As November unfolds, businesses enter the final sprint of the year, prompting reflection on the past and a strategic outlook for the future. Now is the time for a meticulous review of your IT strategies. This blog explores the imperative questions to ask and offers a roadmap for strategic IT investments in 2024.
As a forward-looking MSP, Systems Engineering recommends identifying the key initiatives that your technology group supported over the course of the past year.
Start with a retrospective. Ask yourself:
- Which business goals did IT support?
- What initiatives did we deliver on?
- Were there some projects that we did not deliver on and why?
- How did our team’s performance accelerate or hinder results?
- Did we have the right resources allocated appropriately?
- Would/should we continue to invest in any of last year’s projects to make them successful in 2024?
- What new projects should we take on?
Take a fresh look at your current and future priorities. How do they map to your overall business goals? Heading into a new calendar year is a great time to revisit your technology strategy. IT Strategy and the accompanying technology should be making your organization better. Too often, however, we lose sight of the strategy when dealing with the day-to-day running of the business and keeping older systems up and running. As you prepare for the New Year, it’s 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 2024:
1. Make ‘Work Securely from-Anywhere’ a Priority
The team at Systems Engineering has broadly deployed sophisticated IT solutions within our offices and across our client base. All of our daily huddles are hybrid with video for face-to-face collaboration, and top-of-the-line audio and video are present in all conference rooms. 2023 was the year that “You're muted." and "Can you hear me?” lost its humor. All of the tools outlined here are serious productivity drivers. Heading into 2024 with a strategy to get the most out of audio and video tools will be important for continued end-user adoption. These technological advances are becoming the way to operate efficiently and productively.
The tools must also work anywhere and everywhere. Whether accommodating a weather-related emergency, an on-site client visit, or remote/hybrid work-from-home, it’s imperative to gain the productivity benefits from technology like this because we have invested in advanced collaboration technology and have made great strides in creating a culture that allows things to be accomplished anywhere, at any time, and from any device. This is yet another way to prepare and plan for disaster recovery and business continuity. An additional benefit to exemplifying technological advancement is that it enables companies to recruit the best and brightest from a virtual talent pool of job candidates. All businesses should be doing the same.
2. Move More Business Applications to the Cloud
Whether you are already heavily invested in the cloud or are mostly on-premises, now is the time to accelerate the use of SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) for your Line of Business applications and your productivity applications, like Microsoft 365, to make your team more effective. It is also a good time to move and potentially modernize applications you host on-premises to IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) solutions like Azure for more predictable costs, better performance, and less lumpy IT investments in generational upgrades. For SMBs migrating infrastructure and apps to the cloud is a good way to meet your resiliency goals.
We recommend selecting one key internal system to enhance next year from your core business. HR, Accounting, CRM, Martech/Salestech, and ERP systems have all come a long way in the last five years; now is the perfect time to improve in one of these 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 many great SaaS options for nearly every standard business need. Investing in business tools helps 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 superior, seamless experience.
3. Modernize Your Security Position
The business landscape has transformed from a hub-and-spoke topography to a complex, intricately connected, inter-dependent ecosystem, which means that customers, contractors, partners, supply chain, and others are accessing your data from multiple locations outside your network more than ever before, using devices over which you have little or no control. On top of that, your data is moving to the cloud either by design or by employee need and their shadow IT activities. Are you thinking about how these changes are impacting your security? Are you enabling technologies that confirm the identity of people trying to access your data and applications? Are you preventing your users from utilizing unapproved applications/ Are you applying security policies and restrictions to protect your data based on what it contains rather than where it is stored? If not, 2024 is your year to tackle these challenges and improve your organization's cyber maturity.
4. Invest in Your Staff
In a climate where tech workers with quality skills and experience are in ultra-high demand, it is important to ensure they feel valued and fully understand that the company is in it for the long haul with them. One way to build trust is through open communication – ensuring that they have access to the big picture while taking responsibility for their specific roles.
We see many businesses that keep IT staff in the weeds running systems, building spreadsheets, answering technical questions, and focusing on day-to-day chores. While important, this work often limits the value your people could add by thinking more strategically. When outlining your 2024 initiatives, keep in mind the resources necessary to achieve big-picture goals. This will help you become more profitable, make customers happy, and advance your growth strategy. A recommended approach would be to take those core IT tasks off your team so they can concentrate on your business strategy while letting someone else deal with the daily tasks that keep your business and employees secure and productive.
5. Integrate Artificial Intelligence
AI has emerged as a leader in the business transformation revolution. It empowers SMBs to operate more efficiently, enhances the customer experience, and analyzes and interprets data in new and faster ways.
AI has become a major presence that SMBs cannot ignore. It is now being integrated into your Line of Business applications, and your employees are using AI applications like ChatGPT to improve their productivity. Moreover, AI has made its way into the Microsoft environment, as evidenced by CoPilot.
Prior to incorporating AI into your business, it is critical to organize and cleanse your data. Poor data quality directly affects AI accuracy and performance. Once your data is in order, you can focus on areas that offer the most value and align with your business goals. SMBs that strategically plan for and gradually implement AI will reap the substantial rewards that AI has to offer.
If your business has had technology changes on its mind for a while, and these strategic IT investments resonate with you, 2024 is the year to get it done. We're here to help. Systems Engineering serves the operational IT and cybersecurity needs of hundreds of clients. We provide SMBs with the IT leadership and secure technology foundation to help them adapt and maintain relevance in the ever-evolving technology landscape. Contact us to discuss your IT needs and challenges.