While there are some technology must-haves that span across businesses, certain industries have unique IT requirements. Check out our recommendations for the technology that will keep your financial office secure, productive, reliable, and generating revenue!
EMAIL MANAGEMENT AND ARCHIVING
A good majority of modern communication happens over email. Financial firms produce and rely on a lot of this data, and it's important to be able to find and review your important conversations. Our favorite email solution is Microsoft Outlook, but there are plenty of great email options out there if you prefer something different. We prefer Outlook/Office 365 because of its robust security and customization options, solid support, and integration with other popular tools.
If you want to up your inbox game, you may also consider extras like Unroll.me - this free tool lets you mass unsubscribe from newsletters and junk you don't read or want clogging up your work inbox.
IFTTT (short for "If This Then That") is another awesome email and productivity tool. IFTTT helps you automate tasks both in your email and various other applications. Some examples are getting a text message when a certain person sends you an email, scheduling reminders tomorrow for emails you star today, or automatically sending email attachments into Dropbox.
DOCUMENT DIGITIZATION AND MANAGEMENT
Gone are the days of entire rooms filled with file cabinets and thousands of paper documents! All those years of documents you create have to be stored somewhere, and these days more people are keeping them in the cloud for its cost-savings and ease of use.
Some document storage and management solutions optimize for better search and retrieval, so you'll easily be able to find that one file from many years ago with just a few keywords.
"Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) was implemented in 2002 and legislates how business records are protected and preserved to prevent destruction and corruption. SOX has also set e-records management standards to which all businesses should adhere.
SOX mandates that all electronic records (including faxes), be retained for a period of seven years. Furthermore, it requires tamper-proof resources to prevent the corruption and modification of records. This rule is designed to protect investors from fraudulent activity and to safeguard financial data.
Entities subject to SOX compliance include all US-based publicly traded companies and international companies that have registered equity or debt securities with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Accounting firms that provide auditing services to the above entities are also subject to SOX compliance." (XMedius)
Considering the majority of records are stored online, companies subject to SOX need to ensure their storage and data practices are compliant and secure. Learn more about what you should expect from your IT provider and SOX compliance.
IMAGE-BASED, AUTOMATED DATA BACKUP (BOTH ON- AND OFF-SITE)
Instead of only backing up files, image-based backup creates a copy of your entire operating system and all its data including the system state and application configurations. It's like a snapshot of your entire computer system. If you ever need to return to a backup, this will ensure it's restored back to exactly how it was.
In addition to having backups, it's recommended to store them both on- and off-site, for example both at your location internally and in cloud storage. If something ever happens to the backups stored at your business, for example damage from a fire, flood, theft, or infection, you'll have these off-site backups as a fail safe. As our CEO likes to say about backups, "two is one, one is none".
We also recommend going a step further and setting up a disaster recovery plan. This is just what it sounds like - in the event of a disaster like a data breach, flood, etc., this is a detailed guide for how you'll get up and running again as fast as possible. Your data backups come into play here, but you'll also need to have an action plan for everything else that goes into recovering your business in an emergency situation.
VoIP has been an amazing tool for businesses. Instead of being beholden to your desk for phone calls, you can use VoIP services to forward calls from your company phone to your cell, check office voicemails from any device, and take calls from your computer.
In cohesion with all of the above, we feel a robust, multi-faceted security plan is the most important element for the modern business. The most successful company with great clients, culture, profitability, and growth can be absolutely crippled in just hours if they're hit by a cyberattack or data breach.
We find that a lot of people have the attitude of "it hasn't happened to me yet, so I'm not going to worry about it". PLEASE take your security seriously. Ransomware, breaches, phishing, and attacks are on the rise, and criminals know that smaller businesses especially tend to have less security resources, making them easy targets.
Many companies also believe that installing any old off-the-shelf antivirus is all they need. There is no silver bullet when it comes to security - you have to protect multiple layers and use products designed specifically for businesses.
Consumer antivirus software generally only covers your basic devices like desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones, and runs separately on each one. Business antivirus, however, is run centrally from your business' server and protects it as well. An IT admin can monitor and control the protection on each device from one place, and protection is far more robust than in consumer-grade antivirus. In this area, you certainly get what you pay for.
It's so easy to prevent a disaster situation from ever happening in the first place with a solid security and backup plan. If you haven't put something into place yet, do it ASAP. It's never too late.