As a business owner, you’re always focusing on how to best move your company
forward. But have you taken time to consider the potential threats to your operations?
Having a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) plan is the best way to safeguard your
data from all types of loss and destruction. Get to know these threats and the
preparations you can make to keep your business going when dark clouds begin to
You may assume backing up your data locally on a hard drive is the best way to recover
it in the event your primary system fails. But what would you would do if that hard drive
(and the entire building it resides in) was destroyed by a natural disaster?
Be it a hurricane, earthquake, fire or flood, the threats to your vital data are very real.
But even if your business becomes a sinking ship, you can have enough lifeboats for
The best course of action is to store all data in a secure location using cloud services.
This way, when it’s time to pick your business back up, your only concern will be
selecting new office furniture.
A common way for cyber criminals to steal your data and make money is ransomware.
This malicious software holds data hostage unless a specified amount is paid.
“WannaCry” ransomware was a recent program that received worldwide attention for its
effectiveness in blocking access to crucial data. Unfortunately, many of those who paid
the ransom never had their data returned.
Setting up a firewall will block most attacks, but having an active image of all your data
stored is the best defense. Data images provide a comprehensive and usable mirror of
everything you’ve worked on and provide access when your primary system is locked
out. It will also save you time on setting up new servers and reinstalling applications.
Technology will induce audible rage in even the quietest cubical when it malfunctions for
seemingly no reason. Sometimes data loss can occur due to forces from within your
company. Even though you invested in the best servers and equipment, there’s always
the chance something will cause a catastrophic failure and the loss of everything your
business relies on to function.
Data loss can also stem from basic human error. Employees who are new, temporary or
even long-term could mistakenly delete vital data. There’s also the unfortunate reality
that data could purposely be deleted or corrupted by disgruntled employees.
With so many unpredictable threats looming, BDR is your shelter from the storm.
Disasters do happen, but you can rest easy knowing that the most important things will
survive. Contact us now and ask how we can disaster-proof your business.
Does your website or company accept payments online or store financial records digitally? If you answered “yes,” then you need to be compliant with industry regulations.
In simple terms, compliance is the act of meeting established industry or government guidelines. These guidelines are in place to protect you and your customers’ data. As technology changes, these compliance regulations evolve, and it can be difficult for some businesses to keep up with the changes.
Here are two compliance regulations businesses need to be aware of regarding financial information:
With more and more financial transactions conducted online than ever before, you have to be vigilant in protecting your and your customers’ payment information. All it takes is one data breach for your customers to lose trust in your business. Enter the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, or PCI DSS. These regulations and requirements are designed to ensure that all companies that accept, store, process or transmit cardholder data during a credit card transaction maintain a secure environment.
There are different compliance levels, determined by how many online credit card transactions your business performs within a year. Each major credit card company has its own specific requirements, such as annual questionnaires and quarterly network scans by a third-party vendor.
In the early 2000s, the U.S. government passed legislation to crack down on inaccurate financial information following scandals involving high-profile corporations such as Enron and WorldCom. This legislation became known as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or SOX. The act protects shareholders and the general public by improving the accuracy of corporate financial disclosures.
The financial and IT departments of all public companies are required to follow SOX regulations. The act outlines which records need to be stored and how long you need to maintain a secure backup of your financial data.
What Happens if You’re Not in Compliance?
For companies that are not in compliance with PCI, SOX or other regulations, there can be harsh penalties. For example, if you’re found in violation of the SOX requirements, you could get kicked off your exchange listing and face multimillion-dollar fines.
How We Can Help
If your business takes any kind of online payment, you need to be in compliance. We perform audits and assessments to determine whether your company meets industry regulations. Most importantly, we can create policies, controls and procedures to ensure your company prevents future issues and meets compliance every time.
Don’t navigate complicated compliance and industry regulations alone. Contact us today to get started.
Project management (PM) software plays a critical role in how successfully you implement a new solution or resolve a task. In fact, a study by Hive found that 77 percent of high-performing projects use project management software. So, if projects are more successful using PM software, why aren’t more companies using it?
The answers are as unique as each company, with one of the top responses being that there is a general misunderstanding of how project management impacts your services. But, how do you know if a project management software solution is truly right for your business?
Start by filling out this checklist:
0-3 Yes: You need a project management software solution ASAP. You’re likely losing valuable time, money and resources on projects that you don’t quite have a handle on. You’re missing deadlines and struggling to get the entire team on board with process changes. By adopting a PM solution, you’ll gain visibility and control over your projects and deployments – helping you keep on schedule and budget.
4-7 Yes: You have a handle on some things, but you’re likely losing valuable visibility when it comes to where projects are being held up or how your team’s time is being spent. Don’t let a deployment come to a screeching halt because your teams lack communication about when a task has been completed and when another task should begin. A PM solution will help your team stay on the same page and work towards a common goal – total project euphoria.
8-10 Yes: You have a handle on most things, but do you have a comprehensive solution that lets you assign tasks, track time, create project reports and manage timelines all in one place? A PM solution makes it easier to monitor and manage your team and work together across different departments. Cut out the costs of adopting multiple software programs when a single solution can help you streamline and optimize your business.
To learn more about project management software, which solution is right for your business and how we can help you keep it secure, contact us today.
As your business grows, you’ll eventually need someone to help you choose and deploy technology to protect your business, improve processes and support your organization’s goals. If you’ve never heard of a virtual CIO, you might assume you don’t need one – but virtual CIOs, or vCIOs, give companies the benefits of a high-level technology executive without the cost of hiring an in-house CIO.
Virtual CIOs examine your current infrastructure, locate gaps in security and productivity, and implement solutions to improve your business operations. They bring their personal experiences and a network of technical resources to work with you and determine the best IT solutions for your business. Here are five aspects of your business that you can outsource to a vCIO:
Have you been putting off large projects because you’re worried about not having enough bandwidth to successfully manage them? Virtual CIOs can be brought in on an as-needed basis to oversee strategy IT initiatives that promote long-term growth and competitiveness within your organization.
Business Continuity Planning
Natural disasters, employee errors, even potential data loss during a planned system update or migration – there are numerous threats facing your business’s mission-critical information. A vCIO designs a comprehensive strategy to keep your business in operation during and after a disaster.
Technology trends come and go, but the right solutions can make a measurable impact on your efficiency, growth and profit. Your vCIO keeps on top of emerging technologies and identifies opportunities for innovation in your business to help you make higher-ROI technology investments.
Small and medium-sized businesses aren’t immune to cyberattacks – in fact, hackers often view them as easy targets. With help from an experienced vCIO, you can protect your business by implementing strong security measures to deflect malicious software and unauthorized access.
Technology costs can vary wildly from month to month – or, you can partner with a vCIO who helps you stick to a predictable IT budget. Plus, virtual CIOs implement technology strategically to reduce operating costs and drive revenue, allowing a larger budget for your business to expand and thrive.
Virtual CIOs are ideal for businesses that don’t have the budget for a full-time, in-house CIO. With our vCIO services, you get access to a team of knowledgeable IT experts at a price that makes sense for your business. To discuss how a vCIO fits into your company, contact us today and start your business transformation.
According to research from Ovum, 20 percent of business processes have already moved to the cloud. The cloud isn’t only an asset to your business; it’s become a requirement for driving efficiency and reducing costs. So, what are the next steps for cloud usage?
By combining innovative cloud technology with the latest trends, you can empower your business with the tools it needs to enhance operations and outperform the competition. When integrated with the cloud, these three technologies lower operating costs and make your life easier.
IoE (Internet of Everything)
Like its well-known cousin, the Internet of Things (IoT), IoE uses cloud computing and real-time data analytics to communicate with different machines and devices. With a focus on machine-to-machine communications, IoE has a general “understanding” of how humans interact with everything in their environment – from people to devices.
As IoE develops, your customers can intelligently interact with every device within your network. You’ll gain greater insights into the relationships of consumers and how they view and purchase your products and services. You’ll gain visibility on which pages your customer views, which links they click and how many times they visit your site – adding this information to a customer profile and giving you valuable insight into how they interact with your products. Innovative cloud technology makes IoE possible and leverages crucial information for your business.
Automating processes is an easy way to reduce operating costs. By leveraging AI and big data, you’ll gain a holistic view of all your business functions. As the cloud continues to grow, system administrators are getting more time-consuming, repetitive tasks. Innovative cloud technology supports AI and automation to take over labor-intensive tasks – including copying and extracting data.
By automating simple tasks and preventing duplicate effort, you can eliminate unnecessary costs and improve efficiency. Plus, AI platforms ensure work is distributed evenly and support data governance to keep your business meeting compliance regulations.
Containers are influential development tools that scale and optimize ROI across multiple cloud environments. Developers can use these containers to extract information like code, configurations and dependencies, and push it to production seamlessly and easily – making deployment a breeze.
Containers enable cloud resources to run in multiple settings, enhance data fabrics and improve mobility. When working with different cloud environments, containers make it easier to move data from one environment to another – eliminating the restrictions of on-premises applications. For businesses using multi-cloud environments – private, public or hybrid – containers are critical for transferring information.
As the cloud becomes a necessity for business operations, the next steps are learning how to integrate other IT services to enhance your cloud solution. By combining the latest technologies with a solution designed to enhance workflow, you can improve your customers’ experience and stand out from your competition. As your partner, we’ll integrate the latest trends into your strategic IT roadmap.
To learn how we can help implement the latest innovative cloud technologies to improve your business operations, contact us today.
The McKinsey Institute found that teams improved productivity up to 25 percent through increased collaboration. But, finding out which collaboration tools will round up your most isolated employees can be tougher than it sounds.
From tools that focus on bringing your team together to apps that strengthen your communication skills, identifying where exactly your team is struggling should be your first step to determining the right solution for your business. Once you’ve pinpointed the problem, you can scour hundreds of cloud-based applications and tools designed to resolve your issues.
To get you started, we’re sharing five top productivity tools.
Microsoft Office 365
Office 365 lets your team collaborate on documents and projects with applications like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Work on the same file in almost real-time, exchange feedback seamlessly and access past versions of a document. Because your files are hosted in the cloud, your team can collaborate on projects from any device and any location with an Internet connection.
Yammer is described as the Facebook of the corporate world. That’s because the platform provides a news feed, different group channels and file-sharing features just like Facebook. Post updates in a client’s group and tag the people who need to see the feedback, or create a channel for your internal team, department or entire company to share information, communicate and collaborate on projects.
Slack provides a nearly instantaneous response platform for peers and clients. You can set up an unlimited number of channels and use them to share task information, get feedback from clients and adjust expectations for project deliveries. Because Slack integrates with other solutions like Office 365 and Jira, you can submit tickets and collaborate on documents with a single click.
Webex keeps you connected with clients, peers and prospects from anywhere with an Internet connection. Eliminate miscommunications with crystal-clear video quality that lets you see every nonverbal cue from meeting attendees. Plus, Webex keeps your video communication channel safe and encrypted with a multi-layered security solution that protects everyone – regardless of where they’re calling from.
Evernote provides a scalable note-taking platform where you can sync and share documents to multiple users. This easy-to-use application lets teams collaborate quickly and seamlessly in nearly real-time. Whether you’re working on different parts of a project or need to quickly make changes during the quality-check process, you can do so from any laptop, desktop or mobile device.
To learn more about cloud-based collaboration tools, which solutions are right for your business and how we can help you improve your productivity, contact us today.
Updating your technology can be complicated and overwhelming – especially if you try to do all the research and make decisions on your own. Don’t let this year’s choices close your doors in the new year. As your partner, we’ll help you identify areas for improvement and research the latest tech trends to help you make informed decisions.
Whether you’re looking to improve security and reduce costs or increase your productivity and efficiency, we’ve analyzed hundreds of tech trends and found three trends that you should implement to enhance the way you do business.
As cybercriminals gain more knowledge, they’re coming up with smarter, better ways to obtain your confidential data. One way is through phishing emails. With sophisticated graphics and language, they’re designed to look credible and legitimate. Training your team to recognize the differences and having a good backup strategy can mitigate the risk of falling for this scam.
So, what happens if your confidential information is stolen? The dark web offers a complex network for exchanging stolen information and selling it on the black market. But, encrypting your crucial data ensures that the information taken can’t be sold or acted on by unauthorized users.
Conclusion: Protect your customers’ confidential information with multi-layered security that includes training and encryption.
Microsoft announced that in January 2020, they’re ending support for Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and Exchange Server 2010. That means you have one year to upgrade your systems or migrate your servers to the cloud. Updating your older Microsoft solutions ensures that you keep your systems secure and clean up the gaps in your defenses from outdated tech – preventing cybercriminals from exploiting your weaknesses.
Improving your productivity doesn’t have to involve redesigning your entire infrastructure. Research from Fujitsu Siemens Computers found that adding a monitor to your workplace setup improves productivity by 35 percent. By simply installing dual, triple or quadruple monitors, you’ll be able to work on several projects at the same time or display multiple documents or spreadsheets to make writing and data entry easier.
Conclusion: Upgrading your technology provides a better user experience for your employees and helps keep your business safe from cyberthreats.
Migrate to the Cloud
Cloud computing continues to gain momentum, and for a good reason. With solutions like server hosting, hosted applications and Office 365, you improve efficiency, reduce costs and streamline operations – it’s hard to justify not making the move.
As cloud solutions improve in popularity, the question becomes less, “should you migrate?” and more, “when will you migrate?” Make this the year that you create a cloud migration plan or modify your existing plan to incorporate operation-enhancing solutions.
Conclusion: Migrating to the cloud streamlines your operations by providing more storage, easier app updates and additional flexibility without raising your costs.
Researching trends and knowing which ones to adopt is difficult without extensive industry knowledge. That’s why we evaluated the upcoming trends of the coming year and decided which ones would be easiest and most beneficial for your business. Are you ready to work toward a more fruitful future? Contact us today to see how these trends could improve your business.
Understanding ethics and privacy may seem simple at first, but when you start to dive in, you discover that finding the balance between being supportive and intrusive is difficult. Data helps you understand your audience and customers better, but how far is too far when it comes to monitoring their physical and digital footprint?
Deciding what is and isn’t ethical doesn’t have to be determined on your own. Here are five things you should understand about ethics and privacy:
1. Digital ethics makes up your online moral code.
Digital ethics includes the principles of conduct practiced online or in a virtual environment. How you handle your customers’ confidential data and what security you put in place to protect it contributes to your digital ethics. Do you record digital footprints? Do you sell that information to advertisers so that they know which of your users like certain products? All of these things and more contribute to your digital moral compass. So, what path is your business on?
2. The GDPR affects your business – even if you’re based in the US.
The EU created the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to ensure websites are doing everything they can to protect the information they gain from users. This act requires companies that have EU users – essentially any company around the globe – to update their policies and promote more rigorous privacy strategies. Security concerns include, but aren’t limited to:
3. Digital ethics involves three practices – monitoring, transparency and the fine line.
Distinguished VP and Gartner Fellow, Frank Buytendijk, suggests that digital ethics has three key guidelines – monitoring, transparency and what he calls the win/win. When it comes to practicing digital ethics, these can be considered the golden rules.
Not only should you monitor how prospects and customers are visiting your site, but you also need to monitor your own systems for vulnerabilities. A large part of meeting compliance involves transparency. You need to ensure that the data you’re tracking doesn’t violate the privacy of the customer. Finding that middle ground or fine line is what Buytendijk’s refers to as the win/win. There’s a fine line between being helpful with personalization and algorithms and being creepy. Always make sure your processes are on the cautious side of that line.
4. Security should be your number one priority.
Even if your customers and visitors give you permission to collect their data, you still have a responsibility to keep their confidential information safe. With cyberthreats escalating, you need absolute diligence when it comes to protecting the data you collect. From natural disasters – like fire, hurricanes and power outages – to malicious intent from ransomware and cyber criminals, you need a security solution that protects your business and customers’ data from all angles. But, how do you ensure that your solutions are enough to keep customers’ information safe?
5. How can a managed services partner help?
Understanding and implementing best practices for ethics and privacy can feel overwhelming. You don’t have to do it alone. As a managed services provider, we’ll evaluate your security processes and make suggestions to eliminate risks and keep your collected data safe.
For more information on how we can help keep your business and customers’ data safe while helping you balance the fine line of digital ethics, contact us today.
One of the best things about the holidays is the opportunity to show the people who help your business the most how much you appreciate them. They may be employees, investors, partners or vendors, but they all have one thing in common – they make a huge contribution to the organization, and you want them to know that you know it.
Any of these seven hot tech gifts should do the trick.
Samsung Galaxy Note9 or iPad with OneNote
Executives love mobile devices that allow them to hand write with a stylus and save them to the cloud. Both the iPad with OneNote and the Samsung Galaxy Note9 provide that capability. You just need to know whether the recipient prefers Apple or Android.
iPhone XS or XS Max
The CPU inside the iPhone XS is 50 percent faster and 50 percent more efficient than that of its predecessor, the iPhone X. What that means for the lucky person you give it to is an even more brilliant screen and better camera that work faster.
HP Spectre X360
Finally, a Windows laptop that rivals the MacBook Pro in power, weight (as light as 2.78 pounds), speed and long-lasting battery. Available with a 13 or 15-inch 4K resolution LED backlit touchscreen that is compatible with a digital pen. Who wouldn’t love this?
Apple Watch Series 4
With its Series 4 Watch, Apple has improved the hottest thing going on. There are still ways to track heart, health and fitness, redefining what a watch is. And now the watch face is 30 percent larger while the sound is 50 percent louder. The only thing that has shrunk is the price, which is way smaller.
4K UHD TV with HDR
First there was Full HD TV, then 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV. Now, there’s 4K UHD with High Dynamic Range (HDR). With HDR, a TV displays a heightened difference between the brightest whites and the darkest colors. Huge price drops have helped make them a very hot gift.
Linksys Velop Mesh WiFi
WiFi signal drop-out is real for folks with a large home or yard. Linksys Velop Mesh WiFi solves the problem quickly and easily with small, attractive nodes that are daisy chained to provide seamless WiFi coverage indoors and out. Each node adds 2,000 square feet of coverage.
Bose Home Speaker 500 Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa
At just eight inches high and less than seven inches across, the Bose Home Speaker 500 is the little speaker that could. Could what? Fill a room with impressive wall-to-wall stereo sound, connect to WiFi for wireless music listening that supports the most popular music services, stream directly from compatible devices and give Alexa voice commands.
Any of the items on this list that made you say, “I want that,” would make a terrific holiday gift Now, we have a gift for you. We’ll be happy to analyze your IT infrastructure and show you how it could be improved to better serve your organization. No obligation, just valuable information. Contact us today.