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Systemagic’s Top Tech Tips for 2017! It seems like only 5 minutes ago I was writing my annual blog giving businesses tips on what tech focus they should perhaps be taking for the coming year. While my predictions for 2016 were correct that security has become a bigger issue for SMEs I have been shocked in the scale of the problem that ransomware and other security threats have posed to businesses who otherwise would have considered themselves under the radar to attackers. So as I give every December, here are my suggestions about what small and medium sized businesses should consider focussing on with their technology in 2017.
Interestingly this is an area that is being strongly dictated by our customers’ customers. As larger enterprises are scaling up their tech security defences they are now obligated (through both legislation and risk assessment) to ensure that their suppliers are similarly invested in keeping communications and data secure. We are frequently finding that smaller businesses have to adopt big-business practice like encrypted emails, a higher grade of firewall than they’d normally require and demonstrable data backup and business continuity processes.
The good news is that cloud-based technology means that this level of security is now available to SMBs at SMB prices, and is often quickly and easily implemented.
My advice for 2017 is therefore to ensure your business has considered its cyber security, is ready to upgrade if you find your customers require you to, and that you are open to advice and guidance from your support provider when they brief you about trends, changes and threats.
2 Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
We all have backups in place but the rise of ransomware and other nasty viruses which destroy your data has shocked even those of us in the industry. While data can be recovered from backups fairly easily it is often a time consuming task and my experience in 2016 has been that many businesses are unprepared for the amount of time they might have to manage without their IT systems while their data is being recovered. Add this to the expectations for resilient systems that are being placed on smaller businesses from their suppliers and customers (as in the security section above) and it’s clear that business continuity and disaster recovery planning and systems are becoming more and more important to businesses operating below enterprise level.
There are plenty of options available to SMBs which introduce resiliency and avoid unexpected downtime and are at a price point that makes commercial sense too. Throughout 2016 my team have implemented continuity systems in many of our clients and continue to use emerging technology to make sure that instead of reacting to an emergency situation we are simply managing systems, processes and technology to keep our clients operating 365 days a year.
3 Using tech to actually improve business
We have already seen Microsoft add its previously expensive and complicated Dynamics CRM system to Office 365 and other software providers are now offering project management, management information and HR systems in a very low per-user-per-month rental model. The widespread adoption of Xero’s cloud accounting system across small businesses shows that there is an appetite for new software that improves business function, and the old barrier of business owners not trusting the cloud has now all but gone completely.
2017 is a great time to review internal business processes and roles and to explore whether technology can be used to streamline or improve efficiency. At Systemagic we have used software to transform what was a 2-day accounts chore at month-end into a 15 minute automated process which means I get management reports at the end of the first working day of the month and our accounts team can spend their time reviewing and analysing instead of inputting data. We all know that access to current and accurate information is key to business and with the financial barrier of upfront investment removed, cloud technologies are helping businesses of all sizes to act like much larger enterprises.