Why worry? Let them worry.
You probably have someone responsible for IT in your company, but it’s not their day job. And whilst you can’t run your business without IT, you worry about the threats that having data and interconnectivity brings.
Security is one of the threats that your non-day-job person is probably most worried about, but often least qualified to deal with. The newspapers are full of tales of woe about companies being hacked or held to ransom over their IT. The sad truth is that fewer than 0.1% of attacks are reported. We at Netsurit thwart about 3000 attacks per month for our clients–viruses, malware and ransomware. The nature of these attacks changes and mutates every month, so we track and defend against these as well. South African companies experience about 110 million attacks per month.
There are over 100 million virus attacks and hacks in South African companies per month.
Last year we saw several ransomware attacks. (Ransomware is code that blocks access to your data until a ransom is paid. Then a password is given to the victim to unlock their systems again). We identified that these came from remote desktops (computers not on your site, inside your firewall) and phishing emails (desktops inside your firewall used by unaware staff). and have developed methods of defeating these attacks. We are now working on vulnerability software that prevents such attacks from occurring.
Sadly, many small businesses come to us after an IT problem has occurred. The aim we strive for is “IT without fuss”, a notion that while accountability still resides with our clients, the responsibility of being proactive to IT problems lies with us, leaving the business owner free to concentrate on business.
While accountability still resides with our clients, the responsibility of being proactive to IT problems lies with us
IT problems aren’t only related to security. It’s about equipment selection that will provide the least hassles. It’s about the ability to scale your IT should you need to. Backups and disaster recovery are also issues that many small businesses fall short on. And what about regulation? There are some 34 IT related regulations that affect small businesses, from data retention, through information privacy, how emails can be handled, FICA, PoPI and GDPE, the consumer protection act, and many others. Such regulations require you to firstly be aware of them, secondly develop policies for complying, and thirdly ensuring that these policies are adhered to.
Also, small businesses need to know about maintenance, patching, refreshes and servicing of their IT equipment. For example, Microsoft has introduced new patching protocols, which can be pernicious for small businesses. Their new protocols soak up bandwidth and can block your communications channels unless managed and curated by a third party.
These downsides and complications may make you wonder if IT is worth the hassle. As with any tool and technology, the downsides need to be managed if the benefits are to be felt. And here’s the issue: Many small businesses are managing their IT well, and importantly are cutting business costs, improving business processes and revolutionizing customer services. The combination of the above three factors – reduced costs, better processes and delighted customers – is driving the digital revolution. Digital disruption is a phrase that has become overused, but nevertheless, it is real. Technology is allowing small companies to reach distant customers with revolutionary products and services. IT allows companies to achieve “scale without mass” – to grow without spending on bricks and mortar, or added people for that matter, and for small businesses that’s the holy grail.
IT is a two-edged sword: It allows you to scale without mass, and set up ecosystems to provide differentiated goods and services. But it needs to be managed proactively if you are to avoid problems.
IT also allows small businesses to create an ecosystem of products, services and suppliers which allows them to significantly punch above their weight. They interface seamlessly with suppliers, co-producers, and customers as part of an effective ecosystem. IT, properly managed, gives a business an agility and responsiveness that allows them to react to competitive challenges quickly, or importantly, to try new ideas and services at relatively low risk and cost.
Finally, innovation isn’t only about your products and services. The speed of change and innovation in IT has increased exponentially since the eighties and is not slowing. So, who is watching these developments, which may give you the key to unlocking new products, services, markets, and channels?
Information Technology is an essential part of any business today. In the UK they have stopped talking about digital. It is assumed that all business is digital or has a digital component.
So if you depend on IT, wouldn’t it be sound practice to use professionals to manage it for you? Let them worry on your behalf. Let them keep things secure, stable, and available. And let them track and understand IT trends that will affect your business. Let them provide you with “IT without fuss”, so that you can concentrate on the real business of your business.
Author – Barbi Goldblatt – Regional Executive