The Outsourcing Process: What Can It Do For You?

The Outsourcing Process: What Can It Do For You?

Outsourcing receives a lot of press, some good, some bad. But as a business owner, chances are you’ve outsourced some portions of your business right from the start. Have an accountant help you with your books? Yep, that’s outsourcing.

Outsourcing is defined as the contracting out of any task, operation, job, or process that was originally designed to be performed by someone inside the company. For some business owners, outsourcing is the only way to grow. For larger business owners, outsourcing is a way to grow lean and concentrate on their core.

Outsourced functions can easily be performed by a third party either on-site or off-site. It’s not the same as bringing in a temporary employee to fill in while someone is gone. Instead, it’s contracted work that is given over to a third party for an extended period of time.

Why Outsourcing?

There are many reasons a business owner should consider outsourcing a portion of their business.

Cost Savings

One of the biggest reasons is for the cost savings. It costs a lot in time, money, energy, and resources to bring in a new employee. And when you’re increasingly spending your profits on employees, it reduces the amount you can spend on your competitive advantage. Outsourcing allows you to hire the exact skillset you require for the amount of time you need.

Core Business

Especially for small and medium size businesses, it’s important to spend your time working on your core business strategies. Outsourcing gives you the power to put your recourse on areas that provide you with the biggest bang for the buck. It gives management a chance to concentrate on core business issues while hiring other resources to provide you with the best operations for your business.

High Levels Of Expertise

We don’t know what we don’t know. And to educate yourself to competency can take a lot of work. By outsourcing certain areas of your business to other experts in their fields, you can ensure you are getting the best resources and the best services to help drive your business to the next level.

Flexibility

Many businesses have seasonal or cyclical demands. Outsourcing can provide flexibility when you need it most, to help stabilize the varying demands of your business. It can also bring in expertise at times when you need certain skills.

In addition to accounting, the most common outsourced areas include:

  • Information Technology Functions
  • Network and Telecommunications
  • Security
  • Human Resources

Think of outsourcing as a way to help you achieve all you’ve strategized in the most efficient way possible. You get the services and skills you need at the lowest cost to your company as possible.

Have you considered outsourcing for your business?

Securing Open Source In Your Business

The term “open source” has been around for a long time. Chances are you use many open source programs on a daily basis in your business.

More companies are giving away their intellectual property and not only asking people to use it, but they’re also begging them to do so. If technology can be used to make the world a better place, why hide your concepts behind things like patents?

Companies like Google realize that if others use open source software, it can help drive the use of their online services. While open source can push your abilities to new levels, it’s still easy to worry on occasion what all of this is doing to your security. If anyone has access to the coding, what prevents someone from slipping something dangerous into it? Isn’t it an open window that lets anyone “walk in” whenever they choose?

Open source is a sound business decision. And there are a number of compelling reasons that makes it so.

  1. Open Source Gives More Control

Have you ever had a problem with a free online resource and spent days, weeks, or months trying to figure out a problem? There isn’t a phone number to call. Email hangs in limbo “forever.” It can make you think twice about the concept of “free.”

Because open source is open for anyone to use and modify, many of the programs you use seem to have no one in charge of product management. But they are there, just in a different format. As open source apps and libraries are adopted by thousands, new independent support is formed. “Experts” become available to help you out of any tricky situation you find yourself in. Not only can they help you solve current issues, but they can also take the user functionality of the code to an entirely different level.

  1. Open Source Increases Competition

Competition brings on more success by motivating vendors to increase functionality, make things more user-friendly, offer wider capabilities, and further the robustness of a particular program. If something exists, there are always ways to make it better.

Also, with open source, ego often comes into play. The open source community is highly competitive. Developers consistently look to make a name for themselves to further their own careers. By outshining each other, customizing, innovating, and improving existing code, they can showcase their talents to the community.

  1. Open Source Increases Security

What makes open source more competitive is also what makes it more secure. Because unlimited people have access to it, checks and balances exist in every way. Open source means open transparency. Validation occurs throughout the process by having the best minds in the industry ensuring patches are in place and minimizing back doors that make programs vulnerable.

If you select open source that is valued throughout the community and is used on a regular basis in the industry, you can be ensured that the code is high quality. The number of users and developers ensures this is so.

Gone are the days where only the biggest and more lucrative companies have access to the best working platforms. With open source, anyone can compete at any level they choose. Today everyone has access to the best in the business. The only question is, how will they use it.

How are you using open source in your business?

Are You Ready For Internet Disruption?

Are You Ready For Internet Disruption?

A recent Internet Disruption research study revealed that a vast majority of companies had experienced some form of Internet disruption over the past year.

An Internet disruption can mean different things to different people. For some, it’s merely a slight inconvenience; something you deal with until the connection is restored. For others, it can mean the end of business as they know it. It can cripple both what the customer experiences and the productivity of the employees within the company at such extreme levels, business can cease, and reputations can be destroyed beyond repair.

Of course, most Internet disruptions fall somewhere in between.

What is considered “a long time” in today’s world? How long do you wait for a search result before you click on another option? Five seconds? Ten?

The Internet Disruption study found that the average mean time to resolution took an entire business day. And if the issue was outside of the businesses control (which is the majority of such issues,) the mean resolution time took up to 17 percent longer.

Digital resilience means having the capacity to deal effectively with changes and threats that present them in the digital world, with the ability to quickly recover from challenges or difficulties, and even withstand stress and catastrophe. Yet very few companies have a strong digital resilience program in place.

A digital resilience program is designed to give senior management teams the opportunity to set and clarify expectations for how employees will help to identify and protect the most important information assets they own.

What needs securing in your organization? Have you taken the time to clearly define what you are trying to protect? An attacker looks for weaknesses. They look for backdoors that give them ins for creating the most damage possible.

It’s easy to believe security is in place because you have one platform blocked off from the world. But if you haven’t taken the time to prioritize your business risks and establish mechanisms to step up security, you could be at risk. Business process controls, IT controls, and cybersecurity controls all work together, and are no longer an option.

If you focus on one while leaving weaknesses with another, you may find yourself under attack.

The Differences Between G Suite and Microsoft Office

The Differences Between G Suite and Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office vs G Suite

Which is better for you?

Microsoft Office has long been considered the default option for business, and it’s not surprising why this is so. People are comfortable using Microsoft products. They “grew up” using them. The features are more than enough to handle most business situations. And IT is comfortable in handling all aspects of implementation and security.

Why make a change?

In recent years, Google has been making significant strides in how people use the online world. If you look at the G Suite setup today, you’ll find a comprehensive feature list that takes care of all of your IT requirements: spam filters for email, cloud storage integration, easy integration with third-party tools, and an “office suite” that easily rivals what you’ll find with Microsoft.

Still, many fall into old patterns and simply rely on old tools to get things done. Some may also be concerned about the functionality and security of the G Suite platform. Yet with a little nudge to see how far G Suite has come, you’ll quickly understand why it is now ready for mainstream usage.

Cloud Storage

There’s no doubt that this is one of the big reasons people convert to G Suite. Microsoft integrates with its OneDrive cloud offering, while G Suite integrates with Google Drive. Google Drive is more popular, which means that if your employees with be collaborating on documents with external contractors and vendors, there is more likelihood they will be working with the Google Drive platform. While OneDrive offers 5GB of initial free storage, G Suite Basic starts at 30GB, progressing up to unlimited storage when you select the G Suite Business or G Suite Enterprise option.

Third Party Integration

One area where G Suite pulls ahead is with third party integration. Using the G Suite Marketplace, you can quickly add in third-party apps – from project management to CRM systems, smoothly merging and updating tools with little more than a click of your mouse. OneDrive offers a similar feature, but selection is still more limited.

Email

Email is a basic function that both popular products offer. Microsoft Exchange offers two variants, a traditional format and a hosted cloud-based solution that has business-friendly features. Google provides Gmail, which is perhaps the most popular consumer email service. This means your employees will be more familiar with the interface and the apps, and its use of labels can make it a more flexible system when compared with traditional folders used in Exchange or Outlook.

These are just a few of the many reasons we prefer the G Suite platform. And with just a little training, you’ll quickly find out how it can work best for you too.

Preparing For The Future Direction Of eHealth

Preparing For The Future Direction Of eHealth

What does the future of healthcare look like?

It takes little imagination to see technology integrated into every step of the process. In fact, we add a bit more to it each day. No matter what capacity you enter the system, whether as a patient or as the head of a large medical practice, eHealth is being implemented as:

Electronic Health Records – enables easy communication between different healthcare professionals

Lifetime Health Records – full aggregation of individual electronic health records capturing population-based tracking to both predict and anticipate future events

Telehealth – includes all types of physical and psychological remote monitoring that does not require a patient to travel to see a specialist

Public Health Education – complex media channels that allow citizens to stay informed on a variety of health and medical related topics

Virtual Healthcare Teams – healthcare professionals who collaborate and share information on patients and events

And of course, this is just a start. We’ll see technology taking over many of the jobs previously held by staff of all levels, from office work to the most experienced surgeons and medical staff. Health 2.0 and Medicine 2.0 is still being interwoven as new technologies are developed every day.

Not only will this make medical staff perform better, but it will also allow patients to take a more active role in their care. This empowers each of us to make more well-informed decisions throughout the process.

Where do we go from here?

Learn

A whirlwind of transition brings both confusion and opportunity. The only way to progress forward is to take it all in stride and learn more every day. Can you imagine going back to paper files or a time without access to the Internet? Yet at one time, that was the norm. Adding a little to your vocabulary every day is the only way to stay informed.

Explore

This isn’t a time to do things as they’ve always been done. This is a time to explore. What systems can help you do more with less? What information exists that will put you in a better light with your patients and your colleagues? What can you learn that will help you for your future?

Secure

Before you jump in with any new technology, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions. How will this impact my business? How will this integrate with everything I already have in place? Will this open my up to more risk? How can I keep my information more secure?

This is a learning process, a journey we’re all making together.

How can we help you?

The Riskiness Of Building The Internet of Things

The Riskiness Of Building The Internet of Things

Imagine roads where driverless cars are everywhere. You no longer own a car; you simply call for one when you are ready to leave.

Imagine a refrigerator that anticipates your moves. It can order foods as they become low or run out. You can plug in what’s for dinner, and have it place an order based on your needs.

Imagine a bracelet wrapped around your wrist, monitoring your important vitals. If can remind you when to take medicine, record your daily activities, even make suggestions via your doctor on ways to improve your life.

Doesn’t sound so futuristic, does it?

The Internet of Things is changing our world like never before. It’s  opening up the doors for exciting opportunities. And with it comes the good and bad.

Right now, the Internet of Things is being created resembling the Wild West. We’re taking what we know about Internet growth and applying all we’ve learned to this new frontier. But is that the right way?

First, it’s important to understand the magnitude of what the Internet of Things will bring to the table.

When the Internet first entered our lives, we accessed it via one machine: a computer. It was relatively easy to teach someone how to keep their computers safe; updates and patches were mandatory.

But the Internet of Things goes beyond a stand-alone computer on our desk. It touches almost everything in our lives. Hitting “yes” when your mobile device asks if it can upgrade an app is easy; will you remember to upgrade your refrigerator on your own?

It’s not just upgrading that will keep you safe and secure. It’s also about privacy. Your refrigerator may know when you run out of double chocolate ice cream; it may order it for you on a regular basis. But do you really want to provide that information to marketers without your knowledge? You may not care about your ice cream habits, but what about more sensitive areas of your life?

Because once everything in your life is connected and running via AI technology, your whole world will be an open book. You’ll ask different questions. You’ll be faced with new challenges. Legal and policy challenges will bear their heads.

Will your mobile device be considered expert material on the witness stand?

And what happens when certain technologies go away, companies fail, or simply change course?

If no one is there to update and monitor a technology, will we have to throw it away?

Will we have abandoned “cities” where nothing but the old technology exists between the walls?

While we can and have allowed the Internet of Things to develop in Wild West magnitude, it may be time to stop and think about our future. Should underlying protocols be in place? Should we be planning for universal design rather than allowing everyone to approach it on their own? What will our world be like in 10 years, and what will we do if nobody is there for updates and patches?

While the answers might not affect us much today, they will be a part of our daily lives tomorrow.

Avoiding A Watering Hole Attack

It’s the water that brings them in. They stand around getting their fill. They sip quickly, nudge those close by for a little more. They stand together, band together.

And then, when they least expect it, the predator attacks. He lurks unseen, camouflaged from view. He watches for the perfect opportunity. And then feasts.

Nope, I’m not talking about the latest documentary on the nature channel. Instead, I’m talking about something that is very real in the business world.

A watering hole attack is a security exploit in which an attacker seeks out a specific group of end users by infecting websites the group is known to frequent. The goal is to create as many holes as possible within a particular area to provide ample opportunity for gaining access to the network they desire.

Watering hole attacks aren’t fringe websites where your employees shouldn’t be. Instead, watering hole attacks stem from legitimate, popular websites they not only frequent regularly, but you also encourage it.

The attacker profiles his targets, learning who they are, what functions they serve, what they have access to. Then they look at what websites they frequent. Their goal is to find weak sites where vulnerabilities exist. They want to easily slip in and out, injecting malicious JavaScript or HTML code that redirects the target to a separate site where malware resides. Then the compromised site simply sits and waits.

They typically choose well-known well-regarded websites that carry a lot of clout within an industry.

For example, The Council on Foreign Relations, a Washington DC based think tank that provides foreign affairs resources to government officials, journalists, and business and education leaders was hit by a watering hole attack and hosted malware for several days that it installed on unknowing visitors to the site.

 

In another instance, a Forbes ad server was hacked, and from there, visitors from government and bank networks were compromised and used to infect target networks.

While watering hole attacks aren’t the most common form of gaining access to information, they do pose a considerable threat when initiated because they are difficult to detect. They usually target organizations with valuable information and a lot to lose.

And training an employee is difficult at best. You can teach someone to recognize a phishing scam, but how do you teach an employee to identify if a legitimate website has been compromised?

Anticipate Updates

In most cases, the software and programs you use throughout your business announce when updates are coming. Watch for updates and make it mandatory that every department installs patches and upgrade systems immediately when they become available.

Monitor Traffic

If you understand what a normal day looks like, spikes in traffic will stand out. If your security solution inspects all network traffic, you can quickly see when oddities occur.

Analyze Behavior

Selecting a behavioral analysis software to add even more protection. It can detect when unusual user behavior occurs, such as a laptop sending confidential documents outside peak hours.

Watch Popular Websites

Sometimes the best way to stay safe is to watch what others are doing. What are the top sites your employees visit? What’s your relationship with their management and security team? While it’s not imperative to have friends on the inside, just visiting their sites and monitoring their traffic and news can help you stay on top of what’s happening on their sites. If you detect malware on a site, block traffic immediately and contact the owner.

Yes, watering hole attacks are just one more item for an IT department to watch for to ensure a data breach doesn’t occur. But by being aware of its occurrence, it gives you a better chance of finding threats early in the game.