Using the Cloud to Boost Business

The Cloud Business

Boost Business with the Cloud

Using the cloud offers a variety of benefits for your business. Find out more about how you can use cloud technology to boost business.  

The Cloud Business

The cloud has grown in popularity among businesses in all industries. However, if you have not already transferred your business’s data and operations to the cloud, you may wonder if this technology is really in your best interest to expend the time and energy you will need to invest in order to implement cloud computing.

Below are some of the ways the cloud can boost business for your company, making it well worth the investment.

1. The cloud saves you money.

Implementing the cloud for your business prevents you from needed to invest in the same expensive infrastructure and programming of a company with in-house operations. This can save your company a significant amount of money over time.
The cloud can also save your company money by eliminating the need for in-house IT personnel. When you make the move to cloud computing, all of the programs and services you use will be maintained by your provider. Thus, you won’t need your own full-time IT staff.

2. The cloud boosts productivity.

The programs and processes you are able to access when you utilize the cloud are often more advanced and efficient than those you could afford on your own. In addition, if you choose the right provider, your programs will also be more reliable and kept up-to-date at all times. This leads to enhanced productivity overall.

3. The cloud improves collaboration.

With the cloud, it is easier to connect with colleagues, share information and work on projects with others. These improvements lead to more collaboration within your company, which in turn improves outcomes.

4. The cloud grows with your company.

One of the best things about cloud computing is its scalability. You pay only for the services you need, making it much more cost-effective. These services can also be scaled up or scaled down easily when your needs change, allowing for easier growth.
Moving your company to the cloud may seem overwhelming at first, but the potential benefits are clear. If you are not already using the cloud, it is time to start exploring this option and considering how it can improve your business. Before making the switch, be sure to investigate different providers so you can find the one that offers the best services at a fair price.

Why Every Business Needs Cybersecurity

Business Investment in Cybersecurity

Business Investment in Cybersecurity

Why Every Business Should Invest in Cybersecurity

Cyber security is essential to businesses of all sizes. Learn how to keep your business up to date and protected from the most common digital threats.  

Cybersecurity is no longer a concern exclusive to large corporations. Since the infamous attacks on Equifax, Target, and Apple, cybercriminals have started to shift their focus towards smaller businesses. Without proper security protocols, small businesses are sitting ducks even for novice hackers.

In recent years, the cost of data theft targeting small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) has risen significantly. The Ponemon Institute reports a 17% increase in the average cost of theft and damages, and a 26% increase in the average cost of disruption to operations. The threat has prompted many SMBs to invest more heavily in third-party data security services.

Cybersecurity in a Continuously Evolving Digital Space

Ever-evolving technology makes the world more connected, but also makes data more vulnerable to attackers. Gone are the days when an antivirus, firewall, and email filter were enough to earn a passing cybersecurity grade. As criminals refine and improve their methods of attack, businesses and IT professionals must step up their defenses.

The most recent trend in cyberattacks is a shift towards SMBs, many of which lack the breadth and depth of data security that larger corporations are likely to have. Illicit tactics such as email phishing, direct hacking, and installing ransomware can spell big trouble for SMBs. If your data is compromised, the results can extend to your customers and other members of your supply chain.

Consequences of a Data Breach

The fallout from a data breach depends on the scale of the attack and the value of the data stolen. Hackers may be able to seize control of accounts, drain funds, freeze assets, and access sensitive customer information. If you operate in the healthcare or financial sectors, you may be liable to pay reparations in addition to suffering the cost of stolen capital and the inability to continue operations. The cost of a large-scale data breach can devastate even the wealthiest of corporations, and will most certainly overwhelm a small business.

How to Improve Cybersecurity

A common misconception is that only large corporations can afford effective cybersecurity. In most cases, implementing cybersecurity isn’t merely a matter of money, but of proper training and awareness. A Ponemon Institute study linked 54 percent of data breaches to employee or contractor negligence. This includes email phishing, which is often the first step attackers use to conduct large scale theft of usernames, passwords, and other sensitive data.

Educating and training your employees on cybersecurity minimizes the risk of data theft at the point of contact. Your business should have protocols to identify signs of phishing, choose secure passwords, and grant or deny access to information. You can also inform your customers about how to keep their information secure. Taking this two-pronged approach shows customers how committed you are to keeping their data safe.

Being proactive and spreading the word on cybersecurity threats will help you protect your business from hackers. Whether you’re a multinational corporation or a two-person mom-and-pop shop, your customers rely on you to safeguard their data. Implementing the latest security practices lets them know that you value their trust.

Ransomware’s Cruel Greed: Proven Security Protects Your Business

Ransomware

Ransomware

Cybercriminals lock victims out of computer and network files – sometimes destroying data – and extort cash to get that data back. That’s a ransomware attack, costing businesses billions worldwide.

Ransomware can spread by the simplest of user actions. Email phishing, or Business Email Compromise (BEC) – fraudulent and deceptive emails posing as legitimate messages – is perhaps the most common propagation method. Social media clickbait, particularly using fake accounts masquerading as friends or colleagues, is common also. Simply visiting an infected website can corrupt your system, even if the user doesn’t click anything on the web page.

How common is ransomware? There’s bad news and good news. The bad news: attacks are extremely common, with thousands of organizations being probed every day. The good news: savvy IT professionals are fending off attacks, so infections are still comparatively rare. However, attacks are on the rise and cybercriminals are growing more sophisticated.

Ransomware attacks are hitting businesses of all sizes, from a few employees to enterprise corporations. Individuals get infected also, especially those without good antivirus protection. Government agencies and health care organizations have become prime targets.

Data Loss and Financial Risk

Ransomware encrypts computer files and network drives, then demands a ransom in exchange for a decryption key. Most victims end up paying the ransom. Ransomware can be difficult, if not impossible, to crack, and paying the ransom can be the only way to get data back.

Costs of recovery can be enormous. The ransom itself can run from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, even approaching $1 million dollars. The real cost of recovery runs easily into the millions. FedEx reported losses of more than $300 million before operations were fully restored. The total cost to US business is estimated at $75 billion or more per year, with downtime costing around $8,500 per hour.

Cybercriminals typically demand payment in Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency affords substantial anonymity, making it nearly impossible to track perpetrators. Even if they could be identified, cybercriminals often work over international borders. Jurisdiction issues makes prosecution almost impossible.

Preventing Ransomware

Ransomware protection is a complex endeavor involving technology, education and best practices. You need the right tools – the right information – and the right business processes.

Key steps to protect your data include:

  • Maintain up-to-date antivirus/malware protection, especially on email. Do your research for best programs, including buyer reviews on popular online retail sites.
  • Perform regular external backups, and quarantine them from your network as soon as they’re completed. Keep archival history as much as possible.
  • Train employees. Malware is most often spread by human behavior, e.g. clicking an email phishing link or social media clickbait. Proper training can minimize risk by educating staff about the risk of suspicious links.
  • Maintain strong firewall protection to minimize the risk of a single infected machine spreading malware into your network.
  • Keep all enterprise software updated with the latest releases and patches. Software firms are constantly improving security, and outdated software is riskier.
  • Administer IT user permission security so employees have access only to the software and functionality required for their job roles.
  • Disable macro scripts on files shared via email – an important component of training.

Along with preventative measures, create a contingency plan. If you are hit with ransomware, you’ll be better prepared to cope if you have plans in place to continue operations and speed up recovery.

Setting up a cryptocurrency wallet should be part of the contingency plan. If your business is hit – and you decide to pay the ransom – you’ll be able to pay much sooner if you already have this in place.

See these resources for more detail on what you can do to protect your business.

What to Do If Infected

More than half of targets don’t report ransomware attacks, according to FBI estimates. This is likely driven by concerns over bad publicity. Financial and business process recovery is bad enough without adding in a PR nightmare.

However, it’s critical to notify the FBI if your systems are infected. The FBI is the lead federal agency for cybercrime. Their investigative and technology capabilities are state-of-the-art, and no one is better equipped to help you understand your options and recover your data.

The FBI suggests that you do not pay the ransom. The decision is up to your company leadership, and it’s true that most victims do pay. In many cases, the cost of paying the ransom is far less than the potential losses from operational downtime.

Ransomware removal often involves wiping systems clean and restoring uninfected files from backups. It’s a delicate business best left to a professional cybersecurity company.

It Can Happen to Your Business

Ransomware and cybercrime are on the rise. Costs to businesses are going up.

Education and preparation are the best defenses against cybercrime. Responsible management needs to be proactive. Threats are real, cybercriminals are serious, and today’s IT professionals are armed with the tools and the knowledge to keep their companies safe.

Outsourcing IT Makes Sense for Small Businesses: 7 Reasons

Woman Outsourcing Technology Support

Woman Outsourcing Technology Support

If you’re a small business owner, you have plenty of things to worry about. IT shouldn’t be one of them. We think it makes complete sense for most small businesses to outsource their IT needs to a managed service provider (MSP). Here are 7 reasons.

1. Focus on What Makes You Unique

This first reason is a big one. Small businesses have limits on how many people they can hire. If you try to keep all your IT in house, you’ll devote a decent number of your hires to IT once you reach a certain size.

Here’s the problem: your business isn’t IT. (If it is, you probably don’t need this guide!) Outsourcing your IT frees up capital and office space that you can instead devote to your core business. Outsource your IT so you can better focus your staff on whatever it is that makes you unique.

2. Access More Skill

With an in-house IT team, you’re limited to whatever number of specialties you can afford to hire. Your IT team will work hard, and its members will stretch their skills and find a way to accomplish things outside their skill set. Their work won’t always be done in the best way, though. By outsourcing your IT, you gain access to a broader range of skills and certifications. You can rest easy knowing that it was done right from the get-go.

3. Do More, Faster

Related to the previous point, your IT needs will be met faster by a dedicated team of experts than by a small but well-intentioned in-house team. All that time the in-house team spends poking around looking for answers to problems that lie outside their specialties is the time you’re paying for. With an MSP you’ll usually get the right answer, right away.

4. Reduce Personnel Costs

When you hire in-house IT staff, you’re on the hook for all the associated personnel costs, like insurance, FICA, and so forth. These costs are often hidden and can be burdensome for small businesses. With an MSP, you pay a fixed monthly rate, and you don’t have to worry about administrative personnel costs. The MSP takes care of those for its employees.

5. Reduce Infrastructure Costs

Outsourcing IT to an MSP isn’t solely about reducing IT headcount and the costs associated with personnel. You can also save IT infrastructure costs by using an MSP. Service agreements vary, but some will include some or all hardware in the monthly fee. You can avoid large spikes in expenses for new equipment by choosing this kind of service agreement.

Your MSP can also move much of your IT infrastructure to the cloud, eliminating the need to house costly servers at your business. The less IT infrastructure you have on site, the less you pay to power and maintain that equipment.

6. Free Your Existing IT Team to Focus

For larger small businesses, outsourcing IT usually isn’t done with the intent of drastically reducing or eliminating IT headcount. It’s more about allowing your existing IT team to focus in and specialize.

If your IT staff has grown beyond just one or two generalists, you likely have some highly capable, highly qualified individuals on your team. Here’s a scary proposition: go ask those people how many hours a week are eaten up doing low-level IT errands like helping John in Accounting with basic computer questions or reminding Sarah from Accounts not to reply-all to emails?

Outsourcing your basic IT functions to an MSP allows your existing IT team to focus on their areas of specialization. You’re also free to assign in-house assets to IT functions that are core to your business or are proprietary.

7. Gain After Hours Support (Without Paying Overtime)

Outsourcing your IT needs to an MSP with a 24/7 service agreement means instant access to support anytime. With an in-house IT staff, you’ll end up paying overtime if a system goes down after hours. You may also have to wait for that IT staffer to physically arrive to fix the problem.

When you outsource, you get near immediate remote support, without the overtime. This is a great benefit to small businesses of all varieties and sizes. You’ll benefit even more from after-hours service if you have virtual team members or even satellite offices in far-flung time zones.

Conclusion

We’ve covered just 7 of the many reasons that outsourcing IT to a managed service provider is the right choice for small businesses. Do you have questions about specific aspects of working with an MSP? Let’s chat. We’re ready to answer.

What You Need to Know About NextGen Malware and AntiVirus Protection

Nexgen Firewalls Cybersecurity

If you’ve heard the terms “NextGen Malware and Antivirus Protection”, you might think they were made up by a marketer who had a few too many lattes — but this type of security truly takes it up a notch from more familiar offerings. Today’s cybercriminals are becoming increasingly savvy and are finding ways to short-circuit or completely bypass traditional protective measures. These well-organized criminals understand white hat security procedures. They are tracking the activity of your key business leaders online or on social media. They are developing malware and viruses that can mutate to avoid detection. And make no mistake: these hackers can bring your business to a halt in a matter of hours by limiting access to your important business data or trashing crucial systems. Here’s what you need to know about the next generation of tools that cybersecurity professionals are developing to combat this escalating threat to America’s businesses.

Nexgen Firewalls Cybersecurity

Cyberthreats Were Created to Evade Your Current Security Systems

What are these dangerous and slippery lines of code? They’re developed specifically to circumvent or defeat your security processes and procedures and are becoming extremely effective at doing their job. Traditional antiviruses are often blocked before they are able to cause a great deal of mischief, but this new generation of threats requires some next-level tools for protection. Ilan Sredni of Palindrome Consulting shares: “Advanced threat protection has changed its nature. Using artificial intelligence tools that can understand any type of malware will be the standard and the only way to stay ahead, if not current, with the threats”. Early on, threat actors figured out ways to leverage the most basic of business software, such as Microsoft Excel and Word, in order to deliver their nefarious payloads. Software engineers and security professionals grew savvy to these tactics — causing a new wave of threats to come to the forefront. As the threats continue to evolve, cybersecurity professionals will need to remain diligent if they want to protect their organizations. As endpoints become more amorphous, cyber attacks increasingly take advantage of the slipperiness of maintaining security on mobile phones, WiFi locations and other potentially risky endpoints.

What Makes Antivirus Protection “NextGen”?

While it’s difficult to tie down a single definition for “NextGen” in terms of antivirus protection, this term is often used to describe strategies and products that provide a more comprehensive and scalable approach to preventing this type of attack. This system-centric approach often leverages machine learning to improve protection capabilities, uses cloud-based computing to scan for threats and unusual actions, immediately begins resolution without requiring direct input and provides a more comprehensive set of data that can be analyzed to determine the duration and extent of a breach or hack. These forensics are particularly important as organizations seek to shore up any holes in their security grid to prevent other attacks in the future. Traditional antivirus protection is proactive to some extent, in that it is continually scanning for known signatures and performing heuristic analysis. The next generation of malware is quite crafty in the way it interacts with your systems.

What’s the Difference Between Metamorphic and Polymorphic Malware?

According to Don Baham, President and CEO of Kraft Technology Group, “Polymorphic and metamorphic attributes of malware are harder to detect and prevent, and more dark web marketplaces are providing access to malware code. Together, this has resulted in a greater number of hard-to-detect malware variants attacking our enterprises”. Defining the difference between metamorphic and polymorphic malware starts with understanding the root of the terms: “Metamorphic viruses are considered to be more advanced threats then polymorphic malware because the internal code and signature patterns are changing with each with iteration, making metamorphic malware impossible to be detected with signature-based endpoint tools,” Sredni shares. Protecting against this type of malware requires reaching beyond a simple monitoring program and defining endpoint security solutions that will monitor for abnormal activity, analyze what rogue programs are attempting to do and either halt the activity or actively alert an admin. “Since this type of attack can happen rapidly, it’s crucial that your solution is able to report this newly learned behavior to other endpoints in the enterprise to help mitigate the spread of the malware,” notes Baham.

Protecting Against Next-Generation Threats

For information on protecting against this type of advanced threat, we turn to Keith Marchiano, Director of Operations for Kyocera Intelligence. “Your first step is to implement a password policy to have your end user passwords changed every 90 days. Having your server and network passwords changed as frequently is challenging. Second, implementing 2-factor authentication for anybody trying to log into your server or network is recommended. Third, implement a multi-layer plan for security- antivirus, malware/spyware/ransomware protection, and cloud DNS security to protect the network. Fourth, implement mandatory security training for all employees. Finally, have a disaster recovery/business continuity solution that will detect ransomware attacks and allow your network administrator to restore the network to the time prior to the attack. Taking this approach will improve your security and ensure if you are attacked, that you can restore without loss to your data or major damage to your company’s reputation. All of these steps can be implemented rather quickly without interruption to your business”.

Creating a holistic approach to security starts with a firm understanding of the threat landscape, something that you simply cannot gain overnight without assistance. Your business is depending on you to reduce the risk around malware and viruses — are your solutions and technology team ready to rise to the occasion?

How Can You Save Money With The Cloud?

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing transformed the way companies approached their infrastructure. You’re not locked into using on-site resources only. Instead, you have access to a range of cloud-based service providers. It’s common knowledge that the cloud saves businesses money, but you may be wondering about the specifics of how that works and how to get the best value out of these solutions.

Easier Collaboration

Many cloud solutions have features that streamline collaborative efforts between employees, teams and departments. Everyone accesses the files from a centralized location and can make changes at the same time. Employees don’t need to be in the office to make that possible, as cloud-based systems support remote access from a variety of devices.

Improve Customer Experience

Customers have high expectations of the companies they do business with. They want rapid responses through a variety of platforms. Trying to maintain that level of availability through customer support solutions that are tied to a specific workstation is difficult. A cloud-based unified communications solution brings all of the customer contact channels together in one place and provides the necessary mobility. The improved experience and response time leads to more customer recommendations, higher satisfaction ratings and a loyal audience.

Securing Bring Your Own Device Environments

Employees enjoy working on devices that they’re most familiar with, but it’s challenging to maintain a safe environment. Malicious applications installed on personal smartphones, tablets and laptops can compromise your entire network. The IT department can go through every piece of equipment that comes into the workplace, but that takes their time away from other critical tasks.

Cloud-based solutions eliminate this need since it takes your network out of the equation. The service provider has security measures in place to stop compromised devices from accessing its application. They handle the security measures necessary to work with remote connections from a variety of devices.

Eliminating Update Downtime

Updating software is a time-consuming process for your IT team. Patches come out regularly, and they have to track all of this information and find the time to deploy them to the network. If an application’s updating process is difficult to program a script for, the IT technicians have to go to individual workstations to push out the latest version. Cloud-based solutions are updated by the service providers on their own servers. Your employees connect to the cloud resource as usual. Downtime is minimal or nonexistent, and you don’t have to dedicate your in-house IT team to this process.

Since the cloud provider covers the ongoing maintenance and support of the product, your IT workers have more bandwidth to handle their daily duties. They can move to a proactive and strategic approach that improves your company’s infrastructure and supports your business goals.

Avoid Expensive Licensing Fees

The software licensing structure for non-cloud applications can be cost-prohibitive, especially when you consider that a new version typically comes out every few years. The subscription model that cloud-based services use does away with the upfront cost and spreads the total cost of ownership throughout the life of the product.

Reduce the Need for New Hardware

Hardware failures are a fact of life. Servers stop working or grow too outdated to support the applications. Over time, these expenses far outweigh the total cost of ownership associated with cloud-based systems. Consider the long-term equipment expenses when you’re evaluating whether a cloud infrastructure is the right choice for your organization.

Cost-effective Backups

Disaster can strike your business at any time, whether it’s a tornado or a malicious internal actor. Downtime eats away at your profitability and causes long-term damage. Robust backup solutions that give you all the features you need to have business continuity are expensive and require a lot of upkeep. When you use cloud-based solutions, you’re automatically moving vital systems and data offsite. The typical cloud company handles the necessary backups and follows best practices for this process.

Getting Help with Compliance

Regulated industries have many compliance rules that they need to adhere to. Businesses without a compliance team have to bring in costly consultants and legal experts to ensure that they are following the requirements. If you fail to comply with these regulations, you may be subject to financial or criminal penalties. Working with cloud-based platforms allows you to leverage the provider’s legal team rather than shouldering the cost yourself.

Seamless Scaling in Both Directions

Demand for your products and services isn’t a static number. Traditional IT infrastructure requires you to have enough on-site hardware to accommodate the capacity needed at your highest demand levels. When you have seasonal shifts and other factors that impact your company’s activity level, you’re stuck maintaining equipment that’s not actively in use. One of the best cost benefits of the cloud is the ability to scale up and down as needed. Since many cloud-based systems have a subscription model based on actual use, it’s easy to adjust your payments.

Moving part or all of your infrastructure to the cloud provides many direct and indirect cost benefits. While on-premises equipment has its uses, especially when you’re dealing with extremely sensitive data, the cloud drastically reduces how much you pay for vital systems.

What Are Some Common Myths With Managed IT Services?

Managed IT Services

Managed IT Services

Managed IT Services is a transaction often required by businesses large and small in order to operate efficiently. It’s unfortunate that some owners and managers misinterpret the scale of services provided by a Managed IT Provider. To some extent, there is a contractual obligation toward the expected services, but there is also a simple limitation as to what the IT Provider is capable of doing for your company. Managing your network system, affording security to your records, or simply plugging in your new computer can all be aspects of what IT does, but it has to be contracted in order to hold an expectation of having a particular aspect of the job completed for you.

Contracts and Coverage

A common myth about contracted IT services is that “everything” is covered. No IT service provider is going to contract to enable the software your company uses and expect to spend a week developing your network. Likewise, nobody is going to contract to physically attach your hard components and then set up software for free. Although most IT people can do either job, they specialize. One person might run power cords to individual desks and set up the needs for a computer to run, another person will customize the individual computer to the needs of the job. Although either person can do either job, they don’t, so you need to describe to the Managed Services Representative which of their employees you need to hire to fill your needs and which services you plan to conduct in-house in order to find the right contract with the right specialists you need for consultation services.

Service Level Myths

Some companies offer tiered pricing platforms in the services they offer. To an extent, such offers allow individual businesses to choose what services they need, but at the same time, it has to be understood the provider is going to do their very best regardless of which pricing tier you choose. If you pay only to download new software, no legitimate provider is also going to install it for free, nor can a contract to install software be filled if the programs haven’t been bought and downloaded. No Managed Service can provide free service in addition to their contractual obligations, but it isn’t a myth that they will give you appropriate advice on how to meet your goals and needs.

Every IT Provider Is an Expert

Unfortunately, not everybody who offers IT Service is an expert in the needs of your company. A reputable Service Provider will tell you what they can and cannot do, and will have associates they can recommend toward the services you need which they don’t provide. It isn’t a myth that every IT Provider is an expert. They are, but they aren’t necessarily an expert in every aspect of the field. IT Services are a broad range of helpful ideas toward your company’s success, anyone who claims to be an expert in every aspect of those concepts should be viewed with skepticism.

Conclusion

IT Services are a necessary aspect of every successful business. Some IT work can be conducted in-house, but other jobs require an outside contractor. It’s important to understand what services are provided contractually and realistically as opposed to believing the myths about what an IT Provider can do for you before you hire them, and a reputable company will be prepared to answer such questions as part of their business proposition before you hire them.

10 Amazing Benefits To Outsourcing Your Help Desk

Computer Help Desk

Computer Help Desk

With organizations working increasingly advanced technology into most aspects of their daily operation, it only follows that employees and customers may occasionally need help using those technologies and fixing problems they encounter. Help desks have emerged as the primary method for giving IT users the support they require to work effectively with technology as they complete their tasks and contribute to their organization’s success.

What is a help desk?

Help desks, or managed operation centers, provide consistent, critical support services to the employees within an organization, and in some cases, their clients. Help desks are run by personnel with extensive technical knowledge who are well-versed in managing, troubleshooting, maintaining and upgrading the various technological tools used by companies across industries.

While some businesses have in-house IT support through designated staff members, that option is often not tenable for many smaller organizations with limited employees and resources. Outsourced technology support allows them to focus their energy on more integral aspects of their practice. Even mid-size and large businesses, however, benefit by partnering with third-party entities that offer expert help desk support and gaining access to an additional resource for their internal IT staff.

What are the benefits of outsourcing help desk support?

Outsourcing IT support provides a number of advantages, particularly for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Here is a quick look at 10 ways your operation can benefit through outsourcing IT:

1. Cost-savings

Maintaining an in-house help desk can factor as a hefty expense into an organization’s annual budget, especially when benefit packages and other perks are taken into consideration. By entering into a contract with an outsourced help desk, you can tailor the services to fit your specific needs and financial position.

2. Increased Flexibility

Working with an outside provider for your IT support gives your employees flexibility, allowing them to work a broader range of hours without having to worry about not having support should they encounter a problem. Even when working remotely or outside peak hours, they can access a live representative for support.

3. Immediate Response

Help desk specialists are only a phone call, email, or support ticket away. As third-party providers manage IT support for multiple organizations, they will have several technicians on-call to address issues on demand. With a consolidated pool of employees, their efforts can be spread more effectively across the businesses they serve. If the technicians cannot fix the issue remotely, they will respond in person to fix the issue on-site.

4. Diverting Management Responsibilities

Working with a third-party service provider means they will handle their own IT team, relieving you and your human resources department of that responsibility. The firm will oversee the management of their own employees—from recruitment and hiring to training and retention—and take care of tracking their hours and performance, as well as addressing any personnel issues.

5. Access to More Resources

Most companies do not have the financial freedom to acquire the latest IT equipment or jump on emerging technological solutions. Providers whose sole purpose is managing technology, however, will have not only the most current but also a wider variety of resources. This helps even the playing field, especially for small businesses, allowing them to take advantage of advanced technologies without bearing the entire financial burden of procuring them.

6. Support from Highly Trained Specialists

Much like with resources, third-party IT firms can offer a wealth of expertise. Their tech specialists come equipped with a wide range of credentials, training and prior experience with businesses similar to yours, which gives you a strategic advantage. When your organization encounters an IT issue, one of their team members likely will have specialized knowledge and skill-set to troubleshoot that problem.

7. A Preventative Mindset

Help desk engineers are generally in the business of providing maintenance, as well as incident management to prevent problems before they occur. They can offer advice on upgrading old systems and software and suggest other technical solutions to address the root cause of recurring problems. Help desks also track important performance indicators and metrics via remote software, to compile data on average time for technician to accept ticket, average time to resolve problem (or close ticket), average number of tickets per day/user, issues occurring after business hours, communication pertaining to a ticket, and other areas. This statistical reporting is then used for continuous quality improvement.

8. Priority on Partnership

Third-party firms are invested in fulfilling their contract and building a long-term relationship with the organizations they serve, so they will approach help desk support with a cooperative attitude. One of their goals will be to make communicating and collaborating on tasks with the employees, or end users, smoother and less frustrating. The tools they recommend will be designed to bolster this partnership and help employees feel empowered when it comes to using technology, which in turn augments company morale and productivity.

9. Increased Customer Satisfaction

Many companies use outsourced help desk services, such as call flow support, to take care of their clients’ needs or give them technical support when they are using the organization’s website, purchasing products online, or making inquiries into services. Sharing the burden of this task with an external provider frees up employees to focus on their core competencies and daily responsibilities. Additionally, customers benefit by having their problems immediately addressed, which increases customer satisfaction and helps the business both attract and retain clients.

10. Peace of Mind

For many organizations, experiencing excessive downtime because an IT system is experiencing issues can be detrimental. With a team of industry-leading experts in your corner, you can rest at ease that your IT is being taken care of. You won’t have to use your internal employees and their valuable time to fix a problem that resides outside their area of expertise. Your trusty help desk will have the issue under control.

Help desks are aimed at helping the relationship between your business and its technology flourish. They understand the importance of keeping your systems functioning and available to the employees who rely on them to do their job. External providers can provide effective IT management and support at an affordable cost.

Dec 7 – Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

December 7th, 2018, is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. It marks the 78th year since the tremendous military disaster that brought America into World War II. It’s a time for somber reflection and to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in that tragedy, those who survived to go on to fight another day in that conflict, and the few who are still living. Millions of Americans will mark the day by displaying the American flag, attending tributes and memorial services and school and public educational presentations, by visiting with survivors at reunions, and in more personal ways.

Pearl Harbor remembrance

History Of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

On the 23rd of August, 1994, the U.S. Congress officially designated December 7th as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. In November of the same year, President Bill Clinton issued a proclamation declaring 1994 to be the first year of recognition, and it was subsequently observed the following month. It is not a Federal holiday so government offices and schools, as well as other businesses and organizations, remain open.

A Day That Will Live In Infamy

At approximately 7:48 AM on Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941, 353 Japanese aircraft, including fighters, dive bombers, and torpedo bombers, launched an attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as well as U.S. Army Air Corps wings based at nearby Hickam and Wheeler airfields. The attack caught American forces by complete surprise. There had been no formal declaration of war or any type of warning by the Japanese.

The effect was devastating. 2,405 American sailors, soldiers, and civilians were killed and another 1,178 others were wounded. Almost 20 U.S. Navy warships, including eight battleships, were destroyed or severely damaged, as well as 188 aircraft.

The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan, delivering his famous speech to Congress saying that the attack was “a date which will live in infamy.” Americans entered World War II with the popular slogan ‘Remember Pearl Harbor’ as their battle cry.

How To Observe Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

American are encouraged to show their observance of the day by displaying the United States flag outside of their homes, and at half-mast, if displayed on a pole, until sunset on December 7th. Many also plant flags on the graves of veterans and attend reunions and other events associated with the day.

What Are The Top eCommerce Platforms Going Into 2019

ecommerce 2019

ECommerce platforms are one of the fastest growing trends in business. They allow you to create an online presence where you can display your products, interact with the consumer, handle transactions, and finalize sales all on one convenient platform. You don’t have to maintain a storefront or purchase a building. You simply set up your virtual store and go to work.

ecommerce 2019

Shopify

Shopify combines social media and online shopping giving you access to a broader audience with much less effort. For $9 a month, you can easily integrate your Shopify store with your FaceBook page giving you the best of both worlds and allowing you to attract customers who prefer social shopping on a secure platform. Shopify means customers can view your shop without disrupting their connection to social media.

YoKart

YoKart allows for multiple vendors to be used within one system. Designed to benefit small and medium-sized businesses, YoKart offers several payment options and even has a multi-lingual platform. This makes it easy to communicate with buyers and even more accessible for buyers to pay for their purchases.

Big Commerce

Big Commerce allows you the option to integrate many different storefronts into one, easy to use online shopping experience. You can include eBay, Amazon, and Facebook shops in one convenient location and also include multiple options for managing how customers pay for their items, how the products are shipped, and creating an automated inventory that updates itself as items are sold.

Magento

Magento is designed to grow as your business grows. It offers flexible features that are designed to adapt right along with your company’s continued growth. This includes automated inventory, payment platforms, and cloud solutions that encourage growth instead of restricting it. The company gives you access to a network of professionals who have experience in many areas including, IT gurus, marketing professionals, and seasoned business owners.

Squarespace

Squarespace functions in much the same way as WordPress and allows you to create the type of website that will best suit your needs. The focus rests primarily on building your brand and helps you to sell yourself. There are not a lot of filters or other bells and whistles that can cause frustration and confusion. It is easy to use and doesn’t require an excessive amount of tech savvy to produce a quality website.

VTEX

VTEX is a platform best suited to larger businesses that have outgrown or expanded farther than the limitations of a smaller platform will allow. It uses an on-demand pricing platform that uses revenue sharing as a base. Its overall design is best suited for large chain or retail outlets due to its higher than average cost. It works exceptionally well for franchise operations that generate over a million in sales each year.

The size of your business and its potential for growth will determine which of the eCommerce trends for 2019 is the best option for you. There are several platforms available to choose from once you understand your business’s overall potential for growth during the coming year.