How should your business be using the cloud?

Checklist: How Should You Be Using the Cloud

Public… Private… Hybrid… The definitions and differences are confusing, and it’s difficult to identify which solution would best resolve your challenges. While public cloud solutions tend to cushion your wallet, they’re also severely limiting. Private cloud solutions give you more control and privacy over your operations but are expensive to maintain. Hybrid combines both ideas, but it’s difficult to implement correctly – especially on your own.

The cloud continues to grow, and businesses continue to misuse it and underappreciate the value provided. Whether you’re a small business just beginning, or a seasoned corporation, there is an innovative cloud solution that not only fits your business needs now but will evolve as your business grows. How do you know which solution is right for you?

Use this checklist to see if public or private cloud (or a combination of both) is better suited for your business.

Think about your top three needs. Are they security, reliability and customization? Consider a private cloud solution. Or, are you prioritizing scalability and flexibility, hands-free solutions and cost-efficiency? Public cloud might be the better choice. Wish you could choose a mixture of both? Maybe a hybrid solution is best for your business. By leveraging innovative cloud technology, you can improve your business operations without rebuilding your entire IT infrastructure.

As your partner, we’ll help you identify the best innovative cloud solution for your unique needs and challenges. We’ll walk you through the pros and cons of each cloud type and help you create a personalized growth plan – so you can worry less about the cloud and focus more on meeting your goals. Leave your IT to us, regardless of what plan you choose. We’ll proactively monitor and maintain your cloud environment, so you know you’re always covered.

For more information on public, private and hybrid cloud solutions, and how we can help you implement the right one for your business, contact us today.


Understanding Digital Ethics & Privacy

From Facebook to Google, large companies are beginning to find the middle ground when it comes to protecting their users’ privacy and online data. But, where do you draw the line in the sand?

In response to ever-growing cyberthreats, the EU created the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to ensure websites are getting permission and protecting the information they gain from users. This new compliance regulation requires any company with EU users to update their policies and enact greater privacy strategies.

While GDPR is one step toward a more secure future, it also opens up the discussion of digital ethics and how new technologies can comply despite evolving threats.

What is digital ethics?

While the exact definition of digital ethics can’t be found in any dictionary, it is defined by experts (including Rafael Capurro in his paper Digital Ethics) as, “the impact of digital Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) on our societies and the environment at large.” To simplify Capurro, digital ethics involve the moral decisions that are made in regard to the virtual world.

How does it apply to my business?

You use data to create lists for your sales team, customize emails and provide better experiences for your customers, but how can you ensure the data is kept safe? Where do you draw the line on data consumption? Digital etiquette is essential to strengthening your reputation, retaining your customers and behaving ethically in the digital world.

What are the challenges?

How do you find the balance between providing an improved user experience and overstepping boundaries? If someone visits your website and views your products and services, do you have permission to email them about the products they’ve seen? If someone visits your store, can you use facial recognition to build customer profiles?

What are the solutions?

By monitoring activity and providing transparency to your customers, you can navigate the fine line between ethics and privacy. You can improve your reputation and achieve compliance by updating your privacy policy to meet GDPR regulations, requesting permission to use or sell customer data and notifying your customers of updates to your security and privacy policies.

How we can help

As your managed service provider, we’ll help you stay up to date with compliance regulations and proactively monitor your systems to help you keep your customers’ confidential data protected. We’ll work with you to ensure you never overstep when it comes to selling to your customers.

From compliance regulations to blockchain management, we’ll help you monitor, protect and secure your customers’ confidential data. For more information on how to walk the digital ethics line and how we can help your business, contact us today.


5 Tech Trends to Watch for in the New Year

This year, you’ve been refining your business practices and protecting your confidential information from falling into the wrong hands, but now what? What lessons will you be carrying into the new year?

When it comes to your technology, we’ve been tracking down new industry standards and refining our own processes to ensure you experience maximum uptime and always have the support you need to grow your business. With that in mind, we’ve determined five tech trends you need to watch:

  1. Microsoft Support
    Microsoft announced that they’re ending their support of Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and Exchange Server 2010 by January 2020. That means over the next year, you need to migrate all of your servers to the cloud or a replacement server to keep your data safe and supported.
  2. The Dark Web
    Your confidential information being sold on the dark web is a reality you'll likely have to face – that’s why it’s the number one threat we think you should tackle in 2019. By deploying security support designed to check for vulnerabilities, you’ll know what’s at risk before your information is stolen and keep that critical data off the dark web.
  3. Phishing Attacks
    If you’ve seen a phishing email lately, you know that they’re becoming more and more complicated, with sophisticated graphics and language. It makes it increasingly difficult to tell if they’re fake. With a reliable and robust backup strategy, you can eliminate the risk of losing data and improve your business continuity.
  4. Multi-Screen Efficiency
    You don’t have to implement an entirely new system to improve your productivity. According to Fujitsu Siemens Computers, dual, triple and quadruple monitor setups can improve efficiency by up to 35 percent. Adding an extra monitor is a relatively low expense compared to other options and improves your ROI with minimal downtime issues and improved flexibility.
  5. Cloud Computing
    Over the last couple of years, cloud computing has been gaining momentum – and it’s not slowing down yet. From hosting files and applications like Office 365 to implementing virtual/hosted desktops, as-a-service solutions in the cloud are not only becoming an asset to your business, they’re becoming a requirement.

Whether you’re looking for new ways to improve productivity or you need better protection against new and varied cyber threats, this is your year for technology. For more information on how to prepare for next year’s trends, and how we can help implement and support your solutions, contact us today.


Hot Holiday Tech Gifts You Can Afford

When shopping for holiday gifts on behalf of your business, keep in mind that tech gifts are always appreciated. Finding tech gifts that recipients will appreciate that are also in your price range can be a challenge, so we’ve put together a menu of hot tech gifts for 2018 in a variety of price ranges for you.

Less than $10

NUBWO Portable Bluetooth Speakers with HD Audio and Enhanced Bass

This handy speaker is not only small (3.8x3.8x3 inches) and light (8 ounces), it also connects with most Bluetooth audio devices in three seconds and provides room-filling sound. It can be used to make hands-free calls from smartphones, tablets and more.

Less than $50

Blue Microphones

Blue is the hottest name in microphones today. Whether used for recording, streaming, Skype, Twitch, conference calls or any other way a computer microphone can be used, whoever you give a Blue microphone to will be heard loud and clear.

Less than $100

Ring WiFi Smart Video Doorbell

The Ring video doorbell is a tech gift that lets the home resident get up-close-and-personal with whoever rings their doorbell – even if they are on the other side of the country. The doorbell is connected via WiFi, which enables use of the Ring app on iOS and Android.

Less than $150

Beats by Dre Solo2 Luxe Edition Wireless Headphones

Solo2 headphones look like a sports car, feel like they were made for whoever is wearing them and sound totally awesome. Includes HD audio and enhanced bass. Plus, depending on the device you use, the RemoteTalk cable lets the user change songs, adjust volume and make calls without getting up.

Less than $300

4K UHD TV

You can spend $3,000 or more for a Smart 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV with High Dynamic Range (HDR), but you can also find a selection for less than $300. 4K UHD TV with HDR is the new standard for Smart TV because the picture has double the pixels in each direction and looks incredible.

Less than $400

Apple Watch Series 4

Perfect for the Apple enthusiast, the Apple Watch Series 4 is bigger, better and more affordable than its predecessor, and one of the hottest gifts available. Displays are 30 percent larger. Sound is 50 percent louder. There’s a built-in GPS as well as potentially life-saving electrical and optical heart sensors. It’s also a true marker of success.

 Less than $1,000

HP Spectre X360 Laptop

For the PC user who admires everything about a MacBook Pro (except that it’s a Mac), the HP Spectre X360 is the perfect gift. At 2.78 lb. with a full HD screen (or higher resolution), the Spectre X360 runs Windows 10 and is a business computing powerhouse.

Every item on this list is a business-appropriate gift the recipient will use and enjoy. Holiday gifts let people know they are appreciated and help solidify business relationships. Of course, you’ll want to remember the people who do the work in your organization.

And what about the organization itself? An IT infrastructure that works the way it’s supposed to and drives growth by maximizing productivity is about the best gift you can give your organization. Contact us today to discuss how much more your technology could be doing for your organization.


Everything You Were Afraid to Ask About Section 179

Taxes can overwhelm the best of us – but if you’re the owner of a small or medium-sized business, Section 179 is well worth the extra effort this tax season. If you’ve put off looking into this bottom-line-boosting provision, let us break it down:

What is the Section 179 tax deduction?

Instead of gradually depreciating technology over several years, Section 179 allows you to deduct the full price of any qualifying equipment or software purchased or leased during the year. It’s meant to encourage businesses to stay competitive by purchasing the equipment they need while benefiting their bottom line. Depreciating assets in the first year also helps reduce overall profit, which is the figure that ultimately determines your tax payment.

Will it benefit me?

No matter your industry or the size of your business, you rely heavily on technology to service your customers, make your job easier and capture your share of the market. Section 179 allows you to upgrade to the newest technologies without the blow of a huge upfront cost. Even businesses with a net loss are qualified to deduct some of the cost of new equipment and carry forward the loss.

What qualifies?

  • Purchased, financed or leased business equipment
  • Computers and “off-the-shelf” software (productive, anti-virus, administrative, etc.)
  • Office equipment and machinery (e.g. servers and printers, routers, network switches, network security appliances)
  • Commercial use vehicles
  • Improvements to nonresidential property

What do I need to do?

  • Purchase, finance or lease equipment and put it into use by midnight on Dec. 31, 2018
  • Use it for business purposes more than 50% of the time
  • Consult with your accountant to determine your eligibility

What are my limits?

  • $1M – Maximum total amount you can write off in 2018
  • $2.5M – Maximum total amount of equipment purchased in 2018 eligible for full deduction

How can I take advantage of the Section 179 deduction?

  • Simply make the purchase and use Form 4562 to claim your deduction
  • The full deduction can be claimed until you’ve reached $2.5M in equipment or software purchases
  • Past the $2.5M point, the deduction decreases on a dollar for dollar basis and disappears once $3.5M worth of equipment is purchased

 Stop making excuses not to invest in yourself and get a powerful edge over your competition by taking advantage of Section 179. Not sure where to start? Contact us today to talk about upgrading your technology infrastructure.