Not many things change as quickly as technology, so we've updated this post to reflect current IT trends.
The original post is below because those are still common IT issues – just maybe not as common as the new 5 most common IT issues!
Network Security/Data Security
Security isn't only a problem for large companies. Every company is at risk of being hacked. In fact, small businesses are at greater risk because many of them don't even have a security policy.
Complacency is not a defense. The average ransom asked in the recent WannaCry ransomware attack was $1,300 – hackers are targeting smaller businesses. Take a look at these stats from Cyber Security Statistics – Numbers Small Businesses Need to Know :
- 43 percent of cyber attacks target small business.
- Only 14 percent of small businesses rate their ability to mitigate cyber risks, vulnerabilities and attacks as highly effective.
- 60 percent of small companies go out of business within six months of a cyber attack.
- 48 percent of data security breaches are caused by acts of malicious intent. Human error or system failure account for the rest.*
Ponemon Institute research reveals that 50% of SMBs have been breached in the past 12 months (from their 2016 research).
Managed network services is one solution to this issue many expertise and cash-strapped SMBs turn to to protect themselves from cybercriminals.
Data Backup Issues (i.e., you don't do it)
Data backup is something that every business should do, every business says that they have a plan for, and that many small to medium businesses DON'T do. That's a mistake.
In conjunction with issue number one, security, a good data backup plan is a last line of defense against a successful ransomware attack. Should ransomware penetrate your defenses, if your data is backed up and protected, you can ignore the ransom and use your backups to restart your systems. Depending on the frequency of your backups, you might lose some data, but that's much better than ALL of your data or paying a ransom.
Not backing up your information costs you money. A Verizon report notes that data breaches of fewer than 100 lost files can cost between $18,120 and $35,730. Can you afford that?
Systems fail, natural disasters happen, and people make mistakes (employees are sometimes responsible for data loss). And if you do have a backup plan, when was the last time you tested it? Data can become corrupted and your in-house IT staff can even forget to run the backup (if it's not automated).
After seven days without access to data, the National Archives and Records Administration notes that more than 90% of businesses that happens to are out of business within a year.
Backup your information. (Backing up your files on your laptop is NOT a business backup strategy, FYI.)
Too Much Paper
Look around your office, how much paper do you see? That paper is slowing you down. It can take 15 minutes to retrieve a file from a filing cabinet – unless someone else has the same file. Do you want employees looking for information or acting on information?
A Symantec whitepaper revealed that 49% of respondents think that information is 49% of their organization's value. How much of your business' value is locked in hard to find, share, and use paper documents?
An often-cited PricewaterhouseCoopers study revealed that 7.5% of documents are lost and another 3.5% are misfiled. Over the course of a year, 1 out of 10 paper documents will go missing and need to be recreated (and if you need to comply with regulations, those missing documents can be a compliance issue too).
Research from AIIM spotlights how much there is to gain from removing paper from business processes:
- Two-thirds of those adopting paper-free processes report a payback within 18 months. 50% see payback in under 12 months.
- Respondents felt that driving paper out of the process would improve the productivity of process staff by 29.7%. For respondents who understood document management and capture technology, that number rose to 35.4%.
- Customer service would improve. Respondents felt that removing paper would improve response speed to customers, citizens, or staff by a factor of four.
Document management and capture tools can digitize your documents, placing them in one secure, easily-accessible document repository. Now, instead of rummaging through filing cabinets or your hard drive or your email looking for the latest version of a document, you can find the information you need in seconds instead of minutes or not at all.
No IT Plan
Companies don't take the time to plan out an IT strategy. I've seen people spend more time researching a personal vehicle purchase than they took to research software critical to running their business.
Businesses make the mistake of thinking of technology as a “get out of jail free” card for business mistakes. It's not. Information technology can be a force multiplier for your business – saving money, making your employees more productive, and allowing you to attract more business. Information technology is not a business plan. It supports a business plan.
You need to work with someone who can help you identify the IT infrastructure you need that will support your business today and can help you plan for the future at the same time.
Failing to plan is a recipe for wasting money and mediocrity.
The Cloud Confusion
“The cloud” is everywhere. If you've uploaded a photo to Google, used a document-sharing service like Dropbox or Box, or access one of the various music services; then you've used a cloud service. Most simply, a cloud application is one that exists on a server, not on your device (and sometimes not in your office), that you access via a network connection (most commonly the Internet).
Any IT service that you need to support your business can be accessed as a cloud service. The cloud is simply another way to meet the IT needs of your business without having to invest in much of the underlying infrastructure yourself. You're paying a subscription for the services you need.
Business Phone Systems, network monitoring, document management, data backup, and anything else can be a part of your IT strategy as a cloud service. You can even hire a “virtual” CIO to help you develop that IT strategy.
Continue reading the original five most common IT problems below.
Originally posted on July 6, 2014.
Begin original Post:
In the ever-changing world of technology, it is crucial that your company has a solid grasp on some of the most common IT problems that can happen. Businesses cannot afford to be in the dark concerning any issues that could arise when using technology.
As a result, it is essential that you take the necessary steps to prevent problems down the road. This post will cover 5 of the most common IT problems that businesses face when dealing with technology as well as some preventative tips.
Hardware & Software Issues
Many businesses run into problems with the lifespan of the technology that they use. A common mistake that is often made is to assume the lifespan of a PC is four to six years. Though it is completely plausible that your PC will run for that long, it is very likely it will need repairs - repairs that cost more than a new system. On top of this bad news, worse, older, and obsolete hardware is "...less efficient, increases downtime likelihood, feeds staff and customer frustration, endangers sales, and threatens other lost opportunities." (x)
Below are four things that you can do to avoid these problems:
- Retire equipment at proper life cycles
- Standardize hardware components
- Standardize software applications
- Work closely with IT consultants
Insufficient Power Protection
A single power outage, surge, or spike can damage expensive electronic components and result in critical data loss. This can prove costly for your business and necessary steps should be taken in order to ensure sufficient power protection. You should install back-up battery devices (with built-in surge suppression) and ensure that a technology professional checks their efficiency on a regular basis. Back-up battery devices should be purchased from trusted vendors and replaced when necessary. IT managed services can be deeply beneficial when determining whether your back-up battery devices need to be replaced.
The Business Software Alliance estimates that 22 percent of all North American software is unlicensed. Many organizations do not realize that they are pirating illegal or unlicensed software and it can result in dire consequences (Over $81 million in settlements have been collected over unlicensed software). You can avoid these consequences by accepting the fact that there is no place for shortcuts when running a legitimate business-everything needs to be properly licensed.
Poor Back-up Strategies
When poor back-up strategies are employed, sometimes the critical data lost can be unrecoverable. It is estimated that after critical data loss, a business' likelihood of failure skyrockets to 90% within two years of data being lost. Fortunately, there are preventative steps that you can take to ensure this does not happen.
- Work with proficient IT managed services
- Test back-up sets to make sure that information can be recovered in its entirety
Perhaps the most important aspect of information technology is maintaining a good relationship with a trusted IT managed services provider. All of the above technical problems can be prevented with one simple step: choosing a technical support team with care. You have to ensure that the technology professionals working for your business are legitimate and skilled in their field.
It is important to remember that although someone may appear as "computer savvy" to the average computer user, you need to make sure that technology professionals are able to protect your company from these common problems.