How to enhance business collaboration with the right technology

It goes without saying that the right business technology can improve productivity. For example, a software upgrade or switch may mean that employees can now telecommute more. They can create, write and edit documents with one another in real time even if they’re on opposite sides of the world.
However, not all small business owners think about collaboration and technology strategically. Some may look at a collaboration tool and decide to use it without 100 percent understanding why they’re choosing this specific tool over another. Is it really the right tool? What makes it the strongest tool for the needs of the business? Is it trying to fix something that is not broken? Strategic thinking helps SMB owners recognize the areas in which collaboration gives them the greatest value.

Anticipate the needs of the business

Your business won’t be the same in two years as it is today. Even a mere week or month from now, it’ll have changed. One thing that’ll remain constant, though, is the need for collaboration. The right collaboration technology will be able to grow or evolve with the needs of the business, at least for the next year or two. A basic example: If your business plans to expand its telework options next year and you’re choosing new software now, it makes sense to factor in how friendly a program is for teleworkers or any telework-specific options it has (ex: does it have time tracking? Video calls?).

Streamline processes instead of bloating them

Collaboration isn’t always effective. In fact, the wrong tools or approach can seriously hamper a business. Take an SMB owner who would like employees to work together more on creating project presentations. One question to ask before implementation would be whether there actually is a need for more collaboration in this area. Have project presentations been lacking? If so, why? If they have not been lacking or the underlying reasons aren’t addressed, then the SMB owner risks tying up his or her employees’ time with an unnecessary or wrong collaboration tool.
Similarly, if new collaboration software means that the employees in your department have to take an extra step to collaborate with workers in another department, it may not be the best choice.
Collaboration is supposed to make things easier, not harder. There’s such a thing as collaboration burnout. Managers today may spend 85 percent of their time in meetings, on email and on the phone. It could be that the right technology for your business decreases this percentage and frees up more time for managers to do other things.

Fit the technology or approach with the company culture

This point expands a bit on “collaboration burnout.” The culture of some SMBs is 24/7 work. In other words, employees are expected to be reachable at any time. That works just fine for some employees and companies. However, if you don’t own this type of business, it’s important to choose collaboration programs or goals that reflect your norms. Alternatively, you can take extra steps to uphold your values when collaboration is so easily available.
For instance, if an employee calls in sick and your company uses a BYOD policy, you may be tempted to ask her to work from home that day. Depending on how sick she is, this move could actually result in less productivity and collaboration.

Learn more about the business

Here’s how you can maximize your collaboration tools:

  •    Focus on the problem/goal and not so much on the technology itself.
  •    Give serious consideration to tools that employees already love and that have been proven.
  •    Take a look at the big picture and the total cost of using this collaboration technology.
  •    Make sure that your IT services provider understands your needs.

To address these issues, you have to learn more about your business, and that’s a good thing!

The top 5 instant messaging apps for growing businesses

It’s hardly a secret that technological innovation, mobility, and cloud applications have dramatically impacted communication habits.
North American adults now spend over 3 hours and 35 minutes each day engaged with mobile apps at work and home, per eMarketer. The continued explosion of mobile has contributed to speculation that cloud-based instant messaging apps could one day replace email in the workplace. There are now 4.1 billion worldwide messaging app users, according to a recent Business Insider report.
A recent Forbes analysis declared crowded email inboxes (which monopolize 6.3 hours of worker attention each day) are “one-dimensional and simply outdated.”
Today’s talent force prefers real-time, mobile-optimized tools to communicate, and cloud vendors have responded with an extensive selection of workplace instant messaging solutions. The leading chat apps for business can allow your organization to drive growth with productive, engaging workplace communication.
Here are the top 5 business instant messaging apps available today.

  1. Skype

Business Skype is currently the most widely-used instant messaging app with a 43 percent market share, according to NewsDay. This multimedia platform offers collaboration features, integration with Office 365, and video conferencing capabilities for up to 250 people.
Despite its popularity, Skype for Business isn’t a permanent solution. Microsoft has announced the intention to shift Skype capabilities into the Teams app.

  1. Teams

Teams is the enterprise instant messaging app Microsoft designed as an embedded part of the improved Office 365 suite.
A robust freeware version can support chat and conferencing features for up to 300 users and seamless integration with many external apps, like Facebook and Twitter. Despite these remarkable pros, Teams isn’t the best choice for every company. You can only use it in conjunction with the Office 365 suite.

  1. Slack

Launched in 2013, Slack was among the first purpose-built cloud apps for workplace instant messaging. With 15 percent market share and eight million daily users, it remains a popular option for startups and SMB.
Affordable, flexible pricing is a beloved feature. Workers can perform content searches, create custom “channels” or chat one-on-one from desktop or mobile. User reviews sway largely positive, though some adopters believe the app is difficult to navigate.

  1. Google Hangouts

Hangouts first soared to popularity for one-on-one chat communications and video calling among consumer Gmail users. As part of Google’s expanded offerings for businesses, the Hangouts app can offer an intuitive extension to Google business apps on desktop and mobile devices.
The app offers a free trial and flexible, low-cost pricing which may appeal to first-time chat adopters at small organizations. Compared to other options, Hangouts has limited enterprise conferencing capabilities. For example, HD video calls are limited to 15 or fewer users.

  1. Facebook Workplace

With 1.2 billion active users reported by Business Insider, the consumer version of Facebook Messenger is now the most popular chat app in the North American market. Chances are, your employees are well-familiar with using Messenger and will require little training to adopt it for text, audio, and video calling.
While it is reasonably priced on a monthly basis, Workplace offers limited integration with other cloud apps for business. There are also few purpose-built productivity features for business beyond consumer Messenger capabilities.

The Best Instant Messenger for Business

While it remains to be seen whether instant messaging apps will replace email as the dominant form of workplace communication, conversational apps have undeniable momentum among personal and business users.
Incorporating instant messaging solutions can fuel business growth with flexible, cloud-based tools for real-time communication.

7 typical disaster recovery plan mistakes (and how to fix them)

A disaster recovery plan is just one step in an approach to keeping your business running well. Cyberthreats aren’t going away and new threats emerge all the time. Complete data protection requires a robust plan that includes everything from backup and disaster recovery to business continuity.

If you’re serious about crafting a disaster recovery plan that will protect your business, there are some common mistakes you’ll want to avoid. Here are 7 pitfalls we see businesses get sidelined by on a regular basis—and how you can overcome them.

  1. Not having a plan at all

The only thing worse than a disaster is a disaster you’re totally unprepared for. If disaster recovery is totally new for you, don’t sweat it. Start by reading our guide to completing a disaster recovery plan.

  1. Not clearly noting who is responsible for what

It’s natural to focus your data recovery plan on the data, itself, including the hardware and cloud storage you depend on. But what will keep your business going is your people.

If you have a managed IT services provider, they can certainly help, but it’s not all on them. That’s because this is about your business.

For each step of data recovery, you need to know who will be affected and who will be responsible. Consider management, employees, departments and sometimes even customers.

  1. Not having a plan for communication (internally & externally)

An easy mistake to make is assigning roles for each task but not considering how people will be notified of the step in the process.

Your communication plan can take many forms, from modern solutions like mass notification through SMS messages to an old-fashioned phone tree. The specific tools you use doesn’t matter nearly as much as having a clearly-outlined plan well in advance.

Make sure everyone in your organization, as well as your managed IT services provider, is included and informed.

  1. Not identifying critical processes

It’s easy to get stuck in the weeds. You know the systems you use, as well as the pitfalls and obstacles associated with each. But don’t forget the goal: business continuity.

Everything you do isn’t critical. Evaluate each process your company relies on and ask yourself what will happen if each of these processes goes offline. Having taken into account the risk associated with each process, decide which processes absolutely have to stay up and running.

Those are your critical processes. Your business continuity plan should focus on maintaining them.

  1. Not having key buy-in

Disaster recovery plans affect the whole business. Because that’s true, it’s important to keep leadership in the loop about the plans and the risks.

If you’re not sure where to start, consider checking out this resource: 4 cybersecurity facts your company’s leadership team should know.

But don’t stop with the leadership. From there, make sure that everyone in the organization knows what your business continuity plan is and why it matters.

  1. Not monitoring, testing & updating

A good disaster recovery plan is active.

You should be monitoring and testing. Monitoring your network will make you aware of potential issues before they have a chance to take your network offline. Proactive in testing also helps to identify potential, as well as giving you a better picture of overall risk. And system updates mitigate vulnerabilities and ensure functionality.

As your system updates, don’t forget to update your recovery plan to match your newly patched system.

  1. Not mitigating risk

Disaster recovery isn’t just about preparing an inevitable emergency. It’s also about mitigating negative impact whenever possible.

A recent example of the power of mitigation is the MyHeritage breach over the summer. It affected a massive 92 million customers. But through smart, thoughtful systems design and preparation, the damage was minimal. MyHeritage didn’t store passwords directly, but rather in a one-way hash unique to each user. As a result, the breach did not actually compromise the passwords. Further, they didn’t store personal information (like credit card numbers or family tree information) that they didn’t need to maintain.

This kind of thorough, thoughtful systems approach lowered their overall risk well ahead of time. The breach they experienced could have been devastating. But their strategy turned it into a relatively minor inconvenience rather than a true emergency.

The post 7 typical disaster recovery plan mistakes (and how to fix them) appeared first on ISG Technologies.

Source: my isg

3 of the best online meeting platforms

Online meetings are only as good as the platform you use for them. An easy-to-navigate, well-designed platform can make online meetings a breeze. A platform that doesn’t fit for you will make them torture.

And there are so many to choose from. It can be difficult to know which one will work best for you.

If you’re searching for the right online meeting solution, we can help. Here are three of the best options out there right now.

The online meeting revolution

First things first. Before diving into our recommendations, it’s important to have a solid understanding of why online meetings are helpful.

An online meeting makes use of your internet connection to seamlessly connect participants from any location. This makes conducting business with people in different states or countries much easier and more efficient.

And that’s the benefit. All the collaboration of a face-to-face meeting within the time, expense and hassle of travel. For teams located in different cities and states, it’s an invaluable option.

Now, on to the recommendations.

  1. Adobe Connect Pro

You know Adobe’s name. The company is famous for Photoshop, their industry-standard image editing application. But you may not have heard about Connect Pro, their online meeting platform. It’s a great option for online meetings.

On the plus side, the interface is beautiful and it’s certainly feature-rich. But this option has a higher learning curve than your other options. It may not be well suited for novices.

One appealing aspect of this software, however, is the fact that it is completely secure. Not only that, but it can host meetings of up to 200 people. Also, people can easily connect via their smartphones or tablets.

  1. Cisco WebEx

Cisco’s WebEx software is the oldest and most commonly used online meeting services in the market. The options are solid, with all the features you’re likely to want or need. The interface is also very user-friendly, making this an online meeting service just about anyone can jump straight into.

You can install the WebEx plugin on any desktop computer. It allows you to quickly join or host meetings and makes screen-sharing convenient and easy. You can even pass the “presenter” role to others who are connected to the meeting so that anyone can take the lead.

It’s a dynamic, well-rounded option, and one you should certainly consider.

  1. GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting can support meetings of up to 15 people and allows you to record the meeting, chat between participants and screen share. If you choose the corporate version of this software (which costs a bit more), the potential meeting size goes up to 25 participants.

One of the most appealing features offered by GoToMeeting is the fact that it is very easy to use and extremely intuitive. As a result, it’s not going to take much time to get to know the features and capabilities of the program.

One of the biggest downsides, however, is that before meetings can start, everyone participating has to download the client. This may take some time, which can delay meetings if folks aren’t prepared ahead of time.

Which meeting platform is right for you?

When it’s time for you to choose a meeting program, you need to consider your options carefully. Make sure you factor in things like security and find a way to back up any information shared.

All this will ensure that your meeting is both safe and successful.

If you need more information about what online meeting service to use, then it may be a good idea to reach out to a managed IT service provider.

Why does your business need a proper backup policy?

Backing up your business information is as crucial as conducting daily business itself. Which is why you need a solid backup strategy.

With a proper backup policy, you can secure all your business data—files, documents, client and customer correspondence, and in-house or remote team communications.

No matter which industry or sector you serve, proper backup is pivotal. Data loss can seriously cripple a business of any size. A good backup strategy is the best way to avoid losing essential information due to systems failures, security breaches or plain old human error.

What can a network backup do for my company?

There are several benefits of having a backup policy for your business.

  • Any kind of data loss incident hurts. But when all your business data is backed up, you can bounce back quickly.
  • Data backups tend to lessen the impact and length of downtime. The less downtime you experience, the more you can get done . . . and the more profitable you are.
  • Backups often save you and your staff from duplicate work. Even if it’s easy to rebuild that report, do you really want to waste the time?
  • You’ll be prepared if you ever have to work through an audit or even annually when you complete your business tax preparations.

Ultimately, a well-developed backup strategy serves to protect your business by protecting your company data. That impacts your organizational efficiency, your cybersecurity and even your reputation.

Granted, the best case scenario is to never actually need your data backup. But the moment you need it, you’ll be so glad it’s there.

Related: How big data is changing the game for backup and recovery

How important are backups for my new business?

Occasionally, new SMB owners feel the need for backup isn’t as pressing. After all, there’s not as much data. A backup strategy can feel like something you can take care of later.

We strongly advise against waiting.

Network backups are of paramount importance. It’s far better to backup all your company data from the very beginning.

And if your SMB has been around awhile, it’s just as important to stay on top of backups. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you haven’t needed a backup yet, you won’t need one in the future.

All about human error

Network backup plays an instrumental role in reducing human error. Think about it. How many times have you, yourself, accidentally deleted the wrong thing? Now imagine the potential for impact if the same thing happened at the network level.

Read about how backups saved Toy Story 2

Human error is a real factor. It will be for the foreseeable future. Data backups are perhaps the best way to insulate your company from the risks of human error.

Automated the process

Automation is big in the IT industry for good reason. Automation makes repetitive tasks easy, routine and consistent. It’s perfect for backup.

As you work with your managed IT services provider to set up your custom backup strategy, make sure the process is automatic. Manually saving all network files to an additional hard drive is not a thorough backup process.

Automatically backing up all files to a secure cloud server, on the other hand, is.

A word about the cloud

The cloud is a convenient location for network backups—if it’s a good fit for your business. Be sure to think through this from all possible angles. You’ll need to take the following into account:

  • The level of security provided by your cloud vendor. This is a good thing to think about for all cloud solutions—backup and otherwise.
  • Any regulatory requirements for your industry. If your cloud provider doesn’t meet your industry’s compliance guidelines for security, for example, then the cloud may not be an option.
  • How quickly do you need to be able to access backups? Cloud backups typically take a little longer to access than local backups.
  • Scalability options with your cloud vendor. If your company grows, can you easily add space?

If cloud backups aren’t an option for your business, you can back up everything locally. In some cases, this is actually preferable. We recommend a thorough, strategic conversation with an IT consultant if you’re not entirely sure which is the best fit for you.

The compelling benefits of getting on a video conference call

If you work in an office setting, chances are you have been on a conference call at some point. Conference calling was once considered the epitome of productive technology. Allowing people from all across the country to participate in the conversation was revolutionary. And, of course, it is still widely utilized today.

However, in the modern office, there is a better option.

Since its arrival, the web-based video conference call has made a huge impression on businesses and users alike. Sometimes the littlest changes have the biggest impact. Simply by allowing participants to engage visually with one another, rather than relying solely on audio communication, video conference calls have changed the way that we do business.

What follows are the top four benefits of choosing video conference calls over traditional conference calls.

Engage remote employees

Between 20 and 25% of Americans worked from home in 2017, according to the Virtual Vocations Year-End Report. That’s an increase of 115% since 2005.

If you have any employees working remote, it may be difficult for them to feel engaged and connected other team members. Regular video conference calls allow you to establish and maintain a face-to-face connection with remote employees. According to a study done by Forbes, 92% of participants felt that being able to “see” remote employees increased the sense of connection and trust between employees.

To do so without video conferencing would require the employees to regularly commute to the office, adding time and expense on the part of both you and your employee.

Related: Utilizing video conferencing to improve enterprise efficiency

Improve communication

One of the biggest problems with regular conference calls is communication issues. By introducing video components, visual cues are restored to communication.

While this may seem like a minor thing, nonverbal communication makes up a significant portion of the communication between people. In a video conference call, it is incredibly helpful to know whether Harry or Ron is speaking at the moment. It’s also important to be able to see the expression on Ron’s face to help interpret whether his comment about employee overtime is a joke or whether he is being serious.

Improved communication means fewer errors in judgment when it comes to situations like these. Video conferencing reduces confusion because people are able to connect unspoken elements with spoken communication, thereby clarifying confusing situations.

Related: Recognizing the rise of unified communications

Require attention

One of the downsides of the traditional conference call is that you are just sitting there on a phone for an hour. Most of us are guilty of getting side-tracked as we click through emails or scroll through the news of the day.

One benefit of video conferencing is, much like an in-person meeting, people can see you. It is much harder to slack off or distract yourself when the VP can see what you are doing. While she might not be able to tell if you are reading an email, you would certainly never get up to go make a sandwich in the middle of the call.

Video conferencing requires a level of attention and engagement that traditional conference calls just don’t.

Related: Schools improve student engagement, understanding with video conferencing

Add visual aids

While the use of regular conference calls might save time and the expense of travel, it can be very difficult to follow along with an audio conference call.

Video conferencing has the added benefit of being able to utilize visual aids. Visual aids can be anything: from a slideshow or a video to a whiteboard, photographs, or even physical objects. Visual aids add interest to the meeting and also help to increase understanding.

This increases individual concentration and allows participants to absorb and remember more information.

The compelling benefits of getting on a video conference call

 

If you work in an office setting, chances are you have been on a conference call at some point. Conference calling was once considered the epitome of productive technology. Allowing people from all across the country to participate in the conversation was revolutionary. And, of course, it is still widely utilized today.

However, in the modern office, there is a better option.

Since its arrival, the web-based video conference call has made a huge impression on businesses and users alike. Sometimes the littlest changes have the biggest impact. Simply by allowing participants to engage visually with one another, rather than relying solely on audio communication, video conference calls have changed the way that we do business.

What follows are the top four benefits of choosing video conference calls over traditional conference calls.

Engage remote employees

Between 20 and 25% of Americans worked from home in 2017, according to the Virtual Vocations Year-End Report. That’s an increase of 115% since 2005.

If you have any employees working remote, it may be difficult for them to feel engaged and connected other team members. Regular video conference calls allow you to establish and maintain a face-to-face connection with remote employees. According to a study done by Forbes, 92% of participants felt that being able to “see” remote employees increased the sense of connection and trust between employees.

To do so without video conferencing would require the employees to regularly commute to the office, adding time and expense on the part of both you and your employee.

Related: Utilizing video conferencing to improve enterprise efficiency

Improve communication

One of the biggest problems with regular conference calls is communication issues. By introducing video components, visual cues are restored to communication.

While this may seem like a minor thing, nonverbal communication makes up a significant portion of the communication between people. In a video conference call, it is incredibly helpful to know whether Harry or Ron is speaking at the moment. It’s also important to be able to see the expression on Ron’s face to help interpret whether his comment about employee overtime is a joke or whether he is being serious.

Improved communication means fewer errors in judgment when it comes to situations like these. Video conferencing reduces confusion because people are able to connect unspoken elements with spoken communication, thereby clarifying confusing situations.

Related: Recognizing the rise of unified communications

Require attention

One of the downsides of the traditional conference call is that you are just sitting there on a phone for an hour. Most of us are guilty of getting side-tracked as we click through emails or scroll through the news of the day.

One benefit of video conferencing is, much like an in-person meeting, people can see you. It is much harder to slack off or distract yourself when the VP can see what you are doing. While she might not be able to tell if you are reading an email, you would certainly never get up to go make a sandwich in the middle of the call.

Video conferencing requires a level of attention and engagement that traditional conference calls just don’t.

Related: Schools improve student engagement, understanding with video conferencing

Add visual aids

While the use of regular conference calls might save time and the expense of travel, it can be very difficult to follow along with an audio conference call.

Video conferencing has the added benefit of being able to utilize visual aids. Visual aids can be anything: from a slideshow or a video to a whiteboard, photographs, or even physical objects. Visual aids add interest to the meeting and also help to increase understanding.

This increases individual concentration and allows participants to absorb and remember more information.

The post The compelling benefits of getting on a video conference call appeared first on ISG Technologies.

Source: my isg

The 4 best cloud backup solutions for small businesses

There are several reasons to consider a cloud backup for data protection for an SMB. These include everything from ease-of-use to cost-effectiveness. But perhaps the most compelling reason simply this—it’s wise to be ready for whatever the future holds.

That’s what data backup is. Preparation for the unexpected.

You can’t guarantee the security of your company’s data if you aren’t ready for natural disasters, cyberattacks and even simple human error. Any number of things could compromise your company’s data, which is why it’s so critical the regularly back up everything.

Cloud computing offers an easy, efficient, secure option for backing up your data, thereby reducing or even eliminating downtime.

But what backup service is the right one for your business? We took a look at some of the most popular and weighed their potential benefits for your SMB.

Veeam

Veeam is a service that focuses heavily on data availability. While it can function as a no-frills backup from day one, it comes with so much more. Many companies, even SMBs, choose to take advantage of Veeam’s five-step process, moving their business toward Intelligent Data Management.

What is Intelligent Data Management? Not only is your data instantly available all the time, split up across multiple clouds so that it resides where it’s both accessible and safe. Veeam’s advanced backup option will also utilize automation to ensure your data is optimized for use and recovery at a moments’ notice.

That’s convenience that pays off.

From small businesses to universities to the Fortune 500, more and more businesses are trusting their data with Veeam. There are a few different tiers of data protection plans available. Find the license that works for you and scale upwards if/when you need to.

Additionally, Veeam is continually updating and adding functionality to its service. You’ll always have the cutting edge of data security.

Carbonite Online

Carbonite Online employs a wide-net approach to data security. Rather than defaulting to backing up a computer in its entirety, Carbonite backs up what it decides is most critical and relies on the user to further fine tune the process.

It’s a process that works well if you’re using a lot of standard folder designations such as My Documents. In fact, in that case it’s a real time-saver. But if you working out of a more customized setup, you may find it frustrating.

Carbonite uses Continuous Data Protection (CDP) to handle backing up rapidly changing data files more or less constantly. If a file changes within a designated folder, it’s backed up quickly. This is very convenient for users who can’t afford to rebuild a recently-lost file, but need their most recently worked on version recovered as quickly as possible.

Pricing isn’t exactly cheap, but arguably worth it if it’s a good fit.

SOS Online Backup

Is security one of your biggest concerns? SOS bills itself as a backup solution that’s all about security. (Though, in fairness to the other solutions listed here, security is big for everyone.) SOS’s security features range from password protection to privately managed keys and multi-layered 256-bit encryption.

SOS will simultaneously backup to a local hard drive or other computer over your local network for quick retrieval. Like Carbonite, SOS backs up what it considers to be the most important data. You’ll need to customize these settings if they don’t work for you.

The pricing is good—that is if you’re not transmitting massive amounts of data. Yearly subscriptions save you some money over monthly options.

iDrive

While certainly not the least expensive choice, iDrive is still reasonably affordable and comes with enough options to warrant a spot in our top-four roundup.

Among its most well-liked features is the availability of client software for nearly every type of PC and device. In addition, extra storage enables syncing all PCs as well as mobile devices. As with most of these services, iDrive utilizes CDP options to keep your backup files as current as possible.

iDrive includes several choices for single user plans which will cover an unlimited number of computers and devices. The business user plans also allow for an unlimited number of users, although storage is limited by pay-tier.

Know what you need

When considering your choices for a data backup service, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind. Examine your needs and compare them to what the various services offer, and at what costs. Among things to look at, include:

  • Operating system and device support
  • Privacy and Security
  • Storage capacity
  • Speed
  • Features
  • Reliability
  • User-friendliness

Once you’ve mapped out your needs and budget, compare them to this list and see which service lines up the best for you.

 

Enterprise-level BYOD policy dos and don’ts

There’s no way around it. Your organization needs a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. In fact, it probably needed it two or three years ago.

You dig in and do your homework. You evaluate the options, assess the upsides, and prepare for potential drawbacks. You’ve taken in tons of advice and information. It’s time to sort through it all. Before you go into information overload, tie up your research with our handy list of BYOD policy dos and don’ts.

Don’t forget the gatekeepers

Your IT team probably has existing precautionary guardrails to protect devices and networks.

That’s a great start. But as the BYOD policy develops, IT administrators need to stay informed and involved.

Their teams are accountable for network security. And they know better than anyone the boundaries that need to be set as part of the policy.

Do be cautious yet flexible

In a post for cybersecurity authority Security Intelligence, New York Times best-selling author and award-winning journalist Bob Sullivan stands firm against opinions BYOD is another tech trend. “Neither BYOD nor IoT is going anywhere.”

“So, what should IT departments do?” Sullivan asks. “The solutions aren’t easy—and they’re going to have to evolve alongside every new gadget and application that connects to the company network.”

Is your BYOD policy putting the responsibility on IT to secure every device on your network?

Remember that this isn’t about limiting or restricting device use. It’s about empowering those entrusted to protect the company’s systems and infrastructure. Make sure these policies support your IT department’s overall BYOD objectives.

“Ensure constant monitoring of approved hardware and software,” Sullivan writes, “Just because your team decides a particular tablet or application is safe today doesn’t mean it won’t be unsafe tomorrow.”

Consider how future technologies might impact security. Is there a good possibility that IT will find itself stretched thin? Will IT end up playing “patch-a-mole” with every new OS update and firmware release? If so, you may want to leave some room in the BYOD policy for a managed IT services provider (MSP) to shoulder the load.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

Your BYOD policy needs to consider your organization’s specific technological needs. Think about the size of your company. Think about the kind of tech that benefits your employees. Identify the types of devices you can do without. Separate the must-haves from the nice-to-haves.

Now that you’ve determined who needs to support and influence your BYOD policy and what types of circumstances it needs to address, the fine folks at IT Manager Daily have done us all a solid and posted a BYOD Policy template.

Just cut it, paste it, and make it your own. Maybe put it on the good company stationary you save for special occasions or prepare to upload it to your human capital management system, but first . . .

Do make sure legal reviews the policy

The policy is ready for release after your legal department has officially vetted it. But you still need their help identifying who’s responsible for communicating what. You need their assistance defining what the company considers adequate communication.

Do you send an email to employees asking them to stay on alert for possible phishing attacks? Or is the company on the hook to provide more comprehensive education? Should employees acknowledge in writing that they understand the new policy?

Defining and enforcing the BYOD policy in these ways can make or break its effectiveness.

This is an instance where it is perfectly acceptable to assume the worst. Employees will reuse passwords. New technology will fail. Legacy tech will stop being patched for current threats. A new hire will log into his laptop at a coffee shop, hop on a free network, and access a bunch of sensitive data without thinking twice.

The legal department is a crucial ally when developing any type of company policy. They’re a key partner in making sure the BYOD policy you craft, draft, and deliver is effective and won’t leave the company exposed if a data breach occurs.

7 critical questions you should ask when choosing a cloud computing provider

There’s no question that cloud computing is on the rise. More and more businesses are turning to cloud computing as their default setting. But with so many options to choose from, how do you select the right provider for your business?

Here are seven critical questions you should ask when choosing a cloud computing provider.

1. What cloud computing services do you provide?

There are many different types of cloud services such as a public cloud, private cloud and hybrid cloud. If you already know what type of service you want, your first step is to make sure your potential provider offers that service.

More than likely, though, you know you want to move to the cloud, but aren’t sure which type of service would work best for you. A good cloud computing provider should not only be able to explain the services they offer, but help you to determine which cloud computing services would best meet the needs of your business.

2. How secure is your cloud computing?

Security should be at the top of any list when data and networking is concerned.

Cloud security, just like network security, ensures your data stays safe. Ask potential providers what network and server-level security measures they have in place to protect your data. Security measures to look for include encryption, firewalls, antivirus detection and multifactor user authentication.

3. Where will my data be stored?

Since cloud computing involves the storage of data at off-site locations, the physical location and security of those data centers is just as important as online security.

SSAE 16 and SOC 2 Type II certifications are the best indicator that your provider’s products, systems and data are compliant with industry security standards.

4. How will my business be able to access the cloud?

One of the benefits of cloud computing is its flexibility and ease of access. You’ll want you understand how you will be able to access your data on the cloud and how it will integrate into your current work environment.

If your company is poised to grow in the near future, you may also want to ask about scalability and your provider’s ability to meet your growing needs.

5. What is your pricing structure?

Pricing for cloud computing can vary greatly, so make sure you understand how and for what you will be charged.

Ask about upfront costs and the ability to add services as needed. Will services be charged hourly, monthly, semi-annually, or annually?

6. How do you handle regulatory compliance?

Understanding the many laws and regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCCI, that pertain to the collection and storage of data can be intimidating. That’s why one of the benefits of hiring a cloud computing provider is having security experts take care of regulatory compliance for you.

You’ll want to make sure your provider is constantly working to stay up-to-date on the latest rules and regulations that may affect your data.

7. What customer support services do you offer?

Cloud computing never sleeps and neither should your provider’s technical support. Getting help when you need it is important, so you’ll want to ask your provider if they provide 24-hour technical support, including on holidays.

Ease and availability of reporting problems is also important so ask about phone, email, and live chat support options. You may also want to ask about your provider’s average response and resolution times.

Asking these questions can help you find the right cloud computing provider for your business. And getting the right answers is only a phone call away—call your managed IT services provider to start the process today.