Business trends continue to evolve quickly, especially since COVID-19. In-office and home office needs are now the same in terms of bandwidth, functionality and security. Cyberattacks are on the rise with small businesses becoming just as much a target as large corporations.

Historically, a strong internet connection has been a business’ primary requirement for choosing a provider. Yet as we look forward to 2023, it’s clear that businesses of all sizes and in every industry need to think beyond just speed. Even the smallest businesses must now prioritize network management, safety and security, and even artificial intelligence applications to stay competitive.

Just in time for your business to make its New Year’s technology resolutions, here are three top priorities that I tell my small business clients to consider as they plan for the year ahead:

  1. Invest in cybersecurity security protocols

No matter what kind of small business you own, security needs to be a priority for 2023 and beyond. According to a report by Blumira and IBM, it can take an average of 287 days for a business to recover from a cybersecurity attack, making a proactive threat monitoring/detection strategy absolutely essential. Businesses need to invest in network and endpoint security technology, like installing cameras for monitoring onsite office locations and protecting customer data in the cloud. It’s equally important to prioritize employee training and education on network safety and security. In fact, a recent study indicates that 88% of data breaches are caused by employee mistakes.

For businesses that may not have the IT support needed to keep cybersecurity threats at bay on their own, many providers offer solutions that automatically scan for network threats and cover every device connected to your network, including employee and guest devices.

  1. Say yes to network management solutions

With the ongoing rise in cloud storage, physical equipment is becoming more obsolete as virtual network functions – like routers, firewalls and software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WAN) – allow for more visibility and control via remote access over the internet.

SD-WAN is a must-have for small businesses in 2023. With SD-WAN, IT managers can connect multiple locations with high bandwidth networks at a lower cost, all while ensuring security protocols remain in place. By using a virtual control layer on top of an organization’s network infrastructure, SD-WAN enables centralized management of critical network functions, reducing the need for costly equipment, shortening provision times and allowing for better traffic management across a network.

Best of all, when paired with a trusted network vendor partner, SD-WAN solutions are no extra work for businesses. A vendor partner can install and manage the solution, alleviating additional burden from businesses’ IT teams.

  1. Consider implementing artificial intelligence applications

Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t just for the big dogs. It can help businesses of every size manage day-to-day responsibilities, like customer communications, targeted marketing campaigns and inventory monitoring/replacement. For example, a local restaurant can use AI to measure its busiest times for pick-up orders, and the restaurant can use that information to make sure there is an extra staff member on-hand to handle the heavier load.

While AI can seem like a complicated feature, it can be accessible to all businesses. A strong technology partner can help businesses manage their regular day-to-day platforms while also recommend software solutions that can save time and money on operations.

Time is Money

Many small business owners may not have the time or IT support to research, choose and implement new technology solutions on their own. Working with a trusted technology provider means that small business owners can count on experts to implement and manage technology solutions like cybersecurity, network management and AI tools in the New Year, and trust that support – whenever it may be needed – is only a call away.

For more information on Comcast Business, please visit https://business.comcast.com/.

Jeff Marston is vice president of Comcast Business in Indiana, Michigan, and Kentucky

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