How to prepare your IT systems for 2021

The IT strategy you started 2020 with is unlikely to resemble the one you have in place now; if you even have one in place at all! This year has been a lot to manage for many businesses, especially when it comes to your IT systems. With many previously office-based teams moving to remote working due to the pandemic, companies have had to find new ways of conducting business operations. Moving into 2021, how your business will operate day-to-day must be carefully considered and prepared for.

How will your IT requirements differ next year?

Your IT requirements in 2021 might look different from your needs in previous years. As we come to the end of 2020, it’s a great time to reflect and plan for the year ahead. Ideally, you should enter the new year with IT systems that support your information, technology, and people. While no one really knows what 2021 will look like, what we do know is that flexibility, agility, collaboration, and connectivity in your IT infrastructure will remain central to success.

Compared to 2020, flexibility in your IT systems is going to be pivotal. It’s important that your users have the ability to carry out business operations with the right processes, applications, and data wherever and whenever required. The pace at which business is changing means what is appropriate this month may not be the next. To meet these challenges, your systems need to be agile and scalable so that they can move with your business and the changing environment. This uncertainty makes it even more important to have plans in place to maintain business continuity, productivity, and efficiency.

Here are four ways that can help you prepare your IT systems for 2021.

1. Implement Microsoft Dynamics 365

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform that optimises your business productivity. Lack of visibility into your people, processes, and data creates friction across your departments. Dynamics 365 helps integrate and automate business processes to save time and improve productivity. Dynamics 365 enables you to deliver a better client experience, whilst improving employee performance and enhancing collaboration between team members.

Dynamics 365 completely integrates with Microsoft 365 to deliver users a seamless experience.  This integration puts your data at the centre of all your operations, allowing end to end collaboration between users, whilst delivering increased productivity, reduced sales cycle, and improved customer experience.  

Dynamics 365 also provides you with smart customer intelligence enabling you to make intelligent and informed decisions based on insights learned from your data. 

If you want to learn more about Microsoft Dynamics 365, speak to Apogee Solutions.

2. Improve your cybersecurity measures

If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s to be vigilant when it comes to your technology, people, and information. Phishing attacks are on the rise and attackers are taking advantage of worker’s access to remote networks. New trends are always emerging so you need to be aware of the threats and vulnerabilities that can put your IT systems at risk. As your business’ daily operations and technology use may have changed significantly this year, you may need to improve your cybersecurity measures to protect your systems and data.

At the beginning of 2020, it’s likely that the majority of your employees were working under one roof in an office environment. On-site cybersecurity measures were typically enough to protect your assets. When the pandemic altered things, businesses had to reassess their cybersecurity strategies to factor in remote working. Cybersecurity testing is a great way to identify the vulnerabilities in your IT systems and put measures into place to mitigate risk. Conducting a cybersecurity test at the end of the year will enable you to better protect your business in 2021.

3. Secure your remote services in the cloud

With teams moving to remote working, some even permanently, having your information securely managed in the cloud is a vital part of your IT infrastructure. There are many cloud service providers to choose from, with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud being three of the most popular platforms. Each platform provides similar services but some have different features that will be more suitable to the nature and size of your business.

The flexible, scalable, resilient, and reliable nature of cloud computing makes it suitable for business requirements in 2021. Teams moving between the office and remote working means the agility of the cloud can keep up with changing operations. However, the cloud can bring with it many risks and security considerations that should be understood. Ensuring you have access to the necessary cloud expertise to help migrate your systems to the cloud, support your users effectively, and remain compliant with relevant data protection regulations, such as GDPR has never been more important.

4. Increase the use of collaboration tools

Remote working will still be prominent in 2021 so establishing the right communication channels for your team is essential. You should consider the conversations had day-to-day with clients and team members and whether these are working effectively for you. Adopting digital workspaces like Microsoft 365 SharePoint is a great way to ensure your team members can collaborate on work productively and efficiently, by allowing them to access and share files and information anywhere – on any device.

Using video conferencing software and messaging apps are a given and something you will probably already have in your IT strategy. The consideration for 2021 will be how to get the most from collaboration tools so that you can make it effective for your team moving in and out of the workplace. Cybersecurity and risk must be reviewed in line with collaboration tools as the privacy and security of your information and data are paramount when off-site. Strong passwords and two-factor authentication are musts and will help ensure your accounts on multiple collaborative platforms can only be accessed by those with the correct permissions.

Budget is going to be a major factor for many companies in the next year. This means decisions made surrounding your IT systems will need to be carefully considered to ensure you get the most from your technology investment. The best way to prepare your IT systems for 2021 will be to optimise productivity and move away from outdated processes by using collaborative cloud solutions such as the Microsoft 365 suite and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales and Customer Services apps. Where required, you should also look to improve cybersecurity with protective measures that mitigate risk and keep data safe and secure.

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