Every CIO, CFO, CEO should be engaging in a three pronged approach to technology:

  • Solve for Risk and Compliance
  • Make my product better and easier to obtain
  • Make my workforce more effective

Technology decision making can be clarified and refined by aligning all your choices against the focal points above by asking yourself:

Does the spend help meet one, two, or all three of these?

If not, is it really necessary?

If it does meet them, does it replace or overlap with any other solutions?

Does the cost of the solution match the risk, or does it provide a return exceeding the spend?

 

Here are 7 areas Small to Medium Businesses urgently need to consider against those focal points and questions.

1.      IT Security Risks at the Hardware level

The FBI told you to reboot your home router, but have you done anything at work? Have you rebooted? Have you updated firmware? Have you reviewed the firewall rules and settings? Have you checked that your network gear is up to date, patched and safe? If not, you’re allowing huge risks to sit inside your office space with you.

Most companies do not have the luxury of on staff IT Security and Networking personnel. Get a good partner, and someone to validate and verify that the hard work of risk reduction is being done and done right.

2.      Cloud

Everyone is rushing to the cloud, but do you know why you should be there? Is there a cost justification? Will there be better reliability? If you don’t have a business driver and don’t understand the payoff for each system you push up into cloud space, then why are you doing it?

Understand the risks and rewards first, but most companies can benefit from placing their commodity software solutions in a cloud offering. Don’t manage data center resources for anything that is not specifically unique to your business unless other risks or regulations apply. If there is doubt, get a neutral third party expert to weigh in with business-based facts and figures.

3.      Web Site

Your web presence speaks for you and demonstrates to the world whether or not you value your company. You wouldn’t go to an interview in an old pair of sneakers, so why would you let your first impression to potential partners and customers be outdated, outmoded, and out of touch?

Refresh your web site at least yearly, and ensure that the graphics speak to the eyes you want to attract. Get a partner that provides site mechanics that reflect modern design and functionality, and always be watching what the competition is doing – but be one step ahead of them.

4.      E-Commerce

Amazon is beating the pants off traditional retail and it’s not by mistake. You may not be able to go head to head with the likes of them, but can you afford to allow your customers to shop you and then move on to someone like them because it is simpler to press a “buy now” button?

Setting up E-commerce is simpler than you think. You already have the data in your systems. Amazon has only been selling online since 1994, so maybe it’s time you admitted it is working and modernized how your customers can approach your business.

5.      Single Sign On

Password security and identity management have done little to prevent the vast majority of security intrusions we hear about year after year. People share their passwords, reuse them, write them on sticky notes and place them on their monitor, and in general just don’t practice good password hygiene – often using the same passwords at home, online, and at work.

The answer is to give people easy, but robust tools that provide them with one identity across multiple systems, that they cannot share or circumvent. Multi-factor, single identity toolsets can give your team tools that people won’t ignore and cannot share.

6.      Data – Big, Mined, Monetized and other

You’ve been hearing about it for years. Using the data you gather on sales, customers, projects, products and financials to understand trends and react. What if you could use data to predict cash flow issues, automate routine business transactions, and improve decision making? What if you could replace gut feelings with laser focused reports and figures?

It’s common for businesses to install some sort of Business Intelligence system, it’s uncommon that they then apply the system to their business functions. Actionable data is hiding in your CRM, ERP, and spreadsheets. It’s time to uncover the power of your data and unleash its potential.

7.      Integrations

So you’ve adopted the tools and you have the systems in place, but your Accounts Receivable system has not shared with the CRM that your best customer has not paid a bill in more than six month. The sales team is elated by the big orders they are getting, but the finance team is floating the customer more each and every day. Eventually, someone will get around to putting a hold on the account.

Most CRMs have a basic A/R functionality… what if your Accounting system fed back to the CRM the invoice data for each order, the payment status, and the data that could provide up-to-date information for your sales team to act upon?

What other systems should talk or turn out reports automatically for you? A good third party integration can bridge the gap – ensuring that data flows between the systems, avoiding rekeying or manual uploads. Better, accurate, and timely data – the stuff that business dreams are made of…

 

It’s time to get more for your money and by get more, I mean be able to make more money because of your IT investments. It’s not just about better equipment in the conference room, it’s about systems that free your team up to work on the things that make money instead of costing money.

 

FirsTech specializes in custom code and integrations, IT Security and Data Science. What can we help you with?

Contact us at 1-800-800-1597 for more information

Technology

About the author

Kevin Kenow is responsible for developing and growing FirsTech’s portfolio of business. He seeks to leverage the vast FirsTech capabilities and experience pool to solve complex business problems for clients seeking custom solutions. He focuses on custom code and integrations, business intelligence, and the security and privacy practices within FirsTech. He has more than 10 years of client management and project management and over 25 years in Information Technology. Kevin holds a BS from Greenville University.