For many business owners, a new year sparks renewed focus on putting ideas into action that will help their businesses grow.
As you sit through brainstorming sessions and consider ways to do things differently in the new year, don’t forget to pay attention to the health of your technology systems. Odds are, you rely on technology to communicate, make business decisions, and complete projects. In other words, it’s just as crucial to your success as a new hire.
So, here are 10 tips for making sure your technology can take your business to the next level in 2018:
1. Train Employees on Cybersecurity Awareness
Even with the best technical safeguards in place, your business could still be highly vulnerable to a cyberattack or data breach if your employees aren’t aware of cybersecurity best practices. Set aside time to train them on the basics, such as avoiding phishing emails, and keep them up to date on the latest social engineering threats.
2. Graduate to Business-Grade Cloud Services
If you’re still using the free versions of cloud services like Dropbox, it’s time to upgrade. These consumer-grade services don’t provide the security or the control that you need for your business assets, which the business-grade versions of the same solutions do.
3. Outsource the Right Things
Outsourcing IT to the right provider can improve your business's bottom line. But the trick is finding the right one, and knowing what IT functions need to be outsourced. Many assume that helpdesk support is the only function they need from an external IT provider. The reality, though, is that businesses need someone to consistently and proactively maintain their systems to prevent issues from ever becoming support tickets or, worse, data breaches.
4. Implement a Patch Management Strategy
A study performed by BMC and Forbes Insights showed that 44% of data breaches occur after vulnerabilities and fixes have already been identified. That means that simple proactive maintenance—such as applying security patches and software updates—can prevent almost half of breaches. If you’re not sure how to implement a patch management strategy, get help now.
5. Consider Email Encryption
If you send any form of sensitive information via email, it is at risk. 2018 is a good time to implement an email encryption solution.
6. Take Compliance Seriously
While compliance can impose a burden, it’s almost certainly outweighed by the risks associated with remaining noncompliant—crippling fines, bad press, legal action, etc. Make 2018 the year you start taking compliance seriously. If your business falls under the regulations of HIPAA, GLBA, FINRA, or PCI, educate yourself on what regulators require of your technology. Consider safeguards like email journaling and proactive steps such as vulnerability scans. And get help putting together a risk management plan to achieve compliance.
7. Capitalize on New Backup and Disaster Recovery Technology
Since it’s not as sexy as the latest smartphone, you probably haven’t heard about the significant advances in backup and disaster recovery technology over the last few years. Full virtual disaster recovery solutions—where a virtual version of your company’s server could be up and running in the cloud in a matter of minutes—have become far more affordable in recent years. So 2018 is a great year to update your backup strategy to boost both security and productivity for your business.
8. Centralize Business Data in Key Applications
Much of our work consulting with businesses involves helping them streamline their workflows. This often includes helping them centralize as much data as possible in the key application they use to make business decisions. There are now a number of cloud ERP (enterprise resource management) solutions, which combine various aspects of business planning and execution, available for a variety of industries. It’s possible for your business to get away from information siloed in spreadsheets and move toward a more integrated, intuitive access to key business data.
9. Consider Backup Internet Options
ISP outages or slowdowns remain an unfortunate fact of life, and they’re becoming more and more costly for businesses. Thankfully, there are measures you can take to implement a backup connection in the event your main one goes down. Check out this post on how to stay connected during ISP outages.
10. Separate Guest WiFi from Internal Networks
Do you provide guests access to WiFi in your office? Make sure your guest WiFi network is completely separate from your office’s internal network. Otherwise, outside individuals have far too much access to your business data.
We truly hope that 2018 is a wildly successful year for your business, and we’d love to help make it that way. Contact us today to learn how we can help power the growth of your business!