As the calendar turns to 2019, companies should be taking a closer look at their business technology plan for the new year.

Developing a business technology plan with the right IT support in Calgary AB helps your company anticipate and account for changes in business priorities, advancements in technologies and changing requirements by vendors and regulators. It’s the right time to think about technologies that are not working for your company any longer, improvements that need to be made and opportunities to use tech to gain a competitive advantage.

What Is a Business Technology Plan?

Your business technology plan is a blueprint for the services, solutions and focal points for the year. The plan should consider all components — network, hardware and software, data storage, security and training. It’s a powerful way to develop and deploy the technical solutions that will help drive business outcomes and support growth.

Your technology plan enables your company to:

  • Improve operational efficiency
  • Boost employee productivity
  • Accelerate organizational growth via acquisition, new markets or new products or services
  • Reduce risk
  • Increase company value
  • Lower operating costs
  • Keep your data protected

What Technologies Should My Calgary Business Be Looking to Improve?

Cybersecurity is the most critical investment for small businesses. Ransomware and other cyber threats will continue to skyrocket at an alarming pace in 2019 Small businesses are in the crosshairs of cybercriminals just as much as bigger companies. Many hackers target smaller companies because often those businesses do not make the proper investments in cybersecurity.

Calgary companies need comprehensive security solutions that address all components of their IT. The right security solution should include:

  • Managed firewalls that are maintained and monitored to keep your network’s edge protected
  • Intrusion protection that patches your network virtually and ensures compliance with various regulatory mandates
  • Email security to stop spam and viruses from entering your users’ inboxes
  • Wireless information security to configure your wireless network in the most secure manner
  • Email archiving that stores and records all email communications for compliance purposes
  • Vulnerability assessments that identify any gaps and weak spots that make your network vulnerable
  • Automated patching and updating of software and operating systems to close any vulnerabilities

Security is critical not just for keeping the bad guys away. It’s also a major compliance issue for Calgary companies. In 2018 alone, the following guidelines went into effect:

  • Canada’s Digital Privacy Act, which requires organizations that collect, use or distribute personal information as part of their business to follow new guidelines for breaches, including record-keeping, notification and reporting.
  • Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which gives European Union residents more control over personal information used or sold by businesses
  • California’s new data privacy law that requires companies to disclose the kinds of data they collect or sell and provide consumers with opt-out options

Are There Hardware or Software Changes to Consider?

Small businesses may need to address two fundamental changes coming to Microsoft products.

  • Windows 7 Retirement. If your company is still using Windows 7 as its primary operating system, it’s time to plan for a switch to a new OS. Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows 7 in January 2015. However, extended support is available, but only until January 14, 2020. It’s possible that Microsoft will offer a deal similar to one provided as Windows XP was winding down with discounts on combined purchases of the Windows 10 Pro operating system and Office 2019.
  • Windows Server 2008 Retirement. January 14, 2020, also marks the end of extended service support for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2, both of which have been popular, reliable and widely used server operating systems. These products have been particularly popular with small businesses and will need to be replaced with another in-house or cloud solution in 2019.

Formulating a plan to replace these two crucial components of your technology will require complex scheduling and deployment strategies done in partnership with a trusted IT partner.

How Do I Build a Technology Plan?

There are five necessary steps to creating your technology plan.

  1. Identify your immediate needs. Work with your IT provider to answer the following questions:
    • What are your core business objectives?
    • Are you going to offer new products or services?
    • Will you be adding new employees or reducing your workforce? If so, by how much?
    • Are there new technologies that will require employee training?
  2. Identify your needs in the next 3-5 years
    • Where do you want the business to be in the next few years?
    • Are there new technologies you want to incorporate over time?
    • Are there security threats that need to be addressed?
  3. Prioritize. You will likely not be able to deliver all the desired solutions at once. What are the crucial needs that need to be addressed sooner? What solutions will drive your business goals?
  4. Build a roadmap. Working with your IT provider, create a plan that includes solutions, steps, timelines, deliverables, responsibilities, budgets and metrics.
  5. Deploy and evaluate. Once you’ve drawn the map, solutions can be created and deployed. At agreed-upon milestone dates, review the metrics and impact of the new technologies with your IT provider and adjust as needed.

CTECH Consulting Group has helped Calgary companies with their IT strategies and solutions for years. To see how CTECH Consulting Group can help your company address critical business IT needs, contact us today.