As the saying goes, lost time is never found again.  That at least covers part of the productivity challenge; the other half of the equation is enabling work product to be of value.

No doubt, like so many business people you find business IT a movable beast you struggle to keep up with or understand. Today, things are only heating up, in large thanks to sweeping privacy regulation, the General Data Protection Regulation, that came into effect in May 25, 2018. The implications to businesses, managers and owners have irreversibly shifted and come with more punitive measures in place, including severe fines.

An effective IT strategy and connectivity infrastructure to your business can improve productivity and performance.  Comparative to almost every business investment, IT can contribute significantly to your bottom line.  Hardware can, beyond this, be capitalised as plant and machinery under your annual investment allowance and offset your corporation tax.

To improve your performance and productivity as a business, you need to uncover and tap into all available technology resources whether hardware, software or data connectivity.  Inevitably, cost-benefit is at the heart of any decision making.  We’re here to advise what is available to your business at a cost you can afford and that delivers results capable of propelling it forwards.  The first step is to state clear goals.  What exactly do you want to achieve?

Solving your growing data demand

We have developed an ‘always on’ culture in the UK over the last decade as consumers, but also increasingly as businesses.  The internet of things (IOT), wearable tech and 5G are creating new opportunities and also demands.  Inexorable data speed acceleration and bandwidth requirements just to operate are now critical to most operations.  Yet, the UK is lagging behind in terms of super high speed connectivity (1 gbit+).  The UK’s full fibre rollout is complex and expensive as wholesale markets struggle to replace the country’s aged copper network.  The reality is a sector bogged down by road digging, permissions and expensive upfront costs for most businesses, yet the benefits once installed can be transformative.

Meeting new productivity needs with software that meets your evolving needs

Security threats can be broad and apparent or small and hidden, yet both have the potential to create havoc to your business operations and reputation. Here are some common threats you may be able to relate to:

IT productivity gains for growth are still becoming apparent to businesses, no matter how established.  Of course, this comes in different shapes and forms.  New innovation is changing what’s possible, for instance we are in an era where quantum computing power is coming, as is accessible and affordable AI.  There are literally changing what’s possible and will be the future. 

Today, cloud computing is the most relevant area to businesses ever-looking to find savings and margins.  Software as a Service (Saas) continues to grow at pace with connected cloud-based services offering turnkey solving capability for challenges, or for delivering efficiencies in processing, collating and reporting of data. 

Ready for change

The speed of change is often described as never having been so fast as it is today.  Regardless of whether exactly true, we should remember how most of us only started using the internet 20 years ago, and the first iPhone was only launched in 2007.

It’s a reality that many companies, particularly niche or specialist firms, can fall behind in their IT investment where it had been less important than before. For instance, take the tens of thousands of companies still using Windows 7 – recently moved to the ‘no longer supported’ pile at Microsoft HQ. 

For companies undergoing generational change or handover, there can be complex and multi-layered decisions to make as to which direction to take, whether a low-cost investment in adequate, the best-spec-fastest-most-advanced or a ‘lite’ but scalable solution.  These decisions can weigh heavily on many companies, factoring in that IT investment may take some time to pay-back.

Hardware that doesn’t let you down

Although hardware has become more reliable and more powerful in recent years, the resource requirements of software have similarly kept pace.  The upside is we are empowered to easily create and do more, the downside being hardware can easily become outdated and slow, impacting productivity.  Therefore, it is essential to set regular milestone review periods to appraise and upgrade where needed.  The few pounds you are saving on investing in a machine this year could well cost you multiple times that in lost productivity annually.

Part of any review process should incorporate a software review.  There are still tens of thousands of businesses still using Windows 7, which reach end of life status in January 2020 and is now not supported by Microsoft, meaning vulnerabilities will no longer be patched through updates.

Speed and ease of access to information storage

The level of data even a small business stores can be significant, and will only increase as businesses move to paperless environments.  The advent of the cloud and low cost storage means central data can now be accessed instantly whether in the office environment or virtually on-the-move.

Google docs became the first mainstream collaborative cloud platform, where businesses could store documents centrally and ensure they are always working on the latest files, but today there are swathe of more sophisticated tools which address some of its software weaknesses, including best in class Microsoft Office 365.

Anytime anywhere systems

Our work habits have changed thanks to technology innovations.  The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown has clearly accelerated that change and businesses are having to ensure they have a truly agile IT infrastructure, allowing for not only seamless office working but access anytime anywhere.

Teams now need secure remote access to business critical systems; yet, to take full advantage of the productivity and performance gains, the threat of cyberattacks or cybertheft means systems require highly secure access such as two-factor authentication.  This way you can ensure perimeter security and GDPR is maintained.

Impact of embracing digital technologies

One of the greatest challenges firms face is embracing, top to bottom, digital innovation.   Regardless of the obvious benefits of improved operational efficiency, increased productivity, reduced costs and clear competitive advantages, if leaders hesitate or fail to understand (often through resistance from not being very ‘technical’) those firms can get left behind.  It can be future leadership generation that have to invest greater sums to claw a business back and benefit from that innovative capacity.