How Small Businesses Can Navigate the Post-Pandemic Landscape

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Small Businesses

The past 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic have been challenging for Canadian small businesses. Adjusting to the economic shock caused by the pandemic and transitioning to remote work has forced many of them to shut down or pause operations.

To gain a better understanding of the challenges small businesses faced during the shift to a remote workforce, we conducted a survey of small and micro business owners. The survey provided insight into small businesses’ current IT infrastructure and practices, revealing changes over the last year and identifying lingering gaps to be bridged as we look ahead to a post-pandemic business landscape.

According to our survey, a concerning 35 percent of respondents indicated their business was forced to shut down or pause operations at some point due to the pandemic. We also found that more than half (54 percent) of respondents faced some form of IT challenge during this period.

More investment in IT is needed (although there has been some improvement)

One theme that emerged as we observed the challenges small businesses continue to face is a lack of proper IT resources. While many businesses admit to having faced at least one IT challenge since the onset of the pandemic, IT remains surprisingly low on their priority list, with 32 percent indicating they did not make any investment to IT. This indicates that while one of the problems has been identified, there is still work to be done in terms of taking action to mitigate IT challenges.

In comparison to October 2020, many small businesses have made strides to increase interest in their IT framework. Small businesses are increasing their investment in employee-focused software, with one quarter (25 percent) indicating they’ve done so, compared to 17 percent who said the same in October 2020. This demonstrates that while many are still struggling, small businesses are increasingly acknowledging the importance of investing in better technology to allow their employees to work online successfully. This is certainly a step in the right direction and is encouraging to see as the economy looks to recover.  

Cybersecurity must remain a business priority

In terms of cybersecurity, the number of small businesses striving to take this more seriously in the future has also increased. 18 percent indicated they will do so moving forward, compared to only 12 percent of respondents who said the same in October 2020. While this is a positive change, these numbers are still far too low, as 61 percent said they have made no changes to their IT infrastructure since the beginning of the pandemic. Cybersecurity solutions are designed to help businesses optimize their online performance which now, more than ever, must be considered as cybercriminals become increasingly more sophisticated and look to prey on those with exposed security gaps and vulnerabilities, it’s imperative that small businesses continuously prioritize cybersecurity in order to not only achieve effective operations but also to maintain business continuity.

Looking ahead to a post-pandemic landscape

IT technology can help small businesses solve problems and achieve greater efficiency, both amid and post-pandemic. Having the proper IT tools in place can also allow teams to collaborate with one another remotely while having secure access to business resources needed to get work done. This is especially necessary in today’s increasingly digital world, as we found that 18 percent of small businesses have or will eventually pursue a hybrid model of remote and in-office work and 16 percent will pivot or have already pivoted to online work.

It’s time to consider cloud, hybrid cloud and application modernization

To help small businesses navigate the ever-changing landscape, cloud and hybrid cloud technologies are effective solutions to ensure business data remains secure. Modernizing applications with containers, micro-innovation and cloud-native services will also allow businesses to innovate faster and more efficiently. Having the proper security tools in place, such as zero-trust architecture and secure access service edge, will allow businesses to take hybrid cloud security even further by enabling network security tools to transition away from private data centres to the public cloud safely and securely.

Beyond ensuring small businesses are equipped with proper IT tools, it’s imperative they also have a dedicated team of IT professionals to help navigate the post-pandemic landscape. It can be difficult to implement a stronger IT framework when businesses are unsure of their needs.

We understand that part of the battle is knowing where to start and having the resources to take action, and CDW Canada is here to help. We have an entire team of experts dedicated to helping small businesses – connect with us today by visiting: CDW.ca/smallbusiness