January is the traditional time for looking ahead and making plans for the new year. It is also the time of the year when blog posts proclaim the "key things to know this year" or "what to look out for in 2019" and this year we are no different!
IT and your business technology can often get overlooked in the start of year planning, so we have put together the important technical issues likely to affect your business in 2019 (and there is not a mention of blockchain in sight!)
Improved customer communications
Communicating with customers has always been important to a business. But for years companies have only had one choice for their telephone systems, the trusty landline. In recent years the emergence of VoIP means that the landline is no longer your only option for telephones.
VoIP has become a viable alternative to the traditional landline and in 2019 expect its popularity to continue to grow. A report by Future Market Insights predicts businesses will be spending £144.7 billion on VoIP before the end of the year. If you are not familiar with the benefits of VoIP, read our post on VoIP vs Landline.
One of the biggest reasons businesses have switched to VoIP is the money they can save. Because VoIP uses your existing internet connection, there are no additional line costs. This also means calling is a lot a cheaper as well, its very common for a VoIP package to include free domestic calls and International calls are a fraction of the cost compared to a landline.
With consumers having more options than ever before businesses need to look everywhere to find competitive edges. The quality of your communication with your customers and potential customers can help you stand out from the competition. For more information on VoIP for business contact your sales manager or read about our VoIP offering.
Finally, 2018 was a breakout year for chatbots (the automation of typical customer service on websites or social media). Although use of chatbots may be debatable for small businesses (they can be quiet technical to build) Facebook has made it possible for business pages to setup chatbots to answer basic customer questions. Expect more advanced, and easier to create, options to become available in 2019.
Windows 7 reaches end of life
In January 2020 Windows 7 reaches end of life. Your business will still be able to use Windows 7 after the end of life date but Microsoft will no longer be supporting the product, and that means the end of security updates. A lot of the security updates are fixing vulnerabilities that hackers are using to spread viruses like cryptolocker and ransomware.
Microsoft has given this advice to their Windows 7 customers.
"You can continue to use Windows 7, but once support ends, your PC will become more vulnerable to security risks. Windows will operate, but you will stop receiving security and feature updates."
While 12 months may seem plenty of time to make arrangements to replace Windows 7, it's better to act sooner rather than later to avoid still using Windows 7 after the security updates have stopped. Contact your IT provider and start discussing your options for replacing Windows 7.
There are also a few versions of Windows 10 (version 1709 and 1803) that reach end of life during 2019. If your business is currently using Windows 10 contact your IT provider and make sure that your version is not affected by the end of life dates in 2019.
GDPR is not going away
While May 25th came and went in 2018 and the world kept turning, it doesn't mean that GDPR is gone and forgotten. After the hard work done by businesses, it seems that everything has gone back to normal. However, it does seem that GDPR will soon be back in the headlines in 2019. In an interview with Reuters at the end of 2018, European Data Protection Supervisor Giovanni Buttarelli said: "I expect first GDPR fines for some cases by the end of the year."
While it may be a case that Buttarelli may have the biggest companies in his sights, the point is that GDPR is not be forgotten just because we are now in 2019. Also, just because your business might not be staring at a fine doesn't mean your job of securing your data is finished either.
The GDPR is just the start of what many predict to be a sustained global effort to protect personal data further. Reviewing your business's data security is something you need to be regularly doing. Recent years have seen a marked rise in cyber attacks and cybercrime and in 2019 the numbers are expected to rise again.
One way your business can review and improve your overall cybersecurity is the Government-backed scheme, Cyber Essentials. Cyber Essentials helps you guard against the most common cyber threats, and it shows your commitment to cybersecurity, which is an integral part of being GDPR compliant.
2018 saw many credential related security breaches. Massive companies such as HSBC, Facebook and Twitter were embarrassed by breaches of data that left millions of user passwords in the hands of hackers (and available to the highest bidder). In the case of Twitter BankInfoSecurity.com reports that "32.8 million had been compromised" and "are being offered for sale on the dark web."
Simple single-factor passwords are now key targets for even the most novice of hackers but how many businesses continue to use them? GDPR is all the incentive any company needs to provide better authentication process for their staff. Despite the low cost, easy deployment and the fact it is a simple solution to growing security concern, multi-factor authentication is still being overlooked by the majority of businesses.
Speak to your IT provider to find out more about multi-factor authentication and how your business can use it to protect your business and customer data further.
As you can see, there is plenty for your business to consider with your technology in 2019. These are only a few of the standout issues, there is plenty more you can do to get the most out of your business technology. For help with anything you have read in this blog post contact your IT provider and if you don't have an IT provider then feel free to contact us or call us on 01634 52 52 52 to discuss any issues you might be concerned about in 2019.