Technology can either enable and enhance your business, or end up frustrating everyone (including your tech support). It all depends on how you view your IT infrastructure — and how well you choose, implement, and utilize the technology.
IT has been a driving force behind most companies’ productivity for decades. Technological innovation has become a way of life for any company that lasts more than just a few years. Today, it dictates absolutely everything: business communication, sales and customer data aggregation, financial information, marketing strategies, and anything else you can think of.
By now, IT should be integral to virtually every part of your company and should not be a candidate for the chopping block when you need to cut costs. Recognizing IT as a critical investment is the first step in maximizing its potential for your company.
Outdated IT Isn’t Just Old-Fashioned
It’s one thing to avoid jumping headfirst into new technology just because it’s unproven. It’s another thing to consider every new tech development a fad and shun it on principle. You don’t always need the newest and most expensive solution, but you do need updated tech that can hold its own in today’s digital economy.
Although it’s not as common now, we used to be able to walk into an office and know that IT was not important by looking at all the CRT monitors instead of flat screens. They weren’t just big and bulky — they were obvious signs that updating technology wasn’t a priority for the company’s leaders, which ultimately is a problem for several reasons.
The first (and possibly most important) reason is data security. Old technology is almost always less secure. Tape drives were still the standard for backups 10 years ago, but they are not as reliable as new methods, are a pain to test regularly, and create a huge risk to the business. If you fall victim to a case of ransomware, you want a good backup.
In general, the older the tech, the more vulnerable the company. Maintaining your IT infrastructure is essential to operating in the 21st century. The good news is, it isn’t too late to improve your situation, even if this wasn’t a priority in the past. These few tips can help you to optimize your investment:
- Buy hardware from this decade
We don’t see CRT monitors anymore, but we do often see flat screens connected to hardware that’s sometimes more than 10 years old. Employees can’t work at a modern pace if their equipment doesn’t, and everything they do becomes less secure if their systems can’t support current IT security measures.
Invest in advanced technology that gives your employees a more competitive edge, such as dual monitors and portable devices. For instance, switching from desktops to high-performance laptops can give your employees more freedom to collaborate by taking their workstations with them.
- Back up your data on- and off-site
In addition to the state of your hardware, another sign that you might need to take IT more seriously is the state of your backup system. Tape drives and external hard drives used to be the standard, but the ones we still come across today are frequently untested and unattended. They’re also only on-site, which means the data they do contain still can be easily lost.
Some industries require comprehensive and up-to-date data backup solutions. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy and highly affordable to replicate your data off-site or in the cloud. Doing so also ensures that your company can keep going even if your building collapses or your data is held for ransom by hackers.
- Put antivirus software on everything
In addition to lackluster data security, it’s also unsettling how many companies have yet to invest in comprehensive antivirus software. The extent of that software’s reach should depend on the specific industry, but every company should at least protect all their incoming email traffic with it. If you don’t, then every email account tied to your company could become a vulnerability.
At the very least, implement email spam protection software to filter every message before it reaches your inbox. This will be your first line of defense against most phishing and malware scams. The cost of antivirus software is minuscule compared with the damage inflicted in a breach.
- Invest in training your people
Protecting your company against malicious digital attacks requires training your people to spot and avoid common attempts. People are the weakest link in any data-security chain. If they aren’t trained, then they’re more likely to respond to phishing attacks, click on Trojan horse emails, use weak passwords, and leave hardware unsecured.
Make sure your employees are trained properly by partnering with an experienced, managed IT provider that offers employee training as part of its services. In addition to upgrading your IT and security solutions, the company will also give your employees the knowledge they need to maximize those solutions.
Your IT infrastructure can be a pillar of your company’s success when you implement it properly and keep it up-to-date. Simply put, IT is one of the most important and impactful investments you will ever make.