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29 Jul 2016

The Digital Age – How do you benefit from the efficiencies and increased productivity that technology can bring whilst still protecting your business and IT systems from cyber criminals?

The digital age has seen a dramatic change in the way we shop and live our personal lives, but also how we work. Technology has enabled us to do more, quicker and has given us global access to so much more whilst remaining in the comfort of our home, office or through our mobile devices. With the evolution of computing devices, the Internet and social media along with the introduction of technology innovation such as 3D printing, drones and driverless cars, we are creating a world that enables us to have greater control over our better and longer lives.

The rate and scale of change has been radical and shows no sign of slowing down. Technology is enabling greater accuracy of data, analysis, automation of routine processes and better utilisation of employee’s critical skills more effectively.

The problem we see many businesses face is that the options available are overwhelming and making the initial decision difficult and time consuming. As well as deciding what technology, software, hardware etc. you are going to purchase, businesses then have to consider:

  • How does it integrate with your current IT?
  • If it is software – will other software need upgrading to make sure they work with the new software?
  • Will installing it/changing it slow down your system?
  • Who is going to manage it once it is up and running?
  • Can you get more out of your current set up rather than implementing more?
  • Do employees need training based on the changes you are making?
Balancing technology enhancements & maintaining the personal touch

In the last year or so, whilst technology innovation continues to drive business forward, people have recognised the importance of personal relationships, meeting face-to-face, delivering a quality service and maintaining transparency in relationships. For example, we know that at the point a client is trying to contact our service desk, they want to get through to us immediately, not go through lots of options (to direct the call) before speaking to an engineer. Our clients, as non-IT businesses, like to have visibility and an understanding of their service and control over what is happening which is why we provide them with access to what has happened each month.

This suggests that it is the combination of innovative thinking and creativity from employees and logical and rational technology efficiency is the way forward in this digital age. Computers don’t have emotions or feelings to deal with certain situations or show initiative. The pace of work is moving faster, so using technology to enhance the routine tasks and allow employees to have time to think, build relationships, use initiative and be creative can be extremely rewarding for any business.

Employee roles in business are much more diverse than they were before and the only way to support this well is to better utilise technology to allow for this level of complexity. By doing this, employees can better manage your client base.

Evolving a business

Evolution is a must for any thriving business. However, this doesn’t mean a complete move to digitalisation. Some processes might be digitised but interpreting and communication remains an employee activity.

When making changes, you need to communicate to your employees what is happening, but to make life easy; you also need to ‘sell’ the change to them by explaining the benefits – which are actually your drivers for making the change anyway! If people can see a benefit to them, in taking time to learn something new, they will make sure they commit time to that activity.

  • Will it reduce the time it takes to complete an activity?
  • Will it make it easier to produce monthly reports?
  • Will it give them more time to spend on an activity they enjoy?
  • Will it reduce paperwork?
  • Would learning the new functionality/software/processes help them in their careers
  • Will they be able to analyse higher quality and more reliable data to optimise processes and provide clients with information?

For the business itself, automation can mean making a process much faster, better and often cheaper.

Are you now leaving your business more open to cyber criminals?

So, having addressed all of the points above, you are then faced with how you protect your business from cybercrime. It’s a genuine threat to any business, and also you are now relying more heavily on your IT.

This is ok, as I mentioned before, it can be more disastrous to do nothing and struggle to keep up with your competition. Realistically you are already dependent on IT to manage your business and connected to the Internet (which is the gateway) so the threat is already there. However, you do need to have cyber threats at the top of your list of things to address and constantly monitor when making any change to your IT systems.

We have seen continued commitment from the UK Government in trying to protect UK businesses including changes from the ONS and certifications/schemes to help organisations protect their business.

As Cyber Essentials says on their website – some basic controls can be put in place to better protect your business covering boundary firewalls & internet gateways, secure configuration, user access control, malware protection and patch management.

The choices and decisions on all of this can be overwhelming, but it means there is likely to be a solution out there that best suits your business. Start with what you want to achieve and work backwards. With sensible investment and maintained awareness, you can be in a much stronger position.

 

If you would like to discuss any of the above, please do get in touch and call us on 01727 843888 or email us at blog@assign-it.co.uk

 

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