Whether or not you tend to celebrate the turning over of the calendar with excessive libations, for most of us the New Year’s hangover is a fact of life.
In reality, December 31st and January 1st are just days like any other, but the arbitrary significance we assign to the passing of a year provides an opportunity for reflection. For businesses, it’s a chance to assess their approach to crucial matters like IT, and to make resolutions for how to improve in the new year.
“This sure sounds like the intro to a post for the holiday season,” you may be thinking to yourself, but we think now is the perfect time to talk about the future.
After all, August is around the time when you begin to wake up to the realization you’re closer to next year than last. And we’re guessing you have a few resolutions left undone.
Don’t wait till winter to start taking action on your upcoming IT challenges and opportunities. Let’s take a look at how you can start making improvements for 2019 today.
Blockchain Security On the Rise
In past posts, we’ve discussed some of the myriad threats to your business’s data security, from ransomware to employee error. The figures here are brutal, with no less than 85% of businesses estimated to be infected with some form of spyware, and headline-grabbing data breaches rocking both small operators and globe-spanning giants alike.
Fortunately, security tech is keeping pace with the ever-evolving threat. Blockchain is the buzzword on everyone’s lips, and it represents an imminent paradigm shift in how we secure information.
Because each record (or block) in the blockchain is contiguous with the information in the preceding and succeeding blocks, systems using this structure are resistant to data modification.
At present, the information housed in a blockchain is incorruptible, which is a big selling point for companies handling clients’ personal data, login credentials, financial transaction histories and more. We are already seeing companies turn to a blockchain-based record-keeping strategy in response to increasingly stringent demands from regulatory bodies.
As Forbes notes, the change is likely to be top-down in nature:
In a new era of Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (and other similar online data privacy legislation on the way), blockchain is poised to take its place at center stage in today's economy. It’s likely that this change will be top-down: People won't be demanding blockchain, so businesses will have to lead the charge in transitioning to this system.
That’s not because customers aren’t interested in privacy—it’s because by and large, they trust businesses to protect their information for them. Violating that trust can be very costly.
Blockchain is a natural for this role because the whole point of it is to provide robust, incorruptible — yet encrypted — recordkeeping that anyone can easily verify.
Integrating Video Conferencing Into an Agile Workflow
Agile methodologies are all the rage in business these days, and we’re starting to see a commensurate boost in demand for technologies which facilitate it. Agility is based on a high degree of interactivity between team members, but getting together for frequent face-to-face can be a logistical challenge (and thus an impediment to productivity).
That’s why video conferencing has become a must-have for businesses prioritizing innovation, collaboration, and communication. (So, almost all of them.) When video conferencing first hit the market decades ago, it was a luxury of the uber-rich. Now, it’s part of a general trend of traditional telecoms needs moving to Internet-based delivery.
Just as improvements in VoIP (voice over internet protocol) are slashing companies’ phone bills, with robust internet service video conversations come with a negligible cost.
Younger workers, in particular, have been socialized to this constant virtual communication model via the internet and social media—many of them talk to friends and family every day through their screens, so it’s no great adjustment to doing the same at work.
And judging by increases in online shopping and self-checkout kiosks, some of them may even prefer a little less in-person interaction!
Migration to the Cloud Continues
Some of 2019’s biggest changes will be continuations of trends we’ve been seeing pick up speed over the past few years. Cloud integration allows businesses virtually unlimited access to their networks, streamlining many tasks and providing a degree of added data security thanks to the ease with which you can save multiple backups.
Additionally, most of your technological infrastructure, such as hardware, software, servers, and applications, will be hosted off-site, freeing up office space and cutting storage and cooling costs. It’s also a comparatively simple matter to upgrade your IT on the fly.
As more companies and consumers move their operations to the cloud, prices continue to be driven down. We wouldn’t be surprised to find in-house storage becoming a niche market within the next few years, primarily reserved for very specialized or high-security set-ups.
Consider Outsourcing IT
Bluntly, if you haven’t had the budgetary flexibility to lay the infrastructural groundwork, or your business’s growth has outpaced your forward planning, there can be some definite challenges to bringing your IT up to 2019 standards in one fell swoop. These can include:
- Staffing Costs: IT is complex! (It really is) You need an IT manager or Chief Information Officer who thoroughly understands the evolving demands of your business model, and that kind of expertise doesn’t come cheaply.
- Transition Expenses: Do you have the in-house skills to safely transfer all of your data from traditional storage to the cloud?
- Technology Investment Deficits: Are you working with fossilized equipment? Even basic business applications are now fairly technologically demanding, and if you haven’t updated your critical infrastructure recently you could be looking at a steep hill to climb.
Just as the cloud reduces your need for onsite architecture, outsourcing some of your IT management needs to consultants or remote support reduces demands on your staffing and materials budgets.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but Continuous offers a wide array of outsourced IT consulting services. Our experts can serve as a “virtual” CIO for your office, assist with your security and data recovery and provide general advice and assistance from our New Jersey office.
With a phone call to Continuous, you can check off quite a few of those unfulfilled resolutions from 2018, and prepare a more ambitious set of goals for the year to come. Kill that New Year’s hangover before it sets in, and you’ll have a much more peaceful holiday season.
If you're still on the fence, don't hesitate to download some of our free guides for business owners. We have several resources available on our website to provide a framework for making improvements including:
We recommend starting here, through the links above, and then reaching out to us for a free consultation. Get ready for 2019 and beyond by partnering with Continuous!