How technology is setting small businesses up for success in the “new normal”

Australian small businesses have been forced to adapt in the face of COVID-19, on an unprecedented scale. Changes in practices, processes and technology have been accelerated for many businesses far quicker than anticipated. In this rush, small businesses have faced a number of challenges but it’s become clear that technology can be a real lifeline to keep businesses going.

How technology can help

Technology will be the main way in which small businesses build resiliency. One of the biggest challenges that small businesses are faced with is bandwidth management, especially during this period, as a greater number of employees are now using cloud-based tools and video conferencing services.

Investing in technologies that allow businesses to track bandwidth and re-route traffic will help ease these pressure points. It will ensure organisations prepare for surges in use and ensure they stay online and running at optimum.

The major areas of opportunity include security and mobility, with COVID-19 bringing this further to the fore. Those who had already considered their businesses’ resilience and invested in these two areas would be in a good position now and for the business recovery stage of the pandemic that we are entering.

Collaboration and connectingmore than buzzwords

As a result of the current situation, the digital transformation process has accelerated changing the way small businesses interact with staff, their vendors, suppliers and customers. While technology such as Cisco Webex has allowed for instant messaging, video calls and file sharing – there are more steps small businesses can take to enhance collaboration.

We have seen a trend of small businesses enhancing collaboration by moving towards cloud applications – to lessen data load back to the office, increase efficiency and become more secure. Moving to the cloud is a long-term positive step for businesses enabling them to increase capabilities as they work through this environment.

Another technology decision small businesses have faced is whether to upgrade to business-grade solutions so small businesses can operate without restrictions, connect and collaborate in an easier and more effective manner and utilise technology that they have previously not had access to, without compromising security. This option is more accessible than ever and is also scalable, which helps businesses during this recovery phase and prepare for growth opportunities in the future.

Cybersecurity not to be overlooked

As with any crisis, there will always be those looking to benefit and malicious actors haven’t taken long to target organisations and their employees. Small businesses are unfortunately especially vulnerable as they often lack the resource or in-house expertise to help protect their employees from cyber threats and therefore it’s up to vendors, such as ourselves, to provide that additional support.

There are a few simple steps and tools that small businesses can take to mitigate risk:

  • Implement multi-factor authentication.
  • Advanced-malware protection for endpoints.
  • Accepting system updates right away.
  • Detailed cyber hygiene training and user education for employees.
  • Holistic approach to security for those implementing the technology needs to be considered.
  • Drive employees to act as if they are in the office when it comes to online security and behaviour, and remain vigilant to threats – i.e. locking their computer when away from their desk and only using a laptop for corporate use.

Technology has been the lifeblood of the adapting process so far during COVID-19 and will continue to be the cornerstone of the recovery process; small businesses must embrace this next stage in order to survive and succeed and innovate into the new workplace as we know it.

Luke Power, Head of Small Business, Cisco Australia and New Zealand

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