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SMEs find it challenging to support their employees who work from home, especially in regard to ICT and IT security issues. But what other issues keep SMEs awake at night? We asked our experts.
A subsidiary of Orange since 2019, BKM is a Belgian ICT integrator that targets the SME and corporate markets. The company specialises in unified communication & collaboration solutions, IT & security solutions and document & visual solutions.
In his capacity as Business Development Manager at BKM-Orange, Joris Meylaers has found that customers are putting increasing emphasis on implementing solutions that are future-proof. More and more often, this is the aspect that decides their choice of ICT partner. ‘More than ever, our customers are looking for an ICT partner that unburdens them and is able to take a broad range of duties off their hands,’ says Joris Meylaers. ‘For example, they call on us not just to design their IT infrastructure, but increasingly for its management as well. That is also the reason behind the success of our range of managed products and lease or rent formulas. The days when purchase was the only option are long gone.’ But what are the challenges for which SMEs call on BKM-Orange most often?
LAN/WAN: A higher performance network
The significant rise in home working and video traffic has upped the pressure on our corporate and home networks. ‘As a result, additional investments in performance, especially for WiFi networks, is no luxury,’ Joris explains.
For this we rely primarily on new technological developments such as the latest WiFi standard, 802.11 ax, better known as WiFi 6. With a maximum speed that supersedes the top speed of WiFi 5 by a factor of three, the latest wireless networks are almost as effective as cabled networks. They also provide better coverage and the network doesn’t slow down as much at peak times.
Security: Safer networks
Joris emphasises that ‘security is more important than ever,’ a major point of interest for SMEs whose staff now work from home. ‘Make sure your VPN is properly configured and managed. Almost every week, we come across businesses that get into trouble because of bad VPN connections.’ He also feels that the importance of good network access control cannot be overstated. ‘Especially now that home working is the norm, it is very important to be able to keep tabs on who is using your network. That is why the zero-trust principle is becoming standard at our firm. This principle requires all users, even those within your own company network, to undergo an automatic check before gaining access. Call it healthy distrust,’ Joris laughs.
Our colleague has kept the most important warning for last: ‘Nowadays everyone is switching to the cloud, and in light of the many benefits, that’s only natural. However, it’s important not to lose sight of the security aspect. Making sure there’s an automatic backup is just one of several important security measures.’
Collaboration: Collaboration in the cloud?
Over the past year, the success of Microsoft 365 and, more specifically, Microsoft Teams has lured many companies to the cloud. ‘That all-in-one solution takes centre stage right now,’ says Diederik Beckers, Product Development Manager at BKM-Orange. ‘And not just in our own collaboration offer, but at the clients themselves too. That is because from a purely functional viewpoint, Microsoft Teams meets the three needs of collaboration: communication, digital cooperation and content sharing.
‘Meanwhile more and more customers are asking us to integrate the virtual Teams environment with their traditional switchboard. Incidentally, that can also be virtualised and no longer has to be located on-site. For that matter, our customers have been abandoning the path of classic telephony for some time and replacing their landlines with mobile telephony applications, whether or not cloud-based. Over the past twelve months this trend has also gained considerable momentum.’
A closing tip? ‘Have your network thoroughly tested in advance to be 100% sure that you are ready to switch to cloud collaboration.’