2017The New Year is here, and there is no better time than to stop and take stock. All businesses need IT, whether they realise it or not, and we have identified ten opportunities you should be capitalising on in 2017 to keep ahead of the pack.

1 – Have a Strategic IT & Technical plan

If you do not have an IT plan then you risk being left behind as technology moves on. Catching up can be disruptive and expensive. It is cost effective to have a strategic IT plan professionally developed to unlock the technological potential you are missing

2 – Ensure your systems are secure

You should use corporate standard routers and firewalls to protect business systems. We often find businesses use consumer grade equipment which is insecure. If you process card transactions you need to be PCI-DSS compliant, which is unlikely if you have not installed specialist equipment. Keep safe from hackers by having it upgraded.

3 – Stop using free services

It is not safe for your business to be reliant on services that are free, such as Yahoo, Gmail and Dropbox. Such services are not guaranteed for business use and they are a security risk. There have been a number of hacks recently where data has been compromised from free services. It is much safer to have a proper mail or cloud storage service installed that is bespoke to your own business needs.

4 – Use a fully managed cloud antivirus service

Free antivirus such as Windows Defender is free for a reason – if you want a premium service you need to pay. A fully managed cloud antivirus service is always up to date, always monitored and keeps your business safe from malware, ransomware and viruses.

5 – Have a Rolling IT Upgrade Plan

Ensure workstations are up-to-date and running smoothly with planned rolling upgrades. Slow computers cost you time and money. Upgrading them all at once disrupts your business and costs a lot of money. Spread the cost with a rolling upgrade plan, to keep your business running smoothly.

6 – Utilise CRM systems to gather business data

Information is the lifeblood of modern business and if you are not capturing the right data then you are at a disadvantage. Once it has been collected it needs to be used, and that is where a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system comes in, to operationalise the data and make it work to boost business.

7 – Utilise cloud based document management systems

Document Management Systems  allow you access and control over your company documents at all times. Instead of languishing on individual workers’ hard drives or disorganised file shares, the files can be held centrally and worked on by others. Collaborative working and version control becomes simple, and you can cut down on the amount of paper you use.

8 – Invest in your web presence

Your website is more than just a yellow pages entry: if you develop a website and update it regularly with new content then customers will return time and time again. F you do not have a website then you really need one in the modern environment, even if it is a simple one, and if yours has not been updated since 2015 then there is no better time than to give it a refresh. Constant updates are vital, so consider investing in managed blogging or social media services to complement it.

9 – Embrace social media

Social media is not just for teenagers. It is now a vital way to interact with your customers. You can even benefit from this if you are B2B, as social networks like LinkedIn span across personal and business relationships. There is not better way of focussing marketing spend to a specific demographic than social marketing.

10 – Utilise Business Intelligence and Analytics

Consider where you can use business intelligence systems and analytics to gain better knowledge and insight into your business, customers and market in which you operate. Knowledge is key to unlocking opportunities and converting leads, and modern data mining techniques can open up markets you would never have considered.

Digitalquill – Hull and East Yorkshire’s IT Specialists

Digitalquill are experts in IT provision and IT support. For more information on these IT improvements or any others, call us on 01482 424402 or email office@www.digitalquill.co.uk.