It’s that time of year again. You’re trying to finish up this year strong while planning for next year–worrying about this year’s financials and developing budgets for next year. In other words, budget season.
Technology spending is a huge part of business planning. According to a SpiceWorks survey of over 1000 businesses, 88% of businesses will increase or stay the same in technology spending in 2020. In addition, 60% of companies under 100 people will increase their technology spend.
If you don’t understand technology and lack a trusted advisor, this can amp up your planning stress levels considerably. How do I spend my technology dollars wisely? To reduce that stress, Applied Tech encourages our clients to focus on two critical areas when planning for next year’s technology budgets.
Review your technology landscape
Like most things in life, it is very hard to create a plan if you don’t understand where you are today and what your goals are for the future. Applied Tech has created a ROADmap tool that helps you do just that. We review your current office infrastructure, cloud capabilities, general security footing and your overall line of business application capabilities. While reviewing the current state of your technology, we also talk about where you would like to be in the next few years. These discussions are the genesis of an overall spending plan for the next year and beyond.
We have found that when customers really engage in this process it crystalizes their understanding of what is important to their business. It also allows them to better understand where they should focus their spending and when.
Understand your security risk
Many people know their credit score. A credit score is the measure of risk to future creditors. It is calculated by examining 5 key areas: Payment History, Amounts Owed, Length of credit history, Credit Mix and New Credit. People with a good credit score are far more likely to be successful in securing a loan for a future home or business.
We have partnered with SecurityStudios who asked the question: “Why isn’t there a security score to measure a business’ security risk?”. The answer to their question is a security risk assessment tool that calculates the security risk of a business based on a review of 10 critical control areas: Risk Management, Governance, HR Security, Asset Management, Access Control, Cryptography, Security Operations, Incident Management, Business Continuity, and Compliance. This comprehensive assessment is tightly aligned to critical security regulations like HIPAA, NIST and GDPR. The result of the assessment is your S2SCORE. Not coincidentally, the range of the score mirrors that of the personal credit score rating. This is done so you have a familiar frame of reference for the results.
We encourage each of our clients to know their S2SCORE. Security has always been complex, and it has gotten much more so in recent years. Of the respondents to the SpiceWorks survey mentioned above, 47% of those said they will increase spending due to security concerns and 25% are doing so because of a recent security incident. The big question is where to put that investment to achieve the greatest return. If you don’t know your security score, how are you going to spend your security dollars wisely? In some cases, you can significantly increase your security score by improving processes and policies that involve minimal outside costs.
A comprehensive security assessment is critical to creating a long-term plan to protect your business. If you haven’t done one recently, make sure to include this in next year’s budget.
Two Key Technologies to Invest In
In every business, there is always an application that does not play well with others or processes that inhibit productivity. A key planning process should be taking an inventory of what technology is not helping your business and what areas of your business may benefit from technology. Two big areas that businesses are looking to invest in are IT automation workflow and productivity software.
IT Automation Workflow
One of the many benefits of cloud-based applications is the increased capabilities of automated workflows. These workflows allow you to automatically react to certain kinds of emails, cause one application to start a process based on something that happens in another application or broadcast alerts to staff when a certain conditions occur within an application. In many cases, the only limitation of these workflows is your imagination. If your technology team has not explored the capabilities of the Microsoft Flow platform or something similar, they should. Microsoft Flow is a growing part of the Microsoft Office 365 suite that is designed to connect disparate systems together (not just Microsoft applications) to allow them to share data and initiate processes.
Productivity software is a broad category. Generally, this tends to be applications that allow people to instant message, participate in video/audio discussions, share files and collaborate with key tools regardless of their location. A ZDNet article from December 2018, shows the dominance of Microsoft’s Skype for Business and its replacement application Teams with 65% of businesses using these applications. Microsoft’s investment in Teams has been astounding and its capabilities are increasing each month. In addition to the Skype for Business capabilities, Teams allows you to share files, edit them as a team and act as a hub for all sorts of productivity applications (again, not just Microsoft applications). If you are not familiar with this application, now is the time to start looking at its capabilities.
As we all know, planning for next year can be difficult. Without a trusted technology advisor, it can be even more so. With Applied Tech, you not only receive expert technology service and support, you gain a long-term partnership focused on helping you meet your business goals. Whether it’s building an IT ROADmap for the first time or aligning your technology with your business plan, Applied Tech helps you understand your technology and security goals and how to get from where you are to where you want to be.
Looking for more information about this? We’d be happy to answer any questions you might have. Reach out to us here.