Do you stress out over losing time and data due to your systems going down and computers not working? Do you have staff that are constantly complaining that their PCs aren’t working, causing stress and anxiety in your workplace? It has become an expectation that for any growing business, technology is always going to go down.
The good news is, this is just not true. Technology can be structured in a way that not only grows with you, but should never go down if managed correctly. But why isn’t yours like this? Well, it’s not your fault! We’ve learned over time that we call our tech company only when any sort of technology issues occur. We’ve been taught that old saying of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”… But then we find it breaks all the time and it’s costing you a fortune in both hard cost and lost profits.
So why is it that some growing businesses have no issues at all, while others live in fear of walking into their offices to see inactive staff and hearing those dreaded words, “The systems are down again”? How do you shift from an expectation that your technology will go down to trying to remember the last time there was actually an IT problem? Throughout this article, I will share with you how you can transition from the former to the latter.
Failure to Future-proof Your IT
Most people think about technology as this mystical and complex thing we have no control over, that it’s going to serve our basic business needs, but is bound to break down at some point. This mentality is exactly the reason for most technology problems. This mindset is something we’ve all grown up with and been taught over time. As a result, we only call about our tech issues, when these issues occur.
As a whole, there is a large disconnect between tech and businesses, even though in this day and age they are so tightly integrated. Most tech professionals out there just do not think like businesses people think in terms of long-term strategy. Techs are typically such logical thinkers that they just fix the problem at hand and call it good. But they haven’t thought about any business aspects at all. They’ve only fixed it to the current conditions of your business and haven’t thought about where your business is headed – they don’t understand (or even care about) your business’ strategic plan. On the flip side to this, businesses rarely think about technology as a part of their business plan. They care more about other core components such as HR, Marketing and Sales, and see technology as an add-on that will get dealt with later.
The single most important thing a business can do is to open up dialog connecting their business’ ambitions with their technology. Because every business relies heavily upon technology, there should be no reason there isn’t an understanding on both sides of the court. And when, from a technology perspective, we can get a great understanding of the business, we can start structuring an IT plan that works FOR the business over the long term.
I have a client who was in this exact position. Allison is the business manager at a local endodontics firm. She was going CRAZY dealing with all of the constant tech problems, where she was dealing with downtime almost daily. She would call her long-time tech company to come out each time, and they’d be there for a least an hour to ‘fix’ the issue, then a day or so later, another issue. As you could imagine, this got extremely frustrating and tiresome. She was at her wits’ end and just wanted her technology to work. Staff were getting angry on a daily basis, and loss of productivity was a common occurrence, not to mention a slew of upset clients. Her business was literally at risk of devastation, and the whole time she thought this was normal technology behavior.
I first spoke with Allison after one of her ‘last straw’ moments and we got to talking about her situation. I helped to educate her that this is NOT the way it’s supposed to be, and that her expectations that this was “normal” was costing her considerably. I helped her to understand that this is NOT normal, this is just a rampant belief that’s costing the average employer tens of thousands of dollars each year, not to mention all of the stress and anxiety to go with it. After suggesting that we should meet to go over her technology problems, we also discussed where the business was at and where it was heading. It didn’t take long to figure out they were growing slowly yet steadily, with no signs of stopping in the near-term, while her technology was like a pair of pants at Thanksgiving… busting at the seams.
Armed with this new information, we were able to draft a long-term technology plan with Allison’s business goals in mind. After executing this plan and making all the necessary changes, Allison now has a newfound love for technology, because it just works. She went from near daily calls with technology problems, to about two per month. And our calls are about whether something is possible, a simple request or to get thoughts about a new piece of technology – not about another problem slowing down her business. In fact, in a recent call, Allison made a point to tell me how she loves how her technology just works now. She felt like she almost forgets about me and what I do because she never needs to make an emergency call about her technology going down. None of which would be possible without my ability to work behind the scenes to keep her technology working flawlessly.
It’s time to face the truth. Having technology included in your business’ strategic plan will spur growth, not impede it. Ask yourself… How much is your neglect of technology costing you?
Be the Tech Warden
90% of all technology issues come from neglect. Many of these problems come from preventable issues that wouldn’t have even required a call to your tech company if they had any proactive focus. I’m often surprised with this lax mentality, one that may cost a little less up front, but ends up costing substantially more over any 12-month period.
Most technology companies don’t do what they need to in terms of hardware and software updates. Sure, a lot of tech companies now have remote monitoring tools, but did you know that most of them don’t even have those set up correctly? There’s an old saying in the tech world that most people live by… “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I find this one of the most idiotic things a tech professional could ever say. This has been the reason for so many failed software and hardware updates over the years. Most techs are just scared to do an update for fear of it causing other issues. This is due to either a lack of tech experience or lack of understanding of your systems, similar to any hair stylist cutting your hair for the time; they don’t quite know your style and how to cut it yet. Now, because of that lack of knowledge, the tech company leaves you massively vulnerable to system collapse and data hacking, which I will cover later. This then leads to outdated hardware and software, which has the potential to open the floodgates for disastrous problems.
Another client of mine, Brett, was going through this with his previous tech company. Once he gave me a call and we did our initial consultation, I was looking at his server. I’d noticed that he was running on extremely old and outdated hardware and the OS software was also over a year behind on updates. When I asked him about it, he mentioned that they were trying to push this server to be in service as long as they could so they could get their money’s worth. He also mentioned that it was approximately a year ago when the tech was out to do updates, and it caused a complete outage for over a day. After further digging, we found out that instead of the tech trying to figure out where the actual problem was, he simply reverted the server to the previous backup and turned off updates so it would never happen again. Talk about recipe for disaster – this tech had literally created a ticking time bomb!
The biggest fear for Brett was losing all of this data… He KNEW he was at risk, he KNEW he had to do something, but he couldn’t afford tens of thousands of dollars for a new server. What most people don’t understand is that due to the launch of so many new technologies, people like Brett can actually take on an entirely new server infrastructure for generally less than the monthly tech fees they’re already paying. In short, all this stress and all this worry was simply caused by the fact he was misinformed, and that his technology was reactively managed. After setting him up with one of our solutions, he now has his data completely secured, backed up and monitored in real-time. He no longer needs to worry about updates, or anything else.
When your systems are updated on a consistent basis, they are far less vulnerable to disaster. There are many ways to accomplish this with a little bit of time put in up front.
Moving Past Placebo Security
Making sure you’re up to date definitely makes you less vulnerable to problems and cyber attacks, but nowadays, viruses, ransomware and hackers know of vulnerabilities often before a software patch is available. A lot of tech companies and businesses think that simply having an anti-virus software is prevention enough, but the truth is, while it does help, there are other systems out there can do a much better job.
The world is changing and with that, so must you. Gone are the days where a person can just download a free antivirus software and expect that it’s going to protect them. Many people don’t realize the limitations of this software; they definitely don’t protect you against all problems. They don’t safeguard your clients’ data, your data, or your business. When you leave the office for the day, most business owners with lock all doors and make sure the alarm is set. But more often than not, they’re leaving their most valuable assets with the door wide open. Let me give you an example, since another client of mine was in that exact position… Thinking she was free from any attack, Sandy ended up getting hit with a ransomware virus, locking all of her important files permanently unless she paid $2000. While a very disastrous and devastating blow to her business, she did do one thing right… She had daily backups of her data that were actually taking place. Once we were able to get her business functional again, we then noticed she was using a free antivirus software as recommended by her previous tech. We showed her that updates hadn’t occurred since the software was installed and she was completely floored. As a totally preventable problem, it drives me absolutely crazy that her previous tech company (or any tech, for that matter) would even mention this as a viable solution for a business. It is almost as if some tech companies don’t even care about their clientele and always seem to go for the quick fix.
We also educated her to the fact that while endpoint security was a good thing, having a good perimeter security solution was better yet. We set her up on a system that actively scanned her internet connection, stopping all future viruses and attacks in their tracks. This newfound sense of security over Sandy’s data has her sleeping much better at night and confident that her data is secure.
So, how often do you have to call in your tech company for various issues? The truth is, you should see your tech company a lot at the beginning as they are working to understand your systems, your growth plans, and your business aspirations. After that, they should be phantoms. Like in a great stage show production, they are moving behind the scenes making sure it all works properly, never to be seen or remembered, just making sure your technology supports your long term business goals. Wouldn’t it be nice to have technology that you could just count on? Well, the good news is, you can, and save thousands in the process. All you need to do is agree that technology should be a priority and that a preemptive focus will save you big money in the long term in real tech costs while increasing staff productivity.
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