IT is integrated in nearly every business process these days. In years gone by, companies could rely one IT expert to handle all their IT needs. But with the increase in:
the number of devices employees use,
the applications and software that need to integrate effortlessly,
the volume of data generated that can be used to improve business performance,
the extremely rapid pace at which IT is evolving, and
the introduction of the cloud,
IT has become much more specialized than it was just 3 years ago. If your current IT service provider isn’t keeping up with these changes, they are exposing you to unnecessary IT risks.
If your current IT service provider isn’t keeping up with these changes, they are exposing you to unnecessary IT risks.
It’s important to note that IT risks are much more than just security risks such as malware attacks, phishing attempts, ransomware attacks, etc. Although they are more prevalent than ever and it’s the one thing that everybody thinks of when you talk about IT risk, there are many more. Here’s the top 7 IT risks your company is likely being exposed to:
Using outdated knowledge: Often the management team feels overwhelmed by IT in general and therefore just stand back and let IT do their thing. You’re trusting that they’ll keep their knowledge up to date and while everything is working why bother with checking up on them. But nobody likes to spend their time studying and thus often, IT staff rely heavily on their experience resulting in them giving you outdated solutions. Continuous training is key to ensure knowledge remains up to date. Just like you would want to have a surgeon that’s using the latest methods to operate on you, you need to pay attention to you IT expert’s knowledge. And what happens when your inhouse IT person falls ill or needs to take leave? The increased use of IT resources mean that you need to have a backup plan in place to ensure your company continues to function optimally regardless. Contracting a Microsoft Certified Gold Partner to assist with these scenarios before the event happens, is key.
Reactive support: If you’re more often than not notifying IT of a problem, you’re experiencing an IT risk. Apart from it leaving you frustrated, you’re also unable to finish your work. This is how IT support was done. It’s no longer the case when the right tools are used. Unfortunately, there are IT professionals who feel if they implement this tool on their network, the company will think they don’t need them anymore and it will make their services redundant. The opposite happens though. Since the IT pro can move away from problem-solving, the focus can be on giving better business solutions leading to improved business performance.
Company data on employee device: Often corporate data is stored on a personal device. What happens to your company data when an employee resigns or is fired, or the device is stolen? In rare circumstances the employee transfers the data back to a company device, but what if they miss something? Usually though the data is not given back by the employee or thieves, personal usernames and passwords are not revealed to the employer to gain access, and in worst-case scenarios, the company information is lost to a competitor. Where your data resides should not be an IT risk anymore. Being able to work from anywhere means that employees can be more productive, but you need to give them the right tools to do so while remaining 100% in control. It’s not just big corporate data that has a higher value than oil, it’s your company’s information too.
Unnecessary meetings: Meetings are called for various reasons, but often a meeting is unproductive time for most people attending one. The use of the right information technology can make meetings shorter, or completely unnecessary. Wouldn’t that be great? Another benefit you will experience, is better collaboration between employees with the use of a secure company messaging tool that keeps all messages and files in one place giving the company control over who has access to it regardless of where they are working from. Plus, issues around version control on documents will be a thing of the past since employees can work on one document simultaneous! If your competitors are utilizing this technology to improve their productivity and collaboration while you’re not, you’re experiencing an IT risk that has an easy solution.
Solving SA’s skill shortage problem: Most industries in South Africa have a skills shortage and companies need to make it attractive for candidates to want to work for them. Allowing flexible, work-from-anywhere hours is one way. But most businesses don’t know how to tackle this to ensure they still have an effective, productive team. There’s a brilliant, cost effective IT solution that’ll help management keep track of everything the employees are doing, while keeping company information secure and giving teams the flexibility to work from anywhere. If you want the best talent, don’t shy away from engaging with technology just because you don’t understand it. A technology partner who embraces new developments will help not only be able to easily explain the benefits and risks of new solutions but will also know how to use your existing technology to its full potential.
IT purchases: You’re still buying expensive hardware for servers, or software on an outdated licensing model. This is expensive, cash flow draining and completely unnecessary. Companies like Microsoft has evolved their business model meaning you should not be doing the same thing you did a few years ago: spending capital on server hardware or purchasing 3-year licensing agreements. Previously Microsoft had expected you to purchase the highest tier software for every employee in the company. Now though they allow you to purchase with each user’s needs in mind. Receptionists can have tier 1 software while the management team has tier 3. Also, if you need 25 licenses this month, but you’re getting a temporary contract and need an additional 5 licenses for the next 3 months, you simply pay to use it for that period. In 3 months, you go back to only paying for 25 licenses – easy right? This way of licensing software can only be done through a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider who is keeping their licensing knowledge up to date since new updates to licensing models are done continuously.
Outdated DR solutions: No IT professional will never admit to it, but nobody’s Disaster Recovery (DR) server is ever as good as it should be. If you’re using an old server as part of your disaster recovery plan, it’s an IT risk. Why? Your old server’s specs aren’t the same as your working server’s specs. While testing the DR plan is time-consuming and risky in a live environment so it’s not done often enough. Although we all hope we won’t ever have to implement our DR plan, you have to be sure that when you need it, it’s the best it can be. If you’re not using the cloud for your DR, you have an IT risk that is very costly. A cloud DR strategy means you only pay for the server while it is switched on! And not for hardware, office space, electricity, and maintenance as is the case with a secondary DR server. The beauty of using the cloud as part of your DR strategy is that when Eskom load sheds, you can switch on your cloud DR server and continue working as though nothing happened. Your current alternative is to purchase UPSs that only last a couple of hours.
But how do you know who to trust to manage these IT risks? Microsoft can be of assistance. They rely on a network of partners to work closely with the companies that use their products. To ensure these partners are competent representatives, Microsoft encourages partners to maintain employee certification and revenue levels and then rate them accordingly. As information technology has become a huge industry, they’ve broken it down into various channels to make it easier for companies to know which partner is the right one to use to meet their needs. For instance, a Microsoft Gold Cloud Productivity partner will be able to handle all your Office licensing requirements. While a Gold Cloud Platform partner is certified to competently handle all your server – hardware and software – needs. You no longer have to guess.
Crimson Line, having successfully been acting as companies’ IT department, or assisting inhouse IT teams since 1998, has experience with old and new technology. As a Microsoft Gold Cloud and Productivity partner, they are competent to handle up to 25 000 users’ needs.