“We like to explain to people, we’re not necessarily in the fire putting out business—we’re in the fire prevention business,” says John Gambill Jr., CEO and Co-founder of GO Concepts Inc.
GO Concepts is the premier IT Solutions provider for agencies, County Boards of DD, and independent providers in Ohio.
John explained this approach when we sat down with him to talk about a few of the top IT challenges that DD organizations are facing right now. John explained, while unexpected events can happen in any organization, so many organizations can benefit from implementing more proactive, preventative strategies that can work to minimize risks and greatly lessen the frequency and severity of any ‘fires’ that may occur.
With that approach guiding our conversation, keep reading to see 4 of the top issues DD organizations have right now—and what you can proactively do to manage and better minimize those potential risks.
1. Outdated software and hardware
For any organization, there can be a bit of a balancing act when it comes to investing in new hardware and software and managing what you currently have; ideally, you want to be sure that any kind of investment in modern technology has a clear ROI.
John sees this issue facing many DD organizations. “Investing in modern technology may seem like it’s too expensive a proposition. But if you’re using outdated software and hardware, you’re costing your DD organization more than what it would cost to upgrade your IT solutions in many cases,” he explains.
Partnering with an IT solutions provider can help you dig deeper to see where the biggest risks are in your organization in terms of outdated technology. You want to invest so you can avoid data loss, loss of productivity, and you also want to avoid any compliance issues that can result. “Also remember, using outdated technology can limit your ability to respond to the needs of those relying on your services,” adds John.
Losing data can be catastrophic for any organization, but one of the biggest risks is going to be with compliance. “Hackers look for systems that are out of date because they’re easier to hack. Security gaps in your technology can have potentially disastrous implications for your HIPAA compliance. Even worse, your DD’s private data (ePHI) can end up on the Dark Web, where criminals sell and trade it,” explains John.
2. Not viewing IT as integral to daily operations
Just as how many investments can seem “too expensive,” IT can also be viewed solely as a cost, which isn’t an ideal philosophy to have on IT. “Information technology is so integral to their daily operations. It’s part of everything every single employee is doing,” adds John.
Just think of how up-to-date, properly working and strategic IT solutions help your operations and your bottom line.
One example of this: technology that allows your workforce (and even the families you serve) to be more mobile and to access to information from anywhere.
Mobile solutions can help staff be more productive, and it allows them to spend their time in high-value activities, rather than lower-value activities such as driving from place to place to gather in-person signatures, for example.
Another example John is seeing is the increase in tablets and other devices with secure internet connection capabilities. “Depending on your DD organization’s starting point, productivity gains of up to 20 percent can be achieved if you view information technology as a value-based proposition and take advantage of it. Investing in the right information technology can play a critical role in your DD organization’s success,” he says.
3. Not understanding data risks in general
Unless your IT is managed and monitored by an experienced team familiar with your organization’s specific needs, it may not be as protected against today’s new and sophisticated cyber-attacks as it could be, says John.
Many leaders are just not aware of all the risks that are present—or that will be present tomorrow—but that’s where an IT solutions provider can support you. “Protecting your developmental disabilities organization’s network and data is an ongoing and evolving process that requires you to work with an experienced IT solution that is proactive and constantly vigilant,” adds John.
4. Not educating staff enough
In any organization, one of the biggest threats to data, compliance, and to security in general can be staff. That’s not to suggest staff should be seen as a risk or a problem—rather, it’s to say sometimes employees can be the “weakest link” in terms of data and IT security.
For example, your organization may invest heavily in security practices and have strong technical, physical, and administrative safeguards in place. But despite that kind of infrastructure, staff can be more vulnerable to scams or schemes such as phishing, spoof emails, or they could make mistakes that then put data at risk—such as theft of organization property, non-secure internet connections, etc.
The reality is. 95% of breaches come from humans who have accidentally made a mistake, explains John, saying just how beneficial it can be to educate and continually train employees on how to avoid those mistakes.
Said another way, a weak point for many organizations is staff education and training that can help support data protection and behaviors that minimize risks to the organization. Take advantage of an IT solutions provider that seeks to educate and train your employees, so they are more informed, more aware of risks, and less likely to side-step what’s best for the organization.
All in all, you can’t avoid all problems or potential risks, says John, but you can take a great deal of steps to reduce threats to your organization and help your staff make “better mistakes” in the future.
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Learn More About GO Concepts, Your Premier IT Solutions Provider
GO Concepts is dedicated to working with the Development Disabilities community throughout Ohio. Click here to learn more about GO Concepts’ managed information technology services.