Five SMB IT challenges and how to prevent them

The fast evolution of digital technology has set small- and medium-businesses (SMBs) on equal footing with large enterprises in terms of deriving revenues, operational efficiency, client relations, and penetrating global markets. However, these advantages do come at a price.

In a 2015 report by The US Securities and Exchange Commission, 60 percent of all cyberattack victims were SMBs. In a 2018 survey, a US small business insurance provider reported that 65 percent of respondents failed to respond accordingly after a known cyberattack. In the past five years, SMBs have proven to be the foremost victims to cyberattacks. The reasons are simple — SMBs have less security know-how, IT infrastructure or IT support, and data policy to prevent breaches. These factors make them highly vulnerable to cybercrime.

It is virtually impossible to eliminate all cyberattacks, although there are steps to mitigate risks. Here are five common challenges you may face in your business, and how to solve them.

#1. Information security breach.

A breach in information security is one of the threats that SMBs are vigilant about. While many SMBs have some level of data security policy, human errors such as neglecting to secure passwords still pose a high risk of information falling into the wrong hands.

Solutions:

Encrypt your data to mask information such as credit card account numbers, emails, phone numbers, and so on. Encryption converts information into ciphertext and could only be made readable by an authorized person who has a code. Your IT services provider should be able to help you put a robust encryption method in place.

Immediately update and install software patches. Software patches are a form of protection from malware, viruses, and other cyberthreats.

Educate and train employees on information security. Employees must be aware of basic, yet indispensable cybersecurity practices such as setting up unpredictable passwords and complying with stringent data privacy policies.

#2 Business growth

There’s a higher demand to upgrade the IT systems of SMBs that are looking at expansion, but the options of cybersecurity technology can be overwhelming.

Solutions:

Audit your work processes. Determine whether there are repetitive manual tasks that could be automated.

Consider using cloud services. Doing so gives you a chance to try affordable ways to try new software and tailor-fit them according to your business size or need.

#3 Effective IT budgeting

Only one-third of small businesses have an understanding of their technological needs, according to a survey by Forbes Insight. As such, many business owners are under the impression that highly priced cybersecurity tools will guarantee optimal protection. This is not always the case. Oftentimes, purchases are left either unused or entangled with other tools, leading to a technology sprawl.

Solutions:

Close collaboration. Working closely with IT service providers who also understand the nature of your business can provide sound advice on which tools are necessary.

Audit your investments and determine which ones contribute to efficiency and productivity to your business.

Lease equipment instead of purchasing them. Keep in mind that over time, equipment tends to depreciate with software upgrades. Eventually, leased equipment, unliked purchased ones, is easier to dispose of.

#4 Lack of IT experts

Finding the right talent has been a growing challenge since the beginning of the internet age. According to research firm Gartner, “by 2020, 75 percent of organizations will experience visible business disruptions due to infrastructure and operations skills gaps, which is an increase from under 20 percent in 2016.” This causes significant business disruptions and huge losses.

Solution:

Maximize your selling points. An SMB tends to have less bureaucracy, closer working relationships, and positively unconventional work processes. Remember that finding the right people depends on the human element of your business. You want to give applicants and staff enough reasons to stay — aside from the paycheck.

#5 From bulk folders to big data

Data collection, strategy, and analysis change the way a business operates. Collecting or maintaining client information for customer relationship management or migration purposes can be complicated as most business owners are left unsure of what to do with the information that they have.

Solution:

Work with a reliable IT services provider that will help you find and implement data analytics tools for a more comprehensive insight into your business transactions and identify opportunities for increased customer value.

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