Technology Information & News

Former CIA and FBI Exec Philip Mudd on How to Make Decisions

Phil MuddPhilip Mudd knows a thing or two about making decisions.

He spent 25 years working in intelligence, rising through the ranks to eventually serve as CIA Counterterrorist Center deputy director from 2003 – 2005 and then after that as a FBI senior intelligence advisor.

Mudd has to make about a hundred difficult decisions every day.

Mudd is out of that stressful world now and he’s recently released a book, The HEAD Game: High-Efficiency Analytic Decision Making and the Art of Solving Complex Problems Quickly, about the methods he developed over his quarter-century in intelligence to help him and others solve their problems.

  1. Make Sure You’re Asking the Right Question Before You Start Answering It

Okay, we know you want the answer to your problem ASAP… but before you dive in, you need to make sure that you’re asking the right question first.

Don’t just assume you’re asking the right question because it’s the first thing that popped into your head when you started thinking about your problem. People make this mistake all the time, wasting countless hours with unnecessary legwork that could have been avoided if they just took a few extra minutes to think of the question that’s really at the heart of your problem.

This can be done by working backwards: think of your end goal is, and then go back to what needs to done to accomplish that goal. That line of logic will bring you to the right questions.

  1. Define Your Drivers

Complex problems can be overwhelming to deal with.

Mudd had just a bit of a complex problem himself when he was trying to figure out how to deal with Al Qaeda.

To even start working on a problem this impossibly big, you’re going to have to break it down into manageable pieces. What are the factors that are driving your problem? Mudd made himself a different basket for each different driver: leadership, recruits, money, weapons, etc.

Your drivers might not be as exciting as those, but don’t worry: what’s more exciting than solving problems anyway, even if they don’t make movies and TV shows based on your work?

Don’t go overboard though, as making too many drivers will create unnecessary work. Mudd recommends you keep it limited to no more than 10 drivers.

  1. Define Your Metrics

You need to know more than just what your drivers are… you also need to know how to measure them.

“If we don’t, the analysis we provide will suffer the same fate as a sprinter who thinks he’s great but has never owned a stopwatch: he enters an elite competition, and reality intervenes,” Mudd warns.

In others words, you need context for your data in the form of measurement, or there’s no way to know what you’re getting.

  1. Finally, Collect the Data and Make Your Decision

Now that you know what your drivers are and how you’re supposed to measure them, it’s time to finally collect all your data.

Segmenting the data into the drivers will allow you to process it without getting burned out.

With all the data now in hand and easily digestible, it’s time to make your decision…

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you to trust your gut. “I hate intuition. It’s dangerous and it makes me nervous,” says Mudd.

You’ve already got the infrastructure in place to make a thoroughly informed decision, but don’t put your critical thinking hat away yet. Double-check your work. Throw out anything that doesn’t fit into your drivers. Question the validity of the data that sticks.

After all that hard work and due diligence, you’re finally ready to make the right choice. Good luck, not that you need it after Mudd’s advice. Just follow the steps.

Contact us at (813) 333-2878 or info@maxtechpros.com for more information about our IT services.

Support You Don’t See: The Benefits of Hosted Services

Hosted services are a godsend to businesses that have a lot of IT needs but not much of an IT budget to work with.

Migrating to the cloud will allow you to cut costs, improve efficiency, and more easily meet (or even exceed) your revenue goals.

To illustrate exactly how hosted services/the cloud will benefit your business, we’re going to take a quick ride in our time machine to show you just how bad people had it before cloud computing was a possibility.

[an engine struggles to start, some beeping noises in the background]

hosted servicesLooks like we’re almost ready, folks…

[loud roar as the engine finally turns over, accompanied by a high electric whine]

Here we-

[suddenly, an explosion of light and sound]

November 24th, 2000

– Go. We’ve turned the dial back about 15 years to the year 2000. The time machine has a radio – now it’s picking up some Destiny’s Child, next up is *NSYNC. Everyone outside is busy quoting De Niro lines from Meet the Parents.

Let’s walk into an ordinary office.

Flipping through the expense reports, you see a lot of IT expenses that most modern businesses, the ones that have outsourced most of their IT support that is, don’t have to deal with.

First of all, to support your equipment, an in-house solution is your only solution. You had no choice but to hire IT workers to handle your infrastructure. And for the expert strategy and long-term planning necessary to really help you grow, you’d have to invest in the C-level salary of a Chief Information Officer (CIO).

Another thing: when a business in this time period grows, it has to invest in installing more servers and other equipment in the office to handle the extra traffic. Not only does this equipment come with high upfront costs, but they also bring the burden of significant ongoing expenses of the extra electricity and maintenance required to keep everything running.

And if the business stop growing all of sudden for some reason, you’re stuck having invested in a bunch of expensive equipment that you don’t even need.

Okay, that’s enough. This is starting to feel like a doctor watching someone use leaches for medicine. The businesspeople of the early 00’s had no idea how much the cloud was going to change their lives…

Let’s go back home.

[the engine roars again, another loud flash]

Snap Back to Present Day

Finally, we can listen to something contemporary, like Beyoncé or Justin Timberlake.

Let’s check out a modern office that relies mostly on hosted services for comparison.

In-house IT employees are no longer necessary. They’re still around, though, with low-level workers in 2014 averaging a $50,000 salary and CIOs averaging $150,000.

Hosted solutions provide their clients with remote access to multiple IT and business experts for consulting purposes at a flat rate that’s much more affordable than the six figure salary of a single CIO. Network security, equipment maintenance, and business continuity/disaster recovery can also be handled remotely at that same flat rate, making in-house, low-level IT workers also obsolete.

Also, remember how expensive it was to upgrade your infrastructure back in 2000? With the cloud you can save a lot of money, and also get more reliable and secure service, by paying for remote access to someone else’s server (that’s how the cloud works, basically) instead of investing in your own. That “someone else” is responsible for all upfront, power, and maintenance costs associated with owning servers, and you get to piggyback off their investment for just a small access fee.

The savings your business will see through hosted services are incredible. It’s a great time to be alive.

Contact us at (813) 333-2878 or info@maxtechpros.com for more information about our hosted services.

Who Do You Trust More? Your IT Provider, or Your Dentist?

Do you hate your current IT service provider?

Do feel like it would be a headache to change providers?

Would you rather get a root canal than change IT providers?

painfull IT

Well you’re not alone. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of searching for a new IT company, then you’d probably compare the experience to your last visit to the dentist.

You’re lying in that cold plastic chair, feeling vulnerable and slightly embarrassed. Mouth sprawled open – you get poked, scraped and prodded. As he searches your most private corners you hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

And then at the end of it all, your worst nightmare comes true. You’ve been sentenced to the IT equivalent of a root canal. It seems like he was only in there for a couple of minutes but you’ve been hit with a bill that suggests he was there for a couple of weeks.

Here at MAXTech we want your experience to be more comparable to a vacation, from all of your problems.

Here’s what we’ll do for you starting today:

  1. We will always talk to you in plain English. No computer babble.
  2. We will objectively analyze your needs “from scratch.” We’ll tell you what our services will and will not do for you.
  3. NO long-term contracts
  4. NO high pressure sales tactics
  5. NO “onboarding” charges, or hidden charges

So, if you’re tired of being “poked & prodded” by IT companies, it’s time to make a change and contact MAXTech.

 

Why suffer with unproductive IT personnel, high-pressure sales tactics, anger, frustration? Contact MAXTech today for a FREE, NO-OBLIGATION 30 MINUTE CONSULTATION.

(813) 333-2878 or info@maxtechpros.com   

Please Do NOT Take IT Security For Granted!

It is easy to dismiss IT security as something that only major corporations and banks need to worry about.

it security services

You picture hackers sitting in their basements, trying to access the Pentagon’s computers or steal millions from the Bank of America, and you think: “Nothing for me to worry over.”

But that is the easiest way to turn yourself into an easy target for cybercrime.

The truth is that small and mid-sized businesses are MORE likely to become the targets of cybercrime. In 2014, small businesses made up over 35% of all reported cybercrime victims – and experts suggest that there are many more that simply went unreported, either because business owners swept the data breaches under the rug, or even worse, didn’t even know they’d been compromised!

Cybercrime is such a problem that the U.S. Intelligence Service has declared it to be the No. 1 Threat to Americans today – knocking terrorism down to No. 2.

So why is cybercrime such a problem? Why should you care if someone manages to access your systems? Think of all the sensitive data you handle every day:

  • Usernames and passwords for email, banking sites, file sharing programs, and more.
  • Financial information, both personal and business.
  • Confidential correspondence with clients and partners.
  • Sensitive corporate data.
  • And the list goes on.

All it takes is ONE data breach for your entire livelihood to be compromised. Do you use the same password for multiple services? A cybercriminal that gains one username and password will try it out automatically on every popular site they can think of, trying to access more of your accounts. They’re looking to get access to any personal data they can use – to steal your identity, steal your money, or simply ruin your reputation.

Think about it: once you have lost data to cybercrime, you have to start notifying your customers, informing them their confidential information could be in the wrong hands – causing serious reputational damage and loss of trust. You have to deal with major disruption to workflow and paying employees to be unproductive as you struggle to handle the situation – drastically reducing employee morale.

Above all, you have to go through the painful experience knowing every second is costing you TONS of money in:

  • Internal investigations
  • Customer notification
  • Attorney fees
  • Litigation expenses
  • And the list goes on and on

That is why it’s so important to take IT security seriously.  It is imperative to think proactively! It is strongly recommended to work with an IT security professional to find the right security systems for your needs, not only to protect your data but to keep you compliant with any regulations that you face.

The team at MAXTech are the professionals with strong expertise in Tampa, Brandon & Riverview IT security. We will gladly meet with you, analyze your business, your existing technology, and find any vulnerabilities that could be used against you. Together, we will create a plan to improve your security, lock down your data, and keep you safe today while preparing you for tomorrow against the rising tide of cybercrime.

Contact us at (813) 333-2878 or info@maxtechpros.com to schedule a complimentary security consultation and find out how simple staying safe is with the right team on your side.

Microsoft Office 365 Isn’t As Affordable As It Appears

affordableBill Gates might have an excellent record as far as his personal philanthropy is concerned… but make no mistake about it; Office 365 is all about generating revenue to fill up Microsoft’s already bloated coffers.  

Microsoft is making about twice as much with the cloud-based Office 365 than they were with their previous physical copy and permanent license model for their flagship software suite.

“Affordability” has long been a key selling point for Office 365. And yet, even Microsoft’s own higher-ups will admit that Office 365 is actually taking more money from their customers and putting it in their pockets.

“Over the lifetime, the increased reach, the increased frequency in this example, as well as some yield, adding some incremental services, results in a 1.8 times lifetime value of that user in the transition,” said Microsoft CFO Amy Hood in a meeting on Wall Street earlier this year.

What Hood means is this: for every $100 they would have made with the old Office, they make $180 with Office 365.

The Greatest Trick the Devil Ever Pulled…

Okay, so Microsoft isn’t exactly the devil (if you’re looking for a tech company to compare to Satan, Comcast or maybe EA should be your first choice).

But in this case, Microsoft is just as deceptive as any talking snake you might find in your garden…

Sure, the low monthly fee required to access Office 365 is much easier to stomach in the short-term than the hundreds of dollars required to buy each physical copy of Office.

The problem is that you’re always going to need these programs. Eventually (sooner rather than later) you’re going to reach the point where you’ll have paid just as much in monthly access fees than it would have cost you to have just bought those programs upfront. And then, unlike what would have been the case if you actually owned the software, you’ll still have to keep paying Microsoft, forever.

It all boils down to the old renting vs. owning issue:

“I always remind customers that Microsoft’s internal rationale for the cloud is not superior technology or a better fit for customers, but that they can switch customers from purely transactional strategies… to a subscription model where the customer owns nothing and must continually pay Microsoft,” explained Paul DeGroot, a Microsoft licensing expert and Principal Consultant at Pica Communications.

Also, remember that 80% revenue increase we quoted Hood on earlier? Industry experts aren’t buying it. DeGroot estimates that the actual figure is closer to a “6x or 20x multiplier”.

To be fair, Office 365 does hold some advantages (enhanced mobility, protection from data loss due to devices being damaged, etc.) over physical copies of Office. But affordability is certainly not among those advantages. Far from it.

Contact us at (813) 333-2878 or info@maxtechpros.com for more information about our cloud services.

Still Running Windows Server 2003? 4 Ways You’re Putting Your Livelihood at Risk!    

While the debut of Windows Server 2003 brought advances in IT security, the termination of its extended support on July, 14th, 2015 will create various security-related challenges for businesses that fail to upgrade before it’s too late.

Windows 2003 RetirementHere are some of the most serious concerns:

  1. Failure to comply with updated regulations:

Businesses who choose to run Windows Server 2003 beyond the end of its extended support may fail to comply with government or industry regulations concerning the privacy and security of sensitive customer data. Potential consequences include failed audits, damaged relationships with major partners, and hefty non-compliance fines.

  1. Improper use of financial resources:

After Microsoft ends support for Windows Server 2003, there will no longer be patches or updates available, which means running the system will cost a lot of time, energy, and money trying to safeguard against vulnerabilities. In fact, it’s estimated to cost $200,000 per year simply to prevent non-compliance.

  1. Absence of security updates:

Security updates will no longer be available for Windows Server 2003, thereby leaving bugs and system vulnerabilities unaddressed. This is particularly worrisome since Windows Server 2003 continues to be listed among systems commonly targeted by cybercriminals.

  1. Negative impact on other systems:

When compromised due to weakened security, attackers can launch assaults on other systems within the same IT environment. Additionally, any application connected to the underlying operating system can also be threatened if operated under Windows Server 2003.

If you haven’t devised a plan to upgrade, call (813) 333-2878 or send us an email at info@maxtechpros.com. We’d be happy to help you upgrade to avoid malware infections, performance issues, and non-compliance fines.