Small and mid-size businesses are always trying to do more with less, executives are pulled in 100 different directions and technology often falls through the cracks while businesses focus on core business functions. SMBs don’t have the time to track the latest tech news, cost-saving breakthroughs, security threats and common break/fix tips, so it is no surprise that they often make technology mistakes that can be costly.
Insufficient Tech Support
Problem: Small businesses often rely on the office “computer guru” or a technically savy friend-of-a-friend to provide technical advice and deal with technical issues only to waste countless hours on the phone with a manufactures’ support staff. Rarely, in these cases, do issues get resolved in a timely manner and a ridiculous amount of valuable time is spent troubleshooting when time could be spend in a more productive manner. These support methods are not cost-effective nor are they efficient.
Solution: SMBs need knowledgeable, trusted IT partners who are proficient in current technologies. A trusted technology advisor knows how to align your business’ goals with the appropriate technology. Issues get resolved quicker and everyone can go on doing their jobs to help the business grow and succeed.
Problem: Retaining old PCs longer than three or four years often results in repair and support costs that exceed the price of a new system. Old and obsolete hardware is less efficient, increases downtime, can cause staff and customer frustration, lost opportunities and lead to damaging data loss.
Solution: The typical PC life cycle is three to four years. With the emergence of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), business are able to purchase cost-effective “thin” clients or allow employees to use their own devices, which can save businesses a bundle. Work with your IT consultant to leverage their knowledge, experience and vendor relationships to negotiate an affordable price that meets your specific needs goals.
Insufficient Power Protection
Problem: A single power outage or surge can shorten the life of PCs, printers, network components and other equipment. Unfortunately, those decade-old power strips and surge protectors could result in damaged systems or corrupted or lost data from insufficient power protection.
Solution: Businesses should use quality battery backup devices with built in surge suppression. Connect all servers to uninterruptible power supplies and test them regularly to confirm adequate failover protection is in place. Since surge suppressor quality varies, organizations should purchase this kind of equipment from trusted technology vendors. And since surge suppressors and batteries wear over time, businesses should replace them regularly. Your IT partner can install and configure battery backups so that your valuable hardware and data are properly protected.
Problem: Most employees are only using 20% of the available features in the software they use, which means 80% of the features, time-saving functions and cost-reducing capabilities are not being used. This is not only a waste, but results in efficiencies. Tasks that could be done in moments, or be better organized, take more time and more errors are made.
Solution: Take advantage of the technical training and education offered by your technology consultant. Your IT partner can help you access training, often free or inexpensive, through their vendor relationships. Lunch and learn sessions, webinars or even a few hours of one-on-one training often opens businesses eyes to new features and capabilities that make everyone’s job easier and save a lot of time. You will often be amazed by what you learn.
Problem: Large organizations aren’t the only targets of hackers. Hackers have created innumerable automated programs that scour the Internet continually seeking poorly secured systems, servers, PCs, and networks to infect and exploit. Unfortunately SMBs are often inadequately protected. Businesses that fail to properly secure client and customer data often find themselves in the middle of a security crisis that results in bad press, lost sales, forfeited customer trust or fines.
Solution: Work with your IT consultant to help prevent security failures. Implement strong password policies for all PCs, servers, applications and network equipment. Keep operating systems, firmware and applications updated with the latest security patches. Deploy business-class firewalls. Secure wireless networks. Implement Internet and e-mail usage policies that preclude personal use of those technologies. Deploy proven security software and regularly perform security audits to correct weaknesses. Your technology partner can help you put all these systems into place.
Weak Backup Strategy
Problem: Despite the range of affordable and simple backup solutions available, many small business fail to backup their data — once it is gone, it is often unrecoverable. There is a 50% chance a business will fail if critical data is lost.
Solution: Data backup is critical to a businesses’ survival. Work with your IT consultant or technology partner to ensure that you have the proper backup systems in place and that the proper data is being backed up regularly. Your technology partner will also make sure the data is recoverable. Consultants also prove invaluable in updating backup routines when software upgrades, migrations, and other updates change critical file locations. Further, technology professionals can ensure business data remains secure, which is a critical concern for medical professionals, financial institutions and retails stores.
Virus, spyware and spam exposure
Problem: Viruses, spam and spyware suck resources and expose your sensitive data. The BBC reports that unprotected PCs become infected with viruses within eight seconds of being connected to the Internet. Small businesses are investing valuable time, money, and system resources processing, delivering, and even storing unsolicited e-mail messages like spam. Moreover, it is estimated that spyware infections (which track user information and sensitive data and corrupt systems) require two-and-a-half days to resolve and cost small and medium-size businesses $8,000 a year.
Solution: Your IT consultant and technology advisor can help you put proper security policies into place, install reputable antivirus and anti-spyware applications, perform regular automated antivirus and anti-spyware scans and regularly review security program log files to confirm proper operation.
A managed IT service provider and technology consultant take a lot of pressure off business owners who don’t have time to deal with technology. The ROI of working with a competent technology consultant often pays off in the efficiencies and security these experts are able to deliver.
ACE IT Solutions offers a full suite of technology solutions to help SMBs stay productive and competitive. Contact us today at 908-704-0400 for a free consultation.