How To Embrace The Power Of Data

How To Embrace The Power Of Data

Have you ever thought about how much data exists in the world?

Have you ever thought about how much data is created on an average day?

The statistics are staggering, especially when you consider how far we’ve come in such a short period of time. For example, according to Forbes:

  • By 2020, over 6.1 billion smartphone users will exist throughout the world
  • By 2020, there will be over 50 billion smart devices developed to collect, analyze and share data
  • In 2015, over 1 trillion photos were taken, and billions of them were shared online
  • In 2017, over 80 percent of all photos will be taken with smart technology
  • Every single minute of the day, over 500 new websites are developed
  • We perform more than 40,000 search queries a second on Google alone
  • The total volume of data that the industry captures and stores doubles every 1.2 years

What do we do with that much data? How can we possibly use it to our advantage?

Big Data is a concept that seems to be popping up everywhere in the business world, no matter what industry you’re in. Big data can be defined as extremely large data sets that are analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions.

The power of big data lies in its ability to drive decisions.

In many industries, such as medical and technology, new research and content are added and updated all the time. Every year on PubMed, for example, more than 25 million references and 1 million biologically focused articles are published and uploaded to the database. As a researcher, in the traditional sense, it could take weeks, even months to find all the relevant data needed to make an informed decision. And by the time you find what you need, more content is added to the pool.

Fortunately, technology has come so far that there is no reason to have manual approaches. Embracing today’s research solutions can provide answers quickly and accurately. Rather than feeling daunted by the barrage of possibilities that exist and are at your disposal, we help you utilize the power of the modern ways to mine, analyze, and manage the vast amounts of resources you have at available to you, right now.

Secure Texting Can Be A Weak Link

Secure Texting Can Be A Weak Link

Imagine getting a text that says “your daughter has been in a serious accident.” Of course, you go into panic mode. Adrenaline rushes in, and the only thing your brain can process is how to gain more information.

At times like this, we’re at our most vulnerable point. We click. We answer calls. We say yes.

And we set ourselves up for security risks.

Studies show that when we receive a text message, we pay attention.

Currently, texting is the most widely-used app on a smartphone, with 97 percent of Americans using it at least once per day. And when we get a text message, they have a 98 percent open rate, and on average we’ll read it within 5 seconds of receiving it.

Not a lot of decision making time to determine if it’s real or if it’s fake.

That can be a big problem, especially as we move texting into more professional contexts. The health and wellness industry is ripe for patient-centered care options using technology, especially with secure texting and secure messaging. Not only is it increasingly being used for provider-to-provider communication, but providers are using it to stay in touch with patients as well.

Sending a text to your spouse to pick up a few items at the grocery store for dinner isn’t the same as revealing private health related content. Release the wrong data at the wrong time, and you can quickly have a disaster on your hands. Not only can it impact your relationship with your clients, but it can also destroy your reputation as well. .

Security in the texting realm isn’t just for the security officer or the IT department; it’s for every single person in the chain: medical professionals, office staff, and patients. You have to create a system that is not an overly burdensome process for the end users, yet difficult enough to prevent easy penetration by hackers and other less-than-forthright users.

The weakest link in and security program is the user. So it’s important that people consistently are reminded and trained on what to look for in all communication –  including emails and texts – and what to avoid.

Phishing attacks, for example, are often used to gain access to inside systems using employees credentials. And over the years, these fake messages have become increasingly more believable. When you train end-users on what to look for, they learn how to recognize questionable messages that come through. They have a procedure in place to test real from fake, to question before releasing anything that may potentially harm the overall system.

And while that can be more difficult when reaching out to patients, if you build security into the process throughout your organization, you’ll have procedures in place to alert your patients quickly when things go awry.

Does MDM Threaten Employee Privacy?

Does MDM Threaten Employee Privacy?

For years, the concept of bring your own device (BYOD) into the workplace has integrated into most offices. It’s hard to imagine a world where an office employee doesn’t pick up their personal phone or tablet to perform some needed task. But even the smallest of tasks can be damaging to an organization. Even the smallest misstep can have a disastrous impact.

Which is how Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions were born.

But are they the right solution for your company?

MDM solutions can be scary for an employee. To install something that allows their employer to have complete visibility into their actions at the click of a button can leave them worrying about privacy issues. And once the solution is installed, there is little to indicate that monitoring is taking place. How do you ensure you are doing all you can to secure your company’s data without infringing on your employee’s privacy rights?

One of MDM’s biggest selling points is also the one thing ripe for abuse: the ability to monitor all incoming and outbound traffic. With an MDM solution, security can visibly see all emails, browser searches, personal information such as passwords, and more. This means if an employee uses a computer to do what they might consider to be personal activities, such as accessing personal health information, searching Amazon for a product, or viewing financial or political information, it could be held and used against them at some point in the future.

And it isn’t just what an employee accesses. It can also include what apps an employee downloads. While this may seem innocent, it gives an organization the ability to track what an employee does even in their personal time. It can lead to building a detailed profile of employee behavior. All of a sudden, an organization can see what sports teams a person follows, what dating sites they use regularly, or what news organization they access on a daily basis.

And because smart devices are attached to geotracking, MDM solutions can also be used to determine employee locations 24/7. This capability has the potential to record far more damaging information than merely finding a phone if it’s lost.

Employees expect freedom to use their phones and tablets as they see fit, especially during non-working hours. But do simple security measures such as PIN codes and disk encryption offer enough security to protect a company’s information?

What’s your policy on BYOD and MDM?

Insider Threats: Do You Know Where Your Biggest Threats Are?

Insider Threats: Do You Know Where Your Biggest Threats Are?

Security is always a major concern, no matter where your data currently exists. And consistent reports of high-profile attacks on brand name companies do little to appease fear.

While a lot of press covers how to protect data from external threats, it’s also important to remember that an even bigger challenge is protecting against insider threats. Insider threats are more than employees with weak passwords, or an angry employee with malicious intent. There are two pieces to the insider threat issue which all businesses need to address:

  1. Insider behavior
  2. System configurations

Insider threats reach beyond the employee population. They extend to anyone who may have had legitimate, inside access to the company’s networks at some point in the past. That can include employees, vendors, contractors, partners – anyone who was given a key to enter the system, no matter for what purpose.

We give access to different people for various reasons. But in all cases, it creates an opening, no matter how small, that didn’t exist before. It creates a tiny crack in the overall structure.

Imagine a building with hundreds of windows. One person opening one window just a crack may not impact the safety and security of the building and its contents. But what happens when another is opened? And another?

Each of these points causes a gap in the system. They are entry points that allow external factors to get in and impact the overall structure and security of the system. Even if at one point the external elements had every reason for having access to the system in the first place.

Any type of system breach, no matter how small it may be, can be a business’s worst nightmare. Yet it’s more common than most business owners believe. It takes just one ignorant employee leaving a door open to put your data and your company at risk.

Diligence is essential. Security isn’t a one-time thing; it’s a lifetime endeavor. Just when you have one area under control, another potential problem opens up.

Do you know where the biggest insider threats lie within your business environment?

Why Even Your In-House IT Team Needs Tech Mentors

Why Even Your In-House IT Team Needs Tech Mentors

It’s business as usual. Or is it?

In all industries, changes are occurring at lightning speed. And while you may find change exhilarating for staying current in what you do best, change can be terrifying in other parts of your business.

Like technology.

What happens when Google makes a change that impacts your ranking; do you know how to deal with it? Are you aware of breaches that could impact your data? Do you monitor third party contract and service agreement changes and understand how they affect you?

Even if you do have an in-house IT team, they still operate with finite resources. There are only so many hours in the day, and only a fraction of those hours are used for education and training, to ensure they stay on top of their game.

What about what they miss? How do those things impact your business? And what can you do to close the gap?

It may be easier than you think.

An IT mentor may be the perfect solution to ensure you are at your top game in this technology-driven world.

Before you start a mentor relationship, focus on two things.

1. Am I clear on why I need these mentors?

We all have different needs and requirements. An IT mentor can provide extra guidance to an in-house staff that may be weak in certain areas. Will they benefit most from being able to look at the big picture? Or do they need help with automation? Or is safety a more primary concern? A mentor can only improve your situation if you understand what you expect as your ultimate goal.

2. Am I clear on what I need from these mentors?

Be very specific about your needs. Yes, your in-house staff may be great at certain aspects of technology, but an IT mentor will help fill in the gaps. They will help you develop a broader plan and nail down specifics to make sure you measure success in a clearer way.

Focus on the skills your team is weak on, and what is best to help your business become stronger and more competitive. Fill in the gaps without having to grow your staff.

Whether you can pinpoint your needs or not, the best place to start is by realizing help can make everything you do stronger and more succinct. Start the conversation, and make this a great year.

Off The Shelf Applications: But I Can Make It Better

Off The Shelf Applications: But I Can Make It Better

Spend just a moment thinking about your business as it existed just five short years ago.

What hardware did you have in place? What software were you using? What applications were popular? How did you communicate with your customers? How productive were your employees? Did you function well with off-the-shelf products? Or did you make improvements by customization?

Fast forward to today. What’s different?

Smart technology has more than tripled over the past five years. People have moved from using laptops and cell phones to carrying smartphones and tablets with them everywhere they go. It’s no longer about sitting at a desk and doing your job; mobility is key to staying ahead in business.

And as our concept of working changes, so too does our ability to connect and have access to our data. But never forget that what works today will die a quick death in the weeks and months that follow.

Think back to your off-the-shelf software packages. You chose them because they accomplished certain tasks you needed for operations. These boxed solutions were designed for specific needs. But because they were targeted towards a mass market audience, their complexities existed merely to make the masses happy. So there were little things that simply didn’t work. Those tiny frustrations that you swore you’d fix if you possibly could.

And that’s why many companies turned to customization. Because with customization comes the ability to add the details that you needed most.

But customization has its problems too. Working with a design team means you can try and get all of the bells and whistles in place. You can spend days, weeks, months trying to get everything “perfect.” And in the process, you lose sight of the fact that once this application is completed, more than likely it will be archaic at best.

We don’t know what we don’t know. Which in technology terms means that while we may understand what some of our needs are, we simply don’t have the capabilities of understanding all programs on the marketplace and realizing how some of them can be brought together to give us the perfect tools for our needs.

So we spend short amounts of time hunting for what we need. We find two or three alternatives with a quick search, evaluate, and make a decision. Only to be filled with regret a short while later.

Be careful of trying to get a square peg into a round hole. Your base solution is everything. By starting with your core and building from there, you can ensure your processes, your infrastructure, and your budget all meet in the middle.

There are many solutions out there that are the perfect starting point for any business model. They key is knowing where to look and what they are. Once you understand their sophistication, only then can you realize how best to implement them into your business model, and ensure you have the best most sophisticated tools at your disposal.

Ready for improvements in your business processes? We can help.

What Outsourcing IT Means For Your Business

What Outsourcing IT Means For Your Business

Outsourcing. It’s the way all businesses are moving forward into a brighter, more productive future.

For many businesses, they find it much more effective to outsource their IT needs rather than trying to keep them in-house. IT outsourcing includes hardware, software, database administration, cloud computing, inventory management, website management, online security, backup management, and more.

Benefit #1 Lower Cost
Acquiring a knowledgeable IT team can be one of the most expensive parts of a business. Not only do they have to be well-informed in a wide array of areas, but they also have to utilize daily education to stay up on the latest trends and threats. Equipment must regularly be upgraded. Software must be kept up to date. Security is always an issue. Even productivity must be considered, with IT making suggestions for automation and upgrades over time. And if you fall behind, you can pay the price many times over.  All of which can make in-house IT cost prohibitive to small or even medium size businesses.

Benefit #2 Time Management
Having an in-house IT department means you’ll spend more time worrying about technology and updates, and less time running your business. IT concerns suddenly become everyone’s problem, with constant meetings to determine a full spectrum of possibilities, from determining how often you should backup your data, to the best hardware to use for all of your technological needs. With IT outsourcing, all you need is to find a reputable IT company, with regular input to make sure they are doing their job right. You free up your time by having regular summary reports without having to make the tiny decisions that go along with it. They become your IT time managers.

Benefit #3 More Security
In-house security teams are always running into budget constraints and working with other departments to control overhead costs. Which also means most in-house security teams are at the lower end of keeping up to date. With IT outsourcing, you are relying on a company whose entire business is structured around security. They find state of the art security technology and know how to implement and use it well. They understand how to integrate top technology into a business. They work with many different issues and have the ability to act face in the event of a crisis. They aren’t tied to office politics, and instead are focused on what they do best: keep your data secure.

Benefit #4 Superior Talent
Keeping top talent is difficult. You have to recruit them, pay them, offer them benefits, onboard them, keep them happy, keep them up to date. And just when you thought they were part of the team, they leave for a better job in some other company. And the process starts all over again. By outsourcing your IT, the company you choose has weeded through IT professionals to choose the best in the industry. They look for full coverage for their own staff, selecting people that can bring a variety of benefits to their team. Which means you get the full benefits of having a variety of IT personnel standing behind you, offering you support, and giving their all to keep you and your data safe.

Benefit #5 Proficient Technology
Technology can be a very frustrating thing. The moment you purchase hardware or invest in a new system, it’s out of date almost as fast as it’s implemented into your business. Then there’s the maintenance. And the security upgrades. It can leave you over budget, weak on security, and vulnerable to your competition. IT outsourcing gives you the advantage of knowing all of your decisions will be the right ones for your company, and will give you the assurance that they will be the best decisions for moving forward as well. Reputable IT professionals make it their business to stay up to date on emerging technologies and will use state of the art equipment and software to give you the best possible service for your money.

How up to date are you on your IT needs?