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Harry here. I thought you might find this blog interesting as a Managed Services Provider (MSP) seeking to secure relevancy in your client relationships. This blog below strikes a balance between increased digital functionality and security.

Digital transformation has opened the door to great opportunity for your small and medium-sized business (SMB) customers. By incorporating modern technology into their daily operations, SMBs are able to drastically expand their reach with digital engagement.

However, as SMB customers adopt technology for business enablement, it’s important that they consider the challenges and security implications that could potentially set them back, causing them to lose ground to larger competitors.

Your SMBs Customers Are Investing in Digital Engagements

A key focus for SMBs as they embark on digital transformation is to interact with consumers and partners through meaningful digital engagements.

Consumer expectations for how they interact with businesses have drastically changed in the wake of digital transformation, based on a trend known as “consumerization.” Consumers expect seamless cross-channel experiences that allow them to engage with brands from any device, and even leverage apps and mobile devices while in store. This means that to keep pace with consumer demands, SMBs have to transform the entire buyer experience.

New Technology in SMB Networks

First and foremost, this means creating a digital shopping experience both online and with mobile applications. A recent survey reveals that 42 percent of small to mid-sized businesses currently have mobile applications, and that consumers are willing to download these apps in order to receive offers, see what’s in stock, and hear about events. Custom apps can also assist in communication with suppliers and partners to keep smaller businesses organized on shipments, deliveries, services, etc.

SMBs must also increase convenience for shoppers by deploying online and mobile payment solutions, as 61 percent of consumers plan to increase online purchases in the next five years and 78 percent say digital payments are their preferred methods.

In addition to shifting the buyer experience, SMBs have had to pivot the tactics they use to find and target potential customers. For example, many have turned to analytics tools to better understand consumers and make their businesses stand out through personalized and digitally-distributed messages. This increases the need for social and email marketing management solutions, with 63 percent of consumers preferring contact on a digital channel such as email.

Additional aims for SMB digital transformation are to improve productivity and efficiency as well as employee empowerment. To this end, many organizations have begun to deploy SaaS applications and multi-cloud environments. These tools empower small businesses by increasing accessibility to employees, allowing them to work from any location with a connection and enhance productivity through scalability. Moreover, cloud use reduces upfront costs for SMBs.

Network and Security Challenges for SMB Customers 

While these digital engagement tools are increasing reach and consumer interactions overall, they can also bring challenges for SMBs that manifest in multiple ways including cybersecurity, compliance, and more.

The main cybersecurity challenges that SMBs face surround increased network complexity and entryways, as well as compliance regulations.

As SMBs introduce more SaaS applications, connected devices, and cloud environments into their network, it becomes increasingly distributed with a broader attack surface. This makes it challenging to integrate with existing infrastructure, administer updates, and maintain visibility into who accesses data and how that data is used. Ultimately, this makes it more difficult to detect behavior that might indicate a breach.

Compliance has also become an issue, as regulations regarding the storage and use of consumer data have become increasingly stringent. SMBs need to ensure they are deploying security measures in accordance with these standards, especially where payments are concerned.

These three major cybersecurity issues are also compounded by budget and staff restrictions and lack of security expertise at SMBs. Smaller organizations only have so much budget to devote to IT security and often do not have dedicated staff to manage these solutions. Furthermore, they are not always clear on which security solutions to deploy in defense of digital engagement technology.

Partners Can Minimize Challenges for SMB Customers

As SMB customers navigate digital transformation and the adoption of new digital engagement techniques, Fortinet partners can assist in overcoming these security challenges, acting as a resource.

SMBs often do not know exactly what they need out of a security tool. Partners can offer a Cyber Threat Assessment to determine exactly where an organization is vulnerable and the expertise to determine the needs of their network. From there, they can create a custom security plan. This to ensure they are only paying for products that offer them returns.

Fortinet’s integrated solutions, such as Unified Threat Management, assist in reducing complexity and enhancing visibility as networks become more distributed. These tools help avoid breaches that could result in compliance regulations and demonstrate adherence to common cybersecurity standards and best practices.

FortiGuard Services and FortiGuard Labs assist in maintaining solutions in addition to offering current threat intelligence.

Final Thoughts

SMB networks are undergoing drastic changes as they leverage digital engagements to increase reach and market share. However, this opens them up to security risks. Partners must work with SMB clients to minimize these challenges through a combination of security expertise, services, and solutions.