Let’s be real. For most small businesses during this period, it’s been extremely difficult. If you were somehow able to sustain operations during this time, you most likely had to make some serious alterations to the way that you normally do things. Many businesses who weren’t using automation tools already have turned to using automation to help them adapt. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the technologies that you probably already have, and how you can change the way you use automation to adapt and to benefit your business as concerns spike over COVID-19.
Working With What You’ve Got
When the pandemic first hit, and many states mandated that businesses close or move their operations offsite, not many people had the foresight that the situation would last as long as it has. Many of us thought we would have a two week lock down and be back in the office. Of course, the situation was new to almost every living person, but as far as business goes, many organizations chose to close up shop and wait it out. As the days turned into weeks, however, it became evident that if they didn’t do something, they could stand to lose it all. For those businesses, and the businesses that went to a remote workforce right off the bat, the transition was filled with issues. How can I pay my bills? How can I get everyone set up with the technology they’ll need to be productive? How can I ensure that my staff is capable of being productive from home? How can I ensure that our data is secure as individuals work from home? What other choices do I have?
For most businesses that chose to lay off their workforce at the outset of this thing and suspend operations, they were given a lifeline from the paycheck protection program (PPP) and were able to function at a limited capacity for many weeks. Does this mean they didn’t struggle? No. Especially since we have now all been in some form of stay at home or quarantine for months. But with the subsidy, many hired back their best workers and made it through by replacing the productivity they would get from their additional staff with automation. Since payroll is a major expense for any company, in times when you need to keep your finances as liquid as you can, automation helps.
Many of the automated tools that were added included payroll processing tools, operations management tools, and invoicing tools. These tools are designed to keep businesses from having to deal with actions that usually take up time and money, and are often outsourced. Other parts of the typical business, including employee collaboration, supply chain management, and project management can be improved dramatically through the use of automated tools. While they can save you time and money, they also save you the worrying that those processes will be taken care of, which is an added bonus.
Security In Uncertain Times
Another part of the business experience that has seen less attention due to all the other things that are going on is cybersecurity. In fact, despite more business being conducted online than ever before, cybersecurity spending is conclusively down. It was actually one of the first places small businesses looked to cut when they realized that they were going to see a drop in revenues. The cybersecurity industry, which as a whole has been growing at about five percent per year for the past eight years is only expecting growth of just over one percent this year. While many are reducing their cybersecurity methods, we are also seeing a rise in cybersecurity attacks from hackers, leading to more concern.
If you are relying on a remote workforce, it stands to reason that you would want to provide them with the best chance to succeed. The numbers suggest that many organizations, despite reducing their overall cybersecurity outlay, are holding fast to their endpoint and intrusion protection spending. This means that with the uncertainty of when or if the world will return to normal, businesses acknowledge that by securing their network endpoints, their organizational risk goes way down.
We should mention that no automation is going to stop cybercriminals. While newfangled IT solutions use AI to better identify and eliminate threats, most of the threats that will be a problem for your business in the foreseeable future will be from phishing scams. If your workforce works remotely, this risk is exacerbated by the fact that most people work from their personal devices and not from company owned hardware when they are out of the office. You will want to keep your phishing identification training strategies going and keep them frequent. The last thing that you want is for a remote employee to trigger a major malware attack on your company’s network because you didn’t properly train them.
Businesses and Automation
The future of business is one that is done over the computer. That much is clear now. We understand that most businesses need automation to adapt now. If you need help with your business’ technology, you want to talk about what strategies are best, or if you just want to make sure you are doing the right things, call our knowledgeable team of IT technicians today at (813) 749-0895. At Symmetric IT Group, we can help with Managed IT Services and IT Support for whatever IT needs you currently have or may have in the future.