Drew Rosado, Client vCIO, CompuData

Worldwide spending on information security products and services will reach more than $114 billion by the close of 2018, an increase of 12.4 percent from 2017, according to the latest forecast from Gartner. In 2019, the market is forecast to grow 8.7 percent to $124 billion, with security leaders striving to help organizations securely leverage technology platforms to drive business growth.

At the same time, more businesses across more diverse markets are migrating data to the cloud and embracing cloud applications, including cloud financial management solutions – all to facilitate and protect 24/7 enterprise productivity, even in the event of a disaster.

When it comes to your business, here are five digital technologies and strategic operational measures you might want to strongly consider implementing in 2019.

Cybersecurity. When it comes to protecting your business from cyber threats, it’s important to implement the best technologies, services and solutions. Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, an ongoing semi-annual training plan should be implemented for all employees. Protect your network and devices. It is essential to use up-to-date cloud software products and be vigilant about patch management. Cyber criminals exploit software vulnerabilities using a variety of tactics to gain access to computers and data. Daily backups are a requirement to recover from data corruption or loss resulting from security breaches. Consider using a modern data protection tool that takes incremental backups of data periodically throughout the day to prevent data loss. Investments in cybersecurity tools and expertise are escalating for companies in all markets.

The Hybrid Cloud. A hybrid cloud solution combines private (internal/on-premise) and public (external) cloud deployment models. With a typical private cloud solution, one would build, develop and manage their own cloud infrastructure. The most common deployments of private cloud solutions are in enterprise-level environments. Businesses that have the capital to fund a private cloud operation will usually purchase the necessary equipment, hire their own dedicated IT support teams, and build or lease their own data centers. This allows the company to have complete control over their cloud environment. The primary downside of a private cloud is that it is very expensive to implement and maintain. It also requires highly skilled engineers to manage the network. In a public cloud scenario, one utilizes web-based applications and services. Hardware or software is not owned or maintained by the client, and resources are completely acquired from third party vendors. Google Apps, Salesforce and Amazon Web services are all common examples of public clouds. With these deployments, end-users will work strictly through the Internet via web-based portals. Generally, application data is not stored locally. All relevant information is stored through the cloud provider.

Cloud ERP. In the face of growing competition and a challenging business climate, many job shops and manufacturers are looking for ways to reduce costs, streamline operations and improve the bottom line. Implementing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is a proven solution for running a business efficiently and effectively. Yet, a large percentage of job shops and manufacturers have held back from implementing an ERP system due to high initial costs, long implementation times and competing demands for time and resources. Cloud ERP – sometimes referred to as Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS – delivers financial, implementation and operational benefits. With traditional on-premises software deployments, customers purchase, install, manage and maintain the software as well as supporting in-house infrastructure, such as hardware and networks.

In a cloud deployment, the software vendor hosts, manages and provides customers access to the software as a service over the Internet. Rather than pay for the software up front out of their capital budgets, cloud customers license it on a subscription basis, usually per user, per month, or per a specified number of transactions. On-going maintenance, upgrades and support for the software and infrastructure are all the responsibility of the software vendor and are included within the subscription fee. ERP systems that are cloud-deployed can also drive a significant reduction in the total cost of ownership, compared with legacy on-premises deployments. The cloud model offers a wide range of financial and operational benefits for manufacturers which may include lower and more predictable ongoing costs, faster implementations and time-to-value, reduced cost of ownership, greater reliability and availability and reduced IT complexity.

Cloud Accounting. Cloud accounting software products vary in complexity and features offered, with many products designed for use by companies of a certain size, such as enterprise-level businesses or SMBs. Depending on the scale of the solution, features for payroll, time tracking, or expenses are easy to utilize. Cloud computing has increasingly become a solution for organizations. It’s an innovative and increasingly popular model of software deployment that offers enterprise-class software function without traditional up-front infrastructure costs or the unpredictable support and maintenance costs of on-site software and hardware – from infrastructure to security to personal productivity to workflow. Cloud accounting software leverages cloud hosting on remote servers, similar to SaaS models, but with the flexibility, scalability and collaborative force of working in the cloud. With cloud accounting, finance teams can benefit from real-time reporting and visibility throughout an organization, with mobile collaboration empowering teams to keep accounts balanced, accurate and updated any time, any day and from any location – accounting efficiency and transparent financial management never stop.

Disaster Recovery Planning. What happens if a natural disaster keeps all your employees at home for days — or weeks. Meanwhile, your key services are hampered due to damage sustained at your office. How are you going to contact all your employees — not to mention customers? What will be the most efficient ways to put the pieces of your business back together, following an emergency? This is business continuity planning. Good business continuity planning should look at the business as a whole — with a goal to support business resilience. Business continuity describes a complete solution for backup and disaster recovery. A business continuity strategy will protect data on-premises in physical and virtual servers and in the cloud. Whether data is on servers or in SaaS applications, it needs to be backed up. Business continuity goes a step further and offers you the ability to restore your data, which is termed disaster recovery. Whether a business is faced with a natural disaster or a cyber attack, strong business continuity practices will have you up and running in minutes, particularly business continuity solutions that leverage the hybrid cloud – guaranteeing a quicker restore time. The severity and length of business disruptions caused by any disaster can vary considerably. To be prepared for extended or permanent facility damage, businesses should maintain continuous off-site backup of data, applications and server images, as well as have arrangements in place for re-routing incoming calls to an alternative site and/or to employees’ mobile phones. Data is essential for all types of organizations today, so ensuring access to applications and data following a disaster is critical.

While incorporating some – or all – of these five cloud-based trends may seem optional at this time, the reality is cloud strategies are fueling the digital transformation initiatives and modern IT architectures of competitive businesses right now – a trend that will only escalate as 2019 comes into view.

About the author:

An expert in technology architecture, strategy and planning, including cloud hosting, managed services and technology compliance, Drew Rosado is Client vCIO at CompuData. With more than 10 years of experience in the IT field, Drew works closely with CompuData’s clients to construct digital business technology strategies to leverage cloud solutions to enable better enterprise performance.