In business, there are always issues that need to be met. Often, there are so many that finding which ones to give priority is a chore all in itself. Choosing the best path forward depends on the situation, so when you are considering your organization’s disaster recovery you have to take into account every troubling situation your business can encounter. This month let’s go through some of the most prevalent disasters that a business can face.
Coleman Technologies Blog
I was meeting with an old colleague the other day. We met over Microsoft Teams to just check in and see how they were doing—no real itinerary, just to check in with a familiar face that I haven’t personally talked to in a few years. They had a little trouble getting into Microsoft Teams, since they were used to Zoom. I patiently smiled and helped them through it, and told them “No worries, it’s always the little differences that complicate things!”
At the time, I said this just to be empathetic. At first, the nerdy computer-geek part of my brain told me that the process to get into a Zoom meeting vs a Teams meeting, from their perspective, is exactly the same. But after the call, I really thought about this small interaction, and you know what? Things have gotten complicated.
Technology is complex, and it’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. This is more the case for business technology than consumer technology. Even those who consider themselves tech-savvy might be lost when it comes to managing business-grade technology solutions. How can you make sure that your business technology is receiving the service it needs to stay operational long-term?
In business, experience is always useful. Nowhere is that more apparent than when managing your organization’s IT infrastructure. The problem is that acquiring the expertise to do just that can be quite confusing for most business owners. Today, we’ll talk about how technology management experience can produce better business from one end to the other.
Businesses need to adjust their technology to meet their operational goals. Oftentimes, this can be the difference between loads of inefficiency and things going smoothly. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to ascertain where your business should spend its capital. Let’s take a look at how you can match your technology with your operational goals.
Defining Managed Services
On a very fundamental level, managed services and tech support are very different due to the way they operate.
Traditional tech support, also referred to as break-fix IT, are those that most people think of. Whenever a piece of technology breaks down or has some other issue, an IT technician is called to fix it. This was the predominant—and really, the only—option to receive any level of IT support for some time, despite the expensive repeat visits and prolonged operational interruptions that came with it. For larger enterprises, hiring full-time IT staff solved this problem. It’s still costly, and often too costly for small businesses, but it does lead to faster turnaround times and ongoing support.
What are Managed Services?
Let’s start off with a very basic description of what “managed services” are, as compared to the common impression of “tech support.” Whenever one thinks about “tech support” or “IT,” they’re likely thinking of the break-fix version: some piece of information technology breaks or malfunctions, so IT is called in to fix it. While this proved effective enough, it also led to a lot of repeat visits… oftentimes for things that were relatively simple to fix.
Our Experience Forms Our Perspective
Perspective is a valuable thing, especially when your job is to figure out solutions to problems. Not only are there occasionally real-time issues to resolve, there are also plenty of recurring problems and challenges. Perspective is only helpful if it can be applied practically, however. A successful support team understands how a business needs to operate and provides them with the IT services that facilitate that.
Adobe Flash Player was deprecated back in 2017, but its official end of life date lands at the end of this year. What this means is that the software will gradually show more and more vulnerabilities that will not be mitigated, and therefore, the software will be far more susceptible to attack. Therefore, it is important that you check to make sure that anyplace that Flash Player would be—including your Internet browsers on your computers and mobile devices—to make sure that Flash isn’t still installed there.
How to Approach Your IT Spending
When determining an IT budget, perspective is an important part of the process. It can be tempting to view your IT as just another cost of doing business, but it really is more than that. Your technology (and the state it is in) has a major effect on how your business runs. If it is lacking, other things will as well. In some cases, employee morale will suffer, your productivity will slow, and your incoming cash flow will falter.
Business owners are always searching for value. This is no different when it comes to technology support. The question is how to get the best support for your business’ technology for the least amount of money, right? After all, considering the amount of problems a business could have, its technology support bill shouldn’t be the one that hamstrings the whole business. This month we will look at the three types of IT support available to most businesses and tell you why managed IT services are by far the most valuable.
IT Management Matters More Than Ever
From a certain point of view, businesses now find themselves in a unique position to restructure their operations. For instance, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided an inconvenient case study of sorts that shows a promising outlook on remote productivity.
It has also helped to shine the light on how impactful waste can be in poorly managed IT strategies. Without any engaged oversight, the heightened use of cloud services can lead to a few considerable issues, including
Why Managed IT Services
COVID-19 has managed to close wide swaths of businesses and organizations as people try to stem its spread by avoiding as much contact with others as possible. Any small business owner would understandably be hesitant to make any large shifts in their operations, but it also needs to be understood that the shift to managed services can help relieve many of the challenges that businesses are currently facing—as well as those that may pop up afterwards.
To help you out, we wanted to go over a few of an MSP’s capabilities, particularly the ones that will assist your business the most during tough times.
Fast Response Times
In this (or any) business disaster, downtime is the enemy. If there is some technical issue that is preventing work from being done efficiently, your business is going to feel the ramifications. Depending on how severe the downtime is, it could impact the likelihood of your business lasting in the long-term.
First, we’ll define what “infrastructure monitoring” refers to:
Understanding IT Infrastructure Monitoring
Infrastructure monitoring covers a few different considerations, all critically important to the continued productivity of your business. These considerations include things like the physical condition of your infrastructure’s hardware, how your operating systems are being utilized, how much of your network’s bandwidth is being consumed and how many errors are occurring, or the performance and availability of your applications.
You Don’t Have Enough Bandwidth
When you purchase an Internet package, you get certain speeds. Today, these speeds are faster than ever, but if your business has too much going on, it can wreak havoc with your Internet speeds. There is a situation that happens when too much data is trying to pass through a network connection. This situation is called bottlenecking and it is potentially the reason your speeds are slow. Think about it, if you try to put several gigabytes through a connection that is only rated for a few megabits per second, it’s going to take some time to get all the data through. To check this, audit how many devices are at work. Most of the time you’ll be surprised how much data you are sending and receiving. We can help you with this audit before you make the call to upgrade your Internet package.
Another potential issue is that your networking equipment may simply be old and not be able to use the dual bands that are often necessary to get the most out of your wireless network. If you have enough bandwidth, but your Internet is just slow, chances are upgrading the modem, switches, or routers would be a prudent move and will likely fix any problems you have.
Misconfigured Equipment and Environmental Factors
Once you’ve made sure that the physical components of your network are working as intended, but your Internet connection isn’t improving, you probably need to reconfigure your software on your devices or move your hardware to avoid interference. Specifically, if your wireless network signal is having problems making it through obstructions, you will want to consider using the 2.4 GHz connection rather than the 5.0 GHz channel. The max speed you’ll see will decrease, but the 2.4 GHz connection makes its way through obstructions better. Unfortunately, however, the 2.4 GHz signal can be a victim of electronic interference more than the 5.0 GHz channel.
If you need help with your business’ networking, don’t wait and lose more money. Contact the professionals at Coleman Technologies today at (604) 513-9428.
There are countless examples of IT turning to a reboot as a quick fix for technology issues in popular culture. Going back to August 4, 1999, Scott Adams’ syndicated comic strip Dilbert featured Dogbert working in tech support, interrupting a caller with the instruction to “Shut up and reboot.” The Channel 4 comedy, The IT Crowd, turned it into a catchphrase for one of its characters…
The joke has appeared in countless other places, including Supernatural, the long-running show that airs on The CW…
Even South Park used the concept as a joke, as Kyle effectively saves the world after the Internet stops by traveling to the “center of the Internet” and discovering that it is a giant router. I bet you can guess how Kyle fixes it:
As it turns out, this trope really is an example of art imitating life.
Why is Rebooting So Effective?
Well, let’s consider how much you actually do with your computer (or your mobile device, or your router, or your washing machine, or anything else that now has its own operating system) on a regular basis.
You start processes, you may install new programs, and that’s not even considering the massive amount of computing that goes on behind the scenes. A lot of these processes and activities will start things up in the background that are never really resolved, which means that your system resources are being used up. This usually has the biggest impact on your Random Access Memory, or RAM. Ultimately, your solutions aren’t able to work effectively any longer, and you see the effects.
However, rebooting inherently ends all of these processes, as they all require power in order to work. As a result, once the computer starts back up again, these processes are no longer running and impacting your system’s resources.
As a result, you have a better-working computer, and the IT stereotype is proven correct.
Keep in mind: if an issue seems to come back and persist despite a reboot (or multiple reboots) you likely have a bigger problem at hand. If this is the case, you can always lean on the professionals at Coleman Technologies to assist you with your technology.
Just don’t be surprised if we ask a particular question.
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January 14, 2020
Microsoft has announced that Windows 7 will no longer be supported after January 14, 2020. Computers that are running the software will no longer be protected, and put your business at risk. After January 14th, any computer still running Windows 7 will not be receiving technical assistance from Microsoft. First released in late October 2009, Windows 7 was one of Microsoft’s most effective and popular operating systems, but the time has come to upgrade.
Why Shouldn’t You Run Unsupported Software?
Simply put, by running unsupported software your business becomes much more vulnerable to cyberattack. Supported software is routinely patched to keep potential vulnerabilities from becoming disasters for your company. A data breach can flatten any forward momentum a business has, and today, with ransomware being a consideration, making sure all of the software you depend on is supported keeps your business secure. Besides the security issues, there are other considerations to contend with, like a loss in functionality
What are Your Options?
Since you have around a month left to upgrade away from Windows 7, you still have time to switch your Windows 7 workstations over to Windows 10. Windows 10 is the current standard and has been for nearly five years. To upgrade to Windows 10 requires at least a 1 GHz processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 20 GB available on a hard drive. Since these specs aren’t much over what Windows 7 required, it may not be necessary to overhaul the hardware on each of your workstation.
For organizations that simply won’t have time to upgrade their machines there are a couple of options that you should know about. Microsoft is offering a costly extended support package that will available for all Windows 7 Pro and Windows 7 Enterprise customers with volume licensing through January 2023. Most businesses will not qualify, but if yours does, the costs for Enterprise will be $25 per device from 2020-2021, $50 per device from 2021-2022, and $100 per device from 2022-2023. The cost of support for Pro versions will be double that.
There are, at this moment no plans to support this software after 2023.
If your business is looking for an option that will move you on from Windows 7, Microsoft now offers the Microsoft 365 bundle. Available in enterprise, business, and education platforms, the cloud-based bundle provides users with Windows 10, the productivity and storage applications in Microsoft Office 365, and the security and control settings you’ll need to get the most out of the subscription service. Paid by the user, per month, major hardware upgrades can be tabled or done incrementally, allowing a business to pay as they go until they get to where they want to be.
If your organization needs help upgrading your software, or keeping it patched and up-to-date, call the IT professionals at Coleman Technologies today at (604) 513-9428.
Times have changed.
Today, the professional services industry is experiencing somewhat of a makeover. The effort-based expectations of the past are being replaced with outcome-driven expectations, leaving many professionals looking to technologies to help their businesses manage this shift in expectations. Typically, businesses begin their quest for efficiency by automating mundane portions of the business. This creates cost savings and promotes speed. The problem this model presents for professional services firms is that they don’t have many parts of their business that can be automated.
Since the front office and the back office of many professional services firms have some form of disconnect, and much of the work dictates that a person handles the intricacies of that work, automation isn’t really an option. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways for professional services to utilize new technology to promote faster, more accurate, and more efficient operations. One way that professional services companies can improve is by making a digital transformation.
What Is a Digital Transformation?
The digital transformation refers to shift from analogue systems to digital ones. Over the past twenty years many analogue systems have been retired to make way for digital ones. This includes cloud-hosted solutions for time and resource management, productivity and collaboration, and even for the archival of information. The added efficiency a professional services firm can gain from committing to digital systems--especially in the processes listed above--is sure to quicken the pace of your business’ operations. Let’s take a look at the technologies some of the most utilized professional services companies are beginning to use.
Medical practices have been improving their IT under mandate for almost a decade. How has the digital improvement gone? A study from 2018 showed that 60 percent of practices that have upgraded their information systems have had a positive experience, while 23.5 percent had (what they’re calling) positive-to-mixed results. Only eight percent reported having a negative experience implementing technology. It took healthcare officials at every level working together to achieve digital transformations that help fuel electronic health records and other technologies used to help curtail cost redundancies and promote the delivery of comprehensive care.
There are a lot of lawyers that like to continue to do things the way they always have. After all, it is one of the oldest professions and there is a standard of decorum that many lawyers adhere to. In many ways the legal profession remains unchanged. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t using technology. The profession as a whole may not benefit from automation as much as other professionals, but it still does benefit through other solutions like document management, mobile management, and other digital systems often utilized with remote workforces.
Most professional services firms are, like most other businesses, using information systems to improve operations and be the best firm that they can be. If you are working in the professional services market and would like to learn more about how your firm would go about making a digital transformation, call the professional service experts at Coleman Technologies today at (604) 513-9428.
Almost every industry has some form of office setup. Manufacturers, retail, and service delivery all need their offices to handle the procedural aspects of the business. Some people work from a home office that’s just a laptop computer, while others have multiple floors of a high-rise dedicated to office workers. It’s not an overstatement to say that the office is where a majority of western workers work. The office is where productivity happens.
This is all made possible through the use of technology. The modern office features all types of technology. From servers to workstations to networking equipment, peripherals, security and signage, and much, much more. With the deployment of all this technology, there needs to be some coordination with the way it is integrated, and with the way a company’s human resources utilize it.
This is especially true now that:
- Margins are lower due to rising costs.
- Data is fueling organizational decision making.
- Threats to data security continue to rise.
In these three variables, you can find a lot about how organizations are utilizing IT.
Things cost more today, that can’t be denied. For the business, this creates some tough situations. One way that a business can keep these shrinking profit margins from ruining their business is by leveraging customized IT solutions designed to transfer cost. Some examples of these technologies include:
- Cloud computing - Small business use of cloud computing is up substantially and for good reason. With the cloud, your business can get infrastructure, utilities, and storage through service providers. This means that you only pay for the computing your organization needs, with a built-in benefit of being able to access the data, applications, and virtualized hardware anywhere you have an Internet connection. The scalability provides financial and operational flexibility.
- Remote Monitoring and Management - As a core part of our managed IT services platform, remote monitoring and management provides several ways that your business can save money. Firstly, you transfer your costs. Hiring an internal IT staff is extraordinarily expensive. With managed IT services, you outsource your management to the managed service provider. This shift provides thorough around-the-clock monitoring and regular maintenance of your entire network and infrastructure. Another way it saves money is by being proactive. Since the managed services provider is constantly managing and maintaining your network and infrastructure, you will experience fewer critical errors and much less downtime, saving thousands of dollars over the course of your agreement.
Every action your business makes and every interaction it has with vendors, customers, and prospects can be tracked. This data can be used to help businesses see what works and which of those actions are more cost effective for the business to implement as process. In order to integrate this kind of analysis for your business, you first need to understand what data you need to use in order to get the information and what technologies you may need to make your data analytics efforts work effectively.
- Data Warehousing - Chances are, the way your company’s IT network is currently structured won’t provide you with the type of full-business analysis needed to analyze data properly. If you have parts of your functional business’ data that isn’t included in your analysis tools it severely limits the effectiveness of your results. In order to get the results that represent your entire business, you will need to set up a repository for your data that allows for comprehensive analysis. A data warehouse structures data in a way where each process is represented, yet structured in a way that makes business analytics and business intelligence programs possible and effective.
- Microsoft Office 365 - If you go through the effort to ensure that all the data you need to completely analyze your business is in one space, you will want to ensure that your data analysis tools will do the job. There are several business analysis tools on the market, but one that you should consider is Microsoft Excel. Excel actually has a lot of good decision-making tools that can be used to analyze your data effectively. Excel is obviously a part of the Microsoft Office 365 cloud-hosted productivity suite, a title Coleman Technologies is proud to offer.
The threats that the modern business has to deal with from outside their computing network puts strain on the users inside their computer network. An organization’s IT administrator typically sets the tone by developing a plan for the business to maintain data and network security, but those efforts can be undermined at any time if the business’ staff isn’t trained in how to confront situations that are coming from outside the network designed to undermine the security platforms that have been deployed. Here are two tools that Coleman Technologies can offer to help you thwart threats:
- Patch Management - Every business utilizes a fair amount of software. If that software isn’t patched regularly, it may not have the most updated features, or it may have vulnerabilities that puts your whole computing network in jeopardy. Coleman Technologies has a patch management service that ensures that all of your business' software is updated regularly.
- Cybersecurity Training - These days, the encryption used in many of your network security tools is so strong that hackers have absolutely no chance to get into your network...unless someone lets them in. In a response to the huge uptick in social engineering attacks aimed at getting individuals to provide unauthorized access, companies are now starting to provide cybersecurity awareness training to their staff. The more people who are aware of the threats and the methods in which hackers are now attempting to gain access to credentials, the more secure your business’ network is.
The modern office has a lot of places that technology potentially fits. If your business can use any of these solutions to improve the look of your bottom line, call Coleman Technologies today at (604) 513-9428.