The huge IT overhaul that has taken place over the last two years of the global pandemic has left SMBs with a duplication of services, licenses, and costs, writes Sion Lewis, GM EMEA of GoTo.

Deloitte has found that 85% of CEOs accelerated digital transformation projects during the COVID-19 period. But with this staggering number, many leaders can’t articulate the strategy behind tech adoption. Answering questions on IT usage can be tricky – why was this tool invested in over a competitor one? Which tools are most useful to certain departments? Who is using what?

Without dedicated teams of IT admins, nor the enterprise-level budgets to handle extensive tech stacks, SMBs are seeing blind-spots emerge across their organisation which are being exploited by cyber criminals. These types of businesses need technology now; they need it to be easy to manage, easy to deploy, and affordable.

In the 2022 hybrid landscape, to bolster efficiency and ensure cybersecurity, simplification and consolidation need to be the watchwords for leaders, to improve efficiency and make the lives of employees that bit easier. With this in mind, I've taken a look at the three key steps to take to consolidate IT and help SMBs get on top of their tech stacks.

1. The first step to IT excellence is auditing

Efficiency challenges with teams struggling around IT sprawl is just the tip of the iceberg. Rubrik commissioned a report in 2020 and found that more than 80% of IT leaders surveyed by IDC identify data sprawl as one of the most critical problems their organisations must address today.

Valuable data scattered across different IT structures, such as data centres, cloud servers, remote locations, and endpoint devices, means that there are multiple pitfalls for data management and cybersecurity – IT sprawl can and does lead to serious cyber incidents.

In this era of hybrid working, it is vital that organisations audit and assess which tools are being used across their network. As well as providing greater efficiencies across the business, resulting in more contented and connected employees, an always-on auditing programme provides businesses with the strongest defence possible against cyber-attacks.

Likewise, businesses need to invest in technology vendors that prioritise security so that SMBs without large in-house teams can rest assured knowing that their products are closely monitored. By knowing the vendor has put security first, in-house IT teams can focus on getting their job done well so that businesses can grow and scale safe in the knowledge there are no backdoors left open for criminals to exploit.

2. Find one tool to rule them all

Digital transformation projects are still at the top of the agenda for many leaders. According to Gartner, worldwide IT spending is projected to total $4.4 trillion in 2022, an increase of 5.3% from 2021. However, now that the dust has settled from pandemic-related disruption, a proper strategy around having the right tech tools in place for the business needs to be addressed – it's no longer about finding short-term solutions, but about auditing and consolidating what’s currently available within the business and work.

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The holistic approach to IT can be a great way to ensure that teams keep on the right track when it comes to tech. Those businesses that choose scalable products offering integration across platforms can benefit from enhanced efficiency. Sprawl across tools complicates the process of patching software, the jobs of IT admins, communication across teams and productivity.

By using one tool that can be widely leveraged, there can be one touchpoint for IT admins to monitor – multiple different applications will require unique solutions to pitfalls each time. By having one tool instead, for instance, a communications service that encapsulates online meetings, presentation services, instant messaging, and content sharing, then companies can keep a tighter grip on their tech.

3. Leverage remote support networks

In the context of the new working landscape, IT downtime is now a serious challenge for businesses across the country. According to Beaming, UK businesses clock up to 149 million hours of internet downtime a year and the cost to the economy is £12.3 billion. This figure is only set to rise in the wake of the pandemic, as downtime equates to complete shutdown of tech-heavy structures, which is why it needs to be minimised whenever possible.

Relying on remote support for guidance to minimise disruption will be vital for businesses across industries. Making secure IT simple with consolidated support means admins can respond, act, and resolve issues all in one place. Resolving a help desk ticket is as easy as having a conversation, as problems can be troubleshooted in ultrafast ways.

Remote support is more than just a nice to have for companies, it can mean that, with enterprise-grade security and consumer-grade ease of use, systems stay safe while business keep up and running.

Time-optimising features like unattended access and multi-session handling let agents and employees get more done, and allows businesses to get back to work as usual, with disruptions kept to the smallest amounts. All-in-one IT support can do a lot for businesses, by controlling resolution processes in a single dashboard, and keeping frictionless flow at the top of the agenda.

Looking ahead

The exponential rate at which technology has advanced in the last two years has been exceptional and something that should be applauded. As enterprises and SMBs look ahead to the future, there is now time to put together a clear strategy for growth that ensures a strong and stable IT infrastructure for employees and partners alike.

Thanks to the leaps in technology we’ve seen, there is huge scope for greater efficiencies and innovations to be realised. Those SMBs that are the first movers and are willing to thoroughly audit their tech stack and make changes, if necessary, will be in a position of strength for the remainder of 2022 and beyond.