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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.
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Look Back: Partner to Partner Motion

Reflecting back on the recent Continuum Navigate conference (October 2017, Las Vegas), what has stuck with me is how community is still alive. As Mark Twain famously said “…reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” I offer two use cases to demonstrate how partners are speaking to partners: one was a speaker and another was an interview.

Josh Weiss (president and founder, L.A. Creative Tech). Weiss delivered “Strategic Thinking: vCIO and Consulting Services for Growth” to a handsome audience where he emphasized the opportunity to enhance MSP offerings by providing strategic consulting and holistic solutions that can scale productivity for clients. In short, Weiss spoke towards thinking outside the server box. It’s a popular speaker’s paradigm as the stark reality of being a “percentage of recurring revenue” sales agent for Microsoft’s Office 365 solution has quickly proven to be an unsustainable business model.

“We’re at a time where business strategy and technology strategy have converged.” Weiss started. “There really is a need to understand how technology is inseparable from business strategy. A former General Electric CEO said at a recent technology conference, ‘IT Pros need to stop being so passive…the role of technology is THE most important function inside a company’ and I believe it.”

joshweisspic2

Figure 1: Weiss speaking at the recent Continuum Navigate conference in Las Vegas.

Weiss went on to deliver three main points in his speech supporting the above opening.

  • Create and sell productized vCIO services that will add value to your current portfolio. Take away real service wireframe overviews you can start delivering straight away.
  • Think strategically in order to provide creative solutions and tools that give you a competitive edge. Weiss shared an example of a cost of downtime ROI calculator (several SMB MSP ISVs offer this) where you can show a business is losing something like $10,000/hour when the IT infrastructure is “down.” One caveat – I challenged Weiss about the downtime calculator with respect to recapturing the downtime. That is, if Firm A is down for an hour, can said hour of productivity be recaptured over the course of a year (say 2000+ business hours). It spurred a good audience conversation and one expert shared that, regardless of the ROI downtime calculator is that “we’re talking” as in talking business matters with the client.
  • Most important - talk business instead of tech; one of the essential requirements to shift from technician to consultant.

One highlight was how Weiss involved the audience. I drew the short straw and was summoned to the stage (as a small business owner) to participate in a quick exercise with Raj Goel of Brainlink International (acting as the MSP) who asked me “Harry – what things would you like to do less of and would make you happier?” I offered that less time focused on operations and more time focused on business development. Goel asked what is business development to me. The answer is easy: attending conferences, social events at night, and external business meetings. Goel suggested that I needed to read “The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich” by Timothy Ferriss. Not only have I read the book, tolerating a large Ferriss ego between the pages, but I’ve used his methodology in running SMB Nation to free up my time to make outside portfolio investments beyond the SMB MSP tech space, but that’s for another day entirely.

James Harris (President at Xlingshot). Leading by example, Continuum suggested I speak 1:1 with one of its partners. He’s focused on verticals such as not-for-profits. We had a non-agenda, open dialog with no scripted talking points. Harris emphasized his use of Continuum has allowed him to have a high utilization rate. “Use the tool; not babysit the tool” Harris said. a first-time attendee running a 15+ year old MSP practice, Harris shared that he’s used the RMM solutions from Continuum for just over three years.

Community involvement. Harris participates in the MSP community via HTG and ASCII. “I see a lot of benefit from it.” Digging deeper, I discovered Harris is a big participant in the former Microsoft Community Connections (MCC) program with speaking engagements at the Colorado CPA society, etc. Harris has enthusiastically attended the Denver Tech Expo that is promoted by Platte River Networks (another Denver MSP) and it’s go getter David DeCamillis. In other industries those two might consider themselves competitors (which I guess they technically are) but the SMB MSP community still has cooperative mojo and thus my blog theme of partner to partner.

Bottom-line: I concluded that Harris has grown his thriving practice with a commitment to ethics (a lost art). “At Xlingshot, we believe in fair and honest business practices.” Harris concluded.

PS - I have another SolarWinds missive HERE where I interview SMB friend and now SolarWindws executive Greg Lissy!

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Datto/Autotask Merger: Sophisticated Investors Only

In late October, fellow MSP blogger Joe Panettieri broke the story, in advance of the public announcement, that there was a merger between Datto and Autotask. I’ll briefly review the multiple transactions that made this happen. It’s surprisingly sophisticated. This almost reads like a Russian spy novel with all the players LOL. Let’s start by following the money and then I’ll offer some community comments.

2004-2014
Autotask raises at least $10M in four funding rounds (see Figure 1)

autotaskfunding

Figure 1: Autotask started taking the money in 2004.

2014
Autotask acquired for $99M by Vista Equity Partners.

2015
Datto completes a funding journey that started in 2013 and ended in 2015 raising $100M. At the time I wrote of Datto being a “unicorn” as it claimed the $100m stake resulted in a ten percent share and a market valuation of $1B.

dattofunding

Figure 2: Datto’s funding rounds.

2017
June/July: I circled back into the Datto orbit by attending the DattoCon conference in Denver in June 2017. In this blog at the time, I opine that the “E” (‘exit”) word has to enter the Datto lexicon because private equity money is not patient money and has to be put to work. I further drill down into the mind of Austin McChord, Datto CEO in a 1:1 interview HERE in early July at the Datto HQ in Norwalk.

austinandharry

Figure 3: Harry’s 1:1 with Datto CEO Austin McChord where M&A thoughts surface.

October: Here’s where things speed up. Vista Equity Partners acquires Datto. Then it merged Datto and Autotask together. In reality, this amalgamation results in a relationship hierarchy. If it were the wild world of Craigslist personal ads, this hook-up would have Datto as the “Dom” and Autotask as the “Sub.” Of course financial terms weren’t disclosed LOL.

Analysis
The merger makes sense in the mature and contracting SMB technology sector. Cloud has squeezed out the value chain many old timey server-side Big Iron fellas remember well. Consolidation is a natural act. The hierarchy with Datto on top (McChord becomes CEO and Autotask’s Mark Cattini will exit) makes sense as I believe Autotask took the smaller SMB MSPs in the beloved SMB Nation community for granted like Clinton viewed traditional core Democratic constituencies in the 2016 presidential election a year ago. It felt like the past few years Autotask courted its big donors ignoring the working class man (this isn’t just my opinion but that of other bloggers and community members – in a recent outreach by myself to the SBS group on Facebook concerning this merger, the responses were a resounding “Meh” reflecting Autotask had lost mindshare in the SMB Nation community. )

So when I had a 1:1 with Datto CMO Peter Rawlinson last week while I was literally on Wall Street (see Figure 4) and Rawlinson was in the Datto HQ in Norwalk, CT, I zeroed on the conflation of the Datto and Autotask partner communities and what that means for our “Joe the ‘puter guys” getting a love tap in the yet to be renamed combined company.

girlandbull

Figure 4: How fitting to be on Wall Street for my chat with Rawlinson.

“Now with a combined partner base of over 13,000 SMB MSPs, we are absolutely making a commitment the smaller MSP and the SMB Nation audience persona.” Rawlinson emphasized. He went to round out the context of the merger. “This is a merger for growth, not cost cutting.” Warning: ten dollar word ahead. What Rawlinson is suggesting is that this merger is accretive which is a fancy way of saying 1+1 =3. My conversation with Rawlinson ended with a couple of unknowns: the new brand name and whether there will be an HQ1 (Norwalk, CT) and/or HQ2 (Albany, NY).

Dilutive v Accretive

My big question moving forward is whether the product overlap will effectively result in portfolio dilution and partner contraction. Other wiser minds in the SMB media have minimized the product overlap so in this sense the merger works. But what about ConnectWise partners that use Datto or Autotask partners that use a different BDR solution such as efolder? I’ll monitor the potential MSP partner churn-and-burn rate from this merger over the next year and report back. [If you’d like insights into the Datto product road map, watch my vid interview with Datto VP, Networking John Tippett here.]

Competition
Michael George (CEO, Continuum), who I’d offer lives life out loud, didn’t lack words about the Datto/Autotask merger. “Consolidation of this nature should come as no surprise to anyone in the MSP market. Standalone vendors are finding it increasingly difficult to compete as MSPs move to the few key providers that matter most to them. Today’s news should galvanize MSPs to focus on one or two key platforms, rather than trying to price-optimize with standalone independent vendors.” George said.

“Today’s merger brings together two critical categories in the channel: RMM and BDR. That’s a clear signal that a unified approach to these services is in demand from MSPs, and that’s why Continuum offers partners these solutions as the cornerstone of our platform.” George commented. “But, to stay relevant over the next three to five years, the next major play is security. We anticipate that the next market consolidation will come as MSPs look to acquire the tools and services to secure their clients amid today’s heightened threat landscape. That’s where we’re already moving with our new security offering launched this month, and we can expect that standalone vendors will begin to beef up their capabilities to meet that demand, and MSPs will take notice.” If you’d like to read my recent 1:1 interview with George, look HERE.

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All Hands on Deck! Small Business Saturday Nov. 25th

It’s the bestest holiday most folks in our SMB MSP space have never heard of. You’d be amazed how, over the years, we’ve carried the Small Business Saturday flag – an event held right after “Black Friday” (the over-the-top retail shopping day), but the MSP mindshare is lacking. You can review our past coverage here and here.

History
Over ten years ago, American Express created Small Business Saturday to promote “Buy Local” and “Shop Small” as well as increase the use of American Express card transactions (of course). I’ve argued this special day, sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, should be placed in a not-for-profit in order to grow the participation base and offer increased legitimacy. Great idea with props to American Express but, again, I think it should be an “open” holiday. I love the concept but hate the fact so many SMB MSPs (a) haven’t heard of it and (b) don’t participate is shocking. So here is my plan to change that right here, right now. This unofficial holiday is supported in the US and UK.

Small Business Saturday Signup Procedure
It’s been said the odds of winning the lottery are dramatically improved if you buy a Lotto ticket. Same with Small Business Saturday – you gotta sign-up to play in this reindeer game. This is business development folks!
Here is the participation procedure:

 

  1. Sign up here.
  2. Click Get Involved in the upper right.
  3.  Make the decision with respect to how you want to participate

a. Small Business Owners. Select this if you’d like to have your SMB MSP entity fully participate in Small Business Saturday. This makes sense for anyone in our SMB Nation crowd. For example, if you have a retail store front at street-level and want to proudly display your participation via the extensive display collateral (more on that in a moment), this is the option for you. But perhaps you are in snazzy office space that doesn’t have street-level exposure. You can still select this option and, I’d offer, hold an open house with bagels and coffee for your SMB clients on Saturday morning before they go out to shop local. I’ve selected this option for SMB Nation (More on that at the end of the blog). 

b. Neighborhood Champions. This “cheerleader” role is another option for SMB MSPs. Signup with this option and then go to one of your small business clients and consider a pop-up with Small Business Saturday branding/information. It’s your way of giving back to the community that has given so much to you (file this away in living theology). 

c. Shoppers. Well this option is for EVERYONE. We can all shop local on Small Business Saturday. Hint: a pint of dark stout at your local pub counts!

4. Assuming you selected Small Business Owners, select the Create Materials button on the next page.

5. On the We need just a few details page, answer fields related to your business name, what customers love, type of marketing materials (Social media, Online, Physical location), whether you want some materials in Spanish and whether your business accepts American Express cards. Click Continue. See Figure 1 below.

 

fig1 sbs setup2

Figure 1: You must provide basic information to create the marketing Bill of Materials (BOM).

6. On the Okay where can we send your materials page, you will provide information to complete the following fields: First Name, Last Name, Email, Confirm Email and Zip Code (Optional). Agree and select the Terms of Participation checkbox and click Download.

7. A *zip file titled “CustomMaterials” will be download. Read on to discover how to use this good stuff!

The Good Stuff!
I’m impressed how the download resulted in marketing collateral for the following uses:

  1.  Social Networks: Banner ads of different sizes promoting your participation in Small Business Saturday. In Figure 2, observe art customized for your business.
  2.  Store: Posters (one shown in Figure 3), “Save the Date” cards, an offer sheet, etc. for in-store use.
  3.  Website: Several art graphics are provided for your website and email. Observe the banner in Figure 4.

fig2

Figure 2: Digital art customized for you for use in your social networks.

fig3

Figure 3: Full-size poster for a window display.

Fig4

Figure 4: Customized web banner.

Keep It Simple!
Now that we got our geek on with the above procedures, it’s time to remember a few simple Small Business Saturday points as shared by Melanie Gass, host of the popular Expand with Tech podcast. Recently she held a show dedicated to Small Business Saturday HERE that is required listening. When I spoke with Melanie, she offered these important points:

  1. It's free!
  2. You need to take AMEX cards to list your website in the Small Business Saturday directory
  3. The Small Business Saturday marketing materials are free and offered in 2 flavors...plain and tailored with your business Info as you outlined
  4. Neighborhood champions “status” are available for MSPs to hop onto, and even donate a raffle prize for visibility!
  5.  If MSPs have a newsletter, there is the opportunity to socialize Small Business Saturday, evangelize it!

Next Steps

If you aren’t sold yet on your participation in Small Business Saturday, there isn’t much more I can do. However, keep your eye on my Facebook page on Small Business Saturday as I’ll be loudly leading the parade include using the Facebook Live broadcast feature. And guess what? Jenny Hallmark and a surprise guest will be joining me on Main Street (Winslow Way) on Bainbridge Island. Join us!

PS – Humor ahead. Small Business Saturday is called “SBS” (#TrueThat) which of course was the acronym for Small Business Server.

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Database leader FairCom releases c-treeACE V11.5

FairCom’s latest release includes new search, resync and schema-change functions

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- (Nov. 8, 2017) – One of the most trusted names in the database management Faircomindustry, FairCom Corporation, today announced the release of the latest version of its flagship multimodel database software. c-treeACE V11.5 boasts enhancements that allow users to enjoy increased performance, dynamic schema management, full-text search, enhanced replication, robust interface support and greater data integrity for SQL, NoSQL and a combination of both database models.

FairCom is a pioneer in the database software industry dating back to 1979. That tradition of innovation continues today with c-treeACE by FairCom: A one-of-its-kind multimodel database solution that can operate on a wide-range of platforms. c-treeACE features unique No+SQL technology that facilitates high-performance NoSQL and industry-standard SQL access within the same application, over the same single instance of your data. Due to its speed and reliability, more than 40 percent of the Fortune 100 have trusted the c-tree family of database solutions for database needs.

“In today’s demanding and fast-paced business environment, a fast, efficient database technology is not a luxury, it is a necessity. c-treeACE enables companies to have a database that meets their unique business challenges,” said Alysha Brown, FairCom’s chief operating office. “c-treeACE V11.5 provides new capabilities to organizations that make their databases more powerful, giving them peace of mind knowing that their valuable data is being processed quickly and reliably.”

c-treeACE 11.5 enhancements include:

  • Full-Text Search: A tokenized index of a table’s text fields allows users to efficiently and quickly find records containing specific words and phrases.
  • Hot Alter Table: A capability that allows users to perform schema changes on-the-fly so multi-hour file conversions can be accomplished in seconds.
  • Replication Extensions: User-defined functions that allow extended replication management via custom callback functions - data aggregation, conflict resolution and “on-the-fly" data manipulation such as extract, transform and load (ETL) functionality.
  • Replication ReSync: A feature that allows users to resynchronize a target “replica file” based on the current “source file” with minimal impact on the runtime.

c-treeACE performance has been enhanced right out of the box. In addition to selected feature-level enhancements, numerous functions have been enhanced for developers to use to further gain performance within their applications without the need to manually change the system.

According to FairCom Vice President of Engineering Services Randal Hoff, c-treeACE V11.5’s benefits go beyond the speed, reliability and performance that the company has been known for since its founding. “We understand that choosing and implementing a new database is a process that should not be taken lightly. Because a database is a long-term investment, c-treeACE V11.5 is designed and built to evolve with our customers as their business needs and technologies change,” said Hoff. “FairCom offers engineer-to-engineer support from the same developers who built the product, not an entry-level employee.”
Detailed product information about c-treeACE V11.5 is available at FairCom.com or by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 1-800-234-8180.

 

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US consumer spending posts largest gain since 2009

 
Consumer Spending
 
(Reuters)
 
WASHINGTON, Oct 30 (Reuters) - U.S. consumer spending recorded its biggest increase in more than eight years in September, likely as households in Texas and Florida replaced flood-damaged motor vehicles, but underlying inflation remained muted.
The Commerce Department said on Monday consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, jumped 1.0 percent last month. The increase, which also included a boost from higher household spending on utilities, was the largest since August 2009.
Consumer spending increased by an unrevised 0.1 percent in August. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast consumer spending increasing 0.8 percent in September.
The data was included in last Friday's third-quarter gross domestic product report, which showed that growth in consumer spending growth slowed to a 2.4 percent annualized rate after a robust 3.3 percent growth pace in the second quarter.
The moderation in consumption was offset by a rise in inventory investment, business spending on equipment and a drop in imports, which left the economy growing at a 3.0 percent rate in the third quarter after the April-June period's brisk 3.1 percent pace.
 
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How to avoid costly open-enrollment mistakes

How to avoid costly open enrollment mistakes

© AP Screen shot of the home page of HealthCare,gov.

Open enrollment is always tempting to ignore. When those weighty health insurance booklets arrive demanding that you make important elections right before the holidays, millions of Americans set them aside and either decide to look later -- or never. Whether that's because they're happy with their employer-sponsored health plan and don't intend to change it or simply because they neglect the choices until it's too late, experts say ignoring open enrollment is becoming increasingly costly.

More than half of employees find that bad choices cost them about $750 per year -- roughly $62 per month. And those who keep the same plan as the previous year aren't exempt. That's because a lot could change under the hood of your health plan from year to year, said Matthew Owensby, senior vice president of supplemental insurance provider Aflac.

"People think that they've gone to the same doctor and had the same plan for years, so they don't even bother to check if that doctor is still in their network," he said. "They just don't realize that the plans themselves can change."

In fact, roughly two-thirds of the consumers who went to a doctor or hospital that was out of their health care network -- a gaffe that leaves you essentially uncovered or underinsured -- had no idea they were doing it, said Rebecca Madsen, chief consumer officer at UnitedHealth (UNH).

Plans also can change co-payments, prescription drug coverage and other easily overlooked details that could also leave you with unexpected costs, she said. Taking a few minutes to review your plan now could help you sidestep these unexpected costs and potentially lower your future health care bills. Better yet, it doesn't necessarily have to be time-consuming. Madsen suggests that employees focus on just a handful of key items:

Changes: Look at whether your plan has changed providers, deductibles or co-payments. Most plans will provide a summary of these changes. Besides reading through those changes and evaluating how they might affect you, make sure that all of your doctors remain "in network."

And while you're considering changes, think of your own. Are you sicker or healthier than you were last year? Did you develop an illness, go on any sort of regular prescription? Did you have a child, or do you plan to in the next year? Big changes in your life suggest a more careful review of what's covered.

Costs: What did you spend on health care last year, and do you expect it to be roughly the same this year? If so, compare the options your employer provides side-by-side to see if an alternative plan could result in lower overall premiums, deductibles and co-payments. Look, too, at whether your plan offers mail-order pharmacy options, which can help people who have chronic ailments get their medications at a discount.

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New report reveals the biggest trends for small businesses in 2018

Small business owners are already thinking ahead to 2018, with a recent survey suggesting they are excited to bring new ideas to fruition but challenged to stay on top of advancing technology. In fact, 90 percent of small business owners plan to hire one to two new employees in the upcoming year, just one of the many ways in which small businesses are poised to evolve and expand, according to the results of a new nationwide survey released by Microsoft Store.*

Nearly half of business owners surveyed identified their top challenge as staying ahead of rapid Microsoft Store Small Business Infographicchanges in technology in 2018. Additionally, 23 percent emphasized that budget constraints were top of mind in maintaining and growing their endeavors. For the newer small business, budget was their top challenge, which is expected for businesses in operation less than a year.

St. Louis-based radiologist Dr. Jennifer Nicholas, a Microsoft Store customer, partners with radiologists in Haiti to facilitate trainings using Microsoft 365. She says, “The program we are using in Haiti relies on technology that is easy to use, so the radiology residents can access their curriculum, participate in lectures, and complete exams. The project is funded by grant money, so I try to make the most of every dollar without sacrificing the use of the latest technology.”

Despite the challenge to keep pace with digital innovation that companies face today, survey respondents cited the many benefits of being a small business owner including work life balance. Eighty percent of respondents say they currently maintain enough freedom and flexibility to support their work-life balance. Respondents maintain a high level of mobility, working off-site and in multiple locations instead of at a fixed venue. The younger the business (less than one year old), the more likely it is to have employees who work primarily from mobile devices. As companies grow, mobile use gives way to other devices and digital options for how work gets done.

In navigating the demands of both budget and technological readiness, over 30 percent of small business respondents said they are likely to turn to familiar sources (a family or close friend) for technology guidance or help with their computers, email or software. With 26% of respondents stating they have a formal relationship with a support or service establishment, small businesses said comfortable, human interaction was key in how they sought help.

“I worked with Microsoft Store Business Sales Specialist Jo Otey to discover how a tablet like Surface Pro, and tools like Skype for Business, Forms and Translator would provide me with a way to seamlessly facilitate the radiology curriculum remotely,” says Dr. Nicholas. “Joining me in Haiti, he was instrumental in helping the radiologists set up their professional email addresses, and gain access to Microsoft 365 Business, which helped me execute my vision.”

Expansion into digitally run businesses also requires some safeguards, though not all small businesses feel equipped to take the necessary steps to protect themselves alone. In fact, nearly one quarter of small businesses say they have yet to take any measures to introduce digital safeguards and protect their sensitive data. For those who do want to address the security of their data, 70 percent suggested they would prefer to pay for support in matters of cybersecurity, rather than do it themselves. For those actively addressing the security of their data and devices, 30 percent are using encryption software, and nearly 40 percent are ensuring their employees are using anti-virus software.

As small business owners plan for both the exciting upcoming moments and potential challenges of 2018, Microsoft Store is there with technology in hand and true small business solutions in mind. Resources in every Microsoft Store like business sales specialists, who know the changing needs of small business owners and are armed with the latest research like this survey, are critical in making decisions about which solution is right for individual businesses. Ongoing, free opportunities like workshops, Office Hours and networking events give business owners continuing education about the changing technology landscape and the chance to meet other, likeminded, small business owners.

Microsoft Store can also provide information on the latest technology solutions for small businesses, like Microsoft 365 Business, which includes Office 365 productivity and collaboration tools for empowering your employees, as well as device management and security tools to safeguard company information across Windows 10 PCs, mobile devices, and apps. From a single console, small business owners can implement and manage security policies to ensure PCs are up to date and secure, preventing security vulnerabilities that cyberthieves often exploit.

Visit your local Microsoft Store to meet with a business sales specialist, experience Microsoft 365 and other technology solutions, and discover free resources like Office Hours that will help you to achieve more.

Here’s to a great 2018 for you and your business.

* SurveyMonkey. “Small Business Insights.” Survey. 11-15 Oct. 2017.
Based on a sample of 1,300 self-identified small business owners with a range of 1 to 200 employees in the United States.

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After quietly infecting a million devices, Reaper botnet set to be worse than Mirai

Reaper is on track to become one of the largest botnets recorded in recent years — and yet nobody seems to know what it will do or when. But researchers say the damage could be bigger than last year's cyberattack.

By Zack Whittaker for Zero Day | October 24, 2017 -- 12:46 GMT (05:46 PDT) |

botnet

 

A little over a month ago, a sizable botnet of infected Internet of Things devices began appearing on the radar of security researchers.

Now, just weeks later, it's on track to become one of the largest botnets recorded in recent years.

The botnet, dubbed "Reaper" by researchers at Netlab 360, is said to have ensnared almost two million internet-connected webcams, security cameras, and digital video recorders (DVRs) in the past month, says Check Point, which also published research, putting its growth at a far faster pace than Mirai.

It was Mirai that caused a massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack last October, knocking popular websites off the internet for millions of users. The collective bandwidth from the huge number of "zombie devices" that were infected and enslaved was directed at Dyn, an internet infrastructure company, which overloaded the company's systems and prevented millions from accessing popular websites.

Mirai was "beautifully simple," said Ken Munro, a consultant at UK-based security firm Pen Test Partners. The malware would scan the internet and infect connected devices with default usernames and passwords, which either weren't or couldn't be changed by the owner.

Reaper, however, "is what Mirai could easily have been," said Munro. It takes a slightly different, more advanced approach by quietly targeting and exploiting known vulnerabilities in devices and injecting its malicious code, effectively hijacking the device for whenever the botnet controller is ready to issue their commands. Each time a device is infected, the device spreads the malware to other vulnerable devices -- like a worm.

Mirai aggressively ran each device against a list of known usernames and passwords, but Reaper is "not very aggressive," said Netlab.

By targeting a known vulnerability, the botnet can swiftly take control of a device without raising any alarms.

"One of the reasons Mirai didn't achieve its full potential is that the compromise didn't persist beyond a reboot," said Munro. "Hence, multiple botnet herders were competing for control of the compromised DVRs that comprised it, so the huge botnet it could have been was never built," he said.

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D&H DISTRIBUTING TEACHES VARS TO EQUIP THE “CLASSROOM OF THE FUTURE” WITH BREAKTHROUGH VR/AR SOLUTIONS & SERVICES

— Cutting-Edge VR Systems, “Google Expeditions,” Plus D&H’s Trainings & White Glove Services Open Unique Opportunities for VARs to Profit While Enhancing STEM/STEAM Curricula —

HARRISBURG, PA – October 30, 2017 – D&H Distributing, a major provider of SMB and consumer technologies to the North American high-tech channel, is invigorating its linecard for the education vertical with virtual and augmented reality solutions that will usher-in “The Classroom of the Future.” dandhD&H is training its resellers via streaming webcast sessions and VAR engagement events, and through its K-12-dedicated “White Glove” services program which includes amenities such as laser-based product tagging, pre-assembly, configuration, and device management. Efforts include acclimating VARs to a “curriculum-based sales strategy,” which aligns with spring as opposed to the typical fall IT purchasing season, to accommodate the budgeting process for this marketplace. Such will give K-12 decision-makers the necessary lead time to allocate funds to these breathtakingly immersive solutions.

In addition to training, D&H is offering preconfigured “Virtual Reality Kits,” or customizable product bundles around the Google Expeditions platform, including VR headsets, routers, cases, tablets, smartphones, monitors, and more. The cutting-edge “Google Expeditions” app allows teachers to immerse students in lessons via stunning, 360-degree photographic environments utilizing a headset/smartphone/tablet combination. For example, students can virtually walk through a factory on the other side of the country, trek the surface of Mars, or immerse themselves in a dinosaur-inhabited, prehistoric landscape.

Other products include the HP’s Sprout Pro by G2, an interactive, all-in-one computer that incorporates extraordinarily detailed 3D scanning. Scans can be used with a 3D printer, allowing students to create, color, and manipulate items such as artwork, shop class projects, or engineering designs on-screen, then physically produce those items as dimensional, real-world prototypes.

“The implications of VR technology in the classroom is remarkable, introducing a new era of immersive, 3D teaching techniques that until now have been mostly seen in science fiction,” said Peter DiMarco, vice president of VAR sales at D&H Distributing. “We’re educating our VARs, not only with product knowledge, but also by helping them navigate the potentially complicated K-12 space. Armed with this information, pre-configured VR product bundles, and competitive pricing, our resellers can be among the first to introduce these virtual teaching techniques to classrooms, profiting from the emerging trend.”

D&H’s latest Solutions Lab webcast, “VAR Curriculum: Tech for the Future of Teaching,” outlines both the HP Sprout Pro G2 all-in-one and the Google Expeditions-compatible solutions, helping VARs to familiarize themselves with these offerings. It also covers D&H’s “White Glove Services” support program for K-12 VARs, which includes amenities such as laser-based product tagging, pre-assembly, configuration, and device management. The session is available for streaming on-demand at dandh.com/solutionslab.

In addition, D&H has developed a “K-12 Advisory Group” of resellers in the this vertical, who meet during D&H’s trade events to engage with D&H management and discuss trends and challenges in the field. The group’s feedback has helped to shape the direction of D&H’s K-12 offerings.

Promoting STEM/STEAM via Virtual Technology
Demand for items such as 3-D-capable computers, scanners and 3-D printers, plus 360-degree, VR/AR learning platforms is growing in K-12 settings, as educational institutions seek new ways to engage students via cutting-edge, technologically-enhanced environments. Such high-tech solutions have typically been applied toward STEM fields, e.g., science, technology, engineering, and math.

This initiative has expanded to include art and design, since educators are finding that students learn better and comprehend concrete concepts such as math and scientific principles more readily when artistic disciplines such as design and graphics are incorporated into that learning process. It has led to the evolving acronym “STEAM,” incorporating “Arts” into the formerly “left-brain” initiative.

A Wide VR/AR Ecosystem of Products
A plethora of products are being leveraged to support these virtual and augmented reality teaching techniques, including the following (some models forthcoming):

  • Chromebooks and Chrome management platforms
  • PCs from HP and ASUS
  • Virtual reality headsets and systems by Samsung, HTC, VIVE, Lenovo, Ematic, and Xtreme Technologies
  • Tablets and digital pens from Wacom and ASUS
  • Classroom-appropriate routers from TRENDnet
  • 3D printers from MakerBot, ROBO 3D, and XYZprinting
  • Drones and robotic toys from Mota, Zooppa, Xtreme Technologies, UBTECH, and Sphero
  • Build-your-own-computer coding kits for children from Piper
  • Accessories including trunk cases, mats, chargers and more from Pelican, Siig, and Startech.com.

On the software side, Google apps such as Daydream (which includes tools that manipulate objects within the virtual scene), the Tango 3D simulator, and the WorldSense tracking technology deliver similar virtual experiences. And the forthcoming Google Expeditions AR promises to project a 3D image into a live space such as a classroom, wherein students can walk around the projected image and view it from all sides with compatible hardware.

“We’re dedicated to helping resellers seize this opportunity, teaching them to communicate how these solutions fit into a district’s curriculum and enhance experiences through immersive technology,” DiMarco added. “Virtual reality makes this an exciting time to be a solution provider—in addition to a student or an educator.”

VARs can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information on D&H’s Virtual Reality Kits, or visit the distributor’s K-12 Opportunity page at dandh.com/K12. The VAR Curriculum Solutions Lab presentation is available for streaming on-demand at dandh.com/solutionslab.

About D&H Distributing
D&H Distributing believes the most important element of doing business is developing relationships for mutual success. The company continues to build upon its 99-year-old culture by providing its manufacturers, co-owners, and partners with the utmost customer care, consultative guidance, and multi-market expertise. As one of North America’s leading technology distributors, it delivers a wealth of enablement resources and hands-on support services that empower resellers in the IT channel.
The company engages with solution providers, integrators, and VARs to meet current business challenges, as well as forecast their evolving, real-world needs and prospects for lucrative growth opportunities. D&H maintains a special focus on independent VARs expanding their competencies in areas such as hosted and cloud services, the modern mobile workplace, comprehensive SMB server networks, and cross-market expertise across the small business, education, healthcare, and government verticals, to name a few. The company's value proposition includes professional marketing resources, a new transactional service model, dedicated Solutions Specialists, and a highly-lauded webcast training venue; plus reseller engagement events such as technology trade shows, roundtable opportunities, training “track” sessions, and hands-on "lab" sessions.
The distributor is headquartered in Harrisburg, PA, in the US and in Brampton, Ontario, in Canada. Additional warehouses are located in Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; Fresno, CA; and Vancouver, BC, Canada. Call D&H toll-free at (800) 340-1001, via www.dandh.com, or follow the distributor’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, https://www.facebook.com/DandHDistributing/ and @dandh.

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Roadmap for Skype for Business capabilities coming to Microsoft Teams now available

By: Tiffany Wissner (WENTZEL) Microsoft

Last month at Microsoft Ignite we introduced a new vision for intelligent communications, which includes Microsoft Teams becoming the primary client for communication and collaboration in Office 365. Today we are sharing more detail on our planned roadmap for adding Microsoft Skype for Business capabilities to Teams, so you can plan your onboarding.

Messaging – Teams offers rich instant messaging capabilities today, with persistent chat, as well as private 1:1 and group chat. We expect to deliver RoadMapadditional messaging capabilities in Teams by the end of Q2-2018. Features will include screen sharing during chat and federation between companies.

Meetings – Teams offers collaborative meetings capabilities today, including screen sharing, meeting chats captured in the channel after the meeting, and the preview of audio conferencing. We expect to deliver additional meeting capabilities in Microsoft Teams by the end of Q2-2018. These features include meeting room support with Skype Room Systems, and cloud video interoperability capabilities that allow third party meeting room devices to connect to Teams meetings.

Calling – Today, Teams offers many calling capabilities. Later this quarter, we plan to ship voicemail for Teams. By the end of Q2-2018, we will enable you to use your existing telco voice line to activate calling services in Office 365.

Beyond bringing existing Skype for Business core capabilities to Teams, we are excited about new intelligent communications coming to Teams. As shown at the Ignite Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business General Session, customers will be able to record a meeting and store it in Teams, have transcription added, and be able to search the meeting for key terms. These features will begin rolling out at the end of Q2-2018.

As part of our vision for intelligent communications, we are also taking the opportunity to simplify the naming of our premium communication offerings. PSTN Conferencing will now be known as “Audio Conferencing;” Cloud PBX will now be known as “Phone System;” and PSTN Calling will now be known as “Calling Plan.” We want these names to be more intuitive to both IT and end users as we further integrate communications with collaboration.

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Artificial Intelligence and Human Intelligence: The Essential Codependency

Falon Fatemi , Women@Forbe

AI

Imagine the following scenario. It’s Monday morning. You wake up to an alarm. It’s been set automatically and synchronized to your work schedule for the day. As you partake in your hygiene regimen, your key nutritional KPIs (such as hydration, body mass, and hemoglobin levels) are calibrated for you. You strap yourself into your car but there’s no need to steer. It “knows” where you need to go. And, on account of the technology embedded in the roads, real-time travel information, and the like, the roads are clear of congestion. Everything is connected and is programmed to operate at peak efficiency. Upon arriving at work, all the mundane prospecting and outreach activities have been performed for you. You are poised to focus on decision making and relationship building and can spend more time on your sales and marketing strategy.

The hurdle of turning the above scenario into a reality seemed unsurmountable a handful of years ago. But, thanks to the emergence of Artificial Intelligence, it’s an imminent reality. While we tend to associate AI with fictional movies - with Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Minority Report, and the like - the concepts and gadgets introduced are quickly becoming the ‘new normal’. We’ve already started to leverage AI to automate mundane tasks, including home delivery (e.g., Instacart), navigation (e.g., Google Maps), transportation (e.g, Uber), digital music selection (e.g., Spotify), and more.

Regardless of application, the real power of AI lies in its “contextual awareness,” namely its ability to sense and respond to current context. The potential of AI is especially exciting in the context of sales and marketing. AI is already helping sales and marketers automate mundane and tedious tasks and streamline day-to-day activities. AI technologies, such as Node, are so advanced that they can pinpoint the most lucrative entry points into potential customers and can even recommend conversation openers. The sky is the limit in terms of the breadth of questions that it can answer. How do I get access to the right buyers at target companies? What is my ideal customer persona? How do I optimize my sales and marketing team performance? Leveraging AI, machine learning, and natural language processing, Node empowers sales and marketers by allowing them to personalize marketing strategies to suit the tastes of individual clients.

Yet despite the enormous promise of AI, the reality is such that sales and marketing interactions are deeply personal. While many believe that AI has the potential to render human intelligence obsolete, this is far from the truth. Quite the opposite, AI advancements will only underscore the importance of human intelligence. By liberating sales and marketing teams from tedious work (such as manual CRM entry or scouring social media sites to find introductions into accounts), AI allows them to focus on what really matters - developing strong relations with customers. Applying AI to sales and marketing processes fosters more human interaction, not less.

It’s inevitable that the winners of tomorrow will need to use AI technology to improve sales and marketing efforts. But, at the end of the day, they will still need to know how to relate to and interact with other human beings. The most effective teams will learn how to leverage the best of both AI and human intelligence to build a revenue strategy that will improve client engagement, increase conversion, and drive positive ROI.

 

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Amazon Launches ‘Business Prime’ to Bring Quick Delivery to Work

amazon logo

 

By Spencer Soper
October 24, 2017, 9:54 AM PDT

Amazon.com Inc. launched a Prime membership service for businesses, looking to replicate in the workplace the quick delivery of online orders that made it a go-to shopping destination for households.

Business Prime Shipping, available in the U.S. and Germany, offers free two-day delivery to companies paying $499 to $10,999 a year depending on their size, Amazon said. The subscription program is looking to win business from office supply stores such as Staples Inc. and Office Depot Inc.

Business-to-business transactions have been slower to shift online than retail, but could be a bigger revenue opportunity in the long term, said Andy Hoar, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. He estimates the U.S. market will reach $1.2 trillion by 2021, up from $889 billion this year.

 

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Brutha – Can You Spare a Sport Jacket?

As many of you know, I attended the Continuum Navigate conference in Las Vegas the week of the shooting tragedy. Compliments to Michael George, Continuum CEO, for delivering a successful conference in the midst of madness. In fact he shared heartfelt words with the audience to acknowledge the tragedy.

On the backside of the gathering I caught up with George for a long-overdue 1:1 conversation. We michael george loans harry sprort jacketfocused on three areas: Partner Composition, Security and a roadmap component (lead generation) moving forward. We also talked about other conferences in the industry, where Continuum fits in and as a bonus, George shared that he believes there are 25,000 IT service provider firms in the US right now (people are always asking how big the segment is).

Figure 1: There is a reason George loaned me his sport jacket at the Continuum Navigate conference. He validated my observation that his well-heeled attendees have elevated up to the sport jacket level.

George in many ways mimics that Covey “Seven Habits” paradigm (his keynote speech was the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective IT Providers”) so in that spirit, I’ll begin with the end in mind and work backwards.

Partner Composition
“The bottom line is that our partners are the most successfully in the business.” George stated. “It’s advantageous to get to scale.” Okay but what does that mean?

“Our approach is about taking our existing partners and making them more like commercial enterprises. For example, taking the two man shops and help them grow into large businesses. This occurs by leveraging the concept of a global economy and "outsource" some of the back office functions to the likes of Continuum.” George said. “That is, pivot from being the tinker/one that wants to touch every knob/turn every dial into becoming a more commercial enterprise…we've got guys that have really learned to build and scale real companies.”

Fair enough.

“We’re different in that we view partner composition by revenue, not size. With respect to size, we have a super large partner at Continuum Navigate (Sharp) down to the one- and two-man shops. The difference is, if you go to any other conferences…a four person firm will be lucky to have $1M revenue. But when you ask what are your revenues are, as a measure of scale, it gets real interesting at Continuum Navigate. We have a partner in Cambridge with four FTEs, they bill $4.5M per year. We feel it’s not the number of partners we have but the composition of the partners…we pride ourselves on having the most successful partners…most profitable, growing the fastest, and figuring out that they need to invest in salespeople…when our Continuum partners get acquired…they get a premium…say 3x (higher revenue and two or three would be salespeople)...investors don't pay a premium for technical people…a five person firm today would have 3+ salespeople, etc.” George shared openly with his East Coast accent.

When I offered that SMB Nation has people who like what they do coming from the SBS era, George asserted that lifestyle businesses are great when it’s your lifestyle. “But we have people that are really trying to scale and unless they get big, it’s going to become harder and hard to compete…but when you do everything yourself, you are not benefiting from a global economy and Continuum’s back office solutions.”

Security and ‘da Roadmap
Not surpassingly my time with George was running short when we got to the other topics. So the net-net is this.

  • George believes security is the new-new. I concur. Never ending and only getting worse. “This new frontier only means more opportunities for Continuum MSPs.
  • The 2018 roadmap will include lead generation for Continuum partners.

So I end on this. Next year in late September the Continuum Navigate conference will be back in Boston, a city I’m overdue to visit. I’ll bring a sports jacket to both elevate my game and fit in with the top dogs.

 

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JEALOUS – Spiceworks IT Report for 2018 Forecasts

First of all, just to be clear, I’m very jealous of Spiceworks. Always have been; always will be. They have successfully scaled an enthusiastic and engaged community of IT Pros over the past 10+ years to dwarf anything in the SMB MSP channel. It’s an interesting company history here.

Full disclosure. I recently attended
the well-regarded SpiceWorld conference in Austin Texas (Spiceworks HQ town) and beyond enjoyed myself. This conference has a couple dimensions and at its core is focused on its technology tools used by IT Pros (SpiceHeads) followed by an unusually strong party culture. Folks were wearing costumes making this the “ComicCon of IT” (a term coined by the The Register – a UK-based publication). In the spirit of Yelping – I will repeat and you should do this at least once. Mark your calendars for October 2018.

Now the good stuff. The 2018 State of IT report was released at SpiceWorld 2017. The logical question is this: what’s in it for me, the SMB Nation MSP? The interactive chart below shows one view for small business (customers) in North America in the context of Managed services budget breakout for 2018.

spiceworks msp chart

Figure 1: Look closely and join me in being surprised that Managed Hosting is a category leader. Seriously?

Other MSP insights (we’ll get to the other stuff later) include:

“The smallest of the small are the biggest procrastinators.” Shared Peter Tsai, senior technology analyst at Spiceworks and someone I consider to be a friend over the years. This was in reference to small business customers that an SMB Nation MSP would serve. I concur.

Peter Tsai at SpiceWorld 2017

Figure 2: Hanging with Peter Tsai at SpiceWorld 2017 in Austin, TX (October 2017)

Tsai found that there are three drivers for an MSP to be engaged by a small business. It’s something we already inherently know at SMB Nation but the validation from Spiceworks was worth the price of admission alone (these are listed in order of study findings):

  1. Price. Extreme price sensitivity in SMB.
  2. Existing relationships\
  3. Trust

I expressed my exasperation to Tsai that I wish these findings were exactly reversed with TRUST being number one and he understood but this is what his research found.

Tsai concluded the MSP conversation with the insights that “MSP constraints for the small service provider are lack of budget, lack of time and lack of knowledge. The smaller MSP can’t be expected to know everything about every single technology.”

Other Stuff
In all fairness, the report covered many more topics. Highlights include:

  • IT budgets are expected to stabilize in 2018, and in many cases grow, as many businesses are feeling optimistic about the state of the economy. As a result, many organizations plan to increase their IT staff in 2018 to help manage new hardware, software, and services.
  • 44% of companies expect their IT budgets to increase in 2018, and they expect a 19% increase, on average; 43% expect budgets to remain flat and only 11% of companies expect IT budgets to decrease.
  • 45% of companies plan to hire more IT staff in 2018.
    • Adoption of emerging technology in the workplace is on the rise. As budgets stabilize, many organizations are also planning to increase their adoption of emerging tech like IoT, VR, and AI.
  • Currently, 29% of organizations have adopted IoT while 18% have adopted VR and 13% have adopted AI technology. In the next 12 months, adoption of emerging technologies is expected to increase significantly to 48%, 32%, and 30% for IoT, VR, and AI, respectively.
  • Budgets for cloud-based services are on the rise, and nearly tied with software spend. In fact, among hardware, software, cloud services, and managed services, the highest percentage of businesses (55%) reported an increase in cloud budgets.
  • In 2018, 31% of IT budgets have been allocated for hardware, 26% for software, 21% for hosted/cloud-based services, and 15% for managed IT services.
  • In terms of what’s driving more companies to the cloud, the results show 42% are moving to the cloud to provide access to data anywhere, while 38% are looking to enhance their disaster recovery capabilities and 37% want to enable better flexibility and scalability.
  • Despite the rebound in IT budgets, few companies are budgeting for GDPR. 57% of IT departments still haven’t allocated budget for GDPR, or are unclear if GDPR budget exists.
  • Companies in North America are even less prepared. 69% of NA companies haven’t allocated budget for GDPR, or are unclear if it exists, compared to 44% in Europe.
  • Many companies say they’re not preparing for GDPR because it’s not a priority at their organization or because the steps to comply with GDPR are not clear. Additionally, many US companies assume GDPR doesn’t apply to them, but many still aren’t informed on GDPR’s larger impact on businesses worldwide.

 

 

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New Podcast Series: Tell It Like It Is!

Exciting news to slip into Q4! We have launched a new conversational and business casual podcast series to use yet another vehicle to deliver community content payloads! So these are the first two and you can download/listen from the links below. It’s that simple. Let us know what you think (feedback, concerns, etc.) and you can anticipate more podcasts in 2018!

 

podcast cover

These first two podcasts capture of spirit of MSPs making it in a cloud world. We discover the secret sauce to add to your MSP recipe. Toss in a bit of sage startup and start over advice and you go some valuable quick hitters. Hint: listen while doing your gym rat workouts and get a double-dip: good fitness for the body and brain.

Podcast: Derek Sardo
Podcast: Pat Beemer

 

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7 New Technologies You Should Adopt in Your Business

By: Annabelle Short

Whether it is the newest smartphone release or the latest gaming system, as consumers, we are always on the lookout for the latest technology.

As an avid Apple user, I can remember several years in a row where I have stayed up all night on that one fateful night in September when Apple made their big announcement and release.

Of course, I wanted to be one of the first to get my hands on whatever new phone they were coming out with this year.

Well, as business owners, we should be as eager and adaptive to new technology.Technology

New technology is exciting, but as a business owner especially, it can also be daunting…

You, of course, will be presented with a few financial responsibilities and you might also endure a few hiccups along the way with integrating a new technology into your business.

But, in the long run, these new technologies are designed to improve your systems, your strategies, your customer experience – and, your business as a whole.

And, if you don’t do your best to stay ahead, you might find yourself playing a very dangerous game of catch-up later on down the road.

So, rather than shying away from new technology – embrace it:

Get more info on how to maintain the health of your new database or new technology, utilize all aspects of your new system, and how to easily integrate it into what systems you already have running.

And, once you are ready to jump on board with the new technologies of today, here are a few you should consider:

1. Remote employees.

From freelance writers to schedulers and personal assistants – more and more people are choosing to work remotely and in just about every aspect of a business, you could imagine.

Thanks to remote employees, you can still have access to some of the best job applicants while reducing overhead and keeping your employees happy.

2. Digital forms of payment.

Have you ever forgotten your wallet and did not realize it until you were at the checkout?

That is the worst feeling in the world. Of course, the embarrassment of admitting your negligence, but, then, you have added an additional trip to the errand you were running.

But, digital payment can help avoid this issue – thanks to tools such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet.

Accepting digital payment not only offers an added ease to your customer’s experience but it also offers a speedy checkout process and one that is more streamlined.

3. Information security.

In the wake of the major Equifax breach of security, more and more businesses are considering how at risk their customer’s information might be…

In fact, each year, approximately 15 million people are victims of identity theft.

4. Live chat customer service.

One of the most convenient things for a consumer is the ability to online chat. Even if they are not in a place where they can communicate via phone, they can still get help from a live person.

There are several live chat customer service companies that will completely take care of this for you for a small fee.

Live chat customer service will help maintain the most important aspect of success for your business – the satisfaction of your customers.

5. Appointment scheduling software.

Scheduling appointments are time-consuming – so much so, you might even hire an employee to do just that for their job duties. But, adding appointment scheduling software to your line up of business technology can help streamline the process and cut back on expenses.

In addition, it can also make it easier and more convenient for your customers thanks to features such as automatic text reminders and confirmation abilities.

6. Cloud computing.

Whether you are checking the balance of your company bank account or managing your social media accounts, you are using cloud computing. The information is simply being computed through the Internet.

And, cloud computing can offer your business numerous benefits such as flexibility, mobility, reduced costs, automation, and much more.

Technology

When it comes to the success of your business, it is all about having a clear visibility of your customer’s journey – from their very first inquiry to the final sale.

And, you should also have a clear understanding of everything that happens in between.

A CRM is a set of tools and processes that can be used to manage, track, and analyze data of the relationships and interactions your business has with current and potential customers.

Then, this data can be used to improve the process and/or convince the customer to make that final sale.

So, in the overall aspect, a CRM can help improve the conversion rate of your customers.

Of course, new technology can be a bit of an upfront investment…

But, if it improves your bottom line, what are you losing? Nothing – it is just that, you are not losing anything. Rather, you are gaining several things.

Changing technology is a part of life and it is a major part of businesses as well.

So, as a business owner, you should constantly be on the lookout for the “next big thing” and how your business can benefit from it.

Remember, it is all about staying one step ahead of your competitor.

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Is Your Company Prepared Against Cyber-Attacks?

Cyber-attacks are so common, in this day and age, that it’s never a question of whether or not your company will get hacked—it is a question of when. Hackers have been around for years, working their way through your security walls and passwords and gaining access to all kinds of delicate information, including names, social security numbers, finances, and more. 

Even those companies that have the best-of-the-best protection will likely experience at least one cyber-attack per year. Based on cyber-attack statistics, the year 2016 recorded an increased number of attacks when compared to 2015 and 2014, with some of the most active months of the year for attacks occurring in June, July, and August. 

It seems that hackers have gotten increasingly fluent in the language of sabotage, with their ambitions rising in the last year. Banks have experienced multi-million dollar heists, companies have been blackmailed with stolen information, and even the electoral process was disrupted with leaks of valuable information. 

Preparing for Cyber-Attacks 

If you’re worried about the protection of your company, and you want to learn more about what you can do to avoid or lessen the blow, the following information may be able to assist you. Consider all of this information carefully to increase your chances of avoiding hacker chaos in your company. 

Common Types Attacks 

The following are some of the most common attack methods used by hackers: 

Phishing Attacks 

Many hackers take the time to design emails and websites that look almost identical to the regular sites and pages we visit. While there will always be some small details that throw up a red flag, there are a lot of internet users who overlook these differences and can be caught in a hacker’s trap. 

These phishing attacks often come in the form of an e-mail from a business or company you often visit or purchase from, so it makes it more likely that you’ll trust the e-mail and open it. These attacks aim to gather personal information from you, either claiming that you’ve won something or there’s a problem with your account. While many anti-spam websites have worked hard to block these hackers, many people are still tricked into offering their information, which is quickly gathered and taken advantage of. 

To avoid this problem, it’s ideal to have account passwords that require more than one method of authentication, including a phone call or text to your personal phone. A simple login and password are much too easy to get through, so try to incorporate a second method for all of your accounts. This is true for all of your technology in the office—even securing your smart printers will be necessary to ensure there are no breaches. 

Malware

 

Malware is one of the most common forms of cyber-attacks, which tricks an end-user into running some kind of Trojan horse program from a website that they commonly visit and trust. Instead of the regular coding being sent to the user, malware is sent in its place wreaking havoc on your operating system.  

The hacked website will commonly send along a pop-up or message that lets the user know they can’t access their trusted website unless they download some sort of new file or program. They’ll likely be told to turn off any security features to let the file download and, once the download starts, it will begin to take its time running through your system and gathering personal information. 

To avoid this problem, it’s best to make sure that all employees in your company are well educated about this common problem and what they should look out for. Cyber security classes should be mandatory for all employees on a yearly basis, as hackers’ tactics are ever-evolving. All passwords should be changed regularly – monthly should suffice. Documents that are saved with confidential information should be password protected. 

Insufficient Patching 

Many companies know that their programs are being hacked or that their systems are unprotected, and yet many companies overlook the chance to “patch” these holes and, instead, allow them to remain exposed. 

According to a security and breaching report in 2016, 40% of businesses admitted to applying less than 80% of their patches successfully. While this kind of problem is easily one of the most common ways for hackers to exploit companies, there are still those businesses out there who aren’t patching completely like they should be. 

This problem can be fixed by ensuring that every program is patched perfectly or by, at least, making sure that the most exploited programs are fully patched. 

Website Security Tips 

Consider some of these tips to help improve your business’s online security: 

Stay Educated

Follow the news and keep yourself informed about possible hacker issues or problems to look out for. By staying in the know, you can keep yourself and your employees informed about what to watch for, what to avoid, and what to report. This is the simplest way to ensure that your company avoids cyber-attacks. 

Update Software

If your security programs are out of date, make sure that you are notified and that you update those programs as soon as possible. Putting this task on the back burner only exposes you to potential hacks, and cyber-attackers will likely find you much quicker than you think. Even if it costs extra for the upgrade, this is always a better investment than chancing exploitation.

Password Protect Files

Uploading files is one of the easiest ways for hackers to make their way into your websites. To avoid this, make sure that files are always password protected when they contain vulnerable information. This is extremely important when it comes to sending documents outside of the organization or are uploaded to an external server. 

Conclusion 

You’ve worked hard to build your company, so having someone you don’t even know hack and pull it apart with the click of a button is not something you want to experience. Consider all of the information provided to find out whether your company has the potential to be exposed, and what you can do to stop or avoid the destruction of a hacker. 

The best thing you can do for your business is to make security a top priority. Take care of updates, check for new potential issues, educate your employees, and invest in your protection. All of the extra work will be worth it, in the end, to protect your valuable information. 

 

 

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Suze Orman Says This Is the Age You Should Retire—Not a Month or Year Before

Suze Orman
Oct 22, 2017

One of the most popular segments on my CNBC show was "How Am I Doing?" Viewers would call in and tell me everything about their finances and wait for me to judge whether their retirement plan made the grade. Typically the central question was if they could retire in their early 60s.

Let's just say I gave out a lot more D's and F's than A's.

If I resurrected "How Am I Doing?" today, I'd be handing out plenty of failing grades to anyone who thinks they will be able to retire before they turn 171022 suze guide to retirement 270.Yes, you heard me right: 70 is the new retirement age—not a month or year before.

Don't "Oh, Suze" me just yet. Please hear me out.

Look, I totally get that if you are reading MONEY you're probably a diligent saver. But it's always dangerous to assume you're better off than you really are. You likely have plenty saved up to breeze through 15 years or so of retirement. But, people, if you stop working in your 60s, your retirement stash might need to support you for 30 years, not 15.I want to be very clear: I am not talking about a small outlier subset of people who stand to live an unusually long life. Healthy people in their 60s today have about a 50% chance of living into their 90s. Can you honestly tell me you're 100% sure you will not run out of money if you start spending down your retirement funds in your 60s and end up living into your 90s?

 

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Why good business branding is important

Whatever the product or service you offer, or even the market in which you operate, having a strong and consistent brand is essential. In fact, your brand goes a long way beyond just using a logo or graphics. When thinking about your brand, consider the entire ‘package’ or experience that you offer your customers: your company website, social channels, customer service and even your merchandise. Your brand is the way in which your customer perceives and interacts with your business. It’s important to remember that a good brand doesn’t just happen overnight, you will need to implement an in-depth branding strategy.

Recognition

Consider larger brands such as Coca-Cola or McDonald’s for a minute. What does their brand offer that your brand is lacking? These organizations have their branding on track; it is clear and consistent across the business, and their customers know exactly what they are going to experience every time they drink a coke or buy a burger. Using an effective brand strategy helps you stay focused on your business vision and mission. If your brand is strong and correctly positioned in line with business needs, it’s return on investment can be invaluable. Are you doing enough to get your brand recognized? If not, then now is the ideal time to make some serious changes.

Getting ahead of the competition

The world of business is a competitive one. New product launches, shifting trends and difficult consumers can all have an effect on your business revenue. However, if you want to ensure that you remain ahead of your competition – no matter where you operate – then consistent branding is essential. Check that your brand and logo, if you have one, is up to date and used consistently across your social media channels and corporate website, if you have one. If you are struggling with running effective campaigns and promotions, sites such as eventige.com can help you reposition your brand to be the best in the business. So even if you think your market position is fairly strong, there’s no reason to stop now – building an even stronger brand is sure to yield even better results.

Emotional attachment

If people live, love and enjoy your brand on a daily basis, then your branding is achieving its ultimate aim: generating an emotional attachment with your customers. Your brand should present your business or product on a much more personal level. So, if you are alienating your customers, rather than generating new leads, you need to take some time out to see how and why your brand is letting you down. If your brand isn’t engaging with you on an emotional level, then it certainly won’t be with your customer base.

Remember that good branding is built on a strong idea that separates your organization from its competitors, and it allows your customers to identify you in the marketplace. Your brand helps to deliver and achieve your business objectives, and has the power to turn consumers of your product or service into brand ambassadors.

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Expectations For Smartphone Technology in Near Future

It’s been quite a while since the smartphones, whether the android smartphones or Apple, have not been producing anything special. Looks like in the past few years the only thing changing in the new smartphones is the general look of a phone, and the companies produce a better camera with every successive phone.

So, how will the smartphone future technologies be subject to change or what should we be expecting out of them?

Well, considering the smartphone market in the world of today, it seems like perhaps the Samsung smartphoneamongst all android smartphones might be able to produce something new by the year 2018. Here are some expectations we have from the upcoming smartphones in the following year.

New ways of unlocking:

Keeping under consideration the Samsung Note 8, it unlocks through a finger scanner and an eye scanner at the same time. Although several customers have complained about the finger scanner being at a silly place or the eye scanner hardly working, we hope that in the upcoming Samsung android smartphones, these problems will be fixed and the accuracy of the phones will increase.
Facial scanning sounded almost impossible to us, until this September, when Apple announced that their upcoming iPhone X will be unlocked through facial recognition for higher privacy rate. We hope android phones will introduce this technology as well.

Better displays:

The Note 8 has a display unlike any other though, as it uses an OLED display which can be made thinner, brighter and lighter with a better color accuracy and better contrast than the previous display being used, the LED. The iPhone X also uses the OLED display, leaving the LED behind.
The phones that will be launched in the coming year will probably try to catch up as soon as they can, and will definitely get the OLED display as a distinct feature of their own as well!

Better Battery life:

Better battery life can be expected from the upcoming android smartphones of the year 2018. Have you heard? The iPhone X second edition to be released next September, will be the size of an iPhone 7, however, it is believed that it will have a battery life which will run for as long as 2 days on full charge!

Go completely wireless:

We’re expecting that we will be able to charge our phones wirelessly soon. Wireless charging technology is already available and in use, however we still need a charger (charging pod/dock) and phone needs to be "put to charging". Imagine that simply by walking into a room with such "power router" you would start charging your smartphone. Breaking and losing our wires, or having our plugs get fused is just tiring now. And while we’re at it, we also expect to see wireless ear pods in the smartphone future technologies.

Holograms:

It is hoped that the new phones will have holographic displays. You can have a 3-D display in front of you, so that you can experience and look at from all different positions physically. Holograms today sound like "Star Wars" technology, but they might be closer in future than we believe.

It is believed that perhaps the smartphones have now reached their peaks and new technologies can no longer be introduced. However, these small improvements and changings would introduce a new era to the smartphone technology.

 

Written by: Jeffrey Ulrich, CEO, Chinavasion Wholesale Ltd., tech and cool gadgets enthusiast, creator of the Chinese e-commerce shop in 2004, Shenzhen, China.
For more info visit: www.chinavasion.com 

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The 6 Largest Cyber-Attacks to Date

Whether we know it or not, cyber-attacks are occurring all over the world on a daily basis. In this day and age, it is a necessity for most companies to have an online presence, and this often means being exposed to the ugly world of talented hackers. 

One of the most increasingly common forms of cyber-attacks today is referred to as “ransomware,” which forces businesses to pay hackers a certain amount before they will re-release access to the business’s site. According to ransomware statistics, attacks of this kind rose by 50% in the year 2016, which prompted many companies to immediately update and upgrade their systems to avoid further exploitation. There are various steps to avoid a ransomware attack, but it’s not the only attack that your company should be wary of. 

With so many computer-savvy individuals out there in the world, even young adults have the power to break past firewalls and passwords to retrieve information. It doesn’t matter what they’re dealing with—whether it’s Yahoo or the independently-owned jewelry store down the street—everyone is at risk of cyber-attacks. 

Not only do you need to be diligent with your company computers, but it’s also important that you take into account the other pieces of equipment in the office that rely on wireless capabilities, Bluetooth, and other systems that require accounts and passwords for access. Items such as wireless faxes and printers also hold valuable information in their systems, so, even if employees are simply re-filling the ink jet cartridges, there should be security systems in place. 

The following are 6 of the largest cyber-attacks to date. 

1. MafiaBoy

As was mentioned, a hacker isn’t always going to be an adult with years of experience with computers. In this cyber-attack, a 15-year old male who referred to himself as ‘MafiaBoy’ had the prowess to release a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) on a variety of large corporations, including Amazon, Yahoo, and eBay. 

The damage that he caused with the attack cost close to $1 billion, and he was later apprehended. Since he was a juvenile, he was sentenced to open custody, and, ten years later, he published a book that described the impressive event. 

2. The Melissa Virus 

For some hackers, there is never an intent to harm. Unfortunately, some viruses get away from the creator and end up causing huge problems regardless. In 1999, a man named David Smith created the Melissa virus, which worked to infect documents in Microsoft Word and automatically disguise itself as an attached document via email. 

Once opened, the attachment would mail itself out to the first 50 names in the end-user’s Outlook address book, thereby unknowingly spreading like wildfire. Even though Smith claimed that he never meant for the virus to cause harm, it still ended up costing $80 million in damages, and he went to prison for 20 months. 

3.  The Entire Internet Attacked

In 2002, the Internet fell to its knees at the hands of unknown hackers. The attack had it out for very specific victims, which included every single one of the 13 domain name system’s root servers. It was a DDoS-style attack, which was active for approximately one hour. 

While one hour doesn’t seem like a very long time, it was more so the scale of the hack that had alarms sounding all over the United States. Federal authorities categorized the attack as one of the most complex hacks in history, with almost all servers struggling for almost an entire hour before the hold was released. Had the attack lasted any longer, it’s fair to assume that the entire Internet would have been at a standstill and billions of dollars lost. 

4.  Gonzales Hack 

In 2009, it wasn’t a few large companies that were victimized by a hacker but, instead, over 250 financial institutions and all of their clientele. The hacker was known as ‘Gonzales,’ and he was responsible for hacking and stealing millions of credit card and debit card numbers from all across the United States. 

To do so, Gonzales hacked payment card companies, including the convenience store 7-11, to retain card information. While Gonzales did plead guilty to at least three separate cases, he still managed to pull off one of the biggest fraud cases in U.S. history. 

5.  July 2009 Attacks 

Named after the specific date when the hacks occurred, this well-known cyber-attack affected both South Korea and the United States. The hack took over in three different waves of attacks, and it had the ability to affect more than 10,000 computers in the two countries. 

The targeted end-users included government institutions, including the White House, the Pentagon, and the South Korean National Assembly. It was never revealed who was behind the attacks, and allegations were made against the North Korean telecommunications ministry to no avail. 

6.  Estonia Cyber Attacks 

In 2007, Estonia experienced cyber-attacks at an unprecedented scale that had the power to cripple the Northern European country. The attacks focused on putting large institutions at a standstill, including the Parliament of Estonia, banks, media outlets, and ministries. 

It has been said that the attacks were a response to the relocation of the Bronze Soldier of Tallinn and of the war graves in the capital city. While there were many fingers being pointed, at first, there was no concrete evidence to put the blame on anyone in particular. Investments in cyber security were immediately increased, and a Tallinn manual was released that outlined international laws surrounding cyber warfare. 

Conclusion 

Companies all over the world are exposed to cyber-attacks on a daily basis, so it’s important to protect yourself and your employees as diligently as possible. Some of the largest cyber-attacks have been created on a whim, so it’s no surprise that many companies are exposed to attacks even by young adults who are new to the game. 

Avoid cyber-attacks by keeping yourself and your employees updated on new hacker tactics, and make sure to always keep your security updated. These types of practices might be time-consuming or costly, but they will always be worth it, to avoid the disaster of cyber-attacks like the ones mentioned.

 

 

 

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5 Tips on Tightening Your Office Security

Office security and safety is a very important component of running a business. Not only do you want to ensure that you are safe, but you always want to be sure that your employees and valuable information are safe as well. Employees who feel safe in their place of work are generally better workers, and longer-lasting employees as well. For the benefit of the entire business, investing in security in all departments is vital. 

There are a number of practices you can implement within your company that can help to decrease the likelihood of security breaches. If you’re looking to increase the level of security in your building, consider the following tips on tightening your office security. 

1. Create a Plan 

Just like any other disaster or event, there needs to be a plan in place in case of a security breach within your company. This plan should be written out in your policies and procedures manual once it has been passed by your legal counsel. 

This plan should cover all sides of a security breach, including what employees should do, where they should go, how to react, etc. Make sure the plan is closely detailed concerning the actual layout of your offices so that employees are fully aware of where to go and what to expect. 

Once you’ve got a plan in place, go over the plan with each employee individually. This is especially important if you have a lot of turnaround with employees. Everyone should know the drill and be comfortable practicing it a few times a year. 

2. Have a Sign-In System 

If there are a lot of people coming in and out of your offices, your chances of a breach may increase if you’re not careful. This is especially true if your employees are hosting meetings with outside individuals and companies who will need access to your facilities.

To tighten the security of your office, implement a sign-in system that tracks who is coming and going and when. People who work for you full-time should have badges for easy entry, while those who aren’t full-time workers should require a name and proof of meeting to be allowed access into the building. 

A bright, visible badge or keychain should be worn by visitors at all times to ensure that your employees recognize them as an outside worker. This will make it easier for you to track who came onto the premises and who they were in contact with while inside. 

3. Install Security Systems 

 

This is one of the best ways to combat security breaches in your office, and it’s likely to deter many people from considering breaking and entering. While these kinds of systems may cost a pretty penny in the beginning, the investment is worth it. Consider researching some of the best security systems for offices and speak with a professional about the kinds of designs that would work for your office. 

Not only is having security a great way of keeping unwanted visitors out, but it also has the added bonus of keeping an eye on employees inside. Indoor security can help you keep an eye out for valuable items like quality office equipment and tools, and it can also help you get to the bottom of any problems that occur between co-workers. 

While you’re looking at installing security on the inside of your office, be sure to take care of the outside of your building as well. Stairways, doors, alleyways, and parking lots surrounding your building should be protected, and employees should know that they’re safe should they ever work late hours or experience a car break-in. Investing in outdoor security and adequate lighting will help to increase the safety of your workers. 

4. Implement Online Security 

Once you’ve covered safety procedures in your office space, you’ll want to consider your online property as well. There were some unprecedented online breaches in 2016, including hacks to large companies, including Target, Verizon, LinkedIn, Wendy’s, Snapchat, and Yahoo. 

To protect valuable information and accounts within your company, being diligent and investing in protection is a must. Investing in an online security system is one of the first things you should do to keep valuable information safe, and it is important to keep these systems updated to ensure they can perform at their best. 

It will also be important to keep employees up to date on the current scams to watch out for and to keep them educated about what to look for and avoid when they’re working online. Phishing emails are becoming more common, and hackers are quickly perfecting other company’s branding and voice – making it easy to fall for their tricks. The best way to avoid mistakes and phishing scams is to regularly educate your employees on security, update all passwords on at least a monthly basis, and always try to improve existing security.   

If you ever do experience any security breaches, take the time to make sure you get all of the necessary patching and recovery taken care of. Patching will ensure that there are no points of access into your database, so it’s important to take care of these issues right away. Hackers do not need a lot of time to find holes in open programs, so, the higher this is on your priority list, the better. 

5. Secure Physical Information

While online documents and e-mails are the chosen route for communication and information, these days, you’ll still want to ensure that physical copies of information are properly secured. To keep track of your important documents, make sure that you have a secure safe for things like passwords, checks, printed documents, and other vital information. 

Lock away any paperwork that needs to be shredded, until it can be properly disposed of, and be sure to store away and lock printers and computers that are not being used. Employees should never be able to take home office equipment, and all general passwords should be changed on a regular basis. 

Conclusion 

When it comes to the security of everyone and everything in your company, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Investing in the security of your company can prove invaluable on the off chance that someone decides to try to steal your information or bring harm to anyone in your building. 

Consider the tips suggested above to ensure that your office is a safe and secure place for everyone and everything within it. 

 

 

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Guide to Build and Grow Your MSP Business in the Cloud

 

Did you know? The cloud presents an unprecedented opportunity to transform and scale your MSP business while saving costs for your customers, and it is easier to do than  you think.

Why haven’t you embraced the cloud yet?

The cloud is complex, and understandably provokes hesitation for anyone not well versed in cloud infrastructure and architecture, or computer engineering.  For some, it may even represent a deterrent to growth.  It is not.  It is a prime opportunity to grow your MSP business.

With a few clicks, you can grow your profit with cloud solutions. Offer existing clients a better, cheaper IT solution that can be bundled with additional services to grow your margin.  Expand your customer base and geographic footprint with cloud-based offerings and no need to maintain on-premises hardware. Leave behind a project-based mentality for a stable, predictable monthly recurring revenue subscription model. And a stronger, more valuable MSP business.

All of this is possible to you today.

Deliver cloud solutions without being a cloud expert. You don’t have to hire cloud experts, you don’t even have to invest a lot to retrain yourself or existing staff. In fact, automation in the cloud frees up resources from mundane management and maintenance tasks to instead allow a greater focus on customer growth and support.

Complex workloads and solutions like remote desktop and application delivery in the cloud can be achieved with just a few clicks. Sophisticated, enterprise-level security and compliance solutions are available to you. The cloud makes things easier.  It is time to embrace it.

This e-book overviews the benefits of the public cloud for you and your customers.  And outlines key considerations and options in planning your move to the cloud. Download here.

 

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laetitia MOREAU
C’est un très joli article, super agréable à lire et très intéressant .
Friday, 13 October 2017 21:00
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Why Entrepreneurs Need To Embrace A Spirit Of Continual Reinvention

Chris Myers, CONTRIBUTOR

I write about my journey as a first-time CEO and startup founder

Entrepreneurship, and life in general for that matter, is a never-ending cycle of creation and destruction. Ideas, beliefs, and behaviors ebb and markus spiske 104913flow evolving to influence our lives in different and often unexpected ways.

Central to this truth is the concept of reinvention. I think that many times, entrepreneurs feel like the act of personal reinvention is tantamount to admitting failure. They’re not wrong.

Failure is an integral part of my life, both personally and professionally. To claim otherwise would be disingenuous. However, I’ve found that failure, while often painful, provides the catalyst for change.

My overarching goal is to acknowledge my mistakes, failures, and shortcomings while working towards becoming a better person and leader.

As Hemingway once said, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.”

However, this radical commitment to self-improvement often easier said than done. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned along my journey.

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Twitter’s Apple Watch app has disappeared

by Sarah Perez (@sarahintampa)

apple watch event0309

The big Twitter news currently may be the expansion of tweets to support 280 characters instead of just 140, but a number of Twitter users recently spotted another notable change, as well: the Twitter Apple Watch app has disappeared. The app’s iTunes App Store page no longer notes compatibility with the Apple Watch, and users who have updated to the latest versions of iOS and watchOS note the Twitter Watch app is no longer available on their smartwatch.

Specifically, with the rollout of the Twitter for iOS (version 7.8) iOS app, the Apple Watch app was removed, we understand.

Twitter would not be the first major tech company to stop supporting the Apple Watch via a native app. Several major app makers, including Google, have abandoned Apple’s smartwatch platform in recent months. For example, Google pulled support for Google Maps on the Apple Watch earlier this year, and retailers including Amazon and eBay did the same.

The challenge for these watch apps in some cases has to do with the fact that a smartwatch is not necessarily the ideal platform for traditional mobile app use – like shopping, for example. But with Google, it was likely also too difficult to compete with the better-integrated Apple Maps app that’s designed to work with Apple’s wearable.

But those removals went largely unnoticed, which indicated that perhaps these apps weren’t as heavily used as the companies had hoped when the Apple Watch app store first launched.

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Office Depot Takes First Step in Strategic Transformation to Become Business Services Platform with Acquisition of CompuCom

Adding Market-Leading Provider of World-Class IT Services with Approximately $1.1 Billion in Sales to Create a Powerful Omnichannel Tech Services Platform

Combines CompuCom’s Broad Set of Managed Technology Services with Access to Office Depot’s Extensive Customer Base and Last-Mile Advantage to Generate Substantial Growth Opportunities

Expects Over $40 Million in Estimated Annual Cost Synergies within Two Years; Acquisition to be Accretive in Year One

Attractive Free Cash Flow and Significant Financial Flexibility to Implement Office Depot’s New Strategy to Grow Recurring Business Services Revenue

Office Max

Corporate/Financial News, Products and Services News
Tuesday, October 3, 2017 4:35 pm EDT
BOCA RATON, Fla.

NASDAQ:
ODP
US6762201068

BOCA RATON, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Office Depot, Inc. ("Office Depot” or the “company”) (NASDAQ:ODP) today announced it is pivoting the company from a traditional office products retailer to a broader business services and technology products platform. As the first step in this new strategic direction, the company has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire CompuCom Systems, Inc. (“CompuCom”), a market-leading provider of award-winning IT services, products and solutions that enable the digital workplace for enterprise, small and midsize businesses. The company also provided a preliminary estimate of third-quarter financial results and a lowered outlook for Office Depot’s stand-alone business for 2017.

“Technology is the office supply of the future,” said Gerry Smith, chief executive officer of Office Depot. “Today marks a significant milestone as we move to provide a unique business services platform for our current and future customers. Acquiring CompuCom is the first step in this new strategic direction. The combination of CompuCom’s enterprise IT services with our millions of customers and approximately 1,400 distribution points gives us the credibility and scale to build a sustainable platform and stand apart from the competition. The company will create value for shareholders from a diversified revenue base with a clear opportunity to grow higher value services and business-to-business revenues.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Office Depot will acquire CompuCom from Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. ("THL"), a premier private equity firm, for a total consideration of approximately $1 billion, which includes the repayment of CompuCom debt and issuance of new Office Depot shares. Following the transaction, THL will hold an equity position in Office Depot of approximately 8% of total shares outstanding.

Founded in 1987, CompuCom provides highly-rated managed IT services to businesses with over 5.1 million unique end users. CompuCom’s team of approximately 6,000 licensed technicians is the largest employee field technician workforce in North America, providing remote and onsite technology support. CompuCom procures, installs and manages the lifecycle of hardware and software for businesses, and offers IT support services including remote help desk, data centers and on-site IT professionals. CompuCom was positioned in the Leaders quadrant of Gartner's® most recently released Magic Quadrant® for Managed Workplace Services, North America. CompuCom has established long-term relationships with hundreds of blue chip customers, including six of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies, and many small- and medium-sized businesses, including local franchises of national brands.

Compelling Market Opportunity

The combination represents a unique opportunity to bring world-class IT support services to all of Office Depot’s customers, particularly underserved small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

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The Challenges of Internationalising a Startup

Working on creating a successful startup is challenging at the best of times. However, once you’ve set up your website, your business model, your products and your services, there’s still the biggest problem to face. Expansion.

Today, we’ll explore some of the most common challenges that startups like yours face when trying to boom into the global market and how you can overcome them.

Not Starting Early

One of the biggest mistakes that start-up companies make when trying to secure their position on the global Mapnetwork is leaving it too late. Every decision you make needs to consider the fact that you’re planning to globalize in the future.

Even down to a basic level of choosing the name of your brand. You may have come up with a really awesome name for your startup but have you considered how well received it will be in other countries. In some cases, it might even be offensive, in which case you’ll need to adapt and move forward.

Overcoming the Language Barrier

Let’s face it, not everybody in the world speaks English. Or at least fluently enough for them to understand your website. To overcome the language barrier, you’re going to need to think about translating your pages in the near future. If you want your startup to definitely be a global entity, you’ll need to start thinking of this early on in your development.

Unfortunately, you can’t simply copy and paste your content into Google Translate. Although this will do the basics, it won’t be able to translate full sentences and thousands of words accurately. Instead, you’ll need to use a professional translator who’s fluent in the languages. Fortunately, there are several sites that can carry out this process on your behalf such as UK top writers and Best Australian writers. Simply find which one best suits you.

Ensuring Expansion is Right for You

Sometimes, startup companies will move to the international markets simply because they don’t have enough business in their domestic market. However, this is not always the best decision, and the chances are that you aren’t’ receiving business in your domestic market because of your business model.

However, this can be a critical error and will possibly result in your breaking your business due to huge expenditures that won’t pay off. Unless you’re originally planning to operate in another country, always try to conquer your domestic market first before expanding.

Consider Your Communication Methods

Whether you’re operating an online service or selling your products to the world, you’ll need to pay attention to how you’re communicating with your customers and the methods you’re using. For example, you may be using social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, but are these the primary source of communication in certain countries?

Lean Dole, a marketing expert at Viawriting, explains, “You’ll need to explore other options. You could invest in multiple, dedicated email addresses. You may need to think about dedicated country phone support lines. You may even need to consider what prefix you’re going to use on your domain name, such as France (.fr), Spain (.es) etc.”

Increasing Global Credibility

Not only will you need to adapt and customize your content for your online users, but you’ll also want to adapt and personalise your user-generated content. For example, customer reviews and feedback are vital aspects that will contribute to your success. So, you may be highlighting reviews from your own country, but what about promoting the views of others?

Another thing you’ll want to think about is adapting this content to suit the country that you’re promoting in. Every country is different and will have its own mindset, its own culture and its own ideas. It is better to outsource such work to professionals like Academadvisor or Write my essay. You will need to address these if you want your startup business to succeed.

Don’t Risk Poor Customer Experience


Let’s imagine you’re based in the US, and you’ve got an increasing number of customers in China, none of which speak English. Then, let’s say there was a problem with your product or service. Maybe the parcel wasn’t delivered, or your product was faulty. The individual then attempts to contact your company, you answer the phone, but neither of you understands each other.

This is going to seriously harm the reputation, credibility and trustworthiness of your business and it may be extremely difficult to claw back these brownie points. Before you launch your service into another country, it’s vital that you set up the right customer support teams that can handle any queries or complaints.

Not Playing the Long Game

Moving into the international markets is a long game, and many startups will be extremely eager to make the biggest impression that they can, causing them to overlook this consideration.
Instead of trying to steal your competition’s market share in one huge strike, it’s much more effective, and budget-friendly, to chip away at it slowly and gain ground and traction.

Brenda Berg is a professional with over 15 years of experience in business management, marketing and entrepreneurship. Consultant and tutor for college students and entrepreneurs. She believes that constant learning is the only way to success. You can visit her personal blog at Letsgoandlearn.com

 

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Microsoft is releasing Office 2019 next year

 
 
Microsoft Office 2019
 

Microsoft is announcing its next major release of Office today at Ignite in Orlando, with a planned release for next year. Office 2019 (arriving in the second half of 2018) will include the usual Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook client apps, alongside server versions of Exchange, SharePoint, and Skype for Business. Microsoft is planning to release preview copies of Office 2019 in the middle of 2018, and the software is primarily designed for organizations that aren’t using the cloud Office 365 versions.

Office 2019 will include better IT capabilities for businesses that aren’t using Office 365, and new ink features like pressure sensitivity, tilt effects, and ink replay. Excel will also include new formulas and charts for data analysis, and PowerPoint will pick up the morph and zoom animation features that Office 365 customers are currently taking advantage of.

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The Need for Speed

GoDaddy published the results of a study looking at page load speeds across four website builders: GoDaddy’s GoCentral, Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace.

Fast page load speed is crucial for business owners when it comes to capturing online sales. A recent study shows that websites taking longer than three seconds to load could potentially lose nearly half of the site’s visitors. Additionally, up to 79% of customers who are dissatisfied with a website's performance say they're less likely to buy from the same site again.

GoDaddy’s test of the top four website builders showed that GoCentral’s websites loaded faster than the three other builders, and more than 3x faster than the slowest competitor.

 

Need for Speed

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Smartsheet – Not Your Parent’s Project Management System

I have a dog in this fight. In graduate school my MBA concentration was in project management from a construction industry vantage point (fortunately my skills easily transferred to IT and the rest is history). So when Smartsheet announced its first ever user conference, I marked it as a must do. It was time well spent and, yes, I’ll yelp that I will repeat. Heck 1,000 attendees can’t be wrong (note this was an IT Pro audience with 55% self-selecting as super users).

Smartsheet

Fig 1: Hangin’ with Smartsheet CEO Mark Mader at the September 2017 conference.

What is Smartsheet?

Historically I’ve framed up Smartsheet as online project management on steroids. Growing from a residential house (in Bellevue, WA) in 2005, Smartsheet currently has over 400-employees heading to 800+ within the next 12-months. Today Smartsheet is all about positioning itself as a SaaS application for collaboration and work management using an intuitive spreadsheet-like interface. As the name would imply, the product is a series of “smartsheets” based on the underlying project management paradigm to assign tasks, track project progress, manage calendars, share documents and manage other work. The underlying mission pillars for company transparency, practicality, effectiveness and accountability has resulted in an “…ethos that brought people together in the old yellow house to help companies achieve more...uplifting how we work.” According the CEO Mark Mader in his inaugural keynote address. “We love surveys. We found that you spend 11-hours per week on repetitive tasks and routines. We grossly underestimated how changing the way we work would be disruptive…the web…how expectations had changed, etc.” Loosely translated, Mader is saying, Smartsheet is trying to change work culture. I’d offer it’s trying to do it in far less than one generation (for context, read this interesting article on how a reformed Poland took a 20-year generation to change its culture. http://www.modernsurvey.com/blog/20-years-for-cultural-change) “When Smartsheet was established, we sought to establish a new language for work.” Mader said.

Ease of Use

Clearly the Smartsheet asset is its ease of use. “Smartsheet is about self-help and not taxing IT to work with a SaaS-based collaborative solution.” Mader added.

Will a Robot Take My Job?

Mader’s mission is automation. He hit the Robot fear factor head-on in his keynote. “People are receptive to automation - enables you without coding, to execute, etc. We believe the automation released today will take you to the next level.” Mader is referring to the “Smartsheet Report: Automation in the Workplace 2017” which is survey results released at the conference. Two nuggets are:

65% of workers use some type of automation in their day-to-day work.

78% say automation will allow them to spend more time on the interesting and rewarding aspects of their job.

Bottom line

While the conference as customer facing with IT pros (e.g. Alaska Airlines employee), I can appreciate that spot opportunities for MSPs and partners exist. That’s my next blog!

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My Moto Summer Fling

With the Fall Equinox upon us, I can now share my summer research findings concerning mobility.

This is truly a case of starting over. This summer, I tested the Android-based Moto Z Play2 as part of my journey post-Windows Phone (Nokia 1020). The decision was very simple. Increasingly the apps I want and need were not on the Windows Phone platform. And I’ve been there; done that
with the Apple iPhone (I had the iPhone 3G in 2008). As leading Microsoft partner and IAMCP executive Jeff Shuey said “…time to get appy” when briefed on my intentions. I gave my test unit and the mods a stress test by attending the recent Microsoft Inspire conference (conference in Washington D.C. in July 2017- this conference was formerly known as the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference “WPC”).

Intel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 1: I’m with a Lenovo rep discussing the Hasselblad True Zoom mod at Microsoft Inspire.

My NEEDS!
Years ago I listed my basic needs in a mobile phone in a blog at SMB Nation. Basically beyond the whiz-bang apps, it amounted to phone service, testing, photos and sound plus battery life. Those are still my core needs and the Moto Z Play2 really excels here. Why?” Because these featured are enhanced via the mods you can attach (and I’ve now tested).

Sound. The JBL-based sound mod, that snaps on to the back of the phone, is really a super cool conference phone feature in my opinion. While at Inspire, I placed several calls on speaker and had multi-person calls (including a few people standing next to me in a busy and loud tradeshow hall. Everyone was impressed. Finally a phone that was a real speaker phone. Bonus was when I stream Xfinity content while traveling (watching CNN), I have world class external audio.

Power. The most useful mod was clearly the Moto Turbopower Pack, a battery recharger (I use it daily). Like anyone, I fiddle with my mobile phone all day every day. I typically hit the later afternoon low energy zone. Viola – I attach the Turbopower Pack (often on my commute home) and return to full power quickly. This is important because the nature of my evening commutes has me away from power.

It should be noted that each of the mods I used came with their own power supply (e.g. up to ten hours power for the speakers or projector). However, these Mod built-in batteries only ran the actual function (e.g. sound, projector) but did not have a reverse current flow to charge the actual phone. Only the Turbopower Pack had that ability. I wish the engineering would support both the device power (speakers, projector) and recharge the phone. Why? Because it’s unlikely I’m going to run my projector for ten hours.

Projector. I used this mod the least but I do feel it’s essential as a mobile businessman. I’ve used it for pleasure, to stream a short high school graduation spoof vid for my son’s big day at the celebration dinner. I’ve used it for business to show web sites, such as a predictive analytics firm, when I was having a business discussion. And I’ve used it to show PowerPoint presentations on the fly (I showed this off at a recent tradeshow where I had a booth). Bonus is that the Moto Insta-Share Projector is available complimentary (as I write this) with the purchase of Moto Z phone (offers may vary). But for free, it’s one hellva must have.

Camera. Truth be told, I only used the internal camera (front and rear) regularly. As a blogger/analyst, the built-in camera(s) are sufficient for my digital media needs. I quickly tested the Hasselblad True Zoom camera in the Lenovo booth at Microsoft Inspire (see Fig 1 above). So it’s hard for me to remember a verdict on the Hasselblad True Zoom camera mod. I was able to zoom into the audience as seen in Fig2 (non-zoom) and Fig 3 (zoom) and clearly see the results. The non-zoom pic was about the same quality as the built-in camera, but I’m a shutterbug and I understand the value of the Hasselblad True Zoom camera for more specialized needs (such as print magazines). This mod has the effect of allowing me to leave my Nikon D5000 SLR at home when I travel for business (the Nikon would still be part of my luggage when I travel to Alaska for scenic photography).

Kindly note one matter concerning the camera function. If you have your phone brightness turned down (to save power), it results in dark pics. For some reason, the auto adjusting/lighting feature just doesn’t work well. Once I restored the phone’s brightness to a sufficient level, my pics got brighter if that makes sense. Learn from Harry on this one.

Jabra Faraway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 2: Broad non-zoom shot using the Hasselblad True Zoom mod.

Jabra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 3: Same shot. Approximately 10x zoom shot using the Hasselblad True Zoom mod.

Android. I’m learning as I go with Android. So far so good with respect to the UI. But there are a few nuances. For example, the Microsoft Office 365 mobile version for Android is not as robust as the Windows Phone version (go figure). The Outlook application, while supporting my multiple business calendars, doesn’t have a proper pop-up notification when an appointment is approaching. Ergo I have missed a few appointments over the summer and have ad to modify my work habits to set alarms with the Clock app. (I’ve tried other calendaring apps such as Business Calendar Version 2.23 but found these apps struggle with supporting multiple business calendars – your reader suggestions are welcome).

My favorite summertime application? Strava. My God – you can accurately record your bicycle rides! It uses the internal GPS capability. See Fig 4.

Chilly Hilly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 4: Big Data meets cycling with Strava – my summer bking as part of my Moto Z Play2 mobile app test bed!

A shout out to the FM Radio app (native Motorola Mobility app version 02.02.0146). I can listen to real over-the-air radio when I’m on the ferry/bus or evening travelling in new cities (e.g. Austin, TX) and want to absorb some local sound. Interestingly the FM radio capability is new in the Moto Z Play2 edition; it did not exist in the original Moto Z Play and I was spoiled from this capability with the Windows Phone and my commute time radio listening habit. Bonus: the use of the FM Radio does not consume data or voice minutes on your mobile phone plan (I use AT&T). It behaves like an FM transistor radio (kids won’t get that).

AT&T. As I mentioned, AT&T is my carrier. But the native Moto Z Play2 support is for Verizon. Ergo I used an unlocked phone version to support AT&T. I always worry about having the unlocked version because I don’t feel you get the same performance or patch cadence. But during my summer romance with the Moto Z Play2, I have no quarrels.

Summary

I the start of this blog, I shared I know my needs as a mobile traveler, businessman and media/press analyst blogger: pics, sound, basic phone service, long power, basic apps and hero apps. The Moto Z Play2 meets my needs completely and receives the coveted “Astro” award (Astro is the mascot of SMB Nation). Bravo Moto!

ASTRO APPROVED WWW SMBNATION COM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 5: Moto Z Play2 wins an Astro!

PS – one suggestion. I would be nice to stack mods. For example, If I could have both the projector and the sound mods usable at the same time, my streaming entertainment content would sound divine (instead of the projector defaulting to the internal speaker on the actual phone). Today it’s one mod at a time baby.

PPS – shout out to my friend Jerry Essenpreis, IT Manager at the Bremerton Housing Authority, for encouraging me to you the finger print logon security. After a brief training session capturing my thumb print, it worked splendidly and no need to tap in a PN code.

 

 

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Apple replaces Bing with Google as search engine for Siri and Spotlight

siri what can i help you with e1459781539685

Siri screenshot. (Apple Image)

Apple is ditching Bing and will now use Google to power the default search engine for Siri, Search within iOS (iOS search bar), and Spotlight on Mac.


TechCrunch reported Monday that Apple users will now see search results powered by Google, instead of Bing, when using those tools.

For example, when an iPhone user asks Siri a question that needs a search engine result, the voice assistant will now pull from Google, not Bing.

Apple will still use Bing for image search queries using Siri or Spotlight on Mac, TechCrunch reported. Apple said the move was done for consistency; its Safari browser uses Google as the default search engine.

In a statement, the company told TechCrunch that “we have strong relationships with Google and Microsoft and remain committed to delivering the best user experience possible.”

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Fall Security Survey - Please Participate!

Not on is it back-to-school but it’s Fall with everyone madly back to work. Would you be able to spare a few moments to assist us in assess your security-related attitudes and preferences? Your contribution to this crowded sourced survey helps keep our community alive and thriving!

We are curious
about your emphasis on security as an MSP practice and vendor preferences.

It’s all very simple. Complete the survey HERE.

Security Survey

 

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

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Microsoft connects LinkedIn and Office 365 via profile cards, starting to capitalize on $26B deal

BY NAT LEVY on September 25, 2017 at 6:00 am

 

Microsoft

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner. (Microsoft Photo)


More than a year after Microsoft announced its plans to purchase LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, the technology giant is rolling out some of the first integrations with the business social network.

At its Ignite conference in Orlando this morning, Microsoft plans to announce that Office 365 will include a new “profile card” that can display LinkedIn information. For example, interviewers using Outlook would be able to easily access LinkedIn profiles of job seekers. This integration, the first between Office 365 and LinkedIn since the acquisition, is designed to make it easier for people to search for others inside their organizations.

Here’s how it works, according to the company: “Users who have access to this feature can access LinkedIn profile information by hovering over a person’s name and navigating to the ‘LinkedIn’ tab on the new profile card. Microsoft service administrators continue to have control over organizational privacy and connected features in their tenant. We respect end-user privacy and will honor your LinkedIn privacy and profile visibility settings.”

Microsoft is also connecting LinkedIn with its Dynamics sales and recruiting technology. LinkedIn InMails and messages will soon be able to be sent directly from Dynamics 365 for Sales, for example, and customers will be able to quickly integrate LinkedIn profile photos and other content to enrich lead data.

Microsoft completed its high-profile purchase of LinkedIn last year. At that time, Microsoft detailed a few of the integrations it was pursuing at the time, providing a roadmap for the work between Microsoft and LinkedIn.

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Why Asking for Advice is the Best Thing for Your Business and Yourself

BY: Annabelle Short

Do you remember as a teenager, your mom or dad would give you some advice on a relationship or maybe on how to do your homework?

You would respectfully ignore it because…

What do mom and dad know, right?

But, looking back, there were probably several times where you wished you had only taken their advice.Help

It is easy to display the same sense of pride when it comes to your business –

Your business is like your child. You developed the idea and have put time, effort, and money into ensuring its success. So, obviously, you are adamant that you – and only you – could possibly know what is best for it.

But, consider this:

Think of your absolute favorite article of clothing.

Maybe it is your favorite team’s t-shirt or that pair of jeans that fit just right…

Now, when you go to wash that article of clothing, the first thing you do is check the clothing label for washing instructions.

Can you dry it?

Will it shrink?

Does it have to be washed on cold only?

So, why should you not search for professional advice the same way for your business?

You can avoid obvious mistakes.

There are plenty of obvious mistakes that are not so obvious to you at the time-being…

You haven’t made them yet, so how would you know to avoid them?

But, there are plenty of other business owners who have and who would be more than happy to share their story, give you their insight, and allow you to learn from their mistake.

Some of these mistakes might be overwhelmingly embarrassing or just plain costly – but either way, if you could avoid them up front, why not?

It will energize you.

Running a small business can get lonely.

You can easily find yourself consumed with the many hats that you wear as a business owner. However, by getting involved with other business owners or finding a mentor, you can listen to how they approach their businesses…

Not only will connecting with others give you insight into how others do things but it could foster new ideas you have never considered and help your stress, leading you to realize you are not alone.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

This is a saying my parents have told be a million times over…

You don’t know what you don’t know.

And, it is as simple as that.

You might be missing out on the most cost-effective solution for your business that you have been actively searching for.

And, you know what?

It could be right there waiting to smack you in the face if you would just ask for help.

You and your business will prosper.

Ultimately, asking for help will only make you a better person and your business a better business.

You will learn new things that you can apply both to your personal life and to your business practices, you will meet new people who can introduce you to their audiences and help further your business, and you will have someone to call on when the road gets tough.

Final Thoughts

Being a business owner can be hard enough:

Many hats to wear and new challenges to face each day.

Why try to do it alone?

You are only being stubborn not asking for help and continuously missing out on opportunities that you might not even know are available.

Do yourself and your business a favor – swallow your pride and ask for help. When you and your business begin to prosper, you won’t regret it.

 

Annabelle Short is a writer and a seamstress of more than 5 years. She loves making crafts with her two children, Leo (age 9) and Michelle (age 11). Annabelle likes to write about business, crafting and sewing, and parenting. She splits her time between London and Los Angeles and writes for Wunderlabel. You can visit her blog to learn more about her and her handmade creations.

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Knowledge is Power: Small Business and Five Cyber Security Myths

By: Steven Bearak, CEO of IdentityForce

Building an effective cyber security strategy is critical for all small business owners. When running a lean operation, it’s common for a small business to do more with less. IT resources can be scarce, even for those small to mid-sized Cyber Securitycompanies that are in the high-tech and IT fields. In fact, when 600 IT leaders from small and mid-size businesses were surveyed for a 2016 State of SMB Cybersecurity Report, only 14 percent of the companies indicated that they were highly effective at mitigating cyber risks, vulnerabilities, and attacks.

The first step to protect your small business is to really understand perceived myths versus the truth around cyber security protection. So, let’s get started:

Myth #1 - A Strong Password Keeps Everything Secure
Strong passwords are important, but they won’t fully protect you. Consider using a password with two-factor authentication, and make sure that your team never leaves passwords lying around the office or their homes. Instead, encourage them to use a password manager.

Myth #2 – I’m Prepared! I have an Antivirus Program
Many businesses, including small business owners, believe that an antivirus program will keep their data safe and secure. While it helps, there’s a lot more to cyber security than installing a simple piece of software. And, more people than ever before are also using smartphones and tablets on unsecured networks without installing the proper antivirus software on those devices.

Myth #3 - A Good Firewall Will Keep the Bad Guys Out
In the same way that antivirus software won’t fully protect your business from a cybercriminal, firewalls won’t either. Gaps remain even if you are using both firewall and antivirus software. In today’s work environment where Bring your own Device (BYOD) and telecommuting are prevalent, many of the risks come from a lack of communicating and enforcing best practices with your employees. Other solutions such as identity theft protection can further protect your employees’ Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

Myth #4 – Cyber Attacks Don’t Happen to Small Companies
Cyber threats are very real and becoming more prevalent. This can also include ransomware – or malicious software – that threatens to publish the data on your device, or lock down your device, unless a ransom is paid. Your business can be a target 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And, according to a 2017 IT Risk Report by Netwrix, 73 percent of small businesses don’t have a dedicated function to handle information security, therefore making them an appealing and easy target to cyber criminals.

Myth #5 – I Don’t Know Any Cybercriminals, Therefore I’m Safe!
Even if it accidental, many cybercrimes can be traced back to internal events. This can be an unintentional phishing email sent by a vendor or partner, or in the case of ransomware, the attack can happen when your employees visit malicious or compromised websites. Often spam in the form of email attachments forwarded among colleagues can leave your business vulnerable.

Protecting your small or mid-sized business starts with knowledge. Always keep security in mind, research and install security software on your computers and devices, and conduct ongoing training with your employees. And, it’s not a one and done effort; you must refresh your practices every few months or at least twice a year to ensure you are keeping up with the latest cyber threats and attack methods.

Steven Bearak is the CEO of IdentityForce, a company commercialized from nearly four decades of in-depth experience around personal identity and security services and products. IdentityForce is a leading provider of proactive identity, privacy, and credit protection for individuals, businesses, and government agencies. In May 2017, IdentityForce introduced a secure mobile app to help members stay protected anywhere, anytime. For more information, visit www.identityforce.com

 

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Tips to Create an Office Space That Increases Staff Retention

People take a great deal of pride in their work, and they want their efforts to be as meaningful to employers and society at large as they are to them, on a personal level. But having more authority, more responsibilities, and a friendlier boss doesn't cut it these days. You'll find out soon enough that there's only so much you can do, as an executive, to keep employees running on all cylinders and happy on the job, before you turn to office interior design.

But what could a designer do to address staff retention problems? Typically, it should start with an in-depth analysis of how employees work, what they need throughout the day to carry out tasks effectively and what they Office Spacerequire to take a break and come back to work feeling refreshed. This knowledge should be a major source of information to help turn your business premises into the ideal workplace environment and commission the right office fit for your company. The idea is that a more employee-centric design would not only draw prospective candidates to your company, but also help existing employees focus and feel at ease at the office. As any designer would tell you, optimizing design and managing noise levels more efficiently fosters creativity and innovation. Here's how:

1. Take a Page from the University's Book
Switching from college desk to corporate office is a slow and sometimes painful transition. Working on the go is something graduates continue to yearn for even as their office looks nothing like the campus. It's entirely achievable with an office that focuses on flexible and movable furniture created for remote and spontaneous work.

2. Go from Unisex to Universal
It used to be that an inclusive work environment meant one where men and women worked together in harmony. Today, it's about catering to people of all abilities and ages. In other words, your office interior design needs to make work accessible to everyone, using specific types of furniture that is the right weight and placed at just the right height or distance. To round it off, you need to back up this approach with the latest technology and the right kind of general office attitude toward diversity.

3. Listen to What 'Mother Nature' Has to Say
Green never goes out of style. If there's one thing a plant will never be, it's 'outdated'. So, swap expensive end-to-end, turn-key designs for low-maintenance plants and trees that can turn your décor into something truly inspirational.

4. Light Up with Excitement
It goes without saying that people need fresh air and daylight aplenty to give it their best on the job. Don't let seasonal affective disorder or bad mood hold them down. If your windows aren't large enough, resort to glass, mirrors and other shiny and reflective surfaces to make the most of the light ingress.

5. Look Outside the Cage
Considering all aspects of office, check one last thing before you give the designer the go-ahead. Is it pet-friendly? Studies suggest one in two people worldwide have at least one pet, and it's not unusual to have a pet awareness day at the office every now and then. Some companies even go out of their way to have their own workplace pet. If that sounds like something you'd like to have for your employees, then it could be time to start making the office feel at home to more than one species.

6. Be Smart with Art
Is the photo frame on your desk the one and only accent piece at the office? You need only say the word, and your office interior design will be brimming with character. Opt for youthful colour schemes and don't be afraid of unusual contemporary combinations, such as mint and copper, blush and gold, soft Greek blue and silver, etc.

Author Bio:

Reno is the founder and director of Enigma Visual Solutions, a leading office interior design and office fit-out Company in London, specializing in retail designs, graphic productions, signage systems, office refurbishment, event branding, office space planning and much more. He specializes in experiential marketing and event productions. He enjoys sharing his thoughts on upcoming marketing ideas and design trends. Feel free to follow him on twitter.

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How to Nurture an Email and Facebook Lead into a Sale

As more and more businesses adopt inbound marketing as a way to get more leads, the significance of choosing the most effective lead nurturing strategy becomes paramount. Typically, a large share of leads disappears after the first interaction with a business, so getting more quality ones and turning them into sales is something that you just need to master.

If you haven’t been able to turn your subscribers, followers, and fans into active sales, you need to change your approach to nurturing them. Are you interested in knowing how to accomplish this in the right way?

If you are, keep reading.

Today, we are going to talk about email and Facebook leads. Why? Because these two sources contain the most users, therefore they are used by the vast majority of businesses.

Let’s start with Facebook.

How to Nurture Facebook Leads

When it comes to social media, you should think about it as the initial step of your sales cycle. Your ultimate objective is to move leads to a landing page on your website. However, there is a complex task of getting them there.

These tips will help you to make this task easier:

Engage leads with Helpful and Shareable Content

Facebook is a powerful platform for lead generation that has one significant advantage: it gives brands a human face. The interaction with the customers, however, should follow some guidelines. For example, Facebook is not a tool for spamming your followers. People are using it for fun and communication, not sales pitches.

The marketers understand that. According to 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends study completed by Content Marketing Institute, creating more engaging and useful content remained the highest priority in 2016. This situation is not likely to change anytime soon.

Top Priority B2C

Source: Content Marketing Institute

Therefore, all content you share with the leads on Facebook should be useful and shareable. The more shares and likes it receives, the better your reputation is.

Dos:

  • How to articles
  • Articles relevant to professionals from your industry
  • Engaging news

Don’ts:

  • Sales pitches
  • Posts with clear messages to “click here,” “buy from us,” and “share this.”

Optimize the Path to Conversion

Let’s come up and be honest here: many of us are fairly lazy customers. We don’t look for something really hard unless we urgently need it. So, if we have to figure out how to purchase a product or a service, we just might close that site and look for another one where purchasing is easy.

The takeaway here is that you to need to ensure that it’s super easy for leads to make purchases from you. Analyze the page of your business on Facebook:

  • How does a customer make a purchase?
  • Do they have to click on tabs, then click some more on your website, and then figure out how to contact you for the inquiry?

If you feel that your purchasing process is a bit complex, simplify it until it’ super easy.

How to Nurture Leads with Emails

If you’re using email marketing to increase your profits, consider these tips:

Think about the Experiences and Needs of your Leads

After a lead has signed up on your website using an email, you need to treat it as the beginning of the sales cycle. However, the most important role that defines your future marketing effort is the experience of that lead. Here are some examples of emails just for that:

  • Welcome Series – welcome the lead and thank them for joining! See an awesome example from Holland & Barrett below:

HB 1

  • Upsell Offers – emails that let the leads know about the sales and discounts and create a sense of urgency. Another great example from Holland & Barrett:

HB2

  • Educational Content – by sending relevant and helpful articles about the products you sell, you are building rapport with the leads. For example, you can describe product use ideas, benefits of specific products and other actionable information. Holland & Barrett excel at that as well:

HB3

Emails like these can drive major conversions and ensure that customers receive only highly personalized messages at the best possible moment.

Tools for Nurturing Leads using Facebook and Emails

  • MailChimp – an email automation tool that allows to enhance the process of engaging leads via emails sent on an automated basis.
  • Buffer – a social media tool that automatically posts the content at a time at frequency specified by the user.
  • Assignmenthelper.com.au – this tool is useful for creating marketing texts for Facebook campaigns, targeted emails, and more.
  •  Headline Analyzer from CoSchedule – verify whether the headlines in your content are appealing and get tips on improving them. 

Final Thoughts


To succeed, be critical of your lead nurturing campaigns because they are your tool for getting more sales. Don’t forget to measure the results you’re getting because it is the only way to determine where leads are in the sales process.

Hope these tips will be helpful for increasing your profits and getting more quality leads. Follow them closely and continue to build your success sale by sale!

Lucy Benton is a marketing specialist, business consultant. She helps people to turn their dreams into the profitable business. Now she is writing for marketing and business resources. Also Lucy has her own blog ProWritingPartner where you can check her last publications

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How to Reduce Your Business Energy Costs

Owning and running a business is an epic feat.

by: Trevor McDonald

As a business owner you have a task at hand every day: producing an agenda of the day’s workload, assigning projects that will be managed by trusted colleagues, sending quick-fire responses to an endless stream of emails, Reduce Energypromoting your next marketing tactic, and frankly, so much more. Consequently, it is almost impossible to remember every single responsibility, which can cause you to occasionally overlook some major details - such as making sure that the business energy costs are not unexpectedly skyrocketing.

When was the last time you thought about your energy business costs? This money enables you to run a business in the first place, thrive in a productive and comfortable space, and operate technology. Hence, it is imperative to prioritize strategizing methods of reducing business costs and creating an energy-efficient environment in your workplace.

Take a step back from the hustle and bustle of your business and make careful note of these pivotal ways to reduce your energy costs.

1. Implement the use of “green” technology

Businesses are rapidly upgrading their old office equipment into greener and environmentally-friendly alternatives. That’s due to two main reasons: one, is that it saves a tremendous amount of energy and recycles it, thus reducing excess energy consumption and saves money; the second is to shrink their business’ carbon footprint on the earth and prevent any additional harm to it.

2. Prevent colleagues from changing the thermostat temperature

Everyone is prone to the discomfort of weather. In an office, it’s easy to get up and change the temperature of the thermostat and get back to work by thriving in a “perfectly” conditioned space. But minutes later, someone else stands up and shifts the number just a smidgen so that the air feels “just right” to them instead - and unfortunately, the cycle continues with another person right afterward. Did you know that adjusting the thermostat uses more energy than simply allowing it to function and change naturally? The solution: lock up the thermostat and limit the number of individuals allowed to set temperatures, or set it on an automatic setting that adjusts to the seasons and weather accordingly.

3. Maximize the use of natural light

Being stuck inside a building with artificial lights all day gets tiring and uncomfortable. If you are in the process of redesigning your building, look to build large windows and diminish the use of light bulbs as much as possible. Studies show that employees who work in a naturally-lit space are shown to be more productive and happy in the workplace. Also, you can expect employees to come to work lively and awake almost every morning since the constant exposure to natural light helps them sleep better at night.

4. Go digital when distributing or sharing information

Filtering through stacks of paper in a drawer of endless files not only wastes time, but is overwhelming and obsolete. Use a cloud system to store data, engage customers and employees with media outlets, and distribute information. By using a cloud system, you are able to hone in all the business plans, goals, and collaborations into one digital space which keeps you consistently organized.

5. Invest in energy-saving appliances

While energy-saving appliances are expensive, investing in them will serve you more benefit than harm with chronic use, such as gradually decreasing your expenses on bills and reducing the business’ impact on the environment.
Energy-saving appliances also perform better than normal appliances, cultivate a “cleaner and greener” atmosphere, and inspire your employees to take their part in saving energy both in the office and at home. The prime appliances to invest in first are computer monitors because they never stop running throughout the workday. Other examples of energy-efficient appliances to consider are printers, microwaves, and refrigerators.

6. Properly seal areas that allow air to escape from the building

In the summer, one of the leading causes of business energy bill spikes is the increased use of air-conditioning. You must check to see that air emitted from the air-conditioner does not escape the building due to an unknown draft. Not to say you should aggressively barricade the building or put it on lockdown when the AC is in use. Rather, you can set aside time to check problem areas that release air, such as windows and the space underneath doors, seal them accordingly, refrain from opening windows all-together when the AC is on, and ensure that the air is circulating in its designated area.

7. Switch out current light bulbs into either CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) or LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs

CFL and LED light bulbs are incredibly energy-efficient: they last longer than normal incandescent light bulbs and rarely need to be replaced. Additionally, CFL and LED are easy on the eyes, and not as invasive or hazardous as incandescent light bulbs.

Paying for unwanted finances is always a hassle. Therefore, make sure you are equally prioritizing the use of energy within the workspace alongside the dedication to optimizing productivity within the office and finding new ways to market the brand. Now that you’re equipped with vital ways to keep business energy bills at an all-time low, you can invest more time into expanding your business and propelling it forward to greater heights.

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KnowBe4 Releases Email Exposure Check Pro to Help Organizations Identify At-Risk Users

KnowBe4 Releases Email Exposure Check Pro to Help Organizations Identify At-Risk Users
Revamped tool identifies at-risk users through deep web searches and hundreds of breach databases for no-charge.
Tampa Bay, FL – September 6, 2017KnowBe4, provider of the most popular security awareness training and simulated-phishing platform, today announced the release of the new version of its Email Exposure Check (EEC). knowbe4The new version is called the EEC Pro, has powerful additional features and is still provided at no cost.
While employees give out their corporate email for various reasons, IT is hard-pressed to keep track and manage the risk. EEC Pro helps IT by identifying an organization’s at-risk users by crawling social media information and scouring hundreds of breach databases to identify risk associated with user emails and identities. The more at-risk email addresses a company has, the bigger its attack surface, and the higher its risk.
EEC Pro only requires filling out a form, and works in two stages. The first stage performs deep web searches to find publicly available organization data provided on sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. This allows the EEC Pro to show what organizational structure an attacker would be able to easily pull together and use to craft targeted attacks.
The second stage of EEC Pro utilizes the Have I Been Pwned data breach service to find users that have had their account information released in any of several hundred breaches. These users are particularly at-risk because an attacker knows more about them, potentially including their actual passwords. As the final step, EEC Pro provides a detailed summary report to the IT team, including an overview of the data found, a summary of organizational risk levels, and a link to a web report that contains a full list of all users found, the breaches the users were found in, and an overview of the data included in the breach. This allows IT managers to ensure exposed emails or exposed passwords are modified.
“Since 91% of data breaches start with a successful phishing attack, an organization must act reasonably or do what is necessary or appropriate to protect its data and take steps to identify weaknesses that expose their employees,” said Stu Sjouwerman, Founder and CEO of KnowBe4. “Employees are the last line of defense within an organization. We want to make it as easy as possible for IT professionals to reduce their attack surface and strengthen their weakest links.You need to create a ‘Human Firewall’”
Exposed emails and passwords can lead to recent data breaches such as those experienced by security companiesMandiant and Enigma where compromised passwords were not changed.
More information about EEC Pro is available here.
 
 
 
About KnowBe4
KnowBe4, the provider of the world’s most popular integrated new school security awareness training and simulated phishing platform, is used by more than 12,500 organizations worldwide. Founded by data and IT security expert Stu Sjouwerman, KnowBe4 helps organizations address the human element of security by raising awareness of ransomware, CEO Fraud and other social engineering tactics through a new school approach to security awareness training. Kevin Mitnick, internationally recognized computer security expert and KnowBe4’s Chief Hacking Officer, helped design KnowBe4’s trainings based on his well-documented social engineering tactics. Thousands of organizations trust KnowBe4 to mobilize their end-users as the last line of corporate IT defense.
Number 231 on the 2017 Inc 500 list, #50 on 2016 Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 and #6 in Cybersecurity Ventures Cybersecurity 500. KnowBe4 is based in Tampa Bay, Florida. For more information, visit www.knowbe4.com and follow Stu on Twitter at @StuAllard.
 
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What Are Advantages & Disadvantages of an Open-Plan Office Space?

by Shari Parsons Miller

An open-plan office space layout has pros and cons both for a firm’s personnel and its bottom line. In an open-plan work environment, there are no distinct rooms or fully enclosed spaces. Instead, workstations are positioned together -- sometimes separated by short screens or panels -- within one exposed floor plan. The openness may improve communication and collaboration among your workers, but it also may reduce concentration and productivity.

Staff Advantages
A lack of walls or other physical barriers in open-plan office spaces makes it easier for employees to interact with each other on a regular basis. The constant intermingling not only generates a sense of camaraderie among personnel, it also enhances the flow of information and teamwork. Colleagues can turn to each other for advice or assistance without having to knock on doors or schedule a formal meeting. Interactions in an open-plan office space generally are more frequent and informal than in closed environments where everyone has a separate office space.

Business Advantages
The increased collaboration resulting from an open-plan work space can lead to business innovation and advancement. At the same time, an open-plan layout can benefit the business economically by reducing costs tied to construction, utilities and office equipment. For example, fewer walls mean less time and materials required to create the office space. Having a single work space also may reduce heating/cooling and electricity expenses thanks to improved flow of air and light. Businesses can save on equipment investment as well, since communal spaces promote shared use of resources, such as printers, copiers and staplers. An open-plan space also provides greater flexibility to accommodate evolving personnel needs.

Staff Disadvantages
On the downside, the high level of everyday interaction that takes place in an undivided work space may lead to noise and distractions that make it difficult for employees to focus on their work and conduct business. Lack of privacy is another potential problem with open-plan office spaces, where computer screens are easily visible by those walking by and telephone conversations are likely to be overheard. Open-plan layouts also facilitate the spread of disease, so if a colleague comes to work with a cold, it can affect the health of the entire staff.

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101 Small Business Marketing Ideas

By Alyssa Gregory
Updated July 31, 2017


TatOne universal small business goal is to sell the business's products and services. This is usually best accomplished by positioning the business in front of the target audience, and offering something that solves a problem or that they can't refuse or find elsewhere.

To this end, one of the smartest things a small business owner can do for his or her business is to take the time to develop a small business marketing plan that will set them apart from the competition.

A marketing plan clearly outlines how you will reach your ideal customers by effectively implementing your marketing strategy.

There are thousands of ways you can promote your small business. With the right mix of activities, you can identify and focus on the most effective marketing tactics for your small business. Here is a list of 101 small business marketing ideas to get you thinking about all of the different ways you can promote your business.

Marketing Planning
1. Update or create a marketing plan for your business.
2. Revisit or start your market research.
3. Conduct a focus group.
4. Write a unique selling proposition (USP).
5. Refine your target audience and niche.
6. Expand your product and service offerings.

Marketing Materials
7. Update your business cards.
8. Make your business card stand out from the rest.
9. Create or update your brochure.
10. Create a digital version of your brochure for your website.

11. Explore a website redesign.
12. Get creative with promotional products and give them away at the next networking event you attend.

In-Person Networking

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The Complete Guide To Human Resources For Small Business

by Rob Wormley in People Management

Human resources is probably one of the more complicated aspects of running a small business. The complexities of working with people don’t fit nicely on a spreadsheet. Yet HR is incredibly important; employee salaries and benefits make up a huge chunk of your operating expenses.

Your employees are one of your greatest assets. You must protect and manage that asset.

This blog post will teach you everything you need to know about human resources.

What Is Human Resource Management?

Human Resource Management (HRM) deals with your employees, whether in regards to recruitment, management, or other forms of direction and assistance. HR will often be in charge of (among other things):

  • Hiring
  • Performance management and reviews
  • Employee development, motivation, and training
  • Safety and wellness
  • Benefits
  • Communication between employees and/or management

HR carries a big responsibility. They have a huge effect on the culture and environment in your workplace, setting the tone for how employees communicate, settle disputes, and work with each other. Some small businesses prefer to outsource a large component of human resources, but there is no getting around human resources completely.

Human Resources: The Three Basics
HR is rife with laws and regulations, which is part of why small businesses often put off dealing with it. Generally, for businesses with fewer than 50 employees, there are three basic things you must implement to cover the bases, according to HR expert Jack Hayhow.

1. Employee Files
You must keep three specific files for each employee in your business. These files are:

  • I-9 File: This form is used by the U.S. Government to identify and verify that your employees are eligible to work in the U.S. Keep all of your employee I-9 files together, in one file, instead of under individual employee names.
  • Employee General File: This is a file you create for your own benefit. It contains any documentation associated with that employee that you’ve collected during their time with you. This includes resumes, reviews, disciplinary action, training verification, evaluations, W-4 forms, payroll details, and so on. You’ll use this file often.
  • Employee Medical File: These files will contain notes from doctors, disability information, and any medical information that you have on an employee. Because you are dealing with medical information, you must protect and secure these files from others. That is why these are separate from general files. Be sure to keep them in a locked and secure place.

2. Employee Handbook

Having an employee handbook is a must. Your handbook serves two important purposes: letting your employees know what you expect of them, and protecting your business in case there is a dispute.

An employee handbook can be as simple or as complex as you want, but there are some general approaches, depending upon the nature of your business, that you need to consider. According to the Small Business Administration, your handbook might include:

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7 Steps to Start Your First Content-Marketing Campaign

You've heard about all the amazing benefits of content marketing. You want to jump in. But . . . how? Here's how.

Content Marketing

 

Jayson DeMers

Founder and CEO, AudienceBloom

By now, you've heard about all the amazing benefits of content marketing. You know that with the right strategy, you can earn more traffic, build a better reputation and see compound growth in both areas over time without greatly increasing your budget.

In fact, content marketing is truly one of the most cost-efficient marketing strategies around, but its rewards are proportional to the quality of your strategy and execution. That's why more experienced writers and marketing agencies charge more, and why long-running strategies perform better.

So, what if you have no experience with content marketing at all? It would seem that someone totally unfamiliar with this strategy stands no chance of success at all. But, at the same time, everyone has to start somewhere, right?

The truth is, you can enter the content-marketing game with no experience. You might not live up to your full potential right off the bat, but if you follow the approach described below, you'll be publishing with the best of them in no time. Here's how:

1. Get a briefer.

Your first job is to get a briefer on what content marketing involves. Yes, as you're reading this, you probably have a grasp of the basic concept, but you need to dig deeper into the details. Familiarize yourself with the beginning, middle and end of a piece of content's life, how you're going to measure your results and your ROI and the process you'll use to build your empire.

Also, get a high-level perspective on the strategy before you start mastering those details -- you'll be glad you did. If you need help getting started, I presented a webinar about a year ago on this subjectt, which will teach you the basics of content marketing and how those basics relate to search engines.

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Top Sales Training Best Practices Successful Managers Follow

Sales training is one of the most important investments most companies make, because it allows them to close the gap between current performance and potential performance. Nevertheless, around 80 percent of respondents to a recent study by the Rain Group Center rated their own training as being between average and poor.

Here, we take a look at some of the best sales training practices the most successful managers follow.

Use of Simulation or Role-Playing

Many organizations still utilize classroom-based, instructor-led training, which can be incredibly effective. However,Sales Training it is important to balance it with practical learning as well.

Without applying learned information quickly, most expenditure on corporate training is wasted, because unfortunately people forget new information extremely quickly. Precisely how much knowledge is lost - and how quickly - is difficult to say, as studies vary significantly, but most agree that the majority of information is lost within a week.

"Role-playing [also] provides a safe environment to encounter [new] scenarios for the first time, which builds confidence in team members that can help them in their day-to-day roles," explains John Buelow, executive vice president of the Shapiro Negotiations Institute.

Sales Coaching and Reinforcement

Successful sales training requires newly acquired sales skills to be reinforced regularly, or else staff revert to old habits, and coaching is one of the best solutions. For this reason, coaching is often one of the most important things for a sales manager to learn and is a key component of most sales management training programs.

Yet, many sales managers continue to neglect their coaching responsibilities. Indeed, the CSO Insights 2016 Sales Best Practices Study revealed that just 32 percent of sales managers are currently spending sufficient time on coaching. In companies performing to a world-class standard, however, this figure rises to 88 percent.

A structured coaching program will allow leaders to work closely with staff to highlight issues, set targets and ensure new skills are put into practice. Meanwhile, reinforcement literature should also be made available. According to Aberdeen Group, 20 percent more reps achieve quota when post-training reinforcement is implemented.

Technology and Mobile-Friendliness

Finally, the most successful managers know that technology can be utilized to significantly improve both the quality of training and its results. In truth, technology can be deployed in an almost limitless number of ways, ranging from the use of virtual instructors in classroom settings, to bite-size video content.

One growing technology trend in corporate training has been the gamification of the learning process and eLearning Industry report that gamification features, such as the ability to progress to different levels, choose a difficulty setting, etc. can lead to a nine percent increase in retention rates. Meanwhile, adult learners who participated in gamified e-learning experiences scored 14 percent higher in skills-based knowledge assessments.

Furthermore, technology can be used to make learning a mobile experience. By ensuring that learning materials are available to access and use on mobile devices, sales skills can be improved even while outside the workplace, learning can become part of staff members' daily routines, and information can be reinforced on the go.

Conclusion

When it comes to delivering high-quality sales training, or sales management training, it is not just the quality of the information that matters, but the quality of delivery and follow-up. In particular, it is important to give staff the opportunity to put new information into practice quickly, to reinforce and personalize learning through coaching, and to make use of technology to improve all aspects of your training program.

Author Bio:

Monika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group, a global sales training and customer experience company. It specializes in providing exceptional sales coaching and helps organisations develop business strategies to achieve sales success. Monika enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts to provide better sales and service training.

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Building Brand Recognition for Your Startup: Website Fundamentals

By: Rebecca Shipley 

When launching your startup, it is likely that the thought of how to best get exposure and a loyal following. And even better if you can do so while also building up your brand identity and its ability to be recognized and remembered by consumers, right? With the right elements, your website can make this happen for your startup. Use your website as a powerful tool to develop your brand and its ability to connect with and engage consumers.

Domain name
Your domain name is a link to your website (both literally and figuratively) that people will interact with before even reaching the homepage of your site. Therefore, you must help set your site up for success by choosing and brand conceptsregistering a domain name that ties in with your brand and promotes recognition and remembrance of it.

Make the domain name for your site something that is short and sweet, no longer than about four words. It should also be simple to spell out and to share, whether through word-of-mouth or digital mediums. Avoid using hyphens or numbers, as they tend to be accidentally put in the wrong place or left out entirely. These things will help your site’s domain name be remembered and shared, and as a result, promote brand recognition with more people, both on- and offline.

Your site’s domain name should also be brandable in the sense that it should itself be relevant to your brand. When a person sees it, they should know that it is connected to your brand if they are familiar with you. If a person has never before heard of your startup, once they visit your site they should see how its domain name ties in with the brand that is presented there.

Logo
Your brand’s logo will take up some valuable real estate on your website, placed prominently at the top of its homepage and various other internal pages. Ensure that it speaks to the message your brand wants to communicate and gives people the right idea of what your brand stands for and represents.

Both in design and in color scheme, your logo should not be too similar to that of your competitors. Avoid having it be overly fussy in a way that detracts from all your hard work on the rest of the site or that makes your brand look like it was indecisive on what it most wants to convey with its logo. The right logo makes a website and its design, as well as further promoting the site’s brand. The wrong logo can confuse consumers as to what your startup values and/or has to offer them.

Links to social media
Include links to each of your brand’s social media accounts on its website in a way and in a location that they are easily seen. Place them prominently on the site’s homepage or on a clearly identifiable tab. By directing traffic to your social media accounts through your website, you are allowing web users to see more of your brand’s content through its social media posts and your brand to build up the engagement of its social community online.

Content catered to your target market
Everything your brand does with its website needs to be done with its target market in mind. Give them content they find interesting and useful within your site. If you are not quite sure of who makes up your target market and what it is your target market wants to see from your brand, you will need to conduct market research in order to find out. This can be done either through primary research methods (like surveys and focus groups) or secondary research, in which your startup takes data already collected by an outside organization and uses it to form its own conclusions.

Know who you are using your site to market to, what it is they like and want to see, and craft your site around this knowledge. It is much easier to promote brand recognition with a specific segment of the market that you are working to get the attention of with your site than it is to attempt to do so by making general content that you hope pleases everyone.

Of course, your startup’s website needs to express what it is as a business and what it has to sell to the consumer. On top of that however, it needs to be a part of your startup’s online presence that serves as a strong representation of its brand and allows visitors to it to see that brand. Having your brand represented well on your site will allow people to recognize it, remember it, and be encouraged to follow along with all it is doing.

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Buying managed security services is a growing trend with companies

Buying managed security services is a growing trend with companies, as they seek to implement market-leading security solutions while dealing with a shortage of trained security personnel and a limited CAPEX budget. IDC predicts double-digit growth for this market and is expecting the MSSP market to hit $27 billion by 2020 (WW). While telcos and system integrators (SIs) play a large role in this space, trusted channel partners are finding customers seeking help with their security needs.

Providing managed services can be an attractive and highly profitable revenue stream for channel partners alreadyBrand Aware Digital IoT and Cloud 220x150 providing configuration and setup services. Utilizing cloud-based capabilities and automated reporting, partners are able to deliver peace of mind to their customer base without significant effort or expense.

With our latest release, Fortinet’s FortiCloud now has the ability to manage the world’s most popular UTM from the cloud (Fortinet’s FortiGate UTM appliances were recently named a leader in the 2017 Gartner Magic Quadrant for the eighth consecutive time). Channel partners can access customers’ FortiGate Firewalls from any browser, from anywhere, and at any time, simplifying the effort to service customer networks. Automated reports remind the customer of the value of the service, showing what protection the partner has provided each month via Fortinet’s UTM, switches, and wireless access points.

Compared to other vendors with cloud-managed offerings, Fortinet provides best-in-class protection throughout the product range and multiple third-party certifications have validated that the protection provided by Fortinet consistently leads the market. Learn more about our FortiCloud solutions or become a partner today!

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SMALL BUSINESS INDICATOR: WEB DEVELOPER MARKET BOOMING, WITH RETAIL AND TRAVEL LEADING THE WAY, ACCORDING TO NEW GLOBAL RESEARCH STUDY

80 Percent of Web Professionals Report Client Growth of 25 Percent or More a Year, According to Study of United States, Germany, United Kingdom, India, Brazil and Mexico

Web Designers Leading Indicators of Small Business Growth: Retail, Travel, Health and Fitness Industries Growing Fastest Globally

Growth Creates Pain Points: Web Developers Report They Have to Play Too Many Roles and Struggle Managing New Clients

Constant Need for Learning/New Skills: Web Developers Report Strong Support for Certification Program to Create Standards

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., August 10, 2017 – A survey of web developers and designers – a leading indicator of small business growth - finds that the web professional industry continues to boom two decades after the emergence of the Internet. Rapid growth in clients is fueled by the retail and travel industries, according to a new global research study commissioned by GoDaddy.

The industry study, conducted in the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, India, Brazil and Mexico by the research firm Evans Data, found that web developers and designers – many of which are relative newcomers to the industry - at times struggle to keep up with demand for services from industries such as retail, travel, health and fitness.

Seventy-nine percent of web developers and designers reported client growth of 25 percent or more a year – with more than 1 in 3 saying growth was 50 percent or more. Nearly half reported they have been in business less than 5 years, but revenue was still high: a majority had revenue of $250,000 or more and 1 in 3 reported revenues of over $500,000.

“Two decades after general internet adoption, this research indicates that the ‘Golden Era’ of web development and design shows no sign of slowing down,” said Raghu Murthi, SVP of Hosting and Pro at GoDaddy. “But the research also provides lessons to new web professionals on the importance of continued learning and the need to manage growth and focus on looking where your next clients will come from.”

Regionally, the industries that were driving growth varied:

 US  DE/UK  INDIA  BRAZIL  MEXICO
 Retail  Retail  Creative  Retail  Travel
 Travel  Food  Education  Travel  Retail
 Health/Fitness  Creative  Health/Fitness  Real Estate  Food


The primary drivers of business globally are:

  • Selling new services to existing clients: 40%
  • Providing support to existing clients: 31%
  •  Finding new clients: 21%
  • Reselling 3rd party products/services: 7%

The research also shows key differences between more mature markets, such as the United States, German and the United Kingdom, and other regions. For example, in more developed markets, developers and designers are more likely to work for a small firm and concentrate their work on fewer clients who provide larger retainers. That has enabled them to focus more time on securing new clients and growing their business.

As the industry continues to mature, the study finds a strong desire for continued learning and support for certification programs. Overall, 83 percent of developers and designers support a certification program that focuses on improving the skills and expertise of web professionals.

The research found that developers and designers grapple with how to keep up with technical and business skills to serve clients – but how they do that often differs based on where they are from. While online training courses are universally used, industry publications are much more popular in the United States (60 percent) than Mexico (32 percent) or Brazil (31 percent). Conferences and meetups are popular in India, but not as popular in Mexico, Germany, or the United Kingdom.

“Web pros are clearly looking for help in managing their client base, so they can maintain quality while expanding their business,” said Raghu Murthi, SVP of Hosting and Pro at GoDaddy. “That is why integrated services that help them manage multiple clients and sites from one place, are in such demand.”

Overall, the study provides insight into an industry that is integral to small business growth[DCR4] and the overall health of a digital economy. For example, two in five respondents said they now tailor web pages specifically for mobile devices, with the majority reporting they spend most of their time on mobile. It also shows key differences between how web professionals operate globally:

· Length of time in business varied among the regions, varying between more and less mature markets. The newest web professionals are in Mexico, India and Brazil.

 Time in Business  US   DE/UK  INDIA  BRAZIL  MEXICO
 0-12 Months  1%  5%   5%   4%   6% 
 1-2 Years    5%    9%    12%    11%    11% 
 2-5 Years  26%  30%  32% 40%  36%
 5-10 Years  54%  43%  35%  33%  40%
 10-plus Years  14%  13%  15%  13%  13%



Revenue per client can vary widely based on where the web professional works. In India, for example, only 1 in 3 clients provides revenue of at least $10,000, while in Mexico and the United States the majority of clients provide that amount.

The skills needed to be a successful web developer or designer varied by region, with technical and creative skills viewed as most important in India and Brazil.

 Most Important Skills  US  DE/UK  INDIA  BRAZIL  MEXICO
 Technical   Creative  Technical   Creative  Creative
 Project Management  Technical   Creative  Technical  Managing Clients
 Business  Managing Clients  Project Management   Managing Clients  Technical



Where web professional work can vary. Those in India, Germany and the United Kingdom are most apt to work in an outside office. While 72 percent of U.S. developers and designers report that they work out of their home (either in a home office, at a table, or on a couch). That is also reflected in how they view their work environments: over half of German, UK and Indian web professionals called it “conventional,” while the majority of U.S. workers said it was “loose.”

New tools such as video apps and services such as Slack are popular in the United States, with 56 percent reporting they primarily use them to stay in touch with clients. But email remains the primary source in other countries, with India and Mexico reporting only 1 in 3 use those new tools to communicate with clients.

The research project surveyed 1,500 web professionals in May 2017. The margin of error of the research is +/- 2.6 percent. A summary of the data is available upon request.

To learn more about GoDaddy Solutions for Web Professionals visit www.GoDaddy.com/pro.

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The future of transportation is already here

Apr 13, 2017 / Alex Moura

Let’s shake ourselves out of our four-wheeled stupor, look at the vehicles and devices being developed, and reimagine how we’ll move around our cities, says TED technology curator Alex Moura.

Humanity has come a long way from traveling by horse, but when we consider the future of transportation in cities, too many of us are still stuck in the 18th century. We still envision our streets full of four-wheel chariots (minus the horses), and our future as relying on cars or car-like vehicles, because that’s all we know. Why this myopia? For most automakers and transportation companies, adhering to the status quo is more profitable than experimenting; their business models, even for forward thinkers like Tesla, depend on their keeping drivers tethered with maintenance and service. And builders and urban planners have learned to limit their thinking because existing regulations and clunky political processes have made it nearly impossible to innovate without years of negotiations. As a result, we’re laying the foundations for a transportation future that carries forward the problems of the past.

But there can be another way forward, a new vision of transportation that upsets the four-wheel chariot model. And signs of it are already rolling across the landscape. By looking at some of the most advanced vehicles and devices out there — not just concept cars and prototypes but vehicles that are already in use or being road-tested in the real world — we can start to see a more interesting, less car-based future. Based on this new crop of transportation-related devices, I’m making the following four predictions:

Car

Courtesy of i-Road.

1. Cars will become much, much smaller.

While SUV and truck sales have been on the rise worldwide, that trend has been boosted by low gasoline prices, which can’t last given the finite supplies of fossil fuels. As we move forward, personal urban transportation will be dominated by individual vehicles. In 2015, Toyota launched a trial run of its three-wheeled i-Road electric vehicles — which resemble an enclosed motorcycle and fit only a driver and perhaps a small passenger — through a network of sharing stations in Tokyo. (We road-tested them at TED, too.) The project is now expanding throughout Japan, a nation with more electric car-charging stations than gas stations. In a bid to become the first country to embrace smart transportation systems, government officials have gone as far as trying to create international car-charging standards.

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Dave Ramsey's 5 Budgeting Tips for Small-Business Owners

America's foremost personal finance guru weighs in on small-business budgeting.

20170727152359 dave ramsey hurdlr

 

JULY 31, 2017
 
Entrepreneur has an affiliate partnership with Hurdlr so we may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.
You may have heard of Dave Ramsey before—perhaps from one of the 500+ radio stations his program The Dave Ramsey Show is syndicated on, or one of his five New York Times bestselling books. Or maybe from his appearances on Oprah or 60 Minutes.
Regardless, Ramsey’s name is synonymous with personal finance. His show garners 12 million listens a week and millions more have seen him speak in person on the topic.
What he’s not as well known for is speaking directly to the needs of small-business owners and the growing freelance economy. However, his insights on financial success can be just as easily applied to the needs of business owners.
We were able to chat one-on-one with Ramsey to get his wisdom on how small-business owners can boost their profit and peace of mind with simple budgeting strategies.
Hurdlr: You hate debt. Is there any scenario in which you would say it's OK for an entrepreneur to take out a loan to start or expand their business? Or do you recommend always going 100 percent cash?
Ramsey: A lot of supposedly sophisticated and educated people spend an inordinate amount of energy trying to say that debt is good when used properly. Baloney! According to Census Bureau data, 60 percent of all small businesses opened in a given year need less than $5,000 to start. Don’t begin your dream saddled with huge debt.
As for expansion, remember to be the tortoise, not the hare. Slow and steady wins the race. We have expanded our business several times, and each time we systematically save toward a purchase goal and put that very specific amount as a line item in our monthly accounting—almost as if it were an expense.
Note: If you can’t save the money you won’t be able to make the payments anyway. I agree with former A.G. Edwards analyst, Peter Andrew who said, “What kills companies is debt; without debt, companies have the wherewithal to survive.” Debt is a destabilizing force that exponentially increases risk and the probability of fatal failure. 
 
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Learn to Love Networking

by Tiziana Casciaro, Francesca Gino, and Maryam Kouchaki

Networking

I hate networking.” We hear this all the time from executives, other professionals, and MBA students. They tell us that networking makes them feel uncomfortable and phony—even dirty. Although some people have a natural passion for it—namely, the extroverts who love and thrive on social interaction—many understandably see it as brown-nosing, exploitative, and inauthentic.

But in today’s world, networking is a necessity. A mountain of research shows that professional networks lead to more job and business opportunities, broader and deeper knowledge, improved capacity to innovate, faster advancement, and greater status and authority. Building and nurturing professional relationships also improves the quality of work and increases job satisfaction.

When we studied 165 lawyers at a large North American law firm, for example, we found that their success depended on their ability to network effectively both internally (to get themselves assigned to choice clients) and externally (to bring business into the firm). Those who regarded these activities as distasteful and avoided them had fewer billable hours than their peers.

Fortunately, our research shows that an aversion to networking can be overcome. We’ve identified four strategies to help people change their mindset.

1. Focus on Learning
Most people have a dominant motivational focus—what psychologists refer to as either a “promotion” or a “prevention” mindset. Those in the former category think primarily about the growth, advancement, and accomplishments that networking can bring them, while those in the latter see it as something they are obligated to take part in for professional reasons.

In laboratory experiments we conducted in the United States and Italy with college students and working adults, and in an additional sample of 174 lawyers at the firm we studied, we documented the effects of both types of thinking. Promotion-focused people networked because they wanted to and approached the activity with excitement, curiosity, and an open mind about all the possibilities that might unfold. Prevention-focused people saw networking as a necessary evil and felt inauthentic while engaged in it, so they did it less often and, as a result, underperformed in aspects of their jobs.

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Keep Your Team on Track by using an Organized Workflow for your Content Marketing

By: Gloria Kopp

If you're often finding that projects are being delivered late, rushed to be completed or just not up to the standard you're expecting, you and your team could benefit greatly from the creation of a clear, organized workflow. Your workflow defines the patterns and processes by which you bring a project from conception to completion, andWorkflow helps ensure that you don't experience these setbacks that exist when there's no organization behind the production process. Follow these steps to start putting together a workflow that is tailored to your team and the projects you're working on, and watch the levels of quality and speed in your work soar.
 
Get on the same page with an Editorial Calendar
It's vital that you lay out all of the work that needs to be completed currently and those projects that are upcoming. An editorial calendar helps you see the overall big picture at a glance, and also allows you to drill down to more details about each individual project. Having this schedule available for each project ensures that the entire team is on the same page, no matter what someone's role is towards the completion of the project, they are able to follow the progress of the team as a whole. It gives each member a certain level of responsibility and accountability, pushing them to stay within the timelines set out. Share your calendar on Trello with your entire team, that way you know for certain that everyone is in the loop with what's coming up.
 
Batch Processing Methods make things more efficient
Speed things up by using batch processing to complete similar tasks, rather than doing each task on its own. You'll get more done in less time, helping to keep your projects on track for completion as scheduled. When you're working on optimizing your SEO, check out Yoast for information and courses on all levels of SEO. Improve your skills in SEO, and you'll find many other tasks much easier to complete. When you're looking to utilize your social media outlets, but don't have the time to dedicate to this task, Buffer is your resource for managing this. Schedule posts ahead of time and track the performance of your content easily.
 
Create A Workflow Checklist to ensure nothing is missed
Checklists are important, because you can set out exactly what needs to be done, and delegate each task to a team member. When you do this, there's no confusion about who is responsible for what, and what tasks are left to be done. Copywriting and proofreading are tedious and time consuming tasks that can be delegated to the professional teams at Assignment Help Canberra and Resumention, for fast, meticulous and quality work.
 
Work backwards, starting with your deadline
When creating your workflow schedule, first determine when your project will need to be completed, then work backwards to set the milestones along the way. It's much easier to set up your timeline this way, as opposed to working forwards towards your completion date. And, deadlines for each task need to be clearly defined with a specific date or time. Vague deadlines, like 'next week', can almost guarantee that the task won't be completed until midnight on the last day of the week. If you've got deadlines for sending out mass email blasts, Mail Chimp is a simple way to set up those emails ahead of time, so that you can be sure those deadlines aren't missed.
 
Prioritize projects
Each member of the team may have different ideas as to what project is more urgent or higher priority than another. It's up to you to prioritize each project and make the team aware of this hierarchy. The most important projects need to have the focus of everyone involved. If there is an overwhelming amount of work to be done, you may want to look at outsourcing some of the content creation to a professional at Essayroo. It's a great way to stay within your timeline for your most important projects and ensure you're getting high quality content.
 
Morning scrums help set the agenda for that day
Before the workday gets underway, a quick scrum can help you highlight the day's goals, get everyone on the same page and remind the team of the tasks that are next to be completed. It can also give you a chance to go over what's already been done and get updates on task deadlines that are approaching, to keep those team members accountable and on track. When video content is on deck for the day, Piksel can help you get this task completed, leaving you with a captivating final product.
 
Bullet Journal your workflow
A simple and flexible way to track and plan everything you've got to get done is by using a bullet journal. This organizational system can be totally customized to whatever suits you and your projects best. Keep ideas you find organized in here too, so you can easily refer back to them. Inbound will find and send you the best marketing articles for you to draw inspiration and ideas from.
 
Stay on track with your workflow plan
It can sometimes be easy to let your focus shift onto something different, but when you've got a set schedule and hard deadlines, it's important to stay on task with the project at hand. If not, you may quickly find yourself in the midst of several projects, but not getting much accomplished at all. It's much more productive to stay focused on one single project at a time, devoting your time and energy to that, then moving on to the next only when that first one is totally complete. Boomessays can help you complete the editing task at hand, so you can start moving onto what's next on your plate. Also remember to stick to the chain you've set out for you and your team. Jumping past steps can lead to confusion, missed tasks and complete lack of organization.
 
Getting and keeping everyone within a team on the same page throughout the completion of a project is vital to the quality and ultimate completion of that project. Organizing your workflow helps you ensure that you can get this done.
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Business 101: A reading list for lifelong learners

biz101 draft3

Ready to level up your working knowledge of business? Here’s what to read now — and next.

Business 101, with Nilofer Merchant

First, read these 2 foundational books…
1. The Change Masters
Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Free Press, 1985

“A foundational book for your collection. When a colleague recently switched careers, I lent her this incredibly dog-eared book from college days. Rosabeth Moss Kanter helped coined the idea and term ’empowerment’ in the 1970s, a sure sign she was ahead of her time. Even though The Change Masters was published forty years ago, it’s relevant. Why? Because all progress is made by those that are change masters. Become one.”

2. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations
Clay Shirky
Penguin, 2008

“A few years back, I took out Clay Shirky’s book and found it filled with scribbles. While it’s almost passé now to talk of how Obama organized a large community to sweep into the presidency, Shirky’s book is textbook quality for what will happen next. It points to a new truth: Today, connected individuals can do what once only large organizations could. So look past the timeliness of his stories to see the timeless.”

Then, try these 4 to understand current needs…

1. Opposable Mind: Winning through Integrative Thinking
Roger Martin
Harvard Business Review, 2009

“I’m convinced that the way we create an abundant future of prosperity will require a global redesign of what is possible. And I think Roger Martin’s idea here could be key. When you hold two ideas as opposites, you’ll never find a way for both things to be true. But to go forward and reconcile some deep divides we have, we’re going to have to find new solutions to old problems through new thinking. Martin’s book is like yoga for the mind.”

2. Redesigning Leadership (Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life)
John Maeda
MIT Press, 2011

“The real question is: How will we reinvent the world around us? Well, fundamentally, it will involve having folks take the big step away from just being themselves (the thing we all know best) and join in doing something with others (the people we fear may let us down). John Maeda’s book captures a modern leader’s challenge to switch gears and become a social, collaborative leader.”

3. The Difference
Scott E. Page
Princeton University Press, 2010

“Complex systems turn out to be adaptive and resilient, and therefore thriving, systems. Sounds like something our world needs more of, right? See how a math theorist argues for including difference –- that is, cognitive difference — into our lives, our workplaces and ultimately what we create. The value of this difference is a proven truth, not a feel-good mantra, for how you shape both better ideas and new solutions. It’s going to be central to what happens next.”

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Webroot/Ninja Integration

Expanded Security Service Offering to include DNS Protection and Integrated Console Allows NinjaRMM Clients to Reduce Complexity of Cybersecurity Management While Growing their Revenue Stream

About the Partnership:

  • NinjaRMM has been partnering with Webroot since May 2016.
  • NinjaRMM’s addition of Webroot’s SecureAnywhere® DNS Protection to its portfolio will provide customers protection against malicious websites with minimal complexity for the service provider and the end consumer. The product is controlled via the Webroot Global Site Manager used by the endpoint solution, offering a single console to set company-wide browsing controls and internet-use tracking.
  • In addition to SecureAnywhere DNS Protection, NinjaRMM offers its customers Webroot’s SecureAnywhere Business Endpoint Protection, providing MSPs the ability to offer multiple layers of protection and increase revenue.
  • The integration of Webroot’s industry-leading solutions into Ninja’s RMM platform provides one location for management and reporting, saving time and reducing the overall cost of administration.

Ninja is now HIPPA Compliant – Ninja’s focus on Healthcare will give the ability for agency’s to be sure of compliance standards from its platform.

Release 2.14 – Just completed

Third-Party Patching (beta): Fully managed patching of 100+ applications. Includes common office applications like Adobe products, browsers, Java, and more. For more information on how to access the beta, please refer to the Ninja Support Community.

Splashtop for Windows and Mac: Remote access your Win/Mac devices through a single-pane integration with NinjaRMM. Easily deploy Splashtop to your desired organizations.

NEW Mac Scripting: New out-of-box scripts for Macs. You can now enable SSH, re-apply user permissions and more directly from NinjaRMM console.

  • Enable/Disable Firewall
  • Disable Firewall
  • Reset printing
  • Empty trash
  • Flush DNS
  • Kill core audio
  • Auto updates off
  • Purge disk cache
  • Reapply user permissions
  • Reset launcher service
  • Repair disk permissions
  • Repair SSH
  • Repair TeamViewer
    • Reinitializes Teamviewer, kills the service and restarts it

Windows OS Keys Report: New reporting section for Windows OS keys to make software asset management easier.

Remote Command Line: Ability to run commands as currently logged-in user.For full release notes, please refer to our community page here.

 

Ninja

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How to Start a Business With (Almost) No Money

How to start a business

 

By: Jayson Demers

VIP CONTRIBUTOR

MARCH 21, 2016

You’re excited to start a business. Maybe you have an idea, or you’re just fascinated with the idea of launching and growing your own enterprise. You’re willing to take some risks, like leaving your current job or going without personal revenue for a while. But there’s one logistical hurdle stopping you: You don’t have much money.


On the surface, this seems like a major problem, but a lack of personal capital shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your dreams. In fact, it’s entirely possible to start and grow a business with almost no personal financial investment whatsoever -- if you know what you’re doing.

Why a business needs money

First, let’s take a look at why a business needs money in the first place. There’s no uniform “startup” fee for building a business, so different businesses will have different needs. It’s important to first estimate how much you need before you start finding alternative methods to fund your company.


Consider the following uses:

  • Licenses and permits. Depending on your region, you may need special paperwork and registry to operate.
  • Supplies. Are you buying raw materials? Do you need computers and/or other devices?
  • Equipment. Do you need specialized machinery or software?
  • Office space. This is a huge expense, and you can't neglect things like Internet, utilities costs, janitorial services and whether to outsource back office tasks, like payroll and invoicing.
  • Associations, subscriptions, memberships. What publications and affiliations will you subsribe to every month?
  • Operating expenses. Dig into the nooks and crannies here, and don’t forget about marketing.
  • Legal fees. Are you consulting a lawyer throughout your business-development process?
  • Employees, freelancers and contractors. If you can’t do it alone, you’ll need people on your payroll.

With that said, you have two main paths of starting a business with less money: lowering your costs or increasing your available capital from outside sources. You have three options here:

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Q&A: How Fortinet’s Security Fabric Creates New Opportunity for Channel Partners

Joe Sykora, Fortinet’s Vice President of Americas Channels and Enhanced Technologies, gives his perspective on how an integrated security architecture like Fortinet’s Security Fabric creates new opportunities for solution providers. Joe Sykora, Fortinet’s Vice President of Americas Channels and Enhanced Technologies, gives his perspective on how an integrated security architecture like Fortinet’s Security Fabric creates new opportunities for solution providers. 


Why is the idea of a security fabric so important to network security in this current environment?

Organizations can’t just keep adding new, siloed security solutions that don’t talk to other devices on their network, banner ad security fabric 220x150 002and that require separate management and collaboration tools. What organizations need today is a collaborative system of tools that work together to monitor their network, share information, and respond to threats no matter where they occur.

The Fortinet Security Fabric allows us to take all of our tools and integrate them into a single, interactive security framework. This collaborative ecosystem also includes third-party partners in cloud, software-defined networking, sandboxing, testing, security information and event management (SIEM), and Single Sign On technologies, as well as support for the services provided by our worldwide family of channel partners.

How does Fortinet’s Security Fabric benefit Fortinet’s global partner network of distributors and solution providers?

Because of its critical and complex nature, security continues to be one of the largest opportunities for the channel. Partners that can plan, design, deploy, and optimize an integrated security offering are finding a growing demand for their skills. 

By tying traditional security appliances and emerging technologies together into an integrated security fabric, partners can help their customers collect and respond to more actionable intelligence, synchronize threat responses, and centralize the creation, distribution, and orchestration of their security management and analysis. This broad visibility and open-standards approach provided by the Fortinet Security Fabric allows solution providers to implement more automation to focus on the alerts that really matter.

How is Fortinet’s Fabric Ready Partner program different from the alliance partner programs we see other vendors promoting?

Like many partner programs, Fortinet’s Fabric Ready Partner Program brings together best-in-class technology alliance partners. But unlike those other approaches, Fortinet’s approach actually allows our channel partners to deliver pre-integrated, end-to-end security offerings ready for deployment.

And for our channel partners, extending the functionality and intelligence of the Fortinet Security Fabric vision with an open and cooperative ecosystem of partner solutions means they can more easily:

  • Deliver more effective, more responsive security solutions that leverage the collaborative power of the Fortinet Security Fabric
  • Speed business outcomes with integrated ecosystem solutions that address customers’ needs.  Leverage Fortinet’s Fabric-Ready seal of approval to build trust with customers and instill confidence that the solutions work
  • Deliver solutions with faster time-to-deployment to customers, with reduced technical support burden & costs due to pre-validation.

Download our eBook, How the Fortinet Security Fabric Addresses Today’s Top Security Concerns.

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7 Common Legal Issues Entrepreneurs Need to Consider When Starting a Business

When it comes to starting a business, you might be a pro…

But, what about when it comes to working through all the legal issues you must Entreprenuerconsider as an entrepreneur when launching your start-up?

The world of business can get complicated quickly when you add in all the laws that apply – liability, finances, trademarks…

The list goes on. 

Most entrepreneurs get caught up in the midst of starting their business and quickly forget about the legal aspects that need to be considered.

To ensure that you avoid the negative repercussions of an avoidable mistake, there are a few common legal issues you should be aware of:

1. Non-disclosure agreements.

It seems like a given – don’t talk about anything that is considered “top secret.” But, it isn’t that obvious to everyone and to some, it just isn’t a priority or even a concern…

Particularly those outside of your business who might become involved with you in some way.

Anyone who interacts with your business – from the business side, not your clients – should sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to ensure they won’t run and share your ideas with the competition. 

2. Future of the business – the what if’s?

Life happens. Unfortunately, sometimes people leave this world too soon. If that is the case, what will happen to your business?

It is important to invest in a will kit to ensure the assets of your business are protected and have a designated owner should you become unavailable. 

Have your attorney send your will kit to the post office for easy pickup.

3. Vesting.

Finding the right co-founder for your business is quite the task…

Who do you trust? Who will make a good fit and lead your business in the right direction?

It is important that you have a similar work ethic and timelines for investment – you need to have chemistry. 

Instead of getting all your shares at once, once option to consider is vesting. Your equity can be vested over time so that if you don’t have the chemistry you thought you did, there is a fair solution. 

4. Intellectual property.

While your business is still small, it is hard to imagine that you could potentially face the issue of people infringing on your intellectual property assets (or vice versa)…

But, it can happen easier than you think.

It is worth the investment of both time and money to get your trademarks, copyrights, patents and trade secrets legally registered. It will be a lifesaver if, or when, an issue arises. 

5. Trademarks.

You just thought choosing a business name was difficult…

But, did you consider that even as creative as you might have been, someone else might still have thought of it first? 

Invest in performing a killer search to ensure your business name is not already another company’s trademark.

6. Compliance.

There are corporate compliance laws in place that affect companies in various industries. The laws that apply specifically to your business will vary based on the type of business entity you are, the state you do business in, and several other determining factors.

Do some research, and consult the help of an attorney, to ensure you know what documents should be generated and maintained by your business to remain compliant. 

7. Business structure.

There are several different business structures…

Partnerships, S corporations, corporations, sole proprietorship and a limited liability company.

All business structures hold very different meanings and offer a variety of different benefits. You should consider if your business is going to remain privately funded, if you plan on taking on investors, and what type of growth you expect your company to have in the future. 

You’ve already put in all the leg work to get your business up and running, don’t let a simple – and costly – legal mistake cause you to lose it all.

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MSFT SMB Partners – Shelter in Place!

IT’s the mean season at Microsoft with targeted SMB-related layoffs in the reorg wave and then the “how does it play out” conversations at the annual partner conference underway in Washington DC (now called Inspire; formerly Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC)). Here’s my take on it: shelter in place until the next quarter starting October 1, 2017. 
 
During the 4th of July week, and the start of FY18, Microsoft made long-anticipated announcements concerning layoffs and reorganizations.image1 Proper PR communications suggested it was in the sales and marketing roles primarily overseas. The reality is different. 
 
Cindy Bates. I can now confirm that Cindy Bates, VP of SMB (US) has left the company. In her role she oversaw Partners, Customers and Distributors. She did not oversee the Microsoft Stores. On an individual basis, Bates is a friend and I’ll know she’ll do fine and land right-side up. Sources indicate she has already been invited to join two Boards of Directors. Say what you must but the departure is significant as she was a legendary force in the SMB practice area at Microsoft. 
 
Cindy Bates Team. Sadly, there are other critical exits underway. Steven Fielding and his team are out. He reported to Cindy and was a key SMB Cabinet member in the PR, communications and messaging area. Other departures are expected and I’ll keep you posted. 
 
SMB State Department. With the Microsoft Inspire conference being held in Washington DC, I cannot resist a political analogy. It seems like Microsoft is dismantling the US SMB business organization. Much like the current president and administration are starving the State Department. So, what does this look like? It means we’ll have SMB embassies without Ambassadors. SMB diplomacy will screech to a halt. One long-time SMB Nation partner from SoCal whom I spent time with here at Inspire is bamboozled about Microsoft’s commitment to the beloved old timy SBS crowd (yes – he wants his on-premises server back). Microsoft’s action were not a vote of confidence.  
 
What’s My Job? Internally my Microsoft blue badge sources indicate that things aren’t clear yet. There are likely two more layoff waves in the next six months. People have new roles as of last week without guidance. It’s akin to the White House being paralyzed over the Russia thing. This will take the summer to sort it all out. 
 
SMB Acronym Missing. I listened intently to all of the keynotes. I personally didn’t hear the acronym “SMB” once. I heard the term “Small Business” and there was even a keynote reference on Day Three to “Small Business Server” but the term SMB has become persona non grata. I stopped counting how many times I heard the term “Inspire” after 100 instances. 
 
Lead Generation. The One Commercial Partner initiative is a highlight. And within this simplification and consolidation strategy, the lead generation service is the crown jewel. Readers might recall I spent two years in a Seattle-based Big Data startup called LeadScorz so I’ll dig deeper into this area and report back. I can tell you an SMB Nation member never met a warm lead she/he didn’t like! 
 
This is my first report from Microsoft Inspire in Washington DC. Keep it right here for more analysis. 
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7 Mistakes First Time Entrepreneurs Make and How to Avoid Them

We have all seen it happen to at least one good person…

Rather it is in politics or small business – someone makes a huge mistake and loses it all.

But, the ironic part about the entire situation is that the mistake was totally MistakesbyFirstTimeEntrepreneursavoidable. And, as an outsider, you could totally see that.

However, the person making the detrimental mistake is an insider – they don’t see what you see, hints as to why they didn’t avoid the mistake in the first place.

So, as you look into beginning your entrepreneur journey for the first time, I am here to be the person that offers you the advice you need to avoid those big, obvious mistakes…

As an entrepreneur for the first-time, a few big mistakes you can make (and also avoid) include:

1.    Falling head-over-heels in love.

Mistake: Young, or just first time, entrepreneurs often fall into one trap – they get bit by the love bug of the business industry. Don’t fall completely in love with your business idea; you will lose focus. Falling in love with your business idea could blind you and keep you from seeing that it might not have any profit-generating avenues.

How to avoid it: Be subjective. Always keep a list of your pros and cons, to remind yourself that if or when the pros outweigh the cons, it is time to move on to a new idea.

2.    Lacking support.

Mistake: This can encompass lacking technical, emotional, and/or financial support – trust me, you will need it all. While you can’t always get everyone in your corner, there is always someone. Especially financially, you will need this support to even get started.

How to avoid it: Create your own support group. Only keep the people you trust in your close circle, but be sure to keep it free of all the “haters.” Discuss business with people who truly believe in you and foster those friendships.

3.    Working with friends.

Mistake: Friends are just that. Friends. Friends and business should always remain separate. When working with someone so close to you, a level of respect is often lacking in your relationship which could lead to issues and tension in the workplace.

How to avoid it: Scout out talented people at networking events. Ask other people in the industry for recommendations – maybe some of their former employees would be a good fit. Always look for neutral parties to add to the team.

4.    Attempting to capture everyone.

Mistake: There is a big sea of people out in the world, and capturing the attention and likings of them all is impossible. You will never make everyone happy and intrigue everyone enough to buy your product, so why waste your time trying?

How to avoid it: Designate a target audience, then, refine your message and target specific niches that relate to your target audience.

5.    Using personal credit cards for business expenses.

Mistake: Several experts in entrepreneurship say you should only risk what you can afford to lose. There is no guarantee your business idea will work, so don’t risk it all just hoping that it will. Putting business expenses on a personal credit card is a good sign you can’t afford whatever you’re doing – and now, you are paying interest on your debt to credit card manufacturers and companies.

How to avoid it: Start a savings account. Continue to build the balance up with the intentions of it being your business funds. Then, use those for business ventures. You already had it set aside for that purpose, so you aren’t risking tour livelihood.

6.    Failing to test the market.

Mistake: While your idea might sound pretty intriguing, it isn’t fail-proof. Just because you assume the market will eat it up, doesn’t mean that they will. Testing the market could also lead to valuable advice that could improve your product for better sales.

How to avoid it: Test your product and get feedback from the market rapidly – before starting your business. Pass the product out to friends, family and anyone else who is relative to your target audience.

7.    Being the single founder.

Mistake: You will have far more responsibilities and tasks than you realize. You will suddenly find yourself overloaded with tasks that you can’t possibly get done.

How to avoid it: Learn to delegate tasks. Have a co-founder, or two, that you can hand some of the responsibility.

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The Importance of Performance and Protection – The Fortinet UTM Solution

John Maddison, Fortinet Senior Vice President of Products and Solutions

Fortinet’s UTM solutions have been positioned in the leader’s quadrant of Gartner’s annual Magic Quadrant for Unified Threat Management for the 8th time in a row.

Fortinet has maintained its position as the leader in this market by delivering the banner ad SMB gartner mq utm 220x150 1broadest, most powerful, and highly-automated UTM security solution available, designed to protect all points in the network – from the IoT to the cloud, physical and virtual networks, and wired and wireless environments with a wide range of powerful security and networking tools.

We believe your customers should never have to choose between performance and protection.  Which is why Fortinet’s UTM solution consistently provides the best price to performance ratio in the industry. Our UTM devices are built using our patented series of security processors, and by offloading CPU-intensive security inspection and decryption functions to specialized silicon, our latest SOC3 (System on a Chip) processor is able to provide the most cost-effective, high-performance solution on the market.

The Leading Solution for Small to Medium Businesses and Distributed Enterprises

The Fortinet UTM solution enables you to protect your customers across the entire threat spectrum with integrated high performance next generation firewalls, web and email filtering, data loss prevention, and more. And unlike others in this market, Fortinet’s UTM solutions also enable you to address networking needs with extensive routing, switching, access control, Wi-Fi, LAN, and WAN capabilities.

These capabilities are all administered through FortiManager’s unified, single-pane-of-glass management console. It automates the provisioning and management of devices, centralizes policy distribution and orchestration, and helps maintain regulatory compliance to reduce operational burdens, so you can operate efficiently while providing superior service to your customers.

Learn more about our SMB security solutions on www.fortinet.com. If you’re interested in going to market with the industry leader, become a partner today!

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Meet Veeam

This week we focus a Veeam - a deidcated community sponsor who get's SMB Nation! Here are seven ways to leave your lover and come over to Veeam! 


01 - Availability vs. Legacy BackupVeeam

is a solution that was specifically designed for the modern, highly virtualized hybrid cloud world. It allows you to meet aggressive SLAs for IT service recovery that can be measured in seconds and minutes versus the hours and days often required by legacy technologies.According to the 2017 Veeam Availability Report, Veeam customers meet their recovery time and point objective (RTPO™) SLAs 90% of the time compared to only 69% with their previous legacy provider. Veeam was built to manage the amount of data found in the data center of today — not the ones of yesteryear.

02 - Innovation vs. Status

QuoVeeam is an innovation leader with a proven history of being first to deliver market-defining capabilities, support of the latest platforms and the most comprehensive and forward-looking cloud vision in the industry.Legacy solutions were designed to protect the workloads of decades ago but still lack some of the key capabilities that Veeam invented, such as Instant VM Recovery® without limitations, SureBackup® and SureReplica, Virtual Labs, 2-in-1: backup and replication™ and many others! 



03 - Growth vs. Uncertain Future

Veeam is one of the fastest growing enterprise software companies today. It is a privately held rocket ship on target to reach $1 billion in yearly sales by 2018 with freedom to innovate. Recognized by Gartner, IDC and Ovum as a top choice among data protection and Availability solutions, Veeam’s forward momentum is in stark contrast with the lagging innovation and in many cases, the declining market share of legacy backup providers. As these providers impose mass layoffs and struggle to stay relevant in the modern data center, one can only speculate what additional steps will have to be taken to right the ship. Veeam’s growth shows no signs of slowing down — adding more than 4,000 new customers every month and new powerful capabilities with every release.

04 - Simplicity vs. Complexity

Veeam’s straightforward approach to licensing combined with a near-effortless scalable architecture and deployment gets you up and running in minutes. With no agents to protect virtual workloads or applications, two out of three Veeam customers spend 35% less time managing their Availability infrastructure which frees them up for more productive tasks.Compared to legacy solutions that impose antiquated capacity licensing requirements, myriad agents and separately licensed products, the choice is clear.

05 - Powerful Capabilities vs. Lack of Important Features

With industry-leading features such as instant, agentless recovery for tier-1 Microsoft applications, built-in WAN acceleration, secure end-to-end encryption, an innovative Scale-out Backup Repository™, deep integration with leading primary and deduplication storage arrays and advanced replication capabilities that enable near-continuous data Availability, Veeam’s capabilities are unrivaled by legacy backup solutions.

06 - Reliability vs. Guess Work

“It just works” – that is the feedback from Veeam customers. Veeam customers report substantially less downtime and fewer backup and replication failures than with legacy backup solutions. In fact, it’s the #1 reason enterprises select Veeam! Patented automated backup and replica testing AND recovery verification for 100% of your workloads, combined with Veeam’s industry-leading customer support will help you sleep better at night.Legacy backup solutions, on the other hand, have no infrastructure monitoring and no automated backup testing and recovery verification — leaving you vulnerable to potential data corruption and restore failures.07 - Customer Satisfaction vs. FrustrationVeeam’s customers are overwhelmingly satisfied with our product features and functionality, ease of use, technical support and sales effectiveness. With a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 2x the industry average, 9 out of 10 Veeam customers WOULD recommend Veeam to their peers.Former legacy backup users tell us they switched to Veeam for the stable, hybrid cloud-focused, high performance that their previous solution couldn’t deliver.07+1 - One more reason to switch from Legacy BackupVeeam Agents for Windows and Linux built to protect your physical and public cloud (AWS, Azure, Google, etc.) workloads are FREE for 6 months and Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 is FREE for 12 Veeam Backup & Replication is one of those rare solutions that surprises you right out of the box. I’ve been in the industry for more than 15 years, and I haven’t seen a product that has surprised me as much as Veeam has.

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How to NOT be “THAT” Co-Worker 5 Tips to Building NOT Repelling Office Relationships

Shorr Success

By:  Lisa Shorr, Certified Image Consultant & Brand Building Specialist

You all know them, THAT employee in the office or colleague that just doesn’t get it.  That person who rolls their eyes or always responds to your questions in an exasperated, angry tone.  Are you picturing “that” co-worker in your mind?  I knew you were!  Every office has one or maybe two.  I call them the “Culture Crusher.”   

In the IT SMB world, the Culture Crusher is often ignored or tolerated because there is always a client or some other pressing emergency to deal with.  Taking the “I-will-deal-with-it-later” approach often leads to much greater issues.

I employed a Culture Crusher. Full disclosure, I’ve had a few of these challenging employees over the past 25 years.  As tech-savvy as this Engineer was, his people-skills, or lack-thereof, ultimately cost us a managed services client. We kept justifying his behavior because he had the tech skills our organization needed.  Had we known then, what we know now!

Our client called our office one day requesting a different Engineer because the one we assigned to their account, made them feel “stupid.”  Probing the upset client further revealed that this Engineer had a condescending tone. This tone carried over into our office and included eye-rolling, when a co-worker did not understand a tech issue.  Our Culture Crusher put a kink in my otherwise well-oiled chain.  He not only cost us a valuable client, we also lost productivity because his co-workers did not want to approach him when they had a tech issue, that only he could answer.  Are you the business owner nodding your head feeling sick to your stomach?  Or maybe the co-worker, who fell behind on completing a ticket and got into trouble because you did not want to approach your Culture Crusher, for fear of being berated?

Whether your office is a one-man band or 50 plus employees, behavioral awareness always makes the difference between building trust or burning a bridge.  A true leader is not necessarily the C-Level Executive, it is often someone who focuses on these skills:  

  1. Friendly Phone Skills – How many client IT issues can your company resolve remotely?  Cloud solutions have changed the dynamic from needing to go onsite to needing to pick up the phone to work with your clients.  It is more important now to pay attention to your tone of voice, volume and how fast you talk.  Do you or a team member have an engaging tone, sound happy and confident and speak at a slow enough pace to enunciate each word?  A phone call is often the only experience a client has with your company.  How you handle the phones sets the tone for building a relationship. 
  2. Choose Your Attitude – Don’t be the angry guy!  IT is a very emotional industry.  One-minute a client is singing our praises, the next they are screaming at us because “you (our IT provider) lost our files!”  Yes, we get blamed for all tech issues, even if they were out of our control!  This emotional rollercoaster takes a toll on our nerves.  An inspirational leader, takes this ride in stride and tries hard to consciously maintain a can-do, let’s deal with this attitude.  It’s easy to let this pressure seep under your skin and ooze out of you in the form of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.  This hairy green monster, often hits a plateau in their career growth due to lack of maturity and a perceived inability to handle challenging problems. 
  3. Notice YOUR Nonverbal Behavior – Did you know, “We listen with our Eyes?”  Before a person utters a first word, their on-looker has surmised their wealth, health, hobbies, and whether they are management material or not.  We make “value judgements” based on what we were taught during our childhood.  Those ideas of what you “should” wear and how you “should” act, shape the way we view the world today.  In other words, people’s perceptions create their reality.  Take ownership of your actions.  Appear groomed and professionally dressed.  Stand tall versus slouch. Smile and make eye-contact.  Send the message to your client, prospect, employee that you genuinely care about what they have to say. 
  4. Adapt to Team Culture – Here is a secret:  A key component to a thriving, fast-growing business, is a cohesive team culture, an environment that fosters collaboration. Each team member appreciates the positive contributions of the extroverts and introverts alike. Listens to the hard-chargers and is thankful for the great peace-makers.  Makes a concerted effort to share corporate values and resolve issues based on the needs of the team and company versus having their own personal agenda.  There is no “I” in team!
    5.    No Geek Speak – Know your audience!  If you are speaking to a fellow techy, then go ahead and use technical jargon.  Talking to your client who doesn’t know the difference between a hard drive and a thumb drive, requires an entirely different approach.  An empathetic leader has the ability to describe a technical issue or resolution and be understood by all.  Your mission is to make others “feel” calm, comfortable and validated, not inadequate in any way.  
      

The next time you communicate with a client or co-worker, think, how do I want to be perceived by others?  Cultivator or Crusher, the choice is up to you.

To learn more about Perception and Image in the Workplace visit Lisa’s website:  http://www.shorrsuccess.com

About Lisa Shorr:
Lisa has spent over two decades in the sales and marketing arena. She is certified in Advanced Image Consulting from London Image Institute and owns two businesses, Shorr Success and Secure Future Tech Solutions. She has delivered Professional Development and Corporate Branding workshops and seminars across New England. She has styled many professional women and men on photoshoots, T.V. shows and in the privacy of their own closets! Her articles on style, career development and IT, have been published in notable magazines and newspapers including PC World, Providence Business News, GoLocalProv, Rhode Island Small Business Journal, So Rhode Island Magazine and Trade Secrets Magazine. Lisa is Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Association of Image Consultants, NY-Tristate Chapter.

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GODADDY LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE SECURITY PRODUCTS POWERED BY SUCURI


GoDaddy Offers Customers World-Class Malware Removal and Website Protection

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., June 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ - GoDaddy Inc. (NYSE: GDDY), the world’s largest technology provider dedicated to shifting the global economy toward life-fulfilling independent ventures, today GoDaddylaunched GoDaddy Website Security, a cutting-edge website protection service to keep customers’ sites clean and free of malware. Website Security is powered by Sucuri, recently acquired by GoDaddy to further strengthen its security offerings, and provides world-class malware protection. It pairs powerful, comprehensive protection with ease of use.

The level of automation used by hackers in their exploits continues to grow. Networks of infected computers and devices pose a significant challenge to small businesses, with more than four percent of all internet traffic now being described as malicious. Security products need be equally automated and responsive to the changing environment.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, ‘why would a hacker target me? I’m just a small business,’” said Kevin Doerr, Senior Vice President of Security Products at GoDaddy. “But hackers aren’t what you see in the movies – they now build sophisticated tools that hunt for known vulnerabilities on any website. Instead of breaking into one car, this is like a group of robots checking a parking lot of cars for unlocked doors. Websites owned by small businesses are far from impervious to this, although they may not have the preventative resources available to larger companies. We believe enterprise-grade security should be available to everyone, and that’s what we’re bringing to our customers with GoDaddy Website Security.”

Website Security offers continuous monitoring and daily malware scanning to detect any known security holes or issues on a website. If a website is infected by malware, GoDaddy’s Website Security guarantees fast response time, malware removal, and blacklist removal. Website Security premium plans add a second layer of protection, including a Web Application Firewall (WAF) that blocks malicious traffic before it gets to the website.

Key features and benefits include:

  • Guaranteed malware removal and hack repair: All Website Security products are backed by an army of talented security analysts who will not stop until the sites are 100 percent clean.
  • Expedited service for emergency cleanup: Website Security Express provides superfast malware removal service by security experts who will respond and fix the problems within 30 minutes of receiving a cleanup request.
  • Continuous security monitoring: Offers proactive protection with daily scans and immediate alerts in case anything unusual is detected – unlimited malware cleanups are also included at no extra charge.
  • Google blacklist monitoring and removal: Website Security monitors a number of blacklists such as Google, Norton, and McAfee to ensure your company’s reputation is protected. If a site is blacklisted, our security analysts will perform a complete malware and blacklist removal.
  •  Web Application Firewall (WAF) protection: Blocks malware from penetrating websites, and prevents malware reinfection after an attack so your site remains secure and safe.
  • Content Delivery Network (CDN) accelerator: Global business sites can benefit from CDN to boost site speed and performance to ensure that pages load quickly, no matter where in the world customers are located.
  •  Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Mitigation: Attacks such as an HTTPS Flood Attack and DNS Amplification DoS Attack can bring down a website by overwhelming it with a flood of automated traffic. Our advanced security monitoring and Web Application Firewall (WAF) prevents these types of attacks before they occur.

    GoDaddy’s Website Security products are available starting at $6.99 per month.

    For more information, visit https://www.godaddy.com/web-security/website-security

    Connect with GoDaddy on Facebook , Twitter & LinkedIn

    About GoDaddy
    GoDaddy’s mission is to radically shift the global economy toward life-fulfilling independent ventures. With more than 14 million customers worldwide and more than 63 million domain names under management, GoDaddy gives small business owners the tools to name their idea, build a beautiful online presence, attract customers and manage their business. To learn more about the company, visit www.GoDaddy.com.
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6 Digital Marketing Trends and Tips for Startups

Startups usually run on a shoestring, which means that they have limited marketing budgets. In order to reach their target audience and boost their business, startup owners have to be very creative and use every possible digital marketing Trends 1marketing strategy they have at their disposal. There are lots of cost-effective tactics that can be used, but having a well-defined strategy is essential for their implementation and success. If you do everything properly, you can expect a 50% increase in conversion rates.

Instant Messaging
Apps such as Viber, WhatsApp, Snapchat, or Tango are dominating the world of digital marketing. No wonder this is so when they offer easy audience segmentation as well as personalized communication. Messages that companies send their customers via instant messengers have very high open rates. As messages are precisely targeted and sent directly to customers, their reach is significantly higher than that of social media channels. Due to the fact that instant messages, even though they’re commercial, add a human touch to faceless and generic advertising communication, people open them within a few minutes, and their impact is instantaneous.

Outreach
There’s no better way to promote your business than to partner with an influencer from your industry. First of all, select someone who shares the same values and who doesn’t have a huge following. These, so-called micro-influencers with 10,000-100,000 followers, are more accessible to startups and SMBs, and they’re not too expensive. Besides that, although their following is smaller, it’s very loyal which means that your products and services will be presented to a relevant, target audience interested in what you have to offer. Another factor is even more important than the number of followers, and it’s their engagement. Always go for an influencer, or a Facebook group with responsive followers who like, share and comment a lot.

Mobile optimization
Google has reported that 9 out of 10 people leave a mobile website if they can’t find what they’re looking for right away. At the same time, a statistic has shown that 22.3% of all retail e-commerce dollars in the U.S. were spent through mobile devices. Obviously, if you want to grow your business, you need to optimize your website for mobile. If you take into consideration that more searches take place on mobile than on computers, it’s clear that you’re wasting a great opportunity to improve brand visibility if your site isn’t mobile friendly.

Video
Modern consumers are annoyed and fed up with traditional, intrusive ads and pop-ups. They want something to engage, educate, and entertain them. Valuable, relevant content can do wonders for your brand building efforts and awareness, which is why you need to come up with a stellar content strategy. Video has to be its essential part, as surveys say that people spend 1/3 of all their online activity watching videos. Live streaming adds a sense of urgency and interactivity to your video efforts and helps you connect with your customers on a more personal and direct level. However, in order to benefit from videos, they need to be well-produced and of high quality.

Social media
Social media platforms can amplify your brand message and help you expand your reach. Spreading the word on Facebook or Twitter can help you crowdfund your startup, grow your customer base, or generate traffic. It’s true that certain social media websites try to capitalize on paid ads, but their price is still moderate, which makes them affordable even for businesses with small budgets. Social proof, one of the most effective marketing tools, can be successfully generated and shared via social media, thus adding credibility to your business. Apart from improving brand visibility, social media channels can help you obtain valuable information about your customers and improve both your products and customer service.

Big data
Big data has the power to transform digital marketing by providing marketers with the necessary information, crucial for understanding and improving the results of their campaigns. Predictive analytics is highly useful for predicting customer behavior, customer profiling, reducing churn, and lead generation. All this can turn a modest startup into a highly successful venture. Many SMB owners fail to take advantage of big data because they believe that it’s too expensive, but as a matter of fact, there are more affordable options in which you can invest. Implementing this technology can be a real game changer for your business.

Digital marketing offers any startup a great chance to stand out and be noticed among the tons of its competitors’ commercial messages.

Nate Vickery is a business consultant and an online author mainly focused on latest trends in marketing and growth hacking. He is also the editor at Bizzmarkblog.com.

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MyDigitalShield Unveils OmniWAN, a SD-WAN Solution Designed for the SMB Market

MyDigitaial Sheild

New solution brings the high quality and reliability of expensive MPLS networks to low-cost broadband with baked in enterprise security

Wilmington, DE– June 20th, 2017My Digital Shield (MDS), a leading provider of Security-as-a-Service (SECaaS) for small businesses, announced today the release of OmniWAN, a SD-WAN solution tailored to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). A combination of Elastic UTM and SD-WAN, OmniWAN brings important quality metrics to existing internet connections, turning cable, DSL and more into enterprise-quality MPLS, without the costly price. Having offered OmniShield, an ElasticUTM platform tailored to provide Fortune 500-grade managed security services to SMBs, MDS sought out to create a high-performing, secure UTM coupled with high-performing internet connectivity at a small business price.

OmniWAN optimizes the internet connection or bonds multiple internet connections, sets several parameters and adds dynamic guardrails in order to keep all traffic flowing optimally. OmniWAN also adds other technology to ensure all applications are treated and optimized according to how they should be treated across the network. All applications, including voice, video streaming, music, webcasts, video conference and file transfers, are sensitive to different network parameters such as bandwidth, latency, jitter, packet loss, fragmentation, etc. OmniWAN ensures each application receives the optimal treatment for its sensitivity requirements.

"SD-WAN and ElasticUTM are extremely powerful independently, but when properly used together, the enhancements are exponential," said Andrew Bagrin, founder and CEO of MyDigitalShield. "We didn't want to become another SD-WAN provider; our goal was to enhance OmniShield while building a combined solution for the SMB market. As a result, we are able to bring the high quality and reliability of expensive networks at lower costs, but with baked in high-end security."

Tested by MDS channel partners for months, OmniWAN and OmniShield have shown great success.

"OmniShield has always been an amazing concept for security and one which has proven to be extremely effective for our clients; however, I was a bit skeptical about OmniWAN,” said Kenneth Holley, founder and CEO of Information Systems Integration, a premier MDS channel partner. “After experiencing it first hand, thoroughly testing in our lab and several other locations, I am amazed at how the combined solution works so well. The improvements to the networks are incredible.  Absolutely everything works better, is faster and more secure. The OmniWAN and OmniShield combination is exactly what we - and our clients - needed."


For more information about MDS’ OmniWAN, visit http://www.mydigitalshield.com/omniwan/.

About My Digital Shield
My Digital Shield (MDS) is a leading provider of ElasticUTM and SD-WAN fused as a platform that provides enterprise-quality connectivity and security technology to small businesses and branch offices. Based on industry-leading unified threat management (UTM) technology, MDS’ customizable cloud-based security solution offers continual protection against cyber threats and intrusion at an affordable price. With no bandwidth pollution, the ElasticUTM delivery model ensures that the latest virus definitions and threat updates are in use for continual threat prevention. Founded in 2013, MDS serves thousands of managed service providers (MSPs) and small businesses in various industries, including retail, restaurants, hospitality, and professional services. For more information, visit www.mydigitalshield.com or follow on Twitter @MyDigitalShield.

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Sage Bots

Recently many MSPs and partners attended a lecture on “How to Throw an Election” discussing bots with the notorious Tcat. The well-attended event was to further our technology conversations beyond the LAN and even MSP land. The context was actually SECURITY and that is always a crowd pleaser. Funny thing is, an election bot rehash article emerged here just as I was writing the blog. If anything, this report from the NY Daily News is interesting.

But the real reason we’re here is to talk business bots. A tip of the hat to Sage (the accounting software firm) for hosting a one-day bot “BOTlanta” workshop in Atlanta as part of the Sage Summit 2017 conference (in part this made me think about the above Tcat lecture). “At BOTlanta, Sage’s chief of AI and bots, Kriti Sharma, will outline the importance of establishing a bot code of ethics and provide an interactive step-by-step guide on how to create a bot of your own.” This free day-long workshop was open to the Atlanta community. Bravo!

Kriti Sharma BOT CHICK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bot Chick: Kriti Sharma


At the Sage Summit keynote, Sharma introduced PEGG, a voice chat bot that resides on the Amazon Echo device. Beyond cool, you can use the most natural interface of all (voice) to manage the Sage One cloud-based accounting system. For example, you can as management reporting questions such as “How much does Microsoft owe me?” You can watch the keynote speech here as I shot a point of view (POV) vid (see below).

  pegg keynote

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now the good stuff. I had 1:1 interview with Sharma (“the bot chick”) after her bot presentation. First Sharma clarified that Pegg was launched as a chat bot for Facebook messenger and Skype. You could essentially type commands. At Sage Summit 2017, the voice portion of the Pegg chat bot was introduced. Point well taken.

“We use analytics to help design and improve Pegg. It’s the only way.” Shared Sharma. “Over 20,000 people are using Pegg and we can discover new features that people want. Our development time using a chat bot is much faster than traditional application development.” She emphasized voice integration as a way to get more tasks done and “open up the industry to a new wave of users who don’t have accounting expertise.”
Interestingly, Pegg is best thought of as having strengths in management reporting and revenue side transactions such as issuing an invoice. “You can’t trigger a payment from Pegg as we haven’t built a global payment solution yet.” Sharma added. “So security isn’t that different from a keyboard or mobile interface. We don’t want to give an account balance without some type of voice signature.”

Finally, I asked her if the industry is “early” with artificial intelligence with the likes of IBM Watson, Amazon Alexa and now Pegg. “Yes and no. The way I see it is that Watson and Alexa are very general. Pegg is solving a use case defined for a particular industry. And I want to speak of ethics. Bots should not pretend to be humans.” Sharma concluded. With that, refer back to paragraph one concerning Twitter bots and elections.

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Sage Advice: Hey George – What Should My 18 Year Old Son Do?

At the recently completed Sage Summit in Atlanta, I enjoyed a 1:1 meeting with George Foreman, boxing legend, following his keynote address to several thousand attendees. My question was simple – it was about advice for my 18 year old son who is an Eagle Scout and will start at CalPoly this fall studying information systems.
“It is important that you must start - you can't dream without making a first step to start. Then in life you will always have to start over. If you do it once, you can certainly do it again.” Foreman offered as advice that applies to anyone of any age.

Specific to a young person, Foreman opined “The most important thing is to get a job. Doesn't matter how many hours it is. Learn and then learn something you love. Even volunteer. Even clean the bathroom. At work, everyone will stop by to tell you something.” Foreman shared. “If you can just get into the door, you can learn what you really want to do. Don't wait to be successful. You got to start the ground work and you have to start from the bottom.” I’d offer that is sage advice from Foreman at the Sage Summit!

Keynote context
Foreman dazed and amazed the Sage Summit audience for a few rounds, literally. Today Foreman works with youth at the George Foreman Youth Center in Houston, Texas. “The youth energized me and really got me back into boxing the second time.” Foreman said. “I had run out of money and I was focused on getting kids off the street. I’m still doing the that."

harryb and george foreman

Foreman told his story of not completing high school to learning boxing and become Olympic gold medalist within two years of starting boxing. He went on to be a twice world champion. That followed with success with selling 100+ million George Foreman Grills.
George Foreman

Bottom line. Foreman went from riches to rags to riches again. His success is well-earned.

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Get Ready for IoT by Taking 3 Essential Steps

by Oliver Schabenberger

To prepare for IoT, companies need to take advantage of big data and advanced analytics, and adapt their culture, so they are ready for the transformation.

In the early 1990s, the general public made its earliest forays into using the Internet. At the time, no one could have imagined where the IOT one photo shutterstock 468787469 A2technology would lead. Social media, e-commerce, mobile apps, cloud computing, software as a service -- the list is endless. Entire classes of applications -- even industries -- were not even a gleam in their creators' eyes. Today these internet-based technologies have transformed the way we live and work.

Fast-forward more than 25 years. We are at a similar stage in the latest iteration of the internet -- the Internet of Things (IoT). Pundits of all stripes predict that the IoT will change everything. Connected cars. Better patient monitoring devices. Industrial machines that track their own maintenance requirements. Intelligent street lights. Everything will be connected.

As with the original internet, we have no idea where the IoT will take us. And before we see the full impact of the predicted and unforeseen advances, we will need to remove significant technical obstacles, notably security and lack of standards.

Still, despite the roadblocks, companies that get ahead of the IoT curve will undoubtedly benefit from a lasting competitive advantage as they forge new markets. So what can your company do today to prepare for the future of IoT? The following are the top three best practices:

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Microsoft Power BI Visualizes Dynamics 365 Business Processes

By: Pedro Hernandez | May 18, 2017

A Power BI content pack allows Dynamics 365 customers to gain new insights into their business processes.

Power BIMicrosoft wants to help demystify the business processes of its Dynamics 365 customers.

Power BI, Microsoft's cloud-based business intelligence (BI) and data visualization platform, is typically used to create interactive visualizations that unearth insights using a wide variety of business data. Now, joint Power BI and Dynamics 365 users have tool that can help them get a better grasp of what makes their businesses tick.

The software giant announced the release of a new Power BI Process Analyzer Content Pack for customers using Dynamics 365 (version 8.2 and up), a cloud-enabled business application platform that integrates Microsoft's customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software along with a bevy of intelligent applications. The pack is available in the AppSource marketplace from Microsoft.

The Power BI content pack, authored by Microsoft staffers Christian Abeln, a senior program manager, and Karl Maybach, a senior content developer at the software maker, links directly to the Dynamics 365 database and generates interactive charts and other visualizations that represent business process flows. According to the company, users can then track and explore several of their organizations' performance indicators.

A step-by-step guide on setting up the content pack and creating custom business process reports is available in this blog post.

Also this week, Microsoft released a preview of Power BI Report Server, which enables customers of the new Power BI Premium licensing option to store and manage reports on-premises. "With this first release, you connect directly to an Analysis Services data model, which in turn can connect to a variety of other data sources, including SQL Server, Oracle, Teradata, and more," stated Riccardo Muti, a group program manager at Microsoft Power BI in a separate post. "We aim to extend direct connectivity to the other Power BI Desktop data sources, targeting later this year."

Power BI Report Server will be generally available alongside Power BI Premium later this quarter, added Muti.

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Now Sales Is Buying Bright Shiny Objects, Too

 

 

Maas Companies ImagePublished on May 18, 2017

Jill Rowley

I’ve seen this movie before, over in MarTech. I spent a decade at Eloqua building the marketing automation space from 2002-2012. Scott Brinker coined the term Chief Marketing Technologist in 2010 and has documented the “category” growth from ~ 150 applications to over 5,000 in 2017. Anything that could be automated was automated - at least at some companies - often without much thought as to the strategic plan underlying these sparkly new toys.

Marketing Technology Landscape 1

 

 

Now, the same thing is happening in SalesTech. Here’s one glimpse at this expanding universe from Nancy Nardin at Smart Selling Tools:

Smart Technology landscape 1

And here’s a more analytical look at the landscape, minus all the players:

 

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5 Virtual Phone Service Features Your Small Business Needs

business meeting

 

Alicia Sandino

Entrepreneurs and small businesses are getting on board with a virtual phone service. Its mobile-friendly capabilities and business-focused features are just a few of the alluring aspects of this business communication service. Not too long ago, if you were an entrepreneur you had to rely on your personal cell phone plan and phone number to stay in touch with prospects and clients, keeping you from establishing a professional image. As a result, you most likely had to shell out a pretty penny to get on a business phone service plan with major providers just to seem like a credible business.

Today, a virtual phone service can give you the professional image you need with some of the best VoIP features available. The best part? You can see significant savings if you’re switching from a major phone service provider.

Call Continuity

As a new business, you want to maintain a reputation of reliability. If you’re looking for maximum uptime, call continuity is your go-to feature. It’s easy to set up and keeps your calls coming in so your small business can reliably service customers.

Voicemail to Email

As a small business, you want to make sure you interact with every client that comes your way. Voicemail to email keeps your messages handy and ready to view from your email so you don’t miss out on new revenue opportunities; doesn’t that sound like something every business owner would want? Don’t let this seemingly simple feature fool you- there are several ways to make this feature really work for you.

Automated Attendant

Are you still thinking about hiring a receptionist for that professional feel? Look no further than an automated attendant. With this indispensable virtual phone service feature, you can professionally greet callers, direct them to the right person, and inform them of new products or upcoming promotions.

Customized Prompt Menus

Prompt menus work hand in hand with your auto attendant to give callers a chance to make their experience better. Customize your menu to your own services to help callers get the assistance they need.

Call Logging

Keep track of your calls and conversations for more accurate follow ups and add a personal touch to your interactions. Although this is a tool that call centers typically enjoy, call logging can give entrepreneurs and their teams the data they need to increase customer satisfaction and ultimately, customer retention.

Is a Virtual Phone System Right for Your Business?

A virtual phone system isn’t for everyone but if using your personal cell phone number to take care of business is getting in the way of establishing yourself as a professional and credible business person, then maybe it’s time to explore how a virtual phone system can help grow your business. FastPBX offers a Nomad Plan which includes the services mentioned above along with 24/7 U.S. based support and no contracts. Run your business on a mobile device without sacrificing quality or your budget!

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We’re Back – Annual Beer Summit! July 9th Washington DC

LET'S MEET ONE ON ONE

Bill Gates won’t be there. Elon Musk won’t be there. And Travis Kalanick certainly won’t be there (he’s on leave of absence). But YOU can beWPC Beerfest there! Yes – it’s the traditional kickoff SMB Nation Beer Summit on the front-end of the Microsoft Inspire (formerly WPC) conference. This is your chance to meet, greet, hug, cry, laugh and tell lies outside of the main Inspire conference in a safe place.

Seriously – our popular Beer Summit is a chance for outsiders (typically locals not attending Inspire) to mix with insiders (attending Inspire). Think of it as a social gathering with substance. Be there as the next stories are being written here.

PS – We know you have many parties to attend. Please put us on your shortlist and drop by! 

RSVP to confirm your spot.

 

reserve your spot

 

 

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4 Signs to Immediately Identify Someone With True Emotional Intelligence

Imagine the immense possibilities of working with a team that possesses these traits.

 

By Marcel Schwantes  Principal and founder, Leadership From the Core

 

brain ei 01 2017 209901

CREDIT: Getty Images
 
In a recent report, top human resources officers from global companies were asked what they see as the 10 job skills required by the year 2020 for workers to thrive.

One of those critical skills for success that made the top 10 list? Wait for it ... emotional intelligence.

According to emotional intelligence (E.I.) experts, E.I. has become an important predictor of job success, surpassing technical ability. In 2011, a CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,600 U.S. hiring managers and human resources professionals revealed that 71 percent valued emotional intelligence in an employee over a high IQ.

What to Look for in People With High Emotional Intelligence
If you're looking to work in a high-performing tribe of people with E.I, or build your own E.I. superpower culture, you need to know some of the key behaviors that show up in its five tenets of self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

1. Look for people who show up with their true selves.
Transparency is a hot commodity in the relationship economy. Sometimes the tendency is for employees and bosses to hide, withdraw, stonewall, or put on the mask of false charisma or dictatorship to avoid tough situations or conflict. And that mask hides who we truly are as we order people around or forcefully command attention. In teams that thrive, you'll find people showing up with raw authenticity. It's leading in conversations and interactions with your mind and your heart, during good times and bad. You show up with:

  • Excellence
  • Integrity
  • Emotional honesty
  • A great attitude
  • An openness to feedback
  • A self-awareness of not only your feelings, but of those of others in your sphere of influence


2. Look for resilient people who display flexibility.
Priorities shift in almost every company and every job. Surround yourself with people who are flexible during change and will jump on every opportunity to help during a transition. They have the flexibility to deal with uncertain and unpredictable situations--a hallmark of true E.I. You also want to be around people with resilient minds. They deal in the factual (what's really true) and the here and now, and leave the ghosts of their past in the past. The most resilient people recover from bad situations by saying no to anyone who interferes with their goals and schedules, and especially their values and beliefs. Resilient people don't allow themselves to feel guilty about things that have nothing to do with them. They know they are not responsible for the actions and drama of others, and they never beat themselves up for something someone else did.

3. Look for people who manage their emotions better than most.
This falls under self-management (or self-regulation) in emotional intelligence and is a personal competence found in most high-performing teams. The question behind self-management is simple but rare: Can I manage my emotions and behavior to a positive outcome? Internationally known psychologist and best-selling author Daniel Goleman says this about people with manage their emotions well:

Reasonable people--the ones who maintain control over their emotions--are the people who can sustain safe, fair environments. In these settings, drama is very low and productivity is very high. Top performers flock to these organizations and are not apt to leave them.

 

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Thoma Bravo Acquires Continuum, A Leading Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) Company

Firm’s Mid-Market Discover Fund Wraps Up Active Week of Deal Making  


BOSTON, MA and SAN FRANCISCO, CA – June 14, 2017 – Thoma Bravo LLC, a leading private equity investment firm, today announced that it has acquired Continuum, a premier global IT management platform for Managed IT Service thoma bravoProviders (MSPs), from Summit Partners. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.  

Continuum, headquartered in Boston, is an international firm that provides MSPs with the platform, services and processes needed to simplify IT management and deliver high quality Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM), backup and disaster recovery and security offerings to small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Its vertically integrated service delivery model combines a SaaS-based technology suite with a best-in-class Network Operations Center (NOC) and Help Desk, and allows MSPs to remotely administer, backup and secure their clients’ IT environments from a single screen and to scale quickly and cost-effectively. Continuum employs more than 1,400 professionals worldwide and monitors more than 1 million endpoints for its 5,800 partners, including MSPs servicing more than 60,000 SMB customers.

“Continuum sets the industry standard with its turn-key approach in the Remote Monitoring and Management market for MSPs,” said A.J. Rohde, a Partner at Thoma Bravo. “We know this market well, and have followed the company for a long time.  What Michael George and his team have delivered on in terms of an innovative product suite and full software and services model has been very impressive, and we can’t wait to work with them to accelerate the world-class offering they deliver to MSPs, both organically and through add-on acquisitions.”

“The company has a smart and proven business model which solves a well-understood skills gap in the MSP market,” added AJ Jangalapalli, a Vice President at Thoma Bravo.  “With its strong growth and high customer retention, Continuum is a great fit with the Thoma Bravo portfolio.”

“Thoma Bravo is the perfect financial and strategic partner for us at this important stage of our company’s growth,” said Michael George, CEO at Continuum. “This investment will enable us to continue to capitalize on our core value propositions and increase critical investments in product development as well as sales and marketing tools for our MSP partners to help accelerate their growth. We are incredibly grateful for the partnership and support we have received from Summit Partners, and are confident that Thoma Bravo’s operational expertise, knowledge of the space and strategic support will be invaluable to us as we focus ambitiously on our company’s future.”

The acquisition of Continuum was made through Thoma Bravo’s Discover Fund, which debuted in early 2016, and comes on the heels of its acquisition of Riskonnect, an integrated risk management provider, announced last week. The Discover Fund enables Thoma Bravo to expand its investment reach by focusing on growth-oriented technology companies in the lower middle market. Previous Discover Fund investments include Bomgar, a cybersecurity provider; Elemica, a supply chain operating network; Infogix, an analytics company; and T2 Systems, a parking management software firm.

Kirkland & Ellis is serving as counsel for Thoma Bravo. Goldman Sachs and the Carlyle Group provided the debt financing for this transaction. Lazard acted as financial advisor and Goodwin as legal counsel to Continuum.

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The Gig Economy and The Rise of the Uber-Specialists

Posted on May 19, 2017 by Jeff Shuey

Does the gig economy encourage the rise of the Uber Specialist? The Gig Economy

Where Uber Specialist means a person with deep and specific skills.

    Note: This has NOTHING to do with the car service.

Effectively this is the market and model for independent consultants since the dawn of time. Where someone has a unique skill that people are willing to pay for.

Simple. That’s consulting 101.

What about generalists? We’ll come back to this.

The Gig Economy encourages and enables people from all walks of life to take their skills and put them on the open market.

For example, in business:

  • If you want somebody to clean up your audio files you can find that online.
  • If you want someone to help you proofread a technical document you can find them online too.
  • If you want someone to help you with almost any task you can find that skill somewhere online and/or in your town.

Although the points above are specific tasks there are other skills that are more general generic in nature. There is nothing wrong with being a generalist in this sense. However, it is likely that generalists will be limited in what they can charge for their services.

Back to the question from the title of this post:

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HPE Partners with ClearCenter to Simplify IT for Small and Medium Businesses

By GlobeNewswire, June 05, 2017, 05:00:00 PM EDT

New partnership offers preloaded ClearOS on HPE ProLiant servers to make SMB IT simple, secure and affordable

PALO ALTO, Calif., June 05, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE:HPE) today announced an exclusive partnership with ClearCenter, a leading open source platform provider, to offer ClearOS, a Linux-based operating system on HPE ProLiant servers. Tailored to fit the IT needs of small and medium businesses by consolidating server, gateway and networking functionality, HPE and ClearCenter deliver a powerful IT solution with a simple web-based user interface and a built-in application marketplace, making IT deployments for SMBs simple, secure and economical.

IT for SMBs is complex, with conflicting technology choices and trade-offs making it difficult for companies to identify the right solutions for their short- and long-term needs. HPE is joining forces with ClearCenter to help channel partners deliver cloudlike simplicity and on premise security in one affordable solution that will grow with the business.

In addition, HPE is announcing new servers for SMB customers, including the new ProLiant MicroServer, as part of its Gen 10 portfolio. Designed specifically for Small Office/Home Office (SOHO), the ProLiant MicroServer includes the new ProLiant ML30 and ProLiant DL20 servers refreshed with new Kaby Lake processors from Intel.

The ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 boasts several upgrades including:

AMD graphics embedded in the chip, enabling high-resolution applications like media streaming.
Dual DisplayPort connectors, equipping two monitors with 4K experience.
Optional GPU support on a PCIe slot, which allows users to connect a total of five monitors to the MicroServer or a five screen extended display.

"At HPE, we are committed to providing our SMB customers with simple, secure and cost effective solutions that are easy to deploy," said Peter Schrady, senior vice president and general manager, ProLiant Servers, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. "Through our exclusive partnership with ClearCenter to deliver ClearOS, we will enable customers to create a ready-to-use server at no additional cost with more than 100 applications to choose from so businesses can build the IT solution that is just right for them."

Small and medium businesses need easy-to-use solutions that are secure and affordable. HPE will be offering ClearOS pre-loaded on the new HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10, as well as ML110, ML30 and DL20. HPE ProLiant preloaded with ClearOS is ready to use out of the box, easy to customize and integrates into any IT environment.

 

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Lenovo Line Up

Last Look at Accelerate 2017!


I thought you might be interested in these two last looks at the recently completed Lenovo Accelerate 2017 conference in Orlando. I will repeat.

Long-term Roadmap: Analytics and IoT

Lenovo NA President Emilio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My 1:1 with Lenovo NA President Emilio Ghilardi.

Different is Better

Sammy Kinlaw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My 1:1 with  Sammy Kinlaw, NA Channel Chief

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Perfect Timing – A Mobile Phone That Meets My Needs


    Long-time SMB Nation readers will recall my mobile phone journey from Apple to BlackBerry to Windows Phone. Today I’m limping along with an aging Nokia 1020 that I originally purchased for its state of the art camera (40+ megapixels). That’s right– my need with my phone beyond basic communication was to have a kick ass camera. Fast forward the movie and I’m shopping for a new mobile phone.

I’ve made the decision to roll with an Android-based phone that doesn’t catch on fire. I need a superior camera, great sound and basic functionality and then some. I recently went on a first date with the Moto Z phone from Lenovo (Lenovo acquired the Motorola phone business October 2014).  

Features
The Moto Z is a capable Android-based phone on its very own. But it’s the Mods that add extreme value. My first need is a killer camera as I’m a blogger in the media. The camera Mod is based on Hasselblad True Zoom camera hardware and has the following features: 10x optical zoom, xenon flash, RAW format and easy sharing. My next need is sound. When I host a phone call on speaker, I need quality and volume (both missing on my Nokia 1020). The sound Mod (JBL SoundBoost) for the Moto Z uses JBL sound technology plus adds a ten hour battery boost. Imagine both a boom box and the world’s best speakerphone on a mobile phone! There is also an InstaShare projector Mod that blew my mind. You attach it and you can illuminate a 70-inch screen, even in a light room, to display a PowerPoint deck or watching streaming entertainment such as a football game.

Take a Look
At the Lenovo Accelerate 2017 conference in Orlando last month, I walked the trade show floor and got a look at the Moto Z and its mods. I shot a vid here of the experience and I highly recommend you look at it.  

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Drawback
Right now the Moto Z is only available with Verizon. Small problem in that I use AT&T. I was educated that you can use an unlocked version of the Moto Z with AT&T. However I don’t like using unlocked phones because of support issues. (I had a family member use an unlocked BlackBerry Z90 that was programmed for Sprint that I “opened” using Unlock River. It allowed the BlackBerry Z90 to use an AT&T sim card but it downgraded the AT&T network coverage to 2G. A bit later, AT&T terminated its 2G network and rendered the unlocked BlackBerry Z90 useless. But I digress. I don’t like unlocked phones however Lenovo reports that the AT&T version of the Moto Z phone will be out mid-year 2017. At that time, I’ll seriously consider the Moto Z.

Next steps
Over the next several weeks, I’m gonna find a way to demo the Moto Z for two reasons. One is to provide an update to you, the SMB Nation reader. The second is to see if the Moto Z is indeed the phone for me when the AT&T compliant version releases later this year. Standby.

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Mourn the Past or Celebrate the Future?

    This past week I received an announcement that Bainbridge Technology Solutions was closing its doors on Winslow Way (“Main Street”) on Bainbridge Island. It’s been a storefront institution for over a dozen years; a welcome man cave to pick up parts, order a new system and most importantly, receive expert repair services. It joins other recent closures such as an office supply store (“Paper Products) just down the street.

Bainbridge Technology Solutions was impacted by concurrent forces: retail disruption and pivot to cloud. Across Puget Sound, a short 35-min. ferry ride, is the home of Amazon.com who's disruption impacts physical presence retail everywhere. The pivot to cloud has reduced IT spends as we know it. In the words of Brandon Byron, owner of Bainbridge Technology Solutions, “We have sincerely enjoyed being part of the Bainbridge Island retail community. However, retail operations are no longer feasible in this evolving industry. So, we look forward to the next chapter that will allow us to continue to serve the community for many years to come.” Byron was also impacted by the very IT vendors he served. In this article, I outline how HP’s snub of small retailers in ink sales truly hurt firms like Bainbridge Technology Solutions.

 

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[Photo credit to Charles and Dona Keating and Pattie O’Loughlin]

SMB Nation is a long-time customer and supporter of Bainbridge Technology Solutions. For a few years, we upheld it as a poster child for Small Business Saturday (in late November) that you can read about here (included popcorn and coffee for celebrants in 2015) and watch a video featuring Bainbridge Technology Solutions in 2011 here.

Moving forward, Byron shared that “Commercial clients will continue to be serviced as usual, residential clients will have the option to schedule on-site and remote service calls via our web site.”

The choice is yours on how to absorb this news. On the one hand, you can be angry and perhaps have grievances about losing something from the past. I’d offer, knowing Byron well, he’s focused on the future and, shed from the retail overhead, will figure it out. I’ve got his number on speed dial!

PS – big discounts on remaining inventory the next few days. Stop by and tell Byron that “Harry sent ya!”

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Onward and Upward – Jamison West’s New Gig

Over the past few months, I’ve teased you with forthcoming changes in the world of Jamison West. He essentially divested

his MSP practice business interests, sold his Seattle home into a strong market and moved to Las Vegas with his family (pictured). It would jamisonbe easy to assume it was the record setting monsoon season in Seattle that caused his move to fun and sun but it’s more than that.

So it’s time to let the cat out of the bag. What’s the story with Jamison? With life changes afoot, West is the new CEO for Teamatics. It’s kinda like Myers-Briggs meets Slack. To level set, Microsoft Teams is the competitor to the wildly popular Slack. It represents Microsoft’s latest endeavor into the malleable world of collaboration (following similar positioning with Yammer, SharePoint, Skype messaging and so on). Slack largely created the latest generation of collaboration with what started as a IM tool for gamer developers and was validated but serving as a rapid development environment for the reboot of the Healthcare.gov web site. I view Slack as an internal email replacement to keep my Inbox free. I’m using Microsoft Teams as well but it feels more like a document storage corpus to me (say SharePoint Jr.). Admittedly I’ve only been using Microsoft Teams for five months and it only recently was officially released so the Microsoft Teams journey continues.

West is leveraging Microsoft Teams as a “new platform for developing human capital and improving team performance.” His firm Teamatics strikes me as one part Myers-Briggs, one part peer group/living theology and one part technology. I’d first and foremost define this as a services business, not a product line. West’s calling is and has been for some time to help others ad this new venture allows for that.

Of the launch, West said, “In my 20-plus years of managing teams and leaders of teams I’ve struggled to find a simple, accurate way to ensure talents are aligned to objectives and that the team is aligned with each other and to the culture of my company. I am thrilled to be part of a new team that has done incredible work to solve that problem.”

I’ll continue to monitor this startup.

UPDATED: Let me know if you thing we should weave Jamison into the fabirc of our upcoming six-part MSP Tech Talk series? He is a frequent speaker in the SMB MSP channel partner community. Hmmm...

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Check-in: Kaseya

I recently had a surprisingly transparent conversation with Fred Voccola, the CEO of Kaseya. He has gained his sea legs just crossing his second work anniversary. The tone and tenor of the interview was three-fold: Hello World, No IT and Office 365.

Hello World
Voccola reached out to reinvigorate the Kaseya conversation in the SMB Nation community. To be blunt, Kaseya hasn’t been top of mind for some time at SMB Nation. It was always perceived as an expensive tool for the big Fred Voccola Kaseyaguys. But Voccola had a different explanation. A couple of years ago, Kaseya was essentially acquired by a private equity group and had “lost its way” with the MSP community. Voccola promises it has returned with partner momentum. I’ll continue to monitor the situation.

No IT

I enjoyed a spirted conversation about the transformation MSPs are undergoing in a volatile business community. Loosely translated – everything is changing and very quickly. Voccola is committed to assisting MSPs with that transition to be, in my words, business advisors. I contributed to the conversation by highlighting how the IT spend is moving away from the server room (read CIO) and to other departments such as marketing (read analytics). It’s gonna be a rodeo ride and Kaseya wants to be right there with you, the SMB Nation MSP.

Office 365
I pressed hard on Kaseya’s commitment to Office 365. It acquired some dashboard technology but I had reason to believe it was put 365 Command on the shelf. Voccola insisted that recent actions such as moving internal operations to Las Vegas wasn’t a sign that the 365 Command team had been disbanded. Rather it continues to invest in this technology area.

BTW – the Kaseya Connect conference is May 9-11. I’ll miss it as I’m already committed to the Sage Summit in Atlanta. So many conferences, so little time!

UPDATED May 10, 2017 808AM Pacifc:

Hey Harry,

I am at Kaseya Connect and I read your piece on Fred Voccola. I know it was a short blurb, but one thing that underscores the “little guy” theme is that their PSA, called BMS is full featured and a lot less expensive than most other PSAs. It integrated, of course, with the Kaseya VSA, as well as Quotewerks, IT Glue and other vendors.

Yes, Kaseya had a bad two years (had to wait for their self-inflicted foot wound to heal up), but they are doing quite well and the ecosystem is back up and functioning due to a robust API in their products.

Randall C. Spangler, MCP, CSSA

Merit Solutions

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On the Road Again – Lenovo Tech Wheels Tour

One of the jewels at the recently completed Lenovo Summit (Orlando, April 2017), hardly hidden, was the Lenovo Tech Wheels truck. It represents the initial on-the-road outreach by Lenovo to tell it’s story to the people, one truck stop at a time.

Starting this Spring, Lenovo’s Tech Wheels truck will visit partner sites, stores and events in the Southeast US LenovoTechTruckTour region (Lenovo is based in North Carolina).

If this sounds like a redo from yester year, you are partially correct. SMB Nation readers will fondly recall the Microsoft Across America tour trucks and buses before the Great Recession. Here’s the good news. The Lenovo Tech Wheels tour is bringing that excitement back. Thank you.

The Tech Wheels truck that I toured (pictured) was a first class GEEK CAVE. Here is an example of how it works. The idea is that this vehicle will pull up to the office building where you have your MSP consulting and reseller practice. The trailer then spreads its wings to create a demonstration lab showing Lenovo wares. To me the secret sauce was the presentation, just like how an upscale restaurant presents gourmet food. It’s all in the presentation and Lenovo’s Tech Wheels scores high marks here.

So what’s it all mean? The Lenovo fiscal year just started April 1st. This is a pilot program with one truck running in the current fiscal year. If successful, I would offer you can anticipate seeing additional Lenovo Tech Wheels trucks in the next fiscal year. And once it hits critical mass, it’s essentially recreated the Microsoft Across America tour – updated by about ten years. Think of this as an “event in a truck” because the desired motion an MSP would take is that customers would be invited to walk through the Lenovo Tech Wheels truck and be dazed and amazed.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress of this initiative as I have a personal interest in its success.

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How to write a winning job offer to attract professional freelancers and contractors

Of course you want to find the best, most qualified freelancers to do the jobs you need done. No one sets out looking for the second or third best person to work for them. But remember that the hiring process is a two-way street – potential candidates also need to want to work for you.

Make it impossible for them to resist applying for and accepting your job offer, by freelanceputting together a winning job listing, paying attention to these techniques.

Make it easy for them to find your job offer
This sounds like a no-brainer. Of course, you wouldn't willingly make it more difficult to find your job posting, but you could be doing this without even realizing it. When you're putting a heading at the top of your job posting, you may be tempted to make it stand out from the rest. While it's great to set yourself apart from the crowd, steering yourself too far away could be making you less visible. Remember that candidates are going to search for certain keywords, so you've got to include those keywords within your title. You can include those keywords in a different and creative way, but in order for your posting to show up in a relevant search, those words have got to be there.

Let the candidates filter themselves
Chances are you're going to get a lot of applications, some much more qualified than others. You shouldn't be wasting your time reading through applications of candidates who are far too under-qualified to be considered. Instead, let them take themselves out of the running, by specifying in your job posting those qualities that are non-negotiable. If an applicant sees that they don't have the qualifications you'll be looking for, they're more likely to not bother applying. You'll end up with fewer applicants overall, but the crop you'll be choosing from will be more well filtered to start with.

See who's paying attention
You want to hire someone who pays attention to detail and listens to instructions. An easy way to see if a candidate has these qualities is to include a specific instruction within your job posting. Doing this helps you determine who has taken the time to actually read through the entire posting, and then has followed through and done what they've been instructed to do. The simplest way to do this is to ask candidates to put a specific word in the subject line of their application email. Without even opening and reading their message, you'll be able to see who reads through and follows instructions.

Don't skip the editing
No matter what your deadline for posting your job offer is, editing and proofreading cannot be overlooked. Putting out a mistake-laden job posting reflects poorly on a company, and shows a level of carelessness that may turn off potential candidates. Help get rid of errors in your writing with the help of these tools:

- Paper Rater
There's no need to download anything with this free online proofreading resource. And, with a paid membership, there are so many more features to make use of.


- Polish My Writing
Get instant feedback about the content of your job posting with this checker, that will point out mistakes you've made, as well as provide you with helpful suggestions for making your content better.


- Assignment help
When you have questions about the rules of writing and grammar, Australian Help is there to help you find the answer. Letting mistakes go unnoticed may turn away the best qualified candidates, who are unlikely to miss the mistakes in your content.


- Ginger
Download Ginger to any device, so you can write, edit and post your job offers, no matter where you are. Don't let errors make their way onto your job postings, simply because you're typing on the go.


- Paperfellows
It's always ideal to have a live person checking over your writing, since they can see things a computer just isn't able to. Errors in context that are easily missed by a computer won't get past a professional proofreader from Paperfellows.


- Hemingway App
Put your content through the Hemingway App to check for readability levels, grammatical errors and suggestions for improving the quality of the writing overall.


- Academized
Plagiarism checkers from Academized can help you avoid embarrassing and potentially reputation-killing mistakes.

- Easy Word Count
Some job postings are limited to a certain word count. If you're working within restricted counts, rely on this tool to help make the most out of each and every word you can use.

- Slick Write
It's fast, it's free, and it'll help turn your good writing into great writing. Slick Write breaks down your content into different categories and aggregate infromation, so you're able to see exactly what your job posting is composed of, including detailed word count breakdowns.

- Boomessays
Don't let the all-important job of proofreading your job posting be done by anyone less than an expert. Big assignments can match you up with a professional who's perfectly suited to get your job done flawlessly.

Don't leave anyone out
If someone applies to your posting, reply. A simple acknowledgement of their application can go a long way in keeping the doors open for future opportunities. You never know what may happen down the road. Another job opportunity may arise, or your chosen candidate may not work out as planned. Establishing a good rapport with all of your candidates means you can confidently contact them in the future if you need them, and expect a positive response.
Attract the best of the best, and hire the most qualified freelancer you can find, by putting together an irresistible job offer. Using these tips and techniques, you'll bring in a higher number of quality applicants to choose from.

"Gloria Kopp is an digital marketer and a business consultant from Manville city. She graduated from the University of Wyoming and started a career of a web content writer and an educator, now she works as a tutor at Write My Essay company. She is a regular contributor to such websites as Engadget, Do my assignment, Huffington Post, and others."

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8 Success Tips for First-Time Entrepreneurs

Starting a business for the first time can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. Follow these sage advice tips to keep your head above water in the beginning stages.

By: Matt Knee Founder and President of MyNewCompany.com

Starting a new business for the very first time can be intimidating. As a first-time entrepreneur, your nerves may be wracked and you’re diving into a bit of the Welcome to Entrepreneurshipunknown. The good news is that overcoming some of the challenges that come along with first-time entrepreneurship can be extremely rewarding and satisfying. There is more advice for first-time entrepreneurs than there are hours in the day, so I’ve gathered some of the best I’ve heard over the years and distilled them down to the 8 best success tips for first-time entrepreneurs.

Drill down to the minimum viable product (MVP)
One of the biggest areas where first-time entrepreneurs fail is in failing to launch. They spend so much time perfecting an idea that it never actually gets off the ground or offered for sale. With an MVP, you identify the core problem people are trying to solve and build a problem around just that - no bells and whistles. If you can effectively solve the problem, you can launch and gather information and insights from customers as you go. From there, you can focus on iterating new versions of the MVP and adding on only what customers have expressed they need. It saves time, money and a lot of heartache.

2. Provide Top-Tier Customer Service
This one goes hand-in-hand with #1. An MVP should be tightly coupled with great customer service, which is where you’ll garner the most insights and provide a lot of value. You don’t need a perfect product, but you do need customer support staff available to make your customers feel valued and to address any issues that arise. People form relationships with people, not products. By making your brand shine with great people, you will have positive feelings attached to the product you sell. From there come positive reviews/testimonials and great referrals.

3. Find Great Employees
A company is only as good as the people that make it run. A bad hire can really throw a wrench in the works and make it more difficult for even the best employees to do their jobs. Do your due diligence in researching prospective hires and ensuring that they have the appropriate background and experience. Culture fit is also an important consideration. People who jive well together produce the best results because they’re happy at work. A negative employee can be like a cancer that eats away at the spirits of the rest of the team. If you make a bad hire, don’t be afraid to make tough decisions to make things right.

4. Don’t Skimp on Marketing
As a first-time entrepreneur, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds of ensuring your product is perfect, that customers are happy and that business operations are running smoothly. All those are essential parts of running a successful business, but marketing is, too. You may have the best product the world has ever seen, but if the world never actually sees it, your business will fail. Whether you work with an agency or choose to do marketing in-house, it needs to exist to get your product in front of the right eyes at the right time and increase sales.

5. Keep Finances in Check
This is perhaps the #1 area where first-time entrepreneurs fail. Running a business requires money, and if you aren’t managing yours well, your business is at risk. You need to stay on top of your income and expenses to ensure that you’re not going to run out of cash. By keeping a close eye on the balance sheet, you can adjust spending as needed and keep overhead as low as possible. Being frugal isn’t a bad thing; unnecessary expenses should be avoided. Once you’ve established the business to a point where you see meaningful revenue, you can adjust spending accordingly. Until then, keep costs as low as possible and monitor what is happening with cash flow.

6. Be Open to Advice
Being a first-time entrepreneur is hard enough, but trying to do it solo can be disheartening. Whether you’re in business with a partner or going it alone, you don’t have to isolate. Talk to other entrepreneurs about your venture and be open to receiving advice. Take what you like and leave the rest behind.


7. Get Enough Sleep
It may sounds trite but getting enough sleep is extremely important for first-time entrepreneurs. Studies show that poor sleep quality is connected to reduced grey matter volume in the brain’s frontal lobe - the area that helps control executive function and working memory. In laymen’s terms? Your work quality and ability to be mentally alert suffer when you aren’t well-rested. Get the right amount of shut-eye, even if it seems like there’s no time. The trade-off for working one extra hour vs. getting an extra hour of sleep may be greater than you think.

8. Know Your Competition
Another great pitfall for first-time entrepreneurs is being so self-focused that they forget to look at who their competitors are and what they’re doing. If you haven’t already (and hopefully you have), complete market research on competitive products to establish what sets you apart. When you start doing marketing, these are the bullet points on which you’ll want to focus. Set up Google Alerts to monitor what is happening in your industry and what moves competitors are making. Keep your customers close, and your competitors closer.

Following the tips above can provide some peace-of-mind and help you elevate your new business to the next level. Before you know it, you’ll be a seasoned entrepreneur, sharing your own sage advice with people new to the game.


Matt Knee is Founder and President of MyNewCompany.com. MyNewCompany.com, started in 2001, makes starting and running a business simple, fast, and inexpensive for entrepreneurs and their advisors. They offer complete incorporation and LLC formation packages. To date, they have started over 50,000 companies in all 50 states.

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IT Tips: How Small Businesses can Maintain a Healthy Network

mall business owners have a lot of responsibility. Between daily operations and managing employees, it’s hard to imagine having time to worry about your network connect. But with so many cloud-based applications currently helping small businesses run, the health of their network remains one of the most important aspects of day-to-day functionality.

Keeping ahead of major problems can keep a business from losing out on revenue and taking a hit to their Healthy Networkreputation. But, understandably, most small businesses don’t have an IT department on hand. The fate of the network rests on the shoulders of the less technologically savvy, and sometimes, gets forgotten about until it's too late and there is already a problem.

Want to avoid issues with your network? We spoke to some IT managers to come up with five important steps you can take to protecting and troubleshooting your network.

Invest in a Network Monitoring Solution

If there’s one huge step you can take to track what’s happening on your network, this is it. Researching and investing in a monitoring solution that fits your needs will set you up for success. When you’re considering your options, you want to make sure you choose a program that provides ease of use, has the ability to grow as your company does, and a team that provides exceptional customer service. Having a team behind the program that’s willing to offer training and insight when needed is an added bonus. Don’t invest in the first program you stumble across. Ask around, do your research, and trust your gut instinct.

Develop an Escalation Plan

With a monitoring solution in place and an at-a-glance network map, you can move onto the next step in network health—the escalation plan. At this point, you need to take stock of who is going to step in when there’s a problem and start building a team of reliable employees. If you don’t have an IT team, this is incredibly important. You need to ensure you have employees at every location capable of troubleshooting or contacting the right people to start solving an issue at the first hint of a problem. You should have someone monitoring the network on a daily basis, but outside of that, know who else needs to be looped in if anything goes wrong.

Assign roles and make sure those roles are clear to everyone involved. Each person should know what they’re responsible for, who to contact in the event of an outage and how to escalate their problem. Developing contact lists that include emails and phone numbers, keeping employees informed of internet policies, and constantly adjusting your plan for company changes, are all part of keeping an escalation plan updated.

This plan is the most important aspect of a healthy network. Having a team that knows the warning signs of a problem and how to respond quickly, will ensure your company doesn’t lose any important information or businesses as a result of a network outage.

Keeping your data secure

Security is one of the major factors in network health. Businesses never get a warning before a data breach, but they can take the appropriate steps to ensure they’re keeping their information safe. Some of these steps are incredibly simple, including setting up a company firewall and setting priorities about what employees can access when they’re using your network. If you’ve assigned company mobile phones, it’s important to keep track of the applications that are being downloaded and blocking apps that come from unknown developers.

Limiting remote access for employees is another must. Working from home on their private network should be safe, but public Wi-Fi can expose your data to a host of hackers and other security issues. Don’t’ forget about updating your software. It may seem like such a small task, easy to overlook, but it’s incredibly important. Many software updates come with upgraded security features that coincide with any updates your computer or mobile phone has recently implemented. Not updating software could potentially expose your information to hackers.

Understand your Network Infrastructure

One of the key attributes of a good monitoring program is a network map. If you’re a small business with one location, this isn’t a huge driver. But if you’re a multi-location business, you need to monitor your network across all locations and understand the infrastructure you have in place. Having a network map, whether it’s designed for your monitoring program or a way of tracking your locations that you’ve developed on your own, should allow you ease of access to viewing and troubleshooting problems at any location at the click of a button. Knowing where your physical equipment is, and how your network is connected from one location to the next, can save time and energy when a problem arises.

Monitor your bandwidth and network daily

Just like consistently updating apps and changing passwords, someone on your team should be taking a look at what is happening on your network daily. This can be as simple as logging into your monitoring solution and seeing what’s happening with latency, bandwidth, and CPU. A great monitoring solution will even allow customers to set alerts, so if your bandwidth is suddenly soaring, it will send an email out to let you know.

For more in-depth networks, it also helps to set priorities for where your bandwidth can be used and for what applications. This will make you aware when one office is streaming YouTube videos or uploading and downloading major files consistently. Knowing what is happening at each one of your locations will help you define how to allocate your network and keep it from being stretched too thin.

A businesses number one priority is generating revenue. These days, we can’t do that without an internet connection. If a network goes down, it not only prevents us from providing our customers with what they need, but it impedes productivity internally. These tips can help any business, large or small, stay on top of their network and continue to keep it healthy.

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How to Effectively Manage Your Remote Team

Today’s global economy and advanced technologies allow us to include remote employees into our teams. With the use of various collaboration tools, cloud sharing apps, and video conferences, managers can effectively set goals, assign tasks, and Team Colget the desired results in real time. Since the high number of competitive firms in technological and economic centers have drastically increased their employee turnover, many big and small businesses have decided to use the affordable, educated, and loyal labor from the developing countries.

Remote management still comes with a wide variety of challenges. It is much harder to motivate your employees when you do not see them in-person on a daily basis. Furthermore, all paperwork and communication need to be done in the digital form. Before creating an effective remote management strategy, a company should set a special budget for buying and maintaining the appropriate software and hardware solutions. In this guide, we have explained remote team management by describing every step of this process.

Hiring
Choosing the members of remote teams is a little bit different from the regular hiring process. The candidate’s location is never an issue, but they still need to satisfy certain criteria apart from the adequate expertise and work experience. All team members need to speak the same language because running a team in different languages and using online translation tools would be too difficult. They also need to have appropriate hardware.

The hiring process for international businesses usually starts with posting a job ad on an international job search platform or with contacting an HR agency. Managers often outsource some minor and repetitive tasks to freelancers, through various freelance marketplace platforms. Freelancers who prove their skills and show outstanding results have a chance to be admitted into the team. The companies that run remote teams have a much bigger talent pool at their disposal. That is why they should try to speed up and automate their hiring process. They can do it by using chatbots or by utilizing a big data software.

Collaboration
Establishing a real-time collaboration is the biggest challenge remote teams need to overcome. It can also be solved by introducing some of the available advanced technological solutions. There are many useful apps that managers can choose from for this purpose. Some of them even use advanced collaboration and scheduling systems like Kanban, invented for managing the Toyota supply chain.

Most collaboration apps offer a simple interface which allows users to schedule tasks to each other, chat, and exchange files. Today, many companies use team collaboration apps such as Wrike. My team started using this app two years ago and although it offers a solid set of features, we have decided to replace it. We have found a good Wrike alternative that offers advanced features like invoicing, budgeting, client permissions, self-hosting, and the all in one feature package. Thanks to this small change, our productivity skyrocketed.

Real-time Collaboration
The collaboration in remote teams needs to be done in real time. Since team members often work from different time zones, they need to make themselves readily available at critical times of the day. They can do this by installing the collaborative app on their smartphones and regularly checking push notifications. Although good collaborative apps can replace a whole list of business software, remote teams can also use emails, social networks, remote access software, cloud storage apps, the MS Office suite, and many other business apps.

Meetings
Meetings are of critical importance for remote team management. Companies would need thousands of dollars to bring all the team members from different parts of the world to their headquarters. Still, efficient project management requires regular team meetings. Most successful teams meet at least twice a week. They assign tasks for the upcoming week on Mondays, while they review the team’s work results on Fridays.

Managers can organize team meetings with the use of a meeting software and online video conferencing. Each team member should have a webcam, a microphone, and a special app installed on their desktop or smartphone. Many companies purchase special software for video conferencing. Entrepreneurs who want to save money can also use the group chat feature offered on various messenger apps.

Team Building
Companies usually neglect this very important side of teamwork. Team building is even more important for managing remote teams because their members cannot meet in real life, talk or settle their differences. Companies should arrange team gatherings at least once a year. For some team members, these gatherings would be much more fun because they will need to travel to a part of the world they would never visit prior to the meeting.

Unfortunately, organizing regular team building events for remote teams can be very expensive, even for the biggest corporate entities. That is why companies need to motivate their employees to communicate on social networks, exchange ideas, post interesting videos, motivational songs, and memes on the team’s news feed. This way, managers will be able to lift up the team’s spirit and improve the employees’ morale.

Unite Around a Common Goal
Uniting all team members around a common goal is the most important task for every remote team manager. Unlike regular teams, remote teams need to seize every opportunity for in-person bonding. This often results in long lasting friendships and creates a unique sense of camaraderie that can only be seen in these types of business environments.

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Improve Team Productivity with these 5 Tech Products


Highly efficient and productive teams have become more important than ever before at pushing best-in-class products and services to the market ahead of competitors. A range of tech tools have emerged to serve high-performance teams that help them get ahead of the game to achieve this goal. Below are five examples of tech products designed to boost team productivity.

Communication and Chat Apps
Instant communication is essential in highly productive teams, especially for those working remotely. Email used to be considered a quick and efficient communication tool, but has fallen behind new tools such as Slack, which allows teams to communicate and share files in real time. The ability to share resources, in real time, provides advantages.  Even to teams sitting in the same room – due to the ability to instantly share and collaborate.

Teleconferencing Products

Allowing people to meet face to face, when working in remote locations, can make meetings more productive than using text communication. CIO cites the Skypeability to promote collaboration, in this way, as a top tip for increasing team efficiency. Products such as Skype can bring numerous people together.  Not only to speak face to face but to share work and resources, in real time via a single application.

Version Control for Creative Teams
For software developers and other asset creators, version control products, such as GitHub and Bitbucket, allow teams to work on the same files at the same time without overwriting each other’s work. This greatly simplifies the headaches that digital content-creation teams faced in the past, by allowing everyone to have their hands in the same work at once.

Cloud-Based Document Management
Cloud-based document services, such as Google Docs, allow people to view and edit the same documents at the same time. When combined with real-timeGoogleDocs communication tools, collaborating on a single document with other team members becomes effortless, and eliminates the need to share and compile multiple versions of a single document. The Huffington Post cites an example of a team member who must unexpectedly work from home to showcase the power of using document management services that can be accessed from anywhere.

Project Management Tools
Project management tools, such as Pivotal Tracker, can help teams to stay on track with real-time goal tracking and time management. The tools mentioned in the sections above help teams to work more efficiently, but teams still need something to help everyone to stay on track and on time with personal and shared deliverables. Forbes notes that this type of product, also, helps people to understand when the work of others that they rely on is complete and ready for them to move forward with their tasks.
Using technology efficiently is critical to thriving in a team environment, and the products noted above can put your team on the path to success by eliminating roadblocks to efficient team workflows. Above all, it is important to keep abreast of new and developing technologies to ensure that your team stays one step ahead of your competitors.

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Check-in: IBM (You Gotta Read This!)

Last quarter I reported from the IBM PartnerWorld Leadership (PWL) Conference 2017 in Las Vegas. Now I want to check-in again on IBM’s efforts to transform and improve its channel partner program.

In the Box

Think of a box having four-sides. That is how IBM essentially communicated the PartnerWorld paradigm to its Business Partners at PWL. I’ll tackle each side here but Figure #1 shows you where I’m headed.

IBM Partnerworld

Figure #1: IBM Box

Global Markets. Don’t forget that in many ways (IMHO), IBM is stronger globally than domestically in the US. It’s a trusted brand when I’ve travelled to LATAM, EMEA and APAC. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. IBM’s claiming to continue to strengthen its globalization approach with dedicated segment leadership, stakeholder collaboration, strong business unit alignment and optimized buyer group focus. For what it is worth, a significant portion of the attendees at PWL were from overseas. Another factoid was IBM’s admission and assertion that it has a 1% market share with plenty of room to grow. I’d concur.

One Channel. Represents IBM’s primary route to market in commercial. The channel vision conversation with especially strong with the seismic shifts occurring in buyer behavior driven by cloud, digital, data and cognitive. The client journeys dictate seamless engagement across digital, direct and business partners. My point is this. Granted IBM tends to work more with larger partners (and ISVs like Bluebee, a genome startup I spoke with) and doesn’t have as meaningful connection with SMB partners and MSPs (more on this in a moment), the facts surround the customer behavior trends are the same!

In the context of channel, a shout out to IBM for the introduction of new competencies in cloud, Watson and security.

Marketing. I found this area to be very interesting and will spend a few extra minutes on this topic. IBM’s marketing strategy is very simple and reflected in Figure #2 below. Marketing is focused on three industries (Manufacturing, Retail, Banking), three professions (CIO/IT, CISO, Marketing) and four IT Products/Services (Analytics, Cloud, Systems and Security). If you get anything out of this blog, let it be this. Approximately 80% of the client base is seed accounts. Translation is that this is the green field for SMB MSPs who want to attach to IBM’s motion. You read it here first.

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Figure #2: Worth a few hundred words, this one-pager succinctly summarizes the IBM PartnerWorld marketing strategy.

In the context of marketing, this is where I want to highlight two things. The first was my conversation with IBM Cloud CMO Quincy Allen (Figure #3). Basically, we landed on the conclusion that marketing is analytics. And who better to lead that charge than IBM with its huge head start with Watson.

Quincy Allen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure #3: Facetime with IBM Cloud CMO Quincy Allen discussing marketing analytics and how to get business value.

Digital Sales/Business Group. The basic story here is marketing workflow. The concept is a content-based strategy of digital hubs that allow the partner to market from top of funnel to mid-funnel and finally conversion. It has to do with relevant content showing up in search such as “AI for marketing” leading to a related article to engage the customer and convert to a trial version of the offering. To be honest, I’d be surprised if IBM didn’t offer this stuff to its partners.

A shout out to the Cognitive Sales Advisor. It’s a Watson-based tool to unify partner support.
The Magician

Jamie Mendez, Director at PartnerWorld, is the magician behind the scenes. And I got to meet her! She keyed in on PartnerWorld (which is the partner program, website and engagement model including events) with a “adding value” mantra. “Few partners only do one thing when you look at our partner program model.” Mendez said. “We want partners to build something, sell something and deploy something.” For that reason, I noticed the PWL conference had a lot more developers that you would see at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (now called “Inspire”).

I chatted about her breadth partner play because my perception has been that IBM doesn’t have an SMB play. They do it in a difference form. First IBM defines an “enterprise” as 50-employees or higher. Second – it partners with distributors for its breadth play including Ingram, TechData, Avnet and Arrow.
Final Thoughts

Gotta hand it to IBM for hanging in there long-term. Year-after-year I attend the PWL conference and they are investing in the partner channel. I think IBM is finally on to something with its focus on Watson and IoT. And it was the first time I had heard of PartnerWorld trying to engage audiences at scale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Important Advances in Development That Have Led to The Success of Major Apps

During the last seven years, developers have designed state-of-the-art apps that can create a custom interface for each client, connect to many types of products, generate real-time statistics, examine factors that may affect health, sense a user's movements and automate day-Appsto-day tasks. Moreover, the popularity of applications has been tremendously augmented by wearable devices, such as Google Glass, watches that can connect to Wi-Fi and fitness trackers.

3. Linking Apps to Other Products

According to one analysis, more than 122 million users have downloaded applications that can control various compatible products, and by January 2020, customers will be able to digitally connect apps to more than 26 billion items worldwide. Currently, users may link the software programs to remote cameras, automobiles, computers, certain electrical outlets, equipment that is related to various sports, unmanned aerial vehicles and some LEDs. Additionally, numerous apps can be connected to medical devices, which may monitor a person's heart rate, examine a diabetic patient's blood sugar and send notifications to physicians.

2. Software Programs That Can Evaluate Workouts and Routes That Many Runners Prefer

In 2014, several businesses released cutting-edge apps that determine the distance of each run, examine the number of steps that a person takes, analyze a workout intensity, predict the effects of inclined paths, provide audible feedback and locate nearby trails. The programs can also provide long-term plans for athletes and evaluate the risk of certain injuries.

Some apps offer analytics that are related to cycling, yoga and training sessions that feature weights. Once the applications log each workout information, users may rapidly send the detailed reports to friends, request tips and save maps that show previous routes, and the apps could automatically add information to a dashboard that allows customers to compare similar workouts.

1. The Advantages of Application Performance Management

While providing real-time statistics, some application performance management toolspplication performance management tools will indicate the number of people who utilize an app during specific time periods, the daily revenue that advertisements produce and the percentage of customers who use particular tools. The programs will examine bugs that decrease the speed of the app's processes, actions that could cause the software to freeze and the quantity of data that the application receives. The software can also analyze the performance of servers that are linked to related websites.

Certain programs allow developers to sort data and lists of processes that an app completed. Furthermore, some tools may provide interactive charts that indicate the historical prevalence of specific events and compare metrics that are related to multiple apps, and some applications will predict the activities of users, revenue that each app might generate and the number of customers who will likely use certain features every day.

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Show Us Your...

Show us your newsletter that you send to customers! Here is the official story:

Harry here. I need your help.

I'm researching how MSPs, consultants, IT Pros and good old fashioned 'puter guys communicate with customers (small business owners).

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There are a couple reasons for my research. Too often we spend far too much time researching recurring revenue and how to get you to sell more stuff for vendors. I am on a mission to see if we can strengthen the organic relationship between a service provider (MSP, etc) and the SMB customer.

My ask is this.

Please both SEND me and SUBSCRIBE me to the customer facing newsletter you send to your customers. Kindly use the following email address as I anticipate the response to be a large sample size: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I'll publish the results of my research and analysis. One offshoot I'd like to discover is, based on how you communicate with your real world end-user customers, can we craft a better level of community engagement for Small Business Saturday in late November 2017?

Thank you for helping me. Your participation makes us a better community - even 18-years later since our humble start in the early days of Small Business Server (SBS) in the late 1990s!

Enjoy the ride....harrybbb
Harry Brelsford
206-201-2944 (yep - that's my real phone number!)

UPDATED: I've receive a number of great responses, samples and sign-ups since I announced this matter last Friday, March 17, 2017 (THANK YOU). I'm amazed at the innovation by wiser MSP minds out there. For example - one franchise organization provides newsletters for its franchise holders. Another MSP only sends print newsletters. So far this has been really interesting research.

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WA SMB Cloud Summit- April 18, 2017

Editors Note - this is a excellent partner/customer event in the Seattle area in a month. Please support the community (and yes- you can bring your toughest questions about Azure in small business, etc.)

Your Business, Cloud Ready in 100 Days
A one day immersive experience designed to help you build not just the knowledge but a roadmap to becoming a cloud ready business. Cloud readiness means that you and your business have the ability to:

  • Generate new customers and recurring revenue
  • Quickly identify areas for Cloud investments
  • Strategically invest time and resources to build a Cloud Practice

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We are providing a proven model that will deliver results for you in terms of growth and help your customers transform their businesses.
This trusted methodology has been adopted by the Microsoft Partner Community and endorsed by leading Tech Companies, along with the Economic Development Commission of King County and Seattle and City of Bellevue. This summit is focused on supporting Independent Software Vendor, Resellers, Managed Services Provider, Cloud Startups and System Integrator to build and grow their cloud practices. Join us to learn how to become cloud competent partners with leading Cloud Technologies companies such as Microsoft, Salesforce, Google and others.

We have invited cloud experts who not only understand the cloud but have built their businesses on it. They will share knowledge, expertise and open the door for partnerships accelerate your cloud business.

Space is limited to 100 participants and will fill up fast.
Register - http://bit.ly/2mOEQ99

Use Discount Code: SMBCLOUD to get 10% discount during the registration process.

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Storage Guardian Announces New ConnectWise Manage Integration

PSA collaboration focuses on self-healing tickets, efficient billing and easy deployment

Toronto (PRWEB) March 07, 2017

Storage Guardian announced today that its data storage and recovery solutions can now be accessed directly from ConnectWise Manage professional services Storage Guardianautomation (PSA) software. The new integration automatically resolves outdated open-file alert tickets, simplifies the deployment of Storage Guardian services, and increases the efficiency and accuracy of billing.

“The goal of our latest integration was to give managed service providers (MSPs) the ability to easily manage, monitor and protect their customers’ critical data directly from ConnectWise Manage,” said Omry Farajun, President, Storage Guardian. “Backup and disaster recovery (BDR) is a critical part of ensuring business continuity. Our new integration provides MSPs with the ability to provide this service to their customers in a straightforward, uncomplicated way.”

One unique feature of the Storage Guardian offering is the self-healing ticket. Farajun said most BDR software solutions, including Storage Guardian’s, automatically create an alert ticket for any file that happens to be open when a backup takes place. The self-healing ticket process in the new integration goes one step further and automatically resolves that alert ticket when the previously opened file is found closed during a subsequent backup.

“The number one request we hear from MSPs was to find a way to drastically reduce the number of non-necessary alert tickets in their systems,” he said. “We listened closely and found a way to meet this need with our new self-healing ticket functionality. Open file alerts that do not require a technician’s attention are automatically resolved and closed, eliminating unnecessary tickets that clog an MSP’s help desk and divert attention away from more critical issues.”

Additional benefits that are part of the new ConnectWise Manage integration include:

    Easy deployment and management: Storage Guardian software can be deployed by MSPs onto their customers’ networks directly from ConnectWise Manage. The one-time install process requires no hardware, and the single-pane approach allows MSPs to easily select the company designated for the install and gives users direct access to a wealth of additional capabilities, including a new set of reports that are available in a clean, easy-to-understand dashboard look.
    Billing enhancements: An electronic interchange of data eliminates the need for manual entry of billing information, saving time and increasing accuracy. The new integration also includes flat-rate pricing based on total capacity rather than on agents.

Gavin Gamber, Vice President of Channel Sales & Alliances for ConnectWise, said Storage Guardian integrations are a welcome addition to the ConnectWise Invent partnership program. “Integrated, third-party solutions, such as those from Storage Guardian, add functionality and efficiencies to our suite of business management solutions. The work that Storage Guardian has done first with ConnectWise Automate, formerly LabTech, and now with ConnectWise Manage is vital to our partners’ success,” he said.

To learn more about Storage Guardian’s flexible data protection service and how an MSP can market and resell data protection services to its customers, visit the Storage Guardian website and register for a free trial.

About Storage Guardian

For more than a decade, Storage Guardian has been giving small- and medium-sized businesses and their customers the ability to quickly recover from any data loss disaster. Our robust set of enterprise-grade offerings include a secure cloud destination for disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS); affordable, feature-rich, automated backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solutions; and robust analytics to help calculate recovery time. Storage Guardian solutions protect your business data in the cloud, on-premises, or via a hybrid configuration, and always comply with the highest regulatory requirements, including Sarbanes-Oxley and FIPS 140-2. Safeguard data – no matter where it resides – before a natural disaster, hardware failure or malicious software attack stops your business in its tracks. For more information, visit the Storage Guardian website.

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The boom in boomer entrepreneurs: Why older workers are finding entrepreneurial success … Or not

February 23, 2017 Posted by US SMB Team

When you hear the word “entrepreneur,” what image springs to mind? Mark Zuckerberg in his hoodie? The young Steve Jobs in his parents’ garage? The familiar faces of entrepreneurship are those of brilliant young men who are tech-savvy newsmakers.

In reality, however, today’s entrepreneurs are a much more diverse group, including those who traditionally might have been considered “ready for retirement.” Baby Boomers, born 1946-1964, are redefining the marketplace as they rely on decades of experience, talent and passion to launch and grow businesses.

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What’s behind the boom in Boomer entrepreneurs? Consider that some of them may:

Finally be giving life to long-held dreams by turning in corporate badges to hang out their own shingles.

Be energized by working and staying active. Many Boomers say they simply are not ready to put an end to their work lives.

Need or want work/life balance that the corporate world doesn’t offer. Caring for a loved one, or simply volunteering or enjoying leisure time, can become possible for people who lead their own businesses.

Need to replace or supplement income. Corporate downsizing closed some doors for older workers. Plus, many pensions and retirement accounts took a beating in recent years.

Long Live the Boomer Economy

The growing percentage of Americans working past age 65, the rise in life expectancy and the fact that about 18 percent of workers older than 65 are self-employed suggest that Boomers’ impact on the economy will be felt for years to come.

During the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation‘s sixth annual State of Entrepreneurship Address at the National Press Club, Kauffman Foundation CEO Wendy Guillies outlined the economic impact of both Millennials and Boomers. Citing research from a Kauffman report, “The Future of Entrepreneurship: Millennials and Boomers Chart the Course for 2020,” Guillies stated that the United States doesn’t just need economic growth. It needs economic renewal, renewed mobility and a renewed notion of shared prosperity and sense of possibility. One of the best and most effective ways to achieve those goals is entrepreneurship — the creation and growth of new companies.

And there are encouraging signs. According to the Kauffman Index of Startup Activity, “Startup activity rose in 2015, reversing a five-year downward trend in the United States, giving rise to hope for a revival of entrepreneurship.”

Notably, the percentage of firms created by Americans ages 55 to 64 grew more than any other age demographic, up 11 percent to 25.8 percent in 2014 versus 14.8 percent in 1996 .

Why Boomer Entrepreneurs Succeed

Many Boomers are finding entrepreneurial success. At least in part, that’s because they:

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PartnerPower: 3CX Review

I started on the 3CX telephone system journey with my customer hat on. I believed I could do it all. So, I jumped right in without, you guessed it, reading the manual (RTM).

I quickly discovered that this was my first telephony rodeo in a while and I needed help after I tripped up on a security 3CXcertificate implementation. Help isn’t bad. It doesn’t mean the 3CX is overcomplicated. Just the opposite as I discovered 3CX is very powerful and I needed the help of a certified 3CX partner.3CX

I reached out to my favorite telecom expert, Allen Miller, a well-known 3CX consultant based in Cincinnati, OH (Allen Miller Computer Consulting; www.MillerManor.net). Full disclosure: Allen and I worked together nearly a decade ago on a now discontinued Microsoft small business phone system. I credit Allen with introducing me to the world of VoIP. Needless to say, I trust him when it comes to everything telephony.

Over the course of a few working sessions, Allen and I configured 3CX for a test network at my company, SMB Nation. In the first session, we completed the server-side installation starting with the security certificate matter through the naming conventions and administrator authentication. We did this on a small Lenovo ThinkCentre desktop unit. And therein was one of the first magical 3CX experiences. This big-league phone system can run on tiny computers. Literally. Loosely translated, I’m saying the 3CX, which can scale well through mid-sized companies, has low overhead and hardware requirements. I was officially impressed!

Also, undertaken in the first session was configuring the external firewall. We configured the SMTP email connection to the email server capabilities as well.

At the end of the first session, I realized I “didn’t know what I didn’t know” about the 3CX system and its robust strengths are indeed its asset. I could see where I was of wise mind to secure the services of a subject matter expert (SME) like Allen. I recommend this as your very first step in working with 3CX!

In the second session with Allen, we set up the client side with desk phones. I offered to re-flash a few old Cisco phones from yesteryear for this stage. Allen overruled me. He was very strict in his beliefs to not only use approved phones on the 3CX support phones list but to use a specific few brands he had successfully worked with.

Allen shared that “Some suggestions – I am partial to Yealink phones. The one I use is the T48G which has a lot of soft buttons that you can use for speed dials which I like. I think you have a T46G which is nice with fewer buttons. They also announced a new line in the last couple weeks called T4S series. I believe these have blue tooth and Wi-Fi if those matter to you.” Yealink it was and a shout out of appreciation to 888VOIP.com (888VOIP also hosts 3CX Training events which are very useful for partners to get help toward their 3CX Certifications. Visit http://www.888voip.com/events/ for providing our test bed. This intercompany cooperation from all aforementioned parties is a credit to 3CX for having built a reputation where stakeholder and suppliers work together and want to cooperate. I’ve worked with other vendors where such a community didn’t exist.

By the end of the second session, we had successfully configured the desktop phones including assigning extensions, basic call rules, identities, etc. At this point, we had the server-side and the client side ready to go.
In the next and final session, we secured dial tone. Allen had arranged for carrier services to make the phone real and ready to roam in the wild using a SIP Trunk Allen provided from vendor/partner Vitelity.com. Again, deferring to my consultant, he quickly configured the proverbial last mile to give me dial tone. I then ran both traditional and secret tests. First, I called myself from my mobile phone to confirm the 3CX system was operational. Then I answered a Craigslist ad for boating merchandise where I normally wouldn’t want someone to know my real phone number. I asked them to call the phone number I had been assigned and the phone rang as expected without problem or concern. The call fidelity over my broadband connection was excellent.

Mission accomplished. A bona fide 3CX system was up and running real time and big time. I’ve had the test bed up for over a month. No drama. And, again, I want to reiterate, hire a 3CX partner as your first step. Don’t be like Harry as that was my second step. LOL.

Customer Evidence
Not content to simply share my own experience, I wanted to seek out 3CX customer evidence to balance my opinions. I didn’t have to look far. Since the first of the year, I’ve been working with a well-respected Seattle-area vendor in the technology ecosystem. It’s stock in trade is a number of global call centers. You know it takes telephony seriously. It depends on 3CX which is a testament right there. In this scenario, I’ve been using 3CX via the native softphone application. This is the basic CSG Services configuration for 3CX: softphones, not desk phones, for each of its 100+ employees in its call centers. While not my preference (I still prefer a desk phone), I grew increasingly fond of 3CX once I hooked up my Sennheiser professional headset, freeing me from a four foot USB headset cable and allowing to walkabout and pace on calls within Bluetooth range.

My experience on the 3CX customer side is this. It’s battle tested in the technology call centers. It has passed the test. By the way, it’s running 3CX on an Azure instance (that’s a whole future blog).

Goodness of Fit in an O365 World

Finally, I thought about how 3CX, a real phone system, fits into the Office 365 community. To me the answer is very simple. Microsoft is not a telecom at its core but a software company. I think you must strongly consider 3CX as your telephony solution when you are running Office 365. ‘Nough said.

Next Steps
Click HERE to learn more about 3CX.

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He’s Gone! Superstar MSP Jamison West Exits

In this era of click bait headlines, this one is true both geographically and business-wise. Long time SMB Nation member Jamison West is undergoing a life reset. He has recently completed the transition from his MSP practice (which was acquired by Aldridge just over a year ago that I wrote about HERE.)

West and family looked in the mirror and decided time in the sun would be the right next move. As I write this, Jamison is moving to Summerlin, NV from drippy Seattle so that they can be near his wife’s extended family and the children can settle into new schools. Jamison has new professional plans in the works that we’ll report on in coming weeks. All good.

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Now the good stuff
Steve Banks’ venerable Puget Sound Small Business Server (PSSBS) group that still meets on every third Thursday night hosted a going away party for West. In a wide ranging free flowing community conversation, West shared his view of the world with reality-based real facts. He should know. He’s been there and done that over 20+ years as an MSP in Seattle.

Future Speak
West made forward looking statements along the lines of “If I was starting out today…” that focused on the three things you can do in 2017 as an MSP. It dovetailed into our “start over” editorial theme we’ve been preaching from the pulpit to the pews for a few years. West specifically shared these three pillars to focus on.

  1. Year of the Cloud Directory Services. With Active Directory (AD) dying (if not dead), the opportunity is to master single sign on and encryption. This was presented in the context of Azure, which is another editorial “beat” at SMB Nation this year.
  2. Voice – Skype for Business. West presented and defended his thesis that this is the year of Skype. I confronted West on these assertions as I’ve had mixed Skype experiences over the years and continue my long journey towards acceptance. But West laid out some compelling customer evidence from the real world to support his beliefs.
  3. Dynamics 365. This conversation was one for “get ahead of the curve” as Microsoft is consolidating its CRM, ERP and accounting portfolio to be an online service that will be a game changer, even in SMB. The audience had a range of opinions on the future of Great Plains Dynamics perhaps being slated for an end-of-life motion in favor of NAV. In a future blog, I’ll show how innovative ISVs such as Versium are creating predictive analytics snap-ins for Dynamics 365 but that is for another day.

MSP M&A

West shared his wisdom on both organic and strategic growth – he’s done both. His M&A journey, both the good and the bad, was shared openly in the spirit of transparency. Takeaways? Focus on understanding the Guaranteed and Not Guaranteed elements of a merger and acquisition scenario.

My Advice?

Consider reaching out to Jamison West via LinkedIn here and arrange for him as a speaker at your next event. It’s a wise investment to tap into Jamison’s wisdom.

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IBM PartnerWorld: Next is Now!

Wow – I’m continually impressed every time I attend the robust annual IBM PartnerWorld conference as I recently did at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. In a series of articles, I’ll share those experiences with you over the next few weeks with my analyst hat firmly affixed. The purpose of this blog is to paint the overall picture.

I’d offer the PartnerWorld Leadership Conference had around 3,000 participants, many of whom were worldwide attendees where IBM is a strong brand. The theme, “Next is Now,” wasfitting as few companies have pivoted as hard and as fast as IBM over the past decade-plus. This time the emphasis was on Watson, it’s well-renowned and respected analytical engine that is a category leader. Past conferences have focused on IoT and other topics that took a back seat this round.

IBM partner world

Coverage areas that stood out for me were:

Female CEO – Ginni Rometty. Always a pleasure to hear and I continue to applaud her accomplishments. I’m from progressive Seattle and props to IBM for having a top ranking female CEO turning the ship.

Marketing 2.0. Who better to embrace marketing analytics than IBM Cloud’s CMO Quincy Allen. In a future post, you’ll enjoy my free ranging conversation with him about Marketing 2.0 as I like to call it.

Customer evidence. I spoke with Hans Cobben, CEO of Bluebee. This is a practical example of applying flexible consumption in a cloud computing scenario with analytics in the genomics area. A must read in a future installment.

PartnerWorld – Jamie Mendez. She directs the IBM partner world and in my interview with her, she offers insights into pathways for IBM partners to have a deeper sense of engagement and greater profitability.

Commercial partners. I explore the four in the box partner engagement model from IBM. Plus insights into new certifications.

Blue Jeans. Finally, the new blue at IBM is tech execs in blue jeans. Love it.

Standby for more. And give IBM another look starting with Watson. Trust me.

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More Government – More Money! TaaS

I recently surveyed our community and discovered something amazing! Over 40 percent of the IT community we speak with has either a relationship or interest in creating an opportunity with local/county/regional governments. Our large response rate to the survey made this esignitstatistically valid (read “not fake news”) and we were pleasantly surprised. Which brings us to the point of this blog. Pursuing more government accounts means more money for MSPs, partners, resellers and consultants. It’s good Azure-based recurring revenue work.

One of the biggest challenges in working with government in the past was the sales cycle. For those

of us who recognize selling into enterprise is a long journey, I can assure you the government sales cycle traditionally has a similar if not greater duration! In the past getting a foot in the door of a governmental entity could easily take a year or more with a combination of budget cycles, fiscal year start dates, political dimensions and more conspiring to lengthen your business development efforts.

 

Fast Track
There is a new way for MSPs et al to rapidly get a foot in the door. One of my community members, a successful ISV, recently reached out for advice on how he could rapidly ramp and scale his patented government security solutions. I’m happy to help and the good news is that you can too. In general a simple short consulting effort can lead to an “Affordable, Saleable Azure delivered and supported” 50% margin reoccurring Trust as a Service (TaaS) sale.

Here is how it works. Esignit is already in market with a portfolio of government security solutions. This is not a startup with closure risk (and embarrassment to you, the MSP et al). Ranging from the City of San Francisco to several counties in Washington State, Esignit bring the cred factor: referenceable clients.

More specific to you (the MSP et al), you will use the Esignit tools as a foot-in-the-door “door opener” to penetrate the Government veil and secure great recurring predictable new business. And if you already serve governments, this is merely a chance to expand your scope, scale and reach.
What’s the secret sauce? For many of the Esignit solution, there is no cost to the governmental entity. This results in a rapid sales cycle and high conversion rate by legally bypassing procurement procedures.

Learn more
As an MSP et al, I’d encourage you to click HERE and fill out the form to learn more. In future blogs, I’ll explore each product including the patented 256-bit encryption algorithm that is the foundation for the product portfolios success.

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Ransomware, Paper Trials and Connectwise - How they Integrate!

Thu, Mar 9, 2017 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM PST

Ransomware has become the scourge of every business. It hits suddenly and unexpected, and the business is crippled for many hours, if not days. When it hits during business hours, in today's use of computers, the paper trial has become minimal.

So once the computers are running properly again, how does the business data created before the ransomware attack get re-entered if not backed up? If there is no paper trial, how is that business data re-created? Just before the shutdown get re-keyed? If there is no paper trial, how is that business activity re-created?

Ongoing Backups of business activity, as data is created or changed, is the BEST way to protect.

If you are, or considering to be a Connectwise Automate or Manage user, there is now available a Backup Data Recovery solution that can lower the impact of recovery of a ransomware business crippling event. Join Us to find out what is unique from Connectwise and Storage Guardian.

 

349 X 115 MOD REG RND2

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Microsoft decides to release Adobe Flash Player update for Windows after all

Mark Coppock
Digital TrendsFebruary 21, 2017

Windows 10 upgrade popup

Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday, which is when the company issues its security and bug fix updates for Windows machines, has historically been the second Tuesday of the month. That’s slowly changing with Windows 10, but for now, Patch Tuesday remains pretty entrenched.

That’s why Microsoft’s decision to skip February 2017’s Patch Tuesday and delay its updates for an entire month was particularly striking. It’s definitely an unusual occurrence, but it now appears that the company isn’t completely withholding all Windows updates, as Betanews reports.

Starting Tuesday, Microsoft is going to release some security updates aimed at patching some issues with Adobe Flash Player. The information comes from an email that the company sent to its largest enterprise customers, which read:

“Microsoft is planning to release security updates for Adobe Flash Player. These updates will be offered to the following operating systems: Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows RT 8.1, Windows 10, and Windows Server 2016. No other security updates are scheduled for release until the next scheduled monthly update release on March 14, 2017.”

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PartnerPower: 3CX Review

I started on the 3CX telephone system journey with my customer hat on. I believed I could do it all. So, I jumped right in without, you guessed it, reading the manual (RTM). I quickly discovered that this was my first telephony rodeo in a 3CXwhile and I needed help after I tripped up on a security certificate implementation. Help isn’t bad. It doesn’t mean the 3CX is overcomplicated. Just the opposite as I discovered 3CX is very powerful and I needed the help of a certified 3CX partner.

I reached out to my favorite telecom expert, Allen Miller, a well-known 3CX consultant based in Cincinnati, OH (Allen Miller Computer Consulting; www.MillerManor.net). Full disclosure: Allen and I worked together nearly a decade ago on a now discontinued Microsoft small business phone system. I credit Allen with introducing me to the world of VoIP. Needless to say, I trust him when it comes to everything telephony.

Over the course of a few working sessions, Allen and I configured 3CX for a test network at my company, SMB Nation. In the first session, we completed the server-side installation starting with the security certificate matter through the naming conventions and administrator authentication. We did this on a small Lenovo ThinkCentre desktop unit. And therein was one of the first magical 3CX experiences. This big-league phone system can run on tiny computers. Literally. Loosely translated, I’m saying the 3CX, which can scale well through mid-sized companies, has low overhead and hardware requirements. I was officially impressed!

Also, undertaken in the first session was configuring the external firewall. We configured the SMTP email connection to the email server capabilities as well.

At the end of the first session, I realized I “didn’t know what I didn’t know” about the 3CX system and its robust strengths are indeed its asset. I could see where I was of wise mind to secure the services of a subject matter expert (SME) like Allen. I recommend this as your very first step in working with 3CX!

In the second session with Allen, we set up the client side with desk phones. I offered to re-flash a few old Cisco phones from yesteryear for this stage. Allen overruled me. He was very strict in his beliefs to not only use approved phones on the 3CX support phones list but to use a specific few brands he had successfully worked with.

Allen shared that “Some suggestions – I am partial to Yealink phones.  The one I use is the T48G which has a lot of soft buttons that you can use for speed dials which I like.  I think you have a T46G which is nice with fewer buttons.  They also announced a new line in the last couple weeks called T4S series.  I believe these have blue tooth and Wi-Fi if those matter to you.” Yealink it was and a shout out of appreciation to 888VOIP.com (888VOIP also hosts 3CX Training events which are very useful for partners to get help toward their 3CX Certifications. Visit http://www.888voip.com/events/) for providing our test bed. This intercompany cooperation from all aforementioned parties is a credit to 3CX for having built a reputation where stakeholder and suppliers work together and want to cooperate. I’ve worked with other vendors where such a community didn’t exist.

By the end of the second session, we had successfully configured the desktop phones including assigning extensions, basic call rules, identities, etc. At this point, we had the server-side and the client side ready to go.

In the next and final session, we secured dial tone. Allen had arranged for carrier services to make the phone real and ready to roam in the wild using a SIP Trunk Allen provided from vendor/partner Vitelity.com. Again, deferring to my consultant, he quickly configured the proverbial last mile to give me dial tone. I then ran both traditional and secret tests. First, I called myself from my mobile phone to confirm the 3CX system was operational. Then I answered a Craigslist ad for boating merchandise where I normally wouldn’t want someone to know my real phone number. I asked them to call the phone number I had been assigned and the phone rang as expected without problem or concern. The call fidelity over my broadband connection was excellent.

Mission accomplished. A bona fide 3CX system was up and running real time and big time. I’ve had the test bed up for over a month. No drama. And, again, I want to reiterate, hire a 3CX partner as your first step. Don’t be like Harry as that was my second step. LOL.

Customer Evidence
Not content to simply share my own experience, I wanted to seek out 3CX customer evidence to balance my opinions. I didn’t have to look far. Since the first of the year, I’ve been working with CSG Services, a well-respected Seattle-area vendor in the technology ecosystem. CSG Services provides services to Microsoft, Amazon, Dell, CenturyLink and other clients. It’s stock in trade is a number of global call centers. You know it takes telephony seriously. It depends on 3CX which is a testament right there. In this scenario, I’ve been using 3CX via the native softphone application. This is the basic CSG Services configuration for 3CX: softphones, not desk phones, for each of its 100+ employees in its call centers. While not my preference (I still prefer a desk phone), I grew increasingly fond of 3CX once I hooked up my Sennheiser professional headset, freeing me from a four foot USB headset cable and allowing to walkabout and pace on calls within Bluetooth range.

My experience on the 3CX customer side is this. It’s battle tested in the CSG Services call centers. It has passed the test. By the way, it’s running 3CX on an Azure instance (that’s a whole future blog).

Goodness of Fit in an O365 World
Finally, I thought about how 3CX, a real phone system, fits into the Office 365 community. To me the answer is very simple. Microsoft is not a telecom at its core but a software company. I think you must strongly consider 3CX as your telephony solution when you are running Office 365. ‘Nough said.

Next Steps
Click HERE to learn more about 3CX.

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