As we head into 2020, the New Year is naturally a time to be looking ahead and thinking about business goals for the coming year. If you’ve been held back by IT issues in the past, now is the time to put things in place to make the coming year more successful.
All of us have experienced problems with technology at some point and felt the frustration of a frozen screen, lost data or lack of connectivity. But when these problems are experienced within a business, the cost can be a lot more than frustration.
Technology is crucial for business productivity and growth. Think about everything your business uses IT for: to improve operational efficiency, communication, marketing, providing customer service, protecting financial data, protecting client data, social media activity and more. When businesses experience problems with their IT, the impact can be costly and long-lasting.
How can technology problems affect your business?
Here are just some of the ways IT issues can harm your business:
Competitors get ahead
Technology is advancing at such a rapid rate that some businesses are struggling to keep up, allowing disruptive competitors to grab their share of the market.
You may think of IT as just a tool which enables you to complete the task in hand, but it is not that straightforward. As businesses increasingly rely on IT and systems become more complex; an unforeseen IT issue can bring a whole business to a standstill until the problem is fixed.
Profit margins are hit
Recent studies estimate an annual loss to the UK economy of over £12 billion due to IT downtime. One well-known example of a recent technology crisis costing a business revenue and reputation is that of TSB, whose IT system failures cost them approximately £330 million in 2018.
Being forced offline can be an inconvenient and costly problem for individual businesses and for customers, but companies need to keep on top of more aspects of their IT than just connectivity.
Failing to update technology could cost your business far more than it actually saves.
Loss of productivity
What happens within your business if someone experiences a problem with their computer? Do they try to fix it themselves, or ask a colleague to help, drawing both of them away from their work? Perhaps managers are consulted, taking them off task too. What is the cost to your business of this lack of productivity? Choosing the right IT support partner will free up resources in your company by preventing most IT problems and fixing those that do occur, within a short time.
If staff are constantly having to deal with IT niggles and spend their time attempting to fix them, this can lead to stress and tension amongst colleagues. There’s also the risk of resentment towards managers who may have neglected to update software or hardware which could have prevented the problem in the first place.
Low morale can last far longer than the original IT problem, and this can spread, bringing down the mood of an office. In turn, this can lead to employees taking more time off or even resigning, which will negatively impact the morale of remaining staff and lead to increased costs in recruitment and training.
Accidentally deleting a file or having a server crash can be annoying and frustrating and, without back up, valuable data can be lost. So, it’s critical to have the correct back-up and disaster recovery solutions in place to minimise the downtime and expense incurred. The right IT support provider can put these in place for you.
If you operate within ecommerce and your computer systems fail, even if just for an hour, what could the cost of lost sales equate to? And not only the sales missed that day but consider the loss of future sales when people take their custom elsewhere. It’s not just technology breakdowns which can cause this, but the use of old, and therefore slow, technology which can turn potential customers off.
One of the biggest IT challenges that will continue for businesses throughout 2020 and beyond is cyber security. Software needs to be kept updated and the latest versions of operating systems used, along with current malware, to keep hackers and viruses at bay.
Information security is a huge issue, with data privacy storage and management all needing protecting. Systems must be in place to prevent data breaches and these systems will need regular updates.
Your staff need to be trained on cyber security risks and stay alert at all times to prevent possible attacks.
Your IT support provider should be keeping on top of updates for you and ensuring your business systems are as secure as they can be. If not, it may be time for you to switch IT support provider.
How can you address IT issues to create a stronger, more successful business?
Here are some of the techniques and processes you can employ to make IT work effectively for you over the next 12 months:
Put an effective IT strategy in place
We all know the saying, prevention is better than cure, and this is particularly true with IT issues. It is much easier, and less costly, to prevent them occurring in the first place, by implementing a strategic IT plan than to simply react when things go wrong.
Does your IT support company provide you with annual IT risk assessments? Investing in the right IT solutions for your firm will provide savings long term as your business can continue to perform and grow without being inhibited by IT problems. Business growth and change of direction will require different IT strategies – ensure these are in place before problems arise.
If your company does not already have good IT support in place, these problems may be familiar to you, along with the cost of fixing the issues. When it comes to running an efficient, productive and successful business, choosing the right IT support partner is crucial.
If your business doesn’t have an IT strategy in place, this is something that you may want to look at as soon as possible to prevent IT problems occurring. If they do still occur, you’ll be equipped to deal with issues quickly, with no surprise cost to your business.
Assess whether your current IT provider is giving you the right service
With good IT support, you should have experts available to advise you of the right software and hardware to suit your company, to complete IT risk assessments, to advise on IT strategy, compliance and security and to be on hand should anything go wrong.
If you have an IT strategy in place but you’ve been with your current IT support partner for a while, it is worth checking your service level agreements (SLAs) to ensure they are still suitable for your business needs. If not, it may be time to switch IT support provider.
Many businesses want to avoid the cost of replacing old IT equipment and therefore postpone investments in new technology, but this could cost your business far more in the long run. It is recommended that you upgrade laptops and desktop computers every three years, but again this is something that the right IT support partner can guide you on.
It is important that you know the operating system your business uses and that it is updated when prompted by the provider. Staff need to keep on top of updates too. It is recommended that you use the latest version of an operating system, such as Windows 10, as older systems will not be able to keep up with other technology or have as much protection from malicious attack. Read more about the business benefits offered by Windows 10.
Changing IT support partner can sometimes be seen as a daunting process, but it doesn’t have to be. Good IT support is vital to the efficient and successful running of your business. If the IT support you pay for is not proactive or responsive enough, then choosing an IT support provider who gives you everything you need for business growth would be a worthwhile addition to your action plan for the coming year. The right IT support provider will be able to deliver an uninterrupted service with a seamless transition from your previous supplier.
As with all aspects of business, IT support is something that should be reviewed regularly to ensure that your company is partnered with the provider best suited to its business needs.
There are many ways IT can be used to deliver improvements across your whole business. Here are just some of them:
Provide better customer service
If you’re selling a product, rather than a service, it’s likely you’ll be using an ecommerce platform for your business, selling to customers at the click of a button. And if the customer creates an account, as long as you are within GDPR regulations (your IT support provider should be able to advise you on this if you’re unsure) you also have a list of customers for future marketing purposes.
Online chat support, interactive websites and an active presence on social media mean customers can find what they need, ask questions and have them answered quickly and efficiently.
Complaints can be dealt with immediately; customers are kept happy and are more likely to return and recommend your products and services.
Keep your business secure
Modern technology allows companies to keep financial and staff records safe, with multiple layers of security such as two-factor authentication and encrypted passwords. Cyber security is one of the main IT challenges that businesses face and to keep ahead of hackers, businesses must keep their IT systems updated. A good IT support partner will be proactive in making sure your business employs the correct IT security procedures to prevent security breaches.
Task and email management systems help employees keep on top of responsibilities and their inboxes, so nothing is missed.
A good IT support partner will help you to use technology to automate processes, minimise downtime and improve collaboration between teams.
Improve flexibility and wellbeing
With the right IT systems, staff can work from home or on the move, without compromising on security or productivity. Flexible working increases productivity and can be offered as part of a more attractive package to recruit and retain talent, driving further business growth.
Create a better working environment
Communication and project management solutions, such as Microsoft Teams, allows colleagues to communicate, collaborate and share ideas more easily, in and out of the office. This boosts morale and productivity.
Information Technology is continually evolving and has the power to increase business productivity, improve growth and expand market-reach. IT problems shouldn’t hold your business back so ensure you have good IT support in 2020 and let IT problems be a thing of the past.
- If you’re thinking about switching from your current IT support provider get in touch here, or give us a call on 020 7101 0544.
- Discover more about our IT support services
- Want to learn more about what the right IT support looks like? Check out this article on how to choose the best IT Support provider for your business.