By Jason Gobbel, Chief Solutions Officer, Kite Technology Group
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, businesses across the country found themselves trying to replicate their office environment at home. Independent insurance agencies using Microsoft 365 had a head start. Their teams could seamlessly move from working in the office to accessing data and collaborating with colleagues at home thanks to the cloud.
When correctly designed and configured, the cloud lets users easily move between the office, home, airport, coffee shop, or wherever they’re located. It is the tool businesses need because work-from-home will be with us for the foreseeable future. Follow the 5 steps below to pave your road to complete cloud adoption and create a flexible, resilient work environment.
1. Map Out Your ‘What, When, and Where’
Before you start moving data, know what you’re going to move, when you’re going to do it, and where data will go. This is typically the order we follow with clients migrating to Microsoft cloud:
Email is first because it’s easiest. We’ll follow up with OneDrive which is where people will store personal documents. SharePoint is next. It will function as your network shared drive and store files, folders, and other company information. Then we’ll move on to phones which we save until close to the end because they’re more nuanced.
2. Don’t Overlook Device Management and Data Security
Wrapping security around cloud systems presents challenges you don’t find with 100% on-premise systems. Suddenly nebulous things like “where” you log in from are part of your identity and your WiFi connection or IP address become data points you can use to identify security threats.
For instance, if the IP address constantly changes because an employee frequently travels, it won’t be flagged as a potential threat. But, if an employee who always works from home suddenly appears to log in from the other side of the country or shows an IP address in New York and 30 minutes later registers a different one in California, the system throws up a red flag, and you can quickly investigate and resolve the issue.
Ways to protect your business through device management
Continually track where a device is, what it’s doing, and its health
Provide remote assistance to employees experiencing IT issues
Wipe data off compromised devices
Prevent information from being shared with people outside your organization
3. Have a Plan for Legacy and Line-of-Business Applications
Before you start migrating, figure out what hardware and software you can’t instantly move to the cloud. TAM LAN, QuickBooks, and phone systems typically require additional planning if you want to access the systems through the cloud. Investigate your hardware and legacy applications. There’s almost always a way to get a server-based product to the cloud, but don’t automatically make that course of action your plan. Instead, ask if it’s time to consider a new solution, like VoIP instead of on-premise phones, or an Agency Management System that’s “cloud native.”
4. Know Cloud Adoption is a Journey
As you move to the cloud, shift your mindset too. In the past, you paid a one-time upfront cost for technology. With the cloud, you pay a per user, per month price. The systems you rely on will be continually updated because vendors are constantly innovating. New tools, strategies, and features are regularly released to enhance user experience and improve security. The cloud isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.
Make it your goal to use what you pay for The biggest mistake we continually see insurance agencies make is not taking advantage of new features. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, many early adopters of Microsoft 365 have been reluctant to test Teams, even though it’s built into their monthly subscription. Now they’re realizing the advantages the platform has and unlocking a new, more productive way of working.
Here are 3 ways your agency can leverage Teams right now:
Stay connected to remote employees through chat
Securely conduct client meetings using video conferencing
Create channels to collaborate on documents and policies in real-time
Regularly educate yourself and your team on what’s available and adopt new technologies to maximize your return on investment. Your subscription gives you access to the vendor’s research and development team, use it.
5. Work with an IT Adviser to Understand Costs
What the cloud will cost varies wildly based on factors unique to your agency, like what level of security you need, your backup and disaster recovery needs, and which applications you use. What you pay depends on who you work with too. Microsoft licensing can be complex, and changes frequently. Work with an IT expert who will show you which licensing agreement your agency needs and ways you can save money such as bundling services.
Let us be your IT advocate
When we work on cloud migrations for clients, we continually act as their IT advocate, offering strategic Microsoft consulting and updates about new releases. Contact us today for a free consultation and discover how to get your money’s worth from the cloud: 855-290-5483.