No matter how big or small your company might be, technology is essential for it to succeed. From communications to marketing, no business can operate without internet connectivity and IT systems. But as new technologies seem to have shorter and shorter shelf lives, businesses find that regular investments in the latest systems are becoming quite expensive.
Is there a way to avoid tech updates or reduce the costs? This might be unlikely, but it certainly does raise concerns about tech for business.
Update Or Brand New?
Most businesses have a range of technologies that they use every day. The simple things like photocopiers and telephones sit alongside servers, laptops and desktop PCs. All of them are connected. This often means they all need to be running the same level of software to operate and communicate with each other. So what happens when systems are no longer supported?
Microsoft has suffered some backlash recently. Some non-supported software was targeted for ransomware attacks. These days the technology giant is purchasing and developing more and more systems to stave off this global threat. It’s not just Microsoft that is withdrawing support for older or historic systems. Many tech companies are producing gadgets and gizmos that are released with an expiration date. This is obviously not made public! This forces consumers and businesses to buy brand new tech when they can no longer update what they have.
Security OK or Fort Knox?
Some businesses mistakenly believe that security requires only a minimum investment. If the security of your computer systems and IT was compromised, what would you lose? If you lost customer data that was sensitive, you might be facing prosecution and fines. Further to that, your company reputation might never recover. It is always worth investing in the highest level of security you can afford.
If you trade online, you are probably already aware of a number of online security protocols. Simple add-ons and precautions can add extra layers of protection that will help your customers feel much safer to buy from you. Search engines also favour websites that have additional security layers. It’s important to ensure you have the most up to date cyber security systems in place. You should utilise a professional IT systems provider that can act should your business come under threat.
Open To Theft Or Open In The Cloud?
Of course, the more tech you have lying around your office, the more open to the threat of physical theft you become. Even dated tech looks attractive to an opportunist given a chance to get in. What would happen if all your computers walked out the door? Do you have essential data stored on hard drives there? Do you have anything backed up at all? And if your cables and connections are damaged in the theft, how long would it take you to get each of your employees working again?
Cloud-based systems are very handy here. It means you can connect to every part of your business from any internet connected computer or device no matter where you are in the world. Many businesses are afraid of cloud-based systems though. Company bosses fear that anyone could be looking at market and trade sensitive data. Competitors might find the data. Or the data might be held to ransom. Some don’t trust the cloud hosting companies either.
Working in the cloud gives your employees a lot more freedom (and you too.) You can all work from home, reducing the need to rent large office spaces (with expensive security guards.) This is attractive for talented workers that need some flexibility to pick kids up from school or check up on elderly relatives. Isn’t it handy for you to be able to log in while you’re handling a meeting overseas?
Knowledge Or Dependence?
Many bosses fear their own lack of technical know-how and knowledge. If you don’t know enough about the technology, how can you possibly use it and control it? You don’t need a degree in computing, but there is certainly a lot to learn. Worse still, the technology evolves rapidly. This means you have to stay in the loop. Of course, if you do know what your tech can do, you might be able to exploit it profitably.
Key worker dependency is a ticking time bomb of trouble. Unfortunately, many startups can’t afford lots of different employees covering the same tasks and duties. Should your subject matter expert fall ill or take annual leave, you may find yourself with a deficit of essential knowledge and skill. When it comes to tech, you simply can’t blag your way through a problem. Who can you call to jump start a faulty system or repel a hack attack? This is why outsourcing your IT can be so beneficial, even if their service provision is remote.
24 Hours Or Never?
Another area that business managers fear is social media. Twitter and FaceBook are used by billions of people across the globe. It is free for everyone to utilise. People use it in the workplace, and they use it in their spare time. When it’s used through an app, you can even use it on the train or in bed at night. This means we are all connected twenty-four hours a day. How can a company keep up with that without enlisting a professional PR company?
Some smaller firms that have limited budgets simply stay away from these facilities. They are designed to make companies more accessible. But customers can often become frustrated if responses are sent within a few minutes. There are a few ways around this. Some services provide an automated response like an out-of-office reply. You can detail when you are back in the office to help with the enquiry.
You can also detail in your profile and on your FaceBook page when you are available to respond. Most customers are happy to deal with business issues during business hours. Of course, angry customers may choose to rant publicly until you finally pick up the thread. How you respond is very important. Stay polite and focus on how you can solve the customer’s problem.
Refusing to use social media can be problematic for a business these days. Most of your suppliers will want to check out your posts and contact details through your social media pages. Your website might receive more visitors if you connect with them through these services too. Most importantly, you can advertise and promote for free using these platforms to engage your loyal customers. They are there to have a two-way conversation, so start talking to the people that love your brand the most.
AI And Robotics
Companies in manufacturing and production have been using robotics for decades. But as technology evolves, so does its use. Artificial Intelligence is not a new concept, but it is one that is sneaking its way into our everyday lives. Your internet browser and favourite search engines are learning about your preferences (if you permit them) every time you connect. They will help make your experience more personalised and relevant to the task.
As robotics and AI mesh, you may find that the lines become more blurred. In terms of business applications, computer systems do have the power to take over many workforce tasks. At some point, you may begin to question whether human resources are needed in some of your departments. Working practices will change to suit the technology made available to us. How does technology affect your management of your business today? How will change your business tomorrow?