When we look at tech trends, we’re not looking at what’s going to get the “cool” factor. We’re looking at what’s going to help your business run better, what will help your employees get more done and what’s going to save you some money. At the end of the day, the newest iPad or VR device probably isn’t going to give your business the edge you’re looking for.

These 7 recommendations are tech trends that can get your business ahead in 2018:

1. Upgrade to Windows 10 for your sanity
Windows 7 will be end of life in 2020. While that’s two years away, it can be pretty expensive if you wait until 2019 to update everything. Start upgrading to Windows 10 now, so you can keep your systems updated and avoid using software that’s gone out of service. Here’s why it’s dangerous to use end-of-life software.

2. Strengthen the walls of the castle
Considering the number of ransomware strains that took the front cover this year, it comes as little surprise that businesses are looking for ways to reduce access to their networks through firewall gateway boosts. Sonicwall is one of the best tools on the market today with enhanced security features like deep packet inspection. You can look for trade-in/trade-up pricing options to take advantage of enhanced security without a huge bill.

3. Be an elegant office host
Guest networks in your office aren’t just a fancy perk to offer visitors. A guest network is used by staff who bring personal devices to work and want to surf Facebook on them at lunch or vendors who stop by and want to show you a presentation on a laptop that hasn’t been scanned for malware in a decade. It just keeps your main network safer.

4. Avoid being like a certain credit reporting company
The award for biggest breach of 2017 (at least publicity-wise) goes to credit reporting bureau, Equifax. And it happened because they didn’t update their line-of-business software. If you’re getting emails from your provider telling you it’s time to upgrade, listen. If you need help, contact us and we can work with the vendor to get it done with minimal disruption.

5. Hack your office productivity
Move over, dual monitors and ergonomics. The trend of 2018 is going to be productivity boosts like triple monitors and wireless mesh for continuous connectivity around the office. Instead of cobbling together multiple wireless access points, a wireless mesh network can optimize performance and make it possible for people to stay connected to the same network anywhere in the building.

6. Skype for Business is out – Teams is in
At their Ignite Conference in September, Microsoft announced plans to replace Skype for Business with Microsoft Teams. The new platform will be an enterprise-grade voice, video and instant messaging platform and is only going to evolve as Microsoft builds in AI features down the road. Like Skype for Business, Teams will integrate with Office 365 and is predicted to quickly take over as the preferred communications clients for Microsoft users.

7. Get fiber internet
Fiber internet is ideal for businesses using cloud solutions (including backup and data recovery to the cloud) as it offers a symmetrical upload/download speed. It is much more affordable than it ever has been in the past, making it accessible to small businesses too. Both Comcast and Frontier have expanded their fiber options to more locations around Puget Sound, so give them a call.

Forget about trends for the sake of the coolest technology. For savvy small and mid-sized businesses, you need technology that will make a big impact on your business, and these 7 picks can do that. Make sure to pick a few to include in your strategic plans for the next year.

Need a strategic IT partner who can help you understand what technology recommendations are essential for your business? Contact Dataworks Consulting online or at (425) 687-6185.