Although we continuously keep our eyes on future trends in information technology, this time of year, we like to reflect on the past twelve months to see what topics grabbed our (and the industry’s) attention.
Throughout this year, we’ve seen some consistent themes in IT that we’ve highlighted in our monthly Insights:
- COLLABORATION – The need to maximize collaboration, both within your organization and with your external business partners, continues to be a priority, especially with the settling in of hybrid working environments.
- AUTOMATION – According to some economic experts, companies must increase automation to survive. In an economy where human resource productivity gains are minimal or non-existent, automation is critical to success.
- SECURITY– As all organizations further become “technology businesses” because of their reliance upon technology, securing networks, devices, and data is a top priority.
- COMPLIANCE– Increasingly, businesses face the challenge of complying with government and industry regulations and standards, including the evolving CMMC requirements. Organizations need reliable and secure platforms to build their technology foundations to ensure they meet compliance requirements.
Following are the 2021 Insights mapped to these four critical IT themes.
As we move into the new year, many of us find ourselves continuing to juggle all of the different aspects of our lives from a single location—our home. Simultaneously managing various areas of our life—family, career, friendships, our physical and mental health—is nothing new, as they’ve been here all along. However, over the past year, they’ve all converged in a way that most of us have never experienced.
The good news is that powerful technology exists to ease the burden in a variety of ways.
In our February 2021 Insight, “Outsourcing” to the Cloud, we highlighted the steady increase in Microsoft Teams’ adoption between its launch in December 2016 and early 2020 and how the global events of 2020 accelerated that growth exponentially. If you’ve been using Microsoft Teams for a while, you may still only be skimming the surface of what the platform can do for you and your business. With the rapid pace of innovation, it can be challenging to keep up with changes. Here we’re highlighting some of the latest-and-greatest features and functionality in the Microsoft Teams platforms that you don’t want to miss.
Companies continue to experience the benefits of the Microsoft 365 platform. As a cloud-based service, the Microsoft 365 toolset is continuously evolving and improving to meet the needs of modern organizations. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we help our customers realize the benefits of leveraging the features of Microsoft 365, including modern SharePoint sites, to solve their ever-changing business needs.
To understand the power of Power Apps, you must first understand all the pieces and parts. Microsoft Power Apps is not just a single tool. Power Apps is a suite of apps, services, connectors, and a data platform that allows for rapid custom application development to fit your business needs.
After our July Insight, The Power of Power Apps: Low-Code Solutions for High Productivity, we received many questions about automation of business processes, specifically “What’s the right tool?” and “What’s the right approach?” So, we decided to take a step back and review the various approaches and technologies that you might consider when automating your business processes.
Traditionally, you may think of outsourcing as hiring external people or companies to perform specific services for your organization—such as human resources/payroll/benefits administration; marketing/advertising; finance/accounting; or IT management/application development/support. However, moving certain technology capabilities (or workloads) to cloud-based services is another form of outsourcing. It affords organizations, including small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), a way to offload critical technology functions so that they can focus on the core product or service of their business. In most cases, it also provides SMBs access to “enterprise-level” technology but much more cost-effectively.
With the recent boom in the remote workforce, we’ve seen a shift from desktop PCs to laptops and tablets for businesses. Because many of these devices lack traditional wired ethernet ports, Wi-Fi has become more critical than ever to the function of the business. Who hasn’t experienced someone breaking up during a Teams or ZOOM call or dropping out of the call altogether? This is often because the Wi-Fi network has been neglected and simply can’t handle the workload that’s being thrown at it today.
Security threats are a dime a dozen. Every week we learn about a new flaw or exploit that could put our businesses and data at risk. Whether it’s ransomware shutting down operations or data breaches exposing sensitive financial information and personal data, security incidents have become so common that they’re no longer surprising.
What might come as a surprise is that email remains the leading attack vector for all types of malicious activity.
Over the past decade, we’ve seen a significant shift in corporate compliance. Governments have launched new and unprecedented regulations while also enforcing old rules with renewed vigor. And an explosion of communications channels—from social media to collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams—means there are many more ways rules can be violated.
To protect your company, you must ensure that you have the right technologies and processes in place to keep up with all of the rapidly evolving laws, regulations and standards that apply to your organization and industry. Failing to be aware of and adhere to these rules can result in costly fines or even lawsuits.
The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is a unifying standard for implementing cybersecurity across the Defense Industrial Base (DIB). The CMMC framework includes a comprehensive and scalable certification element to verify the implementation of processes and practices associated with achieving a cybersecurity maturity level. CMMC is designed to provide increased assurance to the Department of Defense that a DIB company can adequately protect sensitive unclassified information, accounting for information flow down to subcontractors in a multi-tier supply chain.
Bonus Topic: Microsoft New Commerce Experience
Most recently, we provided an overview of Microsoft’s New Commerce Experience (NCE) and what businesses can expect regarding Microsoft licensing changes in 2022. Companies rely heavily upon Microsoft technologies to address the four critical IT needs highlighted above, and understanding changes to the platforms and their licensing should not be overlooked.
You’ve probably heard of Microsoft 365. And there’s a good chance your business is leveraging some level of Microsoft 365 services, whether for desktop office applications or the full range of cloud services it offers. Since its introduction, Microsoft has continually enhanced the value of the platform and service by adding new features and, in some cases, entirely new products into the bundle.
While it’s not surprising that Microsoft has continued to innovate and add features to the service, the pricing model (i.e., per user per month) has remained consistent, and the cost has not increased…until now.
We have no doubt that companies will continue to emphasize collaboration, automation, security, and compliance in 2022, and Abel Solutions will be here (in our 28th year) to help.
This Abel Insight was written by Abel Solutions’ President, David Hammond.