On daily basis, we’re seeing new innovations being released that are transforming our businesses. Email took over from post, VOIP calls have taken over from the telephone, and instant messaging has replaced the water-cooler gossip (or spread it further!).
We know that technology creates ever more streamlined, faster and agile ways of working, and has been vastly accelerated by the rise of mobile and cloud computing technologies, but now, growing businesses are looking for that competitive edge which lets them compete with bigger, wealthier rivals and agile smaller businesses. These mobile, connective technologies are one way to spend an IT budget that will deliver an impactful result on the business. Whether it’s working smarter, enhancing productivity or streamlining day-to-day activity across teams, making the business a clever one is a winning aim.
IT budgets aren’t limitless, and the challenge arises in understanding the best place to begin when innovating in an established business in order to reap the benefits of clever ways of working.
For businesses looking to get the best out of their IT budget, here are four smart investments that can begin the process of turning a traditionally run business IT set-up into a clever business:
- Flexible working is the future!
Businesses should embrace a flexible working policy and lower the office overheads. To ensure the business grows and becomes more robust, employees need to access their business information and their colleagues at all times, even whilst working remotely. This applies to everything. From emails to invoicing, sales data to telephony.
The best way to manage costs securely, and effectively is ‘cloud computing’ services. For instance, the ‘always on’ availability of communications tools, like Microsoft Skype for Business, can facilitate hassle-free collaboration and communication within the business. It cuts the need to use presentation sharing solutions, allows group conference calls or video chats, and allows collaborative working. Office 365, for example, replaces all the old Office, calendar and file-sharing tools from Microsoft and a variety of other vendors, by giving a business dedicated, secure, shared places to work on documents and share insights amongst work groups. That means fewer emails, faster cooperation, and smarter teams.
- BYOD policies to suit all employees
A Bring Your Own Device policy means less expenditure on fixed, physical IT infrastructure as well as managing, insuring and replacing work phones, tablets and laptops. Moreover, by increasing productivity by giving people the tools they are familiar with, employees simply enjoy work more. Clever, is creating a more loyal and engaged workforce.
However, that’s not to discount implications regarding data security and reliable IT support as both issues are also more easily solved with online solutions where colleagues can find support without going to their own IT support desk. Data security is also kept well up to date on public cloud solutions as the big vendors offering these services are able to stay ahead of the latest online threats on a 24/7 basis, unlike the average in-house IT team.
- Data Security is key
A more connected workforce, businesses need to ensure wireless networks are password protected and sensitive data protected from access by anyone on the network. Once again, the public cloud platforms like Office 365 offer security apps and settings so a business can fine tune levels of security, encryption, and authorised use.
- Implement offsite servers
The backbone of all business use of the cloud is the “pay as you go” style. All providers will offer access to enterprise-level storage solutions at a low monthly cost, and allow a business to scale their subscriptions up or down. The differences between service providers often comes down to the amount of support the business is willing to pay for: faster/ easier, expert support or saving money via more self-service options.
A robust agreement for storing information with a cloud provider limits the chance of a data security breach, and will provide convenient data backup in the event of an IT disaster back on premises.
Cloud technology has hugely liberated businesses, and technology tested by big enterprises has leapt out into the world for use by businesses of any size. These simple steps can help a business build in agility, scalability and flexibility – the ingredients for business stability and growth.
By Michael Frisby, managing director of Cobweb Solutions