There’s a lot to think about when running your own small business – from sales, supplies, staff to premises. However it’s important that your information technology is not an afterthought. Not only will it help your business operate more efficiently but it could stop cybercrime from eating into your profits.
How ICT benefits small businesses
In the modern age it’s difficult to imagine a business which does not make some use of information and communication technology (ICT). From the obvious and primary uses such as email, internet browsing, spreadsheets and simple databases typically found in most businesses, to more sophisticated uses by ambitious firms, such as:
● E-commerce – where customers can purchase your product or services and/or businesses can order supplies via the internet.
● Use of SaaS (Software as a Service) – making use of online software to which firms subscribe to manage their accounts, staff, HR etc.
● Cloud computing – storing files ‘in the cloud’ in order to access your own information and data from internet-enabled locations and devices other than those based on site. The increase in remote working and mobile devices has driven demand – six in ten businesses and five in ten charities currently use cloud computing (Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2018)
● Analytics – where businesses can analyse behind-the-scenes data and gain deeper insights (e.g. on their customers, sales, website searches etc.) to help improve processes and sales.
A digital transformation is taking place in businesses of all sizes.
Good choices and efficient use of IT helps firms to manage many aspects of their business which would otherwise cost more. What’s more, new ICT strategies are emerging all the time which enable businesses to operate more efficiently. It all adds up to boosting the productivity of SMEs and potentially reaching more customers.
Why SMEs need to pay attention to your ICT
However, just as with the other operational aspects of your business, your ICT choices and subsequent maintenance need attention.
Imagine not being able to find that file, print that document or find contact details when you’re in a rush? We’ve all experienced the dreaded frustration of deadlines looming and having work interrupted to sort out an IT problem, for example:
• Computers not working properly
• Wireless devices not connecting to each other
• Printers failing
• Company websites malfunctioning or crashing.
When the worst does happen, it can be a real threat to your business continuity. Computer downtime can prove costly, with staff distracted, sales held up and customers kept waiting. Moreover 43% of small businesses don’t have a business continuity, disaster recovery or crisis management plan in place. This can makes SMEs less resilient resulting in major losses.
Given the importance of IT, you would imagine it’s given some priority, right? Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Too many firms just muddle through or rely on non-expert staff to set up their systems. These overburdened staff are then called on to troubleshoot everyone’s IT problems. At a time when 47% of SMEs say that finding the right staff is their biggest business challenge , it makes sense to provide the right working environment where their IT equipment works and staff don’t become demotivated.
Small businesses can be left behind and placed at a competitive disadvantage if they don’t have digital competence and beyond that, explore digital trends. It can be a false economy to compromise on such as important aspect of your business.
The threat of Cybercrime to small businesses
Not only do you want your IT working efficiently but you also want to keep your business and IT systems safe from the growing threat of cybercrime . Increasing numbers and types of security threats have added to the complexity of business IT.
The government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2018 found that:
● Over four in ten businesses (43%) and two in ten charities (19%) experienced a cyber security breach or attack in the last 12 months;
● Under three in ten businesses (27%), and two in ten charities (21%) have a formal cyber security policy or policies.
Managing and protecting against cybercrime risks now goes with the territory of running a business. Some of the basic cybersecurity measures which businesses need to have in place for preventing cyber-attacks include having adequate firewalls, good password protocols and two-factor authentication. Sadly criminals are constantly evolving their attacks. It means that security measures need to be combined with staff having to have a high level of awareness so that they can spot, for example, phishing emails.
Are you confident that your IT is protected and safe from cyber attacks?
Breaches in personal data can now attract hefty fines and reputation damage. The storage of data is widespread with a majority of businesses of all sizes holding such data – 55% of micro or small businesses, through to 78% of large businesses, according to official sources.
The new GDPR laws (General Data Protection Regulation) which came into force in May 2018 mean that all EU business, including those in the UK, have responsibilities to protect personal data. The Information Commissioner’s Office has the power to enforce penalties even where data breaches are not the result of obvious malicious activity and where breaches occur due to human error, for example, failure to wipe obsolete IT equipment before disposal.
So while you’re busy looking after existing customers and winning new sales, who’s looking after your IT and keeping it safe?
A solution for peace of mind about your IT
When it comes to your IT, there is an alternative to going-it-alone or relying on busy in-house staff. Engaging a professional IT firm to manage your IT support services may not be as expensive as you think. The benefits of using an expert firm to manage your IT service include:
● Reliability of your IT services
● Saves you time
● Keeps your IT budget in check
● Allows you to compete with other and larger firms
● Protects your business against cyber crime
In short, using a managed IT service can prove a sound investment which gives you a seamless service and peace of mind. It could also help you leverage the best IT solutions for your sector.
SME business-owners or managers from a variety of sectors – from retailers, to service suppliers to charities and educational organisations – often find that a small professional IT firm can understand their needs and provide a perfect fit.
360ict Ltd is an experienced IT support company which aims to help small businesses make the most of their ICT choices and stay safe online. We provide a variety of hassle-free IT support services for clients with flexible and sensible pricing structures we can meet your needs.
To arrange your on-site review or talk to our IT support team about your options, call 0204 538 4774 today.