All of our clients are small businesses, and we hear from them daily about their technology needs.  It’s amazing to me how much things have changed from when I started this business 25 years ago!  Trends have come and gone – some for better, some for worse. Here are three of the top trends I’ve seen technology moving in over the last few years:

  1. Employees are spending more time working together in meetings, phone calls and other ad hoc communications and interactions than they have in the past 20 years. The role of the ‘lone wolf’, if it ever truly existed, has become a thing of the past.

    How do you work together on documents now?   With a lot of the people I talk to, they’re emailing files back and forth—and that works, but it can lead to confusion, versioning issues, and of course, the downside of email, like losing things to spam filters, or mistakenly sending attachments to the wrong people (I’ve been there).

  2. The vast increase in mobile capability. People travel a lot more for work, or work from home or some other location.  But they still need access to company networks and the information they contain, and they need to collaborate with others (see above).

How often do you find yourself working from home or while you are traveling?  Do you have employees working from home or in remote offices?  We’ve all been in the situation where we’re away from the office and we need access to an Excel file or a presentation that got left behind.  That’s an awful feeling and it can stop you in your tracks!

  1. Small businesses have increasingly become a target for bad actors that used to focus on the bigger companies. Big companies get all the headlines, but because smaller firms  typically have less-robust IT infrastructure and security measures, it is making them an object for cyber attacks, ransomware, viruses or straightforward hacks.  43% of all cyber attacks target small businesses with less than 100 users.

This also ties into item 2 above –   I’ll bet you have your personal iPhone or Android on you right now.  Is it also safe to assume that you and your employees have work email in your phones?  What happens if one of your employees decides to leave the organization?  Would you be concerned if a former employee still had company data on their personal phone?

What the above trends are telling us is more and more the small business environment is becoming a workplace where employees need to collaborate, work remotely, and be protected from internal and external threats.

If you’ve been following our posts and other communication, you know that we’ve always cautioned about moving to the cloud unless it ultimately makes sense for your business to do so — both technically and economically.  That is still the case, but one way to address these issues and dip your toe into the cloud water involves Microsoft Office 365 Business offerings.

Here are some features offered by Microsoft 365 Business in response to the technology trends mentioned previously:

  1. Collaboration. You can now create, share, and work on the same document at the same time with your co-workers.  With Outlook, Skype, SharePoint, and OneDrive you can connect with people via email, instant messaging and online meetings anywhere you have an Internet connection.  There is online and offline access with automatic syncing of your work documents, giving you the flexibility to keep going even if you don’t have internet access.
  2. Mobility. Microsoft 365 Business is built to enable you and your team to work effectively anywhere — at your desk in your home office, parked in your car, working in an airport concourse, or at a construction site — you can have easy access to that document you were working on last night.   Documents are kept up to date and accessible from anywhere—including your calendars, email, and contacts.  You can create, edit, and share files anytime, from your PC, mobile phone, or tablet.
  3. Security. Windows and Office 365 is automatically updated with the latest, most secure versions ensuring your company data is protected, even on your employees’ personal-owned devices.  When anyone leaves your organization or loses a device, you will be able to protect company data.  From the employee’s perspective, he or she will have the peace of mind that personal pictures and text messages remain on their device, that’s their personal information.  This feature further reduces your risk and is easy for both you and your people.

If you’re interested in more of the features that Microsoft 365 Business has to offer, give us a call.  More importantly, if you’re considering moving all or parts of your business to the cloud, we can help you do your homework and investigate all the pros and cons.  We’ve helped many clients navigate through the decision process and would be happy to share our road map with you.