Security – The Biggest Challenge For Companies.

According to a recent survey, around 29 percent of companies named security as the major problems in the upcoming years. The current percentage is a ten percent increase from last year’s survey results. While security is the biggest problem, efficiency and workflow was a close second, at 26 percent. Apart from cybersecurity and problems pertaining to privacy, emerging technology and infrastructure management have also been ranked as the top technological challenges faced by companies; regarding of the industry they belong to.

Tech Security

Challenges faced by tech companies

While firms do face these major challenges, coming up with a solution for them is a problem because half of the companies that cited security as a big problem don’t have the money needed to deal with the problem. Half of the respondents claimed that their firm’s budget was the same as last year while 8% of them stated that the budget allocated to the IT department was smaller this year. Another research also suggests that a large part of global companies, up to 55%, only have an IT audit assessment on a less-frequent basis; most commonly once a year.

It is a difficult task for security professionals to get the budget they require for setting up a proper, well-developed cybersecurity program. The problem is that security professionals are only handed the budget after there has been a major data breach or if there has been an incident that has left a negative impact on the company. A number of organizations find it hard to quantify security or put a monetary value on it.

With news filled about phishing scams and hacking incidents and social media websites talking about privacy, one can easily understand why security is such a concern. For instance, just last year in May, companies in more than 150 countries had been targeted. The targeted companies included big names such as NHS, FedEx, and Honda.

Just like law firms, tech firms also store tremendous amounts of sensitive data about users, which is why it is crucial for them to employ high-security levels. A lack of security on the part of tech firms not only shows negligence but also puts all the users at risk who’s data is stored with the company.

What security challenges do tech firms face?

The challenges to cybersecurity are regularly developing and are becoming more severe; making it vital for tech firms to stay on top of their game and constantly work on finding solutions, so they stay safe from security attacks. Mentioned below are a few of the common kinds of threat that tech companies can face:

Malware

Malware is highly common. Not only is it present abundantly on the internet, but it is also the tool that a majority of cybercriminals use for obtaining their goal. Whether it is for locking up computers and charging them for obtaining their goal or it is for infiltrating an organization and stealing confidential information; malware is the best tool. Similarly, malware can also be used for making public statements and getting people’s attention. In each cybersecurity incident, malware always has a role. In fact, it can also be used as a pivot into the company.

Users

While this might seem surprising but users are a threat too. For instance, the threat can come from the inside, i.e., a malicious employee, or it could also be because of accidental user actions.

Spear phishing

Another tool that is becoming more common these days is spear phishing, primarily because it is quite effective. Hardly anyone thinks twice before opening any PDF document or a Word document. Many of us, in fact, use it regularly for work without thinking. This routine of not giving a second thought before opening a document is exactly the factor that criminals count on.

For all these security threats, the solution is simple; user education. For any organization, it is crucial to teach employees to first think before clicking on anything; whether it is a link or a document. While user education is important, it doesn’t mean that technology selection should be neglected. Enterprise systems can provide a sufficient amount of security if their users are given the right cybersecurity training and know how to use the systems correctly. While this requires more money and more time, the training is crucial for keeping the firm’s data protected.

Furthermore, another step that firms can take is to use email gateway technologies that can help get rid of the malicious emails before it goes into the user’s inbox. This simple measure can go a long way when it comes to protecting the firm from spear phishing.

Bottom line

It cannot be denied that the industry is filled with challenges, that increase in difficulty with each passing year. However, the good news is that all problems can be solved if only firms make use of passion, ingenuity, and a systematic thought process for solving them.

Which Office 365 Product Is Right For You?

A Look at the Current Versions of Microsoft Office 365, Features, and Prices

Microsoft Office 365 Plans

Business owners agree that Microsoft 365 is an indispensable product that they could not live without. It includes popular programs that people the world over have been using for years. The go-to word processing program is MS Word. People love this software and swear by it. Even those older versions like MS Word 2007 are still popular with the masses.

When it comes to dealing with spreadsheets, there really isn’t a better program than Excel. The same goes for PowerPoint. Most of us even use this program for our home videos. If there is a magic ingredient as to the popularity of Microsoft products, it is probably how user-friendly they are. The company very wisely uses the same Ribbon at the top of each program.

If you know how to use Word, you can learn PowerPoint, Outlook, or Excel very quickly. The formatting tools are basically the same. In spite of how useful and user-friendly these products are, most business owners are not familiar with the various Microsoft Office 365 packages. The company wanted to develop specific office programs for industries like education, government, non-profits, etc. They also wanted to offer scaled up versions for larger businesses. Though these seem like great concepts, they’ve created somewhat of a “Monster” when it comes to figuring out which package your company should be using.

To remedy that, we are offering a simplistic overall view of each product. You can see the basic features offered and the approximate cost. If you’re still unsure, talk to other business owners or ask an IT specialist.

Office 365 ProPlus

This version includes the standard office applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote. You can also get limited usage of Publisher and Access. The cost is around $12 per month per user. Cloud file-storage and sharing with OneDrive is included but business email is not. The product is installed directly on the user’s computer and licensed by user, whereas Office ProPlus is licensed by a device.

Office 365 Enterprise E1

This product offers businesses the use of MS Office online for phones, tablets, and computers. At the price point of $8.00 per month per user, Office mobile apps can be installed on up to 5 phones and 5 tablets per user. The software is available for iOS®, Android™ and Windows phones and tablets with screen sizes up to 10.1”. Also included are some valuable services that businesses use every day including:

  • Exchange
  • OneDrive
  • SharePoint
  • Yammer
  • Skype for business
  • Microsoft teams

Office 365 Enterprise E3

For around $20 per month per user, businesses can get all the features offered with Office 365 ProPlus and Office 365 Enterprise E1. All of the applications and services listed above are included in that price. In addition, this software package contains compliance tools, which have practically become indispensable today due to the intricacies of HIPAA and other compliance programs. Security tools, along with data loss prevention round out this suite of programs and services.

Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that. Broadcast Skype for business allows you to engage with up to 10,000 people. Attendees can join from any device and they can interact with speakers. This tool alone could be worth its weight in gold if you have a big audience you want to get a message out to. You can perform instant polls or get immediate reactions to a new product or service.

Microsoft StaffHub allows users to manage their workday with information sharing and schedule management apps. These are just a few of the many great features included in this suite of programs.

Office 365 Enterprise E5

This product is the Cadillac of all MS Office products. It includes everything mentioned in the other packages, along with voice capabilities, analytics, and advanced security features. It comes at a cost of $35 per month per user, but it does include all the productivity tools and services a business could need.

It is built for large organizations with diverse needs. It’s available for just about any device and includes some exceptional business calling features. One of the most popular features, MS Teams connects your employees so they can discuss their latest project in real time.

Advanced Threat Protection can give you greater control over hidden threats embedded in emails, links, and attachments. This is a great feature that can prevent your employees from accidentally opening the door to cybercriminals. One cyber breach today will cost you around $1.3 million. Large organizations with the budget for it are utilizing every security tool available to protect their important data. Encrypted email is a must these days and it comes standard with this package.

Not included with any other packages, Power Bi is a useful business analytics service that gives you some powerful business intelligence capabilities, including interactive visualization. Users work with interactive dashboards to create reports and data warehouses. Power Bi allows users to work with data in many different ways, from cleaning and loading it to integrating the data where desired. Microsoft has plans to continue adding features to this program so that it contains the most sophisticated business intelligence tools available anywhere.

Conclusion

All the above Microsoft Office products require signing an annual contract, but most businesses realize that they simply can’t function anymore without the rich array of tools that Microsoft provides. These programs are available from any device or location. They include various levels of customer support. Each year when these products are updated, users get those updates for free. That means you’ll always have the latest version of your favorite Microsoft programs. MS Office 365 is optimized for any device.

Nest, Google’s Smart Home Division, Discovers Leaked Passwords and Contacts Customers

Nest Labs, a division of Google, recently discovered a list of email addresses and passwords that had been published online. As part of their ongoing commitment to protect their customers from hackers, Nest continuously monitors databases found online of stolen or leaked passwords. When they found that some of their customers’ passwords were listed on a phishing website, they sent out an email to customers.

Nest Password Leak

Consumers remain the weakest link

Security experts all agree that the weakest link when it comes to internet security is the consumer. People click on suspicious links that download a virus or worm onto their device. They also frequently use the same password across multiple accounts. Many users visit sites that are unsafe where they may be exposed to malware. Often, consumers use the same password for years. All these practices make it very easy for hackers to steal passwords then break into various accounts.

Nest takes proactive stance

When Nest found the databases of leaked passwords, they sent out emails to all of their customers that read in part:

“Nest monitors publicly leaked password databases and checks our own databases for matches. We’ve found that your email and password were included in a list of accounts shared online. Common causes of password theft are falling victim to phishing emails or websites, malware, and password reuse on other websites which may have been compromised.”

The letter goes on to give instructions to users about what to do next and this applies to anyone who suspects that their password has been stolen. Instructions are below:

  1. Sign in to your Nest Account (bank account, credit card account, etc.) immediately.
  2. Navigate to the account management screen and find the item that says, “Reset Password.”
  3. Select a new password. Be sure to use numbers, letters, capital letters and symbols. An example of a good password would be: 57Rop*82!@HK. A password like this is much harder for crooks to decipher. An example of a weak password would be: time1234. This password would be easy for hackers to learn.
  4. Click “Save” to save the new password. Be sure to make a note of the password.
  5. You can also go to the log-in screen of any account including Nest and click on “Forgot Password.” This will initiate a procedure where you are sent a code (usually as a text message). Enter that code where prompted, then proceed to create your new password.

Nest reminded its users that unless they did log on and change their password within a set length of time, the company might disable access to their account. Often, users put off changing passwords so the company most likely felt like it was necessary to include this veiled threat to shut down the account until a new password was chosen.

How to change your Nest password using the app

The company also included instructions for changing the password via the Nest app and these are given below for your convenience:

  • On the Nest app home screen, tap the Menu icon.
  • Select the Account icon.
  • Select “Manage account,” then “Account security,” then “Account password.
  • Enter your current password and your new password, then tap “Save changes.”

How to use Two-Factor Verification (2FA)

Nest also offers the option of 2-step (2-factor) verification, which can add a layer of protection to any account. This is very important to do for financial accounts and other accounts like Nest where your home, family or money might be at risk. The instructions for adding 2-step verification are given below:

  • On the Nest app’s home screen, select the Menu icon at the top.
  • Select Account.
  • Select “Manage account,” then “Account security.”
  • Select “2-step verification.” Then tap the switch to toggle 2-step verification on.
  • Follow the prompts to enter your password, phone number, and the unique verification code sent to your phone.

Cyber theft increasing globally

Many experts are now recommending that customers add 2-step verification to all their online accounts. The increase in hacking and phishing schemes worldwide has alarmed many security experts, as well as consumers. It has become commonplace to read that one of your favorite stores or most trusted brands has lost millions of data records to hackers.

This fact has spawned a new generation of security experts and advocacy groups whose purpose is to stem the tide of the growing number of cyber thefts. One of these groups called the Internet Society was the first to discover the Nest breach when they stumbled across an email from Nest to one of its customers. The society forwarded the email to the Online Trust Alliance and they published it as a blog post. Once this occurred, the story made international news.

How Nest learned of the breach

Though Nest has not revealed how they learned about the compromised passwords, it is believed that they regularly check a site called “Have I Been Pwned?” which is run by Troy Hunt, a security researcher. The site can be used to check whether any of your passwords have been stolen or leaked online. It includes half a billion passwords and other credentials stolen from consumers all over the world.

About Nest Labs

Nest Labs, now a division of Google, provides home automation tools that are programmable, sensor-driven and self-learning. Using your home’s Wi-Fi system, Nest products can be controlled either at home or remotely. These products include smoke detectors, thermostats, indoor and outdoor security cameras, security systems, lights, and other common household appliances.

Nest was founded in 2010 by Matt Rogers and Tony Fadell, engineers who formerly worked for Apple. The company grew quickly to 130 employees and within just a few short years, Nest Labs had grown to 280 employees worldwide. In 2014, Google acquired the company for an estimated $3.2 billion. Today, the company has over 1,200 employees. They recently built a state-of-the-art engineering center in Seattle, Washington.

How Managed Networks Can Deliver Better Wi-Fi Service

It’s one thing for a business to have installed Wi-Fi networks, but it’s another thing to ensure that the equipment is and will continue to work properly. This means the network should be able to continue supporting the growing demands of a business. It should be able to upgrade automatically whenever necessary to provide the latest and most convenient improvements available. This may sound simple and manageable by the IT staff, but it can be challenging.

Managed Networks

Having in-house IT staff means that you have to get in line with other departments and wait your turn before you get help. They already have enough work each day so your Help Desk request may get pushed to the back. This is just one reason why it can be beneficial to have a trusted partner manage your Networks and computers.

The Right Fit

So many managed IT providers say that they’ll be there when you need them. How can you find the right fit for your business? It can be challenging in this day and time, simply because of all the many great choices. But, it can be helpful to sit down with your supervisors and talk to them about the ideal IT provider – someone who will take the time to listen to you, show concern about getting it right for you, someone who really will become a trusted partner.

A good IT partner will stay on top of daily maintenance for your hardware and software. They’ll keep the Wi-Fi equipment running smoothly. They will make recommendations about new products your company could benefit from. If you could find an IT service provider who stands by their promises, imagine how much easier your life would be. Your company would stop demanding so much of your time. You might actually get a vacation this year.

How to find your IT Managed Services Provider

Talk to other businesses owners in your area. Ask them to recommend someone. Check all names, credentials, and reputations online. You can find out quickly whether someone has a good strong reputation in the business world. Visit the company and meet some of their staff members. Do they seem capable, knowledgeable and skilled? If you walk in and find a young receptionist on the phone with her boyfriend and two of the techs in the back flirting, then get out of there quickly! That’s not the right place for you.

You’re serious about your business. You want it to succeed for yourself and especially for your family. So don’t settle for lame vendors that never show up and don’t do good work when they do meander by your place. Take as much time as you need finding a professional team of IT techs who know their jobs exceptionally well and love to come to work each day. These guys will know what’s going on when you get the Blue Screen of Death. They can fix it remotely in just a few minutes and you’re back to work.

Communicate your needs

When you find the right IT managed support team, sit them down at your office and make it clear that you want the very best they can give. You’re in this to win it and if they want to go along for the ride, they’re welcome. But they will have to pull their weight.

When you set down some guidelines right at the beginning of any relationship, you’ll find that the relationship is much more rewarding for both people. Of course, there will be contracts to sign that will state and include everything you talk about. A good contract is clear about what your responsibilities are and what the IT provider will provide. The cost should be included and can be a monthly charge or a fixed price you pay several times a year. Most vendors will work with you because they want your business.

Below, are just a few of the more important IT and networking services/products that your business needs:

  • Cloud storage and backup
  • Remote monitoring/management of servers, desktops, mobile devices
  • Business continuity plan in case of disaster
  • Cybersecurity for all computers and devices
  • Regular preventative maintenance
  • Scalability
  • 24/7 tech support

There are many other services you could opt for and you should discuss this with your IT professional.

The best managed wireless is all about handling many different services well. Every phone and computer should be secure even those of remote workers. Communications should be up and running 99 percent of the time. If you run a hospital or medical office, then you understand the importance of a good communication system. Most providers will suggest VoIP. It’s cloud-based and dependable, plus it can fit nicely in any budget.

With managed services, an organization should not have to worry about maintaining their Wi-Fi networks. Work with someone you have confidence in; someone who will exceed your expectations. You need a good, trusted IT service provider who is willing to get to know your business and work right alongside you to see it grow. Don’t settle for less than the best!

Technological Challenges Faced by Accounting Firms

Changes in technology come with a variety of challenges. First, there is the need to change and adapt to the new advancements. There are always financial costs associated with this process. The effects of technology are often widespread. Some people are concerned that new products and programs will put them out of work. The new developments in robotics are a good example. Many workers are concerned that their jobs will be taken over by robots in the future.

Accounting Firms Technology

If the past is any indication, this will not happen. What usually occurs is that the human workers do see a shift in the type of work they do, but they rarely are put out of work completely. Often, technological changes are a good thing. They make everyone’s job easier and remove all those boring, redundant tasks that no one wanted to do in the first place.

Technology in the accounting sector

The world of accounting has attracted numerous technological discoveries. These new programs reduce the error margin which leads to a more reliable outcome. Accounting programs can perform most tasks much easier than human beings and with more accuracy. This saves time and money for both the accountant and their customer. In the past, errors in financial reports or tax returns could cause quite a bit of trouble for everyone involved. With a good accounting program and someone to input the correct data, these errors are greatly reduced.

Stiff competition

Technology has increased the competition for accounting firms. Before the adoption of technology, accounting firms depended mostly on the skills of the employees of the firms. This meant, therefore, that competition was shaped by the accuracy and expertise of the workers in a firm. The credentials of an accounting firm’s employees went a long way in attracting a clientele.

In the world today, however, competition among accounting firms is shaped by technology. The first question that today’s client wants to know is which accounting software do you use. Everyone has a favorite accounting software and some people have a distinct dislike of certain programs. The one thing that software developers have learned over the years is to make all software as user friendly as possible. Accounting programs that require a genius to figure out don’t last very long. Everyone is searching for something they can learn quickly.

Increases in accounting fees

Modern accounting firms have raised their fees over the years, but so have all the other professions. Just try finding a lawyer who will work for $100 per hour. This was once a huge amount of money but today’s attorney’s charge an average of $300 per hour. Technology hasn’t made their fees any cheaper but it does make the job of billing clients much simpler.

The increase in accounting fees is attributable to a wide range of factors. The software purchase, maintenance, and renewal of licenses can be a big initial expense. Of course, with each new program that is released, that expensive software you just purchased may become obsolete overnight. For this reason, many accounting professionals choose monthly subscriptions. This concept allows an accounting firm to get the most advanced software on the market. The monthly subscription fee includes regular updates. This means that your software will never be obsolete. Usually, regular maintenance and support is included in your monthly charge as well. Many websites include training for your employees.

Most accountants will say that they enjoy and appreciate this type of convenience. They can focus on working with their customers. They don’t even have to think about whether their software is working okay and contains the latest changes in tax law. Everything works like it’s supposed to and if you have a problem, simply call the vendor and they will fix things straightaway.

Accounting programs do everything from reconciling bank statements to sending invoices to customers. Though these programs will never replace humans, they make their work much easier. They give the accountant time to find ways to help their clients save money.

Filing taxes

This task has always been stressful for individuals and business owners alike. There’s just no getting around paying your taxes though. Benjamin Franklin said that nothing in this life is certain except for death and taxes. Whether you own a small business or work for an employer, doing your taxes on time and correctly each year is imperative. If accounting software didn’t do anything except our taxes, it would be well worth it.

A good accounting program can help you keep track of your expenses throughout the year. You no longer need a shoebox for all those receipts. When it’s time to file your taxes, you can import all that data into the tax filing software and save yourself lots of time. Many people are still not comfortable doing their own taxes and since IRS penalties are often severe, it may be best to hire a good accountant to do them for you. Tax time is the busiest time of year for accountants.

Final thoughts

For accountants, technology has overall been very positive. The role of accountants has changed because of reliable software programs like Xero. Your accountant has the time to talk to you about saving money on your tax return, investing in new property, and ways to save on supplies. The role of the accountant has changed some due to technological advancements, but the changes have all been good.

Office 365 GDPR Compliance Manager

Compliance Manager

Introduced by Microsoft, Compliance Manager is a data tracking system designed to ensure companies adhere to General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Organizations can sign up for paid Compliance Manager or subscribe to a free Compliance Manager via Microsoft tools such as Microsoft Azure, Dynamic 365 or Microsoft Cloud Services. Microsoft recently released the long-awaited office 365 GDPR Compliance Manager with a few upgrades. Professionals are eagerly trying it out and giving their opinions about this exciting new product. The compliance management tool is expected to attain general availability on different platforms in the course of 2018. Here’s a sneak peek at the basic attributes of this highly anticipated GDPR data protection compliance tool.

Relevance of the new Office 365 GDPR Compliance Manager

Microsoft finally unveiled their much-awaited General Data Protection Regulation program that experts have been so excited about. Shortly after, they announced its features in a blog post and details of the new features to help users get started. Most users do look forward to new office products, but this one has been designed to make compliance to the new GDPR regulations much easier. That makes it a valuable tool that every business needs. Most business owners confess that they don’t know enough about the new GDPR rules and they are not ready for the May 25 deadline.

One key attribute of the new Office 365 is that it will include the compliance manager which was first previewed in November 2017. To date, the compliance manager is available on Azure, Dynamics 365, and Office 365 Business. Plans are also underway to have it available for Enterprise Customers via public clouds in the near future.

So what’s all the fuss about the new Office 365 GDPR Compliance Manager?

Customers have complained about difficult-to-understand compliance challenges and the GDPR is admittedly a complex document. Microsoft has attempted to take some of the complexity and mystery out of these regulations so that business owners can comply without having to hire outside help.

The most common challenge has been the lack of in-house employees who understand how to prepare and fulfill these new regulations. Office 365 GDPR Compliance Manager is tailored to ensure end-to-end regulation compliance. It also effectively empowers your business to manage the three key components of compliance. As your business uses this product, it will continuously provide you with a risk assessment and score that can alert you if you aren’t in full compliance in some areas.

Advanced GDPR Compliance

Microsoft’s Compliance Manager was developed to track an organization’s IT systems in specific regard to the requirements of international standards for data protection. One major issue has been that many company owners have simply not taken steps to be ready for the May 25 deadline, when all web sites who do business with European companies must adhere to EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

To help with this problem, Microsoft has unveiled a special GDPR template which will effectively detect and categorize personal information in your data base relevant to GDPR. This is important because many companies are still somewhat careless with their customer’s personal data. According to GDPR, companies failing to provide adequate protection for customer data could face penalties of up to €20 million.

The Compliance Manager has two features that customers will use to scan and assess data risk:

  1. Compliance Score- Users are now able to assess data risk on an interactive dashboard on the new Microsoft 365 GDPR.
  2. Azure Information Protection Scanner- This feature identifies, classifies, labels and effectively protects both on-premises and hybrid user data. It periodically scans sensitive data on emails and attachments based on the organization’s policies.

New Admin Role of Compliance Manager

Along with these two outstanding updates to Microsoft Compliance Manager is a unified labelling tweak on the admin dashboard. Microsoft cited protection of documents as the main reason for unified labeling, which it denotes as information protection administration. In the past, security admins and global admins could access the systems as separate entities to the Azure data protection service. With the new Compliance Manager, the option of additional management access permission is missing on the Azure portal and PowerShell unifying security and global admin roles.

With this new set up, the compliance manager ensures consistency in the labeling of information for easy protection of data records. However, the unified admin labeling role is still on a preview phase. At the moment, it allows the admin to apply a data protection setting which differentiates security functions from general global admin functions on a single interface in line with GDPR. Microsoft’s compliance manager is now available for customers on a paid program and or a trial option for users of Microsoft cloud services.

The Future of Data Compliance

The number of customers and companies worried about cyber theft is growing. Consequently, there’s a rising need for tools that can help protect customer data. The GDPR attempts to do this. As long as data stays scattered across an organization’s systems, there’s a greater risk that it will be stolen or compromised in some way. Compliance with GDPR guidelines seeks to eliminate many of these risks. Though it will constitute a huge challenge for most website owners, the alternative is unacceptable. Hopefully, the new Office 365 GDPR Compliance Manager can take some of the confusion and apprehension out of the equation.

Office 365 GDPR Compliance

Challenges Facing Today’s Manufacturing Firms

With the increase and diversification of consumer goods in the world today, there is a constant need for more manufacturing firms. Most manufacturing firms work around the clock and still can’t meet the needs of their customers. These companies play a big role in ensuring that the desires of consumers are met. Because of the urgent nature of manufacturing products, many manufacturers face numerous challenges.

Manufacturing Firms

These include:

Evolving consumer needs

Consumer’s tastes and needs are constantly evolving. Consumer needs are affected by factors such as the entertainment industry, the latest fashion trends, the weather, and even the environment in which the consumer lives. Manufacturing firms must constantly be scrambling to meet the ever-changing needs of consumers. This can be a daunting task. For most companies, it’s time-consuming and expensive to change the manufacturing process. Changes in consumer needs can either be systemic or abrupt. While systemic changes are predictable and somewhat easier to deal with, changes which occur abruptly pose the greatest challenge to manufacturing firms. Firms are forced to make unexpected modifications to their products and the process of production.

Technological changes

Like consumer needs, technology is constantly changing. Changes in technology are viewed positively in most circumstances. New technology can make doing certain jobs simpler while improving accuracy. Machines can now do the work of dozens of humans, reducing the number of people employed.

Technology, however, may have adverse effects on businesses in various ways. First of all, with technology comes the risk of cybercrime. Cyber-attacks are a constant threat that manufacturing firms have to be aware of. These attacks can have negative effects on the firm, including revealing their trade secrets or exposing their client list. This, in turn, can result in a loss of revenue and the company may be at a disadvantage in the marketplace.

Another problem associated with technology is the rate at which technology changes. Today, you may have the most modern equipment available, but all that could change with some new invention. Keeping up with changing technology in the world of manufacturing can be an expensive affair. Sometimes equipment can be modified and sometimes it must be replaced. This means that a manufacturing company must constantly be on the outlook for new and advanced technology and must have both the willingness and the money to purchase or upgrade their machinery. This can be costly.

Compliance with rules and regulations

Without a doubt, the manufacturing industry is one of the most regulated industries in any given country. Most governments exercise a lot of power in this area because of the effects that these firms’ products can have on consumers. Some rules and regulations affecting manufacturing firms include taxation, standardization rules, and consumer protection regulations. Manufacturing firms are also required to ensure that their premises are safe for workers. Accidents in large, busy manufacturing plants are common, but they do slow down the workflow. In some cases, the plant can be fined for not following the set human safety standards. Most of the time, compliance with these regulations is costly.

Competition

This has been a common problem for firms since time immemorial. Growth in the number of manufacturing firms is bound to increase competition. Competition in the world today, however, is not the same as in days past. With the fast adoption of the World Wide Web, it has become increasingly easier for competitors to market their products in a global marketplace. Manufacturing firms in China, for example, are extremely hard to beat on their prices and turnaround times. The Chinese do not have wage or safety laws. They can work their people around the clock and many do. Competitors in the United States will have a hard time matching the low prices of Chinese manufacturers. In the US, companies must observe OHSA safety laws and they must pay workers a minimum wage. This has led to most companies going overseas for their products and manufacturing needs.

Lack of adequately skilled personnel

One of the biggest problems faced by employers in the world today is the number of baby boomers attaining retirement age. Upon retiring, baby boomers leave a vacuum in the field, having taken their numerous years of experience with them. People taking over from the baby boomers, on the other hand, are not adequately prepared or skilled enough to fill in the gap left. Firms are thus spending a lot of money training the new workforce.

Inflation

Money is generally hard to come by for most people in the world today. Poor economic policies and poor implementation of sound economic rules has caused a rise in inflation rates over the years. When there is an improvement, it is usually by a rather small margin, which does not make much of an impact in the lives of most people. Manufacturing firms are hard hit by inflation. Firstly, the cost of raw materials that they depend on is likely to rise as a result of inflation. The cost of production, generally, also rises. This means a rise in the cost of the finished product. But because inflation affects everyone, consumers may not have enough money to purchase these higher priced items. Consumers can now surf the web and find cheaper products from all over the world.

Final thoughts

Manufacturing firms play a big role in every country’s economy. They ensure that there is always a supply to meet the growing demand. However, the problems they face each year make their work much more challenging. Juggling all the various components required for success can leave some manufacturers out in the cold.

New Microsoft Excel Data Visualization Features That Experts Are Excited About

There is no denying how critical Microsoft Excel is for day-to-day data processing and visualizations across organizations. Still, many users are not as familiar with the complete functionality of this handy tool as they could be. Today’s users say they have a fairly good knowledge of Excel and yet Microsoft adds new features each year to make it even more useful. Most companies simply don’t have a decent Excel training program to keep their employees up-to-date on the latest new spreadsheet features.

The most recent version of Microsoft Excel – both on traditional offline Office platforms and the cloud-based environment Office 365 – have new charts that introduce a whole world of data visualization.

You’ll be happy to know that Excel opens in your web browser just like Word, OneNote, PowerPoint, and PDF documents – making it a breeze for you to work with your data in the cloud.

The new Excel charts that were recently added are pretty handy. It is well worth knowing how and when to utilize them. This guide will walk you through three of the best to be released this year.

Waterfall charts

Businesses and organizations always seek to understand their finances better so that they can make their revenue projections more effective. It is critical for them to assess how profits and losses play out at different financial periods. One way to quickly understand and communicate these sets of financial data is through the visualization of financial statements. This is where Waterfall Excel charts come in.

Waterfall charts allow you to quickly illustrate the line items available in your financial data in a manner that provides a clear picture of how each item impacts your bottom line. They help make it easier to understand the cumulative effect of positive and/or negative values that are sequentially introduced.

You could use a Waterfall chart to illustrate how the negative and positive values in your data cumulatively affect the totals or final value such as net income, for instance.

Normally, the outlays or losses that occur throughout the business period should appear as negative integers, while profits or gains are stipulated as positive figures in the Waterfall chart.

Here are some revenue data from the Seattle Art Museum that we will use in our illustration:

To create a Waterfall chart, select your data and head to the ‘Insert’ tab on the Excel ribbon. From there, navigate to the Charts section and click the Waterfall icon.

Once you do that, Excel inserts a Waterfall chart for you, with all the values in the dataset you selected.

Suppose we select the positive values above (first data set); Excel will automatically detect that these are all positive values and color them green as follows:

Notice however that Excel does not identify the last value (Total Operating Revenue) as a total; that’s why it has calibrated it with the same green color.

To resolve that issue, double-click on that total and check the box marked “Set as Total” in the Format Data Point pane that appears.

You’ll see that this action immediately updates the chart, changing the color of the total value from green to grey, reflecting that all the other values colored green actually accrue to that total.

If we follow the same procedure for the Total Operating Expense (second set of data), our final Waterfall chart would look something like this:

Treemaps

Treemaps are great for showing relationships between sets of data. They use colors to create a contrast between the data sets so that you can capture the information on a Treemap at a glance. Let’s use these ticket sales data from the Seattle Art Museum to illustrate what we’re saying:

As you can see, all the ticket sales have been divided into either online or onsite subcategories and the many different classifications of ticket types. By so doing, we are indicating to Excel how we want to organize our chart.

To create the Treemap chart, we have to first select our entire data, then head to the ‘Insert’ tab on the Excel ribbon, and navigate to the hierarchy map symbol. Click the symbol to automatically insert a Treemap chart showing different relationships between online and onsite ticket sales broken down by ticket type.

Map charts

Map Charts help you draw comparisons of values and show how categories compare across different geographical regions. This is to say you may use map charts only when your data have geographical regions included.

A map chart, for instance, would help us visualize the geographical distribution of revenue from the ticket sales above.

To create a Map chart, we would select our data, tap the Insert button and click the map symbol.

This automatically inserts a chloroplast chart with the selected data geographically distributed in it. We can further customize the chart by double-clicking the legend and using the options on the Format Legend Entry menu.

Conclusion

Graphical representation can be quite helpful when it comes to making comparisons of various sets of data or when you want to pinpoint a trend at a glance. With good knowledge of these charts, you have even more tools in your arsenal to take on any data analysis project.

Microsoft Excel

Reasons to Use a Managed Service Provider for Wireless Networking

Wireless networking has become a very important aspect of human life. The global marketplace has forced businesses to find new ways of reaching their customers in countries around the world. However, wireless networking isn’t just for business owners. Various people in every way of life rely on wireless networking for different reasons.

Wireless Networking

Teenagers, young adults, parents, and even senior citizens count on wireless networks to perform a wide range of tasks each day. From paying the bills to visiting favorite social media sites, consumers depend on these services in an ever-increasing number of ways.

Today’s business people can’t survive without wireless networks to maintain an online presence. Dependable networking is extremely important for the success of any business in this complex online world. There are various providers who specialize in wireless networking. Both individuals and businesses now have numerous options available to them. In this sea of service providers, it may be difficult to find the service that best suits your needs. Each business has its own requirements and usually a tight budget to work with.

Professional services

Managed wireless networking services are most often offered by professionals. These are IT pros who specialize in wireless networking and a wide range of other services. Outsourcing your IT services can make your life much easier. But it’s important to find a provider who understands the specific needs of each customer; someone who will become a trusted partner. This is one of the major pain points of small business owners. They feel as if their IT needs will be lost in the busy workday of an IT specialist and they will not get the exact networking solution they need to thrive in the marketplace.

Eliminates the need to hire trained IT pros

Upon contracting for managed wireless services, the service provider brings his or her own team of professionals in to do all IT-related work. The costs for getting your professional services are factored into the contract price. Usually, this includes 24/7 support, which can be a big expense for some. This can eliminate a major headache for most business owners. You don’t have to hire and train employees to perform these services. Managed wireless networking services thus ensure that businesses employ a smaller number of personnel and therefore save on hiring costs.

Customized solutions

One of the major benefits from outsourcing your IT services is that you can get exactly what you need at a price that fits your budget. Managed service providers are specialists in their field. They are in a position to offer customized solutions to their clients. They most often have an IT consultant on staff who will work with you in determining your specific business IT requirements. For some, this is an easy process and for others, it is more complex due to HIPAA compliance and other government regulations. Most small business owners are not experienced enough to determine how to best handle these complex issues. But, an experienced IT professional knows. Depending on the service provider that you decide to partner with, you may have the option of choosing from different wireless options. The advantage of this is that you can choose specific services depending on their prices. You can select scalable options that will grow with your company.

Extra services

Managed networking service providers usually deliver many extra services, such as assessing, designing, deploying, and managing network services. This can take a real load off any business owner’s plate. It can be a burden to deal with older equipment that’s constantly breaking down. But if your contract includes unlimited service calls, you can rest easy. You won’t have to pay extra or employ people to handle things. As a result, you get inclusive services and at rather affordable costs. Your employees don’t have to spend time trying to fix networking equipment that breaks down. Simply call your IT service provider and you can get back to doing your regular job.

Legal liability

With the increase in the number of cyber crimes, managed networking providers become very important. First of all, these people are in a position to handle any type of data leak or security issue. Having the necessary knowledge of the latest advancements in cyber security is a valuable asset. Your managed service provider is responsible for keeping your systems well-protected.  Secondly, cyber thieves are constantly improving their methods of breaking in and stealing your data. Keeping up with these issues is a time-consuming and complex task. With managed wireless service providers, you do not have to worry about this. Your provider will stay on top of all the latest technology to ensure that your computers and network are protected.  This helps to reduce your liability as well.

Consistent monthly charges

Managed wireless networking agreements state an exact amount of money that the organization is to pay for their services. This means that your company can budget for these expenses. This eliminates enormous charges for broken equipment and outdated software. In most cases, the cost of handling all these problems and charges for networking and computer repairs will be far more than your regular monthly charge. This gives business owners peace of mind and prevents unexpected charges.

Final thoughts

In this era where wireless networks are an absolute necessity, it’s wise for any size business to opt for managed IT services. Find professionals in your area that have a good reputation; a company that stands behind its promises. Most IT service providers include regular maintenance to keep your computers running smoothly. They ensure that your network is protected against cyber intruders. Managed Wireless Networking Providers are a great choice for any organization looking to alleviate the burden of networking, computer repairs, and dependable IT services.

Meltdown and Spectre Spawn New Round of Phishing Scams

The recent announcement of the vulnerabilities found in the Intel, ARM, and AMD processors has sparked a new phishing campaign – not the good kind of fishing with bait and largemouth bass. Although, these hackers are using a particular kind of bait.

Phishing Scams

While Meltdown and Spectre require access to your system, hackers have various ways to gain access. Already hackers are using phishing emails to trick users into giving them access. They send out an email claiming to contain a patch for Meltdown or Spectre. Instead, the email installs malware on your system. This malware gives the hacker access to your system, allowing them to exploit the bugs and take the unprotected data.

Be wary of social engineering scams like phishing emails. Hackers are all too eager to take advantage of problems like this, and unfortunately, some people are so eager to fix the problem that they might not realize that the “patch” they just clicked on is now allowing a hacker to steal all their data.

WHAT IS PHISHING?

Phishing is a hacking technique that “fishes” for victims by sending them deceptive emails. The “ph” replaces the “f” in homage to the first hackers, the “phone phreaks” from the 1960’s and 1970’s. Virtually anyone on the internet has seen a phishing attack. Phishing attacks are mass emails that request confidential information or credentials under pretenses, link to malicious websites or include malware as an attachment.

Many phishing sites look just like the sites that they are impersonating. Often, the only difference in many spoofed sites is slight, and easily missed difference in the URLs. Visitors can easily be manipulated into disclosing confidential information or credentials to the hacker if they can be induced to click the link. Even blacklisted phishing sites can often get by standard filters through the technique of time-bombing the URLs. Then the URL will lead to an innocent URL initially to get past the filters but then redirect to a malicious site.

Although malware is harder to get past filters, recently discovered and zero-day malware stands an excellent chance of getting through standard filters and being clicked on, especially if malware hides in a non-executable file such as a PDF or Office document. This is how many of the recent ransomware attacks were pulled off.

Now with Meltdown and Spectre looming over us, the average person is more susceptible to “quick fixes” and solutions to this issue.

Despite the lack of personalization, an astonishing 20% of recipients will click on basically anything that makes it to their inbox.

SPEAR PHISHING

Spear phishing is an enhanced version of phishing that aims at specific employees of the targeted organization. The goal is usually to gain unauthorized access to networks, data, and applications. In contrast to the mass emailing of a phishing attack, which might see hundreds of attack messages sent out to random recipients within the space of a couple of hours, spear phishing is methodical and focused on a single recipient. Often the initial email will contain no URL or attachment. Instead, it will simply try to invoke the recipient into thinking that the sender is who they say they are. Only later on will the hacker request confidential credentials or information, or send a booby-trapped URL or attachment.

The additional customization and targeting of a spear phishing email, along with the lack of easily recognized blacklisted URLs or malware customization results in click-rates more than 50%!