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IT Management Challenges During COVID-19

May 20th, 2020 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Communication, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services 0 thoughts on “IT Management Challenges During COVID-19”

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every aspect of business. The increase in remote working has created new challenges for IT departments that are stretching the limits of their knowledge and capabilities. An increase in telecommuting changes the demand on network infrastructure, causing a surge in user support tickets and requests, and new security threat management obstacles.

How are businesses managing these new challenges and the associated expenses? Here is a deeper look at three common challenges IT teams are facing due to the rise in the remote working:

Connectivity outside the office

Ensuring a stable connection between the end-users and the network, data, and/or apps, is becoming significantly more challenging. Now that organizations are outside the office and potentially across the country, there are simply more layers to manage and more points of failure to cover. In many cases, IT departments have been scrambling to maintain a reliable and secure network infrastructure to handle the increased load and new demands. They are not properly staffed in house to effectively manage these needs, and there’s no reason they would be.

Providing end-user support

COVID-19 has forced many organizations to rapidly deploy new tools to help collaborate and communicate throughout their organization, with their customers and partners. With the unfamiliarity and lack of experience with these new tools and capabilities, end-users are being left frustrated and inevitability on the phone with the service desk. This rise in user support requests has internal IT departments spread extremely thin; especially true for IT organizations who share responsibilities between teams… Remember, we still have the expanded infrastructure needs to manage. This problem isn’t getting any easier.


Managing the additional security risks of COVID-19 

Now that data is no longer kept within business walls, it poses additional risk of data leakage and loss. Further, employees’ minds are on the COVID-19 outbreak, so the new collaboration software IT just force fed to them isn’t top of mind.  In fact, there have been so many changes they have had to make in their daily routine, changes in their business environments may take a back seat. Let’s face it, our guards are down and we’re susceptible to attacks, at the time when security should be of the upmost priority. Many IT organizations are currently dealing with an increase in security incidents as their users are falling victim to the increased phishing and malware threats. So, now we have an already strained IT department who is left holding the bag to deal with the increased infrastructure, user support, AND security needs? How do we do this? There must be a more effective way.

Hiring internally to fill these dynamic gaps is impractical and expensive. It is also difficult to maintain a balance between the skills and resources needed to deliver these services in house. On the other hand, businesses need to ensure that they have all the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to provide adequate and safe infrastructure for their operations to continue.

The businesses that will come out ahead and be in a position to grow and thrive post COVID-19, are those who are partnering with an MSP to offload infrastructure, user support and security operations and management. This frees up their internal IT team and IT leadership to keep an eye on their business’ visions and values, aligning technical capabilities to achieve business goals.

Businesses look to MSPs to solve capacity and skill set challenges, and to supplement parts of their IT operations to support today’s unique needs. This allows their IT team the opportunity to elevate their contribution and impact by focusing on projects that enable their business to thrive. MSPs also provide the foundation that allows any sized business to capture and support the full power of technology, ensure business continuity, help to strengthen alignment with the business, and create an exceptional end user experience.

Is VoIP what your business needs?

April 3rd, 2020 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Communication, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Phone, Services, VoIP 0 thoughts on “Is VoIP what your business needs?”

VoIP is a hot topic among small business owners who have struggled with difficult, cumbersome landline systems. Which is probably why nearly 40% of small businesses have switched from traditional landlines to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) phone systems. In this blog post we’ll cover the advantages of VoIP so you can decide if it’s the missing link in your business technology toolkit.

VoIP empowers businesses.

Not so long ago, you could count on paying a small fortune for phone features like conferencing and an automated attendant. Now you can get those features plus newer ones, like instant messaging, mobility, and file sharing, at a fraction of the costs associated with landline phone systems. VoIP also brings a remarkable level of flexibility. One receptionist can handle incoming calls for offices located all over the country (without any inconvenience to your customers). Employees can route their office phones to any outside phone, which makes work travel and remote working smoother and more convenient for everyone.

Conduct business from anywhere in the world.

VoIP lets you be anywhere, anytime for the same cost. You and your staff can make or take calls at home, from coffee shops, at trade shows or in airport lounges – anywhere with an Internet connection or wireless signal. Your laptop or cell phone can function just like your desk phone, and your clients will never know the difference.

Save time and streamline office processes.

Have you ever received a voicemail that wasn’t meant for you and had to go through the whole process of getting it to where it belongs? What if you could just forward an email with the voicemail inside to the right person, straight from your inbox to theirs? This is just one of the many ways that VoIP can help streamline your office processes, saving your staff time and your business money.

And that’s not all. Hosted VoIP applications have built-in mobility and collaboration tools to enhance productivity and communication, such as instant messaging, personal phone books, and the ability to forward your phone calls to any outside phone automatically.

VoIP scales and grows with your business.

If you’re like many business owners, you’re likely making plans to grow your business. If you depend on cell service or traditional landlines, it could cause some major operational issues as your business grows and your needs change.  Luckily, there’s a phone system that can keep pace with your business expansion, without costing you a small fortune. A Hosted VoIP phone system supports the periodic growth that many businesses face without a large up-front investment. There’s no huge capital expense for new phone hardware and no worries about moving servers from the old office to the new. Simply extend Hosted VoIP service to your employees as you hire them. You can add or remove users as you need to; which is great for seasonal businesses (like accountants) too.

Even if your business is small in size today, you face many of the same challenges that larger enterprise businesses face, just without the extra resources. Hosted VoIP helps to level the playing field in your favor. With Hosted VoIP, you can establish a big-business presence anywhere in the world and work more efficiently to make the most of the resources you have while also laying the technical foundation to grow and transform your business when you’re ready.

3 Advantages of Hosted Email for SMBs

March 17th, 2020 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Communication, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services 0 thoughts on “3 Advantages of Hosted Email for SMBs”

Email has become business-critical for most SMBs. Without it, operations can grind to a halt, employees can sit idle, and sales/support can be negatively impacted. You want your email to have minimal down time, suit your business needs and goals, and support your business growth. But managing and maintaining your own email server can be challenging at best and disastrous at worst. So, how do you get the functionality you need without the headache? Hosted email. In this blog post we’ll discuss 3 advantages of hosted email for your SMB.

 

What is Hosted Email?

Email hosting as a service is a great way for businesses to save money, tailor your email to your needs, and save time on maintenance. Your email server is hosted off-site in a secure data center and is managed and maintained by our certified engineers. One of the best parts of a hosted email solution is that it’s crafted to your business’s specific needs, rather than it being a “one-size-fits-all” solution. This means that you’ll have to spend less time on work-arounds and general frustration, because it has been customized for you.

 

3 Benefits of Hosted Email

There are significant advantages to outsourcing your email to an MSP. Here are three of the biggest benefits of hosted email:

Less time spent on maintenance and management: You can focus your time and resources on aspects of your business that only you or your staff can do. Since the responsibility of managing and maintaining the email server is handled by an external party, you’re free to work on your business instead of your email servers.

Flexibility and scalability: Whether you’re planning to grow in the future or dealing with growing pains now, it will save you time and money to ensure that your email solutions can grow with your business. Hosted email is scalable to suit the specific needs of your business; adding or removing users and features as you need them is convenient and cost effective.

Security and redundancy: Your company email is a vital part of your business, which is why hackers try to take advantage of it so often through spam campaigns and phishing emails. These tactics are alarmingly effective when you don’t take steps to actively mitigate them. Having your email hosted in a secure data center reduces the likelihood of hacking attacks, and we can add a spam blocking solution to help avoid those threats as well.

Think Network Technologies can help your business take advantage of all the benefits hosted email has to offer. To learn more about hosted email solutions, contact us today.

The SMB’s Cybersecurity Checklist

December 10th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Data, Devices, Internet, Networks, Security, Services, Staff 0 thoughts on “The SMB’s Cybersecurity Checklist”

The landscape of digital security has changed, and we want to make sure that small to medium-sized businesses (SMB’s) have the information they need to keep up and keep their businesses, customers, and employees protected. To that end, we’ve prepared a cybersecurity checklist to get you started.

First thing’s first: Your business is not too small to be targeted for an attack.

The data you collect is just as valuable as any other business, and hackers have learned that it’s more likely to be vulnerable. Too many SMB’s rely on the hope that they’re “invisible” to hackers and don’t ensure that they have the proper cybersecurity measures in place. Cybersecurity is just as vital to your business as it is for a Fortune 500 company.

The best foundation for a strong cybersecurity plan is a thorough understanding of your company’s resources and risk factors. If this kind of review is outside the skillset of anyone in your company (or if you simply don’t have the resources to get it done in a timely fashion), we encourage you to consider bringing in a managed service provider (MSP) to do an internal audit and report of all your systems. This audit will then serve as the backbone for your cybersecurity strategy.

Armed with the knowledge you need to evaluate your situation, you can move forward with the checklist and help ensure the success and security of your business.

  • Continuous Education: The majority of security breaches happen because of human error, like losing a password or submitting credentials on a phishing site. Comprehensive training can help your employees understand the risks and avoid them. IT training also makes your employees more valuable by enabling them to be more productive. It’s well worth the time and effort.
  • Regular Risk Assessments and Security Audits: “The best offense is a good defense” certainly applies to cybersecurity. If you take the time to regularly audit and assess your company’s cybersecurity, you’re much more likely to catch a flaw before it’s exploited.
  • Disaster Response Plan: The best way to recover from a disaster is to be prepared ahead of time. Imagine how much easier it would be to respond to a security breach if you know that you have secure backups, security consultants available to assess and repair the breach, a communication plan to notify customers and staff, and a recovery process to get everything back on track.
  • BYOD: Allowing employees to bring their own devices to work allows for a new level of flexibility and connectivity, but it can compromise your security. Developing a comprehensive approach to BYOD security policies can save your business.
  • Layers of Security: From endpoint and mobile devices to networks and users, ensure that each facet of your company has the right protection. No one piece can protect you on its own, but tiered defenses tailored to your business can provide a strong defense against cybercrime
  • Cyber insurance: You have insurance to protect your physical assets, and now it’s time to get insurance that will cover your computer systems and data. Cyber insurance will help protect you against electronic threats that can result in stolen or damaged data as well as expensive liability and recovery costs.

Your Business Needs These 3 Types of IT Resources

April 10th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Devices, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services, Staff 0 thoughts on “Your Business Needs These 3 Types of IT Resources”

As technology becomes more essential, more versatile, and more complex, it also becomes increasingly difficult to manage. This can be especially true for SMBs as they balance the need to grow and stay competitive with limited budgets and less IT expertise. Luckily, there’s more than one way to look at IT, and how you approach it makes all the difference.

 

The Challenges

As the demands of your business reach the limit of your IT department’s ability to keep up, you may find yourself experiencing some of the following growing pains:

  • IT is spending most of their time putting out fires, which means recurring problems are becoming more common.
  • Deployment of software, apps, and initiatives is getting more complex, and you’re seeing more delays, failures, and down time.
  • Keeping up with break/fix work is keeping your IT staff from focusing on developing strategies and solutions that will benefit the business long term.
  • System down time is becoming more frequent, and it’s resulting in a loss of productivity and profit.

 

The Right Team with the Right Resources

As the role of IT expands, it’s important that you have the right team in place with the right expertise. It’s not just about having more staff; it’s about having access to expertise in cyber security, cloud migration, data mining, collaboration, etc. But, while you need access to these types of expertise and support, it doesn’t make sense for most SMBs to have these high-level experts on staff full time. Which is why many businesses are excited to discover the benefits of Managed Services.

To get the most out of your IT, both internal and through outsourced partnerships, make sure to have these three types of resources covered:

Generalists

These are your “go to” people. They’ve got the basic knowledge necessary to solve most of the day-to-day issues that your employees will encounter quickly and reliably, and they have the people-savvy necessary to provide high-quality service. This is a point of pride at Think. Our Support Desk staff is carefully selected, highly trained, and respond to most service tickets in an hour or less.

 

Specialists

With the rapid advancements in tech, IT departments are often expected to be experts in a variety of ever-changing specialties. To keep all the different aspects of your business tech running smoothly, you need access to a wide range of specialized skill sets. But, while these specialties are vital, they’re not necessarily something you’ll need forty hours a week. This is where the collective experience of a Managed Services team is key. With the right partner, you get the expertise and experience you need when you need it.

 

Advisors

IT has evolved from a convenience to a catalyst for innovation and future growth. But with each department working from their own perspective and towards their own goals, it can be difficult to see the broader picture and create a strategic place for IT in your business. An IT advisor with an outside perspective, a solid understanding of business and tech, and the ability to help you develop a plan to move your business forward is in an invaluable asset that can change the course of your entire organization for the better.

 

Bottom Line

Balancing the needs of your business with budget considerations is an ongoing challenge, and IT is no exception. But with the right combination of resources, you can ensure that your business receives all the benefits IT has to offer without sacrificing in other areas. For many organizations, this is where teaming up with a Managed Services partner gives them what they need, when they need it.

Help Your Business and Your Community this Earth Day

April 10th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Community, Devices, E-Waste, Services 0 thoughts on “Help Your Business and Your Community this Earth Day”

At Think we value the beautiful area we live in, the growing community we support, and the businesses we serve. So, to celebrate this Earth Day (April 22), we want to share with you an easy way to help all three: eRecycling.

Put simply, eRecycling is the recycling of computers and other electronic equipment.

As our businesses become more reliant on technology, and as technology continues to evolve, we can easily end up with a collection of outdated printers, keyboards, monitors, phones, and other bits of tech. These usually occupy the corner of some office or closet, collecting dust and spiderwebs. While you don’t want your business hampered by outdated tech, it doesn’t have to waste space in your office either.

Various components in computers and other electronics can be recycled and used to build new machines. This reduces the need for new components, which helps us preserve and stretch our natural resources. It also means less material in our landfills and less stress on our local environment.

Recycling also helps support our local recycling center, which means supporting local jobs.

And your business benefits by clearing out the clutter and making room for equipment that supports your growth and success. (A tech replacement plan makes this process easy and simple.)

This Earth Day is a great chance for you to do something good for your community, the environment, and your business.

You can learn more about our Durango Recycling Center here.

Continuous Adaptation: The new role of IT in your business

April 10th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Devices, Managed Service Provider, Services 0 thoughts on “Continuous Adaptation: The new role of IT in your business”

There was a time when critical business applications changed every few years at most. This gave you and your employees plenty of time to plan for major changes and adjust to them while your business continued to operate and grow. But, thanks to the power of cloud technologies, the pace of change has accelerated. While businesses are eager to take advantage of the benefits cloud computing has to offer, it’s important to ensure that your business and your employees are prepared to get the most out of the transition.

 

New pace, new approach

Growth and adaptation are essential to any business, and as a result the “set it and forget it” mode of thinking is out. This applies to both the software and hardware you’re using as well as the policies, procedures, and culture surrounding IT. It’s not enough to have the right applications and the newest hardware if your employees don’t have the motivation and support necessary to integrate these new resources into their daily routines and tasks.

 

Changing face of IT

Your company’s IT is no longer about fixing broken computers or installing software occasionally. It now plays an integral role, continuously engaging with everything from security to end user education and support. Adjusting the way you think about this vital asset to your business can improve your ability to adapt to change, respond to new opportunities, and cultivate your most valuable asset – your people.

 

The pace of change will only continue to increase, and it’s important that you have the support and expertise you need to help your business navigate and thrive. If you’re ready to see what IT can really do for your business, contact our engineers today.

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.

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3067 Main Ave. Durango, CO

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