2020, a year that most want to forget! With Covid-19 came one of the worst health epidemics of modern times, which forced a shift in the way we work practically overnight. Bosses that are usually organised and prepared were struck with urgent business-defining decisions on a regular basis. Work practices became a struggle and the focus shifted to a ‘muddle through’ mentality with no one knowing what the rules would be from day to day. Lockdowns and constant tier changes made it impossible to plan for the future, or so people thought.
In this blog series, we will highlight some of the issues that have been posed by this unprecedented year and what you can implement to solve those problems, which will, in turn, allow you to be as prepared as possible no matter what 2021 may bring.
Business matters have been exacerbated due to the hectic nature of this year; any limitations and weaknesses that existed already within your IT infrastructure, applications, or communication services, for example, were felt as greater operational headaches than they might otherwise have been in ordinary times. Challenges which are age-old and likely required attention at some point, are now centre stage and demand resolution to unburden the business to move forward and grow.
Luckily, businesses muddled through at very short notice. We used home PC’s to help us do that, but, unfortunately, that presented us with a number of other challenges.
The challenges of the wrong IT
In the frenzied rush to set up offices within our homes, employees were often using the wrong tools – some provided by the boss, others by themselves – that may have included outdated software and hardware; both of which can have a serious derogatory effect on your business operations.
If employees lacked the right functionality within the IT services they had at their disposal, they will have gone looking for a solution themselves, leading to the concept of ‘Shadow IT’ creeping into your business.
Shadow IT is information technology that is deployed by someone other than the formal IT function for a business. In layman’s terms, it is IT that the employer has no control over, and it increases risks as there are no organisational requirements for control, documentation, security, reliability, etc.
The use of Shadow IT will affect your business negatively in the long run – “77% of IT pros agree that, if left unchecked, Shadow IT will become a bigger issue at their company by 2024” ¹.
Limping through is no longer good enough. Decisions need to be made to move on to a longterm plan for prolonged business functionality and growth. The experience of 2020 has made many businesses go back to the drawing board and review their high-level strategy on how and where they work and what changes they need to make to their service delivery going forward.
A new strategy for a new year
Many firms are considering not returning to the office at all and converting to an entirely remote team. Others are contemplating a partially remote workforce after seeing the benefits of having a smaller team on-premise in case of another lockdown. For some, the transition to a remote workforce is not for them, but this does not mean they are not in the process of a transition. This year may have highlighted issues otherwise not noticed that need rectifying.
Technology will help you make this transition as smooth as possible and will be the main driver to alleviate your worries coming out of 2020. Tech will help you stay secure, be productive, and allow you to make smooth transitions to different ways of working at your discretion. It allows you to keep up with the advancements happening daily in the tech world – helping you to run your business as securely and productively as possible now and into the future.
Let us take a look at two business challenges that have become more apparent due to Covid-19, and why you should resolve them as soon as possible.
The two challenges:
- Reduce risk – increase security, ensure compliance
- Increase profit – be more productive
Why you should address these challenges
- Reduce risk, increase security, ensure compliance
If you do not address the core of the risk to your business, you will feel a number of impact points, including:
- Loss of time
- Loss of data
- Loss of reputation
- Loss of clients
All of the above inevitably lead to the most important one of all:
- Loss of revenue
We will now take a look at the risks that can lead to the above impacts.
The risks that can lead to the impact
- Cyber threats
Cyber attacks can cause multiple problems within a business; they can result in the theft of valuable, sensitive data or even cause electrical blackouts and failure of equipment if sophisticated enough. Cybersecurity threats come in multiple different forms – Phishing emails, Malware, and Ransomware being some of the more popular methods preferred by cybercriminals. There are many more out there and more sophisticated methods are emerging daily.
Protecting against cyberattacks could not be more important in the current climate, statistics show – “Covid-19 drives 72% to 105% Ransomware spike”. ² All forms of cyberattack are on the rise since Covid-19 drew our attention elsewhere. We should always keep an eye on our cybersecurity – it can mean the difference between a successful thriving business and a failed one.
Cyber attacks can lead to downtime if sophisticated enough. They can also lead to a loss of data which will damage your reputation and cause clients to stop using your services, all of which will lead to lost revenue.
- Industry regulation/ legislation
Arguably one of the most important risks is legal compliance – not complying with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), for example, can lead to hefty fines. In the most serious of cases, this fine could be up to £15.3 million or 4% of a company’s annual turnover.
If you do not comply with regulation surrounding your IT you are likely to be prosecuted and fined (as explained previously), but potentially more detrimental to the business is that you are not protecting people’s data to an industry standard. If customer data is lost or stolen this is clearly catastrophic for the company’s reputation and will lead to customers taking their business elsewhere – meaning a drop in revenue.
- Reduced pressured resources
Businesses are generally pressured to use resources as efficiently as possible; it is essential to find a balance of resources at their disposal to make a fully functional, thriving workplace possible. The pressures have been accentuated due to the unwelcome changes thrust upon us by Covid-19. Unfortunately, many have had to downsize their workforce and production; this puts the effective use of resources in jeopardy.
Not using the resources you have at your disposal efficiently (money, people, time, etc) will slow work processes leading to a negative impact on the reputation of the business if the service you provide is struggling to achieve promised finish times – again, in turn, resulting in lower profits.
We will now take a look at the second challenge, the impact of not rising to the challenge, and the risks that can lead to that impact.
- Increase profit – be more productive
The impact if not remedied
- Loss of time
- Loss of reputation
- Loss of clients
- Loss of revenue
As you have already noticed, the impacts for challenge two are almost the same as challenge one. This is because these impacts are widespread across all businesses and are the biggest things to consider to ensure you continue thriving through 2021 and beyond.
The risks that can lead to these impacts
- Poor use of resources
As mentioned previously, pressure has never been higher for the average workplace to keep things going as fluently as possible. For all its good intentions to ‘keep working as we always have’, this way of working can be having an impact on how much productivity is possible. Understandably, business owners are doing whatever is necessary (in some cases with a considerably reduced workforce) to keep trading through this most difficult and uncertain of times, but by working with a ‘day to day’ approach to your business functions you are not allowing your business the opportunity to thrive and be more productive.
Not using the resources available can mean tasks take more time, meaning you are not being as productive as possible. Time wasting could lead you to fall behind, which triggers a series of events leading to the client taking their business elsewhere and, again, causing a drop in your revenue.
- Not moving with the times
Being stagnant and not moving with the times can have serious ramifications to the amount and quality of productivity your business can produce as opposed to your competition. Sticking to the established way of doing things and not over-complicating certain work processes can be a positive thing, but most of the time doing things the modern way, with the help of technology wherever possible, will help you to ensure and increase productivity.
Your business could be left behind with regard to the amount you produce, the quality of what you produce, and the effort involved in producing it. If your competitors are using modern techniques for productivity, they will undoubtedly be producing a better quality product, again possibly leading to a loss of your reputation followed by client loss and, as a result, a loss in revenue.
Being as productive as possible increases your profit. With the correct productivity tools and procedures in place, your business has the power to expand production and therefore make more money. Increasing productivity can come from multiple sources – we will explore these more in the next blog in the series.
If you address these issues correctly you can go into 2021 and the future confident that you will continue to be successful, despite the poor year most businesses have had.
Moving on now to the second and last blog in the series, we will explain how, by changing the culture in your business and the infrastructure, along with the use of the correct technical tools and controls, you can solve these two problems, in parallel with others, to improve the way your business is run.
Concerned how your IT will fair up going into 2021? Have you got the tools to get you through another lockdown? Need some help?
Struggling to find a solution that fits around your business?
That is where we come in! We at Cloudscape have the skills and experience to alleviate any concerns you are carrying into 2021. Our engineers are highly efficient and work with you to understand your business needs. We take the strain of your IT so you do not have to. Contact us now and let us take the burden off of your shoulders and transport you into the future of business functionality. Call us on 0207 952 8123 or send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.