In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic up-ended the way much of the world conducts business. Many organizations shifted employees to partial or full-time remote work schedules. The most prepared companies already had cloud infrastructure in place and the technology to collaborate remotely.
Meanwhile, other businesses scrambled to assemble the right mix of hardware, software, and services to make the remote situation work for them. Regardless of your preparedness level, the COVID-19 crisis shed light on the importance of maintaining a flexible work environment.
In SWZD’s 2021 State of IT Report, the company found that “76% of businesses plan on long-term IT changes,” as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, while tech spending is set to remain stable.
Now more than ever, the need to adopt new technology and future-proof your business should be top of mind for organizations who wish to remain competitive in the post-COVID economy.
Tech Tools to Provide Flexibility for Your Business
The following are some essential tech tools and resources that you should consider adopting to create a more collaborative and secure work environment for your business and employees.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations realized that their existing communication tools were not as effective or efficient as they could be, regardless of location. Employees also quickly became overwhelmed by the need to switch between several different applications.
Unified Communications services, such as those offered by Aureon, provide a reliable, all-in-one solution for better employee communication. Cloud calling, messaging, and meeting capabilities all occur in one centrally managed platform for easier collaboration and increased productivity.
The way a team communicates also impacts your company culture and employee morale. So this is an area where it pays to invest in the right technology tools and software for the job.
Cloud-Based Applications & Services
Your business is likely already working within certain cloud-based applications and services. Salesforce, Cisco Webex, and Microsoft Office 365 are all examples of widely used cloud-based applications that are accessible via a stable internet connection. These products encourage flexibility and give your employees the ability to work from anywhere. More often than not, cloud-based applications operate on a monthly or annual, per-user subscription model, so it’s worthwhile to evaluate what applications you are using on a quarterly or annual basis.
Pro tip: A hosted virtual desktop lets you replicate applications and software across devices, meaning that you no longer have to purchase multiple access codes for individual employees.
As more of the workforce moved to working from home, individual employees quickly realized the internet they had wasn’t always conducive to getting things done. In its fourth quarter 2020 Broadband Insights Report, OpenVault reported that “the average household used 452 GB of downstream and 31 GB of upstream bandwidth in 4Q, supporting four streaming services and more than 10 connected devices.” In total, average data consumption was up 40% from 2019.
The report ultimately concluded that “service providers have experienced across-the-board growth in consumption and speeds, testing networks as never before.” Many remote workers scrambled to upgrade their internet plans and devices to account for the spike in data usage. There is no doubt that a reliable internet connection at home — and at office locations which have servers with company data — is essential to a productive and flexible workforce.
According to SWZD’s 2021 State of IT Report
, “endpoint device security is the top concern IT pros have for their remote workforce.” Spending on employee security training tools, anti-ransomware solutions, and authentication services, is expected to rise as more companies embrace remote work. With increased workplace flexibility comes a need for enhanced security solutions.
Managed IT Services Free Up Your Time and Brainpower
We’ve already outlined some of the tech tools that provide flexibility for your business. However, unless you’ve got a dedicated IT department at your disposal, it’s easy to quickly become overwhelmed navigating the finer points of infrastructure and network security.
A managed IT services provider, such as Aureon, will work alongside your business to deliver worry-free protection, support, and security for your IT infrastructure. This frees up your in-house employees to focus on meeting business objectives while also pursuing new opportunities.
Here are a few examples of the managed IT services available to advance your business.
Cloud Hosting & Data Center Services
A managed IT services provider can help you shift your IT infrastructure to the cloud. A move to a cloud-based infrastructure makes your business more flexible and adaptable to change. It also comes with a number of benefits such as scalability, predictable costs, and 24/7 monitoring.
Dedicated Internet Access
While remote employees quickly discovered they had to upgrade their household internet plans, many organizations failed to account for the increased need for upload capacity from their office locations which have servers with company data. The influx of remote employees trying to access on-prem or cloud servers tested even the strongest of companywide networks.
If you’re still struggling with bandwidth issues, whether upstream or downstream, you may want to consider reaching out to a managed IT services provider. They will be able to point you to the best high-speed, high-performance dedicated internet access (DIA) option for your business. The end result is a more reliable and stable internet connection that will maximize productivity.
Backup & Disaster Recovery
Backup and disaster recovery
are often packaged together as one IT service, but these are actually two separate solutions that work together to help companies reduce downtime. A managed IT services provider has the experience necessary to help protect your data.
Network Monitoring & Maintenance
Managed IT services providers can provide 24/7 network monitoring and maintenance that ensures your software is up to date, protects your sensitive data, and eliminates downtime. An investment in a proactive security solution helps avoid network breaches and disruptions.
Assess Your Setup and Invest in New Technology
An organization’s ability to adapt to change can mean the difference between long-term business success or total failure. The most resilient of businesses recognize the importance of investing in information technology to increase flexibility, encourage productivity, and foster communication.
While it’s easy to get caught up in pursuing “the next big thing,” it’s unrealistic for businesses to adopt every single new piece of technology on the market. Before investing in or upgrading your business technology, it’s helpful to assess your IT maturity level and identify immediate needs.
That said, there are some essential technology tools and IT services that almost any organization should consider investing in to future-proof their business, regardless of maturity level. And if you find yourself struggling with where to begin, the tech experts at Aureon can help guide the way.
Do you consider your current business setup to be future-proof? What sort of IT gaps or problem areas could you use help with?