The COVID-19 pandemic has affected individuals and businesses across the globe in a manner that rings with permanence. Many businesses that were previously successful are now left baffled as to how they should adjust their business models. To work effectively in this new age of touchless business, we need to adopt to new systems and organizational methods.
The top priority for businesses that haven’t done so already is to establish an online presence. And they should get online fast! Establishing an efficient online storefront is the first step to attracting customers who shifted to shopping online during this pandemic. If a website is already part of your business model, then some tech solutions may be needed to handle more sales. Make your website functional enough to be a solidified option for those at home. IT solutions, such as adding a shopping cart or transitioning a POS terminal, can help adjust your online presence.
For businesses who deem their online presence to be adequate but struggle with restricted capacity, touchless payment options may be the answer to your problems. What businesses have found to be convenient and successful is the installment of computer tablets as hubs for touchless payments. The prevalence of consumer tech solutions such as ApplePay, Samsung Pay, and Google Wallet have established a safe and easy way for customers to take advantage of digital tablets in physical business locations.
Another struggle many businesses face in this period of touchless business is, how to effectively communicate with employees and coworkers. Scheduling business meetings in person is not exactly COVID safe. Luckily there are alternatives for maintaining a solid and reliable communication link. Platforms such as MS Teams, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, Adobe Connect, and many more have streamlined the ability to connect individuals virtually. Business meetings have, in a sense, never been easier to achieve. By cutting out the commute time for many employees, you can provide more time for scheduling important business meetings.
An additional way to streamline communication efforts is to construct a working online business network. You can do so through new platforms, like Slack, Microsoft Teams/Office, and Google Hangouts. Making sure remote employees have a designated business computer to utilize during work hours is essential. It assures the success of online performance, as programs are only as good as the diligence of the employee checking them.
Maintaining a business during a pandemic is one thing; soliciting new business and sales are a whole other feat. Establishing a working website is not enough to ensure the success of any business or private firm. It is merely the first step in the process of creating an engaging and attractive online presence. Not all customers you want to attract are as tech-savvy as you probably are. Being prepared to help them transition to an online client is something you can do to make this process easy for them. Older clientele may want to do business with you but aren’t sure how to use Zoom. Being able to assist them, or hiring someone who can, is a reliable way to bridge this gap and continue growing your business.
Making sales during such a confusing and evolving business era can be intimidating and uncertain. Small to medium businesses are currently struggling more than ever to keep their doors open. For many, it is tough making sufficient sales to sustain the company and its employees. With every business transitioning to online services, how do you make your business stand apart? The next step for facilitating sales is to engage with your customers and their concerns. You should have a dedicated customer service person with reliable tech solutions for answering emails, fulfilling online orders, and facilitating responses to customer questions promptly. Being responsive to this kind of online interaction is essential to keeping and attracting customers. If you aren’t making the online process easy for the customer, the competition will.
The touchless era is a difficult time in which to mobilize your business. But it is not impossible. Creating an easily accessible and efficient online platform for customers to enjoy and engage with, and maintaining a strong online presence is essential to moving your business into a successful space. Finding different IT tech solutions—like installing online video chat programs to continue communication—will help affirm employee accountability as well as customer satisfaction. Finally, bringing all these aspects together to create a comprehensive and well-oiled touchless business model will assure your business has the best chance of survival and success possible.
If you have questions about setting up online services or getting your employees to work remotely, please contact us at any time.
If last year taught us anything, it was that small to medium businesses need to adapt with the times if they want to stay open. Social distancing and crowd restrictions drove all of us to figure out ways to retain our clientele without dealing with them face-to-face. Online business transactions, telecommuting, and third-party suppliers became the norm. In this new ecosystem, how can we automate business processes and stay ahead of our competitors?
Future growth trends point to business automation in every department, contactless deliveries and transactions, and more remote employees and supply chains. To stay competitive, these are the directions we need to focus on.
The good news is that the future is here! Many large businesses are already fully automated, and their innovations are easily adaptable to your needs. Let’s take a look at some of the new “Everything as a Service” trends to give your team ideas of where you can take your business.
According to Google, AI supports three critical business needs:
Whether or not you’re aware of it, AI is tracking and compiling your data and dispersing it to companies that want to use it. Right now, it’s mostly larger companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft, because they can afford to develop it. Their innovations mean you can use the same technology for your business.
Sales and Marketing tasks go hand-in-hand, so it’s only natural that they work together to maximize customer data. Automated customer-relationship management (CRM) programs gather customer information through engagement and actions. This data helps streamline your sales process, and can also be used for marketing purposes. The compiled information helps track business trends, customer preferences, top-selling items, and a whole lot more.
Automating this process can also result in better lead generation. And the best news is that this efficient system can run at or below your current budget. Once you optimize the customer experience, you’ll be able to streamline the areas that bring in the most money. And that’s good for any business.
If you’ve been relying on one person to handle these tasks, and your business is growing, it may be time to look into an automated process. While pricing is usually an internal decision (supply and demand, shipping costs, holding costs, display and web promoting, etc.), billing has been outsourced for years, especially in the medical field.
If you’re running a bakery or book store, chances are you’re not open 24/7. On the other hand, have you ever considered that you might be missing sales when someone tries to contact you during your off-hours?
Besides businesses that require 24-hour support (Medical, Automobile Towing, IT Managed Services, to name a few), now is the time for everyone to establish a 24-hour presence. Do a little research and you’ll discover that a 24/7 answering service will cost you less than a full-time employee. And that person who answers your phone is only working 40 hours a week, minus vacation, sick time, and paid holidays. It’s worth it to make sure you never miss a call.
Every business has a website, but can your customers purchase your goods and services directly from your homepage? Without a strong web presence, you are limiting your business to local customers only when you can potentially have global customers. The internet never sleeps, and neither should your business.
Adding a Storefront to your current web site is not difficult at all. If you offer products or services that anyone can use, stop limiting yourself to the same group of customers. If the thought of expanding your reach makes you feel like you’re being pulled out of your comfort zone, remember that your competition has already done it. Follow the trends or you may be left behind.
You may not be taking advantage of your workforce scalability. There has never been a better time to hire the best employees to work remotely, from just about anywhere. Here are a few of the benefits you’ll get from scaling your employees to your business needs:
The biggest benefit you’ll see from this system is gaining control of your budget. By expanding and shrinking your employee pool you’re not wasting money in-between projects. This allows you to streamline your office staff and ramp-up as your projects require. Give it a try! It may be something simple to implement that creates great results.
It’s too early to tell if this year will be as challenging as the last one, but even if it’s not we still need to prepare for the worst. If you’re not sure how these business trends can save money and grow your business, remember that we are here to help. As a Managed Service Provider, we can show you some of the latest business developments and solutions that just may be the answers you’ve been looking for. Contact us today and let’s talk about your future.
Apps make the modern technology world go ‘round. If it weren’t for apps, smartphones and other mobile devices wouldn’t be nearly as useful. Of course, there are many factors to consider before using an app. You should ask yourself, could this be a potentially dangerous app? This is especially true if you’re using a device for business purposes.
Earlier this month, we asked and concluded that allowing cookies is safe in most circumstances. In this week’s blog, we will be delving into using apps for business purposes and whether or not they pose a risk to your safety.
There is literally an app (or 50) for just about anything you can think of. However, even helpful apps can be a breeding ground for people who want to steal your information.
Generally speaking, most app makers are honest and ethical. However, because it is so easy to make an app, you may find less than trustworthy creators offering new apps. Securitymagazine.com stated that “71% of healthcare and medical apps have at least one serious vulnerability that could lead to a breach of medical data.” Of course, other general business apps often have similar vulnerabilities.
Additionally, some people create apps specifically so they can steal your personal data. When you download and install an app, it will typically ask for various permissions. It may ask for the ability to use your microphone or have access to your contacts. Some apps ask for just about every piece of information you have available. You may find yourself simply handing over all of your personal data without even realizing it. This is where apps can become very dangerous. Even if you come to this realization and delete the app, your device could already be infected with spyware.
On the other hand, even if you only use trusted apps for business or no apps at all, you need to be careful of the apps you download for personal reasons. Just like with business apps, you may find that people have created an app for a particular reason — and that reason may be to gain access to the data on thousands or millions of mobile devices.
Be honest with yourself: how many times have you downloaded an app that you’ve never heard of just because someone told you it was the greatest app ever? Later, when you feel uncomfortable with how the app works you immediately delete it. We’ve all been there at some point. The scariest part is that the damage is already done once the app is successfully installed. Any information you use for your business (such as emails and customer information) is now freely available to the app developer.
Another potential threat is using a legitimate app from a valid organization that becomes hacked and breached. As an example, this past year, the Walgreens app was victim to a major data breach. The hack allowed access to private conversations containing personal information. This breach was exposed through various apps that were designed to track COVID-19 cases. This happened to a major corporation using high-security apps. Many people wouldn’t think a pharmacy app from a well-known company could be dangerous. Nonetheless, hackers breached highly sensitive information victimizing paying customers. On that note, it’s important to be aware that anyone can fall victim to a data breach if security measures aren’t closely examined.
Hackers have targeted major apps like Instagram, Tinder, Tik Tok, and Snapchat recently. How many of you have at least one of these apps installed on your phone or other mobile devices? While most of us know not to use Tinder on a work phone, you may have some of these apps on your devices. Even if you only use these apps on your personal time, they can lead to major consequences with your private business data. What is fun for you may compromise the security of your customers.
Let’s say you personally avoid all these pitfalls and have never had any issues with apps on your phone or other mobile devices. If you have an organization with multiple people, there’s a very good chance that somebody is going to download an app that may have damaging security implications in the future. While these people may have good intentions and never mean to do any harm, we all know that life can change in an instant in this modern world.
By creating and implementing a plan among your employees, you can help control security breaches. Increase your security measures by not allowing devices to download random, potentially dangerous apps. It’s important to have security policies and other measures in place. Maintain mobile device management, effective policy, and as many security protocols available.
If you want to make sure your organization is as safe as possible from unexpected risks, contact us today. We’ll set up your organization’s devices to keep them safe while still allowing your employees to do their job effectively.
Anyone with a computer is well aware of security concerns on the Internet. As time goes on, security and internet safety becomes more and more of an issue. It’s clear that hackers are becoming more advanced and will continue to find ways to steal our data. With a large part of our lives spent online, it’s just a matter of time before hackers affect you. If you own a business, the sheer amount of valuable information you are responsible for is something to be concerned about. Moving into 2021, data safety will continue to be a growing issue. In this blog, we will discuss SSL and security concerns for your company’s website and the types of sites you may be visiting.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, also known as Transport Layer Security. This may sound like nerdy talk that doesn’t matter much, but the fact is that you interact with SSLs every day. They are specific technology designed to keep your Internet connection safe, especially when secure data is involved. SSLs run a protocol of data encryption to make sure third parties can’t see what either party is viewing or sending.
This includes sensitive and non-sensitive information, such as passwords, names, banking information, and more. This setup uses a handshaking procedure that both the parties involved agree to use. The data transaction creates a cipher so information can be sent from one to the other in an encrypted format. Theoretically, even if a third party were to intercept your data, it would be gibberish since they don’t have the means to decipher it.
This is essential for safe Internet communication these days. You and your company likely send highly-sensitive information back and forth online all day long. What used to be something kept safe in a drawer can now become public information because of a malicious hacker. This layer of safety is so standard we don’t even notice it. Sites that have an “HTTPS” in front of their address use some form of SSL or TLS.
Not only do you want to keep your company’s information private, but you need to make sure that customer information stays private as well. Unfortunately, SSLs and TLSs are not a one–and–done procedure. Like any other security protocol, SSLs change over the years. Make sure that any certificate your company’s website uses is up to date and effective. You can do this by installing updates as they are released.
Think of the SSL protocol like a deadbolt. Having a deadbolt on your door is much safer than a locking doorknob. Yes, there are always people who know how to compromise it, but it is still much safer. Over the years, deadbolt technology has improved and evolved as people learn to bypass obsolete technology. Sometimes, however, it takes working with an experienced locksmith to have it installed correctly.
SSLs/TLSs are certainly much better options than nothing at all. However, these protocols, particularly older versions, are still prone to many vulnerabilities. There are numerous common attacks that hackers use to break this encryption. And some of these threats have very colorful names. For example, POODLE, BEAST, CRIME, BREACH, and HEARTBLEED are commonly used attacks, and they are highly successful.
Having your company’s private information exposed to the highest bidder can have devastating effects on your operations. Stolen customer information due to a lack of care in your communications could result in lawsuits and legal trouble. Customers have well-deserved expectations: when they share information with you, it needs to be kept confidential and secure.
This can be especially true in organizations that deal with sensitive information regularly, such as financial institutions and medical centers. In the hacking community, there is a highly lucrative market for personal information. The dark web is flooded with people selling private information databases to the highest bidder — and there is always “a highest” bidder.
If you want to avoid liability, make sure your security protocols are up to date. It is also critical that you maintain them professionally. A relatively small investment in this area of security can end up saving large amounts of money and possibly your business itself.
We regularly report on attacks that businesses like yours face daily. But we don’t always mention that many of these attacks are successful because the victim has a lax security protocol. The last thing we would want is for you to be another statistic. If your SSL/TLS certificates are getting old and dusty, or (even worse) you don’t have any at all, now would be the best time to contact us. As 2021 quickly approaches, these threats are only going to be more significant and more challenging to handle.
Our team of security professionals is one of the most experienced in the business. The web can be a scary place, and the last thing you want is to be caught unprepared! By making sure your SSL/TLS certificates are in perfect order, you can rest a little bit easier at night.
Being mobile has never been easier. Technology makes it so you literally have your entire office within your pocket these days. The idea of being virtual and mobile might seem like one and the same. However, these ideas are a little different, and more than the technology itself makes them both possible. This week covers mobile vs. virtual offices and the advantages therein.
The entire landscape of the business world is unrecognizable from just a generation ago. How can a smartphone, paired with virtual office solutions make you unstoppable?
A vacation/away email message used to mean someone was unavailable, and you’d have to wait for a response. Simply being out of the office was enough to be off the hook from client and employee expectations.
That all started to change with the Blackberry and the Palm Pilot. Then, with the iPhone and its successors, the idea of being unavailable went out the window.
Nowadays, employers and clients expect you to be available just about any time of day regardless of where you’re located. In fact, you might be surprised by the actual location of some of the people you work with. It isn’t uncommon for people to not only be on vacation but living overseas and still performing the tasks expected of someone in an office down the street.
While this may seem like an invasion of privacy, the fact is clients are serviced more completely and quickly. Those providing the services also have the freedom to be wherever they want at any given time while doing their job well!
The start of doing business anywhere is a smartphone, but it’s not that simple. Certain software and services need to be in place to ensure security and efficiency. So for this portion, we’re going to discuss the ideas of mobile and virtual separately.
This simply means that you are able to do something while not in your office. This may include accessing and responding to emails and documents, conducting online research, and maintaining text and voice communication.
To do this well, you may want to consider getting a phone with a larger screen or even using a tablet with mobile capabilities. This will ensure that you’ll be able to read the messages easily and have space to type comfortably and quickly. Also, you’ll probably want to set up your phone so that you can be aware of notifications as soon as you receive them. Finally, ensure that you install mobile security protection and work with your IT provider on mobile device management in case your device is ever lost or stolen.
While in the same vein is a mobile business, this requires you to be able to do more than just be available. For example, you may need to create and edit documents or log into an important line of business application.
To get the most out of a virtual environment, you would most likely want to use a computer or an advanced tablet, as the environment will mirror exactly what you use in the office. When set up well, you will not be able to tell the difference between work on your tablet or your machine with multiple monitors.
Similar to using mobile devices, security is the biggest factor when operating in a virtual environment. You want to make sure that any information that you are sending, receiving or creating cannot easily get into somebody else’s hands. For this, we highly suggest not trusting in an unmanaged VPN. While they do offer a measure of security, they pale in comparison to a managed VPN connection or a true hosted desktop. Your connection may be secure with the VPN, but your origin or destination may be compromised. Proper management increases your security level. An equipped IT service provider can effectively determine the proper solution and deploy it for your staff.
In short, mobile business can be conducted fully on your smartphone and be taken anywhere your phone goes without the need for intense line of business applications or documentation. A virtual business requires deeper access and connection to your office systems but still allows you to work from anywhere at any time, securely.
Whether you work from a physical office or from a beach in Tahiti, mobile and virtual businesses are here to stay. Even if you currently don’t feel it’s necessary for your operations, just look at everything that happened in 2020. How quickly things can change. Creating a flexible work environment now can make any changes in the future much easier.
If you find that your organization isn’t as mobile or virtual as you feel it could be, contact us today. The results seem simple but the setup can often be more complicated than it looks. You’ll want to be sure to use someone with the experience and know-how to determine mobile vs virtual office for you and to implement the right solution.