• Written by News Company

In the business world, there is an essential truth that every entrepreneur learns: If you’re not relevant, you can’t survive.

However, keeping your business relevant goes beyond the realm of market analysis and audience targeting. Indeed, at its core, it’s about anchoring your entrepreneurship idea into today’s processes. Considering a market where over 90% of end-users use an IT device to interact with companies, it’s easy to understand how your IT strategy is inherent to business growth and relevance. From as far as innovation has been an integral part of the business world, companies have always utilised technology as a platform of growth, ensuring the continuity of their presence both at a market and internet levels. Consequently, it’s only expected that information technology, one of the most advanced forms of tech, becomes a leading player of business continuity.

No company can maintain its growth without constantly renewing the way it uses and applies IT. Indeed, the IT environment is far from being static. On the one hand, hackers and cybercriminals pursue their efforts relentlessly to gain access to data banks and confidential systems, putting your IT security and network at risk on a daily basis. No company can afford to stay behind in terms of processes, security protocols and safety updates of software and hardware. However, on the other hand, IT progression is also a natural consequence of a demanding and innovative market. Staying relevant to your customers is also a challenge of a constantly moving IT world.

Consequently, as companies plan their growth strategy, they need to envisage the addition, acquisition and integration of information technology at every step of their processes. The more they grow, the more they need IT to maintain their position; and similarly, the more they expose themselves to increasing IT threats. At the heart of managing business continuity in technology, IT is a double-edged sword that requires strategic handling.

Increasing technology to keep monitoring and access under control

Initially released by Apple with the iPhone X in 2017, Face ID, or facial recognition, allows biometrics authentication for the unlocking of the device. Similar to previous identification methods used on older models, Apple has ensured that facial recognition was compliant with applications that deal with sensitive data, hence, enabling users to make a payment using only their face as a point of reference – assuming, naturally, that they have already set up their data within the Apple Wallet app. Laptops and computers in the past have tried to implement similar solutions, but nobody has managed to do as safely and efficiently as Apple, whose technology can also learn from changes in a user’s appearance – therefore you can wear glasses and still gain access to your device. While not everyone is too keen on using the biometric solution to answer their texts or check on their social media platforms, there’s no denying that facial recognition technology has further utilisations that can revolutionise entire sectors. Indeed, its implementation in classrooms, for instance, can save teachers a lot of time and hassle. When used with underaged users, however, the Victorian Government has ruled out that schools of the state needed the unequivocal approval of parents before the implementation on site.

Applied to other areas of society, facial identification could save you many troubles when it comes to remembering PINs numbers, getting referees to identify you for formal applications, and even managing your health data – a facial scan could be all it takes for doctors to call your records on screen, for instance. For companies, however, the implementation of facial identification can be a costly investment, especially if every member of staff needs to be available for scanning references. It could be time-consuming, considering that many companies rely on temporary employees during their hectic periods. Nevertheless, there are safe and time-effective biometric alternatives, such as using a fingerprint scan at the door to allow access to your employees. Fingerprints are used by numerous gym clubs to prevent users from sharing passwords, making them a widely known and popular method of identification. Being unique, you can rely on fingerprints to keep your office safe from intruders.

When technology recognises you, all is great

What wouldn’t it be a better idea to use facial recognition as part of your business security protocol? Indeed, it can be tempting, especially if you have the capital, to invest in sophisticated recognition technology. As some of your team might already have come across facial biometrics, through their personal devices or via using biometric passport control checks at the airport, you can expect most employees to know how to behave in front of the machine. Ultimately, using facial recognition technology can save companies a lot of time and money. There is no concern about forgetting the key card at home or losing it – which would imply that the company has to cancel the existing card and create a new one. Using only their face, your team can gain 24/7 access to the building, which, when linked to an automated monitoring system, can ensure you know who’s where at any given time. No more issues with special requests for early or late presence in the premises, for instance. More importantly, when deployed in connection to business devices and work equipment, using facial recognition can save your employee countless hours every day. As an individual worker needs to remember over 90 passwords, the risk of forgetting one of them is quite high. Consequently, using your face as a password can dramatically improve their productivity.

In theory, if you can afford to implement advanced technology, the list of benefits is appealing. However, innovative technologies such as facial recognition can put your business at risk. Indeed, despite the constant research and progress, facial identification software can still lack accuracy and even display racial bias. Microsoft system, for instance, can be inaccurate in over a third of recognition processes involving dark-skinned females. Issues regarding skin colours are not a novelty, as back in 2015, Google mistakenly identified black friends in an engineer’s photo as “gorillas”. While it would be unfair to claim that Google’s application is racially biased – it is an IT process, not a person –, it nevertheless highlighted the need for more in-depth research and testing. As these issues can still occur with a variety of software solutions, it’s fair to say that the implementation of facial identification technology for the sake of IT continuity in the business world could severely affect a brand reputation.

When IT and IT can’t get along

Maintaining your IT continuity in the business world is not only about embracing new technologies as they arise – or as soon as they’ve proven their worth –, but it’s also about managing the integration of additional tech to your processes. As companies grow, they can manifest their market competitiveness in a variety of strategies, ranging from product uniqueness to merging with other businesses and gaining access to their customer niche. The latter option, however, requires dedicated M&A integration planning at an IT level. Indeed, it is highly unlikely that the merged companies would use the same IT processes and software solutions, which can affect the accessibility of data and information after the merger.

Dismissing the risks of poorly managed IT integration would be foolish. When two fundamentally different IT systems can’t communicate, it doesn’t only affect your employees. It can disrupt customers’ operations and dramatically damage your brand’s reputation. When Sabadell bought the British bank TSB in 2015, it expected a smooth integration. However, the migration of customers’ records led to accounts being locked out, access to the wrong accounts and other major glitches. Repair costs and compensation racked up to £176.4 million, but nothing has managed to tackle the public’s worries so far.

Building continuity at all costs

Maintaining IT continuity in the market and within the business process is a delicate balancing act. Companies, such as Apple that have developed a fully hands-on strategy that includes not only all their products but also their operations, their services and their market approach can secure a sense of tech continuity that goes beyond ticking all the IT boxes. Indeed, by keeping everything working together, Apple has ensured that customers can integrate their products – your iPhone sees the iPad, for example – and reach their individual objectives as frictionlessly as possible. Additionally, it also enhances the brand image for tech innovation.

But for companies that are not in a position to develop their entire IT equipment, strategy and processes from scratch, maintaining the market tech continuity can lead to disruptions and security threats. Ultimately, your IT strategy for growth needs to include a contingency plan that can help to connect and preserve technology and tech processes within the business as it expands.

IT is the heart that beats at the core of business growth. From innovative solutions that tackle the changing expectations of the market to strategic integration of existing technology, without careful testing and planning of your IT processes, your business operations can be disrupted. Maintaining your business IT continuity through growth is a double-edged sword. On the one side, it’s necessary and expected. But on the other side, the more you grow, the more you risk breaking.