Every company today is a tech business to some extent. Technology has become central to success in every industry, yet many IT operations pose a challenge for many establishments. Business leaders must understand and address common IT problems to remain competitive.
IT downtime costs companies $1.55 million a year on average, and that figure could rise as tech’s role in business grows. Moving past common pain points can help companies become more agile and resilient than their competitors. Here are 10 common IT problems every business should consider.
1. Insufficient Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity, or a lack thereof, is one of the most pressing IT challenges facing businesses today. More than three out of five companies suffered a cyberattack in 2019 alone, with the average attack costing $369,000. In today’s connected landscape, every organization across every industry is a potential target.
Businesses should audit their cybersecurity to see where their weaknesses lie. Penetration testing, where a security expert attempts to break into a system, can reveal where and how improvements should be made. Cybercrime is continually evolving, so it’s best to run these tests at least annually.
Specific guidance will vary among companies, but some threats are consistent. All employees should use strong, varied passwords and receive basic security training, including spotting a phishing attempt. Every worker, device, and third party should only have access to what they need for their job to minimize vulnerabilities.
2. Lack of Expertise
Another common IT problem across businesses is a technology skills gap. An astounding 76% of IT decision-makers have critical skills gaps on their teams. Technology adoption has outpaced experience in many areas, and the demand for skilled IT workers has quickly outgrown the supply.
Businesses can mitigate this problem by cultivating expertise rather than attracting it from somewhere else. Hiring less experienced but promising workers and having them learn on-the-job from experts can help create talent within the workforce. Providing access to ongoing learning resources and IT certifications can also help.
As companies train talent, they can turn to managed IT services in the meantime. Allocating some technical work to third-party, remote experts can alleviate in-house employees’ workload.
3. Outdated Hardware and Software
Technology moves quickly, and many businesses fail to adapt alongside these shifts. While updating often involves some disruption and can incur higher costs, the expenses of outdated tech are higher. Overlooking software updates leaves unpatched vulnerabilities that cybercriminals could take advantage of, and physical parts deplete over time, causing poor performance.
Understanding a given device’s expected life span when implementing it is the first step to solving this problem. Businesses can also avoid issues with outdated software by enabling automatic updates across all devices.
Updating hardware is more complicated, but the cloud presents an ideal solution. Using cloud-based programs gives businesses continual access to the latest versions and features, and web applications can function despite lower hardware specs.
4. Data Loss
Digital data is the world’s most valuable resource in today’s connected landscape. Increasing reliance on information has made its loss far more severe an issue, and it remains a common one. Cyberattacks, overloaded routers, and simple employee errors can also cause companies to lose important data, so businesses must do more to protect it.
More than 20% of small and medium businesses (SMBs) don’t have a data backup or disaster recovery system in place. That’s where the heart of this issue lies. Companies can never guarantee they will never lose information, but they can mitigate losses through backups and recovery plans.
Every mission-critical file should have a cloud and offline backup copy. These backups should also be encrypted and have limited access, along with protocols for using them when recovering from a breach. Having this system in place will ensure losing one copy won’t mean businesses lose everything.
5. Regulatory Compliance
Another issue many businesses run into with technology is complying with myriad regulations. Depending on the industry and area, strict laws may dictate data use, like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or health care’s Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Fines for non-compliance can reach beyond $10 million in some cases.
Where many businesses fall short is not understanding which regulations apply to them. Third-party audits can help reveal what laws companies must abide by. Organizations should also know that they may fall under some rules in other countries. For example, the GDPR applies to any data about European consumers, not just companies in Europe.
Businesses that are unsure what may apply to them should go by the strictest potential regulations. It’s always better to go above and beyond minimum acceptable standards in case a company unexpectedly falls into a more stringent category.
All Businesses Should Be Aware of Common IT Problems
These five issues are not the only common IT problems businesses may face but are prevalent. Leaders that understand the threats they may face can take more effective steps to prevent them. Companies can then operate confidently and safely, unlocking their technology’s full potential.