A common question I get from customers is: “How can I ensure my IT environment is always up to date?” It arises because the world of IT is constantly changing.
There’s a balance required – certainly new technologies can support your business growth and create efficiencies to support your productivity levels. However, in the current climate, IT budgets and resources are already stretched – the last thing you want to deal with is spiraling costs from an unwise IT investment.
There is no simple answer, but we tend to refer to three key areas that should always be a key focus for all businesses.
One of the core reasons investments in security rarely go amiss is because the threat landscape is constantly evolving. This means even secure systems become insecure over time.
While imagining security as a technology problem is tempting, that’s only partially true. Yes, system configuration is important, with the introduction of measures such as two-factor authentication or conditional access, as is patching and updating. But ‘the human factor’ is arguably more important by far; as staff come and go, keeping everyone on the same page is crucial.
Along with our product training where the features, benefits and potential risks of technology solutions are discussed, we recommend you invest in cyber security awareness training for your employees. When your people are vigilant, know how to identify a scam, and practice good cyber hygiene, the chances of a hacker getting through are greatly diminished.
2. Communication and collaboration
The challenges of the past two years have demonstrated the value of connectivity and multimedia communication within organisations.
At Kordia Modern Workplace one of the things we do for our customers is help them make the most of all the included features in their product sets, whether that be the complete Microsoft 365 platform, or the Google suite of products. Many Microsoft 365 users in particular are missing an opportunity around using technology they already have to collaborate within their organisations.
By now most folks are quite familiar with Teams and its features as a video, chat, and phone platform. However, we still see a lot of organisations only using limited aspects of 365, such as the classic Office applications of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, along with Outlook. The newer features including OneDrive and SharePoint, Yammer and indeed Teams, tend to be underutilised or not used at all.
There’s a compounding effect when using the complete set of services available in the platform to their full potential. So, while training is part of every new implementation, it’s also valuable on an ongoing basis, exposing existing and newly introduced features contained in the software you’ve already paid for.
Specifically with SharePoint and Teams, there are multiple features and benefits which underpin improved collaboration, mobility and productivity. By combining all Microsoft 365 applications, sharing information including documents, videos and more, and engaging with colleagues and customers using the best medium for any given context becomes far easier. SharePoint is most often used for document management, but it is highly customisable – and that means it can do a lot for your organisation, including acting as a repository, accelerating access to information, and facilitating seamless teamwork. Yammer, as an ‘internal’ social network, is a powerful tool for building camaraderie and tapping into ideas.
Collaboration is at the core of success. When people work together effectively, we achieve great things – Microsoft 365 is all about improving and accelerating collaboration, so there’s more good work done, and less left to guesswork.
3. Backup, disaster recovery and business continuity
If another major earthquake struck and your offices were redzoned, what would you do?
A simple question like this often throws backup, disaster recovery and business continuity measures into sharp focus. This is especially important considering many small businesses are likely to close after just one week completely offline. Unfortunately, many simply don’t know what they might do in this situation – and that’s a problem.
Having a plan is therefore the first step and running a few scenarios can be useful in formulating that plan. Knowing what data you have and where it’s stored, is the next step. Then the mechanics of it can be worked out; typically, you want at least two sites where a full backup is maintained, and one of those should be in the cloud.
Again, with backup, disaster recovery and business continuity, the measures sufficiently robust for your business might differ from those of any other. The important factor is determining your risk threshold and tolerance, then putting suitable measures in place. This includes an assessment of data loss tolerance: can you afford the loss of a day’s data? A weeks? A months? What’s the impact on your business?
Relying on your cloud applications (including Microsoft 365) isn’t necessarily enough, either. Bear in mind these and other applications aren’t designed as backups and that means they are fallible. What they can be, is a component within your backup, disaster recovery and business continuity arrangements.
And one last word. Even with good plans in place for backup and restore, the missing link is often the ‘restore’ component. The best backup in the world is useless if it can’t restore! Regular reviews and testing are therefore essential.
While everyone’s IT requirements differ, there are certain things that make sense for all businesses, no matter what size you are. Across security, communication and collaboration, and backup, disaster recovery and business continuity , there are routinely opportunities for improvement and where targeted investments can and do make an ongoing difference.