A waterproof Bluetooth speaker. A 3-D printer. A portable printer. The latest iPhone.
The list of new technologies grows almost as fast as weeds in the garden.
What technologies do you really need to work more efficiently and productively?
Is the cost of the newest gadget prohibitive or a good investment?
Will it improve your workflow or bottom line, or do you just want more bells and whistles?
“There is no one-size-fits all in technology,” said Todd Schorle, president of TS Tech Enterprises Inc., Wyomissing. “What works for one business does not necessarily always apply to another company.
“It’s good to be current with your technology, but you don’t want change for change’s sake.”
What a company needs depends on a number of factors such as the industry and the type and size of the business. At a minimum, every business needs backup, anti-virus, firewall and update management.
“If you ask them what their needs are, most small businesses don’t know,” Schorle said. “… I would recommend having a consultation with a technology professional at least on
Small biz technology:
What you do and don’t need
ce a year to evaluate your needs, because, as businesses grow and change, those needs are not static.
“They’re going to change, as well. What worked last year isn’t necessarily always going to be the same approach, because technology changes so much.”
Though technology changes, the need to protect company data and for due diligence before buying remain priorities.
“The most important piece is the operating system updates and updates for things like Java, Adobe, which is where we’re seeing breaches,” Schorle said. “What you want is to have security.
“Often, we will tell clients don’t run out and buy this new thing until they talk with us or until it has been fully vetted and tested and we understand how it’s going to impact your business. Avoid the bleeding edge. It’s good to be current, but taper the current against functionality.”
In addition to functionality, users need knowledge of and prevention against potential threats created by today’s interactive technology.
“We say there’s no identity theft protection; all there is is identity theft detection,” said Michael Bubernack, CEO of ET&T, a family owned business in Bethlehem. “It doesn’t matter how big a business is, isn’t or wants to be.
“We bring security awareness, in particular cybercrime awareness, to business owners and their employees who can minimize the risk on the Internet and the dark web.”
ET&T works with a checklist of about a dozen tools to protect business owners’ interests.
“Firewalls and anti-virus are simply not enough,” Bubernack said. “Your last line of defense is a proper backup. You want to minimize spam email. You want to perform computer updates; Microsoft Windows changes every day.”
For web banking and other sensitive financial data, Bubernack recommends a dedicated tool to protect data.
“I will recommend that everybody buy a $199 Chromebook and use it only for web banking and things like that,” he said. “A Windows PC is always vulnerable to these hacker people on the dark web. It’s a huge business.”
With the prevalence of mobile telephones, many small businesses also may not need expensive commercial telephone equipment, Bubernack said.
“Everybody has a cellphone, and there are ways to operate cellphones for incoming business calls,” he said. “They could find what I call a Cell-u-Voice business telephone, business solution. It simply just marries the cellphones to the voice-over internet protocol.”
Experts agree that priority solutions for small businesses include a solid technology strategy, especially for data backup and recovery.
“We advise our clients and potential clients that really the first thing is to have a plan,” said Melissa Confalone, vice president of sales with Fraser Advanced Information Systems, headquartered in West Reading.
“We strongly suggest people have a strong plan for storing their data and being able to recover it.”
In addition to data recovery, Confalone recommends other technology tools to work smarter.
“Collaboration tools are important,” she said. “Whether it’s videoconferencing or cloud-based applications for file sharing, those are ways to grow your business and increase efficiencies to be more profitable.”
The bottom line: If technology improves your workflow and bottom line and doesn’t bankrupt you, it may be a worthwhile investment. •