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?

Is Your Old Technology And Infrastructure Blocking Innovation?

Is Your Old Technology And Infrastructure Blocking Innovation?

The larger your company, the more difficult it is to move.

A small company with just a handful of employees can make decisions quickly. They can adjust as changes come their way. They can buy into new programs as they see fit. If a problem arises, the small chain of command means any issue is dealt with head on.

Now add a few zeros behind the number of employees in the company – 5 to 50, 500, or 5,000 – and things become a little more complicated.

When problems arise, it’s no longer up to one or two members to decide what happens next. Other departments must be consulted. Management has to meet. Budgets need to be forecasted. Outcomes must be storyboarded.

And that can take weeks. Or months.

Companies often ignore the real impact of what outdated technology can have. Instead, they focus on cost structure first. How will this impact our resources? How will this increase gross margins? How much will this cost?

And then comes the next question: What if we’re wrong?

Fear can be a heavy motivator in waylaying change.

Cost is always an issue. But what about innovation?

A digital transformation in any company can have long-lasting results. Whether it’s a complete overhaul, or merely changing things out a little at a time, recognizing your infrastructure has weaknesses before they become detrimental will ensure your competitive edge. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How will technology change competition in our industry?
  • What will it take to exceed our customer’s expectations in the coming years?
  • Do our plans reflect the full potential of what technology has to offer?
  • How can technology improve our operational and strategic responsiveness?
  • Are we comfortable with our level of technology risk?
  • Are we making the most of what technology has to offer?

Is your company poised to be the best it can be in the coming years?

How Does Virtual Reality Help With Healthcare?

How Does Virtual Reality Help With Healthcare?

What do you think of when you hear the term virtual reality?

  • Do you think of the video games your child plays sitting on the couch, staring at the television?
  • Do you think of lots of action, high entertainment, cool designs and life-like graphics?
  • Do you think of a gamer wearing a headset, swinging his arms as he takes on bad guys no one can see but him?

Thanks to the ever-changing technology we now have in place, virtual reality is so much more.

Virtual reality is a relatively easy technology to implement in today’s business models, and can be done so in a variety of ways. For many healthcare projects, it can provide:

Design Medical Facilities More Effectively

One of the easiest places to use VR is in the design of new office space. Rather than building out space and wishing for changes a short time after you move in, virtual reality lets you try out facilities before you ever break ground or pound a nail. VR removes the ambiguity from design that can lead to costly changes late in the process. It allows doctors and staff members to get a sense of the true scale, spacing and functionality of a room before finalizations occur. It can help a client feel the full volume of a room, discover the flow and the movement, and avoid potential problems especially when duplicating rooms over and over again, such as in a hospital or living facility where rooms repeat throughout the building.

Surgery In Virtual Reality

As technology changes, there are a lot of firsts in the way surgeons operate on patients. Due to demographics, relatively few people can witness these changes, except through write-ups which occur long after the event. With virtual reality, doctors from around the world can see best practices almost first hand. The whole operation can be broadcast live through virtual reality, giving medical professionals the opportunity to share space with some of the greatest minds in the world.

Virtual Reality Can Cure Phobias and Improve PTSD

Therapists and doctors the world over have advocated exposure therapy – where a person confronts that which they are most scared of. With up to five percent of the population severely impacted by significant phobias, virtual reality can offer a major opportunity to those lives that have been impacted, where exposure therapy is often impractical. VR can help clinicians place patients within realistic and immersive scenes that trigger anxieties or fear, then guided through the scene so that they learn how to cope with the situations in which they are placed.

Where else have you seen virtual reality enter the healthcare marketplace? Would it benefit your business environment?

What You Should Know About The Hybrid Cloud

What You Should Know About The Hybrid Cloud

Looking for ways to improve the way you operate your data? Chances are you’ve come across the term “hybrid cloud”.

The hybrid cloud is the combination of a public cloud provider such as Google Cloud, teamed with a private cloud platform that is designed specifically for a single organization. The public and private cloud infrastructures operate independently of each other and communicate over an encrypted connection.

While many reports might have you believing that the hybrid cloud is a relatively new phenomenon, in reality, it’s one of the oldest processes we currently use for controlling our business data in the online world. The moment you start paying for a public cloud service, no matter how small the service may be, you are in a hybrid cloud model. “Hybrid cloud” simply means you’re delivering IT services using more than one hosting model.

What matters most in a hybrid world is the security of your data. In some cases, combining services can add to the safety of your internal data. And in some cases, you can leave yourself wide open for anyone to break into. What determines your success is how you adopt these services and create rules and processes to ensure its success.

The Hybrid Cloud Means Many Providers
In the past, it was easy to try and keep all the control in-house, purchasing software and controlling it on internal databases. With a hybrid cloud, it moves past the all-eggs-in-one-basket approach and moves to finding the right solutions to give your business practices the best advantage. In most cases, that means multiple vendors to gain access to the tools and technology that will benefit you most. Then working with an IT specialist who can help you securely bring them all together for a dynamic approach to controlling all aspects of your business data.

Creating A Single Identity Is Essential
As you set up a hybrid system, multiple vendors are a given. It’s easy to get lost in core benefits of each system as a whole without discovering how they all integrate together to ensure you have a single identity from one system to another. In all cases, a businesses priority is about creating the best user experience possible. That means they seamlessly transition from one platform to another without realizing it in the process. Before you get caught up in the individual details of each platform, ensure they will have seamless transition as you design and develop your overall flow.

Hybrid Always Means Evolving
Businesses never operate in a stagnant environment. Every system they use morphs and changes all the time. The larger your organization, the more difficult that process can be. But the speed of innovation dictates transition plans and quickly identifies weaknesses and areas in need of improvement. It’s not necessary to move everything you use all at once. Instead, it’s important to identify the tipping points of each system and process in your business environment and when it makes sense to move to a new and improved model. Over time, as you discover things that are holding you back, you can find providers that provide the applications that will improve what you do. Incorporate them over time to ensure smooth transition without handing over safety in the process.

How secure is the hybrid cloud system you’re creating for your business?

One Simple Rule To Keep Your Data Safe

One Simple Rule To Keep Your Data Safe

Have you ever received emails from acquaintances that don’t quite make sense? You open them up to find a sentence or two followed by a link that says “click here.” You haven’t spoken with the person in months or even years. You’re not expecting anything from them. Still, you know them.

Do you trust it?

Of course not. By now we all know not to click. And if you ever have, you know what a horrible experience it can be. It can cripple your world very easily, shutting down access to many of the systems you use every day.

  • Your operations are interrupted.
  • Your data gets lost.
  • You suddenly need to upgrade programs and hardware.

And depending on the information exposed, you could face lawsuits, scrutiny from the FTC, and even the shutdown of your business operations.

Being hacked isn’t a fun experience. And most of us say we would do anything to avoid it.

Yet in reality, our actions often fall short of our words. We need to do more. Much more. And it’s really not that difficult.

A report from non-profit Online Trust Alliance found that 91 percent of all data breaches that occurred during the period looked at could have been prevented in easy manners. Things like patching a server, encrypting data, or training employees to act in safer manners overwhelmingly could have stopped most hacks.

A survey of top CIOs from around the world revealed that most company executives blame failed technology initiatives, including data breaches and security problems, on a lack of employee buy-in. That means employees, in general, are slow adapting to new technology, and are equally as slow at using technology in a safe and secure way.

So what does this mean for business owners? It means operating with eyes wide open.  It means spending a little money to ensure the best prevention tools are in place.

It means spending money on patches and upgrades promptly. Upgrades are created to protect you against known threats. The sooner they are implemented, the more protected you will be.

It means having an effective backup plan. It means working with your IT team to ensure all of your data is as safe as it possibly can be.

And it means creating the right insurance policy within your employee base. That means training them over and over again. Your data is only as safe as your staff allows it to be. If they access data incorrectly, or leave you at risk with weak passwords or leaving company hardware in open places, you’ll ultimately pay the price.