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Mitigating disaster risk and downtime for hospitals

In July 2018, Blount Memorial Hospital in Tennessee had a nightmare experience. Their electronic health records (EHR) system was offline for three days. During that time, 90 doctors were unable to access patient records.

Appointments were canceled. People didn’t receive care.

When the whole thing was said and done, the hospital’s board of directors made the decision to invest in a $30,000 backup system to ensure nothing like that would ever happen again.

What’s at risk

Hospitals and other medical services businesses are in a unique position when it comes to disaster recovery and downtime readiness. This isn’t just a matter of lost profits, damage to your reputation, or inconvenience for your employees and customers. The health and wellness of people are at stake.

As a result, every kind of medical services provider has an obligation to go above and beyond to mitigate the risk of downtime and prepare for possible disasters.

Practical measures

In advising these businesses about disaster recovery, the core of our standard advice is the same for hospitals, physician practices and other medical businesses. Prepare. Don’t just wait for disaster to strike. Have a plan.

When it comes to the medical industry, there are specific forms of preparation that are uniquely important. Below are some of the things medical providers should do to lower the risk of downtime and prepare for outages.

Expect downtime

First and foremost, let go of any expectation that downtime won’t happen to you. Your hospital isn’t exempt. Your office isn’t the exception. Downtime happens to just about every business. It can (and will) happen to yours.

That’s an important step in preparation because you won’t take a disaster recovery and downtime plan seriously if you think you’ll never have to use it.

Create a communications plan

A communications plan is essential for any disaster recovery plan. Your doctors and staff need to know whom to contact, how communications will be conducted, which channels will be used for what purpose, and what communication activity is most essential in the event of downtime.

Be specific. Spell out exactly who should be in contact with whom, and make sure everyone knows the plan well ahead of time. Update it when you have changes in your system, your policies and in your personnel, if appropriate.

Develop a downtime toolkit

Downtime toolkits “contain paper copies of clinical documents and procedures to follow when their EHR is not available.” A downtime toolkit may also include a read-only database of patient records as an emergency backup system.

This is a critical resource, but one that absolutely requires the help of an IT consultant. A doctor’s office that deals in non-emergency care may not need a full downtime toolkit, but every hospital should have some kind of system for continuing to provide healthcare, even if the entire local network goes offline.

Consider an on-site fallback generator

On-site generators can help in situations where a power outage is to blame for downtime. However, power outages are only one of several things that can take an IT network offline. While an on-site generator certainly makes sense (particularly for critical care facilities), this alone will not protect your hospital from every form of downtime.

Perform downtime drills

EHR simulation drills will give you an idea of how prepared your hospital’s staff are, and they will give your staff a chance to understand and experience what to expect when the real thing strikes.

As a recent article in EHR Intelligence notes, “Strategizing to fill gaps in care that crop up during EHR downtime simulations can help to reduce the risk of slowdowns, delays, threats to patient harm, or billing problems during real instances of EHR downtime.”

Enlist some help

Finally, no hospital should be without professional help when it comes to downtime readiness and a disaster recovery plan. If your in-house IT department isn’t fully prepared to take on this crucial task, find an IT consultant with experience supporting the healthcare industry to help you and your team.

With the right preparation, downtime won’t stop your hospital or medical practice from providing the care your patients rely on.

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.

How to include your MSP in your backup and disaster recovery plan

An incomplete or poorly prepared backup and disaster recovery (BDR) plan can result in unacceptably long outages and lost revenue for your company.

Unfortunately, busy IT employees don’t always have the time to update BDR plans or test them thoroughly. Partnering with your managed IT services provider (MSP) to improve, refine and test your plan offers a simple way to ensure the effectiveness of this valuable resource.

Here are some of the ways your MSP can help you make sure your backup and disaster recovery plan is everything it should be.

Identifying stakeholders

The infrastructure staff and senior managers aren’t the only stakeholders crucial to the success of your BDR plan.

Your MSP can help you identify others in the company who should be involved, such as database managers and application testers. These employees can offer valuable insights and help you identify resources you’ll need to restore your systems.

Setting milestones

It’s not unusual to overlook a crucial milestone or two when developing your BDR plan timeline. Like most IT projects, BDR plans involve multiple stakeholders each tasked with carrying out a small piece of the plan.

MSP staff will help you evaluate the entire plan to ensure that important milestones are noted, including those related to network connectivity, resources, infrastructure, storage, proof of concept, storage replication, recovery point objectives, testing and backup data.

Anticipating disaster scenarios and determining responsibilities

Fires, floods and cyber threats may be the first things that come to mind when you think about disasters, but as British Airways found out in May 2017, even seemingly small problems can lead to major issues. A power surge and outage led to the cancellation of 75,000 flights and forced the airline to pay $68 million in passenger compensation.

Although a power outage should have been a minor blip, the surge also destroyed the airline’s backup system, complicating restoration. The story illustrates the importance of developing a secondary backup plan in your BDR plan.

In addition to assisting you in creating a backup plan, your managed IT services provider will also help you ensure that your employees understand their roles should a disaster occur.

The MSP team can assist you in breaking down specific tasks in the BDR plan, determining which staff members will be responsible for each detail, and creating a communication plan in the event that your team can’t communicate through its usual channels.

Providing documentation

Lack of documentation can doom your BDR plan, yet it’s a common factor in incomplete plans. When Disaster Recovery Journal surveyed 1,000 firms, the publication discovered that 31.5 percent had incomplete BDR plans.

If your key stakeholders haven’t had the time to document crucial processes and instructions, that knowledge will be lost if they ever leave the company. MSP staff will work with your internal staff to develop the documentation needed to fully restore your systems after a disaster or outage.

Additional IT support

In the process of creating a backup and disaster recovery plan, it sometimes happens that you’ll discover other areas where your IT support may be lacking. If you wish, your MSP can jump in and provide either one-time consultation or ongoing IT support to ensure you’re completely taken care of.

Your backup and disaster recovery

Sooner or later, every company experiences some sort of disaster.

Whether a cyberterrorist hacks your website, an employee makes a big mistake, or a hurricane destroys your data center, a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery plan is the key to resolving disruptions quickly.

Partnering with your MSP will help you ensure that your plan will actually work when it’s needed.

Why patching should always be a priority for IT network health

Having a sound IT infrastructure is crucial for every organization.

From network security to hardware and software implementation, your IT plan should always reflect company objectives and directives. But you also need a safe and secure operating platform.

That’s why patches should never be overlooked when it comes to network health and digital environment stability.

“Software updates are important because they often include critical patches to security holes.” – McAfee

What can patching do for my IT services?

Patches are software updates for your OS and other executable programs. Patches offer temporary fixes between full releases of software packages. Similarly, they can help maintain your IT network stability via.

Here’s some of what patching typically addresses:

  • Software bugs fixes
  • New or updated drivers
  • Fixes for new and existing security vulnerabilities
  • Fixes for software stability issues
  • Automatic upgrades for software and apps

Related: The CIO’s guide to lowering IT costs and boosting performance

Will patching tackle the latest viruses and malware?

While antivirus applications are part of any IT security package, patching is designed to integrate with existing systems and improve usability across the board.

At its core, software patching is essentially a convenient way to update applications and supporting data. This, in turn, updates, fixes and improves overall performance. These updates fix bugs within your software and IT infrastructure, resulting in safer and more efficient digital workspaces.

That said, patching does play a key role in vulnerability management.

With digital intrusion and network hacking at an all-time high, you need a timely, effective solution for implementing corrective measures. Sadly, most clients tend to overlook the importance of patching for mitigating risk.

Patches benefit your IT network in the following ways:

  • Identify and mitigate network security vulnerabilities.
  • Facilitate the seamless integration of operating systems and software apps
  • Ensure critical business processes and protocols run smoothly
  • Provide another critical layer of cybersecurity protection
  • Stop malware, viruses, adware and even ransomware from quietly running in your background systems

Looking for a complete cybersecurity plan? Check out The 2018 cybersecurity handbook.

How are patches delivered to my IT network?

Security and network patches are automatically inserted into codes of your existing software and apps.

This is done with little-to-no interruption of your daily business tasks, though there are times when patching requires user permission. In many organizations, patches are handled by the in-house IT teams or by the organization’s managed IT services provider.

Patching is essential for system success

The important thing is that you don’t ignore patching. Because patches rarely feel critical in the moment, it’s surprisingly easy (both for IT departments and individual users) to simply put off the patching process. That has the potential to leave you open to all kinds of nasty vulnerabilities.

Patching your programs may not seem all that important, but it really is vital to your overall network health.

“The takeaway for CIOs: Keep your work computers updated with patches on a regular basis and apply emergency patches as needed.” – CIO

5 things your infrastructure monitoring and alerting should include

Today’s businesses have numerous options when choosing network monitoring systems. Some decide to rely on cloud-based or on-premises tools. Regardless of the option that your company selects, you need to make sure your infrastructure monitoring and alerting tools have the right tools.

Include the following five features in your monitoring and alerting tools to protect your network and avoid data loss.

Data visualization

The ability to capture data from customers and devices gives companies more opportunities to provide efficient services that anticipate needs. Unfortunately, few humans can work with vast amounts of data. The numbers bleed together and become incoherent.

Even the results of data-mining algorithms can perplex business leaders. Data visualization, however, organizes information in ways that the human brain can comprehend quickly. The charts display obvious trends and deviations that are nearly impossible to detect when reviewing raw data.

Data visualization also makes it easier for business leaders to understand the results of infrastructure monitoring and alerting. Instead of receiving a report with data showing unwanted, inconspicuous use, you can get reports that arrange data into graphs and charts. That way, you can optimize your IT infrastructure to improve client services, boost productivity, and avoid security threats.

Metrics tracking

Depending on how you use your IT infrastructure, you may not notice declines in speed and predictability. At the same time, your staff members may wonder why it suddenly takes so much longer to process information.

Metrics tracking helps ensure that your network does its job well. By tracking the right metrics, your IT team could even predict downtime. Instead of becoming a victim of downtime, you can prepare a solution that limits disruptions.

Customer tracking

Your business’s success depends on strong customer services. Without happy customers, your business won’t last long.

Customer relationship management (CRM) tools capable of sending alerts will help you and your sales team keep people happy with your services. For instance, you may receive an alert when the CRM notices that your client has ordered products recently. It can also boost sales by sending notifications that encourage clients to buy additional items or take advantage of upcoming sales.

Customer tracking tools that send alerts to customers and employees may boost your company’s success without forcing you to hire more people or devote more time to communications.

Proactive security monitoring

Malware continues to plague SMBs. As malware becomes more sophisticated, it’s possible that unknown threats could hide on your network for weeks or months before someone discovers it.

Proactive security monitoring eliminates that possibility by constantly checking your network for files and applications that don’t belong. Just because your network was pristine an hour ago doesn’t mean that an employee hasn’t fallen victim to a phishing ploy.

Not every business decides that proactive security monitoring is necessary. Those that do, however, get to take a proactive stance that improves their security.

Agility

The fact of the matter is that you don’t know what monitoring and alerting tools you will need in the near future. Technology evolves quickly, so it’s nearly impossible to predict which trends will arise within just a year.

An agile infrastructure can incorporate the latest tools to keep up with new technology and help you stay competitive.

The need for agility helps explain why so many CIOs choose Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). IaaS doesn’t commit you to specific tools. Instead, you can rely on your service provider to update your infrastructure with the latest technologies.

Monitoring and alerting that meets your needs

After a thorough review of your current infrastructure, you should consider which of the above tools could help your business improve its security, productivity and success.

Getting the most bang for your buck from outsourced help desk support

In 2017, 32 percent of companies around the world chose to outsource their help desk support services. This fairly high percentage shows that many businesses know that they can get better services by outsourcing their help desk needs to experts.

If you want to outsource your help desk support needs, then you need to know how to get the most bang for your buck. You need an IT support partner with reasonable prices, strong expertise, impeccable customer service and the ability to support the tools you rely on.

Follow these four tips to make sure you choose a partner that can help your company succeed.

Find a company with a reliable ticket escalation process

What seems like a small problem at first can quickly turn into a significant issue that needs to be addressed immediately. The more efficient a company’s ticket escalation process works, the sooner you can find a solution to your IT problem.

Few companies have the resources and expertise to create a reliable, efficient ticket escalation process. Before outsourcing its help desk services, employees at John Deere often had to wait days before their IT staff could find helpful solutions. After outsourcing its help desk support, the company benefited from increased end-user service levels, reduced downtime and reduced IT costs.

By handing its help desk needs to a group of experts, managers at John Deere also found that they had more time to focus on core projects. None of these advantages would have been possible without a reliable ticket escalation process handled by experienced professionals.

Outsource to a company with an easy ticket solution

Your employees need a simple way to submit tickets and contact the help desk for support. When choosing a partner, look for a company that lets your employees submit tickets via phone and an app. That way, your employees can use the solution that feels more comfortable to them.

By making the process as easy as possible, your employees will experience fewer disruptions so they can focus on completing their assigned tasks.

Choose a passionate partner that exceeds your expectations

According to Outsourcing Insight, companies should look for several features when choosing partners for help desk support. Some of the most important features include:

  • A passion for helping people solve problems
  • A focus on problem-solving skills
  • Good communication
  • Interest in collaborating with clients
  • A group of professionals with technical expertise and a personal touch

Essentially, you want a partner that exceeds your expectations by lowering costs, giving you access to resources that you wouldn’t have otherwise, and decreasing your IT complexity. Without those key features, what’s the point?

Avoid outsourcing options that don’t set your business up to thrive.

Compare prices and outsource with a company that fits your budget

If you want to get the most bang for your buck, then you need to compare prices and outsource with a company that fits your budget. Most companies actually find that they can save significant amounts of money when they outsource managed help desk support.

SMBs often find that they stand to save the most money from outsourcing. When you have a small workforce, hiring full-time help desk employees can hit your payroll budget particularly hard. By outsourcing, you avoid the costs of paying employees, providing benefits and training workers.

When you’re ready to benefit from help desk support from true professionals, contact your IT support provider to learn more about how they might be able to help. Most managed IT services firms offer some form of help desk support.

Just be sure you don’t shy away from asking the hard questions. The goal of outsourced IT support is to make your life easier and create better efficiency within your organization. Carefully consider the options before you make your choice.

Is in-house or outsourced IT support better for your company?

To meet the challenge of today’s ever-increasing pace of digital change, some companies invest solely in in-house IT resources. Others leverage outsourced IT support options.

Deciding which resource is optimal for your business depends on how you run your business and what you want to gain from your IT support department.

In-house IT support

The pros

Maintaining IT support resources in-house gives you the most control over those functions:

  • Internal IT staff is not only more familiar with how the company functions, but also with its goals, mission and culture. Any in-house technical support will reflect those values.
  • In-house IT staff is also fundamentally familiar with organizational IT systems and programming, so they can be quicker to identify and address problem areas.
  • In-house IT support is especially critical for proprietary programming. Insider knowledge about key aspects of the organization may be intrinsic to its market value, and sharing that information with an outsourced contractor may not be worth the risk.

The cons

  • Cost. The expense of maintaining an in-house IT support team in place can be high. Specialists often expect higher wages, and your company may be expected to pay for their continuing education and training. Further, if their services aren’t needed on a daily basis, the company may be paying for significant amounts of downtime.
  • Time delays. Another challenge arises when IT projects arise faster than the IT support personnel address them. In mid- to large-sized companies, different business units may have to compete with each other for IT time to handle their particular crisis.

Outsourced IT support resources

Alternatively, there are many benefits to hiring a specialist to handle those activities that aren’t unique to the enterprise.

The pros

  • Lower cost—sometimes. IT functions that are common among businesses are often cheaper to access when handled by an outside contractor. These agents have streamlined the processes and practices and can offer their customers reduced prices because of those cost-saving measures. Additionally, outsourcing some of the IT support work also eliminates the expense of hiring, training and paying an IT specialist full time.
  • Flexible access. Many of today’s IT support vendors provide 24/7 customer service, so their customers always have access to the IT resources they need.

The cons

  • Remote support is the norm. Often the outsourced agent performs assessments and repairs remotely, so business owners can’t interact with that person on a face-to-face basis.
  • Shared resources may reduce availability. Additionally, the outsourced contractor probably has many customers, all of whom are vying for attention. Depending on the provider, there could lag between seeking support and receiving it.

The best of both worlds

Many companies elect to split their IT support options by creating a hybrid solution that responds to all their needs.

Best in-house services

  • Customer service. Maintaining the personal connection with customers is critical.
  • Proprietary information handling. Some business data is too important to share with an outsider.
  • Anything that can be automated. Email marketing, invoicing and billing, and even accounting can be automated to save time and money.

Best outsourced IT support services

  • Anything that will scale. Outsourced IT support vendors have the infrastructure and architecture needed to scale any corporate function.
  • Backup and recovery. Having an alternate location for redundant programming ensures that corporate data remains available despite a disaster.
  • Colocation options. Outsourced IT support vendors can provide additional corporate data center space cheaper than building new facilities in existing structures.

Today’s marketplace offers more opportunity than ever before. Both in-house and outsourced IT support services can help businesses maximize their resources and maintain their share of that space.

The CIO’s guide to lowering IT costs and boosting performance

There’s one question that haunts every single business leader, regardless of industry, business size, mission statement or product. How do you lower costs without sacrificing performance?  If you can answer that question effectively, you’re set up for ROI and stability. If you can’t, you won’t be a business leader for long.

To complicate matters, the answer will vary for different departments within your organization. The strategies that lower IT costs may or may not work when you turn to HR or accounting. Some techniques are universal, and some are functionality-specific.

In this whitepaper, we’re going to focus on trimming your company’s IT costs.

But before we dive in, there are no magic bullets here. The suggestions outlined below aren’t even particularly innovative or unique. Instead, they’re solid. When combined, you’re sure to see a difference in your technology budgeting.

If you’re serious about reducing your IT costs, this is how you can do it.

Learn to be proactive

We begin with an underlying philosophical approach. Stop waiting for network problems to pop up before you address them. Get out in front of potential technical issues by becoming a proactive organization.

The primary advantage of getting proactive is a reduction in downtime. Few things will drive IT costs up like downtime. The hourly cost of downtime varies, of course, with estimates soaring as high as $100,000 per hour in some cases.

There are two things you can do to stop downtime before it starts.

Man and woman looking at monitor

Infrastructure monitoring and alerting

The only way to know if your IT network is healthy is to monitor it. If there are warning signs, alerts should trigger appropriate preventative action. If you’re unfamiliar with monitoring and alerting, Network World has a great introductory article on the subject.

Patching and updating

Software patches are critical for network health. They include everything from security updates to bug fixes. They’re easy to overlook, though, because they rarely feel urgent and they seem so frequent. We strongly encourage you to make them a priority if you’re interested in lowering potential IT costs.

Tackle IT projects strategically

No organizational project should ever begin without clear objectives. That’s particularly true for IT projects where timelines, budgets and organizational impact can easily get out of hand—if you don’t have a solid game plan.

We recommend a balanced approach. Yes, upfront IT costs are a consideration. However, you should also think about productivity, integration, efficiency, reporting, training and employee satisfaction before you undertake a new IT project.

For example, there are compelling reasons to move from a PBX phone system to a hosted voice solution, but there’s more to the decision than the math. Also consider how your staff, customers and processes will be affected by such a foundational change.

Utilize outsourced support

While many CIOs are hesitant to embrace outsourced IT support, there’s a strong case to be made for the change. Not only that, but you don’t have to approach the decision focused exclusively on an absolute solution.

Why not have both in-house and outsourced IT support? Just make sure you use the two support sources differently in ways that make strategic sense. Some tasks, due to security, compliance or other business needs, are better kept in-house. And some tasks can be effectively managed by an outsourced firm at a fraction of the cost.

Additionally, keep in mind that even a world-class outsourced IT support provider will need your organization to play an active role. Take the time to find the best way to work with your IT support provider and don’t forget to bring your employees into the loop.

Take cybersecurity seriously

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of cybersecurity. In the last year alone, the headlines have been littered with horror stories of data breach. It only takes one cybersecurity lapse to compromise your company’s data and devastate your reputation.

Just one.

Cybersecurity key on keyboard

While it’s possible to handle network security on your own, we highly recommend partnering with a managed IT services provider for the best possible protection. Cybersecurity is a complex, multi-layered issue. This is one area where it’s simply pragmatic to trust an expert.

The moderate IT cost of cybersecurity protection from an MSP far outweighs the negative impact of a successful cyberattack.

Get your employees up to speed

We’ve touched on this idea a couple of times already, but it deserves its own section. If you’re not convinced, consider this. 100% of government IT workers surveyed report that they believe employees to be the single greatest threat to cybersecurity.

You read that right. 100%.

That doesn’t mean most employees mean to pose a risk. In many cases, employees simply don’t know the best practices necessary to maintain network security. The same goes for every other factor that can drive up IT costs, from downtime to productivity.

Employees need to know how to protect data, utilize available IT tools, and interact productively with IT support to lower IT costs.

Prepare a worst-case-scenario plan

Finally, few things will unexpectedly add to your IT costs like a disaster. Disasters include things like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and fires, as well as smaller downtime-causing incidents like power outages and equipment failure.

In other words, a “disaster” is anything that takes your IT network offline.

How you react in the face of a disaster, regardless of scale, will either set you apart from the competition or bury you beneath them. The deciding factor is typically your level of preparation. Smart CIOs make sure their companies have a complete backup and disaster recovery plan.

Everyone in your organization, from your IT support (in-house or outsourced) to customer service and sales should be familiar with your backup and disaster recovery plan. The less time you spend offline, the lower the impact on your reputation and your revenue.

Wrapping up

It’s not that difficult to lower IT costs while simultaneously boosting organizational performance. All that’s required is a strategic approach that includes all of the above areas. If you cover these bases, your company will operate more efficiently without incurring unnecessary expenses.

That’s a major win for any CIO.

The SMB Quick Guide for Upgrading Office Technology

“Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have—and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.”

— James Belasco & Ralph Stayer, Flight of the Buffalo

If you run a small business, you already know two things about change. One, it’s inevitable. And two, it’s hard.

One would think that the inevitable nature of change would eventually make it easier to stomach, but that just doesn’t seem to be the case. In fact, a couple of years ago McKinsey & Company reported that (at that time) an overwhelming “70% of change programs fail to achieve their goals, largely due to employee resistance and lack of management support.” (We suspect the number isn’t much lower today.)

But when you consider why change is so hard, that makes sense.

The Science of Change

As a recent article in Forbes pointed out, the default human response to change is fear. In a more primitive time, change often meant danger. Our ancestors survived because they feared change.

While that’s fascinating in its own right, it’s also frustrating. If you’re a business owner and you’re ready to upgrade your office technology, you have to also be ready to deal with how your staff will handle change. It’s not as simple as just saying, “We’re using these applications now.” Frankly, that never works.

No, if you want to lead your company through a change in office technology, you need to be prepared.

The Office Technology Revolution

But why change anything? If the tools you’re using now are working, why not just keep using them? Because the way we do business is changing.

It’s hardly a secret that cloud adoption is steadily growing. Gartner predicts that we’re just a few years away from the day when the vast majority of businesses will rely on cloud services of some kind.

If your office technology is still primarily onsite, it’s time to consider a shift. Cloud solutions offer multiple advantages over local hardware and software, including improved flexibility, scalable growth, remote access and (in many cases) cost savings.

Changing Office Technology

Of course, that leads us back to the problem we started with. If it’s in your best interest to consider upgrading your current office technology to cloud-based solutions—and it is—then how do you go about doing that successfully?

At ISG, we’ve gone to great pains to make it as easy as possible to shift your office technology to the cloud. Not only do we take care of all the technological legwork, but we’ll even help your employees acclimate, too.

All of this is possible with our Modern Office Foundation bundle. Here’s how it works.

Top-tier Tools

Our Modern Office bundle comes with the very best office technology tools available. At the top of that list is Microsoft Office 365.

Office 365 is the premier productivity suite because it’s a powerful, robust tool that includes everything your business needs to stay on top of your projects. There’s cloud-based email, standard applications like Word, Excel and PowerPoint, as well as top communication and collaboration solutions like Teams, Sharepoint and OneNote.

And you’ll get it all with the Modern Office Foundation bundle.

Seamless Transition

No matter how good the tools, if transitioning from your current solutions to new office technology is rough, your employees aren’t likely to see the value. That’s why working with a skilled partner like ISG Technology is so important.

We’ll take care of your implementation, allowing for a hassle-free adoption period. Trust us—you’ll be glad you didn’t tackle this on your own.

Employee Training & Support

A lot of our competitors offer some kind of migration service. That’s not terribly unique. But what really sets us apart is our employee education and support.

We offer monthly Innovation Training sessions to ensure your staff gets the most possible value out of your office technology tools. In addition to that, our help desk support is second to none. It doesn’t matter if one of your employees is dealing with something as simple as a lost password or something more complex, we’ll be there.

And because our approach is both proactive (through training) and reactive (through support), you’ll always be covered.

The Right Kind of Change

Office technology is changing. While it can be tough to keep up, ISG’s Modern Office Foundation bundle makes it a lot easier.

If you’d like more information about our Modern Office Foundation bundle, feel free to contact us today. We’ll be happy to show you how we can help upgrade your office technology without any hangups.

4 tools to implement in your cybersecurity strategy

In Partnership with Cisco Systems, Inc.

Digital threats pose major risks to nearly every company across all industries. Businesses can no longer afford to ignore cybersecurity, particularly as the costs associated with lost data, downtime and reputational damage continue to rise. Regulated sectors like finance and healthcare are under even more scrutiny when it comes to protecting sensitive data and ensuring optimal performance.

Rather than taking a reactive approach and waiting for disaster to strike, organizations should act now to ensure they are prepared. Setting up necessary tools and processes will give employees the resources they need to approach the situation appropriately. With all of the available options, it can be difficult to know where to start with your cybersecurity efforts. Let’s take a look at four of the main tools that you should implement in your cybersecurity strategy:

1. Endpoint protection

In traditional office setups, endpoints might include desktops, phones and the printer, all connected and active within your network. While these relics are still within many businesses, employees are increasingly using other hardware as well to get more done and improve their efficiency. Mobile devices like laptops, tablets and smartphones are now common fixtures in the workplace and can bring a number of benefits, provided they are protected appropriately.

Endpoint protection aims to cover this widening surface area of possible attack points within enterprises. Your Daily Tech contributor Daniel Morton noted that endpoint protection accounts for malware that doesn’t involve viruses, making it more capable of detecting diverse malware strains than traditional antivirus products. As this technology continues to advance, it will be able to monitor software in real time and pinpoint situations that are most likely to be the site of attack. This is a significant step over legacy solutions and will put your organization on the best footing to secure your hardware.

Endpoint protection will be essential to limiting the attack surface.Endpoint protection will be essential to limiting the attack surface.

2. Intrusion detection

Hackers leverage a number of common attack tools to breach business networks and compromise information. Understanding these tools as they evolve will be critical to stopping malicious parties in their tracks. Dark Reading associate editor Kelly Sheridan noted that intrusion detection strategies can create situations where attackers expose themselves as a result of their reliance on common hacking techniques. Active intrusion detection and prevention effectively looks for threats and stops them before they cause any damage.

Organizations cannot afford to be passive with their intrusion detection systems. If the solution identifies any intruders, it will send notifications for organizations to act upon. It will be important for IT professionals to respond quickly to any issue and close vulnerabilities.

“Monitoring and management systems drive proactive security models.”

3. Monitoring and management

Monitoring behavior and managing risk will be an important piece of your cybersecurity strategy, as they highlight unusual activity and deliver actionable insights. However, organizations cannot simply implement these tools and then forget about them. System monitoring and risk management are continuous efforts that must be supported. Tripwire contributor Theresa Wood noted that businesses can facilitate long-term compliance continuity and reduce annual audit overhead with these solutions. Monitoring and management systems drive proactive security models, providing truly immediate detection and response in the event of an attack. These types of capabilities will be absolutely essential to improving business cybersecurity.

4. Content filtering

A large number of security breaches occur due to employee actions. Clicking on a seemingly viable link or ad can end up downloading malicious programs onto workstations and compromising sensitive information. With this major vulnerability, organizations not only have to train staff members, but also implement content filtering tools. TechTarget contributor Margaret Rouse noted that content filtering screens and excludes objectionable web pages or emails from being accessed. This can include eliminating emails that contain malicious links or redirecting a user away from a risky site. This tool will give employers peace of mind that their workers are engaging in safe web surfing practices while limiting overall risk.

Cybersecurity is becoming more complex as technology and attacker techniques advance. Organizations can leverage content filtering, monitoring and management, endpoint protection and intrusion detection tools to step up their protection capabilities. Teaming up with a managed service provider like ISG will help alleviate the pressures and security concerns that come along with managing your own network. For more information on how ISG can implement the best solutions for your protection needs, schedule a free consultation today.

 

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