At Excalibur we’re prepared for 2022 and have a clear idea of what the new year will bring for our customers, what their priorities should be, and which technologies will dominate in the SME market.

With many organisations experiencing a financial squeeze due to the ups and downs of the coronavirus pandemic, customers are looking to suppliers like Excalibur to deliver more value than ever.  They don’t want to under-invest in technology but want to try and do more with the budget they have available. There are huge improvements coming to the solutions that will enable them to achieve this.

We believe a focus on security, real-world utilisation of IoT(Internet of Things), and 5G will put SMEs in a strong position to compete and perform well in 2022.

Security – A Top Priority

Security needs to be any organisation’s number-one priority, whether you are an SME, corporate, school or non-profit.  With cloud-based platforms fast becoming the norm for SMEs and the growth of remote working, security not only needs to encompass malware protection but effective device management.

Cyber Security

There is already highly effective malware protection technology out there, which offers high levels of cyber and network security for on-premise and cloud solutions. In 2022 however, we think SMEs are going to look harder at improving security management for employees working in the office or from home.

With the widespread deployment of effective cyber security solutions, criminal activity has shifted away from attacking security vulnerabilities in software and technology, to take advantage of people and processes.  Using Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and implementing a better password management system as part of your security strategy is a very simple and cost-effective way of minimising the risk of incursions due to human error. It should be standard practice for even the smallest organisations by the end of 2022.

Our Excalibur security engineers are fully behind Microsoft’s cloud app security solution: Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps, and anticipate some exciting new features for 2022.  Defender uses anomaly detection technology to combine the monitoring of all network activity across the cloud, IP address geographic locations, and user/device activity in comparison to usual end-user interactions. It alerts IT managers, with automatic remediation to any anomalies that occur, from a failed login attempt to an unusual successful foreign login.

Better Device Management

We have already seen Microsoft’s cloud based Intune (Mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management) help customers set-up and manage their mobile devices more effectively. In 2022 we’ll see even more SMEs migrate to Intune, as it can be integrated with the Microsoft 365 suite of products. It allows you to deploy Microsoft Teams, OneNote and other Microsoft 365 apps on employee devices whilst protecting the company network and data.

Intune also has the ability to allow you to configure specific policies and processes for your business to improve security and asset management. It ensures a security baseline is consistently applied to all of your devices, like protecting locally stored data via Bitlocker encryption. With more people working remotely on a regular basis, it allows employees to use their personal devices on the company network from anywhere, in complete security. This technology can be implemented to manage computers and identities instead of an on-premise server.

The Coming of Age of 5G and IoT

2022 is going to be a good year for the tech sector.  There will of course be new products and apps for business, but we think it will be a time when some much-talked-about technology truly comes to market and becomes the norm, like 5G and IoT.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

The market has been talking about the IoT for a long time, but many businesses are only just starting to embrace this technology and how it can transform processes and service. Digital transformation has continued during the pandemic or even sped up as more businesses have looked at finding new ways to monitor, manage, and link devices more effectively.

5G Roll-Out

It is expected that UK 5G roll-out will be complete by the end of 2022.  This will be an absolute game changer for smaller offices who will be able to work off a 5G router, and for those working from home who need fast and reliable mobile connectivity. 5G SIMs will give businesses the foundation they need to successfully and securely access cloud technology, wherever the company and its employees are operating from. 5G will also have a huge influence on the type of mobile equipment companies buy for employees, in terms of user experience and efficiency. A mobile phone really is so much more than ‘just a phone’.

As the uptake of 5G skyrockets, the demand for eSIM enabled devices will grow. Companies will be able to buy new mobile phones, laptops, and tablets with an imbedded SIM that can directly connect to your chosen local 5G network provider. These will facilitate secure and high speed connectivity without the need to coordinate the physical installation of a SIM prior to going-live. It also makes changing your network provider much simpler.

Most network providers are offering 5G subscriptions for the same price as 4G services, so business can get many of the benefits of faster mobile connectivity for no extra cost.  It makes real sense to make the switch to 5G if your business hasn’t already.

Cloud-Based Working

It’s difficult to not to mention the cloud when talking about 5G and IoT, as all these technologies are so connected.  This year will see those organisations who were not previously on board make the leap into a cloud-based environment.  The combination of more 5G and cloud-based solutions means we should also expect to start seeing more customers (especially in the SME market) having no on-site IT networking equipment at all.

The cloud and the growth of remote working (in a large part due to coronavirus) has also had a huge impact on the telephony systems that businesses are now buying.  In 2022 we will continue to see the move away from fixed desk phones to hosted cloud-based telephony solutions. It’s a natural evolution that supports a hybrid fixed/mobile office environment and the virtual interactions that take place between staff and customers.

Planning Ahead for 2022

We’ve already discussed how businesses need to try and get more from their technology. The wide availability of cloud services and 5G should make a whole range of business applications more accessible than ever, at a reasonable cost.  This in turn should free up budget to spend on other IT and communications investments or projects that your business wants to undertake.

At Excalibur, we like to encourage customers to forward plan and have a technology strategy in place.  A plan will always help a businesses look ahead and manage technology upgrades or refreshes in a timely manner to support you in meeting broader business goals.  Don’t wait to fix things until they’re broken.  Where possible, be proactive, particularly when it comes to security.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that there are still some significant global shortages in IT equipment.  Microchips remain in short supply and it can be a challenge to source spare parts.  Planning ahead will go some way to overcome these problems if you and your technology partner know there are any long lead times to factor in.  We remain positive that these problems will ease in 2022 as the global economy recovers and finds more efficient ways of doing business.

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