A secure, organised and robust IT infrastructure is critical to any business these days. You should see your IT systems, hardware and software as an investment, not an expense. Unfortunately, most small to medium-size businesses (SMBs), with limited budgets, construe their IT as a financial burden.
In reality, IT is a pillar supporting successful business operations. As such, it must be nurtured, and well managed and maintained. If you’re not doing this, then you’re asking for trouble. And trouble can come from all angles. Now read the top 10 IT problems that can befall your enterprise when you fail to look after your technology.
Data backups top the list for a very good reason. Regular backups keep your files, emails and database protected should your IT systems fail. There are many ways that you can lose data, including physical damage to hardware, hard drive failure, virus and malware, and even theft of office equipment. Backups of often done in a rush, are incomplete or are not checked for integrity, there’s the rub. Then there’s also the problem of redundant data occupying huge volumes of storage, but that’s another story. The thing to remember is that when data is gone, it’s gone for good.
- IT strategy
Many SMBs tend to overlook having a sound IT strategy and adopt a ‘fix it when it breaks’ approach to their technology. They forget that IT is a component of overall business planning in terms of growth, scalability and increased profit. SMBs think ‘it will never happen to us’ and don’t bother to implement a resilient IT disaster recovery plan. Not having an effective IT strategy means wasting money, leads to expensive downtime and reflects mediocrity.
- IT security
Cybercriminals are getting smarter by the minute, thinking of new ways to steal your data and hold your IT systems to ransom. Consider all your client information, HR records, company documents and confidential communications that are stored on PCs, laptops, mobile devices and servers. How secure is the data? Is the data unencrypted? What would happen if it fell into the wrong hands? A free-for-all approach to IT security is leaving the door to your network wide open to hackers.
- IT maintenance
IT needs to be taken care of. When it comes to IT maintenance, SMBs again have a break/fix attitude. They also assume that technology will last forever. It doesn’t. Hardware breaks and needs to be repaired or replaced. Software needs to be regularly updated and standardised. How well are your IT assets being monitored and maintained? A major shortcoming of IT in business is that CEOs and executives don’t think beyond an initial investment for their technology, neglecting essential maintenance. This neglect leads to massive IT expenses down the line.
Following on from inadequate IT maintenance this the common practice of DIY. You employ staff to do their jobs, not to be IT support engineers. When a salesperson takes a break to do a DIY job on a colleague’s computer, how much time and money is lost? An individual doing tech DIY isn’t an IT professional, so they can easily worsen the situation. Your systems may become vulnerable to intrusion and infection. How much more will that cost.
Some say that your data is only as secure as the weakest password protecting it. How true! Weak passwords such as 123456 or a spouse or partners’ name are easy meat for hackers. Using the same password for different apps is just as bad. If your systems have been attacked, hackers can use key-logging to monitor password entries. Patterns of letters and/or numbers used repeatedly are likely to be passwords and that’s how a data breach begins. When was the last time your employees changed their passwords? Who has a post-it stuck to their monitor bearing login info? Time to check!
With remote working, Bring Your Own Device or BYOD is popular these days and employees feel comfortable using familiar technology. It saves you money, too. But BYOD has a downside. Because of the increased number of access points, your sensitive company data is at even greater risk of being breached. Personal devices also get lost or stolen. Then what happens to your data? How many of your employees BYOD? What data do they have access to? What data is stored on their device?
- Data proliferation
Data proliferation is simply when the volume of company data grows rapidly. The bigger you are, the higher the rate of proliferation. Your SMB probably has multiple copies of documents; thousands of redundant emails, and data all over the place. This information is expensive to clean up and manage. Your data repositories can also be compliance and operational risks. But where to start? What data can be discarded and what must you retain? Where is it? Are you sure that you won’t need it at some point in the future?
- Hardware and software
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the lifespan of a PC is five or more years. Some may last that long, but they’ll probably need repairs, costing more than a new system. Obsolete hardware is less efficient, increases the likelihood of downtime, frustrates your employees, and puts sales and opportunities in jeopardy. The same goes for outmoded software. Remember, as you are reading this, IT is evolving by the second.
Last, but not least, it the problem of integrating new IT with old IT. The latest software may not play nicely with older applications. New hardware may be incompatible with some of the existing components of your IT infrastructure. Technology integration issues can lead to data duplication, slow systems and downtime. In a nutshell, lower efficiency and less productivity. Not very nice when you’ve just spent a fortune on trending hardware and software.