Things look very different today than they did a mere 12 months ago at the end of 2019. Millions of business owners have been put under incredible levels of stress. Those who remain currently are looking at a business landscape that has dramatically changed over the year. As a result, your business plan for the upcoming year must be targeted, but remain flexible. How does IT fit into this?
What's changing in the new year?
A lot of the changes in the new year, at least early, will still be in response to the changes that have happened so far this year. In response to COIVD-19, many businesses made knee-jerk reactions just to survive and "made things work". Now that we're planning for the new year, it's time to revisit many of those changes and determine how they fit into our yearly and long-term plans so they can be accounted and budgeted for appropriately.
Another thing to consider is the results of the recent election. It may soon be much more difficult, if not next impossible to effectively conduct business if a new administration enacts nation-wide lockdown measures for any length of time. While it's not a certainty that it will happen, it won't hurt to have a contingency in-place "just in case" (hey, if you could go back in time, you'd probably put in a contingency for "worldwide pandemic" last year right?).
What IT should I invest in?
If you haven't already, get ready to gear up for working remotely. Depending on your industry, this can mean different things. Many service industries like accountants, law firms and even healthcare providers don't necessarily need a physical office space to provide their services. These industries can focus on investments in technologies to allow work from home (laptops, teleconferencing/VOIP, etc). If you've already gotten the basics covered, focus more on securing what you already have in-place. Many of these reactionary measures are lacking any sort of real security which can put your company and clients at risk long-term.
For more personnel-intensive industries like construction and manufacturing, look towards accelerating automation as well. Desk jobs like engineering and design can largely be handled remotely or with a cloud-based solution however, the hands-on work still requires a physical presence. Automating and mechanizing can not only help you scale, but can also help keep you afloat in the event you're unable to keep employees on the floor or at the jobsite.
What should I budget?
This one's a bit tricky. IT budgets for companies are projected to shrink over the next year however, before you start scratching off zeros on the balance sheet you should reconsider. Many of the new-era ways of working are very IT centric and come with their own sets of challenges and issues, especially in the realm of security. As a result, slashing IT budgets could very-well be the absolute worst thing you could do to your business. New technologies are seldom ever "cheap" and trying to cut corners in core business area like IT is like taking the head off a screwdriver and expecting it to still turn screws just as effectively as before.
Of course, this isn't to say that you need to be adding a ton of zeros as well, just that you should be more focused on a targeted approach to IT in the upcoming year. By approaching things with a laser-like focus you can eliminate the big problems while mitigating the small ones and doing so without breaking the bank.
What should I prioritize?
This one's going to vary a little depending not only on industry but also business to business within it. As such, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The important thing is to look at your business landscape, and find what areas you may be lacking in. Focus on remote work capabilities if you haven't already, both for your employees as well as client meetings (ie: change meeting policy to allow for more virtual meetings as opposed to face-to-face ones).
This sounds complicated
Of course, sometimes you need a little help. Whether it be with implementing existing plans or coming up with new ones, we're here for you and can help with not only this year but years into the future.