Whether it’s Cloud computing, the Internet of Things, or customer relationship management software, technology is omnipresent these days. Nearly any small business who hopes to be competitive must incorporate technology into their infrastructure and continually evolve along with it. This has created several technology challenges that could affect your small business.
Although technology has made small businesses more efficient than ever, it’s a double-edged sword when you consider the security issues it creates. The alarming thing is that the number of data breaches and overall cyber attacks is on the rise.
In fact, a study on the Identity Theft Resource Center website states that “The number of U.S. data breaches tracked in 2015 totaled 781, which represents the second highest year on record since the ITRC began tracking breaches in 2005.”
As a result, there are now federal laws and regulations in place regarding cyber security — and small businesses must be diligent about protecting the sensitive information of both consumers and employees. It’s important that you take proper steps to mitigate security risks:
- Develop internal policies (e.g. password management)
- Keep software updated
- Check the security protocol of IT providers
- Set parameters on which employees have access to sensitive information
Regardless of the precautions taken, the potential for a disaster that temporarily renders an IT system useless is always possible. It could be something basic like a power outage due to severe weather or something more nefarious like direct sabotage.
Prolonged downtime means you’re unable to do business, you’re losing money and your customers are unhappy. In some cases, this can even be a blow to your company’s reputation and brand image.
While you can never completely eliminate the chance of a disaster occurring, there are a few things you can do to minimize downtime — and it all starts with taking a proactive approach:
- Create a data recovery plan (e.g. archiving data and scheduled backups)
- Continually monitor your network and promptly address any anomalies
- Utilize firewalls and anti-virus software
- Maintain IT equipment and replace devices when necessary
When you initially implement an IT system, it may be totally sufficient for several years. At some point, you’re likely to run into complications if your business continues to grow but your IT system doesn’t grow along with it. In fact, this is a problem that many small businesses encounter because they may not have the budget to immediately buy the costly software/hardware they need.
Consider the “big picture” when investing in IT. Elasticity is key, so you should consider whether the equipment/software you purchase will still be viable in 5, 10 or even 15 years. It’s also wise to utilize Cloud technology because of its inherent flexibility and scalability.
When running a small business, you’re no doubt going to face technology challenges at some point. By understanding what you’re up against and taking proactive measures, you can usually find effective solutions to minimize many of your obstacles.