By Jim Molis — Kansas City Business Journal
A business is only as good as its technology.
A company’s competitiveness. The quality of its products and services. Its ability to operate efficiently and effectively. All of these are dependent upon a company having a technology strategy and proper execution.
Eight of 10 businesses expect to spend as much or more on information technology in 2021 as they did in 2020 while they transform to enable remote workforces, adopt digital workflows, optimize business operations and innovate to meet the needs of a new market in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, IDC says in a report on the state of IT.
“Technology is paramount to any business, no matter what industry they are in and what industries they serve,” said Steve Azinger, a managing partner of DigitalNET, the managed network and advanced technology services arm of GFI Digital. “There’s a compelling need for a company to provide technology services for themselves or to find a partner that can deliver for them at a high level."
Steve Azinger is a managing partner of DigitalNET,
the managed network and advanced technology services arm of GFI Digital.
But business owners sometimes need guidance in creating digital strategies and choosing the right solutions to pursue them — as well as assistance in implementing and maintaining their technology, for example. Today, many executives are relying upon the services offered by firms like GFI Digital to focus on technology strategy and execution. As a result, business leaders have more time and resources to focus on their core business.
Considering three essential elements of IT support can simplify an owner’s decisions and ensure that a company’s technology provides a seamless experience to everyone it supports.
1. Managed security “Security should be top of mind for organizations of all sizes because criminals and bad actors are out there trying to exploit businesses,” Azinger said. “Security is crucial to providing business continuity.”
Security’s importance is reflected in today’s technology spending trends. Worldwide spending on security-related hardware, software, and services will increase by a compound annual growth rate of 8.1% by 2024, reaching $174.7 billion, IDC projects in its security spending guide.
Managed security services will be the fastest-growing segment of the security market with a five-year compound annual growth rate of 13.6%, IDC says. Security services in general, including managed security, integration and consulting services, will account for half of all spending, researchers project.
Providers of managed security services protect companies from cyber threats. A good provider will use technology to detect and respond to intrusions via endpoints like smartphones or desktop computers, for example, he said. It also will provide an additional layer of security by having people watch for intrusions around the clock.
“Technology is great, but sometimes the human eye can see and detect things that technology can’t,” Azinger said. “That extends into the server realm as well.”
2. Off-site data backup Companies usually know that it is important to back up data in case of a cyberattack, natural disaster or any other interruption in operations. But they are often overwhelmed by their options, Azinger said.
“It’s a very crowded market, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all,” he explained. “It’s important [for IT experts] to work with businesses to understand their environment and their sweet spot for maintaining operations, should they need to recover data.”
Azinger urges businesses to consider their recovery-point objective (RPO) and their recovery-time objective (RTO). “Business stakeholders need to define how much data loss is acceptable in the event of digital or natural disaster (RPO). They must also carefully determine the amount of time acceptable to recover data (RTO).”
At first, businesses typically say that they cannot afford to lose any data and that they need it all recovered immediately. But they soon indicate that they can sacrifice some data and time when they realize that they probably could not afford to continuously back up data, he said.
3.Efficiency and timeliness A company needs consistent IT support to run smoothly and recover quickly if business is interrupted. So documenting policies and educating users on procedures are also crucial steps.
Businesses also benefit from the advice of experts who can help company leaders identify and implement technology that would increase efficiency.“ Having the guidance of a firm with the experience and knowledge to utilize technology to drive business outcomes should be a priority,” Azinger said.
Whether they are internal resources or external partners, IT professionals can ensure that a company’s technology infrastructure meet business needs. “There also should be some degree of flexibility for scale so that a business could pivot to another revenue opportunity as it grows without putting undue strain on the underlying technology that it would need to deliver those services,” Azinger said.
A business also should know how to request help from its IT team and what type of response to expect. Response and service times should be written out and communicated clearly.
Any business that uses technology — which, today, is all of them — needs IT support to use that technology well, and to keep it working well.
GFI Digital is your outsourced CIO and trusted resource for all things IT. Learn more. Jim Molis is a writer for The Business Journals Content Studio.