Here, Andy Hinxman discusses how to end the year on a high note with your IT.
Having small children means Christmas never gets old in our house. Even the same old films look different when you’re watching them with young children. The story of Scrooge is always popular, and although scary in places for children, at least it does have a happy ending. So the question I am going to put to you at this festive time is ‘will your business end the year on a high note in terms of IT or will you feel haunted by the ghost of IT past?’
Christmas and New Year are a good time to review your IT system and think about what has worked, what isn’t working and what changes would benefit you. I’ve been having a look at the predicted trends in terms of IT for 2015-2018 in a study called Emerging Technology Road Map. It is interesting for those of us who run our own business as it will hopefully guide us as to where we need to invest and where we can ease off in terms of spending.
For this year the main concern has been security around storing information on cloud. That is particularly true for public cloud-based infrastructure and platforms where accounts can and do get hacked. So common sense dictates you take care when you login and you don’t leave yourself logged in, particularly when you’re in a public place. As with using a cash machine, do be aware of who could be peering over your shoulder.
Your own cloud-based office systems are seen as a medium risk in terms of security but they are also considered a high value. This is based on the reduced cost of infrastructure ie you don’t need a big server and a man in a black t-shirt to watch over it. The other advantages are improved service quality and improved speed without having to pay for your own infrastructure.
Interestingly the report says the take up of cloud has become less about IT departments worrying about the security of the Cloud itself and more of a broader shift in business towards more risk averse postures because of a number of high profile breaches. There have been a number of those this year, eg Talk Talk, and none of us want these ghosts of Christmas past to come back and haunt us in 2016.
Of course if you are a small business it’s unlikely you have an IT department. You may have chosen to use people like us who do your cloud hosting and security for you. So getting rid of the ghosts of your Christmas past may mean tightening up procedures around access to your systems. This means when staff leave they no longer have access to company information and also password protecting some data. For example when staff share files like financial data or HR they can only see what they need to see.
So now for tackling the Ghosts of Christmas Present. The shift seen in technology in terms of how quickly it now updates and changes means we are more likely to take a ‘sense and respond’ approach according to the report. This means to be able to adapt to these rapid changes, most of us are working to much shorter planning cycles and that is no bad thing from a financial point of view.
Now for the future. Remember how Scrooge was shown two paths? Which one will you take? Despite reservations, email, storage and office are all going the way of cloud. The ‘new normal’ is about separating niche technologies from the mainstream so just because staff want the latest IT doesn’t mean you need it. Instead you need to ensure your cloud-based system is supported by more advanced tools to make sure it works on mobile devices especially phones.
Bring your own device will become more of a norm too. Again be clear with staff about security if they are using their own laptops for work and for home. And interestingly if you have so far avoided Windows 10, it is predicted that won’t last. Most of us are expected to have it in place by mid-2016, whether you like it or not.
So don’t let yourself be haunted by the IT Ghost of Christmas Past. Review your current systems here with the IT Ghost of Christmas Present and bring on that Happy, Healthy and Harmonious IT Ghost of Christmas Future.
Merry Christmas to one and all.