The Right Investments At The Right Time

How to make the right IT investments, at the right timeInvestment

Making the right IT investments can support growth and vastly improve your business’s existing operations. However, CompTIA points out that 47 percent of small and midsize businesses consider themselves moderately close or not close at all in terms of readiness to use improved technology.

When it comes to adopting new technology, the devil is in the details. The perennial challenge business owners face is a blend of factoring in cost, choosing the ideal time to make a particular investment, and understanding its impact to existing servers, storage, and networking.

So, how can your business know what technology to invest in? Learn what to watch out for when adopting new technology and how to measure the return on investment of a new technology.

Keep an eye on productivity

While personal productivity can prove difficult to quantify, you can easily measure and observe an upsurge in productivity across the organization with a monitoring system, which opens the door to tracking the benefits of new IT investments. Business owners should start their assessment by asking what investments can offer in terms of completing tasks faster or eliminating an existing impediment for a smoother work flow.

For example, you can host a new customer relationship management system that allows for the replacement of some error-prone and time-intensive manual processes. Swapping in a new server with greater computing oomph could enable the analytics software to churn out reports and visualizations in real time.

And when considering productivity, don’t forget about tasks not on the front line—including data backup and security considerations. In this context, the ability to reduce the time required to run vital operations, such as reducing the data backup window from 10 hours to an hour with the use of a new storage appliance, is a noteworthy improvement. If you invest in new remote devices, such as laptops or other mobile devices, you also need to secure all endpoints, since each and every device connecting to your network creates a potential entry point.

Pick the low-hanging fruit

The fast-paced nature of IT means cutting-edge hardware can enter into the mainstream in a relatively short span of time, which translates into high-value technology for modest capital outlays. By staying alert and taking advantage of such low-hanging fruit, business owners can leverage new technologies to gain substantial long-term benefits.

For example, adding a Wi-Fi system can facilitate the use of BYOD devices, such as tablets and smartphones, within the small business office, and upgrading an existing one to 802.11ac Wave 2 hardware will offer support for faster wireless transfers to laptops.

Similarly, an upgrade from Fast Ethernet (100 megabits per second) to Gigabit Ethernet (1,000 mbit/s) increases available network capacity tenfold, yet could potentially prove as simple as swapping faster network switches into place. You can also equip your employees who work on the go, such as sales people, with BYOD devices. With mobility in the field, your sales employees can remotely access the files they need at a moment’s notice.

Business Collaboration Tools

Business collaboration software for SMBs

When ideas and knowledge can easily be shared both within and outside an organization, pooling skills can create much better outcomes. Given that contractors and teleworkers make up a big part of the SMB workforce, it’s easy to see why collaboration software has become so popular for connecting people and information where they are most needed.

Collaboration

Why use collaboration software?

The latest generation of collaboration software is built to make the most of cloud computing, video chat and mobile internet technologies. Among other benefits, they allow users to manage workflows, store and search conversations, and set up group chat sessions. For SMBs that traditionally depend on email and spreadsheets, this can have major benefits for productivity, engagement and team cohesion.

Popular collaboration tools

There are many tools available that attempt to address the need for better collaboration in today’s digital, distributed workspaces. Some of the more popular ones include:

  • Slack:Designed to help reduce needless emails, Slack can provide real-time communication channels for both one-on-one and group conversations. You can choose which notifications you see and on which device, and Slack also supports video and audio chat.
  • HipChat:Atlassian’s HipChat shares many similarities with Slack, allowing employees and other stakeholders to have discussions and keep track of them in a secure, searchable archive. Like Slack, you can integrate HipChat with many other tools to make it an all-in-one work management platform.
  • Microsoft Teams:The big selling point of Teams is its close integration with Office 365 apps. You can create Chat channels based on work streams and topics, and you can collaborate and share your work in Word, Excel, SharePoint and other apps.
  • Facebook Workplace:Workplace helps businesses turn ideas into action using tools already familiar to Facebook users, including Chat, Groups and instant Messenger. You can also create live video broadcasts, and you can integrate the premium version with file-sharing apps such as Dropbox and OneDrive.
  • Asana:While most collaboration tools focus on easier communication, Asana also offers powerful project management features. Its task-focused interface greatly simplifies how you can track milestones, responsibilities and project status.
How much do they cost?

Many of these collaboration tools are available in both free and paid premium versions, with the latter unlocking more advanced features. For tools like Slack and HipChat, prices typically start at about $2 to $6 per month per user.

For SMBs that deal with lots of information daily and need to improve their communication game, this can be a small price to pay for what can potentially be big gains in workplace efficiency and engagement.

READ LESS

Future of Network Security

The future of network security security

Network security worries have long kept the C-suite awake at night. What challenges do businesses face and how can executives overcome them?

Emerging risks

The network security game has changed considerably in recent years and will no doubt continue to evolve well into the future. Enterprises are now expanding their networks both geographically and through a digital cloud presence, creating an ever-increasing number of new network access points and security holes.

Employees are increasingly using personal devices like smartphones and home computers to access business networks, which means criminals can now target an employee’s collection of personal devices to gain access to an enterprise’s network.

It’s a security nightmare. Personal devices generally offer poor security, making them an easy target via malware downloads, spyware or simply theft. From mobile phones and desktop computers to smart TVs and tablets, every internet-connected device offers a potential entry point for hackers to subvert.

After the latest spying revelations, cybersecurity expert James Lewis said: “You thought your technology was safe. It’s never been safe.”

Worryingly for network security staff, hackers are constantly finding new ways to gain access to data through cloud services, Wi-Fi and even mobile communication access points. Reportedly, the world’s most popular technology platforms are all under threat.

Current solutions

Adopt a network security management and control platform, which identifies users, their actions, network history, and even connected and active devices. It can also offer complete control over access points, user identity, user permissions and even data tracking. This will help deter threats that may arise from unsecure devices or device theft.

Next, take a strong approach to cloud network security. The cloud is becoming a vital component in productivity, communication and storage across the business world.

Cloud network security is currently the best way to identify and prevent threats, protect data and enforce security across every facet of your enterprise network. The most effective cloud security system will offer visibility and monitoring services across applications, users, hardware, servers, routers and branch traffic, giving your business quick threat alerts and resolution routes.

With ever-emerging network technologies and growing adversary capabilities, it is increasingly vital that enterprises stay ahead of the network security game. In this regard, it is recommended that enterprises adopt modern security, visibility, monitoring and control platforms to protect every part of their networks.