Five key IT areas you must address in your business’s 2021 growth strategy. As we finally approach the end of – what we can all agree has been a difficult year – it’s likely that the last thing you want to think about is your IT next year. However, being the IT super-fans that we are, we’d suggest that now is the best time to do this. We’re about to begin a new year.
It’s going to be another challenging one. So what greater way to start than with a clear strategy for the months ahead? A solid IT strategy is a critical part of your business growth plans for the year.
Download our new guide to find out the 5 key IT areas you must address in your business.
How was 2020 for your business?
It didn’t take long for the optimism of a new decade to wear off. By the end of 2020, companies everywhere were reeling as they reckoned with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, the impact of the virus was too much for many firms, leaving millions of workers unemployed and driving thousands of businesses to close their doors. Those companies that stayed afloat had to act quickly in order to enable their remote workforce and maintain operations.
Heading into 2021, there is little precedent for projecting the future. The economy is showing some signs of stability, but there are lingering fears over continued challenges or further surprises. Now is the time to investigate to see how five key IT areas can help your company in 2021.
Making sense of it all
Through all the confusion, though, there are still some basic concepts that will shape the year to come. Digital operations are more important than ever, with many transformative changes accelerating over the past year. Fair treatment for all is an absolute mandate, making diversity, equity and inclusion a top priority. The influence of technology is massive, forcing new approaches to regulatory behaviour. When is the last time you analysed your IT system? Have you locked the secrets behind the five key IT areas?
As the industry emerges from a chaotic year, it will begin a rebuilding phase, but this rebuilding goes beyond restoration. There is little opportunity to return to the old way of doing things. Thanks to changes that no one would have wished for and fuelled by the requirements of a digital society, the technology industry will doubtless take a new shape in the coming year. This isn’t rebuilding to reclaim the past; this is rebuilding for the future.
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All our clients benefit from our experience and knowledge. Our team have been working in the industry for over 25 years. We pride ourselves on delivering nothing but the very best customer service and solutions to our customers whatever the situation may be. Contact the LIS Help Desk to book your FREE IT audit and discover the secrets of the five key IT areas to help your business. Our services include managed IT services, network support and telecoms.
Most people in the business sector are talking about digital transformation (DX). An example of this is Uber’s quick rise from a mere mobile phone app, putting a longstanding black cab industry at threat.
Because of its simplicity and how effective it is, a lot of businesses are rethinking their models. A lot of the time they are completely restructuring their own IT infrastructure, bettering their processes and redefining their team. They’re doing this to prepare themselves for an economy where everyone is using digital services. As well as thriving off applications instead of physical products.
On the contrary, amongst all of this excitement, there are a lot of myths surrounding this topic. This causes confusion for business owners and their staff. It’s for this reason; the wrong approach is often taken.
One aspect of digital transformation is the concept of going paperless
5 myths about digital transformation
People are desperate to see change
Generally, people react in one of three ways to digital transformation. They either pushback, have a sense of fear or try to bid so they can increase their power.
In an interview with CEO world, the management guru Cheryl Crann stated that the ones who limit digital transformation are the employees. The reason being is due to the extra work and aggravation before benefits can be detected.
It’s recommended for a successful migration to a digital-first model; businesses should make the necessary improvements to employee’s workflows and processes. Such modifications should begin with the major stakeholders and then to the rest of the organisation.
Digital transformation is only just for the technology
There’s more to change than just digital. There are other variables such as culture, objectives, processes and more. In today’s digital world, we must shift our attention from the technology to the outcome of the technology.
The best way to do this is to consider what you want to achieve first and then reverse-engineer the systems and processes. It’s not about merely acquiring the newest and most efficient technology. If you’re going to transform, you need to embrace change not just focus on the status quo.
If you fail, it’s classed as bad
McKinsey and Co estimated that even in the highest tech firms, only a mere 25% succeed. Moreover, if you’re in a field such as manufacturing or energy, it could be as little as 4%. However, you can learn a lot from failure.
Conversely, if the company’s organisational structure is strong, the process should be smooth to absorb and review feedback, come up with improvements and implement them. After that, it’s just a case of repeating the same method and getting an optimised workflow.
In this report, it’s also mentioned that effective and successful projects have a focus on the latest product and service launches in markets not being opened. Again, success only arrives after the amount of transformation comes from hitting a specific limit with multiple business functions and business units.
Everyone is undergoing digital transformation
According to Telstra, around 21% of experienced and senior decision-makers, class their organisations as “digitally mature”. At the same time, those who haven’t started transformation are at 30%.
Telstra believes that this is a great and clear opportunity for businesses to enhance and increase their way they approach digital transformation. Even though there is room to do more for digital transformation, a clear strategy for the company needs to be there for them to follow it effectively.
Digital Transformation is the same rules for everyone
Depending on your industry, digital transformation can vary a great deal. It can even change between organisations and subunits within a particular organisation. To effectively undergo digital transformation, you need to have a flexible ecosystem. The experience can be optimised and it is achieved within an organisation.
However, problems must be recognised and be solved using digital transformation. After this, you must customise the change and realise that it is not a one size fits all method. Similarly, this is an ongoing process which gets refined as part of the business model. While it evolves through time, it addresses challenges, goals and outcomes.
Ultimately, digital transformation is not a walk in a park, and you can’t predict the results. However, if you’re a business, you can only survive and change or become extinct. You must change alongside the market requirements. However, if there is an option between slow and expensive, or quick and cheap, fewer consumers like the former.
LIS, your IT partner
Lodge Information Services is one of Essex’s longest-standing IT partners. With over 25 years’ experience, we can assist you with IT support, consulting and cloud computing needs. We’re proud to be local, offering remote and on-site support. Contact the LIS Help Desk to book your FREE IT Audit.
NHS data saved by Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s pilot to reinvent web
The founder of the World Wide Web may have come up with an answer for one of the NHS’s biggest challenges. How do you give patients some control of their medical data? Whilst making sure it can be shared with doctors and other healthcare workers. Does the creator of the web have the answer? Yes, he has, and Sir Tim saves NHS data, enabling patients and doctors to share access.
Tim Berners-Lee, known as the inventor of the world wide web, has revealed that Inrupt has launched a privacy platform for enterprises.
The U.K.’s National Health Service, the BBC, NatWest Bank and the Flanders Government are among its early adopters.
Berners-Lee has become increasingly concerned that today’s digital giants are exploiting citizens around the world.
For two years, Sir Tim Berners-Lee has been working on an idea called Solid. A web platform that allows users to store their data in what is called a Personal Online Data Store – or Pod, according to BBC News. With this solution Sir Tim and his team have changed the way we use the Internet and store sensitive data.
NHS data saved: The eureka moment
Far from just being an academic project, the technology behind this platform is being developed by a company called Inrupt with some major venture capital backers. Now Inrupt and its chief technology officer Sir Tim have announced what he calls a major milestone – the release of its technology in the form of the Solid Server, with a handful of clients already piloting possible use cases.
John Bruce, CEO & Co-Founder of Inrupt wrote in a blog that the NHS, for example, was using the platform to allow patients to store their personal medical data on Pods, as well as data from health apps on their phone or other devices.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s latest project explores patients’ medical data storage and how it could be better shared
A ground breaking opportunity to save NHS data
“It’s going to drive ground breaking new opportunities that not only restore trust in data but also enhance our lives,” claimed Berners-Lee, who is Inrupt’s chief technology officer.”
“For all the good we’ve achieved, the web has evolved into an engine of inequity and division; swayed by powerful forces who use it for their own agendas,” he wrote in 2018. “Today, I believe we’ve reached a critical tipping point, and that powerful change for the better is possible — and necessary.” With this new breakthrough in technology, other large organisations will likely want to use this platform.
How do you store your data?
Cloud data storage offers valuable IT solutions for businesses of all sizes. This was originally used for personal use. However, cloud storage solutions for business are crucial in today’s world.
Now the NHS data is saved securely, this technology can help businesses of all sizes. Our clients also benefit from cloud storage and security. Cloud services are taking over almost every aspect of technology and are an important part of business life. Many businesses can benefit from comprehensive cloud services and will help to streamline their operations. Despite its accessibility, data stored via the cloud is extremely safe and secure. Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss cloud storage, hosted applications and security.
Virtual private networks (VPNs) are great for securing your connection when you’re using public Wi-Fi. However, they can also be put to work in your home. You might use a VPN at work, however do you need a VPN at home?
When you use a VPN, you’re adding a layer of protection to your online activities by building an encrypted tunnel between your traffic and anyone who tries to spy on you. VPNs are great for when you’re out and about, using Wi-Fi networks that aren’t your own. But at home, a VPN can help protect you from other threats and may let you access streaming content that would be otherwise unavailable.
In a recent article aksing written by Darren Allan for msn.com he explores the benefits of having a VPN at home.
People are becoming conscious of the need to take back their privacy online. It is certainly no bad thing to do so at home
What is a VPN?
A VPN gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. VPNs mask your internet protocol (IP) address so your online actions are virtually untraceable. Most important, VPN services establish secure and encrypted connections to provide greater privacy than even a secured Wi-Fi hotspot.
The Threats Abroad
Outside your home, it’s hard to tell which networks you encounter are safe. If you’re at a coffee shop, for example, how can you tell which Wi-Fi network is legitimate? Unless the SSID is posted somewhere, you’re just going to have to guess. Clever bad guys will set up access points with familiar names, hoping to trick people into connecting. Once victims are online, the bad guy does a man-in-the-middle attack, intercepting all the information victims send and receive. This includes a lot of mundane stuff, to be sure, but it can also include bank accounts, login information, and worse.
An attacker doesn’t even need to trick you, they just need to trick your phone or computer. Most devices are configured to reconnect to familiar networks by default. But if an attacker uses the same name of a popular Wi-Fi network, your devices may automatically connect, even without your knowledge.
Both of those attacks require a lot of guesswork, but a good attacker won’t bother with that. Instead, they’ll configure their evil access point to switch SSIDs to match the ones devices are asking for. For example, at the Black Hat conference a few years ago, a security vendor detected an evil access point that had changed its SSID 1,047 times, tricking 35,000 devices into connecting.
These are situation in which you definitely need a VPN. The encrypted tunnel it creates blocks anyone on the same network as you—even the person managing the network—from seeing what you’re up to.
The Threats at Home
It’s very unlikely that a bad guy broke in to your home, replaced your router, and then waited for the good stuff to roll in. For one thing, that’s just too much work. But for another, attackers need more than one successful hit to make an attack worthwhile. They’ll want to rack up as much information from as many victims as possible. Unless you live above an airport, it’s unlikely that there’s enough foot traffic in your home to justify an attack.
VPNs can be fun
At least half of all VPN use isn’t for personal protection. It’s for streaming video. That might seem odd considering the negative effect that VPNs have on your upload and download speeds, but it makes sense.
That’s where VPNs come in. You can use your VPN to tunnel to a distant server and access content that is restricted in your home country. While Netflix is very good at blocking VPNs, this trick is also useful for sports fans.
Trouble at Home
VPNs are all about securing your traffic from prying eyes, and that’s sometimes a problem when you want your traffic to be seen. If you live in an especially smart home, you’re likely to encounter some problems with using a VPN.
A great example is Chromecast, Google’s dead-simple method for getting content from your phone or computer on to your TV. When you try to use Chromecast with a VPN, all your data is shuffled off your devices through an encrypted tunnel and can’t reach other devices on your local network. You’ll have to switch off your VPN if you want to use this feature, or others like it.
One solution to this problem is to simply raise the level of your VPN and install it on your router. That way, all the data on your local network is funnelled through the VPN, giving you all the protection without causing any of the fuss on the local level. Configuring your router to use a VPN can sound daunting, but some VPN companies will sell you a pre-configured router if you want to give it a try. Still, I think this solution is not for everyone and perhaps best left to people with a determined DIY sensibility.
While many people are using VPNs to stream online content, many (if not most) streaming services are very good at blocking VPN usage. One possible solution is purchasing a static IP address from your VPN provider. These “clean” addresses aren’t associated with VPNs, giving you a better chance of slipping past attempts to block your access.
Speed will always be an issue with VPNs. When a VPN connection is active, your web traffic is going through more machines and more fibre. As a result, this increases latency and slower transfer speeds. Not all VPNs are the same in how much they affect your connection, but you will see some impact.
Do you need a VPN at home?
In truth, the answer to the question of whether you “need” a VPN in your house is going to come down to your own preferences. There are lots of good reasons why a home VPN might be a valuable addition to your security arsenal, but what’s most important is whether you will use it. If you find yourself too frustrated with reduced internet speeds, or juggling streaming devices, don’t use a VPN at home. An unused security feature isn’t useful to anyone.
As more of us are working from home, it may be a good idea to explore your options. Contact the LIS Help Desk and talk to one of our friendly team to see how we can help you.
Microsoft Teams is perfect for video calls. Have you been using Zoom for your video calls? Microsoft Teams is a better business solution and keeps all your activity with your staff in one place. Here’s our round-up of the latest video call features added to Teams.
Joel Khalili from TechRader asks what is Microsoft Teams? How it works, latest features and top alternatives.
8 reasons your business should be using Microsoft Teams
It enables effective communication
One of the key features of Microsoft Teams is its threaded conversations. Microsoft Teams allows group and private messaging with threaded and persistent conversations.
Users are able to create different channels to organise their communications by topic. This real-time chat function allows you to store brainstorming sessions, conference calls, and other meetings into one, easy-to-find place.
You can also integrate audio and video chats
You can @mention individuals to bring important messages to their attention
Group conversations are visible to the whole team to view, like, share and add to
Newly added members can easily get up to speed as everything is archived
Microsoft Teams can be used anywhere, anytime, on any device
As a Cloud-based platform, Microsoft Teams is accessed anywhere via the desktop or mobile application and is supported on Windows, Mac, as well as iOS and Android. All you need is a connection to the internet.
Your productivity is increased
If you use traditional email to work on a project, you can often lose crucial information in ever-multiplying email threads. With Microsoft Teams everyone receives the same message at the same time. As a result, people can collaborate and keep the discussion flowing, helping you reach solutions faster. If a new team member joins, they can access prior conversations with instant access to all project-related files.
It’s fully integrated to Microsoft Office 365
Microsoft Teams is fully integrated to Microsoft Office 365. This includes Word, Excel, Skype for Business, SharePoint and PowerPoint as well as newer tools such as OneNote, Planner, Power BI, Yammer, and Sway.
Your meetings are synced
Microsoft Teams syncs with your calendar and pulls in all your existing appointments. It suggests times when all the other attendees are free. It gives you the option to choose if the meeting is private or open (particularly useful if you are hosting voluntary training or brainstorming sessions). Once created, attendees can post about the meeting in a separate chat thread, set agendas and upload relevant documents. You can also schedule and join meetings using Skype for Business with HD video, VOIP and additional dial-in audio options.
Work better together
With Microsoft Teams everyone can work on the same document at the same time. You can all view the same Word document; edit the same Excel spreadsheet; collaborate on the same PowerPoint presentation while logging persistent chat around that content. It combines chat, meetings, notes, and attachments allowing teams to seamlessly interact with each other wherever they are. Calendars, files and emails can also be shared. The scalability means it is easy to add new users as your business grows.
Customise your workspace with Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams allows you to integrate third-party tools as well as your favourite Microsoft apps. If Twitter updates are just as important to your marketing team as a message from the Director, you can customise your workspace to reflect this.
Microsoft Teams lets you speed through common tasks faster and share files easier with a helpful set of slash commands.
Want to get Microsoft Teams for your business?
Lodge Information Services is an accredited Microsoft Partner and can advise you on Office 365 and Microsoft 365 subscriptions. We will find the best solution for your business needs, licence it and install it. Our friendly support technicians are always happy to help. Contact the LIS Help Desk.