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Q4 Message from the ISC Kentucky President: State of the Company

Q4 message from the ISC Kentucky President

The spring and summer months also brought some renewed concerns about cyber security. With everyone switching between office networks and home wireless setups, hackers have had easy pickings. We've gotten used to sharing sensitive information on email, in Zoom calls, and through instant messaging. Data theft has never been particularly difficult, and many businesses are almost inviting hackers in by leaving the doors wide open.

Overall, we expected to see an era of transition in Q3 and that's exactly what we got. But we also anticipated a few surprises along the way that would make businesses shift the way they do things, and we're all facing those changes collectively.

Don’t skip ahead (you'll miss out)

Every year around this time, I start hearing a familiar refrain. Sometimes it's when I'm talking to a CFO or a VP of operations about using technology better to improve their business. Sometimes it's from one of my technology service staff after they've visited an ISC Kentucky client's offices on a service call.

"Next year, we'll start thinking about …."

Sure, I get it. We're all finalizing our business plans and considering about how we're going to close out our books for the year. We're starting to look at the new year ahead as a bright time to start fresh. It's easy to start counting down the days until holiday parties and time off, with the vague resolution to ourselves that we'll do everything better when we flip over to the start of the new yearly schedule.

But look at your current calendar. How many weeks are remaining in 2021 and what things can we start doing better now, to improve outcomes for 2022?  Don't start to write off this year just yet. Change it from "Next year, we'll start thinking about doing…" to "Right now, we're setting plans in motion for next year.”

What comes next

The next couple of months are all about line items and 2022 preparations. If you do that work now—instead of at the start of the new year—you'll have a jump-start on your goals.

This week, I've spent a lot of time talking with clients, prospects, and fellow business leaders about what the fourth quarter of the year needs to look like. In those conversations, I gleaned four pieces of advice I thought might be worth writing down and sharing:

1. Limit unnecessary expenses. Streamlining isn't a new concept, but give some thought to what you can cut now so that you don't carry excess baggage into the new year.

  • On the technology side of your business, that means making sure your I.T. budget is appropriate. Are you getting what you pay for? Are you paying for more than you need?

2. Prepare for continued staffing and resources challenges. Service industries, especially, are already being hit hard. Treat everyone like they're understaffed and hurting. Be resilient to staffing shortages AND to the different financial scenarios that could unfold in 2022.

  • If you have great staff, make sure they feel valued. It's a lot easier to retain great workers than to recruit them. I'm proud of the ISC Kentucky team, and I know they're essential to the services we provide.
  • Know ahead of time that 2022 could bring a boom in business, and be ready to meet the demand. The coming year also has all the hallmarks of inflation and ongoing supply shortages, so plan ahead and lock down everything you'll need to be successful.
  • You already know this but it's worth repeating: You’re more resilient if your technology is helping you. Take these next several weeks of 2021 to improve your footprint and implement new tools and procedures to get technology working for you. Give us a call to help assess your current I.T. status and what it will take to get where you want to go.

3. Deal with security issues. We saw it earlier in the year with attacks on energy. Now, a new government act makes employees more responsible for safeguarding their own I.T. In 2022, we’ll see even more of this.

  • Ransomware is the biggest area of concern. More and more, we're hearing about ransomware moving into the SMB space. It's not just the Fortune 1000 companies being targeted. If you have data, if you take payments, if you have sensitive communications, you have to make sure you’re protecting yourself.
  • Is I.T. security part of your existing technology services plan? If not, talk to your provider now and don't go into the new year exposed.

4. Put on your Santa cap early. To kids, "stocking issues" means there's nothing in their Christmas stockings. Remember what I said about staffing and supply issues? If you haven't already started shopping for Christmas gifts, give it a thought. Even Amazon won't have stock to deliver once we get halfway through November. And even if you are able to locate the perfect gift in early December, it'll be a lot more expensive a few weeks before Christmas than it is in October.

Final thoughts

In my last message, I shared a few of the business blog posts I'd posted recently. You all must have seen something that sparked an interest, because the post views went way up.

When I write this column, I always have it in the back of my mind that I'm trying to introduce clients to ways they can improve their business success and reduce their costs with managed I.T. services. So, I'd like to point to a few of my ideas over the past couple of months.

  • Zero-trust policy: Even devices that are on the correct side of your network—i.e., those that have already connected to it—cannot be trusted to be inherently secure.
  •  7 threats that YOUR small business should be aware of: If we have learned anything at all over the past several years, it’s that security absolutely needs to be a priority for all small businesses.
  • Build customer satisfaction and lower your capital costs: This blog was originally titled "How technology helps you build a better business." I didn't do a great job with this headline. Everyone hears it and they start thinking Big Data and expensive servers and custom apps. But what I'm really talking about is customer satisfaction (and return business), and lower capital costs, and better internal communications.
  • 3 things your business needs to hear: If you're a fast reader, you can process 300 words in less than a minute and a half. In my best blog post from the summer, I give away the recipe to the secret sauce. In 90 seconds, you'll learn the three things your business needs to hear from a technology services provider before you'd ever want to do business with them.

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