Building a proactive IT strategy: What it is and why your small business needs one

Managed IT · Jul 10, 2024

Many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are dealing with a major challenge: at some point they also became technology companies, meeting consumers’ expectations to move partially or fully online. Whether engaging with customer service, completing transactions or providing follow-up support, technology plays a crucial role for most – if not all – businesses.
IT capabilities have become increasingly indispensable to their business models, and what were once just behind-the-scenes operations have evolved into core strategic initiatives and competitive differentiators.

Supporting operations with a reliable IT infrastructure

If you’re a small business owner, you’re likely aware that your IT infrastructure is critical to your ongoing growth and success – including empowering employees with improved tools and workflows and delighting customers with better digital experiences. Yet when you first started out, you may not have viewed mundane technologies like database management systems as core value drivers, and it’s possible you didn’t invest enough resources into keeping them up-to-date.
Now, with the benefit of hindsight, you realize how these technologies are essential for scaling your business, protecting your information, boosting efficiency, promoting collaboration and ensuring problems like outages and downtime aren’t costing you and your customers.
Know that you’re not alone – and with the help of managed IT services, this challenge is by no means insurmountable. With a proactive tech strategy, you can build greater resilience, scalability and efficiency into your IT infrastructure. 

The real risk of a reactive approach to IT 

If you’re taking a more reactive approach to IT – from outdated technology to hardware failures – periods of growth can actually pose significant challenges for your business.
An inadequate IT infrastructure could result in risks to the productivity, profitability and security of SMBs in many ways. Jean- Marc Dumonceaux, TELUS Business Virtual CIO explains, “Everyone defers some form of maintenance on their vehicle, in fact I'm guilty of it too. But when your vehicle can't start in the morning and now you're late to that important meeting, that routine maintenance seems less mundane.” Outdated systems may lack the capacity to scale to the needs of your business, eroding consumer confidence and employee morale – all of which can be detrimental to achieving your objectives.
Along with hindering your ability to grow and scale, poor IT planning and lack of a forward-looking IT strategy can lead to cybersecurity risks.
More SMBs are being targeted by cybercriminals
who aim to exploit vulnerabilities in outdated hardware and software,
as well as human error
, to stage malicious attacks. In the last two years,
one in four small business owners
has reported an increase in security incidents.
Having a proactive IT strategy in place is essential, but many business owners lack the time, resources and dedicated talent to develop one. So, how can you get started?

A robust IT strategy can help rapidly scale your business

An IT strategy that’s aligned to your long-term goals can help unlock new operational efficiencies and capabilities for employees and customers, while reducing the risks and costs associated with cyberattacks.
In addition to protecting your business from an attack, here are some key reasons why you should consider developing a robust IT strategy:
  1. Resiliency: Uptime is everything when it comes to operational efficiency and customer satisfaction, and faulty networks or servers impede productivity. 
  2. Efficiency: A reliable and secure IT network can streamline day-to-day operations for employees and enhance the user experience for customers while mitigating the risk of delays, outages and downtime.
  3. Scalability: Circumstances can change quickly, which is why it’s important to have a
    cloud-based IT infrastructure
    that can be ramped up when it’s busy, and tamped down when there’s less demand. Additionally, as business needs evolve and the size of your workforce fluctuates, you’ll need to implement new devices and systems to support this change. 

Elements to consider in your IT strategy

If you’re ready to roadmap an IT strategy designed specifically for your business, here are some of the core features and factors you should take into account:

1. Cloud migration

For SMBs, IT infrastructure needs to be scalable. That means your cloud storage solutions should be able to expand to accommodate increased demands while reducing when there’s less need to save on costs.
The challenge is finding the right cloud data management partner based on your business’s operational and regulatory requirements, along with the technology tools and frameworks it relies on. A mismanaged cloud migration can also result in loss of key data and disruption to your business. For many SMBs, it’s prudent to
consider partnering with a managed services provider (MSP)
to help plan and implement the data integration and transfer of your systems with minimal business disruption.

2. A layered approach to cybersecurity

As SMBs are increasingly targeted by cyberattacks, the need to stay on top of defence is undeniable. That includes keeping track of software updates and patches, as well as undertaking proactive threat detection and prevention, such as penetration testing.
As noted in TELUS Business’s cybersecurity study, 53 per cent of Canadian SMBs say they lack the means to adopt new cybersecurity tools. This is another area where partnering with an MSP to perform an IT vulnerability assessment could be beneficial.

3. Technology adoption

Customers want to interact and interface with your business from anywhere – and so does your workforce. This is why you need to provide the tools employees require to collaborate efficiently in a distributed environment and ensure those technologies remain secure without a traditional perimeter to protect them.
Whether logging on from a café or an airport, your staff may be accessing your systems and data over unsecured networks. MSPs can not only help enable best-in-class collaboration suites, but they can also ensure it is done securely with services such as monitoring access policies and permissions, and implementing including password management with multi-factor authentication.

4. Enhanced data backup

A plan for disaster recovery and data backup is a must. This isn’t just important in the event of a cyberattack, but for any natural or manmade crisis that can derail your operations. Keeping track of your tools, systems and data – and being able to bring them back online after a disruption – is essential.  
Your employees and customers expect your systems to be up and running all the time.  IT issues can arise unpredictably, which is why it’s vital to ensure you have the experts who can be on-call for your IT needs around the clock. This is another area where an MSP can help deliver value across multiple support channels, such as phone, email, live chat and self-service options.

Managing and modernizing your IT infrastructure can take a toll on your team

It’s important to take stock of your resources before you set out to operationalize your IT strategy. Without the right expertise, SMBs may find it difficult to prioritize IT projects and understand what to implement at the right time.  
Many SMBs take it upon themselves to be their own IT specialists, with mixed results. There are often too many day-to-day issues that arise, leaving them preoccupied with short-term fixes at the expense of long-term objectives. This not only detracts from their productivity, but the productivity of the workforce as a whole if IT infrastructure isn’t up to par.
So, is the solution to hire dedicated IT talent? For many SMBs, this option can be prohibitively expensive. And even when a business does have IT professionals on the team, their valuable time may be distracted managing the day-to-day, rather than ideating on how IT can help drive the business strategy forward.
In this regard, hiring an MSP isn’t just a viable solution for many SMBs – it’s a highly valuable one. A strategic partner can help map your IT projects and budget with your business goals so you can implement the right solutions as your business needs evolve.

Maximizing the ROI on your IT strategy

Each business has to evaluate
whether partnering with an MSP is right for them
. But in doing so, it’s necessary to recognize the possible risks and costs that can come when trying to manage a complete, complex IT infrastructure in-house.
Consider the time, money and energy spent on IT fixes and remediation rather than expansion and innovation. There can also be increased security risks due to the
challenge of maintaining up-to-date versions of all software and hardware
, as well as managing access permissions and passwords. 
An MSP can support your IT management, while also helping you develop the IT strategy you need to align to your goals. Not only does this support your continued growth and competitiveness in the marketplace, but having a resilient, scalable and efficient IT infrastructure in place lets you and your team get back to doing what you do best.
TELUS Fully Managed
offers a comprehensive suite of IT services to handle all aspects of your IT infrastructure. Every customer receives a full suite of support as part of their base package, including:
  • Management of your users
  • Workstations and infrastructure
  • 24/7 monitoring
  • Robust end-point detection and response to protect your business
  • Cloud Backup 
  • Complimentary Cyber Security Training & Phishing testing 
  • A dedicated vCIO (Virtual Chief Information Officer)
This suite of offerings can help free up your time to focus on your business so you can deliver value for your customers. 

Connect with a managed IT specialist today
to learn how TELUS Business can help with your evolving IT needs.
Authored by:
TELUS Business
TELUS Business