Oliver Lofthouse, Sales Director at Chess, is responsible for leading the sales team and ensuring Chess is a great place to be a customer. With over 10 years in the telco industry, Oliver joined Chess in 2019, but previously worked for the UK' industry giants like Vodafone. His expertise is in mobile and voice communications and consults SMB's on growth through technology. A keen horse rider, he's competed in multiple equestrian championships and trials. He inspires and motivates his teams to be #FutureFit, actively participating in Chess' award winning culture.
Trying to predict technology and business trends is a tricky business in itself - it can depend on so many variables, such as the economy, customer demand, technology adoption rates and supplier investment, not to mention whether or not we are amid a global pandemic! This article highlights some of the trends that businesses should consider during the year ahead.
Organisations will continue to operate remotely in 2021, enabling a 'digital-first, remote-first' mentality. It is clear that companies that can deliver 'anywhere operations' will emerge successfully from COVID-19. Even with vaccinations gathering pace, many of us won't receive the vaccine until late 2021.
Effective ongoing communication and high employee engagement will be critical to business success. You'd need to consider you're providing the necessary tools and technology to your people to perform their roles effectively. As employees (and customers) will need to continue to feel connected and valued by the company, we will all be asking technology to bridge the gap between virtual and physical over the next year. You first need to consider using the right tools to operate effectively in a remote environment. After this essential foundation, you'd look into how technology can help you grow your business, reduce your costs and connect your people with your customers. Different companies will face different challenges, but some of the common areas to address are outlined below.
Fibre or mobile internet
Nearly every business will need to consider the implications of the PSTN switch off in 2025. Copper-based connections (ADSL, Fibre to the cabinet) will no longer be available, opening the market for the more reliable and faster fibre to the premises. Chances are you'll need to upgrade or buy new broadband connection and new telephony services to ensure your business is future-proof. In 2021, fibre will still be the natural choice as 5G is not yet a credible alternative due to relatively low coverage. No matter which sector you operate in, making an early change could result in a number of short-term business advantages - give you an edge over the competition, keep your business up and running at all times and save you the hassle to migrate later on. Our consultants can help you identify and evaluate the options available for you and your business.
Leasing devices can save you money
Personally, I can't remember the last time I picked up a call from a handset on my desk. I firmly believe that most businesses can find cheaper, more flexible voice and communication solutions across the internet and the mobile network. I foresee a significant fall in demand for any voice-only device, and seeing people holding a traditional landline handset to their ear will become a rare event. However, the importance of devices like laptops, smartphones and tablets, in connecting you to your employer, your customers and to daily lives, in general, will continue to grow. I can see leasing and insurance on devices becoming the norm, lowering the total cost of owning a device, but ensuring we can upgrade our device when and as the technology develops - no more smartphones costing a fortune in advance.
Protecting your data should be your number one priority
Remote work, unfortunately, weakens security processes and protection. 2020 was a boom year for ransomware attacks as cybercriminals looked to take advantage of businesses moving to a new way of working. Security teams had to scramble to protect a significant increase in the number of remote endpoints (laptops, PCs, tablets, smartphones, etc.). 2021 will bring the realisation that these changes will be permanent and, therefore, temporary measures will need to be reconsidered. I expect to see more investment in security. Businesses will start to audit security processes to ensure that IP and data are protected wherever it is accessed, and you must consider investing in endpoint protection, at least an anti-virus, even if you're using a MAC.
Reduce costs with a cloud-first approach
The cloud provides more flexible and scalable solutions for businesses of all sizes. It has developed beyond all imagination since the launch of teletext in 1980. In 2021 and beyond, we will store more data than ever in the cloud due to the demand for collaborative and dynamic work. Many businesses will look to the cloud for disaster recovery and focus on moving services to the cloud to reduce costs while staying flexible. We will discard on-premise services (servers, telephony) in favour of cloud applications. However, even for a small business, migrating to the cloud can be a daunting task, so ensure you consult with a specialist before making the move.
Managing change in your business
The only constant in the technology industry is change, and when you add in the impact of a health crisis never before seen in our generation, then change will become more disruptive and more unpredictable than ever before. It's also true that the impact of change will be different for every business. At Chess, we understand your business. Our specialists work with you to find solutions that meet your exact needs without breaking the bank. Please don't hesitate to contact us for an initial no-obligation consultation to see how we might be able to help you and your business. Best wishes for 2021!