SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

MS Hope for a Cure

MS Cure


I have been on the board of MS Hope for a Cure since 2007 and this year I wanted to share some additional info on where your money has gone and how you have helped to make a difference so far.

MS Hope for a Cure, an organization with only two full-time employees, has had a huge impact in providing funds for research and support for individuals suffering from MS.

Since Inception in 2007, MS Hope has raised over $9.6 million and in turn, funded 110 grants to support a variety of programs and services.

Examples of critical research funded towards finding new treatments and eventually a cure for MS:

  • Provided a $300,000 grant to help launch the National MS Society’s Fast Forward. The biggest hurdle in moving potential treatments forward is securing the necessary early investments and resources for commercial development.  Fast Forward investments propel new therapies forward by providing the necessary funding to ensure that promising treatments don’t languish on a dusty shelf.
  • Provided a $220,000 grant for the National MS Society’s Pilot Research Program. The Society initiated the pilot research program in 1987 to provide a mechanism to encourage new, innovative research on multiple sclerosis.  The fiscal environment forced this program to be put on hold in June 2008. This grant allowed the vital program to resume in 2010.


  • Provided over $600,000 in Stem Cell grants for research focused on the development of non-embryonic stem cell therapies to help stop and repair MS.  This is an extremely promising area for people living with progressive MS and we are excited to be helping to propel it forward.
  • Provided a $500,000 grant to fund research specific to the progressive forms of the disease as the first foundation member of the International Progressive MS Alliance.

Examples of programs and services we are proud to have funded:

  • Provided access to free psychiatric support to anyone living with MS by fully funding an MS Psychiatric Position at Mount Sinai Hospital.
  • Provided $185,000 in college scholarships to students living with Multiple Sclerosis to enable them to focus on their studies without having to take on the stress of a part-time job.
  • Provided over $100,000 over 4 years via the National MS Society Crisis Services program to ensure that everyone living with Multiple Sclerosis in the New York area had a working air conditioner.
  • Provided the following programs, services and grants to help people living with MS, which due to budget constraints were cut by the National MS Society in the Tristate area.
    • Personnel support for social workers and nurses at over 10 local MS Centers
    • Funding for free exercise programs during the winter months. In many cases, these classes were the only opportunities for people with more advanced mobility issues to leave the house and socialize with others.
    • Creating an Annual Research and Wellness Symposium as part of MS Hope Day by bringing in MS experts in a variety of areas to provide the latest information on current research directly to the people to whom it matters most.

Please support me and this vital work by taking a moment to donate and sponsor me today.  Simply click here right now to make a secure donation online and give what you can; everything helps.

Thank you for joining me in the fight against MS! Together we can make a difference.

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EMA Releases IT Service Management Research Repor


Enterprise Management Associates, an IT and data management research and consulting firm, released today “WhEnterprise Management Association logoat is the Future of IT Service Management?,” a report that found IT service management is needed more than ever as the IT industry becomes increasingly service-centered.

“Research is always an exploration—you never know for sure just what you’ll find. So it was exciting to see how strongly this research data reinforces the value of a more progressive and transformative approach to ITSM technologies, processes, and organizational interactions across all of IT,” vice president of research Dennis Drogseth said.

With almost 50 percent of ITSM organizations set to grow, the research suggests a progressive or reactive track for ITSM teams, with separate profiles and investment platforms.

The full report is available here, and journalists can request a complimentary copy This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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Brands Don’t Know Customers, Study Finds: What Brands Don’t Know Hurts Them

The perception gap between how effective businesses think their marketing strategies are and the customer’s IBM-logo1experience is wide, with 80 percent of consumers saying the average brand doesn’t understand them as an individual.

IBM today announced results of the IBM and Econsultancy study, “Listening to the Customer: 7 New Research Findings,” which discovered deep divides between consumers and companies. The gap between the two results in costly loss of revenue for shopping websites and service providers, among others.

Successful marketers will combine the online and offline presence of the company, creating a continuous, exceptional experience. Investing in marketing innovations, IBM Commerce general manager Deepak Advani said, will give teams the ability to gain insight to demographic and experience information vital for personalizing consumers’ experiences and retaining business.

“The fundamental thinking behind digital marketing has shifted. The goal of providing the right message to the right person at the right time is now just a part of the larger puzzle. The real challenge is providing the right experience for the right person at a time that’s right for them,” said Stefan Tornquist, Vice President Research for the Americas at Econsultancy. “At the center of it all is the marriage of marketing and technology and a commitment to innovation that’s driven by individual customer needs.”

Two parallel online surveys including marketers from more than 275 consumer companies and 1,135 consumers, respectively, contributed to the development of the report, available in full here.



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Death by 1000 Cloud Apps

“There’s an app for that.” We’ve all heard it: the jingoistic catchphrase Apple users have been repeating for years. It’s consumer-oriented marketing drivel, but it’s powerful drivel because it carries more than a grain of truth. It’s also becoming true in the business market as app proliferation spreads exponentially with the addition of hundreds or even thousands of new offerings each year.

The examples are too easy to point out. Which public cloud vendor are you using, Microsoft, Amazon, Google? Or are you going with a smaller vendor or a private cloud or no cloud at all? Which BDR solution do you prefer? Which PSA? Which RMM? Which office productivity package? Which phone system? Which security vendor? There are dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of vendors offering each of these solutions.

Businesses are presented with the ever increasing challenge of selecting the best app for their business, no mean task considering the proliferation of apps that take vertical segmentation to an extreme. That done the challenge is passed along to the IT support team – whether internal or an outsourced service provider like a VAR or MSP – who then has to install and maintain the new solution.

Intermedia  and Osterman Research have released a new study and infographic that highlights the problem for SMBs. The report, “Death by 1000 Cloud Apps,” found that the average SMB is managing more than 14 cloud apps, with an average of 5.5 apps per user. According to the report, this leads to four main problems for SMBs:

Too much choice – Teams can spend months of valuable time vetting and deploying all of these cloud apps, distracting them from their most important goals/responsibilities.

Too much to manage – Once deployed, these apps must be managed, and that time adds up fast; if you have 15 people using the average of 5.5 apps each, that’s 82.5 accounts that will need to be managed on an ongoing basis.

Too many logins – This impacts team productivity outside of IT as well. It takes an average of 20 seconds to login to an app; that means that a 75-person SMB can rack up more than 570 wasted hours and $13,900 per year in lost productivity.

Too much risk – When forced to choose between security and productivity, security usually takes a back seat. This leads to lazy, risky password selections that are easily breached, leaving companies at risk.

Michael Osterman“The fundamental issue here is that organizations are losing control over their content and their ability to control applications use,” says Mike Osterman, adding that in many small organizations people download their own apps, creating a bring-your-own-app situation much like the Bring Your Own Device movement that has played havoc with IT infrastructures over the past three years. Osterman calls it “BYOA” (app) or “BYOC” (cloud).

For example, some who needs to share large files might install Dropbox. But what if the person in the next cubicle prefers Google Drive? Or Skydrive? Or SugarSync? Or SpiderOak? Or iCloud? Or LogMeIn Cubby? get the idea.

While the ability to simply go out, find what you need and use it makes individuals more efficient, it causes serious problems for organizations, says Osterman. “Now if you have to search for that content it’s going to be very difficult. If you have to find content to respond to a lawsuit or maybe an employee has left the company, you can’t find their work. And from a security perspective if you have multiple apps in use, especially doing the same things, you have a lot more attack surface.

“The fundamental issue is that most orgs want to get away from this problem. They want to consolidate on a smaller number of apps. It’s just that they don’t know where to start.”

So how do you address the problem without denying staffers the value offered by the apps in question?

“We recommend that don’t start with a vendor, but rather start with a policy,” counsels Osterman. “Find out what (your staffers) are using and why and then use that to develop a policy that will provide the functionality they need. It starts with sitting down and thinking about the issue in a really cohesive way.”

Michael-Gold-120x120Another solution is to pass the whole problem off to a vendor like Intermedia, which simplifies app management by doing all the selection, integration and management work for you and provides an all-inclusive service with a single sign-on. The SMB gets a single subscription service which includes most of the major applications – email, conferencing, security, collaboration, telecommunications, etc.

“If you’re a SMB the value we provide is that rather than having to go out to 12 different vendors, negotiate the deal, migrate people, deal with multiple support organizations and multiple control panels, we provide all that in a tightly integrated way. All the apps work with each other,” says Intermedia CEO Michael Gold.


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Enterprise Mobility research from Gartner and CompTIA highlights opportunities, challenges for MSPs

Comptia logoIf you were wondering why Microsoft felt a need to “remind” everyone that they are a player in the Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) market last week, you didn’t have to wait long. A couple of key EMM studies were released this week including interesting new research from CompTIA, which highlights potential business opportunities for solutions providers, and Gartner Group’s EMM Magic Quadrant.

The MQ provides a snapshot of the EMM vendor landscape, grading each vendor by completeness of vision and ability to execute and then labeling them – Leaders, Challengers, Visionaries and Niche Players – based on their capabilities. Fourteen vendors get some love from Gartner, from leaders MobileIron and IBM to niche players Tangoe and Landesk. Microsoft isn’t mentioned, despite making several EMM moves late in 2013 (The company has stated that it is confident it will be included next year).

Gartner defines EMM as the following:

“Enterprise mobility management (EMM) suites consist of policy and configuration management tools and a management overlay for applications and content intended for mobile devices based on smartphone OSs. They are an evolution from previous generation MDM products that lacked application and content management. IT organizations and service providers use EMM suites to deliver IT support to mobile end users and to maintain security policies.”

Gartner logoAccording to Gartner, an EMM suite provides hardware inventory, application inventory, OS configuration management, mobile app deployment, mobile app configuration and policy management, remote view and control for troubleshooting, execute remote actions and mobile content management.

The vendors:

Leaders: AirWatch, MobileIron, Citrix, Good Technology and IBM.

Challengers: SAP.

Visionaries: SOTI, Symantec and Sophos.

Niche Players: Blackberry, Tangoe, LANDesk, Absolute Software and Globo.

Gartner expects the EMM to continue evolving and thus posing challenges for vendors and service providers. “As enterprises' use of mobility becomes increasingly complex, their requirements to protect data and support users will become more complex as well.”

Meanwhile CompTIA’s Third Annual Trends in Enterprise Mobility found that while many organizations are pushing aggressively ahead with mobility programs, many are facing significant challenges – challenges that could mean major opportunities for service providers.

Key findings:

Among companies that provide mobile devices, 76 percent provide smartphones and 61 percent provide tablets, implying that many workers are operating in a threedevice environment.

More than 70 percent of all companies, regardless of BYOD stance, have made some level of investment in mobile devices and technologies.

There has been no significant progress in building formal mobility policies over the past year. Just 30 percent of companies have such a policy in place.

Security is one of the top challenges for companies, including the ability to centrally monitor and control security; and poor security implementation by end users.

Essentially, managing mobility – from procurement to management – is a major challenge for many organizations. CompTIA found that small companies are hampered by serious resources constraints, medium-sized firms have more resources but have to balance the needs of IT with the needs of users department and large firms have to deal with a high degree of complexity, with a large number of employees using a significant variety of devices. Alleviating these pain points could mean significant revenues for solution providers.

“Mobile devices get used heavily in employees’ personal lives, but there are enterprise aspects such as encryption, proper security settings and enterprise apps that require further and ongoing education,” said Seth Robinson, director, technology analysis, CompTIA in a statement.

The Third Annual Trends in Enterprise Mobility study is based on an online survey of 400 business and IT executives in the United State who are directly involved in setting or executing mobility policies and processes within their organization. The survey was conducted in March 2014. More data from the study is available at

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PwC survey highlights eight cyber threats and how to counter them

pwc logo

A new cybersecurity survey from PwC and CSO magazine makes for some chilling reading for U.S. businesses. According to the 2014 U.S. State of Cybercrime Survey the rate of cyber attacks is increasing and the majority of U.S. organizations are falling sort when it comes to addressing them. In fact, 62 percent of organizations do not have the structure in place to prioritize security investments based on impact and risk.

The survey, through which CSO queried more than 500 U.S. executives, security experts and others from both the public and private sectors, was conducted by CSO magazine in collaboration with PwC, the U.S. Secret Service and the CERT Division of the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.

Other key findings:

  •              Organizations detected an average of 135 security incidents over the past year.
  •              More than three quarters (77 percent) of respondents reported a security event in the past year.
  •              More than two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents who detected a security incident were unable to gauge its financial impact. For those who could, the average annual monetary loss was projected at $415,000 per organization.
  •             59 percent reported they were more concerned about cybersecurity threats this year than last year.
  •             34 percent said they had seen an increase in the number of security incidents in their organizations.
  •             Enterprise mobility is a massive hole. Only 31 percent of respondents have a mobile secuity strategy, while only 38& bother to encrypt devices. Only 36 percent employ an MDM solution.
  •              Less have half of respondents have an effective risk management program. Only 47 percent perform periodic risk assessments and only 24 percent have an objective third party assess their security program.
  • "Cyber criminals evolve their tactics very rapidly, and the repercussions of cybercrime are overwhelming for any single organization to combat alone. It's imperative that private and public organizations collaborate to combat cybercrime and gain intelligence about security threats and how to respond to them. A united response will prove to be an indispensable tool in advancing the state of cybersecurity," said David Burg, PwC's global and U.S. advisory cybersecurity leader, in a prepared statement.

PwC also offered the following eight recommendations for combating cybercrime:

  •                    Assess risks associated with supply chain partners
  •                    Develop threat-specific policies
  •                    Enhance training and create workforce messaging to boost cybersecurity awareness across the organization
  •                    Ensure that mobile security practices keep pace with adoption and use of mobile devices
  •                    Hold third parties to the same or higher cybersecurity standards
  •                    Invest in people, processes and technologies
  •                    Perform cyber risk assessments regularly
  •                   Take advantage of information sharing internally and externally to learn about new cyber risks

“Despite substantial investments in cybersecurity technologies, cyber criminals continue to find ways to circumvent these technologies in order to obtain sensitive information that they can monetize,” said Ed Lowery, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Investigative Division, U.S. Secret Service in a statement. “The increasing sophistication of cyber criminals and their ability to circumvent security technologies indicates the need for a radically different approach to cybersecurity: A balanced approach that, in addition to using effective cybersecurity technologies, develops the people, processes, and effective partnerships in order to strategically counter cybersecurity threats.”

The full survey is available for download here.

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CompTIA Study: Big Data Promises Businesses to Evaluate Data Needs

Comptia logoCompTIA’s second annual Big Data Insights and Opportunities study confirms growing familiarity with the concepts surrounding big data, which has sparked greater levels of interest across the C-suite. A full 78 percent of organizations say they feel more positive about big data as a business initiative this year compared to a year ago.

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IDC: Server Market Revenues Decline in 2Q, Demand Remains Weak

IDC New Logo thumbnailAccording to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker, factory revenue in the worldwide server market decreased -6.2% year over year to $11.9 billion in the second quarter of 2013. This was the second consecutive quarter of year-over-year revenue decline, as server market demand continued to soften in most geographic regions. Server unit shipments decreased -1.2% year over year in 2Q13 to 2.0 million units, the third consecutive quarter where year-over-year server shipments have declined.

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Microsoft Takes Narrow Lead in Antivirus Vendor Market

gI 81052 market-share-reports-press-release-imageOPSWAT today released its market share report, which includes analysis of antivirus, peer-to-peer, backup, and antiphishing application usage worldwide. In addition to market share coverage, the report provides a comprehensive breakdown of the most popular products in their respective category and how often certain product features are enabled.

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Survey Says: Current MSP Challenges Include Adapting to Customer Needs, Employee Shortage

GFI MAX revealed today the results of a recent survey, which explored the agility, utilization and profitability of software solutions used by managed services providers (MSPs), as well as the business challenges facing the MSP community.

According to the survey, nearly two-thirds of respondents said that demand for managed services has increased over the last year, revealing a growing need for the services that MSPs provide to address their customers’ current and future requirements.

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“Built in Spiceworks” Designed to Give Small Start-Ups a Giant Push

Spiceworks is working to assist SMBs in start-up mode with the introduction of “Built in Spiceworks,” a program designed to help B2B startups get to market and grow their businesses faster. The program pairs startups with hand-selected groups of IT professionals from Spiceworks’ network of 2.5 million to provide the feedback and advice companies need to develop and market the latest B2B products and services.

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Gartner: PC Shipments to Decline 10.6%; Tablets to Increase 67.9%

Analyst firm Gartner has released a study revealing that traditional worldwide PC shipments are expected to decline 10.6 percent by the time the year is out; tablet shipments are expected to jump a whopping 67.9 percent by the time we ring in 2014!

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Survey Says: SMB Partners Stepping up Cloud, Mobility, Virtualization, Data Center Offerings

Analyst firm Techaisle today released its 2013 SMB Channel Partner Trends study, which demonstrates that there has been a big leap in percentage of SMB channel partners offering cloud computing services to SMBs in the last year.

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Grrl Power: Dell Launches Gender-GEDI Female Entrepreneurship Index

Dell today released the results of its first gender-focused, global entrepreneurship index based on the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (GEDI) at its Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network annual event. According to Dell, the Gender-GEDI is the only global index to measure high-potential female entrepreneurship based on individual aspirations, business environments and entrepreneurial ecosystems. High-potential women entrepreneurs are defined as “innovative, market expanding and export oriented.”

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IDC: Q1 2013 PC Shipments Post Steepest Decline Ever

Worldwide PC shipments totaled 76.3 million units in the first quarter of 2013 (1Q13), down -13.9% compared to the same quarter in 2012 and worse than the forecast decline of -7.7%, according to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. The extent of the year-on-year contraction marked the worst quarter since IDC began tracking the PC market quarterly in 1994. The results also marked the fourth consecutive quarter of year-on-year shipment declines.

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Rackspace Survey: Demands for Cloud-Centric IT Skills are on the Upswing

New research, including a survey of 1,300 companies commissioned by Rackspace, has found that more than half of organizations’ cloud deployments are being hampered by a shortage of cloud computing skills.

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IDC: Poor Holiday Sales, Cold Reception to Windows 8 Contributing to PC Market Decline

Despite intense industry efforts to overcome market inertia, 2012 nonetheless ended on a sour note with global PC shipment volume shrinking 3.7% on the year. With limited initial traction from Windows 8 in the holiday season, and continued pressure from tablets, IDC now expects 2013 PC shipments to decline by 1.3% in 2013, according to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.

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IDC: Will 2013 be a Small Step toward Telepresence Market Rebound?

IDC today released the results from its Worldwide Enterprise Videoconferencing and Telepresence Qview, which showed 4Q12 videoconferencing equipment revenue declined 8.6% year over year, but increased 14.9% quarter over quarter. Total worldwide enterprise videoconferencing and telepresence equipment revenue was $739.8 million in 4Q12, with revenue for the full year 2012 reaching $2.64 billion. The $2.64 billion total in 2012 was down 2.6% from full-year 2011 total revenue ($2.71 billion), according to IDC.

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Survey Says: 30.5% of Small Biz Advertisers will Spend More in 2013

Small business owners and decision-makers are fairly optimistic about revenue projections, with 92.5% expecting their revenue to be flat or up in 2013, according to the latest Small Business Marketing Forecast by Ad-ology Research.

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