For most people, IT is a bit of a mystery. Sure, the hand-on stuff that IT brings to your company can be seen and felt every day but unless you’ve got a knowledge of IT networks. It’s difficult to say what’s possible and what’s not.
When IT is an unknown, it can make growing your business a bit of a mystery too. When you sit around the table talking about what’s possible, it’s helpful to have someone who’s well-versed in networks to give a thumbs up or thumbs down especially when costs are involved.
That said, a resident IT networking expert is something that few businesses have, so, without that, you’re left to browse Google hoping for answers.
Here, we’ll touch on what a network is and what it makes possible for businesses so when you next sit down to consider where your business is going, you’ll have a deeper knowledge of around the tech that’s going to be involved…
What is a network?
Before exploring what a network can offer, it’s useful to get a sound to understand of what a network actually is.
In essence, a network is simply a number of computing devices connected to one another. So, at the most simple end of the spectrum, a laptop, router and printer is a network.
More realistically, a business network will look like a series of end-user devices (laptops or desktops), connected with the necessary infrastructure to servers usually an email server and a storage server. Along the way, most business networks will also include accessories like printers and scanners and sometimes specialist devices that’ll depend on your industry.
Why bother with a network?
On the surface, it might just look like a network connects your devices and while this is true, a network really does become more than the sum of its parts as connected machines can offer much more than a series of standalone devices.
Take a look at some of the benefits you’ll expect to see with networked devices and end-users:
Your business, like many others, will probably have key applications that mean you can deliver the service you provide. What they are will depend on your industry but account management software, creative tools, payment systems, telephony software all tend to be vital to delivering a positive service.
When you centralize these applications, your end users are accessing them at the same time, offering great possibility for collaboration and a more seamless customer experience.
In a manner not dissimilar to the centralizing of applications, storage can also be brought into one place then accessed by your end-users and applications as it’s required.
Having your company’s data in one place is enormously valuable. Not only does it make collaboration and team-working much easier, it also offers significant security benefits. The majority of data breaches come as a result of human-error, so, with lots of different end-users with their own storage, the chances of human-error are enormously increased. Keep all your data in one place and you’re significantly reducing the chance that your data will be compromised.
Recent revisions of data protection regulation have led to big changes in how data is held. Now, sensitive data should only be accessible by people who need to access it which has to mean enormous changes to the keeping of customer, client and employee data.
Centralizing data also give you the chance to make sure it can only be accessed by those who need to access it. This can be done down to a granular level, with individual files and folders only available to individual end-users who will be working with the info.
Business agility is a key concept that many emerging industries require if you’re going to get a foothold in an ever-changing business landscape. Central to this is how and where you can do business. So, being able to access your systems when you’re out of the office is often an essential part of getting ahead.
A business network allows you to do exactly this using your 4G internet access to quickly access everything you could if you were at your desk. The result? Well, the possibilities are almost endless from being able to put people on the road or in work from home positions to being able to bring your full business to expos and shows.
Although it’s rarely the sole goal of network installation. A network gives you the opportunity to open up all your accessories to anyone who needs them. Shared printers, scanners and other accessories often helps consolidate resources.
While a network almost unquestionably means an increased support requirement, developments in cloud-computing make network management far simpler than it has previously been.
Having an in-house team of engineers is rarely financially viable, so, having a Managed Service Provider onside often makes a lot more sense. A good MSP will often use network monitoring tools or, more recently, over-arching SD WAN systems that allow them to have hands and eyes in your network at all times.
Is a network right for you?
There’s no right or wrong answer as to whether your business would benefit from having an IT network.
In reality, the best way to decide is to look at some of the benefits and ask if they would add to your business and drive you further toward your goals.
For many companies, it’s helpful to think well into the future when it comes to IT networking. When you think big, you’re considering where the business might be in months or even years and, you can line these goals up next to what a network will bring. Would being able to work on client sites offer a benefit? Would international recruitment open up possibilities that you didn’t think possible? What would effective collaboration over different locations mean to your productivity levels?
Sitting around the table and discussing growth often highlights IT requirements as being a hindrance a big financial impact that holds back spending in other areas. In actual fact, putting IT first and considering the developments that come as a result can be a refreshing way of putting considering how your company could grow in our digital age…