Data is Your Company Currency: Protecting Your Livelihood

investment bankerAn investment company came into the office early Monday morning and all their data was gone.  The computers would not boot up, the screens were black. Company bank accounts and most employee’s bank accounts were emptied.  Customer accounts had been transferred out of their control.  Within a month, they were out of business.  Twenty-eight people are now looking for work, the owner is riddled in debt and legal issues.

Data is your company currency.  Companies that lose their data, lose their currency and cease to exist.

You’ve heard it before: data is the lifeblood of your company. When you don’t have access to your data, you can’t get anything done. Do you really think your clients are going to wait around for you to get back to work? Chances are, they’ll move onto the next company that offers what you offer – and as you know, if your clients leave, you’re not making money,

The concern is not just with the internet, the edge of your network, nor is it your software.  There is no edge of your network, data moves from program to program, from servers to PCs to smart phones.  Managing network security at the edge of the network or the software is important, but not enough.  What is the value of your company data at risk?  It’s everything!

In a Forrester survey, companies noted their intellectual property comprises 70% of their storage portfolio, and only 30% is customer information.

What to do about it

Most businesses use Policies, Permissions, Access Control Lists, and Roles to manage data security.  These are applied to three areas: folders, applications, and services.  Once data leaves these three areas, the data is no longer protected.  What do you do to protect this data?

Traditional controls manually convert policies into system-specific controls, then duplicate work across all applications and servers where your confidential data moves. Because controls are fixed, administrators must also modify them as risk, workflow, and staff change.

IT quickly becomes inefficient and error-prone. Where data sharing is broader, businesses no longer reliably own the data.

Businesses must leverage new methods to protect data as they move from program to program, from servers to PCs to smart phones. Leading analysts recommend Attribute Based Access Control.

This eliminates the manual steps needed to turn business requirements into security controls as rules are evaluated dynamically with attributes examined when the data is used.  Enforcement adapts to risk level automatically so if the category of a document changes, or a user’s role changes, access rights are automatically adjusted. No need to update permissions.

Define business policies

Business policies should be transformed into IT policies that can be automatically enforced across all applications. That way, IT isn’t caught in the middle between business requirements and the physical systems where data is stored.

To protect data, you can incorporate more data-centric controls that target metadata, keywords, properties, and so on. Because evaluation is based on attributes of the data, controls apply consistently as data moves between containers and across systems.  Business owners can then set their own information security policies based on which roles should access the data.

Losing data alone is awful – you rely on those records every day. But what really hurts is everything else that comes along with data loss:

  • Wasted time trying to recover
  • Employee productivity and morale
  • Client and partner confidence
  • Potential business opportunities lost because of missing data
  • And more

Once you’ve lost data once, losing more data is just a matter of time. If you suffered an attack, they’ll count their victory and come back for another.  And if you come to expect data loss, you won’t be prepared to stop those who think they can keep getting away with stealing from you.

Remember that data loss can shut your doors and turn your business into just another statistic. Make sure you’re using the right IT security to stay safe from whatever the future holds – contact the team at {company} at {phone} or {email} to create a comprehensive backup solution for ALL your valuable data.

82% of Businesses Fail – These 3 Mobile Strategies Will Keep You Ahead of the Competition!

Isn’t It Time You Created a Mobile Strategy to Take Your Business to the Next Level?

Mobile Strategy

Did you know approximately 788 million people only use the Internet via mobile devices? As we’re becoming more reliant on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices for transactions, business leaders agree: a mobile strategy is vital for success, especially if you’re running a business in a crowded marketplace.

When you focus on a mobile strategy, you’re able to gain market share and stay competitive. Here’s 3 fantastic ways to create a mobile strategy that takes your business to the next level:

  1. Make the Decision: Web App vs. Responsive Site vs. Separate Site

Have you explored your options and considered whether to create a web app, a responsive site, or a separate mobile site? All of these options have pros and cons, but it’s best to weigh them out and make sure you’re choosing the option that suits your prospects and clients the best. Here’s a breakdown of the options:

  • Web app: an application that’s stored on a remote server and used via the Internet on a browser interface.
  • Responsive site: A site that’s built specifically to respond to the size of the device (desktop, phone or tablet) that’s viewing it.
  • Separate mobile site: A separate mobile site at a different URL – designed only for mobile devices.

While a responsive design is simpler to manage, a separate site lets you gear everything, including SEO and marketing efforts, towards mobile users. On the other hand, web apps are instantly available and simple to access, however, they’re costly to develop and maintain.

  1. Keep Your Mobile Users in Mind Throughout the Entire Process

Don’t focus on the tools available at your disposal first, focus on your mobile users – the visitors you’re hoping to convert into new business opportunities. What do you want visitors to take away from your mobile site? What is the overall feeling or message you’d like them to receive?

Often, we get lost in the technical aspect of mobile web design, but it’s much more important to see things from the visitors perspective. You’ve got a small screen and minimal words to impress them, and as 55% of mobile users leave sites within 15 seconds, you want to make sure the experience is enough to keep them around!

  1. Always Follow Mobile Strategy Best Practices

Mobile conversion rates can certainly be impressive, however, the site must cater to the expectations of your mobile users:

  • Keep it simple: Avoid excessive clutter, the need to scroll too much, and horizontal menus.
  • Speed up load time: Make sure your site loads within 4 seconds to avoid visitors leaving before it’s even loaded.
  • Use mobile features: Mobile features, such as click-to-call and maps, can quicken up the process for visitors to contact you.
  • Eliminate unnecessary content: Keep content concise and images to a minimum.

Need more information to help you create a mobile strategy that takes your business to the next level? Contact {company} at {phone} or send us an email: {email}.

Thinking of Purchasing Laptops/Desktops at a Department Store?

laptop storeThink Again!

Investing in High-End Workstations Now Will Save You Money and Time Down the Road!

According to SquareTrade, a third party warranty company, 20.6% of workstations costing less than $1,000 tend to malfunction within 3 years of owning them – and it’s important to consider that most low-cost workstations only have a 1-year warranty.

It all comes down to making a smart investment: do you want laptops/desktops that will run smoothly for the next few years – or do you simply want to spend as little as possible and hope for the best? The benefits of investing in high-end workstations are clear:

Feel confident knowing you have a 3-year warranty:

As you’re likely already aware, technology isn’t foolproof. In fact, technology issues come up, and if you’re looking to save money, you need to make sure all workstations have the longest warranty possible. Most high-end workstations will come with a 3-year warranty whereas low-end workstations will come with a 1-year warranty.

Avoid costly upgrades in the future:

If you’re purchasing a low-end workstation, especially in the healthcare industry, you’ll struggle with the need to pay for upgrades. For example, if you’re working in an industry with sensitive information, such as healthcare or financial services, you’re going to want to make sure your workstations run Windows 7 Ultimate so the hard drive can be encrypted natively, otherwise, you’ll need to upgrade.

Reduce the amount of issues and/or breakdowns:

To put it simply, high-end workstations have better hardware, which leads to better performance, stability, and longevity. The main reason you’re paying more is because the workstations include more expensive parts, such as top-notch audio, photo, and video resolutions and solid state hard drives, which means the workstations will boot faster, launch applications faster, and overall perform faster.

Enhance your ability to get work done – without disruption:

Every organization, whether you’re in accounting, legal, or healthcare, has responsibilities and tasks to accomplish, and if you’re operating with low-end workstations, you’re not getting work done nearly as fast as you could be. Think about it: faster performance, less issues and/or breakdowns, and less need for maintenance and support means all of your time is spent focusing on getting work done instead of dealing with technology issues. Ultimately, this alone makes the investment well worth it.

Still think investing in a high-end workstation isn’t worth the money? Contact {company} at {phone} or send us an email: {email}. We’d be happy to further discuss how investing now will save you money and time down the road! 

Why Managed Services is Good for Business

Money makes the world go ‘round. Just because it’s a cliché doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

Managed Services

There’s no business that survives without thinking wisely about their budget, ensuring they only spend dollars on products and services they really need.

That’s why successful companies are turning to managed services when it comes to IT. When you compare choosing a managed services company to either hiring an internal IT department or to paying a company by the hour for IT support, it’s easy to see why managed services is good for business.

  1. Predictable monthly billing

Any accountant will tell you that operational expenses are always better than capital expenses. It’s always better to spend a predictable flat-rate amount on a service rather than purchasing something outright, hiring your own staff, or gambling on a by-the-hour service.

Managed IT services are generally offered for one flat-rate monthly fee. You can create a simple, easily predicted yearly budget, and rest easy knowing you have coverage for any and all IT issues you might experience in that year.

  1. Incentivized excellence

A company that charges a flat-rate monthly fee is more profitable when they spend the minimum amount of time providing responsive support. They make more money the fewer problems you have! That means your managed services company is incentivized to be proactive – to deliver hassle-free IT with the absolute minimum of issues for you. Everyone wins when you never have to worry about IT issues bogging you down.

  1. Professional technicians without the hassle of HR

Companies that handle their own IT in-house have to contend with either hiring an expensive IT professional or mucking around with someone who’s just “good with computers.” And even with the talented IT professional, you still have to worry about training for new IT over the years, covering vacation and sick time, and the potential of them being overwhelmed by a storm of IT issues.

By hiring a managed services company, you get the benefit of an entire team of professionals that you don’t have to handle HR for. The company ensures they work with only the best, they stay updated on new IT issues and solutions, and they have a full team ready to provide you with support at any time.

  1. Shared solutions make for faster support

A managed services company will have many other clients who have experienced various issues and had them solved by that managed services company.  When YOU hire the managed services company, you get the benefit of all of those solutions applied to your IT without having to go through the pain of those issues yourself.  And if issues do arise, the managed services company already has the resources, experience, and technology to quickly and efficiently solve them.

So, by “sharing” your managed services company with other clients, you gain access to a lot of experience, expertise, and resources, which lets you avoid the avoidable problems, minimize the impact of the unavoidable ones, and enjoy the benefits of hassle-free IT.

Discover why {company} is the go-to name in managed services for {city} businesses. Our hassle-free IT gives countless businesses peace of mind every day. Find out how easy IT is with the right team by contacting us at {phone} or {email}.

9 Steps to Improving Productivity

If there were an easy way to increase employee productivity by 10% using the technology that you already have in place, would you do it?

Productivity Gains

What would that do to the bottom line? A 10% gain would be significant for most organizations. In this day and age when all departments are competing for budget and every dollar of technology investment must be justified, companies should not overlook training as a means to boost employee productivity and the ROI of existing technology investments.

Too few employees truly know how to use the applications they have available effectively. A perfect example is Excel with its powerful analysis and reporting features. Yet we fail to apply basic productivity features built into the current version. What features of Excel do you use now that you didn’t use in 2003?

Most people don’t have an answer for that.

Another example is Outlook. It has some amazing features to boost productivity but few people know how to take advantage of them. Just think, if you knew about tools that could save you 10 minutes per day, that would be about an hour per week or 50 hours per year. What could you do with an extra 50 hours?

With 20 employees, that’s 1,000 hours in productivity gain. So for 30-minute investment, you could gain 999.5 hours, is it worth it?

And that’s just Outlook. Imagine if you could multiply that for every app your company uses.

Even where some level of training in core applications is provided to new employees, we know that very little is actually absorbed in early training. And much of IT training is focused on what buttons to press in what sequence to get a job done; very little seems to focus on how to use all the technology together as part of a productive business process.

As IT budgets have been squeezed over the years some companies have moved technology training out of IT and into HR. But HR is not directly impacted by untrained staff in the way IT is, often resulting in weak measurements of success such as how many employees have been trained, or employee satisfaction measures, and not actually measuring the employee’s ability to use the technology. How do you measure your employees ability to use your technology?

In addition, poor training increases the burden on IT support services and reduces overall employee satisfaction with technology as a support for getting their job done, putting the success of IT at risk.

One option is for companies to re-focus IT resources on technology training as a way of reducing support costs and increasing employee satisfaction with IT. At the risk of repeating things we all know, here are ten proven steps in developing an effective training program:

  • Make training the responsibility of the manager in charge of the help desk. After all, the more effective training is, the fewer calls they receive. So there’s an automatic incentive in place. Also, the help desk knows what applications cause the most problems. They’ll also know which employees need the most training.
  • Do training programs inside business units. With increased employee productivity and satisfaction, wouldn’t your business units be willing to pay for effective training and development of the staff?
  • Identify areas of business process where training is needed to use the applications effectively. And there may be potential system modifications that yield productivity benefits.
  • Focus on how technology changes the business processes and train the employees how to be productive with the new services. Measure employee skill levels in applications post-training for effectiveness and if follow-up training is needed.
  • Provide open productivity classes on Cloud Tools and Microsoft Office such as Outlook, Word and Excel then collect and share testimonials on how the classes helped increase productivity. This will provide buy-in for other employees to want to do the training.
  • Develop supplemental training materials and emails to provide ongoing advice with tips and tricks for each application that also encourage employees to share their own insights. Perhaps create videos to supplement training and explain common problems faced by most employees.
  • Promote training through lunch and learns.
  • Avoid frequent mistakes by making training and communications the core of the business.

What suggestions do you have from your own experience?

Which of the above do you feel have the greatest impact?

Need help with your productivity or efficiencies?  Call {phone} or drop us an email at {email}.

BYOD: Should You Embrace the Trend or Not?

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is becoming increasingly common in modern workplaces. BYOD translates to bring your own device, and businesses employing this policy are reducing costs by allowing their employees to bring their own personal laptops and mobile devices for use in the workplace. While BYOD policies offer some advantages to businesses, there are also a number of drawbacks to implementing these policies – and both the benefits and drawbacks must be considered before jumping on the bandwagon.

Advantages

  • Enhanced flexibility and productivity amongst employees: BYOD policies allow employees to complete tasks via remote access to company networks and data. Therefore, employees have considerably more flexibility with regards to how and where they work. Greater flexibility often leads to increased productivity and greater job satisfaction.
  • Minimized costs associated with devices and hardware: This is perhaps the most obvious benefit. BYOD policies eliminate the need for companies to purchase large numbers of equipment and devices, such as laptops, mobile phones and tablets. This is truly a win-win since employees tend to favor their own personal devices and work more effectively due to familiarity and comfort.

Drawbacks

  • Potential security risks associated with remote work: While working remotely, employees might access important and sensitive company data through an unsecured network. This means that information requiring protection, such as client lists, HR files, company finances, and confidential legal documents, may be compromised.
  • Potential loss or theft of mobile devices: Any lost mobile device puts the company’s sensitive information at risk. If the device is stolen, it increases the level of risk, as well as the likelihood of a security breach. Unfortunately, mobile devices are commonly lost or stolen.

Almost all of these drawbacks can be resolved with a comprehensive BYOD policy that includes security procedures, such as remote wipe capabilities to delete sensitive corporate data in the event of theft or making sure corporate and personal data are separated on devices to prevent risks to confidential information.

byod

{company} is here to help you create a BYOD policy that safeguards corporate data while enhancing productivity amongst your workforce. Call {phone} or email us: {email}.

What Questions Must a CEO Ask When Thinking About Cloud Computing?

The cloud is all the rage today when it comes to business technology.

A lot of IT professionals rave about how useful or innovative the cloud is, and how it’s the future of technology, but they’re missing one important point that matters most of all:

Questions About The CloudWhat can cloud actually DO for your business?

If you’re thinking about adopting cloud technology for your business, you need to actually understand what benefits you’ll get from the cloud and whether or not the cloud is right for your needs. The truth is that the cloud is just another tool – maybe it’s right for you, and maybe it isn’t. Start finding out by asking yourself these 5 questions:

  1. Do I or my employees need to work outside the office?

One of the biggest strengths of cloud computing is its accessibility – it’s easy to connect to your cloud data in the office, at home, or out on the go. Is this a strength that matters to you? If you never work outside the office, this won’t necessarily matter at all.

  1. Is your budget better suited to operating expenses rather than capital expenses? Do you prefer monthly fees or upfront purchases?

Cloud services are typically provided at flat-rate monthly fees instead of upfront purchases. Instead of outright buying a piece of software, you instead pay your monthly fee to access the software from the cloud. This can make budgeting more predictable, but it also means you don’t actually own the service.

  1. What kind of Internet connection do you have?

Using the cloud requires reliable and constant access to the Internet. In some areas, that isn’t a problem at all. In other places, it can be tricky. Before you jump into the cloud, make sure your connection can support constant access.

  1. What kind of regulations must you comply with?

Many industries have data storage regulations (such as HIPAA or PCI) that have very strict guidelines about using cloud storage. Find out what regulations you face and what they say about the security requirements for cloud storage, and make sure your cloud provider can meet those requirements.

  1. Do my applications even work in the cloud?

No matter how many advantages the cloud may offer, if your mission-critical applications don’t run in the cloud, don’t perform well, aren’t supported, or require expensive upgrades, the cloud might not even be an option.

Ultimately, there are a lot of benefits to be had by turning to cloud computing. It makes mobility easy, it helps with IT budgeting, and can allow small businesses easier access to business-class services they might not be able to otherwise afford. But that doesn’t mean you should just jump into the cloud. You need to find the RIGHT cloud services for YOUR needs.

The team at {company} is your guide to cloud computing. We’ll meet with you, learn about your business, answer your questions about the cloud, and help you understand all the options you have when thinking about cloud computing. Together, we’ll find the solution that’s right for you and your budget.

Contact us at {phone} or {email} to schedule your cloud consultation.

Avoid Becoming a Cybercrime Statistic

IT SecurityTake IT Security Seriously!

Over the past year, you’ve probably read at least one story about a major company suffering a data breach. Maybe you read about Sony’s data leaked all over the Internet, or heard news of payment card information stolen from Target or Home Depot. Cybercrime is certainly on the rise, and it’s now considered the No. 1. Threat by the U.S. Intelligence Service today, taking the place of terrorism.

But all these stories are always about big-name corporations suffering data breaches. Surely it’s not something you need to be worried about for your business, right?

Think again.

Businesses of ANY size are at risk from cybercrime. In fact, smaller businesses are MORE likely to be targeted. In 2014, small businesses made up over 35% of all victims of cybercrime.

Why? It’s simple: Cybercriminals expect you won’t have the necessary defenses to stop them. And they’re probably right. If you don’t take your IT security seriously, it can be trivially easy for someone to access your network and steal your sensitive data.

But why would hackers want data from a small company? Lots of reasons.

  • Most people use the same password for many services. If hackers can get one username and password, they’ll try it on other services to see if they can break in. One breach always leads to more breaches.
  • Cybercriminals only need a little bit of data to start stealing your identity. A username or password can lead to getting your birthdate, your SSN, your bank information, and more.
  • Your computer itself could be the prime target. Many cybercriminals plant malware on compromised computers that they use to send out spam and infect other systems. You could be part of a cybercrime plot and not even know it.

And you may not experience the results of a data breach right away. Recently the company Sally Beauty Holdings Inc. announced that they’d been hit by a credit card breach. Initially they’d been targeted by cybercriminals back in March 2014, when some customers noticed their accounts were being used for fraudulent purchases. Years can go by after a single data breach before the problem is noticed.

You cannot take IT security for granted. You could be compromised already and not even know it, and all it takes is one data breach to cost your business everything – money AND reputation.

{company} is the go-to name in IT security. Our team stays on top of new developments in IT security so our clients are always protected against whatever threats the future may hold. By turning to us to protect your livelihood, you can rest easy knowing your business is well-prepared for whatever comes your way. Contact us at {phone} or {email}.

Does IT save you money?

Information technology can support the value creation processes of your organization, but first, you must know what value is: there are two types of value sources within your company – those that lower expenses and those that boost revenue growth.

IT Making Money

In the past, information technology was seen as a major expense – something that was necessary but made business owners cringe at the cost.

In the modern business environment, this is no longer the case. Why? Because when IT is used in client-focused and revenue-oriented areas – areas where employees require technology to stay productive and efficient, IT can easily allow you to cut costs and boost revenue.

Ready to get the true value you deserve from your information technology? Give us a call at {phone} or send us an email at {email} to discover 3 value-added creation processes technology improves.

Over the past few years, many organizations have tried to invest largely in their information technology, however, poorly executed or under-planned projects often waste money. In contrast, those organizations that plan and execute projects properly end up getting returns from their investments, year after year. How can you do the same?

It all starts with recognizing how IT can support value-added creation processes within your company. Here are 3 value-added creation processes wherein technology plays a vital role:

  1. Product and service development, marketing, and delivery:

When it comes to product and service development, marketing, and delivery, information technology can significantly cut costs and allow for streamlined processes. In product and service development, many tasks are unique and require everyone to be coordinated, able to collaborate, access information, and know the status of inventory, which means the right systems must be in place to ensure speed and efficiency, ultimately saving costs.

  1. Human resources processes and procedures:

Technology plays a major role in human resources processes and procedures – saving tons of time, money, and hassle by allowing human resources professionals to train new staff members from remote locations, store and retrieve files in an electronic format to eliminate wasted time spent searching for information, and assess new employee performance through various software programs to ensure performance standards are met.

  1. Customer service, communication, and interaction:

When customers need assistance, your staff members must be able to provide service and communicate seamlessly. Technology plays a vital role in the process of customer service – allowing each and every individual to easily communicate and interact with customers through innovative technologies that are always available, such as hosted email or phone systems, therefore streamlining processes to ensure a higher level of satisfaction.

Don’t let IT be another frustrating expense – we’ll help you cut costs and boost revenue growth by ensuring your technology supports value-added creation processes. Call {phone} or email us at {email}.

So You Want More Clients?

Clients Lining UpHere’s How to Get Them Lining Up at Your Door!

Are you struggling to attract new clients? Don’t worry – you’re not the only one. For most companies, finding new clients is challenging, but there’s a simple trick: exceptional client service. It’s vital for each and every one of your clients to love what you do and how you serve them, because that opens you up to the best marketing tactic around: word of mouth.

{company} knows improving client service and outcomes requires a well-defined business process. That’s why we help you setup technology around business processes to improve the way you serve your clients and drive new business to your door. Call {phone} or email us: {email}.

We know there’s an ever-evolving amount of challenges companies like yours face – and we know each company is unique – from the goals you’ve set to the clients you’re serving. We work alongside you to setup technology that enhances business processes for higher efficiency and productivity in the workplace.

In an effort to setup the right technologies, we’ll sit down with you to do the following:

  • Learn about your business – who you serve, what challenges you face, and what objectives you’ve set.
  • Analyze your current workflow procedures and business processes to find areas we need to improve.
  • Determine the best technologies to greatly enhance your business processes, whether that involves:
    • More reliable, cost-effective communication methods including VoIP business phones and hosted email that allow you to stay in touch anytime, from any device or location.
    • Simplified access to vital information for all staff members through cloud and/or remote access solutions designed for simplified access to important records, files, and applications.
    • And much, much more depending on your unique needs, goals, and challenges that need to be resolved – we’ll implement the right solutions for you.

A well-defined business process makes a world of difference in the way you serve your clients; ultimately allowing you to drive new business opportunities while maintaining client satisfaction. Contact us now: {email} or {phone}.