Even though technology seems to be ever-changing, the end points are primarily the same. Everyone has the desire to be efficient and deliver their services more effectively, leading us to interconnect our personal lives and our business lives, which used to be two totally separate things.
The end-user is driving our trends, and you, my friend, are the end user!
As our lives get busier, our time is often split between work and our family. We make ourselves available via cellphone, tablet and laptop, which often includes or invades the time that we have with our families. By the same token, we look for those companies that allow us to reach them at any time of day to solve our issues.
We have had to increase the number of devices in our lives and the way that we connect with other people or clients in an attempt to make ourselves available to everyone all the time and not lose that particular client or allow our children to run with no supervision — if you can consider phone contact supervision.
The more devices and the more interconnectivity that we require, however, the more proactive we must become to its maintenance and care.
With the economic issues that we face as business owners, one thing that always comes to mind is the cost of the equipment required to run our business efficiently. What is the bare minimum that you need? How many employees need access to the data on your systems at any one given time? If someone is out of the office, who will know or have access to that other person's documents? What industry regulations are driving your IT costs?
Small businesses once were left with the decision of whether to run with the big dogs or be run over as larger business, with greater capital resources, prevailed, but this is no longer the case. Some of the latest trends, such as Office 365 and Google apps, are evening out that ground.
While it used to be a requirement to have an on-premise server with a lot of licenses for terminal services and sometimes a large investment in security to have your employees work from home, it can be as simple as a Web browser for some users to connect from outside the office and work as they would if they were physically at the office.
We have pushed this to another level by allowing users to connect with their phones, tablets and other devices in a similar means. The price of doing this is no longer as large as it has been in the past and it allows more small businesses flexibility in their overhead costs, as well as flexibility in their workforce.
You have requested mobility, and more devices are being introduced to market every day. Adoption of tablets in the workplace has been predicted to increase by 117 percent by 2014, while smartphone adoption is expected to increase by almost 35 percent.
A considerable amount of our business information now resides in centralized locations of one type or another that we access via the Internet. This includes, but is not limited to, our contacts and their information, specific work file information, our email and our social media networks, such as LinkedIn, Referral Key and Facebook.
But this presents new problems.
According to Forbes, for every 25 percent increase in functionality of a system, there is a 100 percent increase in complexity. As we increase our ability to reach further and to meet the demands that we have requested, we also are increasing our power requirements, increasing our bandwidth requirements and increasing the complexity of the security measures that need to be put in place.
Data security is a special concern.
It has been predicted that by 2017, 40 percent of enterprise contact information will have leaked to Facebook via employee mobile devices. Security across devices and the security of the networks over which we access this information will continue to be a concern.
What is your most important business asset? You know that you your customers are important, your equipment, your employees ... But if you were to lose any of those things, you would simply work to get more, right?
Your data is your business, whether it be your contacts or your meeting notes. This is what your business is made of. Your equipment is insured and can be replaced. Customers and employees come and go. Take care of your data by choosing technology partners who understand its importance to your existence. Do you really want to take chances with data you cannot afford to lose?
Noelle Craig is business manager at Elk Systems Inc., a technology solutions company based in Lewisberry.