As we embark on the third year of the seemingly endless COVID pandemic, the top priority for most chief information officers (CIOs) is to support their remote workforces. CIOs are migrating more infrastructure to cloud-based workloads, but this effort for digital transformation is especially hard on mid-sized companies that lack the budget and IT talent of large enterprises.
However, most small and mid-sized businesses, or SMBs, will have no choice in the matter. If they fail to offer a teleworker solution, mid-tier competitors will steal their employees away, and they could even find themselves unable to compete anymore.
In that spirit, here are five key strategies to help executives at small and mid-sized businesses drive their digital transformations.
Mid-Market Digital Transformation Strategies
1) Consider Out-of-the-Box Security and Cyber Insurance
And while many full turnkey, out-of-the-box security and compliance deployments tend to be complex, SMBs can take advantage of features like two-factor authentication, giving them an advantage over other businesses that may not have this yet.
In addition, such deployments can help ease the rising costs of cybersecurity insurance, which can become remarkably expensive without already having adequate security protections in place against growing cyber threats, such as ransomware attacks.
2) Invest Against Ransomware and Other Risks
Large ransomware attacks risk slowing down business operations until they are forced to stop working altogether. In some cases, those standstills are caused by technicians who didn’t back up data correctly, or because their infrastructure was slow and outdated, or because of a total collapse in the supply chain. Or all the above.
When that dreadful conversation takes place, many CIOs wonder why their business leaders didn’t find it worthwhile to invest an extra 10% in strengthening their infrastructure against such attacks beforehand – it’s money well spent.
Also see: Top Digital Transformation Companies
3) Implement a Central Dashboard for Network Access
Most IT managers want to work within a single pane of glass to administer privileged access. To do so, they should implement a portal to easily onboard and offboard their users and send them home with minimal network access but still enough access to get what they need without causing much friction.
4) Track for Data Loss Prevention
Another big priority involves tracking for data loss prevention. This process looks beyond the availability of computing resources to meet any underlying compliance requirements.
CIOs will need a strong classification of all their data, so they can trust that employees are only viewing the information for which they should have access, while blocking them from other sensitive or business-critical data. They should categorize, index, and tag all that data for compliance purposes.
5) Consider Mobile Device Management for Teleworkers
Mobile device management is another crucial area to enable teleworkers to have better experiences on their mobile devices. The reality is that these mobile systems must tie back to a single source of truth.
Looking ahead, we should also expect to see greater use of blockchain, containers, and microservices in the software layer to make computing and application resources more readily available for users. Those technologies have not reached full market adoption yet, but over time they will because they can help companies adapt to the faster moving world we will be living in soon enough.
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More Steps Toward Digital Transformation
To get started on this path toward digital transformation, mid-market CIOs should first run a SWOT analysis to prioritize their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Such a ranking of imminent priorities can help guide decisions about which problems to tackle first.
With 10 priorities to work on but only enough budget to fund five of them, running a SWOT analysis provides much needed visibility into those gaps for business leaders, which may convince them to unlock IT budgets naturally.
Clearly, technology no longer plays a merely supporting role for business—it is the primary engine of business enablement. For this reason, all digital transformation initiatives should start with the business and IT leaders defining their project goals and roadmaps for the next few years.
All parties must understand the underlying business process flows and agree on the key performance indicators (KPI). Then, it becomes a matter of transferring those aspirational KPIs into real-world solutions on the technical side.
This transformational challenge is not based on some future vision of the market dynamics; this is the heavy-lifting problem facing everyone today. Any mid-market companies that still lack a cohesive digital transformation strategy by this point are likely to be left behind.
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