Technology Information & News

Marketing 101: This Creative Shortcut Will Help You Win New Business

One of the most challenging parts of owning your own business is having to continually prove yourself as an expert in your field to each new client. No matter how many times it happens, having someone look at you skeptically as you introduce your products or services can be a blow — not to mention a time drain that could better be spent digging into the needs of your prospect and how you can help solve them. Fortunately, there’s a quick productivity hack that will not only grow your business, but it will ensure that your clients already view you as an expert in your field . . . before you ever meet.

Personal Marketing is Key to Sales

Regardless of which line of business you’re in, you know that building relationships is the key to getting things done. Whether that means working hard to maintain good relationships with your vendors or finding ways to help clients be more successful, this personal marketing is a required part of any growing business. When you are the business owner, this can mean that you spend a significant portion of your time speaking to people and learning the landscape of their business before you are able to promote your own needs. Anytime you’re able to produce content online that educates others, you are one step closer to building that personal relationship before the first time you speak with your prospects.

Don’t I Know You?

You don’t go into a sales call with a bland, boring persona that lacks personal details, so why should your marketing be blah? You have to find ways to incorporate your unique flashes of brilliance into your online marketing, which will help people feel as though you are old friends before the conversation starts. Don’t be afraid to discuss your business challenges or share personal tidbits that might be of interest as part of videos. While prospects are always doing some form of research online, finding someone who engages their interest and feels personable and relatable means prospects are much more likely to turn into customers in the future.

Creating an ongoing library of searchable content helps to present you as an expert in your particular field, a crucial differentiation when there’s a crowded marketplace full of competitors waiting to steal your thunder. These educational pieces are often the first introduction between yourself and your customer and allow you to start the conversation on a positive note. Your prospects will appreciate that you were generous with your time in creating the content and you’re honing your presentation skills and messaging at each turn: win, win!

Marketing Small Business

What Are the Real Business Benefits of Upgrading to Windows 10?

Windows 10 Upgrade

Upgrading software can be a real pain — literally. Users are likely to be reluctant to learn something new, causing additional requests to help desk personnel as users get acquainted with a new operating system. The time required to install upgrades and get up to speed with any changes is rarely trivial, and there’s always a risk that legacy software and hardware will balk when new functionality is introduced. With all these negatives, it’s a wonder that we ever upgrade software! Fortunately, the Windows 10 upgrade has many more pros than cons and will help your teams be more productive while providing additional security for your organization’s digital assets.

Recognize Productivity Gains for Business Users

Previous Windows OS upgrades have come with some dramatic changes to the interface, but Windows 10 feels very familiar to users. Sure, there are a few little tweaks such as an expanded Start button functionality, but the platform overall is quite consistent with prior versions. Transitioning from tablet to laptop isn’t jarring, and the interface is pleasant to view and convenient to use. Users are likely to find that their most-used applications are easier to find than ever, and saving a few clicks here and there can add up to significant productivity gains. Plus, Windows 10 offers a reduction in boot time of 75% versus previous Windows platforms, reducing user frustration and allowing them to get moving quickly. Messaging tools such as Skype are included in the platform, making it simple for users to connect at the speed of business.

Your IT Department Will Appreciate Easy Upgrades and Maintenance

From self-service options within the operating system to lighter maintenance requirements than previous versions, Windows 10 has been shown to reduce IT management time by 15%, as measured by Forrester Consulting. Boot times are improved, deployments are more rapid, security and application access control is easier. These gains not only reduce the overall IT cost for the organization but allow businesses to innovate more rapidly because there is less time spent on administration — and more focus on strategy and new technology. You may even be able to reduce your reliance on third-party applications, saving subscription fees and reducing overhead.

Windows 10 Has an Improved Security Posture

Cybersecurity is a hot topic for business leaders, and there are definite advantages to reducing your security concerns. Windows 10 includes the latest functionality to support your robust cybersecurity posture, including Credential Guard and Device Guard, BitLocker and more. Forrester estimates that businesses could save nearly three-quarters of a million dollars simply by activating the security features that are already inherent in Windows 10. The updated operating system separates data at both the file level and the application level, making it more difficult for employees to accidentally or purposefully share information with the wrong people.

Prepping your business for an upgrade has never been easier — and Windows 10 provides a wealth of benefits without the frustrations that you might be dreading. Improved security, reduced boot times, a familiar interface and more, your Windows 10 upgrade will help your team provide exceptional support for users now and in the future.

The Countdown Is On: The California Data Privacy Act Goes Into Effect January 2020

California Data Privacy

First, there was the GDPR, with organizations around the world scrambling to create cookie and privacy policies to ensure that their data storage and use would meet the restrictive standards imposed by the EU. For smaller organizations in the U.S., the GDPR didn’t cause quite the fuss as it did for multinational corporations. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) has the potential to upset marketers and technology experts in businesses of all sizes — especially since it’s expected to unleash the floodgates for other states to declare their data privacy standards. The CCPA goes into effect January 1, 2020, but what exactly does that mean for your business?

The CCPA Provides Ownership, Control and Security Over Personal Information

At the heart of GDPR as well as CCPA are the rights that individuals have over the ownership, control and security of their personal information. When businesses are allowed to share data, precisely which data points can be shared, who they can be shared with and how individuals are able to request complete deletion of their information from an organization’s database. There are some high-level rules that help determine the businesses that must comply with the regulations, including:

  • Any business or for-profit entity that does business in California
  • Organizations with $25 million or more in gross annual revenue
  • Maintaining personal or household data for more than 50,000 organizations
  • Whose annual revenue is composed 50% or more of selling the personal information of consumers

Unfortunately, GDPR compliance does not guarantee that your business will be compliant with California’s new regulations around consumer data.

What Are the Challenges with CCPA Compliance?

California’s new consumer data policies mirror the GDPR policies in many important ways, meaning organizations who have already invested in GDPR compliance may be far ahead of their competitors who are just embarking on this journey. Compliance with these prohibitive policies may require consolidation of a massive amount of information from multiple disparate databases, something that cannot be accomplished quickly or without cost. Organizations are expecting to spend upwards of six figures to become compliant, with businesses with reliance on selling consumer data projecting a significant reduction in revenue opportunities. Simply identifying all the personal data that is stored within your various applications can be difficult, but under CCPA you must also be able to identify where and how the data is being used, who owns the data, who creates it and more. Plus, individuals must have an easy way to access their data storage preferences and effectively erase themselves from your corporate databases.

How Can You Get Ready for CCPA Compliance by January 2020?

Data consolidation is one of the key initiatives for businesses, and many organizations will need to retain an attorney to work through the various requirements and ensure that the business is fully compliant. There are also privacy notices that must be posted on digital channels such as websites and mobile apps, letting consumers know how their data is being stored and used by the business. Data breach reporting is another crucial part of CCPA compliance, as you’re required to maintain roles and responsibilities for data sets as well. Although California was the first state out of the gate with a new compliance ordinance, it’s unlikely that they will be the last. This will introduce the additional complexity of determining where your users are located and tracking their behavior over time to ensure that you’re delivering the correct privacy policies based on their geographic location.

Data governance is not a new concept, but the level to which organizations are now being required to track minute shifts in information is often costly and time-consuming. It’s crucial that you work with a technology services partner who truly understands the requirements of CCPA and GDPR, and stays up-to-date with new legislation as it is introduced to ensure that your compliance is in order. With penalties of $7,500 per intentional violation and $2,500 per unintentional violation, businesses are going to be extremely motivated to become compliant.

These Incident Response Tips for CISOs Can Help Protect Your Business

Incident Response Tips

You don’t have to look long or hard through the news to find the latest cybersecurity incident — or the terrible press and loss of business that the organization suffers due to their inability to quickly respond to the threat. Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) are actively looking for ways to protect their organization from the devastating effects of ransomware or other malware and trying to find ways to get the business back up and running quickly in the event of an attack. These three incident response tips can help keep your operations from buckling during an extensive incident that involves your data, hardware or software.

Make Sure You Have a Kill Switch

Today’s systems are dynamically interconnected, which can make it exceedingly difficult to segregate out one particular section that has been infected before it can infest the rest of the organization’s digital assets. With forethought and planning, you can create a kill switch that puts a walled garden around IoT devices, different operating systems in your back office, servers and more that will help you protect the remainder of your organization in the event of an incident. Think about what you can break off from your infrastructure that still allows you to marginally function as a business, and create kill switches accordingly. Data loss is one of the most expensive components of a cyber attack, making it crucial to save as much of your data and information structure as possible when a breach occurs.

Segment It to Save It

Segmentation and segregation is a good thing when it comes to networks and applications, but this same concept can also apply to user groups and even vendor management. The concept of “Segment it to save it” is generally constructed around data and networks, but it can easily be expanded to include user access controls and authorizations, vendor management and more. If a particular user group has been compromised, it’s much easier to rebuild a segment than it would be to rebuild your entire organization’s infrastructure. Think beyond the logical and physical implementations of segmentation, and think about everything you could possibly cordon off within your business — including vendors, partners and customer segments.

Invest in Regular Updates to Your Incident Response Playbook

Is your team confident that they know the required steps to protect your organization in the event of a cybersecurity incident? What happens if your cybersecurity expert just happens to be on vacation the week that a massive attack is launched? There are few substitutes for a written incident response playbook that provides you with step-by-step instructions that will help your business regain its footing in the digital world. Simply creating this playbook isn’t enough, you will still need to update it on a regular basis to ensure that you’re taking recent attack types and vectors into consideration as a part of your response and recovery planning. Your incident response playbook should be as dynamic as possible, reflecting today’s realities and offering achievable solutions to salvaging your business operations.

With luck, your business will be in the minority — those organizations that are never hit by a cyber attack. The unfortunate reality is that when a cyber attack hits your organization, it will cost you an average of 50 days to regain full operations of your business. Understanding these various components of incident response and forming your plan before you need it are crucial to ensuring that your organization is protected in the event of an attack.

Windows 7 End Of Support Just Around The Corner

Windows 7 End Of Support

If your company is still using the Windows 7 operating on your business computers, it’s time to look for a change. That’s because Microsoft is ending support for this popular and reliable operating system that has been popular with companies for years.

On January 14, 2020, Microsoft will stop offering security patches and dates for Windows 7. In the next few months, choosing a new operating system is a time-sensitive issue that should not be left until the last minute.

What Does Microsoft Mean When It Says Windows 7 Is Ending?

That’s not exactly what Microsoft is saying. After January 14, 2020, Windows 7 will continue to operate. However, doing so comes at a considerable risk to your business and employees. The “end of life” description of what’s happening to Windows 7 means that Microsoft will stop all paid and unpaid support.

Microsoft will stop creating and making available important security updates. It will also stop offering new features or design improvements of any type.

More critically is the stoppage of any kind of support for customers having problems with Windows 7. Free support that had been included in licensing agreements has already ended. As of January 2020, any “extended support,” which is Microsoft’s term for paid support and which is currently available, will stop as well.

Why Not Keep Using Windows 7 After the Support and Upgrades End?

Your Windows 7 operating system will continue to operate after support ends. However, your business will be highly susceptible to cyberattacks by those looking to exploit new vulnerabilities using viruses, phishing attempts and other attack vectors. Those vulnerabilities will multiply as your computers will not be protected by the regular patches that Microsoft offers to its customers for operating systems and software.

In addition, you may find that software applications you use on Windows 7 will also not work as well. Many software companies will stop offering upgrades or support for their programs for customers using Windows 7. While some may provide some updates and support after January 2020, those services are unlikely to last very long.

Hardware and peripheral companies are also unlikely to continue to provide updates or compatibility features with an eye on Windows 7. Newer technologies of all types will likely take advantage of newer features and capabilities that were not available in the Windows 7 operating system.

Older versions of operating systems like Windows 7 come with the browser Internet Explorer embedded. Support for these older versions of Internet Explorer will also cease in January 2020. Microsoft urges customers using Internet Explorer to upgrade to IE 11.

Hackers are well aware of the January 14, 2020, deadline and are apt to look to businesses still using Windows 7 as prime targets for their attacks.

What If We Use a Windows Embedded 7 Product?

Support for certain versions of Windows Embedded 7 end in October 2020, April 2021 and October 2021. More information about these cutoffs can be found here.

Can I Activate Windows 7 After the Cutoff Date?

If you still want to activate a purchased version of Windows 7, you may do so up to and after the January 2020 date. Just remember that a newly activated version will still be vulnerable to malware and virus and will not receive Microsoft support or upgrades.

What Are My Options for Replacing Windows 7?

Microsoft is understandably encouraging current Windows 7 customers to upgrade to Windows 10, its flagship operating system product. It is also encouraging customers to buy new computers with Windows 10 installed, as older computers may not have the minimum requirements to support Windows 10 and optimize its performance.

If you purchase Microsoft 365 Business, a cloud-based version of the popular suite of Microsoft Office Apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote. Microsoft 365 Business buyers get a free upgrade if they are currently using a Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 Pro license. Microsoft 365 Business owners can also upgrade all old Windows Pro licensed device at no additional cost.

What If I Need More Time to Upgrade from Windows 7?

If you use Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Enterprise, you can buy Extended Security Updates through January 2023. Those upgrades became available for purchase on April 1, 2019. For more information on this option, please contact Microsoft directly as there are specific technical and product guidelines regarding eligibility.

Understanding the options and risks when it comes to Microsoft’s cessation of Windows 7 support and updates helps your company make an informed decision.

Using Delayed Delivery With Email to Boost Productivity

Email is one of the best ways to communicate with people in the business world, but it’s also one of the biggest time drains for those same individuals. Some of the most productive people turn their email completely off and only check it a few times a day, but is there more that you can do to stay productive throughout the day without stressing out that you’re missing important messages? This quick email productivity hack may be the answer that will help you stay more organized and less distracted throughout the day.

Delayed Email Delivery

Even though it’s a core part of Microsoft Outlook, few people realize that you’re able to delay the delivery of emails until a later date or time — and even fewer people use this function on a regular basis. Delaying the delivery of your email is a great way to ensure that people receive your message when they are most likely to act upon it. If you need someone to provide a crucial report for you but they’re currently on vacation, sending an immediate email request is likely to get lost in the waves of requests they will be wading through when they return to the office. If you delay the message until a day or two after they are back in the office, you’re much more likely to receive a response without having to follow up again.

Scheduling Your Day

Another great way to stay focused during the day is to schedule all of your emails to go out at a certain time, perhaps around the time you will be leaving for the day. This allows you to answer emails at preprogrammed times throughout the day, but not being a slave to pinging notes back and forth when you would prefer to focus on other tasks. The hope is that others will respond to your requests at the end of their day, and you’ll have a wealth of actionable responses waiting for you when you come into work the next morning. It’s not difficult to schedule emails for delivery at a later time, and this simple productivity hack could save you over an hour each day — providing you with a significantly greater amount of targeted time to pay attention to what you need to accomplish each week.

You’re not getting more hours added to your day, and there’s almost always more than you can accomplish in any given week. Using these simple email scheduling tips to delay your email deliveries helps you eke more work (and fun!) out of the time that you do have available.

Delayed Delivery With EMail