By the DynaSis Team
Every day, small and midsized business (SMB) owners are bombarded with seemingly conflicting messages regarding how IT solutions can help them best run their businesses. With so many options to consider regarding corporate security, productivity and cost efficiency, it is not surprising that some of them stick their heads in the sand and do nothing.
Unfortunately, with SMBs becoming favorite targets for cyber attackers, and with corporate competition increasingly fierce, that is the worst possible way to operate. Here’s one example:
A business owner has been operating with a “break-fix” mentality, which means he or she only makes technology purchases when something breaks. This is a reactive operating strategy, but many business owners take this path because they believe they cannot find the time or budget to manage their technology proactively.
This approach has always been financially inefficient and detrimental to productivity, and DynaSis has long recommended that business leaders team with a knowledgeable, trustworthy IT consulting partner, such as a managed services provider or an IT services firm, to help them create and implement a technology roadmap that includes staged upgrades and improvements.
Today, however, the break-fix approach has become more than inefficient. Outdated, network-connected equipment, such as networked printers, likely has no built-in security protections. Such machines are more likely to be operating with open Internet connections, and hackers know that. Furthermore, competitiveness in today’s market relies on providing workers with modern technology. Organizations that persist with the break-fix model invariably fall behind.
In other words, making smart, planned technology improvements helps organizations foster productivity, security, cost efficiency and competitiveness—not to mention employee satisfaction. The question then becomes: how does the business owner know which improvements are smart?
To help our readers, we have prepared a chart of technology Do’s and Don’ts, in terms of best practices. The list only scratches the surface, but it’s a good place to start.
These are just a few of many examples where smart technology choices are beneficial to your company, its personnel and its bottom line. If your technology environment is inadequate or outdated, your employees cannot achieve their missions, and customers may perceive your physical space—and your firm—as dated. Similarly, if your approach is too lenient, you could be throwing away money, productivity and security. A knowledgeable, expert IT support company can help you evaluate your options, minimize your risk and keep your equipment operating in peak condition.
Selection of an IT outsourcing company is a very important business decision. For almost a quarter century, Atlanta’s small to mid-sized businesses have relied on DynaSis’ for managed IT services, internet security, and 24 x 7 x 365 helpdesk support. Today, with cybercrime becoming an ever-increasing threat, DynaSis has become an industry leader in network protection and ransomware prevention. Please take a tour through our website at www.DynaSis.com or speak with a technical expert at 678.218.1769.
By the DynaSis Team
With all the news about the wonders of cloud computing, many small and midsized business (SMB) owners may wonder if they are making a mistake by not adopting cloud technology. Yet, they also have concerns, ranging from security issues to availability of offsite resources if Internet connections go down.
Depending on the SMB’s business model, location, and level of technological sophistication, these may be valid concerns. Yet, there is no doubt that cloud computing provides big benefits, and SMB adoption is accelerating. In a round-up of cloud computing “facts and figures,” Forbes noted that the cloud market for SMBs will double between 2015 and 2020, from 37 percent of U.S. SMBs to 78 percent.
The good news is that decision makers don’t need to choose between an off-site cloud and their current on-site systems. With a hybrid setup, they can have both—and they can selectively choose which resources to run in the off-site cloud. With this approach, often called a hybrid cloud, some data and other business assets remain hosted on company servers while others are run and accessed remotely.
The two sets of resources are tied together so that they run as a single, cloud-supported solution, with their on-site resources essentially serving as a “corporate” cloud. Yet each of the components can be configured differently to meet designated security, backup, and other requirements.
To determine if a hybrid cloud is the right approach, SMB owners must evaluate their current needs and future plans, as well as their ability to support on-premise systems. Such an evaluation is often difficult and time-consuming for business owners, who may benefit from the help of an objective, qualified outsider such as an IT solutions or IT consulting company.
If you are currently evaluating your resources for a new or expanded cloud deployment, consider these factors:
All Cloud Solution
All On-Site Solution
If you like the benefits listed under All Cloud but some of the All On-Site criteria apply to your organization, a hybrid storage and delivery model could be the perfect option. With hybrid delivery, for example:
A hybrid solution also allows you the flexibility to test a variety of cloud delivery and storage approaches to find the perfect mix for your firm.
Reputable managed services providers can help you evaluate and make these decisions and can also help you move resources to the cloud safely and securely. Some managed services companies offer ready-made hybrid solutions that include ongoing IT support.
Specializing in managed IT services and network security, Atlanta based DynaSis has been supporting small to midsized business for almost a quarter century. Among the services we provide are cloud computing through the DynaSis Business Cloud, 24 x 7 x 365 helpdesk support, and real-time monitoring enabling us to deal with “issues” before they become problems. For more information, please call DynaSis at 678.218.1769 or visit www.DynaSis.com.
By the DynaSis Team
Despite mobility being one of the technology cornerstones for small and midsized businesses (SMBs), many organizations still are not making effective, long-term decisions for their firms. In May, we talked about the ongoing challenges of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to the workplace and the importance of having qualified IT support teams or managed IT services providers administer and manage this solution. However, numerous studies indicate that BYOD is not the only component of mobility where SMB owners and decision makers are having a hard time achieving optimal benefit.
Per data from research firm SMB Group, between 55 and 65 percent of SMB owners (depending on organizational size) agree or strongly agree that mobile solutions and services are “critical” to the business. Yet, the researchers also found that many SMB owners do not have a strategic perspective regarding mobile technologies. Following are a few examples:
From these examples (and others), it’s apparent that SMBs lag behind larger competitors in the mobile arena. The development of the “mobile workplace” was supposed to help level the playing field for smaller companies. Yet, for organizational leaders who don’t have the time, expertise or sense of direction to take advantage of mobile opportunities, the reverse could be true.
What many SMBs need most is a cohesive mobile technology strategy, which is a key, not only to effective mobile adoption but also to mobile risk management. As with so many areas of the business, company leaders are often too wrapped up with daily operational issues to make time for strategic planning.
Having the assistance of an outside resource, such as a managed services provider or IT consulting firm, is often the best way to obtain both resource and expertise for objective planning and decision making. With a strategic plan in place, business leaders can make informed, long-term decisions that support both the organization and its personnel.
DynaSis has been providing managed IT support services to Metro Atlanta’s small to midsized businesses since 1992. We provide Availability – making sure your network is up and running; Mobility – allowing your employees world-wide access to your network; and Security – as an Internet security company, we resolve “issues” before they grow into problems. If you want to learn more, please visit www.DynaSis.com, or call us at 678.218.1769.
By the DynaSis Team
We have watched with interest what could be called “Storage Wars: Cloud Edition.” In this production, treasure hunters aren’t trying to outbid each other for locked storage containers. Instead, companies are working to figure out how the cloud can help them store and access files for better productivity and mobility. Although the cloud can be powerful for many reasons, one of its greatest benefits is its “anytime, anywhere” nature, which enables remote file access, transfer, storage and backup for personnel using any device with an Internet connection.
Despite this fact, there is no consensus among business decision makers about cloud storage solutions. Adoption of the big mass-marketed services—Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive—is nearly evenly split (Dropbox leads, at 33%). However, many firms are uncertain if they should trust these services and don’t know if there are other, potentially better, choices.
Here is the scoop: There are numerous options for cloud storage, including custom solutions developed and administered by IT services firms. Some but certainly not all of these are more flexible, intuitive and/or configurable IT solutions than these “Big Three.” Many organizational leaders might assume that all these solutions are similar and use the same basic setup and logic, but that is not true. They differ in cost, security, ease of use, operating design and other variables. As a result, the search for a storage solution can be complicated and should be thorough.
Storage Selection Should Not Be Taken Lightly
Even apparently minor differences can make it more likely that one service creates greater risk exposure than another. File sharing is a prime example. Windows has a built-in mechanism for file sharing that, while not exactly easy to use, optimizes sharing for security over convenience. In short, only administrator-level owners of a folder can configure sharing, and they also decide who can access the folder—and what actions they can take with it.
One of the “Big Three,” which we won’t name, does not work that way for all versions. Its “business” solution has fairly robust sharing controls. However, its “basic” version handles sharing in a messy, risky fashion.
In this version, the folder’s owner (the effective administrator) does not have the ability to customize access. Anyone given access can share the folder with anyone else for viewing or even editing. Those users can take actions, such as moving folders that they do not own, that have serious ramifications. A simple drag and drop action, for example, can automatically break the connections that support folder sharing and synchronizing (populating file changes to all shared members) and no one is the wiser. Undoing the action does not fix the problem, and resending sharing invitations does not repair the synchronization damage.
Yet, 78% of employees in a corporate survey admitted using this version of the service outside of IT approval—and many businesses adopt it organizationally as a low-cost storage solution.
In summary, methodologies for sharing, as well as two other “S Words,” security and synchronization, are very important aspects of file storage. Unless they are configured effectively, they can put corporate assets at risk, not only of data theft but also of damage or loss—a function of data protection, which we talked about last week. As a result, we urge organizations to work with a reputable IT consulting or IT support company to evaluate, determine and configure the most appropriate storage solution. We don’t have room to provide specific recommendations now, but we’d be happy to “share” them with anyone who gives us a call.
DynaSis is an Atlanta IT services and cloud computing provider for small and midsized businesses. All of our solutions focus on helping companies achieve the three fundamental IT necessities of the modern business—availability, security and mobility. We specialize in on-demand and on-premises managed IT services, managed cloud infrastructure, desktops and backups, and professional hardware and equipment installation. For more information about DynaSis’ IT support and services, visit www.dynasis.com.
Last week, we offered some insights into the current state of enterprise mobility and made several recommendations business leaders could implement to keep their mobile strategy updated. This week, we'll offer a list of "mobility "must haves"—features that any mobility platform should offer to ensure optimal worker productivity and security.
As it becomes increasingly ubiquitous and integrated into our lives, mobility brings greater complexity and risk for the organization. It also blurs the lines been roles and responsibilities of both employees and the company itself (or more accurately, the IT team). A well-designed, expertly implemented and managed mobile device solution is critical to realizing full value from mobility while protecting the company from unnecessary exposure. Following are the functions we believe to be absolute requirements for any platform.
Not a requisite for all firms, but an important addition for those that want to let users access third-party applications, is support for marketplaces such as the Apple App Store and Google Play.
If your mobile device management platform doesn't offer all of these features, or if you haven't yet deployed a solution yet, we urge you to do so, quickly. A recent mobile device security study (May 2015) found that 52 percent of mobile users conduct personal business on employer-owned devices and 21 percent have modified the default settings on their company devices. Among Millennials—which will soon compose the majority of the workforce—the numbers are even higher. Sixty-four percent use company devices for personal reasons. Even more disturbing, 25 percent of Millennials believe their device behavior compromises the security of the organization (compared with five percent for Baby Boomers).
DynaSis is an Atlanta IT services and cloud computing provider for small and midsized businesses. All of our solutions focus on helping companies achieve the three fundamental IT necessities of the modern business—availability, security and mobility. We specialize in on-demand and on-premise managed IT services, managed cloud infrastructure, desktops and backups, and professional hardware and equipment installation. For more information about DynaSis’ IT support and services, visit www.dynasis.com.
By the DynaSis Team
Despite the fact that mobile threats are increasing exponentially (mobile malware jumped 75% in 2014, alone), an astonishing percentage of mobile phones have no security protections, at all. Per a 2014 survey, only 14% of devices have anti-virus software, and 34% of mobile phone owners don’t even use the screen lock feature. As a result, organizations that allow users to store company data on their mobile devices without added precautions are exposing their company and its assets to extreme risk.
Implementing a mobile device management system is a key step in securing the enterprise against an onslaught of inadequately secure devices, but educating users to reduce the danger is equally important. As with desktop platforms, users are the weakest link in any security chain. Following are some suggestions that will help protect your employees―and your business.
For companies without a specially trained “mobile technology management” team, some of these activities―and others such as policy development and device security―can be complicated and confusing. To discuss implementing these and other protections for your firm, we invite you to give us a call.
By the DynaSis Team
If you follow our blogs, you know that we talk frequently about the value of technology for driving better business results. For many business owners, the question, then, becomes: “How can I ensure it makes a difference at my company? How can I quantify its benefit?”
To be honest, a lot of technology is notoriously hard to quantify, in terms of overall financial benefit. Small improvements and upgrades are easy to quantify. If, for example, your order processing clerk’s PC crashes and you replace it, you can fairly easily quantify the value of the orders that might have been lost had they not gotten processed on a timely basis.
Even on a larger scale, you can quantify the hard dollars of specific improvements. For example, if you implement a new inventory management solution, it might reduce inventory costs in a way that you can actually see, on paper. A new teleconferencing system could reduce hard travel costs. So far so good.
The crux of the problem, for the ROI equation, is that technology benefit is not a simple dollar for dollar equation. For example, if you upgrade your infrastructure to a faster, more stable platform and give your employees better access to information, it will likely improve your customer service. Your customers will likely think more highly of you, because they will perceive you as being “on top of your game.” Try to put a price tag on that.
On the flip side, if you make a dramatic change without having the proper framework in place, it won’t deliver the results you expect and you could negatively impact customer service or employee productivity. That’s what makes the “intangible” benefits of technology so elusive.
Business owners hear horror stories of companies that spent millions of dollars and reaped very little benefit―tangible or intangible. That makes them hesitant to engage in technology upgrades unless they can see a bottom line number that indicates the improvement will pay for itself in hard dollars.
We encourage you not to think that way. In reality, when a firm spends a fortune on technology with very little benefit, generally either the solution was the wrong one or they implemented it prematurely or unwisely.
Technology is like a house. If you don’t have a good foundation, no amount of bells and whistles are going to result in a quality product. In the example of the inventory solution we mentioned above, if a company deployed a major platform like that without having the appropriate infrastructure in place to integrate it with the rest of company operations, they likely wouldn’t achieve the benefits they sought. The new system might actually reduce the efficiency of their inventory management and delivery mechanisms.
To resolve this conundrum, firms should evaluate their existing technology thoroughly and then plan improvements and upgrades from the bottom up―the foundation. Above all else, you must achieve stability, performance, availability and security in your corporate technology platforms. That alone will result in a huge improvement in productivity, and can foster better customer service and faster delivery. Then you can add the rest of the layers to build something that’s really stellar.
Such an approach requires a roadmap that looks one, three or even five years into the future. If you don’t have a strategic technology roadmap that steers every decision, you may luck into the right combinations of solutions, but you won’t be able to quantify their benefits. You won’t know where you were or how far you have come.
Don’t get us wrong―solutions that promote mobility, better data management and other important functions are vital to the success of most businesses today, but they pieces of a puzzle, not the answer on their own.
We invite you to fill out our inquiry form or give us a call at (770) 569-4600 to discuss what you want to accomplish and how you will need to prepare for it. Optionally, if you want faster results, we can show you ready-made, cloud-based solutions where someone else has already laid the proper foundation.
The DynaSis Team
If you’ve ever wanted to see a plethora of stats about email, in a single place, then we have found the site for you. It’s called Email Monday and the marketing expert who runs it updates it each week. When we checked it recently, we noticed some statistics that are very pertinent to small and medium business (SMB) owners.
The foremost statistic is that 47% of email is read on a mobile client compared to 28% on a desktop client, as of March 2014. This is actually a few points lower than a peak that occurred in November-December 2013, but we ascribe this number to holiday shopping, vacations, and other out-of-office situations that occur during this period.
More importantly, the number is up, year over year (mobile email usage was only 15% in the first quarter of 2011), and webmail has climbed, as well, to 25% of all opens. In other words, only 28% of email is now being read on a desktop computer. That’s an important statistic for SMBs—especially those that do not have a secure mobile solution in place for their employees. (More about this in a minute.)
Another interesting stat is that 79% of smartphone users rely on their device for reading email—a higher percentage than those who use it for making phone calls. What’s the takeaway on these statistics? We believe it to be that whether or not you have defined and implemented a corporate email policy, your employees are likely checking corporate email on their smartphones. They are also likely checking personal email on these devices while at the office—across your Wi-Fi network.
Without effective security and access control in place at your firm, in the form of both user policies and technology-based monitoring, you and your employees could be putting your corporate assets at risk.
We didn’t plan to talk about security two weeks in a row, but we decided to do it because things are pretty scary out there, these days. Furthermore, an alarming number of SMBs (the companies we are dedicated to protecting) are not taking proper precautions. Mobility is absolutely critical to business productivity, as these numbers underscore, but without security in tandem with it, the negative impacts can wipe out those benefits.
DynaSis certified professionals can perform an affordable, non-intrusive network assessment that will determine whether or not your company is vulnerable, and then help you develop a roadmap to fix any issues they find. (We find problems on the vast majority of networks we examine—even those “protected” by other firm’s solutions.)
In case you are not convinced yet, we’ll leave you with one more interesting statistic. Android users spend far more time perusing email on their devices than do iPhone users. And, since Android is a far more vulnerable device platform, we can project what that means to your corporate security.
If you haven’t had your corporate defenses examined recently (or ever), or if you have worked with us in the past but are not protected by our end-to-end desktop and device security solution, we hope you will fill out our inquiry form or give us a call at 678.218.1769.
By the DynaSis Team
[featured_image]In last week’s blog, we talked about the upcoming end-of-support date for Windows XP (April 8, 2014) and touched upon the two migration options―Windows 7 or Windows 8 (8.1 is the most recent release). Although Windows 7 will “look” more familiar to users, Windows 8 helps companies make a huge leap towards the largely mobile world predicted for our business futures.
If your company is going to undergo the effort of a widespread operating system (OS) migration, you owe it to yourself and your business to fully consider the benefits of jumping straight to Windows 8. Some of the issues to consider as you are making your decision include:
1. Mobility: How many of your employees currently use, or will soon use, tablets? What about smartphones? Windows 8 was built from the ground up for mobility, and it is likely the best choice for companies that currently have―or intend to have in the next few years―a largely mobile workforce.
Even if your users are already running iOS (iPhone; iPad) or Android (“Google” devices, often by HTC or Samsung), there is a benefit in migrating to Windows 8 for your desktops. Windows remains the OS of choice for business usage, by far, and some (but not all) devices running the iOS or Android OS can run Windows 8. In cases where this is not possible, adopting Windows 8 for compatible desktops and mobile devices now―and changing platforms incrementally with planned upgrades in the future―lets companies eventually standardize on a single platform. A single OS streamlines user governance and training, and it facilitates the “Three Cs”―connectivity, communication and collaboration.
2. Legacy Equipment: Are your PCs running Windows XP old and outdated? If so, you will likely need new desktop PCs (or a shift to virtualization) in order to run either Windows 7 or Windows 8. Such a move requires thoughtful planning and resource allocation. If you are undergoing a major IT project like this, anyway, it makes sense to upgrade to the most recent version of Windows, now.
3. User Uptake: When Windows 8 came out, its highly mobile-centric interface elicited frustrated comments from many early adopters. However, with Windows 8, Microsoft added many elements of the “classic” Windows interface back into the user experience. Without any modifications, users can click one of Windows 8’s “tiles” to shift from the mobile-optimized interface to the classic Desktop.
It’s also possible to make the classic Windows user interface the default for Windows 8 machines and to disable the mobile-centric interface entirely, either through system tweaks or via a third-party applet. This approach lets employees enjoy a largely classic Windows experience as long as necessary to facilitate user adoption.
There are other considerations, of course, and DynaSis’ virtual CIOs can discuss these with you, helping you evaluate your business and user needs and create a workable roadmap for adoption. The takeaway here is that, while Windows 8 does involve a learning curve, this curve leads to the future of Windows-based computing. With Windows 7 (as much as we all love it), there is no comparable benefit. To evaluate your options, or to order a network assessment (during which we will identify exactly which OSs your users are running, and where), fill out our inquiry form or give us a call.
By Dave Moorman, DynaSis
Last month, I promised share more mobile productivity tips, and this week’s article marks the second installment in an ongoing series. Today, we’ll review some valuable productivity apps―mobile applications workers install on their phones to streamline their workdays.
While no mobile app can be deemed 100% uncrackable, none of these have been implicated in any security breaches and they require minimal access to corporate data or networks. (If you are concerned about security, discourage your employees from using Android devices. Android is a great platform, but the percentage of mobile malware that targets Android has risen to 80%.)
Expense reports are an ongoing hassle for SMBs, their employees and management, especially frequent travelers who end up with briefcases full of receipts to process. Expensify lets users snap pictures of receipts with smartphones and upload them to a website. Expensify also supports and reads scanned receipts uploaded from desktop and laptop computers and can process receipts embedded in purchase confirmation emails. Just forward them to email@example.com in one of nine supported, common format and Expensify adds them to your account.
The first 10 scans each month are free, and companies that upgrade their subscription enjoy added features, such secure integration with leading accounting packages and direct deposit reimbursement to employees. We also like Shoeboxed, which in addition to these features will scan and process paper receipts that you mail to the company. Shoeboxed can be more expensive than Expensify if you need QuickBooks integration, but depending upon your level of disorganization might be a better choice.
This app turns your workers’ smartphones into scanners. Whether they are across the country, down the street or on the other side of the office, they can use their smartphone cameras to take a picture of any document they want to scan. They can also capture details on items―such as equipment labels (or the equipment itself).
Of course, most smartphone cameras can already take decent pictures of just about anything. What makes Genius Scan so much more valuable is that it lets users tag their scans for easy document identification and upload them securely to a variety of cloud-based storage services. It also improves the quality of scans to make them more legible, creates a database that is searchable by name or date, and lets users group documents together into PDFs.
This application syncs with employees’ calendars and reminds them about conference calls and online meetings, then lets them dial in with a single click. It accomplishes this feat by auto-detecting conference call details within the meeting invites. In addition to traditional conference calling setups, it supports GoToMeeting, Google+ Hangouts, WebEx, Apple FaceTime and Skype Audio. For companies that use SalesForce, it offers a special version that lets workers upload details of new meetings and conference events directly to their accounts.
The corporate version also offers least-cost dialing, which means it chooses the least expensive dial-in option among the available lines offered by a company’s conference service. MobileDay also touts its strong security and states that no corporate information leaves a user’s device during its processes.