The advances in technology over the last three decades have transformed how businesses communicate and operate, and opened up more possibilities for commerce than any other time in history. However, today’s technology also needs oversight and the correct implementation, and many businesses fall short in this regard. Avoiding tech mistakes is not difficult with some forewarning though, here are ten to avoid.
In the modern business environment data is everything, and perhaps the most common mistake businesses make with their tech provision is underestimating the requirements of ensuring the safety of that data.
Simply copying important files is not enough, and a thorough backup plan is essential for the sustainability of any business today. This includes regular, automated backups (to remove human error) and offsite backup storage to cover for location based problems such as fire or flood.
This is a common one, the power that fuels all of today’s tech is very often taken for granted, but a single power outage or power spike could lose all data and damage tech across an organization instantly. Whether it is computers themselves, printers, storage devices or routers and other network equipment, ensuring a stable energy supply is vital. This includes protection from power outages, which can lose work costing a company tens of thousands of dollars.
Enacting a power protection policy using a UPS supplies critical equipment with backup power and protects from surges while allowing an automated kill switch in the case of a power surge. This should be a foundation of any tech policy in any organization.
This should be the number one priority for technology in any company, but a combination of apathy and a general unawareness of the kind of problems an organization faces can lead to a lack of attention. Hackers today use automated programs that look for vulnerable systems and networks, so relying on a low profile to avoid attention is not a solution.
Computer crime has cost businesses hundreds of billions of dollars globally, signifying just how important ensuring adequate security really is. For those who lack the knowledge and skills to implement a security solution, bringing in experts to advise, design and implement such a system is the best route to take.
High quality tech support is expensive and many companies, especially small startups, rely on a member of staff, usually one who ‘has a knack’ with computers, to be the tech guy. Worse, some rely on friends who ‘uses computers a lot’ or similar. It shouldn’t need pointing out that these approaches do not really help with complex network or software issues.
Comprehensive tech cover can seem expensive, but the alternative of lost work and unproductive days can be even more costly in the long term.
This is another issue that comes from looking at costs without factoring in the possible consequences. Many companies replace both hardware and software at three years, this is because many studies have shown that after this, repair and support can cost more than is saved by non-replacement.
Instigating an organization wide tech policy that focuses on replacement at the ideal time, considered the three year mark, can be extremely beneficial in the long term. Standardizing equipment in tandem with this can also ensure that there is a steady supply of spare parts for any in-use equipment should problems arise.
There are more computer viruses now than perhaps at any other time, and having adequate methods of dealing with them is vital for any business. The focus should be on preventing infection, with effective virus protection that is kept up to date installed on connected devices and the network infrastructure (router or firewall) where possible.
Virus infection is expensive, with some experts citing as much as $99,000 per infection once the cost of removal, loss of productivity and so forth are included, which is why this is such a significant tech issue.
More specifically, a lack of training. Software is becoming ever more expansive in ability, providing new tools that help us be more productive or produce work of a higher quality, often both. However, with this also comes added complexity, and having the necessary training to get the best out of software, not just in terms of output quality but in time to get to that output can make a real difference.
The two obstacles to training are cost and enthusiasm, the cost is self-explanatory, in isolation such training seems expensive. However the added productivity can make training a bargain long term. This change in attitude to training and a focus on its benefits will also help with the attitude towards software training.
Email has changed the way we communicate, but with unsolicited email, it has also become something of a curse. Dealing with unsolicited email costs time for every member of staff, and with the proliferation of malware and other scam attempts through the medium, also poses a risk to security.
Many businesses fail to take measures to combat spam email and seem to underestimate how much time employees spend dealing with such messages each day, along with the workload on servers and network traffic. A viable, regularly updated spam mail policy should be initiated on any mail server for any business.
Somewhat in tandem with virus protection, although an entirely different threat, spyware infection poses severe risks for businesses of all sizes. Compromising industrial secrets, operating procedures or other business activity, or gaining access to passwords that can lead to access to financial data and even accounts are all possible from a spyware attack.
As with viruses, having spyware protection on devices, as well as any possible installs on mail servers or other network hardware and ensuring it is regularly updated is a solid defense.
This combines two things, using the multitude of communication tools out there effectively, and using too many communication tools. Firstly, many businesses understand they need to have social media presence to communicate with clients and customers, but fail to understand how to do so effectively. Due to the rapid way that conversations and opinions spread across such mediums, engaging social media in the wrong way can actually be worse than not doing it at all. Developing an effective social media strategy with advice from a professional in the field ensures as good a chance of a positive experience as possible.
The other aspect is too many communication tools. Many businesses fall into the trap of thinking they must use everything available, email, Skype, Yammer, Twitter, Google Hangouts and endless others, but keeping track of all of them can prove impossible and lead to miscommunication. Pick a few channels that cover the different types of communication, text, video and instant communications, and stick to those for easy management.