The New Year is a great time to revisit your technology strategy. IT Strategy is getting more and more important every year - whether you are a software company who makes a living with technology or someone running a law firm or other small business - technology should be making you better. Far too often, however, we lose sight of our strategy dealing with the day-to-day bustle of running our business while keeping older systems running. The New Year is a great time to step back and revisit the key components of your IT strategy. Here are five strategic IT investments every company should be making in 2018:
- Move More Business Applications to the Cloud. Whether you are already heavily invested in the cloud or are still mostly on premises, now is the time to accelerate the use of SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) applications like Microsoft O365 to make your team more effective. It is also a great time to move applications to IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) solutions like Azure for more predictable costs, better reliability, and less lumpy IT investments in upgrades. In addition, automatic patches are built into IaaS solutions like Azure keeping your network more secure and less vulnerable to outside risks.
- Make ‘Work-from-Anywhere’ a Priority: My team at Systems Engineering has broadly deployed sophisticated IT solutions within our office as well as across our client base. All of our daily huddles occur remotely with video for face-to-face collaboration; video phones at our desks help us to view the body language of the person we're speaking to; top-of-the line audio and video is present within all conference rooms. All of these technological advances are becoming the way to efficiently and productively operate. These tools also work seamlessly within home offices for snow days or other occurrences (doubling down, this is yet another way to prepare and plan for disaster recovery and business continuity). We work like this because we have invested in advanced collaboration technology and have made great strides to have a culture that allows things to be done from anywhere, at any time, and from any device. Every business should be doing the same - not to mention, exemplifying technological advancement is also a great way to recruit the best and latest talent in a pool of job candidates.
- Business Tools: Pick one key system to enhance this year from your core business. HR, Accounting, CRM, and ERP systems have all come a long way in the last five years - now is the time to improve in one of those areas. This can also be a good way to cross off the first bullet in this article while making progress on your cloud strategy. There are great SaaS options for nearly every standard business need. Investing in business tools help make you more effective while also sending a clear message to your team that you are willing to invest in making your business more operationally efficient. Many times, this also provides clients with a more seamless experience.
- Modernize Your Security Position: People are accessing your data from locations outside of your network more than ever before, and with devices over which you have less control. On top of that, your data is moving to the cloud either by your design or by employee need and shadow IT. How are you securing it? You should be engaging technologies that confirm the identity of people trying to access your data and applications, prevent your users from utilizing unapproved applications, and apply security policies and restrictions to protect your data based on what it contains, rather than where it is stored.
- Bring Your Staff Up a Level: I see a lot of businesses who have staff in the weeds of keeping systems running, building spreadsheets, and answering technical questions. This work is not adding value to your business and is distracting your biggest asset (your people) from helping you become more profitable, making customers happy, or advancing your growth strategy. This year, invest in taking a couple of core IT tasks off your team so they can concentrate on your business strategy while letting someone else deal with the daily fire drills.
If your business has had technology changes on the mind for a while and these top five strategic IT investments make sense to you, 2018 is the year to get IT done. To begin the process of making your business more productive, fill out a Network Assessment form by clicking on the button below.
John Sterling is the Director of Engineering at Systems Engineering, bringing 20+ years of IT experience in a variety of leadership roles. Most recently, John was Senior Director, Software Engineering at CashStar, Inc. Prior to that, he was Lead Architect at LabNetwork Inc.; Vice President of Global Product Development at WEX Inc.; and Director of Application Development at VISA USA.