Today’s business world is driven by the internet in many facets. However, the internet also can make you more vulnerable to data breaches and viruses. As the threats have changed over the years, you’ve likely made sure update your hardware and software. However, your changes can’t all go into your network, your users themselves can pose an unknowing or unintentional security threat with bad browsing habits. Unsafe browsing habits can expose your network to hackers, viruses, malware and ransomware. These are all possibilities when users access untrustworthy sites, share information and download files from the web. The internet is a powerful tool but it can become a distraction making your employees less productive.
Working with your MSP you can make better choices with your internet policies and security features. Current versions of firewalls offer content screening and flow control. If you’re not already utilizing these features, it’s a great way to cut your risk by blocking commonly attacked and work inappropriate websites out the gate. This also helps ensure that your ISP’s resources are being used in the most efficient way. Make your users aware of your protocols and be ready to enforce them.
A comprehensive Internet Usage Policy will not only cover the company’s expectations of use but also contain the appropriate disclosures regarding monitoring and ownership of information. The company’s usage policy helps your employees adhere to best practices on the internet. Regular reminders help keep everyone on the same page. Some things you may want to review with them are:
- Internet use should be limited to job-related activities
- All Internet data that is composed, transmitted and/or received by the company’s computer systems belongs to the company and is part of its official data. Therefore it’s subject to disclosure for legal reasons to appropriate third parties.
- The company reserves the right to monitor internet traffic and monitor any data that is sent, received or composed online.
- Sites and downloads may be monitored by the company and will be blocked if they are deemed to be harmful or unproductive to business.
- Installation of software and instant messaging services are prohibited.
It’s important that your employees take safeguarding your systems seriously. With the overturn of the FCC’s privacy rulings our internet data is once again less private than many would like. It’s essential that employees understand that what they do on the internet can have an impact on the company.
Net Neutrality, Artificial Intelligence, Y2K, Data Mining are all buzzwords floating around the IT industry. Another term you keep hearing is Managed Services. Are you left wondering what it is? Is it just another trendy name or something larger? Hopefully we can lay out what Managed Services is and it’s a benefit to you.
The first thing to clear up is that Managed Services isn’t just terminology being thrown around to make something mundane sound exciting. Managed Services is a viable business model. Break/fix style support in today’s environment is unreliable and unsuccessful for both the provider and the customer. Businesses of all sizes can benefit from finding the right Managed Services Provider (MSP). The MSP model can be applied to both SMB and Fortune 500 companies. Small to midsized companies can really benefit from Managed Services. If you want to keep your employees focused on productive, having an MSP will ensure you have a fast and reliable network. As an SMB it should be motivating to know that you have access to the same benefits as larger companies when it comes to your IT infrastructure.
The MSP movement has roots that go back to the 90s. Both hardware and software vendors were developing early warning signals when something would go wrong using Simple Network Management Protocol. But the original systems built to monitor the signs were complex to manage and therefore expensive. The expense meant this was only being used by the largest of networks. But instead of staying static and potentially dying out the systems changed and by the mid-2000s it started to evolve into the MSP platform we know today.
As a MSP subscriber your entire network is monitored and any anomalies create an alert that your MSP will look into. This is a complete turnaround from the break/fix mentality. Under Managed Services you aren’t left waiting for something to actually stop working in order to apply the solution. Having a MSP means greater stability and a significant decrease in business interruptions since your updates and patches are rolled out on a regular schedule. Your systems are also now monitored 24/7. Constant monitoring means that you don’t have to wait for an end user to report a problem and it increases your CyberSecurity.
The break/fix model is outdated. It has a negative impact on IT firms as the income stream is unreliable. It also cuts into resources since it takes more time to apply a fix when it’s something that could have been avoided with maintenance. As a customer, the break/fix approach means you actually have to be down before receiving help. Why take the risk of a business interruption when you can be proactive vs. reactive? Success in business largely depends on being able to stay current and that means anticipating changes and adapting before your competitor to give you an edge. So why not take the same approach with your IT services?
It can take some adjustment to paying monthly verses paying for services as needed but over time the MSP pricing model can actually save you money. Managed Services mean greater efficiency. As in any other situation greater efficiency over time means lower cost. This also means you can focus more on running your business verses having to deal with technology. Your MSP can also help ensure you are getting the best market price and service from your IT related vendors. Their experience and exposure will give you an advantage so you know that you aren’t overpaying for internet or software licensees.
There’s also more transparency of services with an MSP. Your contract will lay out the services, responsibilities and availability. When you have this level of transparency and accountability it helps create a solid relationship between the provider and the customer. With so much at stake, you will have peace of mind knowing that your network is secure and stable and who to contact when you have questions.
The constant changes in technology can make it hard to decipher what is and isn’t a trend. But Managed Services is not going anywhere and the benefits to the user can only increase.
Building Your Plan for BYOD!
As the line between working in-office and working from home becomes more and more blurred, a new trend in employee technology has begun to emerge – BYOD, or bring your own device. Many companies are offering their employees the option to bring their own devices into the office environment as it can improve both employee satisfaction and office productivity. But CIOs still must consider three different basic set ups/options before taking the plunge:
- Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) – In this set up an employee has complete control over choosing and supporting the device they use at work since it is fully owned by the employee. This is a very popular method with smaller companies or those who utilize independent contractors.
- Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) – In this set up employees are offered a choice of devices that have been approved by the company for their security, reliability, and durability. The approved devices work within the company’s IT environment, however the device itself is owned by the employee; either they have paid for it themselves or it was paid for through a company stipend and the employee can keep it for the length of their employment.
- Company-issued, Personally-Enabled (COPE) device – Here an employee is supplied a phone or other device, paid for by the company, that they can use for personal activities. The employer can decide how much access and freedom employees get when using these devices. This is the closest option to the traditional Corporate Owned Business Only (COBO) model of old.
While CYOD and COPE are often employed in larger organizations, BYOD is by far the most popular option with SMB’s. There are many benefits to the new BYOD office set up. When employees are totally familiar and comfortable with their own devices they are likely to be more productive since they do not require any time or training to get up to speed on optimal usage. Additionally, personal devices, as opposed to business owned, oftentimes are the latest model with all the latest updates and features. Early adopters love having the latest version of their preferred device and companies can leverage that desire to their advantage.
A further advantage to adopting BYOD is cost savings to the employer. By having people responsible for part or, in some cases, all of the cost of their mobile devices, businesses can potentially reduce the impact of mobile device costs on their bottom line.
If and when your company adopts a BYOD policy, the best way to ensure that you do not encounter an excessive surge in calls for help to your IT team is to have strong and comprehensive BYOD guidelines in place. Here at Midwest IT Solutions we have worked hard to research and develop guidelines for our clients to follow. Any policy should encompass seven key areas:
- Specify what devices are allowed. You will be getting into the business of saying, yes iPhone, no Android, yes iPad no any other tablet. Once you have decided what devices are allowed it is key to make clear what level of support (if any) you will offer owners of these devices.
- Establish strict security protocols for those devices.
- Define a clear support policy i.e. what level of IT support will you (the employer) provide?
- Decide which Apps will be allowed, which will be banned.
- Make clear who owns the apps and data used on the employee’s devices.
- Be sure that your BYOD policy is aligned and fully integrated with your current Acceptable Use policy.
- Be sure to come up with an employee off-boarding plan.
There are many factors to consider before any manager or executive rolls out a new BYOD policy. A successful BYOD policy can aid in productivity and employee satisfaction, a less detailed BYOD policy can lead to security breaches and numerous IT headaches.
At Midwest IT Solutions we can help you navigate through the complex new world of BYOD. With Midwest IT Solutions’ guidance, you will be able to leverage the wonderful benefits of BYOD without facing the many pitfalls. Do not try to chart your own course through this exciting world, contact us today!
As of July 29, 2015, Microsoft launched Windows 10 for PCs and tablets, which is a free upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users. According to Microsoft, Windows 10’s features include:
- Cortana: A personal digital assistant tool that learns individual preferences to provide users with recommendations and access to information. In addition to voice commands, you can use Cortana to set reminders and add calendar events.
- Microsoft Edge: A new, customized browser that offers content and results based on individual interests and preferences. It features a text-only reader mode, annotation tool, and Cortana integration.
- Windows Hello, Microsoft Passport, and Windows Defender for anti-malware and spyware protection.
So how can we help with all of this? Partnering with an MSP can maximize usage, and smooth out your transition to Windows 10. The most important benefit is to make sure the network and operating system is ready for Windows 10. The personal touch and customer service of a Managed Service Provider can facilitate that transition and give you peace of mind when it comes to not only transitioning your operating systems, but also your employees.
What We Can Do:
- MSPs can help you stay organized and ahead of the game by letting us, the experts, control the computer and network aspects of your business.
- System compatibility. Are the PCs in your office ready for Windows 10? Having an MSP proactively monitor and maintain the network will aid in making sure your system is ready to be upgraded. Regular network assessments will also prepare you for not only Windows 10, but other technological transitions you may have.
- Questions or Concerns. MSPs can showcase their Windows expertise, and customer service, by answering customers’ questions and concerns about Windows 10.
In conclusion, having an MSP on your side during this transition is beneficial for your business as it allows you to focus on your business critical functions that help you grow. Let us, the experts, help you get organized and prepared to prevent downtime and confusion for you or your fellow employees.
It’s no secret that cloud computing is the future of computer and network care for businesses worldwide. “The cloud” eliminates the need to have physical servers and hardware in your office. Cloud computing focuses on maximizing the effectiveness of the company’s shared resources, as well as being effective in heightening companies’ day to day tasks with multiple users. It is a highly efficient way to store your company’s data in one place at a flat monthly cost, as opposed to worrying about the large capital investment of new network equipment on a regular basis.
Cloud adoption and cloud-based file sharing are becoming increasingly popular among the general public, but can cause concern among CIOs. Unfortunately, IT organizations are having a hard time keeping up with large, public cloud providers. According to an article from Business Cloud News, a recent survey conducted by Fruition Partners of 100 CIOs found that 84 percent believe cloud adoption reduces their organization’s control over IT.
About nine in ten believe unsanctioned use of public cloud services has created long-term security risks. This is troubling to CIOs because it can lead to possible information leaks or other data security breaches. In addition, 79 percent of CIOs believe that there are cloud services in use that their IT department is not aware of. This reiterates the danger of losing grasp of the company’s technology while using a large cloud provider.
Partnering with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) can help prevent these worries from arising. A proactive relationship with an MSP gives you the ability to aid in, or fully move, to a private cloud option. It ensures that your company will be working with a partner that has experience with many cloud networks, therefore providing the highest level of support possible. This is crucial when it comes to the transition of moving your company’s data and file sharing for all users within your company at an affordable cost, while at the same time, preventing downtime on the network.
In conclusion, the value of having an MSP on your side to aid in cloud based technologies for your business is second to none. Small to midsize companies can focus on the core competencies of their business that make them money, while letting the experts control all business technology in the cloud.
Why Midwest IT? Because it makes sense!