Outdated Information Technology – When It’s Time To Replace

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

These simple words were quoted to Bert Lance, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget in Jimmy Carter’s 1977 administration, in a newsletter of the US Chamber of Commerce as he gave his advice on trying to save the government billions.

While that advice may work for many things in our lives, technology isn’t one of them.

Technology improves at a fast-paced rate. In a matter of just a few years, even the most advanced equipment can lose functionality and become archaic at best.

Yes, you can hang on to a computer that is five, six, seven years old or older. Yes, you can use software that hasn’t been updated in years. But what about your competition? Are they pulling way ahead of you simply because of the efficiencies they’ve introduced into their everyday work environment?

Compare a small business operating using an Excel spreadsheet for tracking customer relationships on a desktop computer, with one who has invested in a customer management system that runs through apps on any smart device. Who will provide a better customer service experience? Who will do better over time?

Old technology also has another risk; the risk of more frequent downtime, data loss, and reduced productivity. A hard drive more than four years old is at risk of failure. Old routers and firewalls are especially vulnerable to today’s newly developed attacks.

And just like outdated technology equipment, your older software is vulnerable too. Old programs are more likely to receive security attacks and less likely to be fully supported by the creator. For instance, Windows XP operating system was deemed unsupported by Microsoft in 2014, yet millions continue to use the system. That means no more security patches, an increasingly rising rate of attacks, and more data than ever at risk.

Yes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” might be a good motto for some things. But technology isn’t one of them. Down time can cause such a serious disruption, it’s important to have a standing technology plan in place. Have a schedule for when old equipment will be replaced. And if you suspect you’re having a problem with hardware or software, the sooner you investigate, the better your chance of avoiding complete failure.

When was the last time you updated your old technology?

The Biggest Security Threats We’ll See In The Coming Years

The Biggest Security Threats We’ll See In The Coming Years

Every day, new apps make their way onto the marketplace; new programs are introduced online. What once was difficult, even impossible to create, can now be generated in a few days, often with open source code. It’s so easy, even a child can manage.

While each of those changes brings new possibilities, it also brings on the opportunity for new threats.

Hacks into mobile payment systems

As smartphones continue to become the payment of choice in all kinds of financial transactions, they will also continue to be at the forefront of security hacks. Google Wallet, Apple Pay, and other mobile payment systems are increasingly becoming a standard of payment in all kinds of businesses. And as attackers learn how to easily sidestep security measures and get into the wallets of individual consumers, they’ll quickly use their knowledge to tap into corporate networks as well. Emails, websites, apps and authentication measures are all becoming more sophisticated, fooling even top level security personnel. And as they move past security, they have access to a phenomenal amount of intellectual property, insider information and other confident business data that can be used or sold for sizable treasure.

Struggling infrastructure will continue to fail

The Internet is quickly coming of age. And while we can all still think back to the moment when the Internet first entered our lives, it’s still a relatively new playing world for businesses and criminals alike. The Internet infrastructure has long since been somewhat of the Wild West. We piece things together as new technologies are born. But in many cases, we add to existing data, patch up holes, rather than completely replace. A review of the Alexa 1000 top websites revealed a significant number of them are not up-to-date with their certificates. And if the biggest names are struggling to keep up, the smaller companies are losing the battle. That means at any given time, people are pulling sites with broken Javascript versions, end-of-life challenges with core software programs, and new applications that were simply built on recycled code. All of which can open up your business to significant vulnerabilities.

Data destruction will continue to increase

Sometimes hackers don’t want to use your data just for malicious activities; they also want to make sure you never have access again. Data destruction can bring a company down to its knees, which is why we’ll increasingly see the largest companies have significant portions of their databases wiped clean. When malware enters a system and wipes the data and master boot records to render the systems inoperable, it can spell disaster. Good backup systems can prevent an attack like this from impacting you for the long term. Rebuilding can be time-consuming and expensive; ensuring you have a proper backup that can allow you to restore and thoroughly disinfect so that lingering malware won’t re-wipe systems once they are restored will be key.

Is your company doing everything it can to protect your data?

Are You Using These Google Tools For Your Business?

Are You Using These Google Tools For Your Business?

Google has become one of the strongest brands in the world today. Imagine a day without it.

We use it to search for just about anything we can think of.

We’re increasingly using it to pay for the things we want.

We rely on it as a business marketing tool.

Yet in most cases, the average business owner has no idea just how far Google’s reach can truly go.

Google provides tools to use for anyone that has an online presence. And by using these tools, your business can influence how many new customers visit your business. It can be a game changer, especially for small or medium size businesses.

While there are many Google tools you might be aware of, there are several that you might not; tools that can quickly impact the way you do business right now.

Google Analytics

When it comes to finding out how well your website is performing online, Google Analytics is the best tool for the job. It tracks and reports visitor data using an easy to use dashboard that provides facts on a variety of website statistics, including new visitors to the site, returning visitors, how long each visitor remained on the site, which pages they viewed, and the geographical location, among other things. You can also pull reports on specific page performance, and learn more about traffic sources. Business consistently use this as a marketing tool to help them plan campaigns, and can provide lots of insight to help you change up your approach to marketing all the time. Even if you’ve used it before, you might not be using it to its full advantage.

 

Google My Business

The Google My Business tool is one of the most powerful programs you can use for your business. It allows you to set up how your business contact information will appear to customers that find you through Google search. Once it’s set up, your location, website, phone number, and even reviews will appear in Google search results, and will provide customer relevant information quickly. Because My Business is used across platform, it will also show up in places like Google Mobile Search and Google Maps as well. This provides consistent data anywhere, at any time.

https://www.google.com/business/

Google+ Publisher

The Google+ Publisher tag is also another valuable tool that further enhances how your business appears in search results. Once you install the publisher tag on your website, Google will link your website to your business brand page on your Google+. When someone searches for your business in Google, the content from your Google+ will appear in its own box on the right side of the search results. This makes your business more visible, better branded, with a detailed description providing them with all of the information they need without leaving Google’s search results.

Google Trends

If you’re looking to get more results from your website and improve your SEO strategy, Google Trends is a tool that shouldn’t be overlooked. It allows you to see how frequently a term is searched so you can determine how popular it is with specific populations. Google Trends instantly creates a graph of search volume, and can base it around a variety of characteristics, including language, country, city or region, showing you how the term has evolved over time. It can also forecast how those terms will trend over time, helping you make better decisions about where to place your online marketing dollars.

See something you like? With Google tools, the possibilities are endless. And one thing is for sure, Google will keep developing and keep improving on everything they do in the coming months and years.

Do you have a question on how better to use Google tools for your business?

How You Could Benefit From A Fractional CIO

How You Could Benefit From A Fractional CIO

Every business can benefit from having a full-time CIO on board. Yet not all small and medium size businesses can afford the expense of hiring a full-time CIO.

Still, a CIO handles some of the most important processes of any company. Systems design, development, datacenter operations, security, breakdowns and more – the CIO is responsible for this complex world of technology that changes on a daily basis. Even if you don’t bring a CIO on board, the work still has to be done.

Or face the consequences.

Increasingly, companies are discovering that a fractional CIO is a way to get all the benefits of hiring a CIO without having to physically bring a CIO on board. The key benefit is having expertise and capabilities that come with a technological officer, without having the overhead and benefits associated with hiring another executive.  You’ll get:

IT Direction
Think of a fractional CIO as a consultant who can provide real-time information and expertise when you need it most. They can help you develop a framework for technology and build in policies and protocols to keep your data safe and secure. They help you achieve your business goals without having to become experts in the latest and greatest technology yourself.

Autonomy
An on-board CIO can sway towards giving into company politics. A fractional CIO is in a unique position of being able to offer sound advice without being dependent upon the final outcome. The company can make the most of having the knowledge and guidance of a true expert, without worrying if decisions are made with agendas in mind.

High-Level Expertise
Fractional CIOs stay on top of new technology and guidance because it’s their job. They learn and grow by taking into account all policy and changes. Because fractional CIOs often have different clients in different industries, you receive an added benefit of working with someone who stays on alert for innovation and design. They consistently look for ways to incorporate change into everything they do.

Business Optimization
Having a CIO on board means they look beyond technology to find ways of increasing efficiency and automation company wide. Fractional CIOs are in a unique position of being able to scope out a variety of opportunities, thinking on a broader scope, and utilizing all tools and resources available to narrow in on best practices. You can receive outside perspective without the blinders that sometimes comes with being internally focused.

Think bringing on a fractional CIO would benefit your company?