Yoann Fortini highlights that this does necessitate extra costs. "Efficiency and efficacy are key to not unnecessarily burdening your organisation". In many cases, synergies can be achieved by using modern digital processes to help improve an organisation's efficiency and prepare it for potential crises at the same time.
Being prepared for remote working is a perfect example: Not only does it allow employees to flexibly work from any external location—be it from home or from a customer’s premises—it also makes it possible for them to continue working even if the office is inaccessible for any reason. "Had the current pandemic struck a mere decade earlier, its impact on businesses around the world would have been far more devastating", says Olaf Lorenz. Luckily, many organisations like Konica Minolta already had remote workplace solutions that allowed for their knowledge workers to seamlessly continue their work from home, with no or only minor interruptions. It does not take a full-blown global pandemic for businesses to imagine the value of remote work with regard to external shocks — examples can be as mundane as a hefty snowstorm or a workers' strike in public transportation. In addition, the ability to work remotely can provide highly valuable flexibility if personal circumstances require an employee to change work routines. If the employee is suddenly required to take care of a relative, for example, remote work can help them bring together personal responsibilities and work. "Unfortunately, such a scenario is not uncommon and can in fact cause significant disruptions in organisations. Here, the ability to work remotely can be a huge relief both for the employee and the company. As there is an ongoing shortage of skilled labour, this benefits the company by allowing it to keep a valuable employee working", Olaf Lorenz explains.
In a similar way to remote working, cloud-based solutions for data storage and information management can provide both efficiency and security advantages. They can replace costly and inflexible on-premises servers with pay-per-use models, ensuring better flexibility both financially and in terms of capacity. It also makes the organisation's valuable data less vulnerable to localised incidents, from fires, to floods, to hardware theft. Providers such as Konica Minolta have strong protective measures in place for securing their customers' data that are simply not feasible for smaller companies to take for their own servers. If data needs to be stored on-site, however, hybrid IT solutions or automated and managed backup services help protect businesses from catastrophic data loss. This can be the case when local storage has benefits with regard to processing speeds or legal requirements, for example. These measures ensure that business-critical data can quickly be recovered and made accessible with very limited process interruptions.
Preparation is also key in mitigating risks from criminal attacks or other malicious activities, whether virtual or physical. Hackers are increasingly targeting businesses large and small using ransomware. Ransomware encrypts the data storage of infected devices. The cyber criminals then demand money in return for a decryption. The number of such attacks has recently increased at an alarming rate. In 2020, 51 percent of businesses surveyed by Sophos reported that they were targeted by Ransomware attacks. "The attackers exploit the fact that in businesses, data access is worth ‘real money’, as opposed to private data, where it is often more sentimental in value. This is why it is often easier to extort businesses to transfer the requested sums, which makes them a more promising target", Yoann Fortini explains. "Whether it's contract information, shipping documents or invoices — barring access to data can cause firms significant financial losses. Smaller companies are particularly vulnerable, as many do not have the adequate precautionary measures in place that are more common in larger organisations." However, it is possible to fend off many attacks using inexpensive IT security solutions. "In fact, many of our small- and medium-sized business customers are surprised to see how a small solution can have a big impact with regard to IT security", says Konica Minolta's IT Services Go-To-Market Senior Manager from his experience with SMB customers.
Another security aspect frequently overlooked in small- and medium-sized businesses is physical premises security — this is especially common if the business is not in the customer-facing retail sector. Break-ins and theft cause two types of cost: On the one hand, there is the cost of the direct value of the stolen items themselves. On the other hand, there are the indirect costs for higher insurance fees and process disruptions due to missing hardware and the costs of replacement, with these indirect costs often being more expensive than the direct costs. These can include time-intensive new tenders, installation costs, etc.