This time of year is budgeting time for many companies. With technology continuing to evolve, there are almost too many options when it comes to deciding what to include in your budget—especially when you throw considerations like virtual meetings and remote work into the mix. Here are some critical items you'll need to have.
1. Upgrading old servers and desktops
Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 will reach end of service in January of 2020. It is time to replace those old devices for good!
End of service (sometimes called end of life or end of support) means Microsoft will no longer support the product or release any security patches. Continuing to use products past their end of service makes you vulnerable to massive security holes.
If you need to upgrade your servers, look at moving to a cloud-based option like Microsoft Azure. This will shift the cost from a large, upfront capital expense to a manageable monthly operating expense.
Microsoft 365 Business enables you to leverage Azure for hosted desktops (which means you could access a full Windows desktop from a tablet, like an iPad). This is a great option for executives, salespeople, or seasonal/contact staff.
2. Multi factor authentication and other cybersecurity necessities
Ten years ago, you wouldn’t use the internet without an antivirus software. Most cybersecurity threats were viruses meant to cause chaos. Today's cybersecurity threats tend to be more focused on getting access to your account and exploiting it for money.
The best way to protect your company is to implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) for your users—think of it as the antivirus of today. It helps to protect your account if someone gets your password.
If you don’t already have it, add multi-factor authentication to your 2020 budget and plan to get it turned on as soon as possible. If you have any budget leftover this year, go ahead and get it now—it’s that important. According to Microsoft, enabling MFA blocks 99.9% of automated attacks.
We also recommend adding other cybersecurity necessities like Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP scans links and attachments for malicious content in your email and cloud storage) and Conditional Access (this won’t let a device log into an account unless it meets certain conditions).
3. Security training and testing
Your employees are often the first line of defense in your cybersecurity strategy—and the weakest link. Most people just don’t know what to look for, especially when threats change so quickly.
To make your org less vulnerable, be sure to include cybersecurity training and testing in your 2020 budget. This should become a annual expense. But also be smart about the type of training that you’re doing: a one-time, hour-long training isn’t going to be enough. Look into ongoing training options that keep security top of mind with employees without interrupting their day (PTG customers: ask your account manager about Cybersecurity Education).
Cybersecurity testing, like sending your employees fake phishing emails, will help identify which employees need additional training and where you may need to implement stronger security measures. Like education, testing needs to be an ongoing--just because someone didn’t click on a potentially malicious email this time, doesn’t mean they won’t several months from now.
4. Remote work tools
As the Cloud becomes more commonplace, tools to let your employees work together from any location and any device have become more affordable and easier to access.
If your company is still saving work to a physical server and communicating only by email, you could potentially increase productivity and efficiency. For example, replacing physical servers and VPNs with cloud file storage and cloud-based Office programs (like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel as part of Office 365) allows employees to work from anywhere and collaborate on files. Corporate chat programs like Microsoft Teams and Slack allow employees to quickly communicate on a one-to-one basis or in groups (there are free versions of both of these!)
Start looking now at what options may be a good fit for your company, so you can include the cost for migration and licenses in your 2020 budget. If you don’t know where to start, talk to a Cloud specialist (like a Microsoft partner).
If you are already using Cloud based tools, look at more ways to take advantage of the tools you already have to increase productivity. For example, if your company has Office 365, you likely already have a lot of tools you aren’t using—you just need to budget the time to get them up and running.
5. Meeting spaces (physical and virtual)
As more of our work is done remotely, it’s important that your meeting spaces don’t lag behind. Your remote staff and on-site staff need to be able to collaborate and communicate just as if they were sitting beside one another in the office.
This Forbes article outlines 5 reasons your company should embrace video conferencing. Consider upgrading your cameras in your meeting spaces (Logitech and Lenovo both make great systems).
While you are at it – check out the phone equipment in your meeting spaces. Have you ever participated in a conference call that had poor audio? It makes it really difficult to stay engaged! Yealink and Logitech have several inexpensive (but reliable) options to make sure your conference call is a success.
Remember: This list isn’t comprehensive. You still need include your usual IT costs: things like equipment and IT support. If you’re a PTG customer, we’ll go over this is in your Q4 Quarterly Business Review (reach out to your account manager if you don’t have this schedule). If you aren’t a PTG customer (or just want some more information about budgeting), check out our budgeting guide.