Even if you don’t work in an office environment, there’s a strong possibility that at some point in your career, you’ve experienced some sort of technical difficulty that interrupted the workday. Whether it’s a printer that is malfunctioning, the internet at the office dropping unexpectedly, or a virus on a computer that takes down the whole network – we’ve all cursed at the technology gods at some point.
The point of today’s blog post is this – technology problems are not limited to office environments anymore. Technology has integrated itself into our lives to a degree we never thought possible, and while this is generally a net positive, it’s not always the case.
Waiting around for your email server to come back online, because you need instructions about a location for a customer that needs assistance is not a great business model. The frustrating part of this equation is that because of the advancements in technology, that same customer can vent about why they were left in the lurch to internet-based review websites!
Our team has been helping small and medium-sized business owners avoid nightmare situations described above. Today’s blog post is going to focus on common technology mishaps that can be avoided with better, smarter technology solutions within your company.
What we’re discussing has happened to real clients, but also will contain situations we’ve proactively helped clients avoid. Not every single case will apply to your business but do keep in mind how avoiding situations like this will help businesses run smoothly.
THE COFFEE SHOP INCIDENT
Many businesses provide their employees with company-issued hardware. This commonly includes laptop computers which have built-in access to a virtual company server. If you’ve ever used a company VPS you already know there are typically a lot of different types of data stored on these servers.
Data you wouldn’t necessarily want falling into the wrong hands.
We’ve had more than a few instances of a stolen laptop being the source of a potential data breach. This is a tricky situation because being a victim of theft doesn’t automatically mean a data breach has occurred. In many cases, thieves who are looking for quick cash will hang out in coffee shops and when they have a window to snatch a laptop, they’re headed down the street to pawn it.
If your VPS contains trade secrets, confidential communications, customer information, HR records and other sources of sensitive data, you need active threat monitoring. This can mean setting up permissions for who has access to certain types of data, all the way to multi-factor authentication.
If a would-be hacker did gain access to a VPS, multi-factor authentication can make it much more difficult to gain access to that data.
Everybody knows somebody that re-defines the word organization for the worse.
That person who has taken the phrase “junk drawer” to an unhealthy level.
That person who can somehow tell you exactly where a specific file is on a desk that looks as though a paper bomb exploded upon.
This might work for certain people over a limited timeline but it’s no way to scale a business, especially the technological infrastructure. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve had to help clients start essentially from scratch when it comes to building a scalable technology infrastructure.
In the moment, business owners don’t generally want to be bothered with a long and detailed discussion about which type of cloud network would be the best for the business over the course of the next five or ten years. We understand how busy a small business owner can be, but we try to dissuade them from adopting a policy that is reactionary instead of strategic.
You know what rogue printer in the server room that doesn’t seem to be connected to anything? Or that rat’s nest of Ethernet cable under that unoccupied desk in Marketing? These all represent wasted space and wasted resources.
We’ve helped many clients totally revamp their technology roadmap and watched them graduate from something that resembled the Winchester Mystery House of business technology into a highly-functional, productivity-enhancing powerhouse.
The lesson here is don’t patch and fix as you go, have a plan from the beginning and keep scale in mind. If you need a hand, don’t hesitate to consider outside resources.
SQUEAKY WHEEL EAR MUFFS
Back to the original point, we made at the beginning of today’s post – everyone has experienced a technical difficulty at some point during their workday. It’s just going to happen.
But from a management standpoint, it’s important to understand the difference between an outlier case and a trend.
A printer going rogue and spitting out a thousand copies of recent meeting notes is an outlier. The entire administration department standing around waiting for slow computers to load spreadsheets is a trend. If newer, better technology can help increase efficiency by 5% per person per day, and the administrative staff of a specific company is made up of five employees – that’s 25% unrealized productivity each day.
Sometimes, part of our job is to deliver hard truths about the need for investing in upgraded technology. But don’t make the mistake of lumping technology investments into lost revenue. Business owners often recoup their investment in less than a year and enjoy the benefits of increased productivity and employee morale immediately.
THE MULTI-HEADED CEO
It takes a lot of confidence to start a business. It takes even more trust and guts to take on your first employee. There is definitely a certain type of wiring contained within the entrepreneurial spirit that you don’t find every day. These characteristics should be admired, but they are often associated with a stubborn streak.
Working with CEO’s is exciting because they have the vision for their company and can bring out the passion within their team.
But they don’t always make the best CTO or CIO’s.
Smart CEO’s know that delegation is critical to growth, but smart delegation is the difference between success and failure. Jim Collins wrote a book called Good to Great which compares characteristics of semi-successful businesses to huge success stories.
One powerful metaphor used in the book discusses “getting the right people on the bus” in the context of getting the right people in positions of leadership.
Here’s a clip:
You are a bus driver. The bus, your company, is at a standstill, and it’s your job to get it going. You have to decide where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, and who’s going with you.
Most people assume that great bus drivers (read: business leaders) immediately start the journey by announcing to the people on the bus where they’re going—by setting a new direction or by articulating a fresh corporate vision.
In fact, leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with “where” but with “who.” They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. And they stick with that discipline—first the people, then the direction—no matter how dire the circumstances.
Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, hiring is one of the biggest challenges that most companies will face. If you’ve ever been on an interview panel, you understand that acquiring top talent is not cheap. This common problem was the inspiration behind our Virtual CIO/CTO services.
Our team of hand-picked Chief Technology Officers help design and maintain all aspects of your IT systems are running at peak performance.
If you’ve had trouble finding a technology advisor, consider an outsourced CTO/CIO from a vendor who shares your passion for success.