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Business essentials for 2016

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How well have you budgeted for our recommended business essentials?

Before we know it we will be watching fireworks and drunk revellers welcome in 2016, waving goodbye to another year and heading back to work (sorry!). Like us, I am sure you have all written business plans for the New Year ahead and have visions and targets which you are looking forward to achieving. But, what you got planned for your IT?

Here are what I believe to be essential IT requirements for any business in 2016. No doubt many people reading this will have a lot of these boxes ticked – but if you haven’t, then you really need to be budgeting for these essentials.

All of these items regularly feature in the IT roadmaps we deliver to our clients, and will be addressed and highlighted in detail for the year ahead, but equally, they are valid for any business owner or manager out there.

  1. Secure and accessible company systems and data
  2. Fast Internet
  3. Up to date and consistent user platform
  4. Fast and reliable user hardware
  5. Solid, scalable and resilient IT infrastructure utilising the cloud

How many boxes did you tick? I know most of our clients will be well covered here, but allow me to go through each of these essentials in more detail.

1. Secure and accessible company systems and data

How often do you see news stories of a laptop being left on a train containing masses of sensitive data? Usually these are just the high profile cases, but I can assure you it happens a lot and data exposure is a huge issue. Not only in portable devices, but your overall IT infrastructure. Ask yourself how much of a problem it would be if your company data was exposed or even hacked?

If the answer to this question is “not much” then perhaps don’t read on, but for the majority of us this is a hugely important issue. Here at Priority One we take IT security extremely seriously and are constantly reviewing and improving all our clients’ services and networks, through tried and tested measures.

Locking everything down to your own physical network is no longer the answer, as people don’t work like this anymore. Yes, this is a vital step towards your security goals, but you should also allow for using secure web based platforms and systems. If you have everything onsite you’re effectively throwing all your eggs in the one basket data wise, a scenario which, with fast internet and secure cloud services being the cheapest they have ever been, there really is no excuse for.

At Priority One we offer a complete security platform, from health checks through to external penetration testing, and we’d be more than happy to talk to you. Either way, we recommend you address any security concerns now, as it’s far cheaper and easier to protect than to try and recover.

2. Fast Internet

Although most of London is now running on fast internet, there are still thousands of businesses using ageing copper and ADSL services. These old and slow services can prevent you from taking your business where you want it from an IT perspective. In fact, with the ever progressing mass migration to cloud services, having a slow internet connection will absolutely prohibit your growth, efficiency, business continuity and overall performance.

This may sound over the top or dramatic, but quite simply – it isn’t. Copper based internet and ADSL is slow, unreliable, has no SLA (yes, really) and I fully expect it to be all but phased out completely for most businesses during 2016. Historically, the leap from what is often a cheap service for ADSL (£40-170 monthly) to a fast internet connection (normally fibre) was a hard mental and financial jump. However, with business fibre and wireless services now starting at £45 per month, there really is absolutely no excuse to address this in your 2016 budget. It is the cheapest it has ever been.

And it isn’t a case of having it just because it’s current, having fast internet will allow your business to evolve and progress, whilst also offering masses of business continuity. The age old argument of “yes, but it rarely goes down and staff rarely complain” is the least valid it has ever been, and not one I have ever found to be valid anyway.

3. Up to date and consistent user platform

All too often here at Priority One we take over a company’s IT support, only to find a horror show of multiple hardware and software versions, and sometimes we even come across Windows XP machines still in use. Having your team on the same version of Windows and Office should be another goal for 2016, and there has never been a better time as Microsoft have just released Office 2016 and we all know about the brilliant new Windows 10, to which you can upgrade for free in most cases, hardware allowing (Windows 10 was covered in a previous blog back in September).

4. Fast and reliable user hardware

In my experience, whilst most businesses write off desktop computers after 3-5 years and replace them when required, some will use a PC until it either catches fire or commits suicide and will no longer turn on. This has always baffled me somewhat, as on the odd occasion where I use an older PC, I am horrified at just how slow computers can be, and this is absolutely unnecessary – not to mention hugely inefficient, unproductive and frustrating for your team.

I am not suggesting PC’s should be replaced every two years, but there should definitely be budget allocated for the purchase of new and upgrading of existing machines. The simple introduction of a solid state hard drive – SSD – (see previous blogs here and here) will transform a PC. Of the hundreds of PC’s we have upgraded I am yet to have a single person give me anything other than a positive review. What is a solid state drive? It’s a hard drive with no moving parts, just using super-fast chips – older style mechanical drives are slowly being phased out in daily computing terms, and rightly so. Prices of solid state drives are now ridiculously cheap, with a 256Gb drive now selling for around £65+vat. If you are not using these already, you need to be in 2016.

5. Solid, scalable and resilient IT infrastructure utilising the cloud

Relying on just one server in your office to look after all of your business systems such as email, files, folders, HR and financial information, as well as other business systems, is an old and outdated way of working IT wise. Not to mention a huge business continuity and security risk.

The first step to migrating to the cloud is to have fast internet, without this it just won’t work. Once this is addressed the world of cloud computing is opened up to offer multiple business benefits, from staff productivity to general business continuity, as well as improving overall efficiency and vastly reducing downtime. Not to mention that the total cost of ownership in terms of expensive server hardware can be eliminated alongside the associated cost of keeping up to date.

Key benefits:

  • Instant business continuity and disaster recovery improvements
  • Reliance on your offices, servers and internet completely removed
  • Huge server and associated licensing costs removed from your annual IT budget
  • No need to worry about upgrades to in-house servers, as cloud systems always up to date
  • Data securely available to staff from any device and location
  • Reduced overall IT systems cost
  • Improved efficiency using cloud based systems and data access

If you’re still not convinced or have any questions, please do get in touch.

2016 offers the opportunity to revolutionise your organisation using the above business essentials. Be sure to plan ahead and get on board.

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Tom Merriott

With over 20 years experience working in the IT industry delivering unrivalled customer service, Tom is perfectly suited to advise on what's trending in IT and how best to deliver day-to-day efficiencies for our clients and readers.

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