As any business evolves, it’s important to ensure your Information Technology solution evolves alongside it. As the demands of your business change, so too will the demands on your network.
If you have, for instance, experienced a period of growth, or are expecting one in the near future, you’ll probably want to make sure to upgrade your systems appropriately to ensure you have the infrastructure in place that will best support your changing needs.
Your existing system might have been fit-for-purpose when supporting a smaller operation, but once the increased pressure of a growing company is placed upon it, you could find yourself running into problems, if you don’t commit to some necessary changes.
And it’s not just the changing demands of your business itself that you need to factor into your IT decision-making. If the past eighteen months has taught us anything, it’s that we need to be agile enough to make quick and smart choices in the face of whatever changes are thrown our way by the current global situation,
Whatever your reasons for exploring how you might change things up, if you haven’t already this might be a good time to consider bringing in some external expertise, particularly if you don’t have access to high-level IT skills in-house.
Whatever you do, don’t wait until you actually start seeing the effects of a system that’s no longer up to the job. You want to avoid frequent and lengthy instances of downtime at all costs, due to the knock-on effect on productivity and customer experience. The best position you can take is to pre-empt whatever changes your business is likely to experience, and start planning for them right away.
Below, we’ve listed four areas of your IT approach that every business should be considering paying some attention to right now …
If you know you need to make changes but are clueless as to where to start, a managed IT service solution could be the way to go.
Before you make any decisions, ask your potential or chosen provider to conduct a thorough audit of your current set-up. From this, they should be able to use their learnings to make informed recommendations, based on the current and anticipated needs of your business.
They may, for instance, discover your hardware and software is either outdated, or that individual elements of your network system are not working together in the most effective way. This can often be the case where a small business has managed its own IT needs in-house, and systems have evolved out of necessity, rather than being built based on a solid strategy.
In any case, don’t risk putting your business at a disadvantage when it comes to functionality and efficiency, particularly when you consider your competitors are likely already utilising at least some of the latest technologies.
Managed IT service providers live and breathe everything IT, and remain constantly up-to-speed on the latest innovations in a fast-moving space. It might be that only one or two major changes are needed to bring your system up to scratch or, at the other extreme, a complete overhaul or digital transformation might be the best recommendation.
If budget is a concern, it pays to consider which aspects of your network support your most business-critical functions. It is these aspects that you should prioritise investment in.
The good news is that enterprise technology is now much more cost effective and attainable for small to medium-sized businesses. This includes a plethora of automation tools which can be deployed to eliminate routine and time-consuming tasks, while enhancing productivity and profitability.
An external IT partner with high-level technical expertise should be able to advise on the new, industry-leading tools you might want to consider, as well as outlining the benefits to your business.
Once you’ve worked with your external partner and have agreed on the upgrades required to improve your network to a level that will work for you, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to think about it again for the next five or ten years. You should be having ongoing conversations with your IT support provider, with further changes suggested and implemented whenever required and appropriate. It’s all about taking a long-term, forward-looking approach.
If this isn’t an area you’ve explored to any great extent in the past, it should absolutely be on your radar by now. It’s no exaggeration to say cloud computing is the future of IT, thanks to its ability to offer a secure, scalable and affordable platform for the storage of all your critical business data.
Turning to the cloud means you can say goodbye to the expense overheads and frequent frustrations associated with maintaining a physical on-premises server.
It’s possible that you may have avoided the cloud because compliance issues legally require you to keep certain sensitive information housed onsite in the traditional way. But this doesn’t mean a cloud environment is not an option for the support of other aspects of your business operations.
There are so many cloud options available, from public to private cloud, to combinations of both alongside the retention of some physical elements. Your IT support partner will be able to look at your distinct circumstances and come up with the best hybrid managed cloud solution for you.
This means you’ll enjoy all the advantages of the cloud (where appropriate), while still maintaining that extra level of compliance and control over particularly sensitive business data by having it stored physically on-site.
The global pandemic will no doubt have impacted every business in some way. At the time, many will have experienced a mad scramble to simply get something in place to allow operations to continue despite the unprecedented circumstances. While at the time, we may well have been anticipating these steps would be nothing more than a temporary fix, this has turned out to be a false assumption.
A year-and-a-half in and it’s starting to look as though COVID-19 will change the way we work for the long haul. Ask yourself whether the measures you put in place during that initial panicked period in early-2020 will remain up to the task long-term.
There may be further changes needed to ensure your people can continue to work effectively from remote locations using various mobile devices, while enjoying uninterrupted, secure access to all the company data and programs they need to do their jobs.
If you haven’t yet fully committed to a platform such as Microsoft 365 – which has proven its worth as a vital tool for supporting collaboration amongst geographically dispersed teams – this could be the time to invest. The suite of Teams tools it contains offers secure access to your business data from any device or location, with other features including virtual meetings, live document editing and instant messaging.
Depending on how the situation with COVID pans out, you may even end up considering a two-tiered approach … one to be used during the more COVID-normal periods, and another to be implemented in the event of a snap lockdown, as we have seen happen recently up and down the country. In such uncertain times, flexibility is key.
Your managed service provider will work with you on these different approaches, and support you and your team to seamlessly slide between scenarios as things change.
A rapidly evolving IT space, alongside new risks associated with our ‘new normal’ way of working means it’s impossible to revisit and rethink your security measures too often. By failing to do so you will run the real risk of potentially debilitating damage – operationally, financially and reputationally.
Security 101 … check all your hardware and software is up-to-date, as older versions are much easier to hack. Beyond that, your external IT partner can conduct a security-specific audit of your network, and implement any extra preventative measures that will boost protection.
Over and above this, they will provide ongoing monitoring, and raise the alarm where a threat is detected. If managed the right way, your IT partner should be able to resolve the majority of potential issues before they have the chance to escalate and cause any serious disruption.
When it comes to security, at Essential IT we always come back to our motto of, “Process, people, technology.” With these three crucial elements aligned in the right way, you can be confident of having the cyber security defenses your business requires.
And don’t forget, a major part of any commitment to security and disaster recovery plan should include a process for regular data back-ups, to avoid crushing data loss, and put you in a position to make a strong recovery and quickly regain business continuity in the event of an attack.
If you’re serious about continuing to evolve your business and taking it to the next level, the functionality and efficiency of your network infrastructure should be one of your top priorities. Talk to one of the dedicated Essential IT team members about our Managed IT Services Sydney to find out more about how we can help.
“Essential IT have been an amazing support partner to our company where IT is not one of our strong points. They are extremely knowledgeable and great at explaining things in layman terms. Always on the lookout to ensure we are up to date with IT infrastructure and continuing to suggest ways to improve. The helpdesk responds in a fast manner and our issues are resolved promptly. I am confident we will have a long standing relationship with Essential IT”
“Essential IT have been a great support for our business over the last few years. Being too small for fund an internal IT team, Essential IT have been an affordable solution to our IT needs. They’ve assisted with server upgrades and replacements, cloud backup solutions, as well as remote monitoring of desktops, laptops and servers (on site and virtual). Without their help, I’m not sure where our business would be.”
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“Don’s Tiles Australia Pty Ltd have been using the IT Services of Essential IT for 7 years. We find the team at Essential IT extremely knowledgeable, hardworking and professional and they are able to get our IT problems resolved quickly. The small team also allows us to build a personal working relationship with all the staff members and we find them all very pleasant and helpful. I highly recommend Essential IT.”