Reflecting on 2020
As we approach the end of the year, it is always a good time to reflect. But this year, it seems more of a necessity than normal. It has been a turbulent year to say the least. COVID19 has affected people in many different ways. Coronavirus and lockdown restrictions have placed businesses and the economy under strain. It has also been the catalyst to change the way many businesses operate.
We had to change how our business operated after we experienced a 400% increase in tickets at the end of March, when lockdown was first announced.
It has placed strain on individuals too; self-isolation and mental health, furlough and redundancies, not being able to see family members, cancelled weddings or sadly losing someone close. Working in a safe environment and employee wellbeing have been paramount during 2020.
While remote working has provided many benefits, we have had to consider how to keep employees engaged; maintaining communication and collaboration. Tools such as Teams, Slack and Zoom have certainly aided this. However, keeping energy levels high, particularly those who thrive from the office environment, has been compromised.
Next year will be challenging still
Brexit is looming and there is still uncertainty for those businesses exporting, importing and hiring EU citizens. Government are willing businesses and individuals to be ready for the Brexit transition, however, many of us feel left in the dark. Government has left businesses with only one option; to quickly adapt for either a deal or a 'no deal'.
Welfare and wellbeing
Welfare and wellbeing of employees will remain a top priority moving into 2021. Supporting staff so that they can thrive in this (and any) environment is important, but challenging. Following the philosophy that people are a business' biggest asset, will always guide the best course of action.
2021 predictions and tech trends
Communication technology and habits will continue to adapt. Remote working, using Teams or Zoom have become everyday tools… some of these short-term changes will turn into long-term habits. What will stick is still unclear, but they will have to suit any kind of recovery.
Generally, we have used more communication channels since coronavirus struck. Consider all the ways you and your business talk to each other and customers; office landline, mobile, website, social channels, email, video (Teams, Zoom), instant messenger (Teams, Slack). It's taking longer to check messages and it makes it more likely that we miss messages. We anticipate that more companies will improve their telecommunications packages. We are also seeing a trend in businesses adopting a ‘shop front’ program. The program houses all office platforms including CRM, databases, applications, even employee training. They are useful because they make it easier quickly access all digital tools as well as HR assets.
Coronavirus provided the kick start to implementing technological improvements/upgrades and digitalisation. The shift towards off-premise, remote working and cloud migrations has been the most evident changes we have seen. Some believe it has accelerated digitalisation by 5 years! Understanding the technological tools and software available to save you time, money, whilst being most productive and remain competitive, will be vital in 2021.
We constantly assess new tools and software available on the marketplace. Improving our own business and recommending technology to our own clients is a top priority. For example, did you know that Microsoft 365 package users have access to MileIQ? MileIQ tracks mileage automatically and lets you report on business mileage to claim back each month.
If you’re not already, now maybe a good time to subscribe to our newsletter for more IT, cybersecurity and digitalisation updates and quick tips like this:
All about SaaS
In our hunt for the latest technological developments, it is clear that SaaS platforms (Software as a Service) will provide many of these solutions. This is not just a trend but a long-term fixture. There are many benefits to having this cloud based solution. It means a third-party provider hosts an application via the Internet, removing the burden of installing and running applications on your own computers or data centres. The main benefits include:
- Flexible, and usually pay-as-you-go pricing
- Flexible and scalable packages (according to the level of service you need)
- Automatic updates
- Ability to access the application with merely an internet connection
- No onsite maintenance or servicing
- Often more secure too because of SaaS providers huge cybersecurity budget
Amazon is king
Like with every recession, there are some businesses that thrive. As Amazon continues to grow, it’s a good opportunity to look at why and how they are successful, then consider:
How consumer habits and expectations will transfer to B2B... one-click ordering/payment, same day delivery?
Can we benchmark against Amazon?
What can we automate?
Can we match their service delivery?
What if Amazon entered my market?
Online security threats remain, including those related to remote workers, and will continue to be the biggest challenge into 2021. This threat will intensify as businesses (and homes) use more IoT and smart devices. The new telecoms security law that came into effect in November 2020, emphases the tougher approach UK Government is placing on cybersecurity and there will no doubt be more cybersecurity regulation in the future.
We have seen an increase in the number of suspected ‘double extortion ransomware’ attacks at the back end of 2020. This is where data is encrypt and a ransom demanded (essentially stealing the data), but the cyber criminal also threatens to upload the data online if their terms are not met. It is suspected that Manchester United's cyber attack was just this, although it has not been confirmed. Cyber criminals are adapting, being more aggressive and manipulative in the way they attack, using trial and error to see what works and how they can best extort money.
Cyber Essentials and cybersecurity insurance
GDPR may have been the ‘hot topic’ in 2019, but data security should still be top priority. Cyber threats increase as society become more dependent on Information and Communications Technology (ICT). Gaining the Government backed Cyber Essentials accreditation is a great way of protecting any business, especially as cybersecurity becomes more regulated across industries. To understand cybersecurity fundamentals, we recommend to read our cybersecurity best practise blog. We also predict that the number of businesses taking up cybersecurity insurance will also increase, as we see more businesses pay off ransom threats using this type of insurance.
5G has made the headlines for all the wrong reasons, with conspiracy stories galore, but marks how everything is becoming connected. 5G enables a new kind of network. It is designed to connect virtually everything and everyone. This includes devices, machines, objects, and data and can be applied across many industries. Understanding how it may apply to your business sector is important. It's exciting to see many 5G test-beds and trials taking place in the Midlands.
So that's my summary of 2020... Let me know your thoughts by commenting below.
If you’re looking to improve how your business uses technology next year, remember to lean on an expert and ask lots of questions. Hopefully we have sparked a few ideas that can feed into your IT strategy for next year.
Speak to an expert
If you still have questions about how your business' IT and cybersecurity can improve or modernise, then why not schedule some time with one of our experts.