A landmine is a scary piece of equipment. It’s an explosive device, placed in the ground and trigged only when an unwitting individual comes within a proximity of the mine, or worse, steps directly on the device.
The effects landmines are horrifying in a very real way. That’s likely one of the reasons we’ve adopted the colloquialism “avoiding landmines” into our vocabulary. Avoiding trouble is helpful if one knows what to look for, on the battlefield and for life in general.
For businesses operating in 2018 and beyond, it’s nearly impossible to avoid leveraging technology in some capacity. Advancements in technology have enhanced the ability to compete in marketplaces that small and medium-sized businesses would not have been able to touch 20 years ago.
But for all the benefits that the adoption of new technology provides for businesses, there are also proverbial landmines associated with the use (or neglect) of these technologies. In today’s post, we’ll highlight common ways that small and medium-sized businesses run into trouble with their technology, and what they can do to avoid these landmines from disrupting their flow.
The Data Backup Landmine
This is one of the most common mistakes we see when onboarding new clients. Small and medium-sized businesses fall into the “too small to matter” trap quite often. The idea that their data is somehow less interesting than the “other guys” data is insidious. Proper data backup is important for more than just defense against hackers.
Almost weekly, we get calls from business owners in a panic because their office computers are acting strangely, and they can’t access important data from the machine. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including malware, which can cause a computer to perform an infinite reboot cycle, or even lock the user out of the machine completely.
On other occasions, office computers are simply too old to perform critical functions. If you’ve ever heard frustrated cursing coming from a cubicle near you, you might understand how these technical shortcomings can manifest themselves.
AVOID THIS LANDMINE BY:
- Getting a consistent and automated data backup schedule installed for your sensitive data. In the event of a worst-case scenario, data redundancy can make the recovery process go much more smoothly.
- If there is currently antivirus software installed, make sure that regular scans are being performed. Many programs can be set up in a way to deploy scans automatically. If the tool is already there, but not being used it’s hard to blame outside sources.
The Landline Landmine
There is a certain percentage of the population that might be surprised to learn that many Americans still have a land line for home telephone use. A landline is common for businesses, especially in certain industries like customer service, or sales which would require the staff to be on the phones regularly.
But can you guess the fastest way for a business to give off the impression of unprofessionalism to customers who call for support? If you said “provide a scratchy, hard-to-understand phone connection” you’re right.
When a customer or potential client hears static on the phone line, or experiences dropped calls or intermittent dial tones they don’t get the impression of professionalism and might have doubts about how much trust to place in the person on the other end of the line.
In some cases, the problem can be the wiring of the building, or the service provider or even the hardware of the phone. But ignoring the problem certainly isn’t the right approach.
AVOID THIS LANDMINE BY:
- Cloud-based VoIP (voice over internet protocol) give businesses increased reliability, and affordability when it comes to phone-based business communication. Traditional PBX phone systems can run into the problems described above but hosted a VoIP system gives a host of other benefits. You can be sure that a scratchy, muted connection won’t be a problem with this communication enhancement.
The Cashflow Landmine
Ask any accountant what’s more important: cash flow or revenue and most will say cash flow. In business, it’s often true that cash is king, and the truth is that SMB’s need constant cash flow to keep their doors open.
For an SMB, not paying close attention to what they spend each month versus what they bring in is like driving with a blindfold on. Some costs are fixed, like wages and taxes but minimizing variable costs can be a smart way to stop the cash flow bleed.
Does the monthly utility bill for the office seem a little high?
Electricity (or battery) is the lifeblood for the kind of advanced technologies companies are using today and it’s not free. Spending too much on your energy costs can seem like a low priority, but extending these monthly bills out over a year or five years will really give more context to why a smart executive will make efforts to lower utility bills for their company.
AVOID THIS LANDMINE BY:
- Consider scaling down on-site server storage. Maintaining servers consumes a lot of energy each month, and with cloud-based server options available more than ever before, it might not be necessary to front the cost to store, operate, and maintain an on-site server.
- Make a checklist of office equipment that is Energy Star These devices are held to a higher standard when it comes to energy efficiency. Buying or renting outdated equipment might seem like a bargain, but over time the value of using old technology will be lost to increased energy costs. Consider upgrading office computers, printers and other critical equipment that could be costing you more to operate.
- Speaking of computer and copiers, ensure that these devices are operating in sleep mode or the equivalent power-saving mode when not in use. On average, a copier can use 14,000 watts while in use. During power saving mode, the same machine will only consume 40 watts. This translates directly into energy savings.
The Software Landmine
Using illegal software might not seem like a huge problem at first but getting caught using pirated software can have severe consequences. We’re not talking about a couple of songs you might have floating around on an old hard drive.
The Business Software Alliance put out an estimate that suggests 22% of all North American software is unlicensed. And many businesses using the illegal software don’t realize they’re doing it – but that doesn’t absolve them from the potential consequences.
Avoid harassing phone calls from regulators by ensuring that legitimate license keys are well-documented for each software product employees of the business are using.
AVOID THIS LANDMINE BY:
- Documentation can help avoid any questionable software being used within a company. Many software companies now provide SaaS models which make it easier for businesses to maintain up-to-date versions of their products along with valid licenses.
- Consider an IT audit from a trusted IT managed service provider. These audits can provide a window into areas that you might not have even thought could be a problem. A digital map with all the potential landmines already marked sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it?
Get in touch with the team at Continuous for more information a complimentary IT audit for your business. We will provide an analysis that provides custom solutions based on your business goals.