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From CEO to CIO: How entrepreneurs can make smarter decisions when it comes to IT
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From CEO to CIO: How entrepreneurs can make smarter decisions when it comes to IT 

Total IT spending by SMBs around the globe will increase by more than $100 billion to exceed US$676 billion in 2021, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC). It’s clear that small business owners are investing in resources to improve employee productivity as well as your competitive positions.

Adopting the right technology for your needs can help you operate more efficiently, mitigate business risk and drive growth. So here are three ways you can help you help yourself and maximize efficiencies when it comes to IT decisions, so you can get back to focusing on what you love about running your business. 

Don’t just be in the cloud, use it to streamline your business

With nearly seventy-five per cent of Canadian businesses migrating to the cloud, entrepreneurs are opening up their businesses to a host of tools that can make life easier, yet many still treat this technology as glorified online server with extra storage. If you’re a small business owner who’s guilty of this, you’re missing out on opportunities to streamline the way you do business. Stretch your investment further and take advantage of the endless benefits that come with off-site storage. 

As the on-demand economy continues to grow, so will the expectation of higher levels of mobility from the small businesses that hire them. Capitalize on the increased flexibility that cloud computing offers. Not only does it give access to their files outside the office, it makes it much easier for you to manage your business at any time of day, anywhere. 

Cloud computing makes collaboration simpler. Using the cloud boosts efficiency when data can be accessed simultaneously, and this doesn’t begin and end with employees. Clients, vendors and contractors, with different permission sets, can be granted access to collaborate on files too making businesses operations run smoother, faster.

Make security a shared responsibility 

You may not be aware of just how many threats exist online, and your small business may not have access to the high-end cybersecurity that large companies often employ. This makes you a prime target for savvy hackers because while the payoff might not be as high, it’s generally easier to get in and out before being noticed. 

A recent report found 77 per cent of small businesses that own their own domain are concerned about becoming the victim of cybercrime, and yet more than a third (36 per cent) are not currently investing any money to protect against cybercrime. But you don’t need to invest large sums of money to help keep your business safe from cyberattacks. 

Establish and follow a protocol that helps prevent data breaches entirely and create a culture of awareness among your employees. Ensure they understand the safety protocols they need to follow –from updating passwords regularly, staying vigilant when it comes to phishing scams and being more discerning when using public Wi-Fi. Create a set of security best practices so that the burden of staying safe becomes a shared responsibility across your small business. 

Automation is here, so embrace it 

A recent report we conducted in Canada on ‘Automation and the impact on Canadian Small Business’revealed that many Canadian entrepreneurs are already adopting automation technology like AI and machine learning, with 61 per cent currently using it to run their business – and it’s not showing signs of slowing. In fact, PwC forecasts that AI will increase the global economy 14 per cent by 2030 – totaling $19.4-trillion CAD. You’re embracing the potential AI holds to boost operational workflows, so you can spend less time on the mundane and more time growing your businesses.

To drive efficiency and ensure you’re spending your time in a way that adds maximum value, look for tools that eliminate the mundane. Financial management is obviously a big one. Most entrepreneurs get into business because they’re passionate about solving a big problem, not getting in the weeds on financials. Whether it’s QuickBooks, Slack or Hootsuite – there are many tools available that can help eliminate the templated tasks required to run a successful business, freeing up time to think about strategy and the other high-value tasks where you should be focusing your time. 

By taking full advantage of the possibilities of the cloud, making security a priority for your business and automating the mundane, you’ll be setting your business up for success with the most up-to-date technological advances on offer. Embrace the opportunities to be a fully operational, global business from the comfort of your home, the device in your hands or face-to-face with clients. You have so many decisions as it is, let’s make IT an easy one. 

Jeff Cates is President of Intuit Canada.

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