It’s interesting to see all the tech trends predicted for 2019 - good article here if you’re interested – but to kick off the new year I thought I’d take a different tack and share some pragmatic business advice.
The other day I was asked, “If you could give your clients just 3 or 4 pieces of advice for 2019, what would they be?”
I figured that sharing this answer would be a great way provide actionable information that applies to most businesses that I see today. I’ve put my 4 tips under 2 main categories:
- Reducing Risk by Upping Your Cyber Security Game
- Increasing Profit by Understanding Hidden Technology Costs
Reducing Business Risk by Upping Your Cyber Security Game
I want to start with one of the most important issues on the minds of C-levels today – cyber security. It used to be that all a business needed to do to stay safe was install a decent firewall and spam filter.
Those days of securing just your business’ perimeter are gone!
Nowadays it’s not a question of whether you’ll be hacked, but when. How you respond to that inevitable attack is what separates a mature organization from one that puts itself and its clients at risk.
Your biggest security risk right now is employee behavior and here’s why.
More than 90% of security incidents are due to phishing - emails that hackers send to individuals within an organization, using a link or attachment as the “bait”. If you’re a fact checker or want to learn more, take a read of the Verizon 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report.
Here are my top 2 recommendations for surprisingly cost-effective solutions that can SIGNIFICANTLY reduce your cyber risk.
- Phishing Prevention Training. User training is the absolute best way to fight back against phishing. However, it’s not just one and done. I recommend you sign up for an ongoing phishing simulation program that trains employee throughout the year, using simulated phishing emails that reflect the latest threats. The best solutions include automated campaigns that provide on-the-spot training for users who fall for the exercise, as well as deep analytics and reporting so you can measure your overall risk levels and trends across the company.
- MFA (Multi Factor Authentication.) This is a simple yet effective way to prevent hackers from remotely accessing your data with stolen or guessed credentials. Instead of protecting your applications and systems with just a user name and password, MFA adds an additional step before access is granted. Typically MFA works by sending a text message to your smartphone, asking you to identify yourself with a numerical code. You may be familiar with this already – most banks and even many of your favorite social apps support this feature.
Increasing Profit by Understanding Hidden Technology Costs
Here’s a fun fact for you - almost every single organization I walk into either has software that they are paying for but are not using - or are not using effectively enough to make it worthwhile.
This also extends to hardware.
Small teams that are over-extended often don’t have the time, money or expertise to step back and evaluate their IT infrastructure. Unused servers, old PCs, and outdated and unnecessary layers of equipment all contribute to dollars leaking out the door each month.
Note that those items also can pose significant security risks!
Many organizations believe their direct costs end at the point of purchase, but this is not the case. As an example, research shows that a computer’s base price typically represents less than 20% of its TCO (total cost of ownership).
Technical support, maintenance and labor costs account for the remaining 80%, often due to poor management.
These numbers only get worse when you look at the amount of unused or under-utilized software applications that many organizations are paying monthly subscriptions for.
Here are my top 2 recommendations for creating a more efficient IT environment that ultimately will cost you less in the long run.
- Right-size your IT Infrastructure. Start by building an accurate inventory of hardware, software and appropriate licenses. Note any outdated components (software and hardware) that are not being maintained or are not being used to capacity. Determine if there are overlapping solutions between departments that you are paying twice for, and/or if there is potential to streamline and consolidate legacy applications that have been built up over the years. The majority of the time, migrating to a cloud solution will be much more cost effective.
- Hire an application/workflow specialist. Using technology to eliminate unnecessary steps in business workflows is a great way to immediately improve your bottom line. There are many human tasks that are inefficient and costly, and which can be aided if not replaced with the right technology. This doesn’t mean laying off staff – if done right it often frees up employees to attack more important and strategic tasks that will add real value to the business. It often takes a third party IT consultant to take an unbiased look into the software that you’re using today, and provide recommendations for solutions that you might not even be aware of.
If you’re interested in learning more about creating a more efficient IT environment, I recommend you take a look at our latest white paper “How to Use Technology to Improve Your Bottom Line.” It includes 4 case studies that show how we helped existing Ntiva clients, written from a business perspective.