Information Technology (IT) professional Blake Fishman has spent almost 20 years immersing himself in a field that is growing and changing at an incredibly fast pace. Based in Florida, his full-time job is as the Lead Systems Administrator for a logistics company in Fort Lauderdale. But Blake has also spent the last three years working as a technology consultant with a local startup incubator, helping new businesses grow through innovative Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology and web3 applications.
Blake Fishman is passionate about every aspect of IT, including how to use emerging fields like automation and robotics to give startups a leg-up. He is well-versed in AI, the Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity, Virtual and Augmented Reality, and Blockchain, citing these as the most exciting areas for technology businesses at the moment.
Working with startups and small businesses has given Blake a unique perspective on the challenges facing entrepreneurs who must embrace technology on some level in order to be successful. Although many small business owners may not understand just how important a comprehensive IT setup is, Blake is quick to encourage them to invest in their efficiency and security.
“There is often an assumption that because you’re small, you don’t need a proper IT setup. This can cause a lot of issues. It means bad cybersecurity and it means less efficiency. I think it’s always important to call in a professional if you can’t hire an in-house IT person, and have them set you up with a proper network and even a VPN [virtual private network] if you’re going to have people working remotely or around the world. So many business processes can be streamlined with some basic effort toward thoughtfully building your business’s IT infrastructure,” Blake says.
Even within the last few years, the need for an IT firm or consultant that specializes in integrations has only increased. What could previously be accomplished by a high school student proficient in setting up a wireless router and computers, is no longer enough of an IT setup – not even for mom-and-pop shops.
An in-house IT department is out of the question for many small businesses, but “These days with technology such an integral part of every business’s day-to-day operations, you really need more,” Blake says. “When it comes to cybersecurity, for example, for my clients I don’t just set up their equipment and then leave. I make sure that their systems can be monitored remotely and I get alerts when there is any suspicious behavior. The biggest problems small businesses are going to face are things like phishing attacks and malware. These require constant vigilance, and I also will do regular employee training to make sure everyone at the business knows the basics when it comes to security.”
In addition to stressing the importance of investing in IT upfront, Blake often reassures his clients about technology being a tool rather than a burden, and the potential it has to revolutionize industries. While many businesses fear that technology will render their services obsolete, he does not have the same concerns. Rather, Blake encourages his clients to pay attention to trends so that they can be ready for change when it comes.
“Business owners should always be aware of emerging technology and the potential impacts it could have on their industry. There is always advance warning for the people paying attention and plenty of time to pivot and adjust. Technology will change how industries operate and that is where business owners need to be paying attention so they can be ahead of the curve with preparing for those changes,” he details. “The basic services and products will still be needed. For example, look at Netflix. It didn’t shut down the entertainment industry; it just changed how we access entertainment. Human wants and needs don’t change, but technology will change how businesses meet them.”