Following our tech predictions for the year, here are our tech recommendations and solutions for doing business better in 2021.

While 2020 was a challenging time for workplaces, it highlighted the importance of technology for many businesses seeking greater flexibility, mobility, security and cost efficiency. As we look now to the year ahead, we expect to see the following trends:

   5G will become mainstream
   Working from home will survive COVID-19
   Cloud adoption will accelerate
   Cybersecurity attacks will hit more businesses than ever
   AI will be increasingly integrated into business systems.

‘The Tech Outlook for Businesses in 2021’ – Forsythes Technology

For businesses that want to get the better of these opportunities and challenges in 2021, here are our recommendations and solutions.

Taking Advantage of 5G

As we’ve covered previously, 5G offers major performance gains, such as:

With half the population now covered for 5G, Australia is one of the leaders globally in the 5G rollout and businesses are increasingly jumping on board.

5G Mobiles

Much of this early adoption is in the area of 5G mobile phones, where we recommend the new Apple iPhone 12 or the Samsung Galaxy S20, depending on what operating system is preferred.

With 5G connectivity, these phones offer a new level of performance for workers connecting to the internet via the phone’s wifi hotspot in comparison to 4G phones. Both model ranges are available for purchase through our Tech Shop and our specialist mobiles support team.

Mobile 5G Hotspot

As for a dedicated 5G hotspot, we recommend Telstra’s new ‘5G Wi-Fi Pro’. It can support up to 30 devices simultaneously and can operate on the go with 9 hours’ battery life. It’s also ‘future-proofed’ with support for next-gen mmWave 5G.

Talk to our mobiles support team if you’d like more information.

5G Enterprise Modem

Finally, for a 5G enterprise modem that’s viable as a branch office’s primary internet connection or as network redundancy for a large office, we recommend Cradlepoint’s NetCloud solution. Powered by Telstra’s 5G network and Enterprise Wireless service, NetCloud offers 5G adaptors and 5G-optimised routers engineered to deliver enterprise-grade speed, security, reliability and manageability. For more information, contact our networks team.

Enhancing Video Conferencing Across Platforms

The public health order requiring employers to allow employees to work from home in NSW (where reasonably practicable) no longer applies. However, many organisations appear likely to continue these arrangements more permanently in 2021, with around 55% of Australian workers now preferring to work from home at least two days per week.

As this trend continues, the effectiveness of these arrangements will continue to depend considerably upon technology, and video conferencing in particular. In this regard, we recommend Lifesize as the best alternative to an in-person meeting room experience.

Lifesize is a purpose-built video conferencing solution that – unlike many others – combines cloud-based software with video conferencing hardware, as well as collaboration tools (like digital whiteboarding) within a single platform. Now with the new ‘Lifesize Connect’ add-on, the superior video and audio of Lifesize hardware can be seamlessly used across other platforms like Zoom, Teams and Webex.

“Having solutions like Lifesize for video conferencing has meant that we are accessing the best practice technology to be able to meet our business needs.”

John Candy – CFO, Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service

Strengthening Cybersecurity

In 2020, we saw a sustained cyber targeting of Australian governments and companies, 3.8 million Service NSW records stolen, a 44% increase in phishing attacks, and the Government estimated the annual cost of cyberattacks to Australian businesses at up to $29 billion.

“Malicious cyber activity is increasing in frequency, scale, in sophistication and in its impact. It’s vital that all Australian organisations are alert to this threat and take steps to protect their own networks.”

Linda Reynolds – Australian Minister for Defence (2020)

These threats to personal devices and larger networks are constantly evolving and increasingly hostile to Australian businesses. To protect against these and other security threats, two critical measures for businesses are sophisticated endpoint protection with endpoint detection & response (EDR) and next-generation firewalls (NGFWs).

Endpoint Detection & Response

Whereas traditional antivirus software detects and attempts to remove known malware from your system, EDR uses AI to proactively monitor the programs and systems running on your computer to detect suspicious behaviour, including from unknown threats. When detected, EDR software shuts the malicious activity down before damage can be done, investigates the incident, and provides remediation guidance.

For the best in autonomous endpoint security with EDR, we recommend SentinelOne – the highest rated vendor in Gartner’s 2020 EDR ‘Voice of the Customer’ Report.

Next-Gen Firewalls

Firewalls monitor the flow of traffic allowed to enter or exit a point within the network – either by checking over each packet of data individually (the ‘stateless’ method) or by also keeping track of the full cycle of the flow (the ‘stateful’ method’). In addition to this, NGFWs provide advanced network device filtering functions such as deep packet inspection (DPI) data processing, intrusion detection and prevention, encrypted traffic inspection, and protection against phishing, viruses, malware and more, giving protection against a much broader spectrum of threats and intrusions.

For our cybersecurity clients implementing NGFWs, we generally recommend Gartner’s ‘Magic Quadrant’ leaders, Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks.

Get a NIST Cybersecurity Rapid Score

For a thorough assessment of your current IT and cybersecurity environment, we offer our NIST Cybersecurity Rapid Score service using the best practice framework from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

This is a two-day engagement, at the end of which you receive your Cybersecurity Rapid Score & Report with a risk score and detail of your risk profile and vulnerability to attack. Our security experts also provide you a prioritised list of steps required to achieve a reduced risk profile in line with your industry, and a summary of the potential impact of a breach to your organisation.

Find out more: NIST Cybersecurity Rapid Score

Optimising Cloud and Network Spend

Far too many businesses take a “set and forget” approach to cloud and WAN infrastructure, leading to ever-increasing costs and diminishing ROI. For instance, businesses waste on average 35% of their cloud spend – largely through over-provisioning of resources and poor visibility on spend – and are often running older, less secure network technology when there’s newer, lower-cost alternatives that would do a better job, such as SD-WAN.

This is why in 2021 we’re offering Cloud Control and Network Analysis – these are free services that analyse your cloud and/or network architecture, usage and requirements, to identify how you can achieve up to 60% cost savings while maintaining or improving service level performance.

“Our cloud spend was previously around $12,500/mth. Forsythes Technology has helped us reduce this by over $5,000/mth, achieving a 43% cost saving.”

John Babic – BMT Tax Depreciation

Provided fast and free of charge, these services will make recommendations to optimise your cloud and/or network architecture and spend, and improve your ROI.