Nearly every week, an issue with compromised data at a company occurs. When it comes to running a business, data security is a huge issue that is at the forefront of almost any major business decision or discussion. Getting a handle on a company’s specific data – especially those companies that continue to make space for more remote workers – is key to ensuring that valuable information is kept as safe as possible.
Making Security a Priority
Mark Griffis, Aviture president and CEO explained, “The pandemic created an environment where seamless remote interactions are not just critical for reaching and delighting customers, but commonplace.
“As more and more business operations move to the cloud, companies are taking a look at their legacy systems and realizing they need a more secure, accessible way to store their most important information. That means cloud migration is immensely popular right now, and that goes arm in arm with cybersecurity, data analysis, and integrating systems to safely share important data between silos.”
Chris Vilim, president of CoreTech, reiterated the importance of having a strong security setup.
“The number one thing we are seeing from clients right now are questions about security,” he said. “They are concerned about a breach or ransomware that may impact their business. It’s more of a ‘when’ not ‘if’ they will get hacked, so they are looking for protection.”
The Rise of E-commerce
Staying home became the mantra for many during the past two years. Because of this, the world of e-commerce has taken off, giving people an avenue to create, sell, and earn income. This new trend is likely here to stay for a while.
Ben Jackson, vice president of WP Engine said, “E-commerce is skyrocketing, particularly with easy-to-use templated content management systems like Shopify and WooCommerce. In just a few clicks, you can set up a digital storefront, upload pictures of whatever you want to sell – from sock monkeys to software – and publish within minutes.”
Integrating Digital Solutions
Jackson explained that his business is now a virtual-first company, using their offices as collaborative spaces for innovation when it is safe to do so.
The business also uses video conferencing and builds its own intranet for their teams. This has given the company the expertise needed to grow and ultimately, offer enhanced solutions to its client base.
He shared that one of the most common things that his company is seeing is more businesses that are focusing on website innovation that will better capture the target market.
“The rate of innovation is likely to continue to accelerate. We’ve seen a rising trend in virtual education, health care and mental wellness sites, and a number of new platforms created to fight social injustice,” he said.
“As more and more small and mid-sized businesses innovate to take advantage of digital to complement their physical goods or services, they are seeing a need to make searching their websites ultra-simple, hosting dynamic content needs to be flexible and run fast.”
Josh Kolar, founder and CEO of driverDOC, explained that in his industry of automating paperwork and documentation in the transportation and freight industry, having an effective digital data sharing process has been a major component lately.
This is especially important now, as the world’s supply chain proves to be dismantled and disrupted.
“The pandemic significantly impacted the supply chain and logistics,” he said. “Arrival of supplies and the ability to predict shipments based upon past experiences completely disappeared.
“Also, drivers were quickly required to find touchless ways to share paperwork and communicate upon dispatch and delivery. Our customers need technology that replaces manual paper process that also ‘speak’ digitally to parties in the supply chain.
“It is good to have an internal database, but it is excellent to automate data sharing across an ecosystem. Automation is key to reducing the steps required to communicate and there should be fewer touch points for each user.”
Here to Stay
Remote work is another large piece of the puzzle that businesses continue to roll with right now. While this may have initially been considered temporary at the beginning of the pandemic for many companies both locally and nationwide, remote work is now proven to be an effective method for many operating businesses.
“Some of the primary questions companies are asking technology professionals are: how do they set up employees for remote work for the long-term and ensure data stays secure in multiple locations, as well as what software or technology is needed to,” Vilim said.
“We have certainly seen companies that were once staunch in their ideas of no-remote work change their ideas about it. That has really been a big shift that has not just impacted computers, but companies that had older phone systems, too,” Vilim said.
“To some extent, we have seen the amount of reliance on phone systems dwindle a bit and have seen a huge increase in people communicating through their computers. Our clients have embraced remote technology overall.”
He also shared that he has been working with clients to utilize the tools that they already have at their disposal, such as Microsoft Teams. He said using new technology that they already have access to is something that is very useful, but many times it feels intimidating to learn.
But, he said the ability that technology like Microsoft Teams has to help employees collaborate, share documents, and even extend their reach to incorporate outside vendors or clients can end up being one of the most useful applications that they have at their fingertips.
“It requires people to learn how to use it and their success is based on how well they adopt it for their unique business,” Vilim said. “We work on educating them on the capabilities of the system, then help them apply it, so they can be impacted in a positive way.”
Ken Moreano, president at Scott Data Center, discussed not only the tools needed for a remote workforce, but the connectivity that comes with it. His company has been working to provide clients with large bandwidth capacity, in addition to flexible workspaces that are reliable and offer scalable bandwidth.
“The collaboration tools needed for effective remote work continue to develop and their high adoption rate resulting from the pandemic has accelerated the innovation in that space,” he explained.
“There appears to be an increased need for mobile devices as the workforce does not seem to be using workstations in a defined location. The remote workforce has also placed pressure on the network and bandwidth connectivity. Students and working professionals alike have expressed the need for remote flexible work environments.
“In 2022, we anticipate continued pressure on network connectivity, the need for IT support, remote work locations, and services that either augment or replace IT staff.”
A Focus on Users
In today’s world, brands and companies are vying for a user’s attention. Business owners are doing whatever they can to stand out from one another and focusing on user experience (UX) is one way that companies are helping build loyalty to a product or brand.
UX is a topic that has been around for quite some time, but there will likely be a resurgence of what this means for small and medium-sized businesses looking to establish themselves in an already competitive marketplace.
Griffis said that UX is something to keep an eye out for in 2022.
He said, “There’s going to be a renewed focus on the user experience. One side effect of the pandemic is that every business now competes in a global market, making UX a key differentiator.
“You need to affect current customers and reach new ones based on research, defined personas, usability, and accessibility. UX is a science, not an art, and you need to treat it as such, with proven processes that achieve your strategic goals.”
While a lot of the big technology trends to watch for may be coming from the large, well-known global companies of the world, it is important to keep a local perspective. Nebraska is full of innovators and creators that are playing a part in changing the face of technology and how it can benefit users everywhere.
Griffis shared, “The big thing I hope people understand is that exciting, innovative technology isn’t only available to the Amazons and Apples of the world.
“You would be amazed by the array of start-ups right here in Omaha that are launching products and services with the potential to change the face of their industries, or the number of organizations quietly putting forward world-class applications that could compete with the most well-known tech companies.”
Jackson agreed and said, “Since the pandemic, we’re seeing the rate of innovation seemingly increase at a much faster rate, as both consumers and businesses are investing more and more time to create digital experiences that look and feel more human.
“Optimistically, we’re excited about how much we’ve learned in nearly two years of virtual work. Whatever comes next, we’re excited about how much we’ve learned to depend on each other, even if only virtually, to make things better.”
Investing in the Future
As with any new advancements in technology, there comes the discussion of what is needed to spend in order to stay on top of the latest and greatest tools.
Vilim said that more businesses will be discussing bigger jumps in overall budget so more can be invested in the technology that keeps data secure.
“It is always important to remind people that as they utilize more technology and it becomes a part of their business, they have to understand the budget that is involved in that,” he said. “It is key to recognize that it is not just a necessary thing, but that it is really an investment in better efficiency and productivity for their team.”
For businesses that are not sure where to begin when it comes to keeping up with the ever-changing world of technology, Griffis suggested identifying key problem areas that need to be solved.
He recommended, “How do you start? First, fall in love with your problem, not your potential solution. From there, you can begin to work back towards the right solution. Anyone can take their moonshot, and they can do it from anywhere.”