Why Every Business (But Especially Yours) Should Leverage Modern IT

Better Technology Makes You More Relevant – and Thereby, Competitive How would you feel if you walked into a financial planner’s office for assistance with your business’ budget and saw all of the employees working diligently at their desks, each making calculations with an abacus? Or if you were in the hospital for a procedure, and your anesthetist pulled out a mallet to prepare you for surgery? Presumably, you’d leave. While these are extreme examples, the same concept goes for any business. Technology is developed to improve workplace operations, making operations more efficient, more reliable, or more effective – if not some combination of the three. Failing to keep up with these improvements, as your competition does, will only put your business further behind the curve – making it harder to attract the clients and customers you need to maintain your revenue streams. It also doesn’t hurt that the majority of people you are trying to attract to your business are looking for a provider that can outperform the competition – something that you cannot do if they are utilizing the latest and greatest solutions when you aren’t. Today, your hope is that the opposite situation is the case – your solutions being better than theirs. Technology Can Boost Efficiency For the sake of your business’ budget, its aforementioned relevance, the overall satisfaction level of your clientele, and a variety of other key factors… your business needs to operate efficiently. The longer your operations take, the more expensive they will prove to be for your business, and the less satisfied your clientele will become – again, especially if they are comparing you to an alternative provider. There are many ways that IT solutions can prove to be a benefit in this way. Automation can reduce the amount of time your employees spend trudging through rote tasks, freeing up quite a bit of time in any department. As a result, these tasks can be completed with machine accuracy, while your employees can simultaneously be productive towards their goals and objectives. There’s Improved Security Potential in Technology You may have picked up on how a lot of cybersecurity threats now rely on the inherent vulnerability of human beings, with phishing attacks and ransomware being such popular means of attack. Why is this the case? Well, technology has improved to the point where it is often easier to take advantage of the user than it is to breach the system – assuming that the system in question has the proper safeguards implemented.  While it obviously can’t be said that these safeguards will always keep your business’ data safe, there is a definite increase in the frequency of cyberattacks that target user vulnerabilities, rather than software ones. In fact, according to a survey that the Small Business Trends website maintains, phishing and social engineering were experienced by 43 percent of their respondents. According to some sources, a full 76 percent of businesses reported being the victims of a phishing attack in 2018. Why is this? Well, to be frank, many cybercriminals are reconsidering how their attacks should take shape as security solutions have improved. If the weakest point in a business’ security is the user, it makes more sense to target the user. While this means that any business needs to seriously consider training […]

IT Is Fueling Innovation

Innovation Through IT It’s not a secret that lots of businesses rely on their information technology systems to run their entire business. IT fuels efficient data storage, use of stored data, and collaborative interfacing with said data. Even as that’s happening, businesses have to constantly monitor and maintain their IT systems. After all, if you depend on technology, and the technology goes down, your business isn’t going to get anything done. That is why innovations that make technology more reliable, and new tools that turn traditional business resources on its head, are moving business, and society, forward. Since this simple notion has been very difficult to put into practice, thought leaders and industry professionals are now trying to determine how to transform applications and infrastructure architectures, service delivery, DEVOps, production operations, security, and compliance. They are doing this, more than ever, by assessing what is needed and developing solutions. This is leading to the development of new solutions that will take IT out from a support capacity and make it more active in the day-to-day administration of key business tasks.  Investment in Cognitive Computing Cognitive computing is the act of using powerful computing resources machine learning and artificial intelligence to continuously process data that is received in the course of doing business. These systems include pattern recognition, language processing, and data mining to create an efficiency that isn’t possible without these technologies. As more information comes in, these technologies are being used to improve the business’ ability to shift their business in ways that can: Enhance business agility by quickening decision making. Be able to consistently scale processes to meet budgetary and operational demands. Improve the overall efficiency and performance of a business.  These technologies can also be used to support several different internal and external aspects of your business. They can help build a more robust operational structure, while also automating several of your business’ customer retention initiatives. By investing in the tools needed to create a more effective business, the “smart” business is sure to stay a step ahead of their direct competitors, and in some cases will be able to help the business to explore new avenues of revenue generation.  Information Security A data breach can be a really terrible situation for any business, especially when clients’ and employees’ personal information is stolen. Today, threats are numerous and consistent, so technologies have been developed to help organizations weed out threats. There are several innovative tools designed to improve an organization’s data security initiatives.  Many of these tools also use machine learning and artificial intelligence to actively adjust a cybersecurity policy to the threats the individual business faces. Since both sides have access to these tools, it becomes essential that companies get proficient at identifying the risks that their essential information systems present. These include: Remote access – With many businesses using workers that access data and applications from outside of their network, security solutions need to be able to secure these connections. IoT – With most businesses having dozens of unsecured endpoints in the way of IoT devices, having a strategy to keep them from becoming vulnerabilities is important.  Regulatory demands – Some businesses have certain regulations they have to comply with and have certain conditions they need to meet in order to do so. Hackers – […]

How Augmented Reality Could Shift the Workplace Forward

Let’s Define AR Augmented reality is the real-time process of enhancing reality with information using cameras and displays. Some places where AR is well-travelled include sports broadcasts, Snapchat filters, and the world famous Pokemon Go. Some businesses have even begun creating their own AR app that’s designed to increase the immersion of the consumer with their products.  AR’s Drawbacks and Opportunities A big hurdle to AR innovation has always been the reliance on devices that have small displays. The lack of technology to use AR-fueled apps leads to a lack of immersion; and, since AR is all about building immersion, it becomes a non-starter when it can’t be delivered. That’s not to say that AR isn’t useful and on the rise. Let’s take a look at some of the variables on the horizon that are sure to push AR forward fast: Connections are Faster AR depends on delivering information to users right now. With 4G LTE, developers had enough bandwidth to make it work, but with the advent of 5G, AR will now have more bandwidth to deliver information.  Hardware is Improving Hardware has improved greatly and continues to do so, making it more and more capable of handling AR’s assorted demands. Higher processing power and the improvement of sensor technology will go a long way toward fueling AR innovation. Wider Adoption and Application Many organizations are coming up with various new ways to leverage AR to their advantage. Marketing agencies have used AR as a means of boosting engagement with their efforts and initiatives. It has proven useful in training applications in various industries, especially training and development – delivering information to students and workers at the time it is needed. Reduced Costs Of course, as AR becomes more common, it also becomes more affordable for a business to deploy. As more applications and devices become able to support it, its costs should only continue to trend down. It has become apparent that AR will play a big role in the future of many industries – so, what is your impression of all of this? Is AR just a gimmick, or do you see truly legitimate uses for it in the business environment? Discuss it in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe!

Identifying the Value of Managed IT: Procurement

Why IT Procurement Matters So Much In order for a business to see the most value from its technology, there needs to be an awareness of how interconnected and codependent the individual pieces are, and what technology solutions are needed. Let’s go over some of the components that a business will need. Servers and Networking Solutions In order for your employees to be appropriately collaborative, there needs to be an infrastructure in place that makes communications and data sharing practicable. As a business grows, the capacity of this infrastructure needs to grow with it. However, if tackled by someone who isn’t very familiar with the solutions currently in place, this expansion is apt to only cause further problems. The same goes for other improvements as well – a single misconfiguration could potentially cause a very expensive downtime event. On the other side of the coin, by calling in a professional to assist with the expansion of your networking infrastructure, you can effectively eliminate the risk of causing downtime while greatly expediting the actual process of upgrading your infrastructure. A professional can both advise a business in what is best for it to adopt, as well as come in to assist with the installation of the improved solution. Workstations and Computing Resources Without the right technology for their tasks, your employees aren’t going to be able to achieve very much. This makes it important that you acquire the right tech for the task at hand, rather than focusing exclusively on bargain hunting. Consider the possible ramifications of automatically going with the least expensive option, without taking the time to consider it more comprehensively. Bargain hunting online can lead to ultimately wasting money on a system that doesn’t actually serve your needs – or worse, doesn’t even work properly. In that case, you’d likely be stuck having to pay a professional to fix your newly acquired systems… and that’s assuming you wouldn’t be stuck having to purchase other ones. Once again, in working with a managed service provider, you have a resource that will assist you in selecting the right technology – the first time – potentially even getting a better deal than you would have otherwise. Software as a Service Of course, if you plan on using your technology, you are also going to need the appropriate software. If handling this independently, you may be tempted to cut corners a bit – downloading torrents instead of paying for the software you need. Doing so puts your business at considerable risk, and subjects it to negative attention from law enforcement and the public at large. However, a managed service provider provides a much better option. Instead of putting your reputation and operations at risk, you can lean on your provider’s Software-as-a-Service offering, Instead of investing a large lump sum on a software title that’s only going to need replacing in a few short years, a Software-as-a-Service arrangement effectively serves as a subscription to a particular solution. For a low monthly sum, SaaS provides your business with the most up-to-date version of a given software, as well as all the support you may need for it. That way, your employees have the tools to do their job, while you (and your budget) can rest easy. Which Experience Would You Prefer? If you’re looking […]

Identifying the Value of Managed IT: Modern Data Solutions

Here, in part four of our series exploring the value that a managed service provider can offer a business, let’s explore these data services and how businesses can benefit from utilizing them. To do so, we’ll discuss the solutions that a managed service provider can implement that assists in managing your business data – or, as we said above, storing it, protecting it, or putting it to use. Storing It with Cloud Services Modern businesses acquire and generate a truly massive amount of data in their day-to-day operations – and this data is invaluable to any businesses with goals to improve and grow. However, this data does need to be stored somewhere. While it may be able to be stored onsite for a time, there are a few shortcomings to this approach. Space isn’t used efficiently in the office The solution relies on massive amounts of heat-generating power in order to operate Limited room for error during setup Patchy warranties on equipment Very high costs for equipment and setup Limited room for expansion Requires oversight and maintenance from a skilled professional Keep in mind, we didn’t even mention redundancy. As useful as all this onsite storage could prove to be if implemented correctly, most small businesses lack the internal experience to do so – never mind setting up and managing a cloud storage server. However, a managed service provider can eliminate all of the difficulties that a small business would encounter, thanks to their status as industry professionals and their connections to various resources – such as cloud storage providers. Backing Up Data and Recovering It in the Event of a Disaster Let’s return to the business that developed their own storage solution in-house. It isn’t very likely that their business’ data is backed up… at least, not in keeping with best practices. A business like this might keep a spare hard drive tucked away in a broom closet, periodically updating it when someone remembers to do so. So, what happens to this kind of business if their landlord never warned them about some issues in their building’s plumbing, and a flood wipes out every piece of equipment they have… including the server and the improvised backup? Any managed service provider worth their salt will know that keeping an extra data copy onsite is like locking the spare key in the safe that it opens… if something bad happens, that extra copy is as good as gone. That’s why a decent managed service provider knows that the further away a data backup is from the disaster that wipes out the onsite data, the safer that data backup will be. In fact, a managed service provider will actively work to keep copies of your data in data centers in multiple areas, just to ensure there is always a safe copy somewhere. Furthermore, a managed service provider can help you strategize a disaster recovery plan, enabling you to use your data backup to at least continue some of your operations until the impact of a disaster has passed. Data Warehousing for Greater Insights In addition to all of the operational advantages that a managed service agreement brings, working with a managed service provider allows a business access to data warehousing capabilities. In simple terms, this is effectively the process of combining what […]

Identifying the Value of Managed IT: Consulting Services

Consulting, Condensed A consultant is someone who, as we’ve established, can be brought into a process to provide professional assistance with a task beyond the capabilities of the original resource. There are assorted reasons to bring in a consultant: Insufficient skills to safely or properly perform a task Lack of technical knowledge or ability Assurance of a successful outcome In some way, shape, or form, hiring a consultant is a very effective way to avoid issues in your process – whatever that process may be. The Experience Your Consultants Should Offer There are a few benchmarks that any consultant you work with should have to live up to – starting with their familiarity of the task at hand. When hiring a consultant, you need to find one that has an intimate and up-to-date knowledge of the solutions they are recommending and is committed to providing you with the value that you have hired them to bring. Technically, we ourselves qualify as consultants, as we help companies via our managed services to ensure they get the value they should be from their IT solutions. That’s why our metrics of success are derived from how successful our clients can be through the use of our services and solutions. If we’ve done our job, our clients will have an easier, more productive time doing theirs. This makes for a powerful motivator to only deliver services that will work for you and maximize the value that your IT provides. To accomplish this, there are a variety of services that we can offer to businesses. When a client’s technology is in need of an upgrade, working with us helps a business design a technology strategy that works now, and will continue to do so into the future. Here are a few of the consulting services that a business can benefit from: Virtual CIO Services One of the biggest challenges we see our clients struggling with is (of course) the cost that the proper IT will incur, and it is this concern that brings them to us. Some want to upgrade their technology, but are concerned about the potential costs, and others want to match their business’ growth without overtaking their available budget. However, any reason they have comes from the same motivation: They want to be sure their investment is worth the money they are putting into it. With us working as your Virtual CIO, your IT strategy is in experienced hands. Not only will we evaluate the technology you’re currently using, we’ll figure out what is needed to optimize your IT strategy without stretching your budget too far. You don’t have to expend resources to research your options or spend your own time doing so – a team of experienced professionals has it handled on your behalf. Vendor Management Vendors are a necessity for businesses, but that doesn’t mean that dealing with them doesn’t take up more time than the business can afford – sometimes literally, as the time you spend dealing with vendors is time that could be spent producing revenue somehow. You also have to keep in mind that a vendor is just another name for a salesman, so their motivation is to sell you whatever they can – not what suits your business.  By working with SRS Networks, however, you wouldn’t […]

Identifying the Value of Managed IT: Support Services

Managed Support The Managed Service Provider (MSP) provides an experience unlike traditional service providers’ methodology. Let’s take a look at two scenarios: Art is finishing up a design using a popular image editing program, when all of a sudden the software crashes. Annoyed, Art tries to reload the software only to find that it isn’t responding to his commands. He starts to click around, when the whole computer freezes. He calls the service desk only to be told that the IT guy is out to lunch. The issue causes significant downtime for Art. Paul works for a rival business that uses managed IT services. He is using the same program and has the same issue. He calls his support line and the person on the other end of the phone asks him a couple of questions and then remotely accesses the computer, fixing the issue. In no time, Paul is back working on his design.  Onsite Support Services Most of the time, a managed service provider can sustain a dynamic IT infrastructure remotely. Sometimes, however, the situation calls for onsite work. Managed service providers hire (and train) some of the best technicians in your market. If your business needs someone to come swap out or install hardware, work on your organization’s networking, or to handle another issue, managed services technicians are trained and proficient.  Keep Business Moving Forward Don’t lose minutes, hours, and days to downtime. Call the IT professionals at SRS Networks today at (831) 758-3636 to learn how your business can use managed IT services to its benefit. Be sure to return to our blog Friday for part three of our five-part series of managed IT services. 

Identifying the Value of Managed IT: Proactive Service

What Are Managed IT Services? Picture this: Your business suddenly encounters an IT-related issue. Your primary business system is no longer working. What do you do? You call your IT department and hope that someone can resolve the issue. So what benefit do managed IT services have that traditional approaches cannot bring to the table?  Well, traditional IT departments typically are comprised of a couple employees who know their way around a computer. However, these individuals typically do not know effective business solutions. Managed IT providers use state-of-the-art tools to constantly monitor your business’ network and hardware. Certified technicians are able to determine the operating state of your technology, and repair concerns before they become an issue. Remote management platforms allow technicians to repair individual software concerns, without the wait times of traditional IT departments. So where is the value in these managed services? Simple. You aren’t paying an hourly rate for members of an IT staff to wait around for something to break. Providers handle IT in a proactive manner, meaning not only does your hardware last longer, but it is able to perform better.  If constantly paying your employees to sit around because your technology is slow or constantly breaking is the business strategy you prefer, then a re-evaluation may be necessary. Some of the money you are spending on employee downtime could be put towards a cost-saving IT solution, increasing business profitability. Managed IT services offer businesses a strategy which can keep their technology up and running effectively. Maintaining up-time increases productivity, efficiency, and overall organizational effectiveness. Proactive > Reactive Proactiveness is the deliverable that managed IT services provide. The proactive approach is the sole reason why the service provides so much value. Having experienced professionals available at the push of a button (or click of a mouse) is what SRS Networks has to offer. Actively monitoring your business, and doing so for a fraction of the price you would be paying with onsite IT technicians, allows you to focus on the true aspects of your business.  Do you really want to walk around your office reminding your employees to constantly patch and update their computers and other devices? Managed IT services offer comprehensive patch management. It is more important now than it ever has been to update your software. With the overwhelming cost of a data breach, shortcomings in security are no longer an option. Can you really afford the sensitive and personal data of both your customers and staff being breached? Will you be able to overcome the effect a breach will have on your business’ reputation?  Managed IT services provide an immense value to any size business. SRS Networks has trained technicians whose primary concern is your business’ security. If you would like to learn more about what managed IT services can offer, check back for part two of our blog, or give us a call at (831) 758-3636.

Technologies You Need If You’re Going to Use Remote Workers

Communication & Collaboration Solutions This is a no-brainer, simply because you probably need these solutions regardless. If you are going to promote a remote work policy, you need to have solutions in place that will enable teamwork and productivity. Maintaining open lines of communication throughout your organization is critical, which is why using solutions designed for your business’ specific problems is the best path to take. Today there are tools like cloud-based productivity suites and Voice over Internet Protocol that can give your remote staff the tools they need to thrive. The better the tools you provide to promote collaboration, the better your product or service will ultimately be.  Project Management Tools Finishing projects on time and on budget can be a pain if it isn’t well coordinated. No place is this more evident than with project managers. They need access to tools that will allow them to oversee all individual contributions and ensure they are working toward a successful end.  Today, there are project management tools that integrate dozens of different types of software, instant messaging, and other collaborative tools in one cloud-based platform. By using reliable project management software, you can connect people from all over the world and create something great.  Cybersecurity Keeping files safe is becoming harder and harder and costing businesses more than ever before. To ensure that remote workers are doing what they can to protect your business’ resources, they need to adhere to the cybersecurity strategy you’ve put in place. The use of multi-authentication procedures, encryption, and more can go a long way toward keeping business data safe as it comes in from multiple locations.  Time-Tracking Software How else are you going to manage to make determinations on whether or not your initiatives are profitable without clear cost management? The only way to do that is to track your employees time. Time tracking also gives you the opportunity to shift priorities on the fly so that the parts of a project, or service tasks get completed by their deadlines. Managing remote workers doesn’t have to be a full-time gig. Get the technology needed to turn your remote employees into profit centers for your business. To learn more call SRS Networks today at (831) 758-3636.

Phishing is a Major Threat

You are the only thing that can truly protect you from a phishing attack. Without participation, it simply is a phishing attempt. Hackers are always looking for clever ways to fool their potential victims, so can you trust your employees to recognize the telltale signs of a phishing attempt? Habitual Efforts to Foil Phishers Learning to do things the correct way is a lot easier than breaking a habit. Here are a few habits you can train your staff to do to recognize and avoid phishing attempts:  Check Links BEFORE Opening Them Getting in the habit of clicking links without checking the URL is an all-too-common mistake amongst staff. If you receive a link and want to know where it will take you, all you have to do is hover over it. If you aren’t able to see the link, or the entire link, you can also right click it and copy the address it will take you to. From there you can paste it into a notepad and further examine it.  While a trained eye can detect a phishing attempt, some phishers cleverly disguise their links. Learn How to Spot Fraudulent Links If your eye is untrained, and you aren’t able to identify the legitimacy of these two links, SRS Networks is here to help. amazon.com/deals/offers amazon.com.deal/offers Which of those two links would you confidently click on? Hopefully you said the first one. The tell-tale sign that a URL is coming from a fraudulent website is there will be a “dot” after the domain. The domain (example.com, example.net) is typically read as example dot com. So, if you see a link that says example dot com dot something, the link is more than likely a phishing attempt. If you aren’t entirely sure, your best bet is to avoid the link entirely.  Another method phishers will often use is slight alterations in domain names. Our minds are trained to read words even when the “in between” characters are incorrect, or characters are in the wrong order. As long as the first letter and last letter are correct, typically we can make out the words without issue. Don’t believe me? Quickly skim through this list: amazon.com google.com ebay.com payal.com reddit.com visa.com Did you notice the incorrect link right away? If not, take a closer look. This simple practice is used by phishers with great results.  Emotions Lead to Phishing Vulnerability Becoming a victim of a phishing attempt is easier than you might think. Once emotions are involved, instincts often kick in and result in an easy hookset. Let’s take a look at a few scenarios. “Congratulations! You have won a free iPad!” If you are lucky enough to win an item for absolutely no reason, chances are you are unlucky enough to fall victim to a phishing attempt too. Avoid these links at all costs. “You have been issued with a driver’s violation:Type: SpeedingAmount due: $143 This fee will be forwarded by mail to your address. However, you can screen it now by pressing here: DMV Notification” This one is more difficult to recognize, and frustration can easily get in the way of habitual email awareness. It is important to train your staff to recognize all different types of attempts. Examples are the easiest way for your staff to understand just […]