6 top tech tips for planning 2015

As the old adage goes “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, so make sure you’re on the ball for 2015 and use the technology services out there.

Here’s a little secret: planning ahead doesn’t have to entail days of work. And to make planning far easier, there are plenty of technology services to take advantage of too.

Nutshell:

  • Make sure you stay secure online
  • “Big Data” is more than just a buzzword
  • Create value with fewer people
  1. Look to the clouds

When it comes to technology, many businesses are now storing data in the cloud, but its security presents a big headache.

Eva Rossmar, CEO of online file sharing and storage company Vaultigo, says 2015 will see new EU data protection laws on how and where sensitive client information is shared and stored.

“Security measures have not yet matched growing desire for the portability of sensitive data,”

she says.

“This has led to one of the worst years for data breaches globally, with the average financial costs of security violations up 15% on last year”.

“Remote working often drives employees to use USB sticks and personal cloud storage tools, compromising security measures by spreading confidential content onto personal laptops, tablets, and smartphones”.

“This puts intellectual property of both firms and their clients at risk. The best advice is to implement a company-wide online file sharing system that is easy-to-use, very secure and owned by the company. This way, even if an employee’s personal computer is targeted by hackers, or lost on a bus, business files will remain safe.”

  1. Maximising data and online tools

Many businesses will also spend 2015 thinking about “big data”. It may be the new must-say buzzword but it simply means using all the information your business has to hand to improve how you work for staff and clients.

Free software tools such as Tableau Public can help to create visual results from this data in order to make it easier to understand, while collaboration tools such as Huddle offer ways to connect teams, to manage projects and to share content.

  1. Ditch the spreadsheets

According to financial and planning software company Adaptive Insights, many businesses don’t react fast enough to changing circumstances or opportunities because their data is too complex and their analytics tools too slow.

Adaptive Insights discovered that 98% of UK organisations were without a fully automated planning and reporting process with many still reliant on using manual spreadsheets.

Ian Preston, VP sales for UK and Ireland at Adaptive Insights, says:

“Businesses require more effective planning not more time spent planning. They need to take advantage of tools such as ‘what-if scenarios’ which model the impact of changing external factors on the business – such as new legislation – extrapolating the consequences in terms of personnel, costs and bottom line profit.”

  1. Get caught in the web of help

Online communication systems such as Skype are replacing landlines and conference systems. Business owners can even pair their landline with up to five mobile devices to free up the business line and make free mobile calls.

Other online tools include Templafy: a simple way to manage company templates to create on-brand, legally compliant and personalised documents from anywhere. Sites like PeoplePerHour.com, meanwhile, offer a way for SMEs to call in freelance help when it’s needed.

  1. Greater profit is on the cards

Accepting card payments is another key area for SMEs in 2015. New services like iZettle offer the ability to use smartphones and tablets to take payments.

Retail Merchant Services provide the more traditional machine method. As MD Gareth Poppleton says:

“There were over one billion card payments made in August alone so it seems foolish to ignore the potential this payment method can offer a business, whatever the size”.

“Today’s consumer is growing far more tech-dependent, with many now expecting to see card terminals when visiting their local store – in fact, many shoppers have admitted to hardly ever carrying cash anymore in the first place.”

  1. Happy people make for perfect planning

Looking to the future, Kevin May, founding partner of brand strategists Sticks, says the changing face of tech and the CTO and CIO will be key for shaping businesses in 2015. He adds that planning how you keep “people” throughout your business happy will be very important.

“Companies that will succeed will be the ones who can attract, nurture and retain the best talent,”

he advises.

“The balance of power has shifted, and the best employees no longer feel any sense of great gratitude for the opportunity to earn less money than they make for their employers”.

“More businesses will find ways of creating value with fewer people, while paying those they have more money. Businesses will start to focus more on delivering substance over service and clients are likely to become more pragmatic expecting tangible value delivered by a few bright people, rather than the reassurances of lots of fluff and impressive infrastructure.”

Plan to perform

Creating even a simple document filled with thoughts and ideas can pay dividends. It could contain anything, like what time you will be ready to employ new staff, or a calendar showing new business opportunities to pitch for, as long as it focuses your brain to make sure you hit the ground running in January.

Source: NatWest
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