2020 has been a challenging year in the business world. The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown businesses in most sectors into a period of rapid change – those who are willing to rise to the occasion and innovate are those most likely to survive this continuing period of uncertainty.
Flexibility, agility, efficiency, resilience…the recipe for survival in 2020
When business slows and uncertainty looms there is a temptation to batten down the hatches, play it safe and hope for a return to better times. However, the current crisis requires exactly the opposite. The possibility of further lockdowns requires businesses to empower their teams with technical solutions that enable greater levels of agility and flexibility. Additionally, continued uncertainty and a difficult economic environment mean it’s never been more important to do as much as possible with the IT resources you have.
That sounds great, but where do I begin?
In recent months we’ve been busy helping our clients across London and the home counties make the IT transition necessary to thrive during these troubling times.
For some time now businesses have been discovering the benefits of reducing reliance on physical infrastructure by migrating services to the cloud. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend massively and driven home the inherent benefits of operating a flexible, cost-effective, infrastructure-lite IT system.
Cloud services are just one piece of the puzzle; let’s look at some of the ways you can improve your business’ efficiency while offering the same great service to your customers.
Discover the ‘Cloud’
The concept of ‘Cloud’ computing has been around for a long time and most businesses are now familiar with its capabilities in some form through the likes of Microsoft 365 or storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive.
The potential of ‘the cloud’ to transform your business is almost limitless due to the range of services it can offer. For example, you could migrate traditionally, fixed infrastructure to the cloud to free up space in your office and eliminate the burden of costly/time-consuming hardware maintenance. Physical firewall appliances, servers and networking infrastructure are some of the hardware you could migrate. In addition to the cost savings cloud migration also gives you the flexibility of being able to access your resources remotely.
It’s estimated that the average small business employee spends 2 out of 5 working days bogged down with repetitive, manual tasks such as data entry. That represents a lot of time spent doing tasks that don’t add value to your business.
Automation is the process of supplementing ‘human effort’ with ‘machine effort,’ giving employees more time to focus on more value-adding tasks such as improving customer relationships, driving sales and developing business strategy. Automation technology comes in a huge variety of forms; it could be a small feature within a larger piece of software (Microsoft 365 has many examples of this) or the software itself could be centred around automation (email marketing software being a prime example).
Nowadays, automation often comes embedded in accounting software, CRMs, HR software and many other applications. Microsoft 365 users benefit from a suite of automation apps, which are often included within 356 subscription bundles. One of these is ‘power automate’ which gives users the tools to automate processes through an intuitive interface without the need for technical expertise.
Invest in the home office
As an employer, you may have to invest in technology or the home-office setup of your employees to ensure productivity. If your team are operating using slow, unresponsive, and insecure personal devices efficiency will suffer, your customers may notice a drop in service standards, and you may be exposing sensitive data to unacceptable levels of risk.
- Provide work devices where feasible. This allows you to control security and ensure devices are working optimally more tightly.
- Are devices past their best? Old, clunky machines may be an obstacle to your business’ productivity goals. Additionally, unsupported software and operating systems present security vulnerabilities.
- Is the home environment suitably equipped for 8-hour days? Consider desks, chairs, lamps, and footrests to ensure staff are as comfortable at home as they would be in the office.
- Is home broadband proving too slow or unreliable? It may be worth considering a business internet connection for key employees, to ensure connectivity issues don’t stifle your ability to operate effectively.
- Can your team keep in touch? Webcams and headsets may be needed to help all team members participate in Zoom meetings. These virtual get-togethers are a good way of keeping staff engaged and morale levels high.
Invest in a proactive, engaged, and reliable IT partner
With so much going on now you’ll need an IT partner you can rely on. That means someone who takes the time to get to know your business and provide best-fit solutions that address the unique challenges you face. It also means having an experienced and knowledgeable partner who can guide your business seamlessly to new ways of working while ensuring minimal downtime thanks to proactive maintenance and network monitoring.
Ensure you choose an IT partner who’s commercially savvy, and understands the importance of cost-effective, budget-conscious solutions particularly during these uncertain times.
It’s about more than efficiency, your reputation is at stake!
Months ago, when the country was first plunged into lockdown a compromised service from businesses was considered acceptable for a while, as companies grappled with new operational challenges. However, by now, as life starts to return to some form of normality, customers are becoming less accepting of a reduced or poor service offering. This means it’s important to invest in fit-for-purpose solutions that allow your team to perform at (or near) maximum capacity while working from home.
- Are tasks taking longer than they should be due to poor file management?
- Is communication suffering due to inadequate telephony provision or outdated communication platforms?
- Are tasks being abandoned due to poor process management and a lack of organisation?
Clients will notice all the above and failing to address such issues now may affect your business’ reputation going forward.
How can I get the ball rolling?
As part of the government’s economic response to the Covid-19 pandemic, packages of grant funding are to be announced to help businesses make efficiency transitions. These grants of between £1000 and £5000 could help your business innovate and optimise its IT system, to drive efficiency and productivity gains using some of the ideas we’ve discussed above.
Struggling to find a solution that fits around your business?
At Cloudscape, we use our extensive experience to deliver custom-fit technology solutions to SMEs in London and the home counties. Technology should serve your business’ aims and aspirations, it shouldn’t be something to mould your operation around. We are experts in Cloud-computing and we know how empowering Cloud Services can be when leveraged correctly, so let us help you tailor Office 365 so that it works for your business and the unique challenges you face. Call us on 0207 952 8123 or send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.