Monthly Archives

January 2021

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Automating Business Processes – How Can You Be Better?

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If last year taught us anything, it was that small to medium businesses need to adapt with the times if they want to stay open. Social distancing and crowd restrictions drove all of us to figure out ways to retain our clientele without dealing with them face-to-face. Online business transactions, telecommuting, and third-party suppliers became the norm. In this new ecosystem, how can we automate business processes and stay ahead of our competitors? 

Future growth trends point to business automation in every department, contactless deliveries and transactions, and more remote employees and supply chains. To stay competitive, these are the directions we need to focus on. 

The good news is that the future is here! Many large businesses are already fully automated, and their innovations are easily adaptable to your needs. Let’s take a look at some of the new “Everything as a Service” trends to give your team ideas of where you can take your business. 

Automate Business Processes through AI 

According to Google, AI support three critical  business  needs: 

  • Automating  business  processes 
  • Gaining insight through data analysis
  • Engaging with customers and employees

Whether or not you’re aware of it, AI is tracking and compiling your data and dispersing it to companies that want to use it. Right now, it’s mostly larger companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft, because they can afford to develop it. Their innovations mean you can use the same technology for your business. 

Optimize Your Sales & Marketing

Sales and Marketing tasks go hand-in-hand, so it’s only natural that they work together to maximize customer data. Automated customer-relationship management (CRM) programs gather customer information through engagement and actions. This data helps streamline your sales process, and can also be used for marketing purposes. The compiled information helps track business trends, customer preferences, top-selling items, and a whole lot more.  

Automating this process can also result in better lead generation. And the best news is that this efficient system can run at or below your current budget. Once you optimize the customer experience, you’ll be able to streamline the areas that bring in the most money. And that’s good for any business. 

Automate Pricing & Billing 

If you’ve been relying on one person to handle these tasks, and your business is growing, it may be time to look into an automated process. While pricing is usually an internal decision (supply and demand, shipping costs, holding costs, display and web promoting, etc.), billing has been outsourced for years, especially in the medical field.  

Outsourcing medical billing has been around for decades. And it makes sense. Doctors went to school to help save lives, not to check the insurance eligibility of their patients. And the HIPAA Privacy Policy makes everything even more complicated. Billing automation lets medical professionals focus on what they need to do. Automating or outsourcing will help you too. 

Outsource Service & Support

If you’re running a bakery or book store, chances are you’re not open 24/7. On the other hand, have you ever considered that you might be missing sales when someone tries to contact you during your off-hours? 

Besides businesses that require 24-hour support (Medical, Automobile Towing, IT Managed Services, to name a few), now is the time for everyone to establish a 24-hour presence. Do a little research and you’ll discover that a 24/7 answering service will cost you less than a full-time employee. And that person who answers your phone is only working 40 hours a week, minus vacation, sick time, and paid holidays. It’s worth it to make sure you never miss a call. 

Create a Virtual Storefront

Every business has a website, but can your customers purchase your goods and services directly from your homepage? Without a strong web presence, you are limiting your business to local customers only when you can potentially have global customers. The internet never sleeps, and neither should your business. 

Adding a Storefront to your current web site is not difficult at all. If you offer products or services that anyone can use, stop limiting yourself to the same group of customers. If the thought of expanding your reach makes you feel like you’re being pulled out of your comfort zone, remember that your competition has already done it. Follow the trends or you may be left behind. 

Automating Business Processes Leads to Scalability

You may not be taking advantage of your workforce scalability. There has never been a better time to hire the best employees to work remotely, from just about anywhere. Here are a few of the benefits you’ll get from scaling your employees to your business needs: 

  • Hire staff per project
  • Use the best people possible
  • Set time limits on projects
  • Get tasks done around the clock
  • Reduce your office space

The biggest benefit you’ll see from this system is gaining control of your budget. By expanding and shrinking your employee pool you’re not wasting money in-between projects. This allows you to streamline your office staff and ramp-up as your projects require. Give it a try! It may be something simple to implement that creates great results.  

It’s too early to tell if this year will be as challenging as the last one, but even if it’s not we still need to prepare for the worst. If you’re not sure how these business trends can save money and grow your business, remember that we are here to help. As a Managed Service Provider, we can show you some of the latest business developments and solutions that just may be the answers you’ve been looking for. Contact us today and let’s talk about your future.  

Are Your Apps Dangerous?

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Apps make the modern technology world go ‘round. If it weren’t for apps, smartphones and other mobile devices wouldn’t be nearly as useful. Of course, there are many factors to consider before using an app. You should ask yourself, could this be a potentially dangerous app? This is especially true if you’re using a device for business purposes.

Earlier this month, we asked and concluded that allowing cookies is safe in most circumstances. In this week’s blog, we will be delving into using apps for business purposes and whether or not they pose a risk to your safety.

Apps for the Business Place

There is literally an app (or 50) for just about anything you can think of. However, even helpful apps can be a breeding ground for people who want to steal your information.

Generally speaking, most app makers are honest and ethical. However, because it is so easy to make an app, you may find less than trustworthy creators offering new apps. Securitymagazine.com stated that “71% of healthcare and medical apps have at least one serious vulnerability that could lead to a breach of medical data.” Of course, other general business apps often have similar vulnerabilities.

Additionally, some people create apps specifically so they can steal your personal data. When you download and install an app, it will typically ask for various permissions. It may ask for the ability to use your microphone or have access to your contacts. Some apps ask for just about every piece of information you have available. You may find yourself simply handing over all of your personal data without even realizing it. This is where apps can become very dangerous. Even if you come to this realization and delete the app, your device could already be infected with spyware.

Personal Apps Can Be Dangerous

On the other hand, even if you only use trusted apps for business or no apps at all, you need to be careful of the apps you download for personal reasons. Just like with business apps, you may find that people have created an app for a particular reason — and that reason may be to gain access to the data on thousands or millions of mobile devices.

Be honest with yourself: how many times have you downloaded an app that you’ve never heard of just because someone told you it was the greatest app ever? Later, when you feel uncomfortable with how the app works you immediately delete it. We’ve all been there at some point. The scariest part is that the damage is already done once the app is successfully installed. Any information you use for your business (such as emails and customer information) is now freely available to the app developer.

Data Breaches

Another potential threat is using a legitimate app from a valid organization that becomes hacked and breached. As an example, this past year, the Walgreens app was victim to a major data breach. The hack allowed access to private conversations containing personal information. This breach was exposed through various apps that were designed to track COVID-19 cases. This happened to a major corporation using high-security apps. Many people wouldn’t think a pharmacy app from a well-known company could be dangerous. Nonetheless, hackers breached highly sensitive information victimizing paying customers. On that note, it’s important to be aware that anyone can fall victim to a data breach if security measures aren’t closely examined.

Hackers have targeted major apps like Instagram, Tinder, Tik Tok, and Snapchat recently. How many of you have at least one of these apps installed on your phone or other mobile devices? While most of us know not to use Tinder on a work phone, you may have some of these apps on your devices. Even if you only use these apps on your personal time, they can lead to major consequences with your private business data. What is fun for you may compromise the security of your customers.

Create A Solution That Works

Let’s say you personally avoid all these pitfalls and have never had any issues with apps on your phone or other mobile devices. If you have an organization with multiple people, there’s a very good chance that somebody is going to download an app that may have damaging security implications in the future. While these people may have good intentions and never mean to do any harm, we all know that life can change in an instant in this modern world.

By creating and implementing a plan among your employees, you can help control security breaches. Increase your security measures by not allowing devices to download random, potentially dangerous apps. It’s important to have security policies and other measures in place. Maintain mobile device management, effective policy, and as many security protocols available.

If you want to make sure your organization is as safe as possible from unexpected risks, contact us today. We’ll set up your organization’s devices to keep them safe while still allowing your employees to do their job effectively.

SSL & Security Concerns for 2021

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Anyone with a computer is well aware of security concerns on the Internet. As time goes on, security and internet safety become more and more of an issue. It’s clear that hackers are becoming more advanced and will continue to find ways to steal our data. With a large part of our lives spent online, it’s just a matter of time before hackers affect you. If you own a business, the sheer amount of valuable information you are responsible for is something to be concerned about. Moving into 2021, data safety will continue to be a growing issue. In this blog, we will discuss SSL and security concerns for your company’s website and the types of sites you may be visiting.

What’s an SSL?

SSL stands for  Secure Sockets Layer, also known as Transport Layer Security. This may sound like nerdy talk that doesn’t matter much, but the fact is that you interact with SSLs every day. They are specific technology designed to keep your Internet connection safe, especially when secure data is involved. SSLs run a protocol of data encryption to make sure third parties can’t see what either party is viewing or sending.

This includes sensitive and non-sensitive information, such as passwords, names, banking information, and more. This setup uses a handshaking procedure that both the parties involved agree to use. The data transaction creates a cipher so information can be sent from one to the other in an encrypted format. Theoretically, even if a third party were to intercept your data, it would be gibberish since they don’t have the means to decipher it.

This is essential for safe Internet communication these days. You and your company likely send highly sensitive information back and forth online all day long. What used to be something kept safe in a drawer can now become public information because of a malicious hacker. This layer of safety is so standard we don’t even notice it. Sites that have an “HTTPS” in front of their address use some form of SSL or TLS.

Managing a TLS/SSL

Not only do you want to keep your company’s information private, but you need to make sure that customer information stays private as well. Unfortunately, SSLs and TLSs are not a one-and-done procedure. Like any other security protocol, SSLs change over the years. Make sure that any certificate your company’s website uses is up to date and effective. You can do this by installing updates as they are released.

Think of the SSL protocol like a deadbolt. Having a deadbolt on your door is much safer than a locking doorknob. Yes, there are always people who know how to compromise it, but it is still much safer. Over the years, deadbolt technology has improved and evolved as people learn to bypass obsolete technology. Sometimes, however, it takes working with an experienced locksmith to have it installed correctly.

SSLs/TLSs are certainly much better options than nothing at all. However, these protocols, particularly older versions, are still prone to many vulnerabilities. There are numerous common attacks that hackers use to break this encryption. And some of these threats have very colorful names. For example, POODLE, BEAST, CRIME, BREACH, and HEARTBLEED are commonly used attacks, and they are highly successful.

Keep Yourself and Your Customers Safe

Having your company’s private information exposed to the highest bidder can have devastating effects on your operations. Stolen customer information due to a lack of care in your communications could result in lawsuits and legal trouble. Customers have well-deserved expectations: when they share information with you, it needs to be kept confidential and secure.
This can be especially true in organizations that deal with sensitive information regularly, such as financial institutions and medical centers.

In the hacking community, there is a highly lucrative market for personal information. The dark web is flooded with people selling private information databases to the highest bidder — and there is  always “a highest” bidder.
If you want to avoid liability, make sure your security protocols are up to date. It is also critical that you maintain them professionally. A relatively small investment in this area of security can end up saving large amounts of money and possibly your business itself.

We regularly report on attacks that businesses like yours face daily. But we don’t always mention that many of these attacks are successful because the victim has a lax security protocol. The last thing we would want is for you to be another statistic. If your SSL/TLS certificates are getting old and dusty, or (even worse) you don’t have any at all, now would be the best time to contact us. As 2021 quickly approaches, these threats are only going to be more significant and more challenging to handle.

Our team of security professionals is one of the most experienced in the business. The web can be a scary place, and the last thing you want is to be caught unprepared! By making sure your SSL/TLS certificates are in perfect order, you can rest a little bit easier at night.