. Natural disasters, system breaches, and failures can’t be scheduled. But IT maintenance can. By taking preventive steps, you’ll be able to respond to these events fast and minimise the damage.
Routine IT maintenance can help you solve potential issues before they escalate. It can also prevent financial losses, workflow interruptions, and customer dissatisfaction.
Unless your core business is based in IT, you probably want to hire a reputable external IT support company for this task. It’s the best way to keep your systems safe and sound.
Let’s take a look at some IT areas where it really pays to be proactive. It will save you from lots of headaches down the line.
Backup and disaster recovery
No business is safe from IT failures, regardless of its size. Human error, malicious codes and natural disasters are all potential culprits. Set proper mechanisms in place so you can get through these events smoothly.
Unscheduled downtime can disrupt your operational flow, even if it lasts for just a few hours. It will also cost you business transactions and customer trust. And if your critical data is irretrievable, you won’t be able to bounce back. This is why a backup and disaster recovery plan is a must for any business.
Back up your critical files at regular intervals, on-site or in the cloud. The second option is better, as it protects your files from natural disasters and theft. Create a solid recovery plan to help you get back on your feet fast. Your recovery plan should depend on several things. This includes:
- the nature of your critical data
- how long you can function without it
- types of events that are probable in your area
Discuss your backup needs with experts in the field to get an accurate estimate.
IT is the fastest growing industry in the world. Secure networks, cloud computing, web-based apps and powerful mobile devices connect us all. As a downside, it also means our cyber-safety is at constant risk if we’re not extra careful. Let’s look at a few things you can do to improve network security immediately.
- Encrypt your wireless access points to prevent access to sensitive data
- Keep your network hidden by disabling the SSID (network name) broadcast
- Create a security policy outlining the most important practices
This includes user access control, disaster recovery and key file backup. Create rules for use of email and social networks. You can also consider disk mirroring as a way to ensure the continuous availability of files and apps.
Consider this though. Every business has a unique network structure. It can be cable or wireless, LAN or VPN, public cloud, private cloud or a mix of the above. This makes network security a complex issue. So we can’t possibly give you tips on what measures to take without looking at your specific network.
That’s why all the bigger companies usually keep IT network professionals on staff. But for small businesses, keeping on-staff IT people is not the most cost-effective approach. In this case, it’s best to outsource the task to IT experts trained to handle network security threats for you. That’s how you can prevent attacks and ensure a fast response time if something unexpected occurs.
Software and firmware updates
Don’t neglect this important task. Software updates add/remove features, install drivers, fix bugs and patch security holes. Updates to firmware (programs used to run network devices) can enhance product security and functionality.
Hackers exploit security weaknesses by deploying malware. It doesn’t take much to get infected: visiting a website, opening a message or playing media. Malicious codes are designed to steal information and take over your system.
So even if updates may seem like a bother, they exist for your safety. Procrastination can cost you dearly. Better yet, consider outsourcing this worry. With a good IT partner, you can rest safe in the knowledge that they’re keeping everything up to date and patched up.
Security breaches and system failures can disrupt your business flow and damage your finances. But they can also ruin your reputation and brand.
To prevent deployment of malicious software, install antivirus programs on all PCs. Keep them updated. Run frequent virus scans to detect attacks before they can damage your system. Set up firewalls to prevent external users from gaining access.
There’s an important moment that bears mentioning here. Attack detection, malware blocking and content filtering are all prudent defense strategies. But they are all reactive. The key to safe IT infrastructure is proactivity.
Instead of defending your systems, make them less prone to an attack in the first place. In other words, by fixing vulnerabilities, you’ll make your systems “less palatable” for intruders.
The best way to do this is conducting vulnerability assessments. These assessments involve detailed network scans on regular basis. A combination of malware/vulnerability scans will be enough to keep you safe from intrusion.
Many business owners feel it’s best to leave such essential tasks to a reliable IT partner. After all, when it comes to the safety of your precious IT systems, you can never be too careful.
Why struggle with doing all of this?
In this article, we’ve gone over some of the things you must to do ensure your IT works for you, and not against you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed right now, do not fret. There’s no reason why you have to do all of this alone. An external IT provider can make the entire process effortless.
At Inspired Techs, we live and breathe for technology. With us, you can rest assured that the well-being of your IT systems will be intact. Data safety, disaster recovery, IT needs assessments or network issues; We can take care of it all.
Our skilled IT staff has your back 24/7, so you can just relax and focus on your core business.