Top 5 IT issues for growing businesses

March 1, 2017

 

david darmstandler

David Darmstandler

When it comes to technology, most business owners and managers just want things to work. With everything else there is to manage with a growing business, IT is usually left for last. For many, it’s out of sight and out of mind. How much could this ignorance cost?

Although we want to ignore the fact that technology must be replaced eventually, systems have to be improved and employees need tools that make them more productive and efficient At some point we all encounter an IT issue. The question is: are you prepared and what are you going to do about it?

#1: Network downtime & crashes

More and more, when referring to their information systems, business owners tell us ‘We can’t be down.’ From trucking companies with their fleet management software and satellite tracking to accounting firms processing year-end tax returns, technology has become so critical that downtime can be crippling for any organization.

A recent Dell EMC study showed the average small to medium business experienced 25 hours of downtime in the previous 12 months. Twenty-five hours! The cost of downtime is felt in lost revenue, lost employee productivity and decline in client goodwill when service delivery is impacted.

#2: Ransomware, hacks & security breaches

The internet is becoming a scary place for small business owners. Because companies are increasingly connected, cyber threats are becoming more targeted, efficient and costly.

The emergence of ‘ransomware’ (malware that encrypts a victim’s data and demands a ransom for the decryption key) is a real and growing concern.

In a recent survey by Osterman Research, nearly 50 percent of respondent companies had suffered a ransomware attack in the last 12 months.

Small to medium businesses s are specifically being targeted because of their weak security practices, inadequate backups and their likelihood to pay (the same Osterman survey indicated dozens of Canadian firms were forced to pay ransoms last year).

#3: Slow system performance

While server crashes and network downtime are hugely disruptive and costly, the average company is losing more money each year to a subtle culprit — slow system performance. A recent study by Robert Half found that the average professional loses 19 minutes per day dealing with IT-related issues. That’s almost 80 hours over a 50-week work year!

Ensuring those systems are well-maintained and performing at an optimal level can save your business thousands of dollars in lost productivity every year.

#4: Controlling IT costs

Between hardware and software purchases, security, support services and training, technology costs can add up quickly.

Gartner Research Group indicates that companies spend somewhere around 2 percent of revenues annually on IT. For the small business owner, controlling these costs and maximizing ROI in this area is essential.

Without a clear plan, and budget, that can be difficult to accomplish. For many owners, IT spending is handled reactively – equipment is replaced when it breaks, and upgrades are delayed as long as possible. With technology changing rapidly, businesses can be left behind, not capitalizing on cost-savings and efficiencies from new solutions.

#5: Slow IT support/response times

While technology issues can be minimized, they cannot be eliminated. Software updates, user issues and changes in the organization will continue to create a need for IT support services. As a result, we’ve included slow IT support as one of our ‘Big 5 IT Worries.’

Minimizing the disruption of these technology issues relies on having fast, responsive, professional support services – readily available to every user in the organization. The cost of a support incident can grow quickly the longer an employee is waiting for a resolution.

Each of these five issues can create costs for businesses, even if managers don’t classify them as ‘IT expenses.’ Most companies look at their IT expenses as the amount they currently pay their support vendor, plus hardware and software purchases. The reality is that technology issues can be driving expenses throughout your business.

We encourage you to take the time out of your busy schedule to take note of the state your IT situation is in. Reach out to one of many very qualified resources in our area.

But first, ask yourself these questions: Are you operating with as much efficiency as you’d like? Are you tolerating old systems that ultimately slow you down? Are your employees equipped with the right technology to do their jobs? Are you prepared for a disaster if one happens?

David Darmstandler is CEO of Datapath, an IT services company with headquarters in Modesto. You can reach him at david@mydatapath.com.

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