Today tech innovations are occurring at a faster pace than ever before. This is leaving SMBs wondering whether they are getting the most out of IT with the constantly changing landscape of innovation and new technologies. The following trends are the ones we at Quartet are leading our SMB customers towards in 2016.
1. Making IT a bigger focus in your SMB. The influence and possibilities made available by technology has completely changed the way businesses are run and operated. The ability to continually integrate and make use of new ways of using technology is paramount now more than ever. IT in 2016 should become a strategic priority for SMBs. This move will put IT in the centre of your business, and will allow you to become well positioned to change the way you think about strategic IT spending.
This trend will change the ways SMBs interact with customers, are structured and operated, and become a driver of productivity and effectiveness.
Long gone are the days where IT was used to troubleshoot when the printer wasn’t working or when Windows needed to be updated.
According to the 2016 IT Professionals Forecast Survey, 46% of respondents answered they were gearing up to spend more on IT in 2016, with budget increases of 14.7% over their previous fiscal year. While 37% of respondents indicated that they’re planning on increasing their IT staff, and interestingly enough, 42% of those looking to increase their IT staff are looking to hire new staff with combined tech and business backgrounds, due to integration of IT and business priorities in their companies.
This is a unique shift from previous hiring practices, as having a blended expertise moving into 2016 and forward, will be critical in order for businesses to actually get the most out of their technology and stay ahead of the newest trends.
What’s more interesting is you see businesses and IT professionals using technology as a means of achieving their primary business objectives. As 19% of respondents answered they were looking to generate new revenue streams or increase existing ones over the next 12 months using technology, 40% listed they wanted to accelerate business process and agility, and lastly 35% responded they wanted to improve collaboration with business units.
The ability to use technology has changed the way we think of business and the way we accomplish our business goals. This is why it’s paramount to hop on this trend in 2016 and make IT the core of your business and mission goals.
You can read about this trend in our whitepaper, “Is your IT department Built for 2016 or 2001.”
2. Cloud computing. As we look towards 2016, it’s becoming more and more apparent that cloud computing will continually evolve and innovate. Looking into the future we can expect additional decreasing equipment costs, allowing remote accessibility, and faster integration and implementation of software.
Considering this, SMBs will be at a major disadvantage if they aren’t open to new ways of using cloud computing to already supplement their existing network, such as figuring the best configurations of new additions, software upgrades, better remote accessibility and communication for employees and SMBs.
One of the problems however we have seen with our clients is that most SMBs have had a problem trying to figure out the best cloud computing model and infrastructure that aligned with their business goals and needs.
Following a one size fit all model, can not only be problematic, but limited your already existing infrastructure and other cloud solutions.
In moving forward with any IT solution, having the ability to tailor own solution according to your needs, will not only ensure you get a proper return of investment, but make sure you’re making the right purchases for your business that offer the most value, and puts you in a better position to make upgrades in the future.
According to the Tech Survey, 48% of respondents mentioned that cloud computing is designated for spending increases in their organization, with an additional 14% indicating that cloud initiatives are the single most important technological project for their business in the upcoming year.
While only 29% of respondents confirmed they had already moved some of their enterprise applications to the cloud, and 7% mentioning they were currently in the process of migrating mission-critical systems to a cloud environment.
As shown by the numbers above, continually innovating and upgrading your cloud computing solutions is important because it allows the benefits of housing and using enterprise software remotely and offers a better way of offering delivery methods to help productivity in your business.
Additionally 22% replied that their organizations are currently conducting beta tests or pilot programs to figure out the best cloud delivery methods, such as private, public or hybrid options.
With the advent and implementation of cloud based solutions as the standard element for IT infrastructure and architectures, many SMBs are figuring out which implementation model is best for their particular organization. This is can get more complicated, as some solutions are better optimized for private cloud models and others as external cloud services, with many more delivery methods to be expected in the future. But regardless, cloud solutions allows the opportunity and ability of SMBs to grow.
Cloud computing will continue to innovate and offer solutions such as platform-as-a-service applications for disaster recovery, customer relationship management, software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings such as Microsoft Office 365. Cloud computing allows you to rapidly change and adapt to growing business demands while reducing risk.
3. Make your security a bigger priority. In 2015 alone, we were bombarded in the news with many high-profile data breach cases than ever before, with the trend continuing to grow. With this in mind it makes sense that security is the highest priority for IT departments for the third year in a row.
The world has changed, protecting your data and network is now the biggest priority for businesses. Being compromised and experiencing a data breach can mean losing customers, experiencing large amounts of lost revenue and doing unrecoverable amounts of damage to your company’s image and brand.
According to the Tech Survey, 46% of respondents’ indicated they would be increasing their spending on security for 2016, thus marking security as the biggest tech initiative companies are dedicating money towards in 2016. Following this, when asked what their top leadership challenge was for 2016, 16% mentioned security, beating out budgetary and economic pressures.
Given the constantly changing IT landscape it makes sense why security is a number one concern for SMBs. Stating the fact that most businesses are attacked on a daily basis, it should be a priority to ensure the safety of your data and network. This means coming up with a proper risk assessment plan and ensuring you have a security plan in the case of emergencies.
Some security measures known to help are intrusion detection/prevention software, endpoint protection and encryption products, conducting regular audits of your entire network, and hiring a dedicated chief information security officer.
When considering security, it’s painful to think, but your employees are your biggest weakness. You could upgrade and install the latest security features and technology, but without knowledgeable end users, your system will provide little protection against attacks and exploits. Therefore, one of the primary things you can do as a businesses is teach your workforce about the basics of security and how to better protect themselves against exploits and being taken advantage of. This can turn your workforce to become your first line of defense against any attack. For more information take a look at our whitepaper, “Your Staff Are Your Biggest Security Risk.”
Security is similar to cloud computing and requires you tailor a specific solution for your needs. Different industries are exposed to different threats, with financial, services, technology and energy with the most amount of data breaches. While the public sector, education and consumer organizations showed the least.
Being able to properly access your threat level and different regulations needed in your specific industry can be the difference of your data being kept out of hands of intruders or being fined by not keeping up with your industry’s security standards.
To ensure your network and data is safe, you need to remain constantly vigilant and aware of new types of attackers from the outsides and inside. Don’t lose track of your security.
4. Making use of the as-a-service (AAS) trend. Being able to utilize and take advantage of AAS is going to be advantageous for SMBs. AAS allows SMBs the ability to use services that were once exclusively done in-house, but now are offered by externally for a fraction of the price.
This will allow businesses the ability to have access to superior expertise, experience and the backing of businesses who are adept in those services, such as Pure Desk™, disaster recovery, security, mitigating and backing up of your data. Not to mention helping them avoid overhead costs and allows them to pay per service, query or transaction.
Additionally when used in conjecture with the cloud, SMBs will have the option to use services and application without having them housed on site, saving infrastructure, maintenance and investment costs. This AAS model of operation can offer SMBs the ability to completely focus on their prime business objectives and goals and leave all the low and mid-level IT issues to someone else. This will allow them the space and room to invest their budget in projects and goals that help make their business run better, efficiently and more productive while reducing costs.
5. Analytics. As we continually integrate our business with technology, analytics have become more and more important for businesses to focus on. Being able to discover and understand your data is paramount for driving your business goals further and have a better understanding of it, not to mention unearthing nuggets of insight during the process.
According to Tech Survey, analytics ranked #5 for most important IT projects that respondents were going to focus on for 2016, and was #3 on the list of technology that SMBs would increasing spending for in the New Year.
With ever increasing technology and the ability to organize all your data, more and more companies are now figuring out the best way of using analytics to quantify performance and learn from these results. This is also made possible by the Internet of Things (IoT), as its encouraging connectivity with everyday applications and workflows rather than in separate tools.
Some of the applications of analytics is machine learning, artificial intelligence and pattern recognition, as it can help discern patterns in data that are not possibly otherwise.
However analytics can helps businesses get a better operational visibility and insights into their customer’s behaviour by analysing and figuring out different consumer patterns. This can help businesses figure out which campaigns or projects actually work and which ones need to be redesigned, not to mention where the majority of revenue is coming from so they can better access and figure out their business plan for the future.
Analytics will also offer you insights in how your industry is doing, so you can get a competitive edge over other companies. In 2016 analytics is something SMBs can no longer ignore.
With such a changing and innovative landscape, it’s important to keep an eye out for new and disruptive tools that can help your SMB. With new additions and improvements made in cloud computing, security systems, analytics, AAS, and the focus of IT in organizations, it’s paramount for any organization looking to ensure they are doing everything they can to run more efficiently, productively and reduce your costs. Although slated for 2016, there’s no reason you can’t get ahead of the curve and start implementing and using these tools now.