Industry Insights

Industry advice and developments from Nessit.

It’s essential that engineering firms stay on top of the latest advances in technology while addressing security concerns and other challenges unique to the industry. So, what IT issues and trends should engineering firms be thinking about in 2024? 

Integrating AI  
Artificial intelligence continues to transform the engineering industry, and companies who effectively leverage the technology have a clear competitive advantage. Its most common current usage is in gathering and analyzing vast data sets at superhuman speed. While its ability to identify patterns and detect anomalies within millions of data points is impressive, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that AI is a tool, not a one-size-fits-all solution. In this use case, success depends entirely on the quality and quantity of data input to train the algorithm.  

AI has been used widely to aid engineers in designing complex systems. A clear advantage in AI’s ability to rapidly simulate and test systems is that it nurtures human innovation. This potentially gives engineers the freedom to be more creative and to “fail” more productively. Ideally, AI will complement, not replace, humans in the workplace–performing menial tasks efficiently and fostering a culture of experimentation that leads to new ideas and inventions. Generative AI is here to stay, and as more firms embrace the technology its full potential will emerge. 

Reducing Technical Debt 
As your company grows, new tools and software are added to better help employees do their job. But it’s easy to lose track of which department uses which software and many companies end up buying multiple unnecessary licenses. Reducing your technical debt means consolidating these tools, finding more efficient technologies, and ensuring you are running the latest version of each. 

Technical debt is a business risk and it’s important to take a close look at your technology to find inefficiencies. As your tech stack grows, so does the likelihood that something will fail or become a security risk. Adopting newer, better technology will reduce overall costs, improve workflow and limit security risks. The more efficient your tech stack, the more likely you’ll stay on top of required updates to keep you and your staff safe. 

Internet of Things (IoT) 
In an environment increasingly driven by connectivity, the Internet of Things (IoT) has profoundly impacted the engineering industry. As the market expands, so does demand for expertise in the field. Device integration requires infrastructure solutions that facilitate the collection and transmission of data, and its processing for practical use.  

The ability to gather real-time data from an array of interconnected devices and sensors has given engineers unprecedented insights into systems, structures, and processes, allowing them to optimize operations and predict maintenance needs with greater accuracy.  IoT technology facilitates rapid testing and prototyping, giving engineers the ability to quickly iterate and refine designs. Preventative maintenance can be highly targeted, addressing issues before they become critical, and reducing downtime.  

IoT also plays a pivotal role in sustainable engineering. The proliferation of smart building systems that can adjust lighting, heating and cooling based on occupancy and environmental conditions has led to significant gains in energy efficiency. The demand for “green” technology in residential, commercial, and industrial settings will only continue to grow. Whether it’s optimizing traffic flow in smart cities or designing efficient supply chain networks, IoT insights enable engineers to make data-driven decisions that lead to better solutions. With applications for a wide spectrum of industries, from medicine to aviation to city power grids, IoT will continue to evolve in 2024. 

Prioritizing Cybersecurity 
Cybersecurity tops the list of challenges for engineering firms, and adopting a proactive approach to threat detection is crucial. As cyber-attacks become more sophisticated, the risks and potential consequences become more severe. Strict access control is essential to reduce risk and ensure that only authorized personnel can access critical systems and data. Multi-factor authentication and role-based access controls should be used to limit permissions.  

Regular software updates and patch management are important to limit vulnerability to cyber-attacks, and sensitive data should be encrypted when in transit or at rest. Network security should include a robust firewall, intrusion detection system, and intrusion prevention system, and regular updates to policies and configurations to stay ahead of emerging threats. A proactive approach to cybersecurity should include regular audits and vulnerability assessments to identify and mitigate weaknesses in security. 

Lastly, businesses need a comprehensive incident response plan that outlines the steps to take in a cyber-attack. The plan should include roles and responsibilities, communication protocols, and strategies for minimizing downtime. Cybersecurity is not a one-time effort but an ongoing commitment to safeguarding digital assets in a landscape of rapidly evolving threats. 

Addressing Remote Work Challenges 
Remote work has become a defining aspect of the modern workforce and though many companies have encouraged a post-Covid return to offices, a hybrid model will likely be the norm going forward. Along with its numerous benefits, remote work presents unique challenges for IT for engineering firms.  

First, collaboration is at the heart of many engineering projects, so investment in up-to-date infrastructure that includes collaborative tools and video conferencing is crucial. Regular check-ins and team meetings will help maintain community and create a virtual environment where ideas can be shared seamlessly. 

Ensuring that remote employees have secure access to software, data, and computing power is the second crucial component of the remote work puzzle. Engineering firms have increasingly implemented cloud-based solutions and the use of VPNs, as well as providing home-based workstations that can run resource-intensive applications.  

The third challenge to remote work is ensuring privacy and security. Giving remote workers access to intellectual property and sensitive client data means strict cybersecurity protocols must be in place. Training in best practices, secure password management, and avoiding phishing attempts should be mandatory for all employees. Remote work is here to stay and engineering firms that embrace it with strategic planning will be positioned for long-term success. 

Running a business means having a lot of plans – business plans, marketing plans, growth plans – but what about a business continuity plan? Your business continuity plan includes details on what you do if something goes wrong at your business. This could range from natural disasters to cyberattacks to hardware failures. You want to be prepared for anything that could go wrong, which will save you time and money in the long run.  

When it comes to your IT systems and data, having a solid business continuity plan helps you deal with issues when they arise and keeps your business on track. We know most people don’t think about their IT systems on a daily basis (except us) until it breaks down. And when that happens, what do you do?  

What Happens When IT Systems Fail?

As a business owner, do you know what steps to take if your IT systems suddenly aren’t working the way they should?  

Think about it:  

  • If your file server goes down and no one has access to company files, do you know what to do? 
  • Do you have a plan in place if one of your remote staff suddenly quits, and you need to retrieve your company equipment?  
  • How do you recover if someone on your team falls victim to a phishing scam and your company experiences a cyberattack?  

You may be thinking, there’s such a small chance of any of this happening that you’ll just deal with it if it ever happens. You can absolutely take that chance. But while you’re dealing with it when it does happen, your business will be at a standstill. You may not have access to your company data, finances, files, email, and more.  

Having a business continuity plan in place means you’ll know who to call, what to do, and how long it will take to get back up and running. You’ll know exactly what to do, and exactly what to tell your employees and your customers / clients.  

What does a business continuity plan include? 

1. Inventory of equipment and IT systems – Understanding the full scope of your IT systems is a crucial step to creating a business continuity plan. 

2. Threat analysis and risk assessment – Depending on what type of business you have, threats come from different directions. Knowing where those threats and risks may come from is necessary to create mitigation and recovery plans.  

3. Mitigation activities and strategies – There are steps your business can take to reduce risk (like providing cybersecurity training for employees), which may be required to get insurance coverage. 

4. Data backup and recovery plans – Having regular backups of your data can help get your business back up and running quickly if you lose access or data is accidentally deleted. 

5. Alternate work locations – One silver lining of COVID was the way companies adapted to a fully remote workforce. In your continuity plan, define alternative work locations for your employees to ensure your customer is taken care of. For those requiring physical plant, this may be developing key relationships within your industry to set up shop temporarily. 

6. Contact information for key personnel, suppliers, and IT teams (like us!) – Knowing who is in charge of your various IT systems and who to call will help expedite the process to get your business back on track after an issue.  

Once you create your plan, put it to the test! Once a year, spend a day scenario planning. QuickBooks has stopped working and all company financial data is missing. You realize someone or something has deleted the ‘Finance’ folder from your server. Was this an accident or is my business in the middle of a cyberattack? 

Most of the businesses we work with are not experts in IT, and that’s where we come in. We can help you create and implement a business IT continuity plan for in-house and remote teams. We can be your IT partner to ensure your systems stay up and running, and we’ll take care of your business if and when those systems go down.  

Let’s chat about your IT needs!  

Equipping you with the right tools as remote work becomes the norm.

When work structures change and times are uncertain, business owners can have peace of mind knowing their teams are set up for remote success. But, for those who are not accustomed to managing a remote work force, prepping your team to work from home can seem like a daunting task. It can be a challenge knowing the right questions to ask to ensure readiness. How will our company data stay safe? How will my team connect back to the office? Should my team bring home their work-issued devices or should they use personal computers? Asking these questions, and more, is a great place to start to ensure your team remains productive, efficient, streamlined and collaborative. 


Geoffrey Ness, owner and president of Nessit, a Seacoast-based IT services company, is no stranger to the ins-and-outs of remote work. Having started Nessit in 2011, Geoff has seen the impressive technology transition in businesses, including the nice-to-have requests for remote capabilities to the can’t-live-without-remote progression of businesses. He understands the importance of a reliable and valuable remote team. In today’s situation, he has equipped his team with the correct tools to assist clients in this ever-changing economy. 

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Because as our client’s IT partner, he knows we can only be as successful as the least successful remote team. Geoff is adept at developing creative solutions to difficult situations for business in every industry and transitioning clients to an all-remote workforce is no different. 

If you are looking to evaluate your team’s mobile readiness and understand the risks associated with remote work, join Geoff for his webinar. He will equip you with access to his remote workforce checklist and guide business owners in the direction of work-from-home success. If you’d like to learn more but can’t join us, the webinar will be recorded and shared with all registered participants.