Posts tagged "business"

Enterprise Solutions

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.

Getting to Know Our New Systems Administrator

February 13th, 2020 Posted by Best Practices, Managed Service Provider, Staff 0 thoughts on “Getting to Know Our New Systems Administrator”

Now that our new Systems Administrator, Madison Upton, has had some time to settle in, we thought it would be a good time to get to know her a little better.


Her background in technology and IT support

Madison has been in the IT industry for over 12 years. She came from a 9-1-1 IT support background and has taken on various IT work on the side for small companies and residents, too. She really enjoys fixing inanimate objects and teaching people how to use them.


Madison’s role at Think

Madison is a System Administrator. This means she is responsible for maintenance, operations, documentation and planning of systems infrastructure. She likes to focus on one problem at a time to be thorough in finding the best solution. And she likes to listen to music to get herself pumped up and energized.


She loves working at Think because

When I asked Madison what she loves about her job so far, she said, ”I really enjoy brain-trusting with my team on an issue that may have me stunned or curious. I’ve worked as a lone wolf within my IT career before and I found I really missed collaborating with a fun, intelligent, and trusted team.  There’s a lot to learn between the lot of us on this team and that’s a big part of what makes us good at what we do for our clients.”


Life outside the office

Madison is a lot of fun to talk to, so I asked her a few extra questions…

What do you miss about being a kid?
-I really enjoy being an adult; I have a lot more freedom and opportunities that I remember as a kid thinking “I can’t wait to grow up so I can…”. However, who doesn’t miss regular naps that we adults all took for granted as kids!?

What’s your favorite outdoor activity?
-The outdoors and I get along very well. I moved to the Southwest corner of Colorado so I can be much closer to rafting, paddling boarding, fishing in all varieties, target shooting, archery, snowshoeing, hunting and soaking in the hot springs.

What would you do if you won the lottery?
-If I won the lottery and was set for life, I’d become a full-time animal activist for our Elephants and Rhinos. Those poachers wouldn’t know what hit ’em!


5 Ways IT Can Improve Employee Experience

February 13th, 2020 Posted by Best Practices, Managed Service Provider, Staff 0 thoughts on “5 Ways IT Can Improve Employee Experience”

The experience your employees have shapes the quality of their work, their level of productivity, and every interaction they have with a customer. If your employees aren’t happy, your customers won’t be either. The technology and software you provide have a huge impact on your employee experience, and there’s a massive disconnect between most executives and their employees when it comes to how this is going.

Nine of out 10 C-suite executives believe that they choose new technology that delivers what employees need: 50 percent of employees disagree. In fact, close to 40 percent of employees feel that their IT departments and workplace technology experience is completely out of touch with their needs.

So, there’s a chance you may have some work to do. We’ve come up with these 5 ways IT can improve your employee experience to help you out:


Listen to your employees

Most people want to do their jobs well, but if there are constant impediments they may give up. Any technology that streamlines or simplifies part of the job will have a positive impact. And it may be a different technology or software for different departments who have different focuses and workflows. Take the time to talk with your employees about what they need to do their jobs, and you might be surprised at the positive results in their productivity and their experience in the company.

Smooth out onboarding

Starting a new job is inherently stressful. Sitting around for a week while a computer is set up, ID’s are created, accounts are set up, and everything is connected to the network makes the whole process a LOT more stressful than it needs to be. Help your new hires hit the ground running and have a positive experience starting by having processes and technology in place to ensure that onboarding happens smoothly and quickly.

Reduce the learning curve

Does your software require intensive training to use? Unless it has some very powerful, very specific functions that you can’t do without, it may not be worth the delayed start time and stress it causes your employees. Take the time to evaluate what you’re getting from your software versus what it’s costing your employees (and therefor you).

Aim for consumer-level experience

Most people have technology embedded in their lives, and they love it. They’ll stand in line for a new phone. Play with a new app until it suits them. Customize everything from their cars to their homes with every tech trick you can imagine. They know how to be good, enthusiastic technology users. Technology companies ensure that they enjoy learning how to use a new product by making those products tailored to suit their consumers’ needs. How does that compare to their experience at work? Are you making it easy for your employees to do their jobs by ensuring that they have the right technology, software, apps, and the knowledge they need to use them?

Upgrade the office

The quality of the technology tools you give your employees to do their jobs sends a message about how important they are (or aren’t) to the company and to you. If your employees are working (or trying to work) on 7-year old computers, a glitchy phone system, and software that makes every task harder than it needs to be, how likely are they to feel valued? How much enthusiasm are they bringing to their work, their customer interactions, and the company? How long will they want to stay? Upgrading is an expense, but so is saddling your company with technology that limits how productive and engaged your employees can be. One has the potential to boost your profits in a big way, while the other ensures that you’ll stay stuck. Which would you rather invest in?

This is a great opportunity to improve your business in every way, now and moving forward. If you need some help evaluating your situation, making a plan to move forward, or implementing your plan, we’re happy to help. Contact us today to see how our solutions can power your business.


5 Tips to Improve Business and IT Alignment

January 21st, 2020 Posted by Best Practices, Managed Service Provider, Security, Staff 0 thoughts on “5 Tips to Improve Business and IT Alignment”

The success of any new technology initiative depends on IT and business being on the same page. Otherwise you risk failed projects, lack of measurable ROI, and technology investments that don’t do much to improve the business.

We’ve put this blog post together to help you ensure that both sides of your business are working towards the same goals. Here are 5 tips to keep in mind for successful business and IT alignment:


Communication should always be a two-way street, and this is no exception. IT and business both have a specific focus. Which means both sides see each situation or challenge through a different lens. Where IT is looking at essential security upgrades and procedures designed to protect the business, the business side might only see an extra expense and processes that could slow down productivity with extra training. Both have a valuable perspective, but it won’t get them anywhere unless they learn how to communicate and compromise.

Remember to listen, ask questions, and communicate clearly not just WHAT you want or need but WHY as well.


Something that is a top priority for IT may not even make the list for business, and visa versa. It’s important to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Not only does this help you see the situation from their perspective, but it means they’re more likely to try to see it from your perspective as well. This can lead to greater trust, easier communication, and more solutions that make everyone happy.


While it’s true that IT and business might have a very different approach and focus, ultimately everyone is working towards the same goal: the success of the business. If you take the time to ensure that everyone involved, regardless of their role, is focused on this overarching objective, it will help remind everyone that they’re working on the same team.


No one wants to be “that person”, the one who’s always preaching doom and gloom or saying “no”. But trust is a huge part of working well together, and you can’t trust someone who lets you make a costly mistake just to avoid being uncomfortable. Whether the risk is about cybersecurity or financial stability, speak up.


Let’s face it, too often it can feel like IT and business are spending more time butting heads than getting anything done. To help repair this relationship, you’ll need to make a point of emphasizing the good. When you have a productive conversation, come up with a balanced solution to a problem, or create a joint plan for moving forward, remember to point out the success and the people who contributed to it. This helps to establish a new normal, a relationship that is good to be a part of. And when things go a little sideways, because that’s always going to happen sooner or later, instead of slinging blame trying finding the “why”. You’re not looking to roast someone, just to do better in the future.


Maintaining alignment between business and IT can easily become a full-time job. This is part of the reason so many SMB’s are turning to Managed Service Providers to help bridge the gap and ensure that IT and business have a mutually supportive and beneficial relationship.

If you’re looking for experts to become a real partner in your business, a partner who can help you align the knowledge, processes, and technology you need to achieve better business outcomes, we’d be happy to talk. Contact us today to learn more.

Top 3 Technology Resolutions for 2020

January 21st, 2020 Posted by Best Practices, Managed Service Provider, Security, Staff 0 thoughts on “Top 3 Technology Resolutions for 2020”

It’s a new year and a new decade, so it’s the perfect time to look at how technology can improve your business. Here are the top 3 technology resolutions you may want to consider:



The impact technology has on business is undeniable, and it’s only increasing. Digitally mature businesses stand out because they’re more productive, move with the market, and impress customers by providing quality service and connection through multiple channels.

As you look to the future, you’ll need to understand where your business is today – achieved with a technology audit – and develop a digital transformation strategy that integrates digital solutions where they will benefit your business the most.



It’s no longer enough to provide a quality product; to retain customers a business must also provide a compelling and satisfying customer experience. More and more customers are expecting businesses to provide a digital component to make their experience easier and more engaging.

As you plan your technology budget for 2020, take the time to look at where technology can enhance customer service, increase accessibility, and personalize your customers’ experience. This could be an automated chat feature on your website, predictive analytics, or a more robust CRM. The key is to find the technology that serves your customers’ needs and complements your business culture and goals.



It seems like every day we’re learning about a new, more sophisticated, more aggressive type of cyber attack targeting businesses, local governments, and even schools and hospitals. Add this to the growing number of regulations and risk compliance requirements, and SMB’s have a real challenge on their hands.

When you look for solutions to address these challenges, it’s important to know that there is a multitude of options that allow for a streamlined, customized approach to protecting your business. A little research will show you that compliance and security don’t have to be clunky or a heavy burden on your business anymore.



As you build your path to success in 2020, we invite you to take advantage of the information we offer here on our blog. And, as always, if you need support in prioritizing and planning your technology resolutions, we are more than happy to help!

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.

4 Ways to Weaken Your Security

October 22nd, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Data, Hackers, Internet, Networks, Security, Staff 0 thoughts on “4 Ways to Weaken Your Security”

The list of “to do’s” for cybersecurity can get pretty long and overwhelming. So, in honor of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we’re giving you a short list of what NOT to do instead. Here are four of our favorite ways to weaken your security and make it easy for hackers to take advantage of your business.

Don’t worry about unauthorized logons

While most attempts to log on to your network are provably valid actions by verified users, there is a good chance that at least some are hackers attempting to penetrate your security. Each attempt can tell them something about your network, increasing their chances of success. Monitoring your perimeter security for suspicious activity can help IT personnel take action before your company is compromised.

Use random configurations

It only takes one device with an incorrect configuration to weaken your entire perimeter security system. One firewall misconfiguration can give hackers access to your entire network, and you won’t like what they do once they’re in. A system to ensure proper configuration upon installation plus regular auditing can help avoid this.

Ignore scanning attempts

Network scanning is used by hackers to find weak points in your network. If you don’t bother to monitor your network for scanning threats, you might miss out on malicious attempts until your data has been compromised.

Make your VPN easily accessible

Virtual private networks (VPNs) are a popular way to improve the security of remote connections for many businesses, but there are risks to using any method. Giving VPN access to employees who don’t need it or allowing employees to access it through public WiFi can both cause problems. The more people with access, the more difficult it is to ensure that it’s only being used by the right people. Accessing a VPN through public WiFi can give hackers a chance to steal your employee’s credentials. Restricting users, providing usage guidelines, and monitoring usage can help avoid these issues and protect your network.

If this still sounds overwhelming and you’d like some help ensuring the security of your network, your data, and your business, we’d be happy to help. Contact us today to speak with a Think network engineer.

Does this smell “phishy” to you?

October 17th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Hackers, Internet, Networks, Security, Staff 0 thoughts on “Does this smell “phishy” to you?”

Phishing attacks use malicious emails or websites cleverly disguised as legitimate points of contact and business to lure you into giving criminals access to your personal, financial, and business information. Attacks are on the rise, especially for SMB’s. Think was even targeted earlier this year. With the stakes for your business (both for your finances and your reputation) getting higher every year, we’ve prepared some information and security tips to help you deal with the “phishy” stuff that could come up.


Phrases to watch out for

Phishing attempts have come a long way from “I’m a Nigerian prince”. Criminals are using the same language that a business associate, bank contact, or client would use to trick you and your employees into giving away valuable information and access. Language like:

“We suspect an unauthorized transaction on your account. To ensure that your account is not compromised, please click the link below and confirm your identity.”

“We were unable to verify your account. Please click here to update and verify your information.”

“Hey, it’s (your boss’s name). I’m stuck in a meeting, could you pick up some gift cards for me?” (this one made the rounds in Durango via email and text message)

“This is Todd from IT, and I need you to send me your login information so we can do some maintenance on your computer” (sent from what looks like a legitimate company email)


What to do

Play hard to get – if anything doesn’t look or feel right, DO NOT click on any links in the email or reply to the email. Contact the company/financial institution/person directly. And DO NOT use any phone numbers given in the email, those are easily faked too.

Take a breath – criminals want you in a hurry and not thinking too hard about what you’re doing, so there is almost always some sense of urgency to a phishing attempt. Take your time and ensure that any information/access you’re giving is going to the right person for the right reasons.

Don’t get too personal – with so much information available online about our jobs and our lives, it can be all too easy for criminals to collect this information and try to use it to manipulate us. Try to avoid putting too many details out there, and remember that it’s not just the people who are close to you who can get access anymore.

Beware the link – hyperlinks in emails are a favorite way for criminals to trick you into downloading malicious software (just takes one click) or enter your information on a website that only LOOKS legitimate. Don’t click anything you aren’t completely confident in, and even then think twice.

Double up – two-factor authentication is an effective and inexpensive security measure that could make all the difference for your company. With two-factor authentication, it’s much more difficult for a criminal to access sensitive information even with a login and password, because they’re still missing a key piece of the puzzle. (To learn more about two-factor authentication visit our blog post here.)

Think passphrase – The longer and more creative your password is, the more difficult it will be to hack or guess. Instead of trying to come up with bizarre spellings for common words, you could try a nonsense phrase. Like: phishingemailsarejustawful! They’re easier to remember and to type.

Bring in security – you don’t have to do this on your own, and you shouldn’t try. There are some amazing anti-virus programs and email filters that will help you protect your company from multiple types of attacks. Your odds of protecting your business, your employees, your customers, and yourself go way up when you’re using the right tools for the job.


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