With the arrival of the New Year comes the tradition of making resolutions. Many of us are resolving to eat healthier, exercise more, work less. We make these resolutions because we know that where we are today is not where we want to be tomorrow. As you look to make improvements in this New Year, I encourage you not to neglect to make a few resolutions for your business as well. To get you started, here are my recommendations for the top five New Year’s Technology Resolutions for 2015.
1. Make a Plan for Regular Upgrades and Replacements.
As processing power becomes more robust, opportunities arise for the development of more sophisticated software applications which promote ease of use and increased productivity. By upgrading regularly, you decrease downtime associated with the continued use of outdated hardware. You also gain access to enhanced software features improving the productivity of your employees.
Maintaining a high level of security is another reason to keep your systems current. Last April, Microsoft ceased support of the popular Windows XP Operating System. In July of 2015 Microsoft will sunset Windows Server 2003. Once support ends for a PC or Server Operating System, malware, virus and security updates are no longer provided to end users from the manufacturer. This leaves users and their data vulnerable to attacks. Upgrade all Windows XP PCs and Windows Server 2003 servers still in operation. Also use this opportunity to take advantage of any updates available to your primary line of business application that gives your business its competitive edge.
(If you are one of the many businesses still using Windows Server 2003, and you have not yet planned your upgrades, you need to make this a priority early this year. Support will end in July and the transition is going to be more difficult than you think. Microsoft reports the average Windows Server migration takes over 200 days to complete. With a July 14th deadline looming, it’s time to act.)
2. Perform a Security Audit.
2014 was a nightmare year for data breaches. Nearly one billion records were compromised in highly publicized breaches among giants like eBay, Home Depot, and JP Morgan Chase. You know about these breaches because of the media attention they garnered. What you might not realize is that security concerns do not just belong to the big guys. A whopping 71% of security breaches target small business! Small businesses are prime targets for attackers for two reasons: the volume of sensitive credit card data that passes through their network and the decreased likelihood that these businesses have dedicated IT personnel safeguarding the data. Resolve this year to perform a security audit and shore up any vulnerabilities that may exist in your network.
3. Test Your Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan.
In November and December I penned a two part article urging readers to improve their backup and disaster recovery processes. As a business owner it can be easy to allow today’s worries to distract you from planning for disasters that may never occur.
You are more likely to experience a computer crash in your business than to have your building destroyed by fire. And yet, business owners are more likely to buy insurance to protect their assets from fire than they are to develop and regularly test their disaster recovery plans for their business data. Considering that 70% of small businesses who experience a major data loss go out of business within one year of the loss, can you really afford to put off this critical planning any longer?
4. Consider a Move to the Cloud.
Today’s professionals work from home, airports, hotels, and more. To be most productive, employees need access to real time data to get work done while out of the office. Cloud-based software provides such access. Regardless of where and when they choose to work, your employees can have access to the tools and information they use every day as if they were sitting at their desk. If you have not considered cloud-based software for your business, it’s time.
5. Invest in Software Applications that Improve Your Business.
Lastly, as you look at your IT infrastructure, consider what new software solutions could help your business grow. It’s likely you have already identified areas where new solutions would be helpful to your business. Perhaps you are putting off the purchase because the software is expensive, the implementation is challenging or the process of training your staff is overwhelming. Stop procrastinating. Make the investment into your business and start reaping the rewards the new solution has to offer.