Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts–owners of some of the world’s most luxurious hotels–has a reputation for delivering world-class hospitality. In their tradition of excellence, the company compiles data through its customer loyalty program to customize and deliver personalized messaging. This has resulted in nearly 50% customer engagement and a 10% increase of year-over-year revenue.
Digital transformation has reached every business, including Microsoft. With the change, Microsoft has undergone a revamp of their sales culture. With tools like Dynamics 365, Azure cloud solutions, and Office productivity, they’ve created a curated sales experience that eliminates hours of administrative processes to empower sellers with innovative tools.
How do you keep track of your customers? Microsoft Dynamics 365 is the next generation of intelligent business applications that enable your organization to grow, evolve, and transform. These applications unify CRM and ERP capabilities with purpose-built applications that work seamlessly together to help manage specific business functions.
Providence St. Joseph Health is moving beyond the typical call center to provide more personalized experiences for patients. Liaisons from its Patient & Provider Engagement Center are solving industry-wide challenges–creating more personalized patient experiences, better addressing patient needs, and helping patients access the right care with the right providers.
Flexibility and mobility are important for any businesses operating in today’s digital age. Especially for small businesses. Without a robust IT department, TransBlue took on the challenge of modernizing their workplace with Microsoft 365. With tools like Skype and Teams, they can collaborate from afar saving them time and resources. Nexgen Networks wants to help you modernize your workplace. Contact us today for more information on how we can help.
Discover how Red Lion Hotels Corporation used Dynamics 365, Microsoft Teams, and Office 365 to digitally transform their internal processes to drive higher guest satisfaction. Faced with data-quality issues, the challenges of combining two legacy CRM platforms, and a need to improve internal communications, RLH Corporation consolidated disparate systems into a single platform.
In a struggling economy, business owners look for new ways to reduce their expenses to save money and resources in order to remain competitive. Could managed printing services offer financial and time savings for a small business?
Small business owners are in a good position to save money and benefit most through managed printing services, since they have a lower profit margin compared to their overhead expenses than larger businesses do. When a printer isn’t working effectively in a small business environment, one of the owners, managers or employees must spend time on the phone with an IT specialist trying to troubleshoot the cause of the printer or copier malfunction; as well as find a solution to get it up and running again. When this person is tied up for a long period of time, the business loses the money that would have been made during that time period.
What are Managed Printing Services?
Managed Print Service providers (MPS) monitor your printers and copiers actively from a remote location. They can predict where problems may occur and often prevent it from happening. They work with small businesses to implement plans to identify excessive spending in printers, copiers, and supplies, and to increase productivity by setting up a plan for which type of documents go to which printers in your organization.
Managed printing service providers will also make sure you always have the right amount of ink and paper supplies on hand, which means you will no longer have a closet full of supplies that are never used or run out of the paper you need in the middle of a printing project.
Advantages of Managed Printing Services
In addition to the financial savings gained by small business owners utilizing managed printing services, there are additional advantages of convenience and control. As a small business owner, your time is spent operating and managing the daily activities of your business – there is a good chance that you are unaware how much time and money is wasted on printer or copier related activities. Activities like troubleshooting printers that aren’t working properly; using double the amount of paper necessary because you haven’t learned to use the “print on both sides” option of the printers; and the time spent ordering and processing purchase orders and invoices for toner and paper supplies.
If you upgrade to more efficient and productive printers and copiers, you can also factor in energy efficiency costs of the newer equipment compared to your current, older equipment, and see the cost savings skyrocket.
When you have an MPS provider handling your printing and copying needs, you won’t lose one of your key employees (or yourself!) hours on the phone trying to troubleshoot problems – this is most likely your biggest area of savings in both financial resources and time.
The convenience associated with having an expert handling your business printer and copier needs also means no one on your staff needs to worry about ordering supplies. If there are equipment problems or malfunctions, an expert will fix them for you because it is the responsibility of a managed print services provider.
Cost will be inevitably cut with all of those changes listed above when you let the experts handle these things for you. The end result will be an efficient office when you cut expenses on paper, ink or toner, lower your electricity use and improve employee productivity.
You can reduce your overhead expenses with a managed printing services provider, as well as take back some of your time resources and increase productivity.
I used to be one of the guys who always stayed on top of technology and had to have the latest and greatest phone every year! I remember getting iphone 4S before it was available to public! It took me a few years to realize that I dind’t need a new phone every year because the new features in the new phones are not all that exciting anymore. Not too many ground breaking features came out from Iphone 5 to 6 or from Iphone 6 to 7. My new rule of thumb is to skip 1 generation! I will be moving from iphone 6S+to 8S+ whenever that comes out. I can justify the upgrade based on the new features and my battery life will be degraded by that time.
If there is one thing most small businesses can agree on is that time equals money. Small business owners are in a position where they have to be a jack-of-all-trades, often spending most of their day wearing different hats. This is the nature of the small business and while expected is not always the best use of time. In order for a small business to be successful and remain competitive in an industry, there must be designated time for the owner to focus on growing and building the business. In many cases small businesses fail as a result of being unable to handle emergencies or other situations that are simply beyond the control and expertise of the owner. Leveraging Managed IT Services can help.
Any business that relies on technology, which covers almost every business operating today, can benefit from managed services. Managed services providers understand that not every business has the ability to pay for an internal IT department which can be very expensive yet necessary to ensure all aspects of technology are supported. Without this backup, many small businesses find themselves in a position where they have to foot a very expensive bill to recover from a disaster or emergency. In other situations, using out-of-date or ineffective technology is simply a waste of both time and money on the part of the small business.
Here we look at how small businesses can make the most of their time and money by hiring a managed services provider.
- Focus on running the business- One of the major benefits of outsourcing your technology needs is that the owner and employees of the company can focus 100% on their individual duties to keep the business moving in the right direction. This is the most valuable use of time for all parties involved, instead of hours or even days lost when trying to deal with technological issues that in house employees are not trained to handle.
- Offer expert advise – There are many small businesses that simply do not know what they need to improve the functionality of their business. The old adage, “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” does not apply in all cases. By consulting with a managed services provider you may discover areas of your business which can be improved that you previously thought were working “just fine”. Expert advice may be able to help you improve the efficiency of your business while positioning you better within the industry.
- Support when you need it – Managed IT Services Providers are not only there in the event of an emergency or recovery, but also provide monitoring which can invaluable in preventing problems before they can impact the business.
It is important for every small business to carefully examine their technical needs in order to see what services will be most beneficial to the company. Managed IT Services Providers can offer services that not only reduce technology costs over time but also improves functionality which in turn saves time. When this balance is achieved a small business is in the perfect position to thrive and grow.
Part 1 of a series of blog entries all about IT Security in the Modern World of Computing
By Autress Lowe III
What is IT Security?
When you think of IT Security, what do you think of? For most people, IT Security usually stops at a password, be it the PIN code to unlock their phone, or the password to the Wi-Fi. But IT Security isn’t just a four-digit PIN code, it’s a network of systems that all work together seamlessly to create a secure working environment.
The first part of any Cybersecurity solution, however, is a password. It’s the most basic form of protection there is. Nowadays, we have a plethora of password solutions to fit any user or business’s needs.
To start, we have our basic “password”, a usually 8-26-character alphanumeric sequence of letters, numbers, and special characters, i.e. “P@55W0rd!”. These passwords, while difficult for a normal user to guess, are extremely susceptible to brute force hackers and social engineers who may come across a user’s password in a multitude of ways, from dumpster diving to simply watching you enter it from over your shoulder. A password is a last line of defense, one that should always be supplemented with additional security measures.
Passphrases, on the other hand, are much longer strings of passwords, usually a short sentence or two. While they are much more difficult to crack, they still suffer the same vulnerabilities that normal passwords have.
The little cousin of passwords are Single-Use passwords. These are much more effective than your traditional password or passphrase, requiring a user to receive a new password directly from an IT administrator each time they wish to logon, making traditional attempts to hack a thing of the past. Mostly banks use this, using what are known as Transaction Authentication Numbers, or TANs for short.
Even further estranged we have the time synchronized password, where the user has a small device that displays a password that changes every minute or so.
We also have biometric security methods, such as retina and fingerprint scanners. While difficult to crack, they have a high error rate, meaning a user could potentially be locked out of their own system because the scanner doesn’t recognize their fingerprint. They are also rather easy to spoof, and once a fingerprint or retina is “cracked” (or otherwise duplicated), it renders the entire system ineffective. After all, a person can’t change their fingerprints. Yet.
Envaulting technology relies on a company or user’s network and a USB drive to work. Think of it this way: the computer is a lock, and the USB thumb drive is a key ring. Once connected, the USB searches for a key somewhere else on the network, to unlock the computer. With this security measure, your data is only accessible on-site, and connected to the network.
We also have drive encryption, where a user can partially or fully encrypt their hard drive, requiring a password of some form to access the information. Encryption works by taking data and scrambling it in such a way that only someone with the correct information and hardware can read it. In basic form, we have old school cryptography, like shift codes where you take a word like “Apple” and change each letter so it reads “DSSOH”. Only someone with the proper key (or a basic knowledge of shift codes) could properly read the information. Real drive encryption works in a similar manner, only the key is a lot harder to guess than “shift each letter by three”.
As an additional step, the user can place the certificate that stores the passwords (and by extension, the prompt to logon) on a thumb drive, making the data inaccessible without that USB Key and the correct password.
Keep in mind, obtaining a password, whatever the type used, is often not the first step in cracking a system. The first step is gaining physical or digital access to the system. Following appropriate security procedures such as requiring your employees to wear ID badges with their face and badge number and an embedded RF chip can go a long way towards IT Security, preventing unauthorized access to your network by stopping would-be hackers at the front door.
Armed with all your passwords and a bogus ID, a hacker can also be denied access to your system if there is someone stop or deter them. That’s where a dedicated IT Team or MSP comes in handy. MSPs are a low cost, high ROI method of protecting your valuable information by not only deterring would be criminals, but by also managing your suite of security protocols and solutions, taking some of the burden off the end-user. With a team in place dedicated to the security of your business and personal information, as well as managing the changing of passwords and security protocols, a business can stay up-to-date on the latest security features as well as keep their information safe without taking precious time and resources away from your company’s true goals.
Hardware and Software
Of course, where would your Cybersecurity team be without a decent anti-virus and firewall in place. These chaff filters work by taking known threats out of the equation. A user properly protected is highly unlikely to be attacked by an outdated virus.
A firewall works by preventing outside, unauthorized access to a user or company’s internal network, serving as a gatekeeper between it and the outside world. Without one of these, your IT Team would have its hands full solving problems and preventing intrusions that they would otherwise never have to deal with.
This brings us to the most important part of any IT Team: UPDATES! No IT Security Solution is perfect; they usually have a few exploits scattered here and there. But developers and IT Professionals alike are constantly patching their software, getting rid of exploits that would have otherwise taken complete systems offline or resulted in the loss or corruption of precious data. If your IT Security team fails to keep your systems update with the latest firmware and software patches, your leaving your system vulnerable to enthusiastic hackers who see out-of-date software as a jackpot.
In Part Two of IT Security, we’ll discuss what kind of threats the modern world faces in the Age of Information, and how they work.