2020 has not been a normal year – this may be the understatement of all time.
While there is some hope that a return to normal is on the horizon, it doesn’t take the chill out of knowing that 2020’s trials and tribulations continue. Here is a look back on 2020’s small business IT trends and a forecast of how they will affect SMBs in 2021.
2020 in Review
2020 started out like many other years, with optimism and hope. A couple of months in, everything changed with the onset of the global pandemic. For the small business owner, the situation tested every inch of their entrepreneurial mettle. Non-essential businesses, such as most offices, were given no choice but to allow their employees to work remotely, a strategy they likely had been trying to avoid for many years. Since many of these businesses weren’t set up for remote operations, the suddenness of the stay-at-home mandates almost immediately created opportunities for many cybercriminals. Hackers always thrive during periods of fear, and the pandemic resulted in some of the highest spikes in successful cybercrime for several years. Unfortunately, most SMBswere not adequately protected from cyber-crime, both with technology and cyber insurance, nor prepared with disaster recovery plans.
However, many businesses, especially when it was evident that the shift toremote work was not going to be a short-term problem, began to look to technology to bridge the gaps that were caused when their workforceswere dispersed. Cloud computing, specifically software-as-a-service (SaaS) has become more and more popular in 2020 as it allows businesses to lock down their computing costs by purchasing the computing they need and avoid the variable costs that typically come with on-premise hardware and software deployments. In addition, while there are different cybersecurity challenges with virtual environments, this was still a significant improvement for SMBs.
What to Expect for 2021
It is reasonable to see that the social aspects of the pandemic will continue to affect businesses, and many companies are going to feel the sting from the pandemic for a while. For all the problems of 2020, many small businesses that make it through the pandemic will be more adept at operating their companies in the digital space as they head into the New Year. This is a major benefit that businesses had actively fought against because of the risk and uncertainty of it. Now, as they embrace the positives and accept the negatives, you will begin to see more opportunities open in 2021 as remote workforces become the standard for all organization sizes. SMBs will further their engagement with IT providers who bring large-enterprise-level solutions to smaller business environments.
Most importantly, with the move to digital and changing technology infrastructure, there is an expectation to see companies heavily investing in cybersecurity. Regardless of what technology is being used, the increase of remote work and reliance on digital will necessitate companies to completely re-evaluate their cybersecurity policies, procedures, training, and IT Partners or Managed Services Providers. It’s no secret that a major data breach is a complete nightmare for any size company and all too often means bankruptcy for a small business. Making sound decisions about cyberhealth is going to be a major priority for every business using technology in 2021. SMB’s will be taking a hard look at their current, longtime IT partners and making the best security and risk management decision by ensuring they are working with Managed Service Providers who are the best-positioned to provide enhanced cybersecurity solutions.
The 2021 SMB IT Checklist:
- Cybersecurity assessment including policies, procedures & technology
- Ensure your IT partner is not just a consulting firm, but an actual managed service provider
- Complete technology environment assessment
- Develop disaster recovery and business continuity plan
- Cyber insurance
- Cybersecurity training
- Investigate implementation of cloud/virtual environment