With not only a new year but a new decade right around the corner, company leaders need to be mapping out a serious plan for what’s ahead. But where do you start? It’s a major challenge in deciding when ‘outdated technology’ is holding an organization back, or when it’s still delivering value. Or determining if the ROI for building integrations between applications is really worth it? What about evaluating new ‘must-have’ security tools. Can they really stand-up to new sophisticated cyber threats?
While the right technology investments can vary from business to business, here we’re outlining four critical success factors for 2020 planning and beyond. Ask these questions when planning and to explore how the right moves today can help you seize new opportunities for years to come.
- What application integration issues are you facing? Most companies today have a diverse technology environment, running various platforms, systems, and applications. So how do applications and databases share data? The answer is application integration. Application integrations connect a company’s software stack to create a more holistic IT environment. These connections streamline access to data and in doing so drive productivity and innovation. Leading companies focus on integrations between UC, CRM, HR, ERP applications, and others. Deep application integrations can help business leaders respond to new opportunities or identify issues related to disruptions in the supply chain, for example. Another example of application integration at work is the ability to utilize CRM customer data within a marketing platform to execute an email campaign and create reports efficiency. Ask yourself: what could your team accomplish by addressing your biggest application integration challenges.
- Do you have outdated equipment that’s keeping you from optimizing productivity? One of the biggest plot points in many 2020 IT plans is around upgrading outdated IT infrastructure. Old technology can sometimes hold a company back from growing, or it can hurt a company’s bottom line in several unexpected ways. For example, what may seem like only maintenance issues on a legacy PBX phone system may actually open up a company to hours of costly downtime. Or if legacy applications aren’t available on mobile devices, it can hurt data integrity or hinder employee productivity. Another example is relying on legacy equipment to run Microsoft Exchange. There have been some significant changes in the Microsoft ecosystem, especially with the phasing out the UC Platform, Skype for Business, which was replaced by Microsoft Teams which businesses should take notice of. These office tools, which once ran locally, are now part of an integrated portfolio of ‘cloud office’ products, which include productivity tools and collaboration apps from Teams. On top of giving users access to Teams and Office Apps from anywhere and from any device – Word, Excel, PowerPoint – the cloud model frees up IT teams from having to support and maintain Exchange servers on-prem. Many companies are also finding higher value by adding voice capabilities to their Microsoft Stack. Microsoft Office 365 + Teams + voice integration delivers a single communication and productivity hub, letting all team members – inside the office or out – host audio and video calls and web meetings, and chat.
- Can your team access business tools regardless of location? Reliable mobile connectivity thanks to 4G-LTE networks – and soon to be 5G – and Software-defined WAN technologies, have forever changed how we live and work. Businesses adding a branch office in 2020 or those supporting a mobile workforce, need to have a scalable infrastructure to stay competitive and these systems make that possible. Application-aware SD-WAN technologies are a smart investment because they cut bandwidth costs and prioritize traffic to business-critical cloud apps. Another area for investment is in mobile UCaaS apps that let individuals take their’ office phone’ on-the-go with features for accessing corporate directories, joining online meetings, sending individual and group messages, video calling, document sharing, and more. Making these moves now can give individuals real-time access to the information they need from anywhere, so users are more efficient and productive, even when they’re not at the corporate office.
- How are you addressing increasing security threats? Staying on top of cybersecurity threats today is a massive effort – and it shows no signs of easing. It takes being able to identify potential security gaps and having the security skills and tools available to spot abnormal behaviors happening across your network, applications, and devices. Also, companies need protections to minimize damage, if it does occur, and a disaster recovery plan to ensure corporate resources can get back up and running fast. When planning for what’s next, organizations need to make sure their physical systems are secure, and they need to reinforce their network and infrastructure security, as well. The right security solutions across the spectrum, including firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention, antivirus and malware programs, and secure networking software can protect corporate data and systems. Many businesses also require advanced password protection policies such as two-factor authentication and Identity and Access Management (IAM) platforms to make sure the right people have access to the right resources to be productive.
Get a plan together
Having a plan for the coming 12 months – at least – is a critical first step in solving challenges around your IT infrastructure in order to stay competitive. This way, your team can get proactive and build momentum early in the next decade, making smart adjustments even before problems arise. If you want help creating an IT infrastructure roadmap and prioritizing your moves around technology, talk to CTG. We specialize in helping businesses identify and deploy the right technology to stay on the path of growth and innovation. It’s going to be a great ride, bring on the new year!