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For any successful business, technology is at the heart of its operations. The need for reliable IT and telecoms is essential, no organisation can operate without it. When a business relies so much on tech in this way, if it doesn’t work as effectively as it should, this can cause a real issue and effect the day to day running of the business. Not to mention the valuable resource and budget that is used to make it right. When tech does work well in a business and it becomes a reliable asset, it can tangibly add to productivity, competitiveness, and even profitability.
Knowing where to start when upgrading essential technology used in any business can be challenging, particularly when there is so many tech solutions available. Yasmin Hussain of Coventry-based HBT communications, shares some advice on how you can transform the use of technology in your business in order to make it a business asset.
- Consider the cloud. Moving your IT and telecoms solutions onto the cloud is advantageous for any business. It can make deploying tech easier and cost effective, as upfront investment in hardware is drastically reduced. It also futureproofs any upgrades or changes you might want to make as the cloud enables flexibility and scalability. Being on the cloud allows you to make changes to users, as well as adding in new services in a straightforward way, rather than dealing with legacy systems.
- Manage the cost of technology in your business. It is important for any business to set a yearly budget for the provision of IT as this is often the highest cost to an organisation. Most IT and telecoms providers offer a monthly or annual package for their services. This might be based on the number of users or services, or a combination of both. Spending time to manage this with your suppliers is essential, particularly when it comes to budgeting. On an annual basis make sure you review your requirements and factor this into your budget for the year ahead. Spend time looking at any potential upgrades, new licences, or new tech solutions you may want to consider using in your business. Remember, the right tech can give you competitive advantage, so it’s important to consider this when you are budget planning.
- Make small changes over time. There are so many IT and telecoms solutions that can benefit your business, but don’t feel like you need to change everything all at once. In fact, it’s a good idea not to. Instead, start small and make it manageable. This allows you to learn from the experience and then as you expand across the rest of the business you know what to expect.
- Ensure the tech solutions are the right fit. If you’re a small-to-medium sized business, you need to make sure your IT systems suit the size of your business. Avoid suppliers who are more focused on general consumers or very large enterprises, and instead look for ones that work with businesses that are like yours. One way to do this is to look at their customer base, if the companies they supply are like yours, it’s a good fit.
- Make sure that there is a direct route to the vendor. If issues occur and things are not working how they should, this can have a big impact on a small business. If a problem occurs, it is essential that you can have a direct conversation with the IT or telecoms carrier (such as BT, Virgin, Talk Talk). Where they are warehousing as a box reseller, make sure there is a point of contact. Without this, any issues you’re faced with could take time to be fixed, due to them not being escalated and dealt with rapidly or efficiently. It is essential for any business to understand what level of support the supplier provides within the contract and establish this from the outset.
- Invest in business-grade technology to enable working-from-home. With the increase in people now working remotely, there is an expectation for businesses to provide the same or similar quality IT and connectivity which employees would normally experience in the office. In 2020, businesses had to scramble to get employees working at home. In some cases this led to organisations purchasing consumer-grade products and services. However, whilst some of these solutions allowed working from home to take place, they are not necessarily the right solutions for the long term because they are not designed to integrate with the rest of the business’s essential technology. Which leads us seamlessly onto the next point of integration.
- Integration matters. Smart IT and telecoms services enable businesses to do more with their tech. For instance, those who invested in the Swyx cloud-based PBX some years back can instantly add in its video service without creating a technology silo. It is essential to look for IT and telecoms platforms that support flexible and open integrations. This allows you to tailor them to fit into your business rather than have the technology dictate how you work, or the technology tools you use.
- IT and telecoms should not be treated as separate. When combined, IT and telecoms are a powerful combination, this is known as unified communications (UC). One examples of this in practice is when you are initiating a call from a mobile and then transferring it to a VOIP phone. You want this to take place seamlessly, without any interruption, therefore it is essential that the tech works for you to enable this to happen. Or it could be enabling a video session where you join from an app, such as mail, calendar, or a collaboration tool. Having the IT and telecoms working together is essential to make this happen.
- Mobility is key. With a rise in the mobile workforce, it’s essential that your tech is mobile. You may be familiar with this problem, you’re on the road and urgently need to reach someone from a certain department to obtain information. But you don’t know their extension or contact number. With a feature-rich mobile app on your smartphone, you not only have access to all company contacts but, using a solution such as Swyx, can also view their presence status to avoid wasting time on unsuccessful call attempts. This saves time, freeing you up to concentrate on what is most important.
- Don’t ignore the need for security. Now, more than ever, particularly with a remote workforce, all businesses need to adopt a ‘security first’ mentality. It is important that this is baked-in into all technology decision making and should be thought about at the outset, not as an afterthought. Remote workers have different needs, with Bring Your Own Device being a growing trend and often requiring extra attention.