Thankfully the global economic recession of 2008 seems to have bottomed-out with plenty of optimism and economic growth indicators visible during the latter half of 2013. Positive business and consumer sentiment is vital to kick-start the economy so hopefully 2014 ignites this trend for all SME’s.
One industry which should expect significant growth is the IT Industry. Even though the Software Industry has largely ignored the recession; the Hardware Industry can expect a bumper 2014 due to the availability of capital funds and factors such as;
1. End of Windows XP Support
April 2014 saw the end of support for Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Exchange Server 2003, Small Business Server 2003 and Office 2003. This will impact most businesses with the primary result that there won’t be any more security patches for those products, and the likelihood of your PC attracting a security threat will increase, no matter how good your anti-virus software is. Online support documents could disappear too as Microsoft force/migrate businesses to Windows 7 and 8.
- Consider upgrading your old PC’s to Windows 7 or 8, yourself or via professional assistance, taking note of your licensing and RAM requirements.
- Undertake sufficient research to ensure you will not have a software compatibility problem i.e. a peculiar application that will not work on modern operating systems.
- Ensure you have a detailed migration plan to ensure business continuity
- Consider investment in new PC’s, Laptops and/or servers, with modern operating systems and specifications
2. Cloud this, Cloud that n Cloud tother!
Every business has at least some data or application in the cloud, with varying business cost drivers highlighting the efficiency and effectiveness of Cloud Computing. This trend will rightly continue in the future while business start-ups in particular “have everything in the cloud”. However, with the previously mentioned Windows Server and XP expiration, this may be a good opportunity for your business to start saving with Cloud Computing.
- Cloud Compatible? Make sure your peculiar applications are ‘cloud-friendly’ or if not, ensure you identify a suitable alternative e.g. www.getapp.com
- As part of your Total Cost of Ownership analysis, do not forget to calculate the cost of migrating your existing applications and data to the cloud. Cloud data is cheap – getting there (and back) is not! Again, speak to an IT expert.
- Thereafter, identifying, sourcing and negotiating a suitable cloud hosting package for your business can be challenging. Speak to us about an IT Audit, which will assist.
3. Mobile Mad
In 2014 Mobile technology, will continue to create more opportunities for businesses to connect, engage and sell to more clients on the move, while improving internal communications and processes too. Online orders are now placed while clients watch TV at home, travel to work or waiting between meetings. Is your business prepared for these buy-from-anywhere clients?
- At the very least, ensure your website has a responsive web design so it will work on every device and resize in a way that is appealing to the end user. If you need professional assistance with this, please contact us.
- Similarly, what about an internal or external mobile app for your business? Thankfully the costs of mobile apps have decreased but its still good practise to ‘shop around’ and get various proposals to compare
- Having a mobile app or responsive website is a great start but what if nobody knows about it? Make sure you are found and consider the benefits of hiring a Digital or Social Media Marketing expert
4. Increasing Internet Security Threats
Once you are connected to the Internet, your pc/laptop/mobile device is under threat from hackers. Your email, credit card details and company data make very interesting reading to cyber criminals, researchers, competitors and even others within your organisation. A fellow member of it@cork, Smarttech revealed a simple Wifi hack within Irish Hotels recently, with devastating results attainable within 20 minutes. These Hotels operate as ‘business-friendly’ Hotels with lots of Wifi usage. If these Wifi connections were insecure – how secure are your Internet IT Networks?
- Make sure you have up-to-date and effective Internet and Anti-virus software
- Consider a Penetration Test from an IT Security expert where an IT Security Audit will reveal your existing threats
- We have assisted in the purchasing, negotiating and implementing of lots of hardware, software and web development projects over the past 10 years. Recently a client renewed their Virtualization licenses with a €190,000 annual savings identified by keeping abreast of market trends and procurement opportunities.