Overlook your business's network at your own perils

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Small business is the lifeblood of the UK economy, accounting for more than 99 per cent of all private sector businesses, and employing over 16 million people – representing 60% of the nation’s private sector employment.1

Many of the country’s five million plus small businesses are at a sensitive stage of growth, and in today’s modern and digitalised economy, Wi-Fi is imperative to any growth strategy.

However, smaller sized businesses often don’t have the required IT knowledge and, as such, often rely on home Wi-Fi standards, such as a home hub provided by their networking provider.

This is often because they assume that they can’t afford or simply don’t need business or enterprise class equipment and employees with networking skillsets. But the truth is they do!

Home Wi-Fi solutions simply don’t have enough bandwidth or security for business purposes. Any security breach, network outage or downtime caused by an insufficient or poorly managed network could cost a small business and its employees their livelihood.

Small business owners therefore have a responsibility to their staff and customers to offer a reliable and secure network or face these consequences. So where do you begin?

Security first

Data protection is more important than ever, given the rise of ransomware attacks and new GDPR legislation that involves severe penalties for data breaches.

So, the best place to start is security access policy – who has access to what information, and from what device? From there, you can monitor and protect all sensitive data against the myriad of cyber threats by using solutions like firewalls, filters and anti-virus software, to name a few.

Go wireless and be sure to support multiple devices in key areas

A reliable wireless network keeps employees and customers connected. This raises productivity, improves service and ultimately makes a business more competitive.

Tablets, smartphones and laptops all require a Wi-Fi connection, and unnecessary strain can be placed on the network if the estimate of connected devices is not realistic. It is also important to ensure that Wi-Fi signal reaches strategic areas of the premises like boardrooms, for example.

A wireless site survey will identify any interference from electrical devices like fire alarms, and will ensure that staff and visitors are provided with the best possible network coverage.

Use size to your advantage

Small businesses are far more agile than large enterprises, giving them the ability to adopt new technology such as flexible network infrastructure quicker and more efficiently, which enables them to adapt to constantly evolving user needs, and gives them an advantage over their competitors.

Future proof your business with the cloud

Managing what can be a very complex set of connections and mission-critical services can be difficult. But with so many businesses relying on cloud-based services to operate, the answer for managing and future proofing the network could be closer than you think.

The cloud offers many benefits to businesses and managing the network via this channel is no exception. A cloud-based solution can help to monitor who is on the network, at what time – from anywhere and at any time, providing greater flexibility, security and insight into what is going on.

Real-time information about what is happening on the network can also help IT managers to deal with extra demand placed on it or to fix problems remotely, such as boost an access point or scale up or down network capacity as business demands change.

Stay competitive in a digital era

By adopting a fit for purpose business network solution, small businesses can seamlessly undertake most day to day business processes such as file sharing and flexible working. It also attracts the millennial workforce where bring your own device (BYOD) and app usage is much higher for internal and external communications – and this new workforce is key to enabling business growth.

Talented individuals, especially younger generations, are attuned with this way of working, which makes it imperative that businesses of all sizes, no matter how small or large, actively pursue a networking first approach to attract a talented workforce to support fast paced growth, while keeping the company assets secure.

Pete Hannah is head of channel UK&I for Zyxel, a Taiwan-based manufacturer of DSL and networking devices, better known for creating the first integrated modem in 1992.