Cybercrime: Preventing a Victim Mindset

In this presentation called "Cybercrime: Preventing a Victim Mindset," e4e partner Jared Peno explains how to be proactive about protecting personal and business information from cyber criminals. He describes common types if internet fraud, how cyber criminals obtain your information and questions you need to ask yourself when trying to protect your information.

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Strengthen Your Business’s IT Competence

"Strengthen Your Business’s IT Competence" is the e4e December 2016 GROW Showcase Presentation by Jared Peno. Jared defines potential risks in IT security, identifies methods to prevent systems from being hacked and informs us how to make and implement a plan to protect and recover from an IT attack.

After his presentation, Jared takes questions from the audience.

Three Skills to be a Successful Entrepreneur

No man is an island. No business is either. It’s helpful to learn from those who are a few steps ahead or are walking stably beside you. Now is the time to accelerate progress through networking and collaboration in order to enjoy exponential improvements and growth. Our panel of fourteen experts offers invaluable insights into the question: What are three priority skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

From our Experts:

Tom Ruwitch

1. Persistence... Entrepreneurs are bound to fail from time to time in their journeys. You can't quit the first time you fail.

2. Interpersonal skills... You must work well with others if you want to be a successful entrepreneur. Working alone in a garage is a mythical image.

3. A willingness to let go and delegate… You can't do it all yourself. Build a team. Establish structure. Don't try to juggle it all.

Stephen Hager

1. Fire in your belly to do something different, better and take-on risk

2. A picture of success, vision and desired outcomes with leaky boundaries

3. Surround self with people smarter and different than you who support your picture of success

Adam Kreitman

1. The ability to sell

2. The ability to delegate

3. The ability to learn from failure (or, better yet, the failures of others)

Steve Smart

1. The ability to lead with vision: The ability to see, define and rally others to a future state is critical for long-term success.

2. The ability to incorporate the right talent: No one can do it all on their own. It becomes critical to recognize that fact, develop a high performing team and delegate well.

3. The ability to manage change: With a growing business, change is happening all over. Within the organization, within the industry and in the business world in general. Being able to manage change and lead the organization in the midst of it is important.

Jared Peno

Along with personal traits such as perseverance, self-motivation, and focus, I think having the following skills is vitally important to an entrepreneur's success:

1. First, you must have a marketable service or product. If you don't, then you have nothing to sell and no platform for becoming an entrepreneur.

2. Second, you need to have vision. When you are starting out, take advantage of your ability to adjust to demands and trends quickly; always have an eye for opportunity.

3. Lastly, and I believe most importantly, you need to be able to grow your personal network. Entrepreneurs sell solutions and the more people you know the more people you can potentially help. Your worth as an entrepreneur is directly tied with how well and how many people you can help. Creating an ever-growing network of people allows for more relationships and more opportunities for you to solve problems.

These are just a few of the Partner responses.

Check out this article in the academy to get all responses

How to Choose an Outsourced IT Provider

You are presented with a dilemma because you don’t know what you don’t know. How can you possibly choose an IT provider and understand not only what they are offering but more importantly, if they are competent? In a previous post, I discussed the benefits of using an IT consulting company in some capacity and went so far as to suggest the use of IT consulting even if you currently have an in-house IT staff. The benefits are there, however I won’t detail them as it goes beyond the scope of this article. Once you have decided, like so many other businesses, to embrace outsourcing, how do you choose a quality company that can nurture your fledgling business all the way through the painful growth stages and into a mature, established company?

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10 Hidden IT Risks That Threaten Your Business and Ways to Find Them

Your business depends on intelligence. But can you count on your technology?

You may not be in the intelligence technology business, but it’s probably impossible to imagine your business without IT. Today, computing technology plays a vital role in the way you serve, work with, and communicate to your clients. Thanks to advances that have made technology more powerful yet less expensive, even
the smallest practice can enjoy capabilities – in everything from marketing and sales to delivery and fulfillment – that were once the sole domain of large enterprises.

But today’s big IT advantages come with major risks. Your networks and systems serve as your silent partner in operations. Should they fail – and when they do, it’s usually without warning – you’re exposed not just to an IT problem, but also to a potentially large business problem.

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Video: Productivity Tools

If you feel like there are gaps between using email and text messaging, you may want to consider upgrading your business productivity tools for something more capable of handling the needs of today’s new business. I will show you the tools you will need to:

  • Never lose another note, picture, or document.
  • Have instant access to all of your documents from any internet connection.
  • Mitigate distractions while still allowing for important interrupts.
  • Maximize your downtime with a few bonus tips and tricks.

Jared picked these tools because they are proven and they can be easily integrated into your current workflow. The best tool is one that you will use consistently.

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Internal or Outsourced IT?

I find myself in many situations where a single IT technician can make or break the productivity for an entire business.

No Internet, no email, and you can’t print the presentation material you need for your next client meeting; whom are you thinking about calling right now? Chances are whether you have a full-time employee to manage your IT or you chose to be backed by an entire company, you are thinking of one-person in particular. This is because most companies enjoy having a familiar face and one intimately familiar with their network. As we will see, this can be a double-edge sword.

I find myself in many situations where a single IT technician can make or break the productivity for an entire business. All the nuances, history, “band-aides”, and tricks are solely known by one individual. While seemingly complex, the specifics of your network should always be easily accessible within your company’s domain of knowledge. Securing the intellectual IT assets of your company is a must for growth, disaster recovery, knowledge transfer, and security.

While some instances call for in-house IT, I am hard-pressed to think of any situation in which outsourced IT is not needed.  A good relationship with an outsourced IT vendor is critical in many ways. From the perspective of your in-house tech department, an outside resource can mean extra helping hands with a big or complex project. While many full-time IT resources can manage the daily duties and many ongoing projects, there are still limitations to their expertise and availability to meet project deadlines while still maintaining the daily issues in the office.

Furthermore, if you imagine yourself in the CEO’s chair, your motivation would be geared towards concern about consistency, reliability, and transparency of your network. As a complement to your full-time IT employee, an outsourced provider could assist with documentation, monitoring, and standardization of your infrastructure.

An outside IT company can provide an extra layer of security, accountability, expertise, and resource management. IT companies typically employ great tools for monitoring, troubleshooting, and documenting your network. Just as you try to mitigate single points of failure within your business, you should not allow a single point of failure for your IT support.

A question for your consideration: What are the best deliverables an outsourcing firm like Alliance Technologies can bring to supplement my IT staff?

  1. State of the art tools for monitoring and remote management, including ticket handling, patch management, NOC support, and alert resolution.
  2. A team of experienced engineers. Consultants handle IT problems from many different industries and we have worked through countless debilitating issues. Our extensive knowledge and experience helps you solve problems faster, cheaper, and effectively.
  3. A pressure release. Having additional staff familiar with your network, who can assist with projects and provide relief from daily issues, all pay dividends for your business, especially when there is no need to hire and train a new employee.

If you are a small or medium business owner, your question at this point should not be whether or not you need an outsourced IT provider, it should be, how do I choose the right one? I will be exploring this very topic in my next article.

Think you may be at risk and want more information? Contact me directly.

Jared Peno
Alliance Technologies, LLC

SMB Mobile Integration

If I were to throw out the term cyborg your mind would probably paint a picture of a half robot, half human being. You might specifically think of the Hollywood interpretations’ over the years, such as Robocop or Star Trek’s version simply called Borgs.

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What the Cloud Means for Small Business

92% of users feel email is important or critical in helping them get their work done and 75% of all communication is sent by email.

In an already jargon laden industry, it strikes me as comical to brand the next big revolution in computing as “Cloud” computing.

I speculate it came from our friends in the marketing department, after all, what better way to describe a hyper complex, highly specialized, and esoteric new system of computing? Ironically, the “Cloud” does accomplish its goal of packaging all those moving parts into one tag line, however, it is also a great adjective for many consumers’ comprehension of the technology. Minus the buzzwords and the amalgam of confusion, lets just say, for small businesses everywhere - Cloud computing is a game changer. Here’s why...

If you have taken the red pill, you have found your way to the truth about cloud computing and will begin your journey with me with a quick description of the technology behind the “Cloud”.

What is the Cloud, really?

Let’s start with the very familiar and probably most widely consumer adopted use of cloud computing, Software as a Service (SaaS). You will find the majority of the paid or free services on the web rooted in Cloud-based technology. Of course, I am speaking of services like Gmail, Google Docs, DropBox, and Salesforce. All of these services provide a front-end application to their base without the need for their customers to purchase any specialized equipment or software. The backbone allowing this to happen is considered cloud technology. In many instances the backbone of SaaS is made up of a cluster of highly expensive enterprise level Web and Database servers, all of which are painstaking interconnected and redundant for the ultimate satisfaction of achieving 100% up-time. It is estimated that another well-known cloud (SaaS) company called Twitter could be exposed to as much as $25 million dollars in losses per minute of downtime. This is based on revenue from ads on their 500 plus million users.

The beauty that allows SaaS to achieve the uptime and scalability necessary to service millions of users is grounded in virtualization. IT professionals have the ability to run multiple single-purpose servers, virtually on one physical hardware box. The initial appeal of this technology was first realized as a way for larger organizations to vastly reduce their datacenter footprint by way of consolidation via server virtualization. In 2007 and 2008 this also meant companies could take advantage of green energy tax credits, as they were able to reduce their carbon footprints by as much as 50%. Later, as the technology advanced, new methods of high-availability came into play and suddenly, IT professionals could keep a service like Gmail running without the worry of hardware failure crippling the system. So, as you can see, Cloud technology’s initial appeal for many established companies came in the form of cost savings through consolidation and server availability. New and innovative companies realized the potential and started building systems designed around hosted consumer based applications, giving rise to services like Salesforce and Google Docs.

I believe SaaS will be evolving rapidly in the next few years, and we are already enjoying the benefits in our every day lives of which many are hidden. The next major iterations will most likely be in full cloud based operating systems. Truly the “sky” is the limit.

Moving on to the next most used cloud based service among businesses is infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Instead of using the developed application-only infrastructure as a service allows its customers to take advantage of a completely hosted server infrastructure model. For example, if you are a bio tech startup and require specialized computing to sequence a genome, which requires a large amount of computing power, you would lean on IaaS to build the infrastructure necessary, easily and affordably without the need to purchase and maintain a large server farm. Once your biotech company is finished with sequencing, you would simply decommission the infrastructure and no longer pay for the service. This type of system is a true pay-per-use model in which you dial up or down computing resources as necessary. The IaaS model has found its place with companies subject to seasonal business fluctuations and more importantly business that are starting and need their capital to fund their mission and not their infrastructure. As prices decrease with time, the availability and applicability for businesses to adopt this type of cloud based technology as a permanent solution makes much more sense both financially and technologically.

I have provided two of the most widely used cloud based consumer uses, I have explained what it means to be in the cloud, and I have provided consumer based applications examples for each use. When I reach out to small business owners, I make sure I find a cloud based solution that fits within at least one segment of their operations. It is not good enough just to "fit" a technology in a business operation though, the service or product must meet some basic criteria before we adopt. Most significantly we require the technology either save money, provide process efficiencies, enhance conveniences, increase reliability, etc, etc,... and wouldn't it be nice if it could do all of those things!

Do you need the Cloud?

At the heart of this document the fundamental question begs to be asked. How can cloud computing benefit your organization? Let me preface by saying most applications of cloud computing for business use are still in early adoption phase. This means companies are still testing the waters and exploring benefits. I see the technology industry moving in the direction of increased cloud computing, because as I mentioned previously, the benefits to large organizations and startups greatly outweigh the costs of the traditional model. Emergence in the cloud can be as simple as a few key applications at first or you can decide to move your entire network. It is my opinion that eventually your decision will be made for you, as more software vendors are taking advantage of reoccurring revenue and hosting their software to offer as a service instead of a product. Purchasing software will eventually become reserved for large organizations that require the control of ownership.

Why are some SMB organizations moving to a cloud model? What benefits are they seeing that inspire them to change?

Most small business owners I have spoken with, regard IT as a necessary evil. Obviously, I am not one who would agree; IT has paved the way for young organizations to compete with larger better-funded corporations. Now, I think what they mean to say is they don’t want the headache of managing an IT department, nor do they love the worry of having their system vulnerable to downtime. So I believe most business owners view IT as a variable on their balance sheet and a point of fragility for their operations. Take email for instance, 92% of users feel their email is important or critical in helping them get their work done and 75% of all communication sent by a typical user is from email. We are all aware when a critical function like email is down it affects our entire business and possibly our bottom line.

So is it any wonder small business owners consider IT an evil? I submit it is their fear of the unknown, their dependence on their systems, and their reliability on one person or an outsourced vendor to make it all work, that causes their anxiety. It is this reality that makes the cloud such an attractive option for most owners. The cloud can help you scale your business by paying for what you use at the time you use it, provide tremendous accessibility options for remote or mobile users, and allows for a company to grow without the need for large capital expenditures. However, as I have just detailed, quite possibly the most important benefit for small business owners is the knowledge their company has a reliable technology backbone, their data is safe, they do not have to worry about upgrades and updates, and their key programs and files are accessible when they need them.

SMB businesses I see moving into cloud computing range from start-ups with little cash to well-established businesses with antiquated software and a host of manual processes. Both are looking to the cloud, but for different reasons. The startup needs to save cash and prove their business plan, while the mainstay SMB Company has a need to upgrade software and processes providing agility for growth. In both cases IaaS, SaaS, or a combination of both can be used to achieve their individual goals. While they have different reasons for adopting cloud technology, the fact remains, they both chose the cloud because of the inherit scalability, reliability, and accessibility it offers. Advancements in cloud technology only solidify its presence in the industry and increase its viability as a market solution. You may be asking yourself, “What’s the catch? Why isn’t everyone running to this technology?”

Keep checking back, as I address this and many other concerns cloud users and IT professionals have about the technology.