Common IT Pitfalls for SMBs

Common IT Pitfalls for SMBs

Written by SOS Tech Group on . Posted in IT News

Small business owners face a lot of pressure to keep overhead low and profits as high as possible to keep their businesses thriving. When it comes to IT, it’s hard to see where little mistakes can cost you more than you budget for, in both the long and short terms. Here’s just a few of the oversights we can help to correct.

 

Price Shopping for the Least Expensive Option

As a managed services provider, we work with many SMBs, and see the following situation very often. A small business owner needs to purchase new computers, multi-function devices, printers, etc. They also have a need for remote access, and want to streamline their IT solution to be as efficient as possible, and to give their employees as many resources as they need to get the job done. . So, the Small Business Owner does his due diligence and obtains multiple proposals. Company A promises to fix all his problems and charge him a nominal monthly fee for their ongoing support services. Company B suggests upgrading outdated hardware and installing new software to optimize his current investments. Company B’s initial overall investment is more expensive as is their monthly service plan. When only looking at short term budget requirements, Company A looks like a slam dunk.

However, when price is the only determining factor it’s really the small business owner who pays the ultimate price. Invest your IT budget in a reliable managed services provider, one who has the credentials to present all your options, and advise you on the best way moving forward.

 

Investing in Technology Only When it breaks

Waiting until hardware is completely broken is the worst time to replace it. An unknown quantity of down time and lost productivity means lost revenue and profits. While no one can predict the exact time hardware will fail, we can tell you that the more critical the device, the harder its loss will impact your business. We advise our clients not to wait to invest in equipment and software, and don’t wait for it to fail to consider your replacement options. Put a transition plan in place when reaching hardware end-of-life.

If you invest wisely now and optimize your systems correctly with a trusted partner, you’ll run into fewer problems later which ultimately means spending less in the long term.

 

Not Having a Comprehensive and Tested Backup and Recovery Solution

How will your business handle a lengthy power outage, due to a storm? How will it handle a ransomware attack? Or an organized breach and theft of data? Or even just accidental deletion? With the robust business continuity and backup solutions in the market today, there’s no excuse not to be covered. A small investment in these systems now can keep you not only protect, but actually operational, in the event of the worst-case scenario. No one beats the odds forever.

 

Cut-off from Your Business When You Are Out of the Office

Constant access is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for business of all sizes. Your employees, and clients need access to you and your data instantly regardless of location. Clients and prospective clients will no longer wait for you to get back into the office to address their questions or concerns; if you can’t supply what they need when they need it, they’ll move onto the next organization who can. In the current business climate, we’ve all come to expect instant attention to our own questions, and in turn we need to be able to give that expectation right back to our employees and customers.

 

Not Having a Second String QB

We find that SMBs try to manage their networks with limited staff. Pulled in too many directions already, it’s usually the business owner who bears the brunt and winds up managing IT along with everything else. Working with a trusted managed services provider, one who has the training,  experience, and manpower will free up your time to focus on more important issues, like running your business.

Unlock the Potential of your Business with Managed Service Provider

Written by SOS Tech Group on . Posted in IT News, Technology

Unlock the potential of your business with a Managed Services Provider

 

Why should you look to a managed service partner for your IT needs? The answer lies in your business’s bottom line.

 

Technology is the foundation of every modern business; without it, you could not service your customers, communicate internally & externally, or coordinate internal plans and strategies. Yet most small- to medium-sized businesses lack the time, payroll and expertise for in-house IT management, leaving their necessary networks vulnerable and limiting their future growth. Don’t let your company make the mistake of trying to take on too much too early! Outsourced IT management services provide a convenient, affordable business solution for SMBs that ensure your technology doesn’t fail as you expand and grow to new opportunities.

 

This also includes the project management that goes along with managed IT services. Without the proper foundation and guidance, your IT infrastructure starts to take on a cobbled-together, Frankenstein’s monster that becomes harder to maintain, manage and scale. If that’s your solution, you’re headed for disaster.

 

The problem is that piecing together solutions without vision is equal to throwing a bunch of ingredients together without looking at a recipe. You know what you want the end result to be, but because there is no precision and consistency, you can’t be certain that you’ll achieve what you set out to do. That’s where a managed IT services provider, along with quality project management, can mean all the difference.

 

In the business environment today, controlling costs and resources is critical for sustainability and growth. A managed IT services provider can create systems that function to your specific operations, inside your security concerns, within your budget and without compromising quality. As a result, you can focus your people and doing what you do best with less IT distractions.

 

Adopting new technologies can introduce new risks to your organization, as well. A knowledgeable, experienced and professional partner can help you stop unforeseen issues in new arenas before they start. And, unless you happen to be a tech whiz yourself, a managed services provider can manage your data and IT infrastructure with greater skill. Should you choose to keep some of your tech work in-house, outside technology management pros can provide off-hours backup and peak workload support beyond your internal team’s capabilities. You also eliminate the need to pay for training to keep your own team’s skills up to date, giving you greater control over training and personnel development budgets.

Thanks to leveraging diverse IT experience and numerous resources, managed services providers tend to be more proactive that internal ones. That shifts your company’s focus from problem solving to problem avoidance. More than 90 percent of technology problems can be spotted before they lead to costly downtime, data loss and security breaches. Managed services providers can also advise your company to employ more cutting-edge practices, from newly released software and hardware, improved data security and disaster recovery, to advanced use of cloud resources.

 

Talk with SOS today to learn more about how you can use a managed IT services partner to take your organization to the next level.

VOIP vs Analog Phones

Written by SOS Tech Group on . Posted in Technology

4 Tips For Your Help Desk and IT Support

Comparing analog phones to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems is like comparing a basic telephone to a computer. An analog phone is a basic phone you can plug in and you’re instantly ready to go. If you’re one of the shrinking number of people who have Analog phones at home, or any home phone at all, we know they are reliable and easy to use, but only offer so many features and applications. VoIP phones are different and a bit more involved.

An analog phone system, also commonly known as a Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS), converts voice signals to electronic signals that travel over the phone line until they reach the destination. These voice signals can travel in two ways because the phone system offers bidirectional communication. Users communicating to each other using POTS or analog systems are connected through a copper wire loop running from a central switch office to many homes and businesses. Subscribers are assigned to a phone number allowing them to contact others.

 

If you don’t know anything about VoIP, it is a system that converts analog phone signals into digital signals and runs your phone system on an IP network through your own IP address or the Internet, combining voice and data on one secure network. The digital signals being converted can be delivered over the Internet from one home or business to another. This communication method is extremely cost-effective. Of course, your features may differ depending on the size of your business, but it is generally the same installation and architecture for small and large businesses alike. So, why are more businesses are turning to VoIP communication and ditching their conventional landlines? VoIP communication systems offers several advantages for businesses of any size.

VoIP communication systems offer a secure and quality service, managing calls over their own private networks. VoIP also offers more features than a traditional analog phone such as voicemail, caller ID, Internet faxing, virtual receptionists, advanced call screening and forwarding, integrated office software, voicemail forwarding, hosted web conferencing, and more.

 

Business VoIP services are generally cheaper than traditional phone services, even with all of the extra features listed above. There is less hardware to buy or lease, if any at all, and monthly subscription fees are lower. Several hosted providers offer smartphone apps that allow the user to make and receive calls through their data connection which can be connected to your office phone or left as a standalone option. Adding new extensions is also a much easier task with VoIP phone systems.

 

Among all of these advantages of VoIP is increased productivity. Choosing the VoIP communication system simplifies and combines your communication tools. This is one step up from analog or traditional phone lines.

 

Choosing a VoIP communication system for added benefits, such as security, improved productivity, and features such as caller ID, voicemail forwarding, and call screening, can help your business stay efficient as possible, and offers enterprise-level features, at an amazingly low cost, while you scale to ‘right-size’ infrastructure as your business grows.

 

Do I need a Firewall?

Written by SOS Tech Group on . Posted in IT News, Security

If your computer is connected to the Internet, the answer is ‘yes’. You are a potential target to an array of cyber threats that attack through unpatched security holes. This means that if you, like most people, shop and bank online, you are vulnerable to identity theft and other malicious attacks.

According to a study by NCSA Cyber Security, only 4% of Americans say they understand firewalls “completely”, while more than 44% don’t understand firewalls at all – or know if they have one enabled on their PC.

A firewall works as a barrier, or a shield, between your PC and cyber space. When you are connected to the Internet, you are constantly sending and receiving information in small units called packets. The firewall filters these packets to see if they meet certain criteria set by a series of rules, and thereafter blocks or allows the data. This way, hackers cannot get inside and steal information such as bank account numbers and passwords from you.

Basic firewalls such as the one included in Windows, only monitor incoming traffic by default. This may give you a false sense of security, as outgoing traffic, with your credit card information, bank accounts, and social security number, is not protected. A good firewall will monitor traffic in both directions, both your incoming data and your outgoing data, keeping your private information safe. In addition to preventing unauthorized access to your PC, it also makes your PC invisible when online, helping prevent attempted intrusions before they start.

Most sophisticated firewalls also include a feature that continuously updates the list of known good and known malicious applications. This way, the amount of questions relating to Internet access is minimized and your computer protection is always up-to-date.

Although a firewall provides critical protection to keep your PC safe from unauthorized access, it cannot remove malware from a system that has already been infected. Therefore, a firewall should be used in conjunction with other proactive measures, such as anti-malware software, to strengthen your resistance to attacks.

If you own a business, this protection is even more critical, as you have a multitude of personally confidential information for many individuals at risk of exposure. Customers, employees, invoices – any data of theirs they share with you must be protected just as much as your own, as you may be liable for any breaches that occur through oversights in best practices in cybersecurity.

If you have any questions on firewalls, or are concerned you may not be secure enough, contact us today.

The State of the Internet: Cause for Concern

Written by SOS Tech Group on . Posted in IT News, Technology

fiber optic cables

In light of Mark Zuckerberg’s recent testimony on Capitol Hill regarding Facebook’s use of data and role in foreign nationals influencing the American public with engineered news, many questions have been asked about just how we utilize the Internet in 2018.

 

We’ve come far from the days of digital bulletin boards and dial-up modems. Now, our interface with the internet is seamless, and reflexive. It touches every aspect of our lives, from relationships to business, art, science, recreation and finance. But is the system we place ourselves wholeheartedly into ultimately healthy, in its own right? And that begs a second question – is it healthy for us?

The Mozilla Foundation, a known open source pioneer and the creator of the Firefox browser, recently published a report on the health of the Internet. Their goal was to foster a wider understanding of the human experience of the Internet – from connectivity barriers, to economics, to security and privacy, to online harassment – and find out how those issues all relate to each other, and find the existing patterns in these previously separate experiences. In short, changing the perception of the Internet from a technology experience, to a fundamentally human one, with a very real impact on the well-being of people in a number of ways.

 

With Big Tech

 

Companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook have market share and influence the likes of which have never been seen before. They are seamlessly ingrained into almost all facets of our lives, from civil discourse & public engagement, right down to the contents of your refrigerator and washing machine. They built the internet through innovation, by dreaming big, and giving us exactly what we wanted. It’s not their wealth which makes them dangerous; it’s their market share. Are they now too big to fail, knowing that they take the convenience of modern culture, along with all of our personal data, with them?

 

With Fake News

 

One of the founding ideals of the Internet was almost true democracy and the openness of knowledge. In 2018, it looks more like targeted product placement and the manipulation of the data you’re shown based on how an algorithm believes you think. A growing number of people source at least 30% of their news from social media, one of the most malleable platforms for fake news. A story need not be ‘true’, it need only be ‘liked’ and ‘shared’ enough for the appearance of validity. Since some of these ‘news’ stories tend to be extreme or alarmist, to either side of the political spectrum, they become nothing more than propaganda for special interests at best, foreign spies at worst. Russian citizens were able to use Facebook pages to organize social protests, and even counter-protests to the original protests they had created. It’s no stretch to see the tools used in that case turned to causing outright violence and creating panic during disasters.

 

We are no longer separate from the Internet. It’s now a part of almost everything we do. It is very much a human system now. Keeping the Internet open, free, and diversified is the key to a prosperous and free 21st century.

Tech Headaches? We can help! Contact us now »