Overcoming Common IT Challenges as a Growing Business
A common goal for many growing businesses is to achieve consistent growth, and, most of all, to stay in business.
From the start of 2022, there were 5,465,320 small businesses (0-49 employees) taking up 99% of the total UK business population. Despite this high number, 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, and 60% of small businesses fail within the first three years.
So why do so many growing businesses struggle to stay operational?
This problem may be down to a variety of reasons, including cash flow, a flawed business model, legal issues, or, simply, bad timing. However, there is one element that is rarely considered to be the reason for this failure: technology.
Businesses rely heavily on technology for success. Of course, many will say that the core of any business is its employees or its customers. But, how do your employees operate? How do you communicate with your customers? what tools do you use to better manage business processes? How do you remain competitive?
The answer to all these questions is using the right technology that aligns with your business objectives.
Recognising the most common technology downfalls associated with growing businesses will be your guide to overcoming the biggest challenge of all…longevity.
This guide highlights the IT challenges that most commonly affect growing businesses and outlines what you can do to overcome them.
- Exceeding IT costs
- Maintaining Effective Cyber Security
- Managing Productivity problems
- Lack of IT direction and/or vision
- Increasing Technology Skills Gap
- Overcoming pressures of the pandemic
1. Exceeding IT Costs
In the ever-changing world of technology, maintaining your IT infrastructure can come with a hefty price tag. If you’re not managing your costs effectively, the result will be that your business will spend more than it’s generating.
Staff and Training Costs
The average salary of a single IT manager in the UK is £50K per year. IT Directors earn an average salary of £70K per year. Bear in mind that these do not include additional benefits, certifications and training, pensions, costs of recruitment and more.
That’s not all, new staff will require initial training on the business in order to properly function as an employee. Once they’ve passed probation, they will ne need constant investment, to succeed in the organisation.
It’s important to note that security awareness training for your staff is also necessary to increase skillset, avoid burnout and reduce the chances of a cyber-attack.
If your business is utilising physical hardware, your organisation will be responsible for upgrading and maintaining these as your business grows. As a smaller organisation with limited resources, it can be a challenge to ensure that all physical hardware is up-to-date, resulting in outdated hardware and increasing costs.
Lack of IT Budgets
If you’re unsure about the technology that your business requires, it’s possible that you are paying for services and solutions on an ad-hoc basis. This can make it difficult to understand what exactly you are paying for and how much money you need for future IT projects.
Lack of Business Processes and Automation
Each employee is paid a monthly wage, so the time they spend on tasks ends up being extremely valuable. Without the proper processes and automation solutions in place, your staff can spend endless hours on repetitive tasks. As a result, the costs of your staff members far outweigh the output.
2. Maintaining Effective Cyber Security
Safeguarding Against Security Threats
No company is too small to be devastatingly impacted by a cyber-attack and can be a difficult IT challenge to safeguard against them. According to the Cyber Security Breaches Survey, 2022, 38% of UK micro and small businesses identified a cyberattack in the last 12 months. 31% of these businesses were attacked at least once a week, and 20% of businesses experienced a negative outcome such as a financial or reputational loss, as a result of an attack.
These results often stem from a lack of board-level understanding of cyber security, which further impacts funding and prevents organisations from implementing the right cyber security approach.
With no strategy, budget or skillset for a robust security solution, what can small businesses do to reduce the likelihood of a cyber-attack?
Maintaining Cyber Security Compliance
No organisation is completely immune from experiencing a cyberattack. That’s why The UK Government has set forth cyber security standards and regulatory requirements.
These security standards enable businesses to understand the basic requirements needed to protect data and to combat cyber threats.
Failure to meet these standard security requirements can result in receiving large fines and reputational damage.
However, it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with all the latest requirements and can, therefore, present a major IT challenge for growing businesses.
Keeping up with Outdated Software
Deploying and maintaining software can be challenging, especially for smaller businesses. Without a budget and resources, software –and even the whole infrastructure–can become outdated. This can lead to a long list of lingering vulnerabilities, making it easier for cybercriminals to access your network.
If a specific product becomes outdated or is no longer supported, developers will stop providing security updates. Any future weaknesses found in unsupported products will remain unpatched and will be exploitable by relatively low-skilled attackers.
3. Managing Productivity Problems
It can be difficult to determine what causes a drop in productivity in a smaller workforce. However, a common cause is a combination of inefficient technology and processes, limited resources and poor communication. Emerging technologies have the potential to influence job quality in both positive and negative ways. For technology to be successful and to improve the performance of staff, businesses will need to greatly consider if new technology will align with existing technologies and how this will impact staff experience.
4. Lack of IT Direction and/or Vision
Technology is constantly changing, making it inherently difficult to manage. Without an effective IT leader, the entire IT infrastructure can fall apart.
We have conducted many IT roadmaps during our 20 years of experience, and many of the core IT problems are the result of the way that previous projects have been led. Even if businesses are using the right technology, it may have been implemented or configured incorrectly, causing systems to fail. This can be due to a lack of understanding of the technology itself and the way that it can communicate with the wider network.
Upgrading or transforming your Infrastructure is complex and not having an effective IT leader can create more extensive problems. For example, these may include outdated software and systems, growing IT costs, an unproductive workforce and security threats. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you have a team with the capacity and skillset to thoroughly manage your IT Infrastructure.
5. Increasing Technology Skills Gap
Research conducted by IONOS revealed that 31% of UK SMEs said the lack of know-how represents a major, or very major, barrier to digitalisation efforts. While businesses understand the impact that knowledge can have on their business, the tech industry in Britain is struggling. The demand for skilled individuals in the technology industry is spiking, but there are just not enough available skilled applicants to fill these spaces. In fact, there were more than 2 million tech vacancies advertised between May 2021 and 2022, and this number is still increasing.
If SMEs are unable to hire skilled IT, they need to find another way to gain this knowledge from an outside hire.
6. Overcoming the Pressures of the Pandemic
Before the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, only around one in eight working adults reported working from home. However, with the world on lockdown and businesses continuing to remain operational, the population was forced to work from home. 3 years later, an average of 38% of UK workers now work from home.
Employees now expect businesses to offer hybrid working roles as standard, as these provide a better work/life balance. This was stated by more than three-quarters (78%) in the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN).
If an organisation does not offer a hybrid working option, it’s likely that employees will seek employment opportunities elsewhere.
Keeping up with the demands of employees can be tricky for smaller organisations, as they need to have the appropriate technology in place to support flexible working options, otherwise, productivity, communication, security and, ultimately, the growth of the business may be jeopardised.
With security being at an all-time high, IT leaders need to take extra care of endpoints, hardware and software maintenance, lingering outsider threats, internal threats and more–especially when dealing with remote workers.
Overcoming These Challenges with AirIT Modern Workplace
Growing businesses can face many issues when trying to maintain a secure IT infrastructure. From exceeding costs to overcoming the pressures of the COVID-19 Pandemic, staying operational can be difficult.
To assist small businesses with these challenges, many managed IT providers offer a Modern Workplace solution. This ensures that small businesses have access to the right technology and the expertise required to implement them.
Air IT, however, has developed a more extensive Modern Workplace solution. This solution is built on Microsoft 365 with additional Air IT services. These solutions have been hand-picked to better protect your organisation from threats, encourage collaboration and productivity, reduce overall IT costs and more.
The reason for this is that SMW is built on Microsoft 365, thereby giving your organisation the tools to operate in the Cloud, from any location. You can also take advantage of the added security benefits that Microsoft 365 has to offer, including multi-factor authentication, Windows Autopilot, conditional access and much more. Air IT has also implemented our own security services, including email and web filtering, Next gen anti-virus, Mobile Device Management and more.
With the added benefit of our 24/7 Managed IT Support Service and Network Operations Centre, Air IT will monitor your internal network, apply updates across all systems and fix any IT issues that may come your way. Our team will also be here to provide guidance and support on any future projects.
The best part is that all this is packaged into one monthly subscription.
Looking to transform your business with the Microsoft Cloud?
By adopting our Modern Workplace solution, your organisation can stay at the forefront of Microsoft’s technological advancements as well as take advantage of our premium IT support package!