Information and communication technology systems are the backbone of most businesses in the twenty-first century, and it’s hard to imagine how we would cope without them. They store all the data relating to the business, we use them for most of our communication and marketing activities, and they are essential for information-gathering. No matter what kind of business you run, it will almost certainly depend on a computerized system of some kind.
Looking after the hardware
To keep computers operating properly and extend their useful life, you need to ensure your staff are treating their computers with respect and keeping them clean using products designed for screens and keyboards. Electrical sockets are frequently a cause for concern, despite this being a safety consideration, so have a regular review of all your sockets, checking the loads and the organization of all the cables. Knotted, intermingled wires and overloaded extension cables are a recipe for problems, so keep everything ordered and tidy. There are a variety of products on the market that can help you keep cables neat and safe, and remember to have a policy of switching equipment off when it is not in use to save power, and therefore money, and to prevent overheating.
You need to be very vigilant when it comes to the security of your IT systems, as there are multiple threats circulating at any given time that could cause your business very severe difficulties if they affect you. Anti-virus software and firewall protocols are essential, and you might want to consider using a proxy server to add an extra line of defense. Backing up your data daily is also essential, just in case a system failure wipes everything. It’s a good idea to talk to a company that specializes in security and data recovery, to ensure you are using the optimum security package for your business. Cloud computing is also gaining popularity, and it has many advantages from the point of view of keeping your systems clear and being able to access the data remotely. If you use a cloud service, make sure the company you sign up with has very tight security controls and backup procedures to assure the integrity and safety of your data.
Installing updates to your existing software and upgrades when they are released will keep your systems running smoothly and ensure they have the latest security defenses in place. There will come a time when you’ll need to consider replacing your hardware or changing your software for a package that is more suitable for the changing needs of your business. You should have an allowance for this in your budget, and you should keep on top of your upgrades, because trying to save cash by hanging on to systems that are out of date, slow, or lack functionality will negatively affect your productivity.
When you think about how much is invested in IT, both in its purchase cost and the value of the data it holds, managing your IT systems should be considered a top priority.