For firms across Halifax, Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds, Covid-19 has had a massive impact on the way business IT operates – bringing drastic changes in just months that would otherwise have taken years.

Our award-winning Halifax-based IT Support team have witnessed first hand how businesses have had to adapt. We’ve all had to think differently, and those who continue to do so and harness the full power of IT technology will pull ahead of their rivals in the months and years to come.

Remote working has meant the office has moved to the internet with businesses using everything from Microsoft Teams to Zoom to keep in contact with both staff and customers.

Although there may be some kind of return to ‘normal’ office life in time, it’s likely to be very different from what we were used to up to that first lockdown on March 23, 2020. Companies are realising they can operate without the massive overheads of running an office so it seems many employees will have the option to continue working from home far into the future.

The other realisation is huge savings in both time and costs. Meetings with potential customers can be held via the internet with no need to travel long distances and you’ll also be able to fit more meetings into the working day, potentially boosting sales.

In fact, we are now starting to see jobs advertised with the promise of remote working for good but this all means the entire business operation will become totally dependent on top quality and reliable IT support that can promise a quick response. The average time it takes Urban IT Support to fix a problem for a client is just 16 minutes, which is fast by any standards.

According to a survey carried out for IT analyst specialists CCS Insights, 60% of business bosses in Europe and the USA expect at least 25% of their workforce and, in some cases, all of their staff to work at least partly from home after the pandemic has finished.

The answer to remote working is up there in the Cloud

The way to make businesses run most effectively and efficiently when staff work remotely is for companies to shift all their files to the Cloud so staff can access what they need at any time without having to wait for colleagues to email them the information they need. It also means they can work at any time of the day or night, giving them full flexibility.

Well over 60% of UK businesses are expected to have made the move to Cloud-based operations by the end of 2021.

Why the most vital business IT trend for 2021 is cyber security

The year 2021 is also one when cyber security will become a main trend. If the internet is to become your main and, in some cases, sole way of doing all your business it absolutely must be safe with cybersecurity given top priority. It’s all about trust – if your system gets hacked that trust with both staff and customers will be broken and it’ll be a long, hard road to regain it.

Even now, many small business owners don’t think they’ll ever be hacked but it’s not only miserable and soul-destroying when it happens, but also very expensive. Hackers find a weakness to get into your business IT system and then lock files, demanding large sums of money to unlock them. It happens far more regularly than many people think and worldwide it’s now estimated that a business falls victim to a cyber attack every 14 seconds.

One small company in the USA paid $150,000 to the hackers to get their system back (https://www.techrepublic.com/article/ransomware-attack-why-a-small-business-paid-the-150000-ransom/) but larger corporations have paid between £1m and £10m.

So, in 2021 ensure you do all your software updates as they come into your computer as most are to fix problems with security issues.

Couple that with strong passwords and possibly a 2-stage verification process such as an authentication code sent to your phone – many banks use this process. The more secure you need to be, the more steps you can add to this multi-factor authentication.

If it looks ‘phishy’ …

Make sure your staff are security aware and not to open any emails that look remotely suspicious as most security breaches are caused by human error – basically someone opening a phishing email in hindsight they should clearly have immediately deleted.

If you don’t use a professional IT company now’s the time to look for one as they will be up-to-date with all the latest cyber threats and can ensure your IT system is fully protected against malware and the hackers. It’s amazing how many businesses take this step only when it’s too late and they’ve been hacked. But, then again, how many people only install burglar alarms or security cameras once they’ve been burgled?

Your IT system is the absolute core of your business which runs everything. As everyone knows, when your IT goes down these days then just about everything to do with your business stops until it’s back up and running.

Urban IT Support, based in Halifax, West Yorkshire, backs all its clients’ work up to the Cloud and as partners to Sophos online security, only uses reputable, top quality business security products – including anti-virus, ransomware protection, encryption and mobile device security. Our clients also have access to InterceptX (https://www.sophos.com/en-us/products/endpoint-antivirus.aspx), one of the world’s most powerful anti-ransomware programs which anticipates and stops threats before they take hold, giving you complete protection.

Communication is key

And, finally, a latest communication trend is automation with chatbots taking over customer service inquiries.

Also, why not set up an automated email reply so the customer knows you’ve received their email and are dealing with it. These can be personalised so they look like they’ve been sent by one of your staff.

Other communication trends to help keep customers and find out what they want include:

Making a new client feel really welcome by sending an automated yet personalised welcome email saying how much you appreciate their support with more information about your services and, perhaps, even a thank you gift such as a discount voucher.

Follow this up some time later by emailing an automated customer survey link saying it’s their chance to help you improve your service to them and perhaps give them the opportunity to provide a testimonial. If they are less than 100% happy then the software can trigger the need for a follow-up phone call or email.

Ensure the customer becomes a regular one, especially if they have bought something that will need regularly replenishing, by setting up automated email reminders to them when it’s likely their stock levels will be running low. Research shows that the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60% to 70% compared with 5% to 20% to a new customer.

So there you have it, the latest IT business trends. If you’re based in West Yorkshire, and want a chat about how Urban IT Support can improve your Business IT through our award winning outsourced IT Support and Consultancy service, get in contact with us today. Either email us on [email protected] or phone our Halifax team on 01422 646465.

Blog written by Andy Hirst from Huddersfield-based AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/)