Digital Monitoring Tools and How They Impact SMEs

Digital monitoring tools encompass numerous products people from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can use to keep an eye on various aspects of the business. Knowing the current state of things is often the first step to knowing when, where, and why to make changes. Here are some digital monitoring tools and how they can help companies.

1. Network Monitoring

Cyberattacks can devastate any business but are often more challenging to address when the target is an SME. That’s often because the affected companies may lack adequate resources, and the adverse effects on profits may be so great that the enterprises eventually must close permanently.

A 2022 study of decision-makers at SMEs found 68% felt their organization’s cybersecurity solutions were not sufficiently advanced. Additionally, 69% said they’d already dealt with a serious breach that bypassed existing email security controls.

Many digital monitoring tools can strengthen cybersecurity defenses by helping people at a business detect unusual network traffic. Then, they may be able to act quickly and prevent or mitigate cyberattacks.

Some SMEs also utilize digital monitoring tools that collect data on attempts to log into a corporate network. Consider an example where someone tries to use the CEO’s email address to access an account from a location across the world from where that executive resides. In that case, the attempt may fail, even with the right credentials. That’s because some digital monitoring tools don’t allow access from unusual locations or devices.

The correct use of digital monitoring tools can keep SMEs better protected from cyberattacks. The data collected by those solutions could also illuminate some internet security shortcomings leaders must address.

2. Employee and Workflow Monitoring 

The recent boom in remote working has caused many decision-makers to invest in employee monitoring software. Such solutions usually install on a worker’s computer and track things like which websites they visit during a workday or how long it takes them to finish specific tasks. However, one prominent argument is company leaders shouldn’t care how an employee’s workday breaks down as long as they finish things on time and with good quality.

However, there are still some valid reasons to use digital monitoring tools to oversee staff. Such products may show many employees have outdated operating systems or don’t change their passwords often enough. Then, they may unknowingly pose additional cybersecurity risks to their employers.

Productivity statistics may also show a particular employee has steadily been accomplishing less per day, which is uncharacteristic for them. That’s an excellent opportunity to have a chat with the worker and try to determine the reason. The conversation might reveal the person is considering a career change due to dissatisfaction with their current situation.

Some people believe they’ve done all they can in their current roles and need new challenges. If so, a supervisor might suggest a change or expansion in their duties that provides what they need without switching jobs. Perhaps a poor work-life balance is to blame. In that case, managers and workers can work together to find feasible and mutually beneficial solutions. Then, digital monitoring tools aid in retention.

Digital monitoring tools can also pinpoint inefficient workflows. A staff member might remain motivated but frequently feel frustrated by processes that take much longer than necessary. In such cases, digital workflow monitoring tools can show where bottlenecks exist, giving leaders the knowledge they need to change processes for the better. Those eventual improvements should benefit everyone involved, leading to improved outcomes.

3. Asset Monitoring 

People at many SMEs use digital platforms and tools to oversee the company’s physical assets. Those could include everything from specialty tools to business vehicles. Then, users can get various statistics that could inform them about overall asset usage, when to purchase new items and if people use the organization’s physical assets unsafely.

Such information is vital in industries like construction, where hundreds of people may use a company’s assets on any given day. Digital platforms let people detect abnormalities, such as if a worker took a tool off the property or used it at an unexpected time. One source indicates construction companies can get an average 800% return on investment with these products due to time saved.

Digital asset monitoring also makes it easier to track trends. Perhaps they show that a specific company vehicle had 50% more operating time during a given month than the next-most-used car in the fleet. That data could convince company leaders the vehicle needs maintenance sooner than planned.

Asset monitoring can play a prominent role in predictive maintenance strategies, too. Many solutions allow users to remotely monitor critical pieces of equipment through digital, cloud-based solutions. They also pair with smart sensors that measure things like a machine’s temperature and vibration. The sensors work with algorithms that can detect deviations from a baseline.

In such cases, the technology can often detect failures days or weeks before they happen. That extra time gives people at SMEs a chance to be proactive and prevent failures. It’s frequently much less expensive to deal with a problem quickly than to wait and let it potentially get out of hand and disrupt the business.

You’ve just learned about several digital monitoring tools often deployed at SMEs. You might also be curious about how they could help your business. Start by thinking about the most persistent obstacles facing your organization. Could digital monitoring tools make them more manageable? How much can your company afford to spend on solutions for digital monitoring? What metrics will you track to see if the technology gets the expected results?

Answering questions like these make it easier to determine if now is the right time to invest in digital monitoring tools. Even if you don’t do it now, you can at least keep such products in mind for the future, depending on how your company’s needs change.

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