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Why (and How) SMBs Should Strategically Adopt Technology

Why (and How) SMBs Should Strategically Adopt Technology

There is no question that a small business can benefit from technology, as has been proven time and time again. However, an issue can arise if a business bites off more than it can chew, so to speak, and ultimately creates a spike in costs. A responsible business owner will resist this temptation and prioritize the solutions they need over the ones they want - building profitability and generating capital needed to make other improvements.


In this blog, we’ll examine some of the implementations that can deliver a good return on investment to a small business.

Managed IT Services
For the small or medium-sized business seeking maximum value for their dollar, managed IT is a great choice. For a predictable, scaled monthly fee, a managed service provider (also known as an MSP) will make sure that a company’s information technology solutions are functional before a problem or issue arises. What’s more, a relationship with an MSP can also provide invaluable access to specialized vendors, enabling you to leverage some of the best solutions available.

As alluded to above, one of the biggest values that an MSP provides is in the hands-on experience that its technicians have, both on-site and remotely. A company whose solutions aren’t in working order is a company that is hemorrhaging money via downtime, and so it is crucial that a company in this situation has the means to resolve and ideally avoid downtime, continuing its productivity and revenue generation.

One of the biggest benefits to investing in managed IT services is the speed at which you will see a return on that investment. Comparing the cost of an MSP’s services to the multitude of costs that these services help you avoid will help to illustrate how much an MSP can help you. How much are you spending on break/fix services, hiring and onboarding an in-house technician, updating and upgrading your hardware and software, and weathering downtime? All of these costs can be consolidated and/or eliminated with an agreement with an MSP.

Hybrid Cloud
The cloud is growing at an explosive pace, and for the business or organization with specific needs where accessibility and security are concerned, a hybrid cloud platform may be the best strategy to leverage this industry-shaking technology. Private clouds, while secure, are costly to implement and maintain. Public clouds are more affordable, but there are some major concerns among businesses at the thought of blindly entrusting crucial data to another organization. While the security of such methods is improving, there is an understandable need for control among many business owners that disqualifies the public cloud as a viable option.

The hybrid cloud is the integration of these two halves, joined together to eliminate the downsides while preserving the advantages. This also provides control over a business’ data and applications while allowing the scalability to leverage it as needed. Arguably best of all, the hybrid cloud can add the productivity that your business needs to increase revenue and profits. These reasons are large contributors to why the hybrid cloud is swiftly being considered an inevitability for all businesses by many industry experts.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
Nowadays, just about every business has a wireless network. This has led, in conjunction with every employee coming to work with a smartphone in their pocket, to a need to manage the devices that connect to that network. Allowing employees to utilize their personal devices for work purposes brings great benefits but requires a solution to help eliminate the risks and threats that these devices bring in from the outside. There is also no shortage of incidents where inappropriate and shortsighted mobile behaviors on a wireless network have brought issues to a business. This is why you need to take the necessary steps to protect your network through the enforcement of BYOD policies.

A BYOD policy needs to take many things into account to be seen as having a worthwhile value to the organization, from how many devices are being brought into the company to the cost of the mobile device management software to the affect that introducing these devices into the workflow has on productivity and collaboration.

Of course, you should also keep in mind that some employees and most of the visitors you receive to the office will see no problem in using your business network to access things that aren’t conducive to your business operations, eating up resources that should be used for other things. This is why any BYOD implementation also needs to see to including access control and permissions within its mobile device management policies. This will provide you with benefits from heightened efficiency to enhanced security, leading to a potential boost in revenue generation - all the while enjoying the diminished costs that leveraging BYOD provides to your business’ budget.

It’s true that adding new technology solutions to your business can carry a hefty expense with it, but the right solutions can offset that cost with improved company operations and diminished security risks. The professionals at White Mountain IT Services have the experience and know-how with IT solutions to ensure that the right solutions are the ones that go into your business, in the right way. For more information about some of the things we can help you to improve in your organization’s IT, give us a call at 603-889-0800.

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Your IT is Your Business’ Health... We Can Help Take Care of It

Your IT is Your Business’ Health... We Can Help Take Care of It

Uh oh - your critical business systems are acting up again, and you aren’t sure what’s causing the problem. Fortunately, you aren’t caught up in this alone. There are those that can help you, just like a doctor would if you were ill. However, instead of calling your healthcare provider, you want to call a managed services provider.


When you don’t feel well, or something’s wrong, you visit the doctor’s office. They examine you, diagnose the problem, and prescribe a solution. This process has been in place for millennia. Much more recently, it was also adopted by a very different sector: the information technology industry.

When most people think about IT, their thoughts turn to a few stereotypes. They either think about the predictable phone calls to tech support that take forever and feel like they do little to move the recovery process along, or they think about the technician who comes in to repair something onsite, making a huge mess and causing a distraction. Naturally, this has made many business owners and users loath to call in IT services, preferring to make do as best they can with what they have. More often than not, this doesn’t end well for the business.

This phenomenon has led to a shift in the IT service industry that is now possible thanks to the improved technology we have today and the capabilities it provides us. Now, instead of trying to fix a problem after the fact, we work to avoid the problem in the first place.

Think about how many doctors spend a good portion of their office hours - it isn’t performing complicated surgeries and procedures on their patients. More often, it is spent checking up on their patients to make sure they’re remaining healthy. IT services now emulate this approach, saving everyone time and money by catching issues early.

This approach is referred to as managed services, and in many ways, it works even better for your IT than it does for your physical health.

For a predictable monthly fee, your technology is kept under the careful watch of your provider. This managed service provider, or MSP, can not only monitor your infrastructure remotely, they can often take action remotely to resolve the issue before it actually has an effect on your business’ operations. If that isn’t an option, your MSP can send out a technician to discreetly assist you at your location - much like a doctor making a house call would.

Also, just as a doctor can proactively prescribe scripts to be refilled, your MSP can proactively review and update your existing solutions to further improve your technology experience.

When you really consider it, a doctor’s purpose is to assist us in living as effectively as we can, despite the circumstances. Your MSP’s purpose is to do the same for your business’ efficacy by caring for your solutions. Reach out to White Mountain IT Services to find out how else an MSP’s services could potentially benefit your business, and maybe even schedule an appointment for your next check-up. Call 603-889-0800 today.

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Amazon’s Alexa Is Entering the Workplace

Amazon’s Alexa Is Entering the Workplace

Every business executive wants an office assistant that can help with the everyday “grunt work.” These office assistants handle a lot of work that the busy business owner simply doesn’t have time for. Unfortunately, small businesses are working with a limited budget, making the odds of affording extra help slim to none. Can Amazon’s Alexa offer an alternative to this dilemma?

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Does Your Business Have A Mobile Device Policy?

It's a big convenience for employees to be able to access the company network from their own mobile devices. At the same time, letting outside devices onto the network is risky. An employee's smartphone might have malware on it, or someone might steal it and retrieve confidential data from it.

Many businesses have a BYOD (bring your own device) policy which puts conditions on mobile use. Getting people to comply is another matter. Mobile device management (MDM) software solves this problem by allowing only approved devices onto the network.

Mobile device risks

Infected mobile devices are a serious risk on a company network. The infection rate has been growing rapidly. Many people are careless about their security practices. Older devices may not be getting security updates any more. Malware on phones may try to steal confidential data or infect other devices on the network.

If devices don't use encryption, they put any company data on them at risk. A stolen phone could hold confidential data or trade secrets that get into an identity thief's hands. If the company is found negligent, it could face lawsuits or fines.

Policies aren't enough

A BYOD policy outlines what employees are allowed to do with mobile devices. It should require people to lock and encrypt their devices and to have security software on them. A review of each device before it's allowed on the network should be mandatory.

Unfortunately, it's easy to get around policies. If all that's necessary is the Wi-Fi password, some people will use whatever device they have, whether it's approved or not. It's difficult to catch them, and the damage may be done by the time anyone in IT notices.

MDM automates BYOD policy

What's needed is software that allows only approved devices and access methods and can shut misbehaving phones out. That's what MDM is about. Employees with approved devices must install an MDM client on their phones, which controls communication with the network. The software can either be installed on the business's premises or run as a cloud service. On-premises software requires more work to manage, but it allows more control.

Devices under MDM management identify themselves using public-key authentication before they're allowed to connect. They typically store company data in a separate area from personal data. It's protected by encryption.

Some people "jailbreak" or "root" their device in order to do things which the vendor doesn't allow. Doing this greatly increases its vulnerability, and MDM software will detect this and ban the device from the network.

Other benefits of MDM

In addition to keeping out unsafe devices, MDM provides several other advantages. It can:

  • Enforce password policies

  • Log device usage

  • Update software automatically

  • Wipe lost or stolen devices

However, MDM isn't set-and-forget software. The management needs to keep the inventory of authorized devices up to date, removing employees when they're no longer working there. Policies need to be tailored to the business's needs, striking the right balance between security and usability. Some employees either won't have qualifying devices or don't want company software on them, so it may be necessary to issue company devices to them.

Employees will typically access business servers through a Wi-Fi access point or a VPN. MDM works best when it's integrated with other network security measures. It also needs to work well with the server software which employees need to access. When the parts of the network fit smoothly together, security doesn't get in the way of doing work.

Allowing unrestricted mobile access to a business network puts it at serious risk. A BYOD policy helps, but without automatic enforcement, it doesn't stop mistakes and shortcuts. MDM is the only effective way to let employees use personal mobile devices without excessive risk.

Contact us at White Mountain IT for expert help in managing your network.

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Tip of the Week: Using Microsoft Word to Edit a PDF Document

Tip of the Week: Using Microsoft Word to Edit a PDF Document

In case you’re looking for a nice alternative PDF file-editing software, the most recent version of Microsoft Word can do so. Since the investment for Adobe Acrobat isn’t for everyone, you can instead turn to the tried-and-true all-purpose word processing software to edit your PDF files.


Open the PDF
The first step is to open up your PDF. You can do this by opening up Microsoft Word and selecting Open Other Documents from the menu to your left.

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You should see the Open menu. In this, click on Browse.

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Another message should appear informing you that Word will convert the PDF to an editable Word document. If you’re fine with this, click on OK.

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You should see the PDF open up in Word. Before you can make any edits, you’ll have to disable protected view. Word opens up these documents in protected view because they could potentially be infected with malware or other threats. If you trust this document, you can click on Enable Editing to start making changes.

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Once you’ve done this, you’ll get another notification that shows you that Word will convert the PDF into a Word document. Just click on the checkbox or click OK to close this message.

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You can now edit your PDF.

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After you make your edits, you need to convert it back to a PDF format. You can do this by selecting File > Save As and setting the type to PDF via the dropdown menu under the file name. You should rename the document slightly as well before saving it in a file folder.

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Once you’re finished, the edited PDF should open up in your default PDF viewer, whether it’s Microsoft Edge or another program.

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What are some other Microsoft Word features that you want us to investigate? Just let us know in the comments.

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With the surge in the number of small and medium businesses that have fallen prey to malware and cyber criminals, there is a lot of focus of what an organization can do to prevent being a victim and how the company should handle themselves after an attack. There is another key factor to preventing cyber criminals from penetrating into your network:...

- Onsite Service Coverage Area -

Onsite Computer Support Services are available to businesses within 100 miles of Nashua New Hampshire. We have excellent onsite coverage from Concord NH, south through Manchester NH and then down into Boston. From Northern and Central Mass we cover from Worcester, east to the North Shore, including the Salem and Portsmouth NH area.

 

603-889-0800

White Mountain IT Services
33 Main Street Suite 302
Nashua, New Hampshire 03064

 

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