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Reactive IT Management Could be Costing Your Company


Are you a reactive manager? Are you spending your time putting out fires instead of planning ahead? You may be just reacting while being unaware of its consequences. Consider the following facts:
• 53% of CIOs spend their time being reactive (“keeping the lights on”), while many Line of Business (LOB) executives are bypassing CIOs to get faster results, which creates the Shadow IT effect.
• 52% of CIOs want to develop skills for emerging technologies and innovation. More CIOs want to become strategic services brokers—juggling commercial needs, the demands of business units, their existing technology and limited budgets.
• 75% admit that the network is an issue in achieving business objectives. Many CIOs are focused on short-term fixes instead of planning long-term infrastructure investment.
• 66% see supporting business and marketing goals as a priority. Pragmatic CIOs understand that sticking to old approaches to solve new problems is counterproductive in the long run.
• Mobile device enrollment across enterprises has increased 135% in the last 12 months. The ability to do business at any time, anywhere is becoming fundamental to enterprise success. Everyone needs uninterrupted access to corporate data. CIOs’ warnings and clamping down on security are frequently ignored.

What this all tells us is that CIOs are being increasingly reactive in their management, too focused on short-term fixes, and not paying enough attention to the time savings that comes with workflow management.

What is Reactive Management?

Reactive management refers to a situation in which you can't – or don't – plan ahead for problems or opportunities. Instead, you react to them as they happen. As a result, you're always a step behind. You don't have time to look ahead to pre-empt problems, so they seem to happen "out of the blue."

The problem with reactive management is that it is stressful, and executives who are constantly putting out fires are not focusing on the bigger picture at their companies. Also, reactive teams are likely to deliver lower quality work, are inefficient and frustrated. Reactive management could be costing your company money. It happens when you are so focused on addressing daily problems that you don’t have time to come up for air and look at what you really should be working on.

In contrast, proactive management happens when you plan ahead to avoid or manage problems.

Become a proactive manager

So how do you, as CIO, move from being a reactive manager to being proactive? Take these steps:
1. Take Back Control of Time – Eliminate unnecessary meetings, phone calls, and emails.

Involve your team members in this work. They'll be able to fill you in on task-related difficulties, which will help you anticipate and avoid future problems.

When you give yourself more time, you give yourself space to plan, and to anticipate problems.

2. Look at Processes – Streamline and eliminate where you can.

Dysfunctional processes can trigger or worsen reactive management situations. So, do a thorough review of all of the processes that affect your team. Also, look at people's working practices, as these may create delays or add complexity.

3. Understand and Manage Risk—If a project is risky, avoid it. Use your past experience to manage your risk.

Once you've improved the efficiency of your processes, you can start to address the problems that you face with more confidence. Look at your areas of risk and learn to manage them more effectively.

4. Focus on Morale – Keep your team upbeat and positive.

It's likely that members of your team will feel the pressure that comes with reactive management. Acknowledge the situation, and remind people about what you’re doing to resolve it.

5. Build in Continuous Improvement –Let others suggest changes.

Make the most of your people's knowledge and experience by encouraging them to suggest changes.

TEAM UP IT can help you streamline your workflow management. As you gain greater control of your workflow, and become more aware of where the roadblocks and dysfunctional processes exist, you will be able to fix these problems, and smooth over any conflicts or missteps. This is part of your growth as a leader, to learn how to prioritize, plan, prepare, and not spend all your time reacting. As you set this example as a leader, your team will follow you and start anticipating problems on its own. You will find that all aspects of your operations start running more smoothly.

For more information on how to run IT efficiently in your company, visit us at www.TEAMUP IT.com.

Sources:

  1. http://www.datacenterfuture.com/cio/info/
  2. www.mindtools.com/pages/article/reactive-proactive-management.htm
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CIOs Are Giving Outsourced IT Higher Marks Than Ever


Outsourcing IT is on the rise, and the overwhelming majority of those companies that outsourced IT functions are satisfied with the outcomes. Comp TIA did a survey and reported that managed services arrangements are either meeting or exceeding cost-savings expectations and are covering essential needs such as tech troubleshooting, integration, and cyber-security.

A total of 350 U.S. based IT and business professionals who are involved in technology decision-making took part in the research.

According to the Comp TIA report, CIOs, and other senior IT managers are finding that managed services can provide a number of both strategic and ROI-boosting benefits. "The argument can be made that turning to managed services or other outsourcing [for] basic, day-to-day IT operations will increase operational efficiency and create predictable, recurring costs," the report stated. "At the same time, moving more IT-related business functions into the hands of an outside provider also clears the way for internal IT staff to work on initiatives that hew more to core mission and drive revenue."

Among the report’s findings:
• Internal IT staff can work on more initiatives that drive revenue when CIOs move some IT functions into the hands of an outside provider.
• 49% of survey respondents said their company’s IT functions are mostly or partially outsourced today.
• 50% said they'll consider using an outside IT firm over the next two years if the need arises, while another 15% are evaluating the employment of an outside IT firm now.
• 93% said their managed services arrangements either met or exceeded cost-savings expectations.

The top decision drivers for outsourcing IT for companies with 100 or more employees:
• Improving efficiency/reliability of IT: 56%,
• Enhancing security/compliance: 38%,
• Freeing up IT staff to work on strategic projects: 38%,
• Boosting ROI/cost savings: 33%,
• Taking proactive approach to maintenance: 27%

While companies that outsource IT services enjoy many benefits, saving money is one of the most compelling reasons for doing so. Outsourcing helps control capital outlay, especially in the early years of operations. IT services make up fixed costs for companies that do not outsource.

Contracts Compel Inter-Provider Cooperation

CIO magazine reported that one of the trends to watch in the coming years is contracts compelling inter-provider cooperation among IT providers.

"As organizations continue to implement a multi-sourcing, best-of-breed strategy customers need to find a way to force competitive service providers to work together to achieve common goals," says Shawn Helms, partner in the outsourcing and technology practices of K&L Gates. In 2013, some outsourcing customers implemented outsourcing "cooperation agreements" that contractually obligated service providers to cooperate at an operational level. Helms predicted in future years these contracts would increase.

If you are a CIO, and are hiring several IT providers, you will want to include cooperation agreements in these contracts.

IT Outsourcing Market Expanding

Gartner’s latest forecast predicts the worldwide IT services market will exceed $980 billion in 2015. With information technology outsourcing (ITO) contributing to more than half that market growth, the industry is poised to reach $1.1 trillion by 2018.

The IT skills shortage, as well as pressure CIOs feel to execute new digital demands within the limitations of tight budgets, has solidified outsourcing’s role. These days, it’s rare for businesses not to outsource at least one aspect of their IT organization.

For more information on how outsourcing can help improve your company’s IT efficiency, go to www.TEAMUPIT.com.

Sources:

  1. http://www.cioinsight.com/it-services/outsourcing/slideshows/cios-give-managed-it-services-high-marks.html
  2. Ibid
  3. smallbusiness.chron.com/benefits-vs-risks-outsourcing-services-2504.html
  4. http://www.information-age.com/it-management/outsourcing-and-supplier-management/123459275/real-cost-outsourcing-it
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Don’t Wait Until a Catastrophe Strikes to Address Cyber Security


The threats of data breaches to companies continue to increase. PwC, the professional services firm, says that the number of global cyber security incidents last year surged by nearly 50% to nearly 40 million. One in 10 breaches incurred a cost greater than $10 million.

As the CIO of a midsized company, are you prepared for these data threats? You may think that you have taken all necessary steps to avoid a data breach, but in reality, you may have missed some steps. A study by consulting firm Bain & Co. found that many companies fail to align their IT security capabilities with their larger goals and appetite for risk. Frequently Bain sees a disconnect between an organization’s risk-management efforts and the development of necessary cyber security capabilities. Some teams take an inconsistent approach to security planning, operations and funding. The result, the Bain study shows, is that these mistakes create gaps in strategy and operations that the leave the company vulnerable to a breach.

We all know that the consequences of a data breach can be devastating in terms of lost revenue, damaged reputations and financial loss. As a leader, you cannot afford to wait until a catastrophe strikes to address cyber security.

Because of what is at stake for most companies, many CEOs and boards are beginning to think about IT security in a new way. While it once may have been delegated to IT staff, cyber security is now so important that it has become many companies’ top-level strategic issue. The consequences of failure can ruin a business.

Why is cyber security so important?

There are four main reasons why cyber security is becoming a top strategic issue and why companies need to take extra measures to protect themselves:

1. Companies have more digital assets than they had 10 years ago, including customers’ personal, financial and transaction information; automated business processes; and other data.
2. Organizations are shifting to hybrid cloud architecture to adopt software, security and other solutions as services (SaaS, SECaaS and so on). Today, corporate and customer data resides in the organization’s data centers as well as public and private clouds. Their adoption requires a more sophisticated approach to cyber security.
3. The use of mobile devices by staff and employees complicates security issues. A recent survey by ISACA found that up to 66% of organizations will soon adopt BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policies, yet half of IT staff members remain concerned about the security risks. IT organizations need to provide ubiquitous security across many devices.
4. Compliance remains the most important cyber security driver. In a recent Bain survey, more than 75% of CIOs identified compliant requirement as the main determinant of investment in IT security.

Given the complex challenges facing IT in all companies, it may be time for your own business to hire a smart, innovative consulting firm like TEAMUP IT to help you take a more strategic approach to IT security. Before a data breach occurs at your firm, TEAMUP IT can help you:

• Understand your key assets and appetite for risk
• Define your cyber security strategy
• Emphasize gaps, priorities and strategy to the CEO and board

As the CIO, you don’t want to wait until disaster strikes to address the myriad of cyber security needs for your company. Waiting until disaster strikes increases the likelihood of negative customer relationships, compliance turmoil, and further financial losses. Contact www.TEAMUPIT.com today and get the professional advice that you need to protect your company and its valuable assets.

Sources:

  1. http://www.businessbecause.com/news/mba-careers/3363/mba-leaders-must-tackle-cyber-security
  2. http://www.bain.com/publications/articles/why-cybersecurity-is-a-strategic-issue.aspx
  3. Ibid
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The Continuing Need for More Women in Information Technology


Despite the increasing demand for computer science graduates and technical workers in the information technology field, only about 15 percent of computer science graduates are women, reports the New York Times. The industry has been under pressure to recruit more.

The National Center for Women & Information Technology reports that although women comprise half the world’s population and more than half of the U.S. professional workforce, they play only a small role in inventing the technology of tomorrow. The NCWIT believes that, “The lack of girls and women in computing and technology represents a failure to capitalize on the benefits of diverse perspectives: in a world depend on innovation, it can bring the best and broadest problem-solvers to the table. At a time when technology drives economic growth, it can yield a larger and more competitive workforce.”

If you’re in IT -- and reading this article about women in IT – the odds are that you’re male. After all, just 24% of the U.S. IT workforce is female, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, quite a fall from its high point of 36% in 1991, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology. This is at a time when women make up more than half (57%) of the professional U.S. workforce.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that IT will be one of the fastest-growing sectors of the U.S. economy, adding nearly 1.4 million job openings by 2020. Over two-thirds of these jobs could go unfilled due to the insufficient pool of college graduates with computing-related degrees. “Women represent a vastly untapped talent pool,” according to the NCWIT.

There are institutions that are trying to redress this imbalance. One of the colleges that is making significant strides in recruiting women to the computer science field is the University of Washington. Thirty percent of the university’s bachelor’s degrees in computer science last year went to women. That is twice the national average.

The university is doing three major things to diversify its student base, according to Ed Lawoska, chairman of computer science and engineering at U. of Washington. The first is to get girls interested in computer science early on, by teaching elementary and high school teachers and students about computing through workshops and field trips.

The second thing the university did was give its introductory courses a makeover a few years ago, to make computing more accessible and inviting to a broader range of people. Third, in order to decrease the feelings of isolation for women in computing, the university has also tried to build a sense of community for women studying the topic. The college sends students to tech companies or conferences for women in tech to meet others in the field.

Operating behind the scenes of many colleges’ efforts to recruit women to IT is the National Center for Women & Information Technology.

The organization is a nonprofit community of more than 600 universities, companies, nonprofits, and government organizations nationwide working to increase women’s participation in computing and technology. NCWIT equips change leaders with resources for taking action in recruiting, retaining, and advancing women from K-12 and higher education through industry and entrepreneurial careers.

Among other programs, the organization offers Aspirations in Computing – a sweeping national talent development initiative for young women in computing and information technology from kindergarten through graduate school.

Our team of experts at TEAMUP IT testifies to the benefits of recruiting and retaining women in IT. Not only do women who study computer science embark on exciting, productive and secure careers, but they will offer benefits to the companies that hire them. The NCWIT reports that, “Groups with greater diversity solve complex problems better and faster than do homogenous groups, and the presence of women in a group is more likely to increase the collective intelligence (problem-solving ability, creativity) of the group.”

Increasing the numbers of women in IT in a company also helps to improve its bottom line. The NCWIT reports that companies with the highest representation of women in their management teams have a 34% higher return on investment than did those with few or no women. In a recent study by Harvey Nash, nearly three-quarters (71%) of CIOs globally said they recognized the gender imbalance in their organizations.

An example of a company concerned about hiring more women in technology is Xerox, whose CTO, Sophie Vandebroek, spoke to Computerworld magazine. She said that adding women to engineering and design teams makes those teams better able to address the needs of Xerox’s customer base, which worldwide includes more women than men. Women are more likely to be users of the company’s multifunction office devices, says Vandebroek.

The executive stressed that heterogeneous workgroups are more innovative, creative and productive than “just a bunch of people all thinking the same way” – a crucial concern for organizations like Xerox, where innovation has a direct impact on the bottom-line. TEAMUP IT is committed to helping women advance in IT in companies. For more information on how women might transform your IT department and where to find the resources to effectively train the staff you now have, visit www.TEAMUP IT.com.


Sources:
  1. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/22/upshot/making-computer-science-more-inviting-a-look-at-what-works.html?_r=1&abt=0002&abg=0
  2. https://www.ncwit.org/ncwit-fact-sheet
  3. www.networkworld.com/article/2824365/careers/women-in-it-no-longer-a-nice-to-have.html
  4. Ibid
  5. http://www.networkworld.com/article/2824365/careers/women-in-it-no-longer-a-nice-to-have.html
  6. http://www.computerworld.com/article/2493028/it-management/it-management-women-in-it-how-deep-is-the-bench.html?page=2
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Multi-Location Businesses Should Mobilize Their Work Flow


If you run a business with multiple locations, you know that it can be challenging to keep up with all your staff’s workflow. Coordinating projects’ deadlines and completion, along with making sure that communication flows smoothly between your locations, is important. If your business takes advantage of the innovative mobile devices available, you can see your staff’s productivity increase.

According to Network World, smart phones now outnumber humans on the planet. Add tablets to the mix, and it’s clear that the world has forever gone mobile. It’s time for companies to tap into this trend by embracing and benefiting from the realities of the modern world.

Here are 3 top benefits of mobilizing your operational workflows.

Mobile workflow management helps companies:
• Ensure compliance with industrystandards
• Lessens chances of lost or stolen field data
• Eliminates duplicate work back at the office.

Compliance and Secure Data

All corporations are focused on compliance of some sort and have a vested interest in ensuring that their data doesn’t leave them open to liabilities. Lost or insecure data = a compliance nightmare.

With compliance and data security in mind, think about this common scenario: John, employee at ABC Energy, tests water near drilling operations to ensure the company upholds its commitment to environmental safety. He tests each site, records the results on a clipboard using paper and pen, and later enters the results into a spreadsheet once back at the office.

What happens if somehow between the work site and the office the day’s water collection data is lost? Not an ideal situation for ABC Energy and one that many companies find themselves battling often.

Additionally, since many mobile applications and platforms come with enterprise-level security and encryption, companies can also rest assured that their data is safe across devices and locations.

Mobility Decreases Duplicate Work

With access to a mobile workflow management solution, John can simply enter data collected on-site using a custom form on his mobile device. He can also take pictures of testing strips and equipment, geotag his location and sign his name to ensure environmental standards were met. When the data is entered, Sally, who sits in the corporate compliance office is notified, so she can log results for the region before sending her work off to the next person involved in the process. (Picture your compliance team cheering!)

Data-driven decisions

Due to the complexity of modern work and the flattening of traditional corporate hierarchies, the average knowledge worker must be equipped to make regular decisions that can have critical implications for the organization. Real-time reporting accessible from mobile devices means employees can leverage data and analytics to drive informed decision-making across the business. These decisions can help cut costs and boost the bottom line.

According to recent studies, employees who use mobile apps to perform work are 34% more productive. Companies gain an extra 240 hours of work a year from employees due to mobile working.

Mobile increases speed-to-work completion

A standard rule of thumb for workflows that require tasks completed by three or more people is that they take seven business days to complete.

If someone is out of the office or in the field, this number only increases. Can you imagine the increase in your customer satisfaction numbers and the resulting profit if you could cut down on this time-to-workflow completion? Through better overall coordination and collaboration, what if your company could strengthen its quality control processes and decrease the frequency of expensive defects or warranty claims? The experts at TEAM UP IT can help you accomplish this.

According to ITBusinessEdge.com, mobile workflow management makes these “if statements” into profitable realities. Armed with a mobile work management solution, employees can sign off on approvals, enter or access data, view reports and dashboards and the like while on the go or away from their desk. This means that operational processes or projects progress with “out-of-the-office” based impediments.

Mobile workflow management eliminates the need to manipulate spreadsheets on a mobile device and turns data entry, tracking, and reporting into an easy and efficient process for on-the-go employees. Mobile workflow management translates into less time wasted by employees who must sort through never-ending email chains or multiple versions of Excel documents, whether on a mobile device or at the office. You don’t want your employees wasting time -- time is money!

Increased Productivity

There are many ways mobile devices improve employee productivity, because there is an array of devices that can be used. The iPass Mobile Workforce Report notes:

  • 41 percent of mobile workers have a tablet and an additional 34 percent of mobile workers intend to purchase a tablet in the next six months.
  • 87 percent of mobile workers that own tablets use their tablets for at least some work. Among tablet owners, 27 percent have a tablet provided by their workplace and 73 percent have a personally owned tablet.
  • On the road, 68 percent of mobile workers will pay for a faster connection at a hotel even when a free network is also available.
  • 43 percent of mobile workers store their smart phone within arm’s reach when they sleep at night. Those that do this are 60 percent more likely than average to wake during the night to check their smart phone.

The iPass Report concludes:

Most mobile workers are constantly connected, highly responsive, and ready to be engaged outside of traditional office hours. They telecommute and travel on business. Their mobility helps them stay competitive in a fast-paced and challenging business environment. They manage to work 240 hours longer annually than their less mobile peers. Work does not keep them up at night, and their mobility does not cause friction in their personal relationships – more than half store their smart phone out of arm’s reach. Still, how the mobilocracy defines their personal boundaries determines the effects of their mobility on their work and on their personal lives.

TEAM UP IT can help your company go mobile. By going mobile your workforce can be productive and complete work anytime, anywhere. Employees can complete tasks wherever they are, whether at a conference, after a sales meeting, or waiting in an airport for a flight.

Is your business taking full advantage of the benefits of workflow management with mobile working? If you need assistance with an assessment of which mobile devices will help streamline your workflow management, contact the experts at www. TEAMUPIT.com.

  1. http://resources.idgenterprise.com/original/AST-0146446_3_Benefits_of_Mobile_Workflow_Management_TrackVia.pdf
  2. Ibid
  3. http://www.digitalstrategyconsulting.com/intelligence/2014/05/apps_boost_worker_productivity_34.php
  4. https://www.ipass.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/iPass_MWR_Q2_2011.pdf
  5. http://www.itbusinessedge.com/slideshows/show.aspx?c=83113&slide=4
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Outsourcing IT No Longer Requires Going Overseas


As the CEO of a growing business, have you ruled out outsourcing your IT functions because you want to keep jobs in America, and don’t want to ship jobs to India or Southeast Asia? You will be glad to know that outsourcing IT no longer requires going overseas. A number of midsize American cities now make attractive alternatives to offshore locations in India and elsewhere for IT and business process services, according to recent research from the Hackett Group.

“Wage increases in certain offshore countries has shrunk the cost gaps with many U.S. cities,” says Mark Peacock, principal and IT transformation practice leader at The Hackett Group. In addition, IT and business leaders seeking proximity to headquarters or customers, specific industry or company knowledge, strong local language skills, and cultural affinity are increasingly considering lower cost domestic sources of IT services in lieu of sending the work abroad, according to The Hackett Group.

Today, the U.S. is 25th among 42 countries in attractiveness for global business services delivery, The Hackett Group says. Each American city has its specific strengths, typically around industry or functional capabilities, says Jim O’Connor, principal with The Hackett Group. While offshore players still have a stronghold on the IT services market, many BPO providers have set up hubs in midsize metropolitan areas of the U.S, O’Connor adds.

IT Outsourcing – in the U.S. – Can Save You Money

A key reason that outsourcing your IT services to IT service providers is a wise consideration is the financial savings. The infrastructure to keep up a proper set of servers is not cheap, beginning with the very room the equipment is to be kept in. Once the equipment is actually being purchased, the price goes even higher. Keep in mind that this is merely the process of acquiring the technological components of the whole IT operation.

When you outsource your IT operations you can greatly reduce your company's operational complexity. With the increases in complexity that hiring an IT staff will bring about, your company will become that much more difficult to run. When your company is easier to run, you can get more done in the same amount of time and with the same amount of cash flow.

If you want to make your business more efficient, and hire the most professional technicians at the lowest cost possible, then outsourcing is the best option for you. You can let the experts in IT handle your IT functions, and you and your staff can focus on your core business. You will save money, time, and you will be able to concentrate on increasing your bottom line.

For more information on outsourcing IT service options that will meet the needs of your company, visit us at www. TEAMUPIT.com. We are eager to help you solve your most pressing IT problems, and help you run this vital aspect of your business.
Sources:

  1. www.cio.com/article/2932199/offshoring/midsize-u-s-cities-offer-attractive-alternative-to-offshoring-it.html
  2. Ibid
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If Your IT Specialist Left in Two Weeks, What Would You Do?


If you are the CEO of a small or midsized business, there are several people on whom you depend a great deal, and one of these is no doubt your IT specialist. Have you ever considered what would happen to the IT functions of your small business if your IT specialist suddenly left the firm?

If you are like most CEOs, you have various specialties: marketing, sales, finance, but IT is most likely not one of your strengths. You rely on the IT professionals you have hired, and you trust the systems they have set up for your company.

Forbes magazine recently ran an article focusing on some of the essentials for a small business. Several of these essential processes involved IT. They include:

1. eCommerce solutions are becoming essential for small- to medium-sized businesses. eCommerce payment processing and sales during the last few months grew at 15-20 % year over year, while bricks and mortars sales were down. An eCommerce site is essential, not only to take payment but also to allow a business to be found online. Those without a website are at a significant disadvantage. This includes not just big box retailers or major service providers, but also local small businesses and their competitors. The ability to be found and highlighted through a local Internet search is a necessity these days.
2. Cyber Security for Small Business Small businesses must make the leap into the cloud. Not moving to the cloud places businesses at risk increasingly every day. It is incredibly risky to keep sensitive data in a tower on their hard drive under their desk. Lawyers and medical professionals cannot ignore the risks of keeping their client’s health and financial data sitting on a server in the closet of their office or unbounded local IT provider. For the following reasons businesses must embrace the cloud:

• It is more cost effective than their current IT configuration.
• It is more secure.
• It is more efficient regarding access to data 24/7 off of a tablet or smartphone and remotely.
• Constant surveillance and security offered by cloud hosts of business applications are better and security guaranties are available and can be offered.

Accounting

No doubt that your IT specialist is critical to your company’s accounting systems. Setting up and managing a new accounting system can be a daunting task on your own. Modern accounting software packages simplify the process of setting up accounts and posting daily transactions. Your IT specialist will have set up systems that work best for your particular firm. Managing accounts with a small-business accounting package such as Microsoft Money or QuickBooks can eliminate the need to hire full-time or third party accountants. Accounting software also assists managers by creating informative reports and financial statements to increase decision-making effectiveness.

As you take stock of these key areas where your IT specialist is needed in your company, it may make you apprehensive to consider what you would do without this professional on your team. Before it is too late, you should consider outsourcing to an IT support group so that all your company’s systems – cyber security, ecommerce, accounting – can function smoothly should your IT specialist leave. You do not want proprietary information to leave your business when this individual leaves. You want it to stay with your firm and be productive and safe.

TEAMUP IT is a consulting firm made up of IT professionals who can help you maintain the cyber security and accounting systems that your IT specialist created. TEAMUP IT can help to improve your eCommerce capabilities and make sure you are meeting your sales targets with the kind of marketing that sets your company apart. We can also train others in your company to handle essential IT functions until you are able to hire the right IT professional to replace the person who left.

Don’t wait until a crisis occurs and you lose your IT specialist unexpectedly. Be prepared and call TEAMUP IT today to find out how our expertise and skilled consultants can help your business thrive. Visit us at www.TEAMUPIT.com for more information.
Sources:

  1. www.forbes.com/sites/thesba/2012/12/17/five-essentials-for-small-business-in-2013-2/
  2. http://smallbusiness.chron.com/impact-information-technology-small-business-5255.html
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If Russian Hackers Can Penetrate the IRS, What Could They Do to Your Business?


Every day the media reports on a new hack attack affecting millions of Americans. In late May 2015, the theft of critical information of more than 100,000 taxpayers from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) database was the work of hackers in Russia, CNN reported. It was not clear if the Russian government played a role in the attack.

The admission came just days after the IRS announced that hackers acquired critical taxpayer information from over 100,000 people through its "Get Transcript" tool. The agency said that the hackers used information obtained from previous hacks, including names, Social Security numbers and intimate details on the individuals, to receive a transcript of past tax returns. Those transcripts were then used to file fraudulent returns for the current year before the April 15 tax deadline. The Associated Press reported that over $50 million in tax refunds was handed to the hackers before the attack was discovered this month.

The hack is just the latest evidence that Russian hackers –whether they are part of the government or not – are maliciously infiltrating a number of U.S. agencies. Fox News reported that according to the IRS, the cyber thieves who stole tax return information from 100,000 Americans via its “Get Transcript” application may have used social media to get in the door. These criminals may have been able to figure out answers to security questions like the name of a first pet, or mother’s maiden name, using data that people readily share today with friends on social media sites, such as Facebook.

If you are over-exposed online, you may be a target for a hack attack.

Are you over-exposed online?

If these hack attacks are happening to large U.S. government agencies, have you thought about what hackers could do to your small business? Are you “over-exposed” online? Here is advice from cyber security experts on how to keep your personal information, and your business’s valuable information, from falling into the wrong hands.

Less Is More

As a small business, you may have a Facebook page. If one of your Facebook friends can answer your security questions, then you may be over-exposed, according to Alex McGeorge, head of threat intelligence at Immunity Inc., a cyber security firm based in Miami, Florida. He said social media users should use privacy options to control what’s shared with friends and what’s shared with the public. The fewer people who know what you are up to on a daily basis, the more secure you’ll be, he advised.

Mobile and online defense

According to McGeorge, your phone or your employees’ phones are more likely to be compromised than a computer, not only because they can be stolen, but also because downloading a poorly coded application can make phones vulnerable to an attack.

Businesses can still enjoy the convenience of banking or shopping online, but he suggests using a dedicated credit card and bank account that has credit limits. For example, if you want to deposit checks or pay bills online, keep this account at a completely separate bank, from say, your savings and investment account. Make sure your salespeople use different accounts for sales transactions. Also, use a separate credit card with strict controls and alerts for all online purchases.

Monitor your credit reports

Chris Weber, co-founder of Casaba Security, a cyber-security firm based in Seattle, Washington, said that you should constantly monitor your credit reports and make sure your employees do the same. You have to keep aware of any suspicious activity.

Small businesses especially vulnerable

Just because you run a small business and you are reading about Russian hackers attacking large agencies like the IRS, you should not feel secure. About 90 percent of data breaches impact small merchants. Many small businesses can be derailed by the time and expense it takes to recover from a data disaster. According to the Forrester/Disaster Recovery Journal, the average time to recover after a disaster is 18.5 hours.

About 44% of small businesses in the U.S. have been attacked, according to a 2013 survey by the National Small Business Association, an advocacy group. Often small business owners can be attacked from a seemingly harmless source, an email from a friend’s computer, for example.

Get cyber security experts on your team now

If you are the CEO of a small or midsized business, you will want to get a cyber security expert on your team now, and not wait until it is too late. The expenses of being hacked are enormous, not only is valuable time and information from your business lost, but you will have to inform all of your customers of the hack, pay for their credit monitoring, and you may lose customers who do not want to risk doing business with your firm. The experts at TEAM UP IT are skilled in protecting firms like yours from a hack attack. They will help you store valuable information at an offsite location, and make sure all your mobile devices are secure, with encryption and other procedures in place. They will assist you in installing free antivirus and anti-malware software available online, and will add firewalls, which block attempt to access. Visit us at www.TEAMUPIT.com today to get started on protecting your business.
Sources:

  1. http://www.cnet.com/news/russian-hackers-behind-50-million-irs-hack-report-says/
  2. Ibid
  3. www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2015/05/27/are-over-exposed-online-lessons-from-irs-hack/
  4. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/guy-chiarello/five-essential-tips-for s_b_5310523.html
  5. MCPC Business Continuity
Click to read more

10 Benefits of IT Consulting


As the CEO of a small business, there may be many issues related to IT that concern you and your staff. You may not be sure that your IT is working as efficiently as it could for your business, you may not be certain you are up-to-date on all the latest mobile applications for your sales force, and news reports about hacks and cyber security keep you awake at night.

In order to put to rest these concerns, it is time to hire an IT consulting firm. With experts in place to provide you the service, expertise, and advice that you need to answer all your IT questions, you can relax and focus on the business that you know.

As the CEO, you know that the information revolution has dramatically changed our economy. According to Michael E. Porter and Victor E. Millar in the Harvard Business Review: “No company can escape its effects. Dramatic reductions in the cost of obtaining, processing, and transmitting information are changing the way we do business.”

Porter and Millar also acknowledge that most general managers know that the revolution is under way, and they have a growing awareness that the technology can no longer be the exclusive territory of EDP or IS departments. “As they see their rivals use information for competitive advantage, these executives recognize the need to become directly involved in the management of the new technology,” the authors state, adding, “In the face of rapid change, however, they don’t know how.”

One way that you, as CEO, can keep abreast of rapid technology change and maintain a competitive edge over your rivals is to hire an IT consulting firm. TEAMUP IT can help you identify which hardware, software, and network applications will make a difference to your business. An IT assessment by TEAM UP IT can help you improve your mobility solutions so that your employees can connect throughout the day, regardless of whether they are out on a sales call or in another state at a conference.

Here are some of the benefits IT consulting can deliver to your business:

BENEFIT #1: FOCUS ON CORE BUSINESS FUNCTIONS
Whether you run a company with 10 employees or 100, you need time to focus on the core business you are providing to customers. Every business has IT maintenance issues that they must handle on a regular basis. You might find that maintenance in your firm, where your IT specialists may not be up to date on all the latest technology, is taking away valuable time from your core business. You can avoid this by using an IT consulting firm.

BENEFIT #2: REDUCE COST AND CONTROL OPERATING EXPENSES
When you hire an IT consulting firm like TEAM UPIT, you will save money that is regularly spent on staffing, because you do not have to pay an IT employee’s salary and benefits.

BENEFIT #3: TAP ECONOMIES OF SCALE AND PURCHASING POWER
Do you realize that outsourcing your IT needs gives you reliable IT support, regardless of your business’ location? An IT provider like TEAM UP IT will increase your purchasing power of IT equipment and software because of our excellent relationships with vendors.

BENEFIT OF IT CONSULTING #5: OBTAIN ON-DEMAND RESOURCES
IT consulting firms provide you with the services you need when you need them. That can range from general, administrative support or providing your company with a specialized tech solution that you have never tried before. Regardless of how specialized you need, TEAM UP IT can help you.

BENEFIT #5: ACCESS HIGHLY SPECIALIZED TALENT
Outsourcing your IT will save your firm money because you will not have to pay for highly specialized talent. If you had to keep a fulltime employee trained with all the latest training and technology, which can get expensive. Many technology training courses cost $2,500 for weekend course. With a consulting firm like TEAM UP IT you will be able to access specialized skills when you need them, and not have to pay for course work and other training.

BENEFIT #6: REDUCE DOWNTIME
When your staff knows that they can rely on an IT consulting firm like TEAM UP IT, this reduces their down time. They do not have to lose work time trying to fix a problem that they don’t understand. You want to know that IT services are available when you need them, that your systems are running at the proper pace, and that they are dependable. Any disconnect in any of these processes can slow your staff down and cause them to lose time bringing in business and serving customers.

BENEFIT #7: IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY
The latest advances in technology should be making your business more productive, and should free your employees to focus on their core responsibilities. You don’t want your employees distracted with trying to work with a new mobile app, or getting frustrated about how to work with a new server. When you hire an IT consulting firm, the productivity of your entire staff will be improved.

BENEFIT #8: ATTRACT AND RETAIN EMPLOYEES
You want to provide your employees with the latest and greatest technology.

People want technology to make their jobs quicker and easier. Employees don't want to wait around for an over-scheduled staff technician to address their problems. When you partner with an IT consulting firm like TEAM UP IT to keep your technology updated, you gain the manpower needed to keep your network running smoothly, eliminate employee frustration and give your employees the tools that they need to be productive.

BENEFIT #9: REALIZE TECHNOLOGY EDGE OVER COMPETITORS
A firm like TEAM UP IT can keep your business up-to-date with the latest technology solutions and will give you a competitive edge over your rivals.

BENEFIT #10: ACCESS TO OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE VENDOR SUPPORT
TEAM UP IT can help your business avoid long delays in getting to manufacturers when equipment does not work properly. You don’t want to spend hours calling the consumer hotline of a manufacturer who will then explain how to fix a problem in a jargon that your employees do not understand. Direct access to the specific type of support you need can quickly resolve your IT conflicts and save your business hours of lost productivity.

As you think about the right strategies for your company to exploit the advances of technology and to maintain a competitive edge over other businesses in your space, making the move to hire a consulting firm like TEAM UP IT will prove to be an important investment. Contact us at www.teamupit. com today.

  1. https://hbr.org/1985/07/how-information-gives-you-competitive-advantage
  2. Ibid
Click to read more

4 Ways that CIOs and CMOs Can Work Together for Mutual Success


If you are the CEO of a small or midsized business, are you concerned that your Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) are not communicating well? Are they often pursuing goals that are at cross-purposes to your business? It’s time to make sure that your CIO and CMO realize they are both valuable members of the team, and that their collaboration is critical to your company’s success.

In a report by Forrester Research released in 2014, they stated that this is “the age of the customer” and there’s no time or room for turf wars, competing agendas and distrust between technology and marketing departments. “The age of the customer places new demands on organizations, requiring changes to how they develop, market, sell and deliver products and services,” the report says. “IT and business teams frequently inhibit successful digital experience execution by failing to work cooperatively.”

This is especially true if your company is trying to analyze Big Data to drive greater profits. Harvard Business Review stated that since worldwide data is growing at 40 percent per year, turning all that data into growth requires both executives changing how they work individually and collectively.

“Most CMOs have woken up to the fact that technology is fundamentally changing what marketers do and we can’t treat IT like a back office function,” says Jonathan Becher, CMO of SAP. “The CIO is becoming a strategic partner that is crucial to developing and executing marketing strategy.” HBR states that getting this relationship right is worth it: companies that are more data-driven are five percent more productive and six percent more profitable than other companies.

IT and marketing need to work together to achieve the company’s key business outcomes. Often this means improving their communication, building the right team, and being clear on decision governance.

The Harvard Business Review advises that CMOs and CIOs take very practical steps to improve communication. This may mean having offices closer to one another, or having weekly or biweekly lunches or dinners together to share information. A common stumbling block is often the lack of a shared vocabulary. This needs to be an area of focus.

“Marketers and technology people speak very different languages, so there’s a need on both sides to become bilingual,” says Becher. In addition, HBR advises:

1. Be clear on decision governance. An effective decision governance framework makes clear how the CIO and CMO and other members of the leadership team must work together and support each other. Teams need to be explicit about who will make what decisions, when. This can be a particular stretch for the CIO, as it gives a key business user – the CMO—a direct role in the design of data systems.
2. Build the right teams. The two executives must lead a common agenda for defining, building and acquiring technological efforts needed by the company as a whole. They must also agree where those critical capabilities will be located.
3. Bring complete transparency. The CIO and CMO need to define their needs for technology with precision, but they must then meet regularly to review progress and to keep their collaboration on track. If the CIO and CMO work together as partners, and communicate openly and honestly with each other, they can build a relationship based on trust.
4. Hire marketing/IT “translators,” and align CIO and CMO business outcomes. Few CMOs and CIOs have the right balance between business and tech. What each needs to do is hire “translators.” The CMO needs to hire someone who understands customers and business needs but “speaks geek.” The CIO needs to hire technical people with a strong grounding in marketing campaigns and the business. IT and marketing need to work together on achieving the organization’s key business outcomes.

For some businesses, it can overwhelm the IT team by adding to their agenda business technology, while still maintaining internal operations. Forrester Research suggests CIOs improve the speed of digital marketing by selectively outsourcing. If you would like to explore the option of outsourcing your digital marketing to help improve business outcomes, contact the experts at www.TEAMUPIT.com. They can also advise you if you are seeking to improve the collaboration between your CIO and CMO.

  1. http://www.cio.com/article/2378976/cio-role/cios-and-cmos-must-work-together-to-satisfy-customers.html
  2. https://hbr.org/2014/02/cmos-and-cios-need-to-get-along-to-make-big-data-work/
  3. Ibid
  4. http://www.cioinsight.com/it-management/expert-voices/the-power-of-two-when-cios-and-cmos-work-together.html
Click to read more

How a Bring Your Own Device Policy Can Be Risky


In the transition toward increased mobility and digital devices, one industry – the healthcare industry—is concerned that the trend towards smartphones may just end up making simple processes more complex – and more costly – in the end. Steve Shirley, chief information officer at Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo, CO, says that the bring-your-own –device (BYOD) can be a risky strategy. Hospitals don’t want to have to maintain, support and protect numerous different types of smartphone devices, according to HealthcareITNews.com.

Bring Your Own Device, (BYOD) is the concept of employers permitting staff to use their own mobile devices for work-related purposes. Clinicians increasingly rely on mobile-based communications. For some organizations, BYOD presents an option to enhance productivity and save money on device distribution and maintenance. The challenges associated with BYOD include: allowing privately-owned devices to access and store hospital and patient information and encrypting data where necessary, drafting and updating policies to properly protect against HIPAA violations, observing the potential for BYOD to clash with an organization's social media policies, ensuring multi-platform integration of key software applications, and making decisions on how to manage usage charges employees incur when personal devices are used for professional purposes.

Security Concerns Associated with BYOD

"There's an app for that" may be an effective marketing phrase, but don't expect hospital security officials to appreciate it. The proliferation of personal devices and the apps that drive them is one of the biggest security concerns to hit healthcare in the digital age, reports John Andrews in HealthcareITNews.com The devices have become well entrenched in a very short time, that studies show that approximately 80 percent of healthcare workers currently use a personal mobile device, whether smart phone or tablet.

Andrews states that the situation is a double-edged sword, with mobility giving clinicians the ability to access healthcare data at anytime from anywhere, but the flurry of unchecked apps also create an air of hospital vulnerability to security breaches, intrusive malware, viruses and worms.

If a BYOD strategy is not implemented correctly, it can potentially expose protected health information and actually create a greater risk of data breach.

“This issue is a huge challenge and the industry needs to get out in front of it,” says Chris Bowen, chief privacy and security officer for Tempe, Ariz.-based ClearDATA. “It is a situation that needs to be controlled.” Therefore, hospitals need to implement a BYOD strategy, security specialists say, but it can be a complex process. If not implemented correctly, they contend it can potentially expose protected health information and actually create a greater risk of data breach.

“The first step is to assess risk before implementing any BYOD strategy,” said Ron Sadowski, director of technology solutions for the RSA Security Management division of Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC. Sadowski made his comment at a recent security panel discussion sponsored by Health IT Outcomes. “Figure out how it is outside the controls and prioritize accordingly,” he said. “PIH (personal health information) is the most valuable information and is the most vulnerable. Use that to guide your efforts.”

Convenience of mHealth

Steve Shirley, who leads a team of 52 at Parkview Medical Center, says that the one promise of mHealth (mobile Health) that will drive the most adoption over the coming year is “mHealth’s ability to deliver contextual clinical information from the EHRs, as well as care-team communications tools and barcoded medication administration (BCMA) functionality consolidated via a single application,” said Shirley. “Until recently, all of our nurses and other clinicians had to carry multiple devices to perform these functions. Ideally, clinicians should be able to access the clinical information they need, whenever they need it.”

More Hospitals to Use their own Smartphone Technology

Shirley also believes that technology that is specifically designed for personal smartphones of clinicians working onsite will become ubiquitous in the next few years. “Thousands of doctors, nurses and other clinicians rely on smartphones for voice and text communication and sharing other types of information, but using a personal device to view and exchange PHI is far too risky to hospital compliance and patient privacy,” Shirley told mhealthnews.com.

Shirley sees the future being one where “more hospitals will be adopted dedicated smartphone technology that is owned and controlled by the hospital and won’t go home with clinicians at the end of their shift.”

He said that his hospital uses dedicated smartphones that offer all the features and functionality clinicians have become accustomed to with their personal devices. Other than care-team voice and text communication capabilities, the appliance only includes clinically focused applications and only operates on the hospital’s network.

Says Shirley, “Through this strategy, the footprint of BYOD devices has been reduced dramatically, and we have minimized efforts to protect, support or maintain all the different types and ages of personal smartphones.”

If you are in a health center or hospital that needs help adopting a BYOD policy that will work for all your clinicians, contact the experts at TEAM UP IT to provide assistance developing the right policy for your organization. Visit us at www.TEAMUPIT.com today.

  1. http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/cio-one-one-riskiness-byod
  2. Ibid
  3. http://www.healthcareitnews.com/directory/byod
  4. http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/byod-causing-it-headaches
  5. http://www.mhealthnews.com/news/mhealth-masters-why-byod-risky-strategy?single-page=true
Click to read more

Proper Workflow Management Produces High ROI and Productivity in Very Little Time


Does your company spend a lot of time relying on custom code to automate processes? If your staff is doing paperwork and coding for documents such as expense approvals, employee on-boarding, travel requests, invoice processing, contract approvals, and other procedures, you might be better off looking into a workflow platform that can help you automate these processes quickly and easily.

Forrester Consulting conducted a multi-company study to evaluate the impact of using an automated workflow platform. The results, based on a composite organization, are astounding:

• 176% Return on Investment (ROI)
• 11 month payback period
• 15% increase in employee productivity

With an automated workflow management system (WMS), companies can automate their processes and create workflows that connect their people, processes and content, whether related to travel requests, invoice processing, contract approvals or other business matters.

Workflow management systems allow the user to define different workflows for different types of jobs or processes. For example, in a manufacturing setting, a design document might be automatically routed from a designer to a technical director to the production engineer. At each stage in the workflow, one individual or group is responsible for a specific task. Once the task is complete, the workflow system ensures that the individuals responsible for the next task are notified and receive the data they need to execute their stage of the process.

Workflows can also have more complex dependencies; for example, if a document is to be translated into several languages, a translation manager could select the languages and each selection would then be activated as a work order form for a different translator. Only when all the translators have completed their respective tasks would the next task in the process be activated.

Great ROI

One of the greatest returns on investment achieved by a workflow management system is the saving on internal resources used for custom code. In the Forrester study, the organization (a composite) would have spent on average $77,000 per year for internal resource time on custom coding that can be done by a workflow management system.

One of the users of the workflow management system said, “We have several examples where our workflows need to talk to another system, and the fact that we can do that with automation is definitely a winning factor.”

If your company is using manual processes to handle many standard procedures, such as travel requests and contracts approvals, your staff is no doubt using Excel spreadsheets, email, conference calls, and sending paper documents through an approval chain. This can result in a lack of efficiency, and a lack of transparency with process completion.

When an organization selects a workflow management system, it gains the ease of use and implementation, ability to integrate with other systems within a workflow, and user interaction. It will result in productivity gains for the business and IT.

Here are some of the prime advantages to going to a workflow management system:

• It is a software tool that allows individuals to collaborate and automate business processes
• With a workflow management system, you can automate redundant tasks to ensure that uncompleted tasks are followed up on.
• A workflow management system gives you the complete picture of the workflow along with performance metrics. So you’ll know which process is fast or slow and which needs your attention.

You can easily understand why this system will increase your company’s productivity, and in turn, increase profits. Your staff will spend less time doing routine paperwork functions. Now that they can be automated, it will free up your staff’s time for other work.

Special Features

When you select a workflow management system for your company, you will also want to look for these features:

• Modeling forms and Graphic Representation – It should allow you to model business forms to capture information and depict the flow of processes through your organization in a visual style.
• Reports – Reports will help in decision-making by enabling you to assimilate both the process and participant perspectives.
• Role Based Access Control –Every WMS should have the capability of providing access based on user roles.
• Workflow Patterns –A really powerful workflow system (WMS) should not enforce constraints on the process flow, instead, it should provide the flexibility to create such processes.

Other features, such as Email Notifications, Integrating Documents, and Pre-Filled Forms, are features that you and your IT department will also want to select.

If your company needs expert advice about setting up a workflow management system that will fit your needs, contact www.TEAMUPIT.com. We will work with your budget and help you select a system that will deliver a great ROI in very little time. Contact us at www.TEAMUPIT.com so we can get started!
Sources:

  1. info.nintex.com/rs/nintex/images/File%20-%20Forrester_TEI_Nintex_Workflow_Platform.pdf
  2. Ibid
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worflow_management_system
  4. https://kissflow.com/process_playbook/workflow-management-system-10-must-have-features/
Click to read more

Can I Lower IT Maintenance Costs While Keeping Service Quality High?


As the CEO or CIO of a small or medium-sized business, you no doubt want to keep your IT service at a high level of quality, but you don’t want to pay a fortune for maintenance.

CIO Update reports most IT departments spend as much as 80% of their budgets on routine maintenance and day-to-day operations, while only 20% is spent on new technology or business-process enhancements, according to surveys by Gartner and other research firms.

The conventional wisdom is, with the total IT budget being constant, it is better to spend more on new initiatives and minimize spending on legacy systems. This way of thinking has some important downsides, mainly because the inherent nature of maintenance costs and “truly” new initiatives is as different as apples and oranges.

According to a report by PWC (PriceWaterhouseCoopers), most industries in the U.S. spend less than 15 percent of their IT budgets on innovation, meaning that the lion’s share goes to maintenance and upkeep of IT operations.

PWC reported that IT innovation is the chief casualty of this preoccupation with system maintenance.

In 2007, only 13 percent of the average IT budget supported innovation in business processes or products.

One of the secrets for firms that are trying to reduce their IT maintenance costs while at the same time preserve high quality of service, is to outsource. The research firm Gartner reports that IT departments have been shrinking or disappearing in many firms as they have been outsourced to external providers.

According to Gartner, the changing nature of IT is the reason for this increase in outsourcing.

You may think, Why would my company be outsourcing IT when you already have an IT staff?

Gartner reports that IT departments have been shrinking in many firms as they have been outsourced to external providers.

Outsourcing your day-to-day IT management gives you access to an entire new team – a whole IT department, for less than the cost of one technician.

You get professional support 24/7, not just in work hours, and not just subject to a staff member’s health or holiday time.

Experts advise that you want to make sure that the staff you have on board concentrate 100% on those activities that will drive your business, or directly improve your bottom line. Thus outsourcing is a tremendously economical way to make sure you never have to worry when things go wrong, and downtime occurs.

There are different types of IT maintenance services:

• Hardware maintenance
• Software maintenance
• Network maintenance
• Security maintenance

Many small businesses find that outsourcing is the secret that helps them increase profits and keep costs low.

Laura Lee Sparks, a new business owner of Legal Marketing Maven, which helps law firms streamline by outsourcing, told Entrepreneur.com, "More small businesses are outsourcing tasks these days because technology has advanced to the point of professionals being able to work from anywhere in the world, coupled with the availability and accessibility of extremely qualified professionals who have decided or been forced to leave the corporate world, [such as] virtual executive assistants, marketing directors, graphic designers, transcriptionists, paralegals, web designers, HR consultants, bookkeepers, PR directors, IT specialists, and the list goes on."

Sparks notes some of the advantage of outsourcing to a small business owner: "These freelancers come on board as subcontractors and save the small business owner the burden of paying overhead associated with payroll taxes and expenses such as health insurance and worker's compensation, as well as the space constrictions that growing a company in-house can present.”

IT Services to Outsource

According to Business News Daily, among the IT services that a small business owner can consider outsourcing are the following:

• Cloud computing, which allows businesses to access information anywhere, anytime using any compatible device. Hosting a cloud system in-house is costly, and can pose security risks if the technology is outdated. By outsourcing cloud technology, small businesses can focus on using the cloud as opposed to maintaining it.
• Customer relationship management (CRM)--CRM entails more than just managing relationships with customers (as the name implies). It’s also about having a strategic system that can help a business acquire and retain those customers. While CRM can be done manually, a growing business can only handle so many customers the old-fashioned way without compromising effectiveness. Early on, small businesses should think about outsourcing CRM to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers. Ohmid Rahmat, president at Burnside Digital — a mobile, cloud and Web development company — says that if your company has more than 50 customers, it’s probably time to get some help managing your relationships with them. “You can't afford to leave this functionality to chance in any business,” Rahmat said. “Outsourcing solutions at competitive pricing are out there, so use them.”
• Cybersecurity--IT service providers will usually tell you that your data is safe, but businesses should also outsource additional cybersecurity, according to cybersecurity and risk management analyst Cedric Leighton, who is also CEO of a Washington, D.C.-based strategic risk management consultancy.Leighton said it’s smarter for businesses to outsource cybersecurity experts than to rely on IT vendors’ guarantees because no single company can truly guarantee data safety.

For more information about how to keep your company’s IT maintenance costs low and the quality of service high, contact www.TEAMUPIT.com.
Sources:

  1. http://www.cioupdate.com/insights/article.php/3711106/Apples-and-Oranges-Comparing-IT-Maintenance-Costs-to-New-Initiatives.html
  2. Ibid
  3. www.pwc.com/en_US/us/increasing-it-effectiveness/assets/it_spending_creating_value.pdf
  4. http://networking.onestopclick.com/topic/87/280/it-support-maintenance-services-buyers-guide.html
  5. http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/204652
  6. http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/4594-tech-tasks-small-business-outsource.html
Click to read more

Keeping Information Secure in the Age of Telecommuting


Today, many of the employees in your company may be telecommuting—from departments ranging from IT to marketing to sales. Your staff may travel a great deal, they may work from remote locations, or they may telecommute in between making statewide sales calls.

How do you make sure that your data is secure when so many of your staff are working from computers that are off-site, whether on mobile devices or on computers in locations other than the company’s offices?

Entrepreneur.com noted that all those far-flung devices can become infected with malware that may also infiltrate the company's network and make off with valuable company data. Mobile devices also are susceptible to data leaks because they can be lost or stolen, as well as more easily accessed by an outsider. When data disappears, financial, legal and reputational problems can quickly follow.

How do you protect mobile devices?

Allan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute, a nonprofit that trains computer security professionals told Entrepreneur.com that most data-stealing malware that infects PCs arrives via the Web and email. In an ideal situation, you'd reduce the chances of a security breach by barring personal Web browsing and emailing by workers on work computers. Of course, even if you provide and own the devices in question, that could be a tall order. "Unfortunately, in practice, it's a very hard thing and a very costly thing to enforce," says Jon Ramsey, chief technology officer at Dell SecureWorks, the security-services unit of Dell Inc. "Ultimately, we want the machine to be able to go anywhere and still be protected."

Mobile devices are susceptible to data leaks because they can be lost or stolen, as well as more easily accessed by an outsider.

Entrepreneur.com advises that to reduce the chances of a malware infection, use security software and practice good computer hygiene by using the latest versions of all applications and installing new security patches immediately. It's risky to rely on workers to take care of updating applications, so activate automatic updates from software makers or use a patch-management tool -- such as Windows Intune for Windows users ($11 per user per month) -- to distribute updates to remote computers yourself.

Encryption software can also prevent unauthorized people from accessing your company data.

Easy Strategies for Data Security

Elizabeth Wasserman, with Every Day Connected.com, also suggests the following steps to keep employees’ data safe while they are telecommuting:

Back up data in the cloud. When staff members are telecommuting, backup is crucial. Try the many cloud services on the Web. They back up new content every night, keep files safe, and allow access from any computer at any time.
Protect computers and critical files. Be sure that employees have antivirus, spyware and firewall programs installed in their computers. Also, keep passwords and ID numbers private so that they don’t fall in the wrong hands.
Seamlessly collaborate with others. Cloud services enable workers to sync automatically to ensure speedy backups. Microsoft’s FolderShare allows employees to synchronize files with each other over the Web.

Firewalls: first line of defense

Network Computing magazine reported that all employees working from home need a secure connection to the corporate network. Workers linking back to the corporate network either via e-mail or by uploading work become an extension of the LAN. As such, the danger of spreading Trojans, viruses or other malicious code rises.

Network Computing said that unfortunately, many telecommuters, especially those working from home, don't consider the threat of security problems that serious. Some users even take it upon themselves to disable desktop firewalls. That's why it's essential to educate home-based telecommuters about proper security measures.

The experts at this magazine advise harsh measures: Let employees know that disabling a virus scanner or firewall is reason for termination, if your company has such a policy (and it should). This sounds extreme, but it's also likely to drive the point home. Fortunately, products are available to help you keep track of whether a managed firewall, virus scanner or VPN policy file is in place each time the user connects back to the corporate network.

VPNs or Virtual Private Networks, grant secure, remote access to internal IT systems for your remote employees as if they were accessing it directly. This is great since users are now able to work remotely without modifying any of the existing IT systems. However, this type of access comes with its risks. Many of the physical security systems in place (walls, locks, limited IP addresses) are no longer in place. Therefore, the system may believe a hacker, one pretending to be a remote worker, is actually within the confines of your business.

Adopt a Policy for Telecommuting

Do you have a telecommuting policy in place for your business? If so, how are you ensuring your remote access networks are safe from malicious attacks?

If your company needs assistance from IT experts about how to properly train your employees who are telecommuting in data security, contact www.TEAMUPIT.com. There are many innovative strategies your firm can employ that will provide safety for your company’s data and give your employees with a sense of security.
Sources:

  1. http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224241
  2. Ibid
  3. http://www.everydayconnected.com/work/keep_data_safe/index.html#.VUDHMJRVhBc
  4. business.highbeam.com/4113/article-1G1-80297983/telecommuting-keeping-data-safe-and-secure-rules-safe
  5. www.waspbarcode.com/buzz/keeping-business-data-secure-telecommuting-employees/
Click to read more

How to Prevent an Internal Data Breach


With all the concerns about outside hackers invading a business and making away with valuable financial and other data, some CEOs overlook the risks involved in a data breach closer to home – an internal one.

In 2014 AT&T announced that an employee, who was subsequently fired, illegally accessed the personal information of up to 1600 customers. Their Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers were compromised.

In a letter to affected customers, Michael Chiaramonte, AT&T’s director of finance billing operations, said that, “We recently determined that one of our employees violated our strict privacy and security guidelines by accessing your account without authorization.” AT&T customers were advised to vigilantly monitor their credit card accounts following the internal hack.

A report issued in the last two years showed that insiders are becoming the most significant reason data breaches proliferate, wrote security expert Robert Siciliano, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, who wrote on American Express.com’s Open Forum.

According to a Forrester Research reported entitled “Understand the State of Data Security and Privacy,” 25 percent of survey respondents said that abuse by a malicious insider was the most common way in which a breach occurred in the past year at their company. Additionally, 36 percent of breaches were caused by employee mistakes, making it the current top cause of most data breaches.

Siciliano cited another report, by MeriTalk, which focused on the federal government. This study found that 49 percent of breaches happen when employees bypass existing security measures, such as when they’re Web surfing or downloading email or other files.

As the owner of a small business, how do you put the right security measures in place? How do you identify which employees need access to critical data resources?

A Forrester Research study found that 25 percent of survey respondents said that abuse by an employee insider was the most common way a breach occurred at their company in the past year.

Siciliano states that data loss prevention (DLP) begins with data discovery, classifying data in need of protection, and then determining what level of risk your company might face. Then you should review the various technologies that can integrate with your existing systems. These include data loss prevention technologies that provide real-time network activity monitoring, as well as system status monitoring from the inside out and the outside in.

How internal breaches happen

Computer Weekly.com said that because there are numerous outlets for data on the modern PC, including USB and Fireware ports, CD and DVD recorders and even built-in storage media clots, malicious employees can now use personal storage devices such as USB memory sticks, iPods, digital cameras and smart phones, to remove or copy sensitive information either for malicious intent or personal gain.

These experts state that organizations need to take a proactive approach and prevent potential breaches while dealing with the challenge that USB storage devices are heavily relied on by businesses to conveniently transport and transfer data.

They advise that through third-party software, IT administrators have the power to be more granular while setting policies. For example, policies can be set to allow “read-only” access on available devices for a specific set of users, while completely allowing or denying access for others.

Further, Computer Weekly advises, these policies can be applied to both local and remote users. Businesses should look for software solutions that can lock all possible avenues of data leakage, and put permissions and policies in place to control who has access to which files, where and when.

Also, to significantly cut the risk of insider breaches, companies must have appropriate systems and processes in place to avoid or reduce human errors caused by inadvertent data leakage, sharing of passwords, and other seemingly harmless actions, said IT Business Edge.com.

To prevent an insider data breach, here are 5 steps to take:

• Establish a safe harbor. Build security directly into the business process, by establishing a safe harbor or vault for highly sensitive data. A digital vault can be set up as a dedicated, hardened server that provides a single data access channel with only one way in and one way out. It is protected with multiple layers of integrated security including a firewall, VPN, authentication, access control, and full encryption.
• Automate privileged identities and activities. Change passwords and administrative identities regularly.
• Identify all your privileged accounts. Create a checklist of operating systems, databases, appliances, routers, servers, directories, and applications throughout the company. Each target system has between one and five privileged accounts. Add them up and determine which pose the greatest risk. With this, create a plan to secure, manage, automatically change, and log all privileged passwords.
• Secure embedded application accounts. Organizations must have effective control of all privileged identities, including application identities, to ensure compliance with security measures.
• Avoid bad habits. Employees must be trained to avoid bad habits, such as sending sensitive or highly confidential information via email or writing down privileged passwords on sticky notes and placing them on their computers. Implementing effective policies and technologies can reduce the risk of internal data breaches.

If you believe that your company could benefit from outside training and consulting regarding how to prevent an internal data breach, contact the experts at www.TEAMUPIT.com. A data breach of any kind can represent a great financial loss for your company, as well as compromise sensitive information. Take the steps today to protect your firm, your financial data, and your employees.
Sources:

  1. http://www.identityguard.com/identity-theft-resources/articles/att-announces-internal-security-breach/
  2. https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/data-breaches-how-to-protect-your-business-from-internal-threats/
  3. Ibid
  4. http://www.computerweekly.com/opinion/How-to-prevent-internal-data-breaches?vgnextfmt=print
  5. http://www.itbusinessedge.com/slideshows/show.aspx?c=82733
  6. http://www.itbusinessedge.com/slideshows/show.aspx?c=82733&slide=6
Click to read more

How Many Small Businesses Get Hacked Every Year?


Do you think that just because you run a small business you are safe from a cyber attack? Did you know that 90 percent of data breaches impact small merchants? Many small businesses can be derailed by the time and expense it takes to recover from a data disaster. According to Forrester/Disaster Recovery Journal, the average time to recover after a disaster is 18.5 hours.

According to a 2013 survey by the National Small Business Association, about 44% of small businesses in the U.S. have been attacked. USA Today reported that small businesses are particularly vulnerable to attacks because many owners believe that they don’t have the time and money to invest in software programs or consulting services to make their systems more secure. Jeff Foresman, a consultant with Rook Security, an Indianapolis-based computer security company, said that a small business owner might not realize an attack can happen from a seemingly harmless source. For example, a perfectly normal-looking email from a friend’s computer that was attacked without the owner’s knowledge could lead to trouble.

Joyce M. Rosenberg, with the Associated Press, advised that there are steps that small businesses can take to shore up defenses and mitigate damage from attacks that get through:

• Hire computer security consultants to evaluate computers and websites and suggest ways to protect them.
• Buy insurance to cover financial losses. Premiums can be as low as $1,000 a year for $1 million in coverage.
• Install free antivirus and anti-malware software available online.
• Add firewalls, which block attempt to access.

About 44% of the small businesses in the U.S. have been hacked, according to a 2013 survey by the National Small Business Association.

“Given that payment data is the target for 65 percent of breaches, small business owners should be concerned by the potential vulnerability of sensitive payment data used to process transactions every day, in multiple ways—in person, online, and even via mobile device,” said tech expert Guy Chiarello in The Huffington Post.

A recent survey of IT security professionals sponsored by Websense and conducted by Ponemon Institute found that half of security professionals believe that their organizations’ security controls do not provide adequate protection against advanced cyber attacks.

The same portion of IT professionals said that executives fail to appreciate the value of putting effective security controls in place, and do not equate a data breach with financial loss, reported Entrepreneur.com. However, financial repercussions of data breaches are huge, an average of $5.4 million per organization, according to the 2014 Websense-Ponemon report.

In a report by First Data, the company stated that actual out-of-pocket costs for a small business merchant could depend on the following factors:

• A mandatory forensic exam – The regulations of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) require that a merchant that is even suspected of having a data breach undergo a forensic exam to determine if a breach has actually occurred, and to what extent. According to Verizon Business, a small business exam may run in the range of $20,000 to $50,000.
• Notification of customers – Most states require that customer, and in many cases, the state attorney general, be notified if financial information is suspected of being compromised in a data breach. Depending on the number of your customers and their locations, the process of sending notifications to them may cost thousands of dollars.
• Credit monitoring for affected customers – You may be required to provide up to a year’s worth of credit monitoring and/or counseling services to credit card customers affected by your breach.
• Upgrade or replacement of POS(retail Point of Sale) system –Depending on what is uncovered to be the source of the breach, you may have to invest in upgrading or replacing your POS system, including servers, software, and/or card swipe devices.

In addition to these expenses, if you are hit by a cyber attack, your firm’s reputation for security and safety will be compromised, and when you have spent so much effort building your brand, this loss is incalculable.

Invest today in making sure that your data is secure, whether you are a small retail merchant or a service business, a law firm or a doctor’s office. Contact the experts at www. TEAMUPIT.com today, and make sure your business, and profits, are secure.
Sources:

  1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/guy-chiarello/five-essential-tips-for-s_b_5310523.html
  2. MCPC Business Continuity
  3. Ibid
  4. http://www/entrepreneur.com/article/235318
  5. http://www.firstdata.com/downloads/thought-leadership/Small_Businesses_Cost_of_a_Data_Breach_Article.pdf
Click to read more

Great IT Strategy – Revised


Do you know what your organization’s vision for technology is? If you are the CIO or CEO of a small or midsized business, you know that CIOs can bring together technology and talent to deliver business outcomes and innovation. Businesses are depending on technology to drive digital transformations. Part of developing a great IT strategy is knowing that you must adapt the culture of the IT organization to strategically, attract and hire the right people. As Accenture.com says, “IT must be a partner in driving business value.”

What is IT strategy? “IT strategy is a comprehensive plan that information technology management professionals use to guide their organizations, “ Search CIO.com wrote.

An IT strategy should cover all facets of technology management, including cost management, human capital management, hardware and software management, vendor management, risk management, and all other considerations in the enterprise IT environment, according to SearchCIO.com.

Executing an IT strategy requires strong IT leadership. Executives need to work closely with business, budget and legal departments as well as with other user groups within the organization.

IT strategy is a comprehensive plan that information technology management professionals use to guide their organizations.

CIOs with New IT Strategies

Many CIOs have been developing new IT strategies for their companies based not just on new technologies available, but on the changing environment. Here are examples of how CIOs adapted a new IT strategy for their firms:

Pershing, financial services consultancy based in Jersey City, N.J. is going to embrace the cloud as part of a corporate strategy to deal with disaster recovery.

After Hurricane Sandy in the fall of 2012, the co-CIO team of Ram Nagappan and Lucille Mayer decided to investigate the cloud more thoroughly. They found the security and costs were in line with their disaster recovery plans. Pershing also plans to make mobile apps and platforms a bigger priority, with the realization that now many companies are making mobile a top priority, especially for employees on touchscreen laptops.

TransPerfect, a translation company that has 2,300 employees with 6,700 contractors in 75 global offices – plans to skip Windows 8 for desktops. But there’s one caveat. George Buelna, the corporate director of IT, says TransPerfect plans to use phablets (phone-tablets) such as the 5.5 inch Nokia Lumia OneNote to add a “wow” factor to sales demonstrations. This kills two birds with one stone: The company can embrace touch technology but also use phablets as a laptop replacement strategy in the field.

How to Develop a Great IT Strategy

No matter what size your business, there are certain steps you can take to develop a great IT strategy.
1. Revisit Your Business Model –This model should explain how the different pieces of a business fit together, and ensures that everyone in an organization is focused on the kind of value a company wants to create. Only when the business model is clear, can strategies be developed to explain how a company will deliver value in a unique way. It is essential that all managers, including IT and business managers, completely understand how their business as a whole works.

2. Adopt Strategic Themes –IT strategy is about carefully crafted programs that focus on developing specific business capabilities. Themes give both business and IT managers a broad yet focused topic of interest. By grouping IT and business programs around a few key themes, managers find it easier to track and direct important strategic threads in a company’s development.

3. Get The Right People Involved – Senior managers in high performing companies take a leadership role in IT decision-making. Getting the right people involved means getting business managers and key stakeholders involved in IT strategy.

4. Work in Partnership with the Business—Successful strategy demands a true partnership between IT and business. Effective strategizing is about continuous and dynamic synchronization of capabilities. IT programs need synchronizing with business strategy, not just from a philosophical level but also down to an individual project level.

If your company needs assistance in developing a great IT strategy for your firm, contact the experts at www.TEAMUPIT.com. An outside perspective not only provides fresh ideas and solutions but can stimulate and inspire your entire IT department.
Sources:

  1. http://www.accenture.com/us-en/Pages/insight-shaping-it-workforce-future.aspx?c=str_usdelnewitpsgs&n=IT_Workforce_of_the_Future_-_US&KW
  2. http://searchcio.techtarget.com/definition/IT-strategy-information-technology-strategy
  3. Ibid
  4. http://www.cio.com/article/2388791/cio-role/6-cios-share-their-strategic-visions-for-2013.html
  5. http://jitm.ubalt.edu/XVIII-1/article4.pdf
Click to read more

You’re Playing with Fire If you Don’t Have a Disaster Recovery Plan


As the CEO of a small or midsized business, it’s up to you to make sure that all departments are running smoothly, that your staff is productive and feels secure, and that you are increasing profits annually.

At the core of all your business is Information Technology. Your employees are using email and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) telephone systems to communicate. Your data regarding orders and payments are transmitted via electronic data interchange (EDI). Desktop computers, laptops and wireless devices are used by your staff to create, process, manage and communicate information.

Given this reality, you must have a disaster recovery plan, because IT is so central to your business that you cannot afford to have IT stop working. And just because you run a small business, do not think that you will escape a hack attack.

The 2012 Data Breach Investigations Study by Verizon shows that in 855 data breaches they examined, 71 percent occurred in businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Verizon’s 2013 Report shows attacks on small business increasing in record numbers as well.

Ready.gov, the government website, advises that an information technology disaster recovery plan (IT DRP) should be developed in conjunction with the business continuity plan. Priorities and recovery time objectives for information technology should be developed during the business impact analysis. Technology recover strategies should be developed to restore hardware, applications and data in time to meet the needs of business recovery.

You are aware, as CEO, that some data in your computers is vital to the survival and continued operation of your business. The impact of data loss or corruption from hardware failure, human error, hacking or malware could be significant. A plan for data backup and restoration of electronic information is essential.

In Verizon’s study on data breaches, more than 71% occurred in businesses with fewer than 100 employees.

Hack Attacks on Small Business Rising

According to a study by the Ponemon Institute in 2012, more than 78% of organizations have suffered from at least one data breach over the past two years. TrendMicro published a report listing 5 reasons why small and medium-sized businesses may be on the brink of a data breach.

They reported that employee negligence is often the cause of a data breach. Also, the majority of small and midsized businesses do not do enough to protect their data. Less than 50% of these businesses routinely back up data. This puts them at risk. Also, small and medium-sized businesses do not enforce data security policies. Knowing “who, what, when and how” data is accessed is key.

How to Develop a Disaster Recovery Plan

Ready.gov advises that because IT systems require hardware, software, data, and connectivity, without one component of the “system,” the system may not run. Therefore, they advise that recovery strategies should be developed to anticipate the loss of one or more of the following components:

• Computer room environment (secure computer room with climate control, conditioned and backup power supply, etc.)
• Hardware (networks, servers, desktop and laptop computers, wireless devices and peripherals)
• Software applications
• Data and restoration
• Connectivity to a service provider (fiber, cable, wireless, etc.)

Other Data Recovery Strategies

Among your Internal Recovery Strategies you should consider that many businesses have access to more than one facility. Hardware at an alternate facility can be configured to run similar hardware and software applications when needed. Assuming data is backed up off-site or data is mirrored between the two sites, data can be restored at the alternate site and processing can continue.

Other recovery plans include Vendor-Supported Recovery Strategies. There are vendors that can provide “hot sites” for IT disaster recovery. These sites are fully configured data centers with commonly used hardware and software products. Data streams, data security services and applications can be hosted and managed by vendors. This information can be accessed at the primary business site or any alternate site using a web browser.

You want to make sure that your IT security is state-of-the-art, that your IT systems are up-to-date with the latest technologies, and that your company has a disaster recovery plan in case of a data breach or other crisis. If your IT department needs assistance creating the disaster recovery plan, contact the experts at www.TEAMUPIT.com. Don’t wait a moment longer to get this plan in place!
Sources:

  1. http://www.ready.gov/business/implementation/IT
  2. www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnapperconner/2013/09/14/are-you-prepared-71-of-cyber-attacks-hit-small-business/
  3. Ibid
  4. http://www.trendmicro.com/cloud-content/us/pdfs/security-intelligence/white-papers/sb_5-reasons-why-small-business-lose-critical-data.pdf
Click to read more

Are Defense Contractors Ready to Stand Up to Chinese Hackers?


Following the cyber attack on health insurance giant Anthem early in 2015, intelligence officials and others told The Washington Post that state-sponsored Chinese hackers were behind the attack. That is worrisome for everyone, but no industry is more under threat than U.S. defense contractors. Security experts believe that information from large-scale hacks could be used to create well-rounded profiles of potential espionage targets –part of a relatively new kind of dual-pronged hacking attack that is also plaguing financial institutions.

The same basic method used by hackers interested in financial gain could also be used by a hostile intelligence agency to compile dossiers of personal information on potential targets with the government or a defense contractor. “If you have a rich database of proclivities, health concerns and other personal information, it looks, from a Chinese intelligence perspective, as a way to augment human collection,” a Crowdstrike executive told Bloomberg.

In early 2011 unknown hackers broke into the security networks of Lockheed Martin Corp. and several other U.S. military contractors, a source with direct knowledge of the attacks told Reuters news service. They breached security systems designed to keep out intruders by creating duplicates to “SecurID” electronic keys from EMC Cop.’s RSA security division, said a person with knowledge of the matter.

It was not immediately clear what kind of data the hackers stole. But the networks of Lockheed and other military contractors contain sensitive data on future weapons systems as well as military technology currently used in battles in Iraq and the Middle East.

Reuters reported that weapons makers are the latest companies to be breached through sophisticated attacks that have pierced the defenses of huge corporations including Sony and EMC. Security experts say that it is virtually impossible for any company or government agency to build a security network hackers will be unable to penetrate. EMC declined to comment on the matter, as did executives at major defense contractors.

The same basic methods hackers have used on financial companies can be used to compile dossiers of personal information on potential targets from defense contractors.

In his State of the Union address in January, 2015, President Obama urged Congress to pass legislation to help battle the cyber spies, thieves and saboteurs that have wreaked havoc at major U.S. financial institutions and other companies. The proposed bill would enhance information sharing between government and the private sector.

The Los Angeles Times reported that some defense contractors now see an opportunity to tap into a rapidly growing digital arms race in the private sector, both at home and abroad. The stakes are potentially huge. Gartner, an information technology research firm, estimates that governments and companies around the globe will spend $77 billion this year on cyber protection, and that the tally will grow by 8% a year for the next decade.

Lockheed Martin Corp., best known for building warships and fighter jets, has developed a fast-growing business segment providing cyber security services to more than 200 other companies. Over the last decade, U.S. aerospace and defense firms have raced to develop secure computer systems to stave off persistent threats from cyber spies from Russia, China and other countries, according to the L.A. Times.

Hackers hit defense companies through real-time ad bidding

ComputerWorld magazine reported last fall that hackers have embraced a major change in how online advertisements are sold. The new processes are using advanced ad-targeting capabilities to precisely deliver malware. Security vendor Invincea said it has detected many instances of people within defense and aerospace companies stumbling across malicious advertisements that are shown only to them, a scheme it calls “Operation DeathClick.” Cybercriminals are signing with ad brokers to participate in real-time ad bidding, said ComputerWorld.

In one example, a person who worked for a defense contractor browsed to the Shootersforum.com, a website for gun enthusiasts. A bogus ad for a gun dealer in Missouri was shown by the exchange OpenX, which automatically redirected to a free hosting site that had an exploit kit. That kit tried to exploit vulnerability in Microsoft’s Silverlight multimedia platform and likely then tries to install a backdoor, which is a program that allows for persistent access to a compromised machine.

If you run a small business that you believe might be exposed to hack attacks, you need to be diligent in installing the right security methods to keep all your data safe. For more information, contact the experts at www.TEAMUPIT.com.
Sources:

  1. http://qz.com/340067/why-the-us-government-should-be-freaked-out-by-the-anthem-hacking-attack/
  2. Ibid
  3. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/27/us-usa-defense-hackers-idUSTRE74Q6VY20110527
  4. http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-0122-cyber-defense-20150122-story.html
  5. http://www.computerworld.com/article/2834927/hackers-strike-defense-companies-through-real-time-ad-bidding.html
Click to read more

Can Big Data Help Small Businesses?


We have all heard a great deal in the media about the role of big data and corporations. However, did you know that big data could help small businesses, too?

Inc. magazine writer Kevin Kelleher says, “Until very recently, such data could be used only by the giants. Now, thanks to falling tech costs and new tools that display complex databases…smaller companies can unlock many more secrets from data.” A small business’ database can be cross-referenced with the expanding galaxy of information drawn not just social networks, but on government databases, usage patterns on mobile devices and other sources, says Kelleher.

Companies ranging from established giants such as IBS, SAS, and Microsoft to startups such as Tranzlogic and Kaggle offer affordable, cloud-based data-crunching services. Today all sizes of companies can utilize these to mine their big data.

A Real Estate Company Sees an Increase in Business

As an example of a small business accessing big data in a productive way, Kelleher offered the example of the family-owned Twiddy & Co. Realtors in the seaside village of Duck, NC. Many visitors to Duck find vacation rentals through Twiddy & Co. Like many companies, Twiddy had amassed years of operational data inside spreadsheets, where it was all buried.

Marketing director Ross Twiddy needed a good way of look at the data to make wise decisions. Through a meaningful big data strategy, Twiddy distilled the company’s spreadsheets into a customizable format the company could share with homeowners and contractors. Before, Twiddy could tell homeowners the dates when their property was available to rent. Using new tools, the company now can offer pricing recommendations pinpointed down to the week, based on market conditions, seasonal trends, the size and location of the home, and other criteria.

Using big data in this skillful way has helped Twiddy increase the inventory it manages more than 10 percent in the last three years. Twiddy hoped its big data spending would pay for itself in three years. The company met that goal in year one.

Many Solutions for Small Businesses

BusinessNewsDaily writer Sara Angeles made other suggestions for small businesses that want to reap the benefits of the online and offline information available to grow their companies. In addition to Tranzlogic, which Kelleher suggested, her recommendations are:

1. IBM’s Watson Analytics – This self-service analytics solution includes a suite of data access, data refinement and data warehousing services, giving you all the tools you need to prepare and present data yourself in a simple and actionable way to guide decision-making.
2. Google Analytics –Google’s free Web-traffic-monitoring tool provides all types of data about website visitors, using a multitude of metrics and traffic sources. By tracking and analyzing visitor behavior – such as where traffic is coming from, how audiences engage and how long visitors stay on a website – you can make decisions when striving to meet your website’s goals.
3. InsightSquared –InsightSquared connects to popular business solutions you probably already use – such as Salesforce, QuickBooks, ShoreTel Sky, Google Analytics, Zendesk and more – to automatically gather data and extract actionable information. InsightSquared starts at $65 per user per month.
4. Canopy Labs – Canopy Labs, a customer analytics platform, uses customer behavior, sales trends and predictive behavioral models to extract valuable information for future marketing campaigns.
5. Qualtrics –Qualtrics lets businesses conduct a wide range of studies and surveys to gain quality insights to guide data-drive decision-making. It uses its survey software for customer satisfaction, customer experience and website feedback surveys.

If your business needs help deciding which way to go to gather, analyze and make sense of the data you already have, consider outsourcing to the experts at TEAMUP IT. Contact www.TEAMUPIT.com to discover ways we can help you.
Sources:

  1. http://www.inc.com/magazine/201407/kevin-kelleher/how-small-businesses-can-mine-big-data.html
  2. Ibid
  3. http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6358-big-data-solutions.html
Click to read more

Get Agile to Reduce Cost


One of the sales sheets I wrote was on workflow management, which is using software to improve work processes. It’s something Mike and his team does well. It seems this term can fit in here. Weave it in, and perhaps even put it in the title.

Every business leader deals with a constantly changing environment. As circumstances change, a business must adapt or fall behind. This skill is often referred to as agility, and it’s one that a good IT infrastructure can achieve.

An agile company stays ahead of the competition and even finds savings in optimized processes. Achieving this kind of agility is not a quick fix, though. Here are some practical steps to move you toward true company-wide agility:

1. Secure Your Systems
The quickest way to lose agility is to have your cyber security infiltrated. With data breaches up 21% over last year, it has never been more important to secure your systems and data. Read more about protecting your company.

2. Virtualize Incrementally
Moving your tech resources, support, and storage into a virtual environment is a viable way to optimize office functions. 70% of senior executives say virtualization has significantly impacted efficiency and cost savings. It’s vital to collaborate with your CIO on this, however. The jump into the cloud can be costly if it’s not done carefully. Make sure this move is planned and incremental. We can help.

3. Establish a Device Use Policy
The various devices employees bring to work distract from productivity, eats up bandwidth on your network, and increases the chances of your company’s data being breached. Look up statistic for how many data breaches are caused from internal sources. I think it’s 80%. This doesn’t mean employees shouldn’t bring in their own devices, but [Delete highlighted section. Separate topic] establishing a formal device use policy is a vital step to gaining company-wide agility.

4. Use IT to Increase Productivity
Your IT department can effectively increase productivity throughout your company. Consider Amazon.com, which uses an employee tracker system to measure the performance of its employees. Consider [Repetitive from last sentence]implementing a similar system to provide team leaders with data on each employee’s productivity and practices. It adds a competitive edge to the work environment, it reduces waste, and it makes every department in the company more responsive and agile.

Sources:
http://www.cioinsight.com/it-strategy/cloud-virtualization/slideshows/useful-virtualization-stats-trends-and-practices.html#sthash.7BrZjAvu.dpuf
http://www.fiercecio.com/story/data-breaches-21-past-year/2014-07-15

Click to read more

Human Error and Data Security


With big-box cyber security breaches constantly hitting the news, it’s easy to think of data security as a chess match between malicious hackers and steely IT security professionals. That’s part of it, of course, but in fact a hacker’s way in is usually provided by an insider.

95% of all security incidents involve human error, according to IBM’s 2014 Cyber Security Index. The vast majority of breaches involve employees being tricked into providing sensitive information, bringing malware into the company’s system, and enabling the theft of intellectual property. Before you go looking for traitors in your ranks, it’s important to note that a Vormetric report suggests that this is mostly accidental. Chances are, your employees never mean to leave a chink in your digital armor.

Accidental or not, these errors leading to security breaches are extremely costly. Lowering the rate of human error is a surefire way to improve the integrity of your cyber security system.

Here are a few practical steps you can take:

1. Make Sure You’ve Got the Right IT Staff
Of course, your data security begins and ends with your IT staff. Make sure you have knowledgeable, proactive, and responsive IT professionals in your ranks. Team Up can help with that.

2. Install Protective Tech
Collaborate with your IT staff to install technology that will help prevent human error from causing security breaches. Measures such as heightened email security software can help protect from malware that employees might unknowingly open.

3. Educate Your Staff
Collaborate with your IT staff to educate every employee in every department. Make sure each one knows how to spot potential threats and how to respond. Team UP IT is familiar with these training sessions and can help educate your staff in how to prevent internal data breaches.

4. Educate Your Staff Again
Data security is not a box you check once a year. New threats emerge every day, so your staff will need to be kept up to date. IT staff should crosstrain in other industries, receive continuing education on information security, and ensure that security efforts are continuing to maintain a positive Return on Investment for the company. Make data security a regular part of office conversation.

Source:
http://securityintelligence.com/the-role-of-human-error-in-successful-security-attacks/#.VDKgncflc7A

Click to read more

4 Ways Your IT Department Can Be a Catalyst To Maximize Profit


Do you have an IT staff that is preparing for the next era of business? It’s still vital that your day-to-day needs like system security, reliability, and speed are seen to, but your IT staff can do much more than that for your business. In the new era of business, the quality and effectiveness of your IT infrastructure will put you ahead of your competitors, or hold you behind.

In a survey by IBM, more than 70% of senior IT executives agreed that IT infrastructure is vital to enabling competitive advantage or optimizing revenue and profit. It’s one thing for IT professionals are thinking that way, but executives on the marketing side of the aisle agree as well. CEOs now consistently agree that technology is the leading external force affecting business.

Despite that change in the conversations around IT, only about 30% of companies report having the IT infrastructure ready to capitalize on these new trends.

Here are some first steps to join the companies that are pioneering the collaboration between IT and marketing.

Step 1: Recognize the Opportunities
Establish some foundational assumptions throughout your business, so that each department is on the same page in preparing for some changes.

Step 2: Make Sure You Have the Staff You Need
It’s not enough for CEOs and CMOs to recognize the increasing value of technology. Your IT staff must to be willing to think beyond back-end functions. Team Up can help with this.

Step 3: Collaborate with Your CIO
A great CIO is a business leader who specializes in technology. Make sure your CMO speaks digital, make sure your CIO speaks marketing, and enable their collaboration.

Step 4: Invest in Your IT Infrastructure
An effective infrastructure will take time and money to develop. Prepare for breaches and breakdowns. Educate yourself and your staff on the cloud. Work to connect back-end functions with front-end interactions with customers.

main source: http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/infrastructure/us/en/it-infrastructure-matters/it-infrastructure-report.html

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Why Would a Hacker Want to Attack My Business?


If you run a small business, you are most likely focused on many big issues: your sales and marketing, distribution channels, hiring good staff, and meeting profit objectives.

The last thing you want to worry about is a hack attack destroying the security of your data.

Yet, just because you run a small business, do not think that you will escape such an attack.

The 2012 Data Breach Investigations Study by Verizon shows that in 855 data breaches they examined, 71 percent occurred in businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Verizon’s 2013 Report shows attacks on small business increasing in record numbers as well.

Vikas Bhatia of Kalki Consulting in New York shared some interesting stories with Forbes magazine.

A three-person company being incubated from a shared space in downtown Manhattan recently fell victim to the theft of its three Mac Air computers, when a petty thief managed to walk the three machines out the door. Where was their business data? You guessed it. On the company laptops. No backup. In an instant, the business lost a year and a half of research and development by each of the three.

Another recent incident Bhatia reported: An employee in a small business had taken data she shouldn’t have had access to from the company’s owner. When Bhatia’s team investigated, however, they found something even more alarming: over a three month period there had also been three and a half thousand scurrilous attempts to enter the company’s website from locations all over the world.

“Who is designing and setting up your company’s website?” Bhatia asks. “We see all of these small businesses working with service providers spinning up sites for them on platforms like WordPress, but is the developer of the site or the group helping you protecting you from the risks that exist for these platforms, or are they even aware?”

Steven Saslow, of Information Technology Group, stresses that knowing how hackers attack and why they do it is key to providing security for your firm.

Organizations may face insurmountable financial liabilities if they lose sensitive data in a hack attack.

Saslow maintains that the largest resource of information on how to do anything is the Internet. A decent number of hackers come from those officially trained in the IT field.

A fair amount of hackers are also completely self-trained through the tools available online: technical manuals, text books, lessons, functional programs and example scripts.

Saslow also writes, “It might be surprising, but hackers receive a large amount of their information from IS developers and the targets themselves. Any piece of information available on a security website is also readily available to any hacker.”

And why do hackers hack? Saslow states that some merely want to gain personal fame, cause havoc, or test their skills. Others want to find sensitive information for their enjoyment or financial gain.

Saslow stresses the following that is of importance to you as the CEO of a small business:

  • The number of malicious attackers on the Internet is rising.
  • Hackers learn through a variety of methods, including the Internet, college, underground communities, and technical documents.
  • The best way to prevent your business from a hacker attack is to implement a data security system.


Employee Negligence Can Lead to Attack

According to a study by the Ponemon Institute in 2012, more than 78% of organizations have suffered from at least one data breach over the past two years.

Organizations may face insurmountable financial liabilities if they lose sensitive data.

Trend Micro published a report listing 5 reasons why small and medium-sized businesses may be on the brink of a data breach:

  • Employee negligence puts an organization at risk. Employees’ tendency to open attachments to or click links embedded in spam, or to not frequently change their passwords, pub business data at risk.
  • The majority of small and medium-sized business said that they can’t do enough to protect their data using the measures and technology they currently implement.
  • 56% of employees very frequently store sensitive data on their laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.
  • Less than 50% of small and medium-sized businesses routinely back up data. This puts them at risk.
  • Small and medium-sized businesses do not enforce data security policies. Knowing “who, what, when and how” data is accessed is key.

If any of these behaviors sound familiar to you or to others in your organization, it’s time to bring in the experts to make sure that your data is secure.

Contact www.TEAMUPIT.com for more information.

  1. www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2013/09/14/are-you-prepared-71-of-cyber-attacks-hit-small-business/
  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid
  4. Ibid
  5. http://www.itgct.com/blog/bid/242225/How-do-Hackers-Learn-to-Attack
  6. Ibid
  7. Ibid
  8. http://www.trendmicro.com/cloud-content/us/pdfs/security-intelligence/white-papers/sb_5-reasons-why-small-business-lose-critical-data.pdf
  9. Ibid
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Good IT Generates Profits, Reduces Costs, and Guards Against Cyber Crime


Ten years ago it may have made sense to think of IT as just a patch-and-prevent maintenance department. Today though, the digital revolution has rendered that strategy useless. Today’s best business leaders know that an unleveraged IT department is more than just a drain on resources; it’s a drain on profits.

93% of CEOs believe that their IT department will play a critical business role in 2015



Of course it’s one thing for CEOs to pay lip service to an industry, and it’s another how those CEOs spend their resources. Perhaps the greatest indicator of how vital IT has become is that 48% of CEOs plan to increase their IT budget in 2015, with only 5% planning to decrease. With a laser focus on ROI, today’s CEOs know that a potent IT team can position each department to generate greater profits, waste less resources, and be more efficient at their jobs.

Here are three ways good IT revolutionizes a business.

1. Good IT Collaborates to Generate Profit
Well beyond security and tech maintenance, good IT can and should fuel profits across all departments of a company.



95% of CEOs now believe that their IT department is responsible for delivering on ROI.



Good IT delivers on this responsibility by streamlining workflow in each department. This allows employees across the company to focus on tasks that make money, rather than tasks that drain time and energy and can be done more efficiently by automation or by other staff.

2. Good IT Keeps Costs Down
Effectively leveraged IT is key to keeping costs low.



70% of senior executives say virtualization has significantly impacted efficiency and cost savings.



Good IT uses software to analyze your employees productivity and provides that data to managers. This data can then be used to eliminate waste from workflows, allowing for a stronger, more competitive workforce across all departments. Good IT makes every department better, bringing entire companies and organizations to new levels of agility and efficiency.

3. Good IT Keeps Companies Secure
What good does it do to make and save money if hackers take it all away? Guarding against cyber crime is harder than ever.

Data breaches in America are up 21% since last 2013 . At the global scale, approximately 120,000 security incidents occur every day. Oftentimes it is easier for hackers to attack hundreds of smaller companies than focus on one large, newsworthy company that will spawn an investigation.

Keeping a company safe takes more than just installing good security software. Every IT employee should receive training across industries to stay on top of the latest threats and how they can creep into your system. A good IT department is vigilant and up to date, always ready to respond to the newest threat.

But not all security breaches come from the outside.

95% of all security incidents involve employee error.



Most cyber breaches start when a staff member unknowingly lets malware into your system, or accidentally sends sensitive information to hackers. To keep your company safe, a good IT leader collaborates with all departments to provide the education and security software necessary to limit employee error and keep hackers out.

Sources:

  • Modis IT Staffing.
  • CIO Insight.
  • Identity Theft Resource Center.
  • IBM's 2014 Cyber Security Index.
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Move to the Cloud and Cut Costs Without Turbulence


The excitement surrounding cloud computing is wholly deserved. The industry is growing with incredible speed, and various studies reveal the benefits. Moving to the cloud saved money for 82% of companies, and allowed 84% of CIOs to cut application costs. In what industry? Good stat- it deserves more.

Cloud computing can also ameliorate staff collaboration and improve the customer experience from sale and customer service to feedback and follow-through. For example, companies with contact centers in the cloud cut annual costs by 27%, and improve their rate of first-contact resolution by as much as 22%. No wonder the industry has grown over 300% in just six years.

Moving to the cloud is not without turbulence. After moving to the cloud, 14% of companies downsize their IT department. Trouble with personnel and processes hampers cloud adoption for more than half of the companies who try it. That’s to say nothing of IT-related issues that can come with such a significant system overhaul.

It’s vital to look ahead at potential IT issues that can come from a switch to the cloud and proactively address them. Here are three practical steps you can take to reduce turbulence on your way to the cloud, and better take advantage of the services once there.

1. Collaborate With Your IT Staff
Leverage your CIO’s knowledge and skill to make a detailed plan for your move to the cloud. Don’t just focus on your short-term needs. Choose a cloud service that will allow you to start with a few apps and expand from there. Team UP can help with those plans.

2. Prepare For System Crashes
Outages are inevitable, so implement a comprehensive backup and business resumption plan to protect your company from costly downtime. Sooner or later, you will be thankful that you did.

3. Include the Rest of Your Staff
Rather than blindsiding your staff with cloud implementation, bring them along in the process. Listen to their feedback. Demonstrate the improved collaboration and workflow efficiency to be gained in the cloud.

Sources:
http://blog.icorps.com/50-it-facts-that-you-didnt-know-were-true
http://www.cioinsight.com/it-strategy/cloud-virtualization/slideshows/11-facts-you-need-to-know-about-the-cloud.html/#sthash.x5jADRsN.dpuf

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