Posts in Communication

River of Technology

August 20th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Communication, Community, Staff 0 thoughts on “River of Technology”

The common sense survival guide that will keep your business afloat.

Here at Think we play as hard as we work, and for some of us that means time on the river. We couldn’t help but notice that there are some important parallels to being successful in the water and successful in business technology. Here are 5 tips to help you and your business successfully navigate the river of tech.

Plan ahead – Do you have a destination in mind? An idea of how you want to get there? These questions apply equally to river travel and the technology required to support your business. Tackling whitewater rapids without scouting first could be a dangerous endeavor. In a constantly shifting environment filled with opportunities and challenges, picking a good line and sticking with it will help control costs and allow you to use technology as a business tool rather than just a necessary expense.

Be prepared – The next step is having the right gear and knowing how to use it. All the knowledge in the world won’t make a wooden pallet a raft, and the most sophisticated water craft won’t make up for a lack of skill. The same goes for technology.

Go with the flow – Both rivers and technology are always changing, moving, and evolving. There’s no denying or changing that fact, so your best bet is to go with it. Use the current to get you where you want to go, because fighting against it will deplete your resources and set you back.

If you get stuck – Sometimes you’ll get sucked into an eddy or stuck on a rock in the middle of a moving river. Something similar happens in business technology when you’re bogged down with aged equipment, slow moving processes, or even one belief system about how IT functions in your business. The best thing to do at a time like this is assess your situation and where you’re at, decide where you want to go, and put in the effort to move yourself back into the flow.

Bring a guide – If all of this sounds like a lot, you’re not alone. These are specialized skill sets and know how that come with a lot of time, study, and practice. A healthy dose of passion for the work helps too. It’s not for everyone. Luckily there are guides who are happy to share their knowledge and skills to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience.

When it comes to your technology needs, a managed service provider can help you from beginning to end. They strategically plan out the types of technology, processes, and policies. They will help you get your business where you want it to go. They ensure that you have all the appropriate gear and that your staff is able to use it. They assist you in the inevitable change that comes with evolving technology in your business. They help you when you get stuck or run into a challenge.

If you’re looking for a guide to help you navigate the river of business technology, our engineers would be happy to talk with you.

Company Culture: the secret to success

August 13th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Communication, Community, Staff 0 thoughts on “Company Culture: the secret to success”

Some parts of a business require a lot of work, time, and focus to create and maintain. Others will happen whether you work at them or not. The biggest (and maybe most important) example of this is company culture. Think about it. We’re social creatures, and it is natural for us to function as a cooperative group. It’s something you see happen even in temporary groups, like people waiting to get on a bus or standing in line at the store. There’s an unspoken give and take, an acceptance (and sometimes disregard) for the norms of the situation. No one is discussing it, planning it, or even consciously directing it. But it happens.

The same thing happens in a business. With a group of people brought together to support a common cause for 40 or more hours a week, how could it not?

The question isn’t “Do we have a company culture?”, because the answer to that is always “Yes.” The question is “Do we have a company culture that supports our employees, our clients, and our business goals?” The answer to that question will determine everything from employee productivity to turnover rate. In an industry with a notoriously high turnover rate, like IT, company culture can make all the difference in your business’s ability to thrive.

 

Starting at the Top

Actions speak louder than words.

We’ve all heard it a hundred times, but we rarely take the next step to understanding the implications of that simple truth.

Many businesses have instituted wellness programs to help support and encourage their employees in making healthier life choices. To the tune of $50 billion a year. This sounds like a lot of action in the right direction, so why isn’t it working? A recent study by the National Institute of Mental Health suggests that these wellness programs haven’t increased workers’ health much at all. Or improved their experience at work.

This is because a policy or program can’t actually change company culture. Until it’s modeled by the leadership, it’s just empty words.

 

Setting the Example

Take a moment to think about what you’re modeling for your employees and coworkers. Are you answering emails late at night or well before work in the mornings? Do you skip lunches, rush from one meeting to the next, and cancel plans with your family on a regular basis? Are you showing up to work when you’re sick, injured, or exhausted?

The story we’re told is that you have to work hard to succeed, and sometimes that means sacrifice and struggle. This can certainly be true, and there’s nothing wrong with hard work and sacrifice. But is what you’re gaining worth what you’re giving up?

You have to remember that as the boss you set the tone. Your employees will follow your example, and you have to decide if this culture is sustainable, productive, and reflective of the business you want to create.

 

What You Value

One way to look at this is that it all comes down to what you value.

Do you want your employees at their desks for 8 hours a day, pushing regardless of what their actual level of productivity is?

Or do you want your employees working at their best, producing high quality work, regardless of whether that happens in 1 hour blocks or means they take a day off when they’re sick, have a family event, or just need to manage their stress level?

You have the opportunity to create a business that is both supportive and successful. Are you ready to do it?

Successful IT Transitions Need These 5 Components

July 12th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Communication, Data, Security, Staff 0 thoughts on “Successful IT Transitions Need These 5 Components”

Change is easy to get excited about and easy to get started, but it’s tough to follow through and keep the momentum going. Especially when it feels like there’s no end in sight, as can happen with IT projects if you’re not careful. But it doesn’t have to be an endless slog. If you build these 5 components into your IT transition, the entire process will be much smoother and more successful from beginning to end.

1. A tracking system – a simple list of major goals and initiatives, refer to it often (especially if you’re thinking about adding anything), and check off progress as you go. This helps to keep the direction clear, make the steps and goals feel attainable, and makes progress easy to see. All of these will make it easier for your staff to maintain motivation and momentum.

2. Clear communication – When people don’t understand what they’re doing or why, they lose focus, motivation, and enthusiasm. So, make all communications regarding the transition as transparent and simple as possible. Lose the tech jargon and talk about the benefits, challenges, and goals in a way that everyone can understand.

3. Available support personnel – It’s likely that there will be a handful of people in your organization who are always in demand during any IT transition. They’re the ones who always seem to know what’s going on and how to fix it. It’s essential that these people be free to work on higher level issues, while anything else is delegated to employees with less expertise and/or less demand on their skills and time. This will help the transition move more quickly and smoothly while encouraging less experienced staff to learn and take on new responsibility.

4. Clear transitions and expectations – make sure that your employees know when and how to transition from doing things the “old way” to adopting your new solutions and processes. Whether this is an entirely new role or just a new approach, you can cut down on confusion, frustration, and unnecessary delays by ensuring that everyone knows what to do and when to do it.

5. Data-based targets – It’s important to both morale and progress that you and your team can identify what “done” is for any given stage or goal in the transition. This gives you a framework to discuss their progress and direction, and it gives them a definite path to follow.

7 Tips for Training Tech-Savvy Employees

June 6th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Communication, Staff 0 thoughts on “7 Tips for Training Tech-Savvy Employees”

Updating your technology on a regular basis is an important part of keeping your employees productive and efficient as well as protecting your company from cyber security threats. But keeping employees up to date on how to use all this new tech can be a challenge. Here are 7 tips to help you train more tech savvy employees and keep your business moving forward.

  • Know why –Most people resist change. It’s just human nature. But if you can explain WHY it’s worth their time and effort to learn and use this new tech, you’ll find your employees will be a lot more cooperative. And maybe even excited.
  • Recruit inside– Some employees will naturally be more apt and more interested in the new tech. Recruit them to help you train the others. This will help bridge the knowledge gap as well as getting everyone involved on the project together.
  • Get hands-on –As often as possible, have your employees learn by doing. The more engaged they are, the more likely they are to retain the information.
  • Documentation –Ever wish there was a manual for that? So do your employees. Give them written instructions (preferably with screenshots) whenever possible. This will help them learn more quickly and provide a handy reference guide for later.
  • Keep it small –Breaking your employees into smaller groups for tech training gives them more opportunities to ask questions and engage with the instructor, helping them learn more quickly.
  • Everyone is different –Some employees will pick up the new tech and run with it right away, but others will require more time and effort to get them going. Be prepared for differing rates of progress and be patient.
  • Get their thoughts –Your employees can provide you will valuable feedback on the learning process and how the new tech is impacting the company, if you ask and are open to listening. Do this during the transition and afterwards to help keep tabs on the bigger picture.

7 Skills of a Successful Digital Leader

May 2nd, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Communication, Staff 0 thoughts on “7 Skills of a Successful Digital Leader”

As the role of IT evolves and becomes more integrated with the very foundations of our businesses, it’s vital for you to evolve with it. It’s no longer enough to know the ins and outs of business tech, now you need to have the leadership skills and business savvy necessary to make all that tech knowledge an integral asset at every level, from C-suite executives to end users.

 

Talk less, communicate more

It’s important to ensure that IT solutions, as well as time and money spent, are all in the best interests of the company. So, it’s important to listen to what people are saying, sift through to what’s actually needed, prioritize what will benefit the company most, and then communicate the value of the proposition as well as how it will be accomplished. This requires an open mind, good listening skills, and abstract reasoning.

 

Focus on simplicity, efficiency, and agility

With so many IT solutions available for each need, it’s important to remember that more isn’t more, but neither is less. What you want is the right fit for your business, and that will change as your business grows and evolves. This requires an IT leader with a focus on keeping your processes simple, a willingness to cut anything that isn’t efficient, and an eye to keeping the business agile enough to shift and change when and how it needs to in order to stay competitive.

 

Hire adaptability

People are inherently resistant to change, so it’s important that you actively seek people who are interested in challenge and growth. A growth mindset means they won’t run from change, they’ll lean into it. And even better, they’ll get curious and start asking questions that may open up new avenues of thinking or opportunities that will help your business move forward.

 

Get your hands dirty

It’s unrealistic to tell a group of people to do something without being willing to do it yourself, and adopting new mindsets and approaches to technology is no different. Get involved with your teams, help them work through the problems and challenges, and let them see you working to learn with them. It will encourage a healthier dynamic and improve adoption of new technology and processes.

 

Change the way you view mistakes

Teams who are afraid to fail are also afraid to try, and you can’t make progress until you’re open to both. You can help your team by establishing a culture that treats mistakes as an opportunity to learn and do better.

 

Value different perspectives and relationships

Bridging the gap between IT and business can seem overwhelming. It gets a lot easier when you have a pool of contacts to draw from that spans both sides. These different perspectives will help keep you from leaning too far to one side, and they will help you see your challenges and opportunities in a whole new light.

 

Focus forward and keep adapting

Consistent change is the new normal, and the pace increases every year. Now is the time to embrace this and learn how to use it to your advantage. Rather than seeking out a “perfect” structure or solution, allow your ideas and your approach to be flexible enough to take advantage of “great for now”. And then be prepared to change again when your business outgrows that solution or a better one becomes available.

The Inevitable eMail Scam

February 25th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Communication, Data, Desktop, Disaster, Hackers, Security, Services 0 thoughts on “The Inevitable eMail Scam”

Some things in life are guaranteed to happen, like death, taxes, and email scams. The email scams get more creative as time goes by.

One of the latest email scams going around has a particularly devious set up.

Targets of this scam receive an email from what looks like their own email address, as if you’d sent an email to yourself. This is strange enough to ring alarm bells, but it gets more alarming when you read the content of the email. The scammer claims to have installed programs on your computer that tracked all your information (including accounts, passwords, and contact lists) as well as recording you via your own webcam. Then the inevitable threat: pay $1,000 in bitcoin to the scammer within 48 hours, or everyone on your contact list will receive compromising personal information and video of you.

The language in the email is much coarser than that, but you get the idea. And it is a scam. This person didn’t send the email from your account, no matter what it looks like. And they don’t have access to your personal information or your webcam. There’s nothing to ransom; they’re just hoping to scare you badly enough to get you to pay them.

What You Can Do

Getting a good filter will help keep a lot of the junk from ever reaching your inbox.

Staying aware of the latest types of scams will help you be aware of what could come your way.

And always, always take a minute to think through and, if necessary, research anything that looks suspicious. A quick Google search can show you if others have encountered a similar situation.

If you want to do more to protect your email but aren’t sure where to start, our engineers would be happy to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about what you can do to protect yourself and your business.

Windows 7 & Windows Server 2008 r2 Are On Their Way Out

February 14th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Communication, Data, Desktop, Devices, Disaster, Hackers, Managed Service Provider, Security, Services, Windows 7 0 thoughts on “Windows 7 & Windows Server 2008 r2 Are On Their Way Out”

All good things come to an end, and that includes operating systems. This time around it’s Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 r2. As of January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer be providing security updates for these systems. This means that any devices running on these operating systems will become vulnerable to security threats after January 14, 2020.

What You Can Do

We encourage you to begin planning for the upgrade of these devices to a newer, more secure operating system. The sooner you start this process, the easier it will be to ensure that you can:

  1. Have time to determine the most beneficial IT solutions for your business.
  2. Work in the transition period during a more convenient time for you and your staff.
  3. Plan for the expense of the upgrade.

What You Don’t Want to Do

Put it off until the last minute. Something this vital to your business operations and security isn’t something you want to rush or push to the side.

We’re Happy to Help

Here at Think our engineers are ready to help you find the best IT solutions for your business. And with their extensive experience and knowledge, they can help make the transition as smooth and convenient as possible for your business and your staff. To schedule a consultation with a Think engineer, contact us today.

For more information from Microsoft, you can read their information page here.

blog header image engineer's week

Celebrating Engineer’s Week

February 12th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, byod, collaboration, Communication, Community, Managed Service Provider, Services 0 thoughts on “Celebrating Engineer’s Week”

Engineer’s Week is February 17th – 23rd, and here at Think we’re pretty excited. In part, because engineering is a huge part of what we do and who we are, but also because engineering is amazing. This is the perfect chance to shine the spotlight on some of the wonderful things engineering has helped us accomplish as well as recognize the dedicated engineers who’ve made them possible, throughout the world and here at Think.

When most people think of engineering, their minds go to fantastic bridges and skyscrapers, which makes sense. Structural engineering makes a splash, because we get to see and use bridges and buildings.

But we have some pretty amazing engineering feats happening right here at Think as well, and some pretty amazing engineers making them happen.

Dan Palmer, Network Engineer, recently received Cisco Certification CICD-Implementing Cisco Collaboration Devices.  By obtaining this certification he has demonstrated knowledge of administrator and end-user interfaces, telephony and mobility features, and Cisco UC solutions maintenance.  This means that he’s ready to help businesses take advantage of systems that facilitate unified communication in offices large and small, from VoIP voice services, visual voicemail, instant messaging, chat, and presence.  Dan sought out this certification because it’s important to him (and to all of us at Think) to provide the best possible support for our customers in all the services we offer. He’s currently working with a new client to set up the communication services that will support their business’s needs and help make communication easy and efficient. Dan is dedicated to doing what it takes to provide the experience our customers are looking for, and we’re happy to celebrate him and all he does.

Some of Dan’s favorite engineering marvels are The Hubble Telescope and NASA’s Voyager. Honestly, it doesn’t get much cooler than seeing galaxies that are billions of light years away and visiting distant parts of our solar system.

Darrell Brooks, Director of Network Infrastructure, recently earned his certification as an Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). This is one of the most highly regarded certifications in this area, and it allows Darrell to help businesses take care of their security from a business perspective as well as a technological perspective. This is a vital step in information security, because even the most advanced technological security solutions can be undermined by inefficient or incomplete policies and procedures. And all the best intentions in the world can’t compete with well-trained and educated employees.

Darrell chose to pursue this certification because it was important to him to have a more complete skill set that allows him to support our clients on multiple levels. Every business, no matter the size, needs information security. And every business has the opportunity to create policies and procedures that will keep the core of their business secure, stable, and successful regardless of the ways technology and technological threats evolve.

One of Darrell’s favorite engineering marvels is the Internet, because it allows us to access knowledge that wouldn’t have been available in the past. Want to see the pyramids? You can do it from your living room. Need to do a home repair project, but don’t know how? There are videos for that.

To Dan, Darrell, and all of the engineers of the world, we want to extend our thanks. You’ve made the world a better place for so many people and in so many different ways. It doesn’t get any more worthy of celebration than that.

Phishing

How to Avoid a Phishing Attack

July 10th, 2018 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Communication, Devices, Internet, Security 2 thoughts on “How to Avoid a Phishing Attack”

90% of Data Breaches Involve a Phishing Attack

First things first – what is phishing? Phishing is an email technique used to fraudulently obtain sensitive information. Phishing emails are designed to look like they’re from a brand or institution you trust. They typically prompt you to download malware (malicious software), click on a link that redirects you to a malicious website or enter personal information. This can enable hackers to steal your identity, breach your employer’s systems, and more. The best way to defend yourself against phishing attacks is to identify phony emails before you click on them.

5 Tips for Identifying Phishing Emails

  1. Who’s the real sender? – Make sure the organization’s name in the “From” field matches the address between the brackets. Watch out for addresses that contain typos in the organization name (think amaz0n.com).
    Phishing - Who's the real sender?
  2. Check the salutation – If you do business with an organization, the first line of the email should contain your name. Don’t trust impersonal introductions like “Dear Customer.”
    Phishing - Check the salutation
  3. Use your mouse hover – Hover over an email link to see the full URL it will direct you to. Do not click the link – just hover. If the address isn’t where you’d expect it to go, don’t click it. Check all the links – if the URLs are all the same, it’s likely a phishing email.
    Phishing - Who's the real sender?
  4. What’s in the footer? – The footer of any legitimate email should contain, at minimum, a physical address for the brand or institution and an unsubscribe button. If either of these items are missing, it’s probably fake.
    Phishing - What's in the footer?
  5. Look for other content clues – Does the content have spelling and grammar errors, ask for personal or sensitive information, convey a high sense of urgency and/or privacy, offer incentives through threat or reward, or contain links or attachments? These are all clues pointing toward a phishing email.

When in Doubt, Delete

If something seems off, delete the email. If it’s not fake, the sender will contact you another way or send the message again.

We Can Help…

Think Network Technologies offers IT Consulting services to can help your organization keep systems and information secure. For more information about this topic and how we can support your business, contact us.

Source: Webroot Inc.

Server

Rising Temperatures, Rising Server Threats

June 13th, 2018 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Communication, Devices, Internet, Security 0 thoughts on “Rising Temperatures, Rising Server Threats”

Why is it important to monitor server room temperatures?

With temperatures on the rise, server threats also increase. When servers overheat they can shut down. Whether you’re running a huge data center or a server room with just a few servers it is important to monitor room temperature to prevent downtime, loss of productivity and ultimately loss of revenue for your business.

Monitoring your servers’ temperature information is a starting point. However, monitoring the room temperature is a more proactive approach and will add another layer of security to ensure your server never reaches high temperatures. Monitoring the room temperature will provide an early indication if something is wrong, so you have enough time to react early and avoid serious problems.

5 benefits of monitoring server room temperature

  1. Prevent downtime – Temperature monitoring sensors and software will allow you to configure alerts that notify key personnel via email or text message if and when temperatures reach predefined thresholds so that someone can take action. Excessive temperature is one of the leading causes for having to replace hardware, and in most cases, it is easily prevented.
  2. Ensure efficient airflow inlet and exhaust – Placing temperature sensors on the front and back of your server racks will allow you to measure the temperature of the air going in and coming out of your servers. This is important to know to make sure cold airflow is not being mixed with hot air circulating in the room, as well as to ensure hot air exhaust from your servers is within the proper ranges. Airflow sensors can monitor the presence of airflow into your server room and will alert you if it stops.
  3. Reduce power consumption and increase energy efficiency – If you are actively monitoring the temperature in your server room, you should be able to identify trends and baselines. This data should indicate if your AC unit is able to keep up with the load and if there are cost savings to be had. Many times, room temperature will be set lower than necessary to compensate for not knowing exactly how effectively your servers are being cooled.
  4. Server room planning and scaling – Using the data collected from your temperature monitoring sensors, you will have insight into the cooling loads and airflow distribution of your current layout. You can use these insights to plan for the additional heat load of adding new equipment and how to maintain a proper layout for best airflow.
  5. Extend the life of your equipment – Last but not least, maintaining the proper server room temperature range will help extend the lifespan of your equipment by preventing excessive temperatures going unnoticed and causing unnecessary wear on your equipment. Short spikes of excessive temperatures can reduce reliability and can lead to hardware failure months later.

How do you monitor your server room temperature?

There are many vendors that offer physical sensors for measuring not only temperature, but also humidity, power, flooding and more. Think Network Technologies can help your business implement a server temperature monitoring solution. Contact us today to learn more.

Sources: enviromon.net, Paessler Blog

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