The Fourth Industrial Revolution is being fuelled by information technology, making solid IT a necessity in the modern office. There are a number of quality tech products on the market, which means you can equip a small office with all the right gear for a relatively affordable sum. But with so many products to choose from, what do you actually need? Read on to learn exactly what tech will benefit your business.
We likely don’t need to tell you that having a computer is non-negotiable in this day and age. Even if your business isn’t office-based, or you’re just somewhat tech-averse, you need at least one, period.
The question to ask is whether you should invest in a desktop or laptop, which will (of course) be determined by what you’ll be using your computer for, and in what kind of environment. If you’re confined to an office, your best bet may be a desktop, as their bulk makes for a more superior computing power.
But if your work requires travel, working from home or you just regularly move around to a variety of workplaces, it makes sense to have a computer that’s easy to snap shut and take with you wherever you’re off to.
Mobiles devices are similarly essential in the modern office, although with Deloitte finding “89% of surveyed Australians now own a smartphone”, you’re virtually guaranteed your team members are bringing their own to work.
When it comes to the non-negotiables, antivirus software is top of the list. It’s a sad fact that the internet is full of bad apples, so when we’re talking about your livelihood you need to take the necessary steps to keep them at bay. There are plenty of antivirus programs out there, but some of the more popular ones are Norton and McAfee. (One thing you may want to keep in mind when buying your hardware: Mac computers require substantially less antivirus protection than PCs.)
From there, you’re likely to need basic office-centric software. You can opt for the traditional Microsoft Office, or use Apple’s suite (Pages, Numbers and Keynote). Google even has a software package called G Suite, or you can save money by using any of the various free office and productivity software packages out there.
Once you’ve picked an office suite you’ll need to invest in any specialised programs that will help operations. Here are just a few software assets that may benefit your business:
- Project management
- Inventory management
- Email marketing
- Social media management
These are less likely to be offered for free, so you’ll need to decide whether they’re necessary (oftentimes they will be) and how long they’ll take to deliver a return on investment.
Moving to the cloud is all the rage these days — and for good reason. The cloud enables companies to store and process huge reams of data without having to buy and maintain racks of servers.
A move to the cloud means you won’t have to worry about where you store vulnerable physical servers full of business-critical information. It also eliminates the cost of keeping the power on — for both servers and the air conditioning required to ensure they don’t burn out — and the need to replace servers as they reach their end-of-life.
And while bigger businesses can certainly store huge reams of data, smaller companies can still take advantage of the cloud., If your offering is more modest at this stage, or goes through fluctuations over the course of the year, you simply pay for the cloud storage you require. This way you get the security and convenience of the cloud, but without a big-company price.
Ultimately, any technology investment should make your work faster, easier or more secure — or at the very least add new capabilities to your business. With the pace of change continually stepping up, the key is to remain flexible, adopt technologies that can adapt to new functions and connect with other platforms, and make sure they’re relevant to your core business offering.