A truism is a statement that is so obviously true that it doesn’t need to be said. “Technology is important for doing business in 2018”? That’s a truism if there’s ever been one.
But there are still far too many small- to medium-sized companies that haven’t yet recognized the major opportunities that the latest tech can bring their way. Some very simple changes, like reconsidering how data is stored, or what ROI the office phone plan is providing, can pay big dividends over the course of a year.
These are some of the top trends in tech that are more than mere hype. The purpose of today's blog post is to highlight simple (and more complex) ways you can incorporate technology into your business to help it run more smoothly.
In the early 2000s, one of the biggest selling points a new personal computer could boast was an extensive storage capacity. Having a hard drive expansive enough to contain work files, vast media collections and personal photos was essential. Now that streaming and cloud-sharing have largely replaced downloading, the only thing most users need their hard drives for is to run programs locally.
Much the same is true in the corporate world. Businesses crave the agility that comes with being able to access and share files across teams and devices, but there are other benefits to the cloud.
Cloud space is typically quite cheap compared to buying physical drives and servers. For businesses running their own on-site servers, the savings of switching to the cloud go much further. Servers are electricity hogs, and the cooling costs alone can run into the hundreds or thousands per month.
Hardware upgrades represent another major source of savings. On-premise servers will wear out or become obsolete over time. Replacements are not cheap.
Meanwhile, cloud-based providers take on the responsibility and cost of maintaining servers; with the right provider, clients can rest assured that they will always be enjoying best-in-class tech without the hassle of running the equipment themselves.
(Click here for a useful cloud readiness self-assessment guide, including 15 questions every company should be asking their IT provider.)
VoIP, or Voice Over Internet Protocol, is the most significant challenge to traditional phone services since... well, in fact, it may be the only significant challenge the telephone has faced since Alexander Graham Bell’s invention became the standard nearly 150 years ago.
Now, however, VoIP, which enables calls via an internet connection, seems poised to finally supplant the aging champion in the not-too-distant future.
In spite of the disadvantages of VoIP, people have been won over based largely on the price and convenience factors. Thus, the industry has seen an annual growth rate of 17.5 percent over the period 2010 through 2015, according to IBISWorld.
VoIP has a number of advantages, especially for businesses. The primary edge is how inexpensive it is compared to traditional telephony. Just as it costs the same amount to send an email to Kuala Lumpur as it does to a coworker’s cubicle, international VoIP calls hold few worries for budget-conscious businesses compared to pricey long-distance rates.
VoIP is also the backbone of modern teleconferencing.
Video calls and conferences mean it’s easier to stay connected with clients, partners and team members who work from home. It’s also a simple matter to transfer and share documents instantly.
Backup and Disaster Recovery
On a good day, the hackers won’t assault your personal data; the local power grid won’t melt to slag; the rain will stop before a flood, and Carl in accounting won’t accidentally delete the company payroll files after spilling coffee on his new shirt.
But not every day is a good day for every business, so it’s important to have up-to-date backups to ease the recovery process.
Today’s software-based solution providers strive to make backups more secure than in the days of hoarding messily-labeled optical discs in a desk drawer to start a new economy after the End Times.
Data is hosted in multiple encrypted caches around the world, lessening the likelihood of a single power failure consigning key records to oblivion. The process is typically automated so that the archive is constantly being updated as users make changes to their files.
Backing up files is now synonymous with data archiving, which compresses files when not in use to take up less storage space. Advanced solutions now provide analytics and policy management tools, making it easier to eliminate redundant or dead files that are no longer in use.
These solutions also make it easier to comply with federal and corporate data retention regulations, as policies can be customized according to a company’s particular needs.
Small- to medium-sized businesses seldom have the budgetary flexibility to bring on a full-time, or even part-time, Chief Information Officer/Chief Technology Officer.
Without the expertise offered by CIO/CTOs, it’s difficult to get the most out of the revolutionary technologies discussed in this blog post or to prevent network security disasters like the ones we profiled in our last piece.
Collectively, employee human error (or malice) was responsible for 69% of these issues, and other estimates have ranged as high as over 90%. It’s worth noting that only a very small percentage of these security breaches were intentional on the part of the employee.
The answer, as is increasingly the case in the contemporary business world, is to consider outsourcing. The best providers of cloud-based services will often have expertise available that goes beyond standard tech support.
At Continuous, for example, we have a number of experienced CTOs on staff that can help with strategic considerations, such as,
- Creating an IT budget that ensures network infrastructure capacity meets our clients’ actual needs.
- Ensuring network security best practices are in place, and monitoring potential threats.
- Assessing your current IT infrastructure to determine its likely life expectancy.
- Alerting clients to new technologies and opportunities.
Turning to a third-party expert can bring a much-needed perspective to an area many small businesses would be otherwise unable to devote enough attention to.
Making Smart IT Choices
Although the technology of modern business is a lot more sophisticated than it was at any point in the past, by and large, these advances have made actually using the tech simpler.
Cloud storage has few of the headaches of traditional on-premise storage, while automated backups and data recovery mean businesses no longer lose hours or days of productivity restoring files (as was common just a few years ago).
The single most important IT decision a company can make is whom to trust with the behind-the-scenes work of keeping all of that sophisticated technology humming along. At Continuous, we offer both top-of-the-line hardware, and technicians committed to our clients’ success. Contact us to find out more about our IT solutions for small businesses, we offer a free consultation for small and medium-sized businesses who are looking to increase productivity through technological means.
If you're interested in reading real testimonials from other business owners who have worked with us, check out some reviews we feature from real clients on our website.
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