CIO, IT Security, Office 365 | September 2020
As the UK economy re-opens, businesses have begun to size up what they have learnt during the Covid-19 lockdown - and how they can best prepare for uncertainties ahead.
Certainly, most organisations have never before supported so many employees working remotely. The pace of change has been, of necessity, rapid. And many companies that were not previously ‘digitally-minded’ have decided to embrace new working places, practices and processes for the longer term.
Customers’ expectations have also changed, and in sectors such as healthcare, meetings, whether with a patient or a sales rep, will continue to be held online rather than in-person for the foreseeable future.
Businesses face the challenge of managing both traditional IT and the new digital landscape simultaneously. Many small and medium sized companies do not have the resources and expertise in-house or via their existing IT support contractor, to prioritise and implement smart ways of capitalising on the digital gains they have made so far. For these reasons, the government has stepped in to help small businesses by providing access to grants of up to £5,000 specifically for the purchase of new equipment, technology and specialist advice.
There is clearly a direct correlation between business resilience and the way in which up-to-date technology can speed recovery when a setback occurs - or prevent it altogether. Depending on the ‘digital maturity’ of your organisation, here are 5 fail-safe ways to make best use of your £5,000 investment in new technology.
Studies have shown that a company’s own staff represent the greatest threat to its security. Most organisations have never supported so many remote workers, and employees themselves may be unclear about best practice for working from home.
Cyber Essentials is a Government certification scheme that helps small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) achieve a high level of cyber security by taking basic steps such as maintaining strong password protection, up-to-date software and firewalls, and anti-malware.
The certification process will identify and mitigate security issues and help ensure your staff are properly trained. You can also protect your systems from new and recurring threats over the longer term and enjoy a competitive advantage when tendering for new business against non-certified companies.
If your business has struggled to provide employees with access to everyday productivity tools during the pandemic, now is the time to move your core business applications into the Cloud. Implementing Office 365 ensures that staff don’t have to rely on on-premises hardware, making it much simpler for them to work from home, on-site or any remote location, using their own devices if required.
Office 365 also provides access to a free, fully integrated, and secure videoconferencing platform at a time when online meetings are the new normal and offer many opportunities for cost and time saving going forward.
Data sharing and collaborative working lies at the heart of an effective business strategy. Inefficiencies and data silos exist within many businesses, and workarounds usually evolve over time. But these have all too often been exposed and found wanting by the rapid shift to home working.
Microsoft SharePoint is sometimes partially implemented in smaller organisations, but not in a way that unleashes its powerful cloud-based document management and collaboration capabilities to full effect. This is the moment to ensure that your business has robust data sharing strategies in place for processing and exchanging sensitive information, regardless of where employees are based, particularly if your business operates in regulated sectors.
This is one of the powerful steps you can take to future-proof your IT and your business.
If you have already implemented Office 365 and SharePoint, and have a robust Cyber Security solution in place, then it is time to look at how new applications, developed using commonly available technology, can provide agile, responsive custom solutions to specific business needs.
Using standard Office development tools to better effect can have a major impact on your ability to respond to changing circumstances. Whether it’s to automate reporting for faster, more effective decision-making or to replace inefficient processes, such as manual sorting and filing of data, simple Microsoft Power BI applications can provide the efficiency boost that your business needs to get ahead.
Prioritising any significant technology spend is one of the most important decisions a business can make, especially in unpredictable times.
Epoq IT is a long-established Managed Service Provider with proven track record in customer service and practical technology innovation that boosts business resilience and efficiency. We provide an expert Chief Information Officer (VCIO) service to help businesses gain clarity about their current status including opportunities and threats, what options are available, how to resource and manage the implementation of their chosen technology solution, and measure ROI.
We are offering a free CIO workshop for anyone wishing to apply for a government technology grant. This service provides an impartial sounding board for you to review and prioritise IT spend, identifying the technology and services that will have the biggest positive impact on your business and producing a clear action plan that delivers substantial and on-going benefits.
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Written by James Clark
I focus on continuous improvement to the way IT Service Management is delivered to many SME clients. I’m enthusiastic about enhancing the efficiency of IT processes to support business objectives.