These 4 Issues are Paralyzing CFOs from Moving to the Cloud

June 14th, 2019 by Julie Lough

CFO and Information Technology

CFOs have long been challenged by the value proposition of capital technology investments, often requiring in-depth analysis and reviews before making the plunge. While the lower monthly costs of cloud-based computing may overcome this inertia in some instances, CFOs are understandably nervous about committing to “rentals” of software or services that don’t have an extended life beyond the end of the subscription. While the CFO may not be reviewing each purchase for IT fit, they are likely intensely interested in whether they are getting the expected value from any technology purchases that are made. The CFOs leaning may help influence purchases for quite some time, making it vital to ensure that your CFO fully understands the benefits of moving to the cloud so you can break through their paralysis of analysis. Here are 4 of the sticking points that are pushing CFOs away from adoption of a more agile, extensible model for technology.

1. Communicate Key Risk Factors for Adoption

Like any technology, cloud platforms are only truly valuable if you gain widespread adoption throughout your user base. CFOs may have been burned in the past with projects that had an extensive upfront cost, yet didn’t deliver the expected business value after an extended implementation period. CIOs and other IT leaders can help mitigate this risk by addressing the root causes behind the poor adoption rates. Cloud solutions can be particularly challenging to sell, simply because they are predicated on the concept of continual change — something that is a struggle for many organizations.

2. Reassure CFOs That Technology Will Be Analyzed and “Rightsized” for Cloud

Financial business leaders are rarely happy with having assets on the books that aren’t being utilized, but legacy technology has a way of hanging around long after its useful life has been expended. When you reassure CFOs that you won’t simply be transferring efficiency problems to a new type of infrastructure — that you’re first resolving and appropriately sizing the solutions for your future business needs — they are more likely to be open to the conversation about a move. Gaining efficiencies and improving operations are always topics near and dear to the heart of CFOs. This could manifest in a variety of ways such as analyzing server and peak memory usage, looking for system vulnerabilities that can be addressed and reducing overall software licensing requirements.

3. Yes, There Are Ongoing Variable Costs — But They Are Balanced by Added Value

Traditional software models include an upfront purchase cost and an associated ongoing maintenance fee to obtain upgrades. Over the life of a contract, maintenance fees can increase and there may be charges over time for significant upgrades that aren’t covered in your service model. Newer options are introduced to the market on a regular basis, but a high sunk cost in a particular platform serves to discourage new investments in other platforms. With cloud-based platforms you may still have a multi-year contract, but once that time is over it may be significantly easier to shift to a new platform. Granted, there are likely integration costs and training and general disruption to your business to consider, but you may be able to recognize compelling benefits by changing to a new cloud-based service. Plus, most cloud software has the benefit of regular releases that will provide enhanced usability, resolve bugs and create a more secure computing environment. The financial equation becomes slightly more difficult to sell to your CFO if your usage is expected to vary considerably from month-to-month, as it can make cash flow more difficult to project.

4. Cloud Performance Has Improved Dramatically in This Decade

Sure, there are still some platforms that are not fully optimized and don’t run as quickly as they would on a local server — but we are no longer in a world where “cloud” equates to poor performance, latency and a lack of security. Ultra-fast connections throughout the country and the world and high-performance data centers offer a new level of service deliverability. While it’s still important to carefully review contracts to ensure that SLAs and reliability levels are up to your expectations, these should no longer be used to deliver a no-go decision on moving to the cloud.

Having an honest internal conversation with top leadership helps determine which — or all — of these concerns are holding back your CFO from approving cloud-based projects. While financial considerations are often top of mind, there are other risk factors that need to be openly addressed in a way that communicates the overall value to the organization.


Happy Father’s Day!

June 14th, 2019 by Julie Lough

June 16th is Father’s Day, a great reason to spend a little quality time with the family doing a few of Dad’s favorite things.

 

Whatever your plans are, take some time this Sunday to let Dad know how much you appreciate everything he’s done for you over the years, and how glad you are to have him in your life.

And if this is your day? The Micro Visions Inc. team hopes that it’s a great one!

Happy Fathers Day


How Much Should A Small Business Spend On Information Technology?

June 13th, 2019 by Julie Lough

Investing In Technology

For small businesses, information technology spending is always a balancing act. On the one hand, you need to keep to your budget to maintain financial stability and weather the unexpected. On the other hand, you are well aware of the constant tech advances happening all around you and the last thing you want is to be left behind by the competition. So, how do you determine your IT spending? The answer is, “It depends.”

Spending on IT technology needs to be based on your unique business needs. While it can be helpful to know what the average spending is for businesses, particularly businesses similar to yours in your industry, duplicating what another company does will not necessarily yield optimal results. You have a limited budget. You need to make it count. Doing so requires carefully examining your business, your options, and most importantly, your company objectives. Only when you know where you are and where you want to go can you determine exactly what you need to spend on IT.

What is Everyone Else Spending on IT?

Just because you need to define your own path does not mean you should ignore what everyone else is doing. It can be a helpful starting point to examine how much other small businesses are spending on technology. According to one study, the average spending on IT across all industries was 3.28 percent. The average came from considering a wide range of industries, with the lowest spender being construction at less than 2 percent and the biggest spender being banking and securities at 7 percent.

A study focusing on industry alone does not give a clear idea of what small businesses are spending, though. Other studies that looked at the size of the business found that small and mid-sized businesses actually spent more on IT as a percentage of their revenue than large businesses. Small businesses spend around 6.9% of their revenue on information technology, while midsized businesses spend around 4.1% of their revenue on IT. For large companies, the percentage drops to 3.2%. The smaller percentage spent by larger companies is often the result of scale—they put so much money into IT that they get better rates, perform the work in-house, etc.

How to Decide What You Should Spend on IT

The best way to choose how much to spend on IT is to ask targeted questions designed to paint a clearer picture of what your IT needs actually are. These questions should include:

What are you spending on IT right now?

Every business needs an IT budget, regardless of size. If you don’t have an IT budget, now is the time to make one. To see how much you have been spending on IT, add up your expenditures on information technology over the past year.

What are your business goals?

With so many options available, it is normal to feel a little overwhelmed when you consider information technology. Clarifying your business goals gives you perspective on your IT needs. Your IT expenditures should help you achieve specific business objectives. If the money you are spending on IT is not helping you achieve those objectives in a measurable way, it can likely be better spent elsewhere—either on different IT tools or on other areas of your business.

How is your current IT spending related to your business goals?

Each IT area that you invest money in, can and should be connected to your business objectives. Go through all of your information technology spending and verify that it is doing something for your business. If it is not working for you it is time to make some changes.

What specific IT spending can improve your ability to achieve your objectives?

There are specific areas in IT that offer leverage for your industry. You will need to identify what these are and determine how they fit into your overall strategy. Collaboration, security, data collection, marketing—what tech are you fairly certain will make a substantial impact if you add it to your business?

In what ways can you delegate or outsource the IT budgeting process?

If you are like most owners or managers, you have limited bandwidth that is already mostly consumed by running your business. Assessing your IT needs and embarking on a path to meet those needs will take time, energy and expertise. Consider who you can get to help with this process, whether internally or externally.

Are you interested in learning more about your IT options? If so, please contact our managed IT services team. We can help you clarify your IT needs.


How to Install Microsoft Launcher on Android Devices

June 12th, 2019 by Julie Lough

If you haven’t looked lately at what Microsoft’s mobile offerings, it’s time to look again. Microsoft’s first forays into the iOS and Android mobile spaces (circa 2010) were underwhelming to say the least, but in recent years the company has turned things around in an impressive fashion. One of these recent developments, Microsoft Launcher, is an immensely powerful tool and an Android exclusive. We’ll review what Microsoft Launcher is and then walk you through the installation and setup process on your Android device.

Microsoft Launcher Android

What Is Microsoft Launcher?

Microsoft Launcher is an app available on the Google Play store, but it doesn’t operate in the way most apps do. In the Android ecosystem, launchers are essentially replacement interfaces for your home screen. When you select a launcher besides the default one that comes with your phone, you gain access to whatever functionality is built into that launcher.

I’m an iPhone User and I’m Confused

It’s OK; we understand. There’s not really any parallel to this on iOS. Android phones offer far more customization on the home screen than iPhones do. It’s a difference in philosophy: Android users who customize effectively benefit from a polished, streamlined home screen. Those who don’t end up with a mess. Apple prevents both extremes by providing their own polished home screen and limiting what users can modify.

What Microsoft Launcher Can Do

Microsoft Launcher gives you system-level integration with your Microsoft accounts. This is powerful stuff if your business is using Microsoft 365. Integrate your contacts, calendar, documents, and more at the system level. Once installed, swipe right for deep Microsoft interactions, or swipe two fingers down to access Launcher settings.

How to Install Microsoft Launcher

To install and configure Microsoft Launcher, first download the app from the Google Play store. Next, choose Microsoft Launcher as your new home screen. In most versions of Android you’ll tap the square soft key from the home screen to bring up a “select launcher” pane. If that doesn’t work, try opening the app from your “all apps” menu.

When you choose Microsoft Launcher as your new launcher, you’ll get a system warning about setting the app as default. Click OK.

What Just Happened?

When you clicked OK, your home screen changed, perhaps drastically. Congratulations, you’re now running Microsoft Launcher! Customize your home screen with your favorite apps (Microsoft apps encouraged, of course), and be sure to sign in to your Microsoft account in settings.

Swipe Right

When running Microsoft Launcher as your home screen, you can swipe right for all sorts of Microsoft interactions. See your calendar, task list, and recent OneDrive documents. You can interact with these here, and changes will update across all your devices. You can even send a photo directly to your PC, similar to Apple’s Airdrop feature.

Conclusion

Microsoft Launcher is a powerful tool for Android users who use Microsoft 365 at work. We recommend downloading right away!


How to Find the Right IT Services Company

June 12th, 2019 by Julie Lough

If your business has made the decision to contract with an IT services company for IT support, you’ve made the right choice. However, you’re not done yet. You still need to choose the IT services company that’s best for your business. In most markets, you’ll have choices — maybe too many choices. Use these criteria for how to find the right IT services company to narrow down your search.

IT Services Company

1. Size Matters

IT services firms come in all shapes and sizes, from boutique outfits with just a few employees to massive firms with multiple physical locations. Make sure you evaluate the size of an IT services company compared to the size and needs of your business. The right IT services company will be transparent about how many employees they have in various roles or departments, and it will have sufficient capacity to meet your needs.

2. The Right Competencies

IT services companies are generally quite competent. If not, they go out of business pretty fast. So “Are they competent?” is the wrong question. The right question to ask is whether they have the right competencies. Create a comprehensive list of your business’s hardware and software use. Don’t just ask whether the company can support what you’re using. Ask for proof that they have already successfully done so with other businesses.

3. Industry Familiarity

Along the same lines, ideally, you want an IT services company that already understands your industry. Throwing industry jargon at your IT vendor is unavoidable, so it’s important that they understand that jargon. Ask how many companies in your industry the firm has worked with previously. The more, the better.

4. Location, Location, Location

In general, we recommend giving preference to local firms. If you need on-site service, local firms can handle this directly. A distant IT support company has to find a local vendor and hope for good availability.

Finding a provider close by isn’t always possible, and it’s not feasible if you’re a multi-site organization. Still, smaller companies will benefit from choosing a local provider.

5. Service Providers Have Rules, Too

Many IT services companies have their own rules about which businesses they will take on. Before a company makes it onto your short list, make sure your business is actually qualified. For example, some service providers have upper or lower limits for the number of workstations supported, meaning if your business is too large or too small, they won’t serve you. Others may refuse to support specific hardware or software types, or they may narrow their field of clients to specific industries.

Conclusion

These are a handful of the areas you should consider when choosing the right IT services firm. If you want to ask us these or other questions, let’s get a conversation going.


Critical Update From The NSA

June 11th, 2019 by Julie Lough

The NSA Is Urging To Patch Remote Desktop Services On Legacy Versions of Windows

The National Security Agency is urging Microsoft Windows administrators and users to ensure they are using a patched and updated system in the face of growing threats. Recent warnings by Microsoft stressed the importance of installing patches to address a vulnerability in older versions of Windows.

NSA Windows Security Warning

Microsoft has warned that this flaw is potentially “wormable,” meaning it could spread without user interaction across the Internet. We have seen devastating computer worms inflict damage on unpatched systems with wide-ranging impact, and are seeking to motivate increased protections against this flaw.

CVE-2019-0708, dubbed “BlueKeep,” is a vulnerability in Remote Desktop Services (RDS) on legacy versions of the Windows® operating system. The following versions of Windows® are affected:

  • Windows® XP
  • Windows® XP
  • Windows Server® 2003
  • Windows® Vista
  • Windows Server® 2008
  • Windows® 7
  • Windows Server® 2008 R2

What Is A Wormable Virus?

This means that the virus can get into your system without you doing anything like clicking a malicious link. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights without your knowledge.

Any future malware that uses this vulnerability could propagate from one vulnerable computer to another. This is how similar malware like WannaCry spread around the world. Experts are worried that this flaw could be used to fuel a fast-moving malware threat like the WannaCry ransomware attacks of 2017.

Another Problem

Although Microsoft has issued a patch, potentially millions of machines are still vulnerable. This is the type of vulnerability that malicious cyber actors frequently exploit through the use of software code that specifically targets the vulnerability.

For example, the vulnerability could be exploited to conduct denial of service attacks. It is likely only a matter of time before remote exploitation tools are widely available for this vulnerability.

NSA is concerned that malicious cyber actors will use the vulnerability in ransomware and exploit kits containing other known exploits, increasing capabilities against other unpatched systems.

What Should You Do?

Microsoft has released a critical update for their Remote Desktop Services that impacts multiple Windows versions. The patches are for devices and systems that are both in and out-of-support, which is rare for Microsoft to do. This shows the importance of these patches.

The update addresses the vulnerability by correcting how Remote Desktop Services handles connection requests. To apply the patches, go to the Microsoft Security Update Guide for in-support systems and KB4500705 for out-of-support systems.

Microsoft recommends that customers running one of these operating systems download and install the update as soon as possible.

Does This Mean Even Systems Without Support Can Get The Patch?

Yes, Microsoft is aware that some customers are running versions of Windows that no longer receive mainstream support. This means that you wouldn’t have received any security updates to protect your systems from the CVE-2019-0708 virus.

Given the potential impact to customers and their businesses, Microsoft decided to make security updates available for platforms that are no longer in mainstream support. All Windows updates are available from the Microsoft Update Catalog.

What Should You Do Before We Apply The Update?

It’s recommended that you back up all of your important data first. If you have a reliable backup, and if the patch creates problems, you can still access your data. You should do this before you install any patches.

What If You Can’t Apply The Patches?

If you can’t apply the patch for your system there are other things that you can do:

  • If you don’t need the Remote Desktop Services, you can disable it.
  • Block the TCP port 3389 (this prevents unauthorized requests from the Internet).
  • Enable NLA (Network Level Authentication) for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008.

Of course, the best thing to do is to contact us. We’ll know exactly what to do.

What Else Should You Know?

If you had updated from Windows 7 to Windows 10 or from Windows servers 2008/2008 R2 to Windows 2016 or 2019, you wouldn’t need to worry. This is why it’s essential to keep your systems up to date.

Soon, on January 14, 2020, support will come to an end for all Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2 equipment and the Windows 7 operating system.

If you’re still using these servers or operating system, it’s crucial to replace them now so that there’s no disruption to your daily operations or loss of data.

Any hardware or software product that reaches its end of life is a potential gateway for hackers to enter through. In addition to the security hazard, there are other reasons why it isn’t a good idea to keep using old equipment such as unresolvable outages.

 


3 Reasons to Regularly Test Business Systems

June 11th, 2019 by Julie Lough

Business Computer Systems

Protecting your business requires more time, effort and energy from your technology team than ever before. Business systems are increasingly complex, requiring staff members to continually learn and adapt to changing conditions and new threats as they emerge. It’s not unusual for a single ransomware incident to wreak havoc on carefully balanced systems, and this type of attack can be particularly damaging if you do not have the backup and disaster recovery procedures in place to regain critical operations quickly. From checking for system vulnerabilities to identifying weak points in your processes, here are some reasons why it is so important to regularly test your business systems.

1. Business System Testing Helps Find Vulnerabilities

The seismic shift in the way business systems work is still settling, making it especially challenging to find the ever-changing vulnerabilities in your systems. Cloud-based applications connect in a variety of different ways, causing additional steps for infrastructure teams as they review the data connectors and storage locations. Each of these connections is a potential point of failure and could represent a weakness where a cybercriminal could take advantage of to infiltrate your sensitive business and financial data. Regular business system testing allows your technology teams to determine where your defenses may need to be shored up. As the business continues to evolve through digital transformation, this regular testing and documentation of the results allow your teams to grow their comfort level with the interconnected nature of today’s systems — which is extremely valuable knowledge to share within the organization in the event of a system outage or failure. Experts note that system testing is being “shifted left”, or pushed earlier in the development cycle. This helps ensure that vulnerabilities are addressed before systems are fully launched, helping to protect business systems and data.

2. Business System Testing Provides Valuable Insight Into Process Improvement Needs

Business process improvement and automation are never-ending goals, as there are always new tools available that can help optimize the digital and physical operations of your business. Reviewing business systems in depth allows you to gain a higher-level understanding of the various processes that surround your business systems, allowing you to identify inefficiencies as well as processes that could leave holes in your cybersecurity net. Prioritizing these process improvements helps identify any crucial needs that can bring significant business value, too. This process of continuous improvement solidifies your business systems and hardens security over time by tightening security and allowing you to review user permissions and individual levels of authority within your business infrastructure and systems.

3. Business System Testing Allows You to Affirm Your Disaster Recovery Strategy

Your backup and disaster recovery strategy is an integral part of your business. Although you hope you never have to use it, no business is fully protected without a detailed disaster recovery plan of attack — complete with assigned accountabilities and deliverables. It’s no longer a matter of “if” your business is attacked but “when”, and your technology team must be prepared for that eventuality. Business testing allows you to review your backup and disaster recovery strategy with the parties that will be engaged to execute it, providing an opportunity for any necessary revisions or adjustments to the plans. Whether a business system outage comes from a user who is careless with a device or password, a cybercriminal manages to infiltrate your systems or your business systems are damaged in fire or flood, your IT team will be ready to bring your business back online quickly.

Regularly testing your business policies and procedures and validating your disaster recovery plan puts your organization in a safer space when it comes to overcoming an incident that impacts your ability to conduct business. The complexity of dealing with multi-cloud environments can stymie even the most hardened technology teams, and the added comfort level that is gained by regular testing helps promote ongoing learning and system familiarity for your teams. No one wants to have to rebuild your infrastructure or business systems from the ground up, but running testing procedures over time can help promote a higher level of comfort within teams and vendor partners if the unthinkable does occur.


Size Doesn’t Matter: 7 Ways Small Businesses Should Think Big

June 10th, 2019 by Julie Lough

Small Business Tips

You may be a small business, but there’s no reason you have to think or act small. Today’s technology innovations offer small businesses all sorts of powerful tools that just a decade ago weren’t available or were only affordable to large firms. Technology can help small businesses think like big ones in all sorts of ways. Here are 7 ways small businesses should start thinking bigger.

1. Embrace the Cloud

There are numerous cloud-based technologies that can help your small business punch above its weight. By embracing the cloud, you can save money, improve your staff’s productivity, and expand or contract IT operations far easier than you could without the cloud.

Entrust things like email and calendar hosting, file storage, and video chat to cloud-based software and infrastructure solutions. Most small businesses will pay less for a cloud solution than they would to purchase and maintain servers and software. This is due to the economy of scale: your cloud provider is operating at a very large scale, so the cost of adding just a bit more server space is negligible. Without cloud services, your small business shoulders all the unique setup and maintenance costs all your own.

2. Improve Your Website

Sometimes the difference between a successful small business and a failing one is as simple as the quality of their website. Your website is your digital storefront, but it’s also your digital billboard, white pages, classified ad, and more. If it looks terrible or doesn’t function well, you’re sending a poor message to your customers and prospective customers.

If revamping your website is more than your business can do well in-house, consider contracting with a vendor for this crucial task. Many managed service providers offer this service or can contract with qualified vendors who do.

3. Leverage Social

Your business needs a social presence, even if it’s small. This is true of all small businesses, but the smaller your business, the more important grassroots tools like social become. Share content regularly (including photos and videos) and encourage your most loyal customers to do the same.

As your brand’s social presence grows, it’s important to keep an eye on your reputation. What are people saying publicly about you? Is there anything you need to intervene on? Social can be a great avenue to see what challenges your customers are facing.

4. Use CRM Software

Customer resource management (CRM) software is the way big businesses keep in contact with customers in an organized fashion. CRM software isn’t limited to large firms, though. Affordable cloud-based options that work well with small business are available.

5. Big Data Isn’t Everything

Big data helps big companies win, right? That’s what we’re always hearing, and there’s truth to it. That said, we’ve all seen plenty of examples of big data leading companies astray, like “targeted ads” that miss completely or hyper-local campaigns that come off as fake or out-of-touch.

As a small business, you have access to something big businesses don’t: real, interpersonal data. Call it “small data” if you like. You likely know your customers much better than large firms do. Write down the things you learn. Better, input that information into your CRM software. You have the ability to send more personal notes than your large, faceless competitors. Capitalize on this.

6. Plan to Plan

You have a business plan in place, but as you grow, does your business plan grow with you? Your small business runs the risk of losing focus as it grows. Employees and leadership get so focused on daily tasks that they don’t keep their eyes on the overall plan. In other cases the overall plan becomes outdated and less applicable. Schedule time each year to review your business plan and goals, just like the big guys do.

7. Don’t Go It Alone

Lastly and most importantly, don’t go it alone as a small business. Your business is unique, set apart by some feature, product, or ethos that your competitors don’t have. Focus as much of your energy as possible on that thing, on your core competencies. As much as possible, divest yourself from other things.

One of those other things, for most businesses, is IT. Partnering with a managed service provider (MSP) to implement and support your IT infrastructure can save you money and increase productivity. You’ll also gain access to a deeper bench of IT professionals than you could afford to keep in house. If you’re ready to explore what we can do as your MSP, contact us today.


How Much Should A Company Invest In Information Technology?

June 10th, 2019 by Julie Lough

Business IT Budgets

The rapid increase in technology use in businesses has affected every industry. Across all businesses, the need to keep up with the competition means paying attention to what technologies are available and incorporating the right tech tools as they become viable. Whatever your business, you know that you need to invest in information technology to excel in your industry. But how much should you invest, exactly? To determine your IT budget, you need to look carefully at your industry, your business goals and most importantly, what you can reasonably expect information technology to do for you on your path towards those goals.

Putting Technology Investment in Context

Depending on what stats you read, it appears that businesses spend anywhere from 3% to 6% of their budget on IT. The average spend on tech is expected to go up in the coming years, but no one is quite sure how much it will increase. It makes sense to expect an increase, of course, given the drastic increase in tech adoption across all facets of daily life and business. But the amount of increase is hard to be certain of because no one is sure exactly what the future holds.

What is clear is that an IT budget is necessary for building and maintaining a business. However, the size of that budget can vary considerably depending on the business and the industry that business is part of. In a study conducted by Deloitte, it was found that banking and securities spent 7.16% of their budget on IT—the most of any industry—while construction spent the least at 1.51%. Other industries spent somewhere in between. Such a large difference in spending is indicative of a spectrum of need for IT that differs significantly depending on the business. Those differences make it impossible to define a one-size-fits-all budget percentage for IT for all businesses. There are simply too many variables to consider.

How to Determine How Much Your Company Should Spend on IT

Guidelines on how to determine your own IT budget can be much more useful than a blanket statement about how much you should spend. By knowing what questions to ask, you can get the answers you need to form your own ideas about what your company needs as far as IT goes.

Some questions you can ask include:

Do we need an IT budget?

The answer to this is an obvious “YES”, but it is worth coming up with your own reasons for having a budget to begin with. The closer you look at your circumstances, the more apparent it will be that IT is simply a part of doing business and an area that you will always have to navigate as a company. And it is not enough to put off IT decisions until you make a split-second purchasing decision financed by extra cash you have lying around—not if you want IT to generate reliable results. For long-term success, you need a specific budget.

What is the budget for?

IT investments should serve to further your business objectives. Pulling a random number out of the air is not going to achieve optimal outcomes. The budget should be set to ensure that you can use the technology you need to achieve the outcomes you desire. Of course, to answer this question, you may need to clarify your business objectives and your IT needs. The CIO, CMO and other business leaders can work together to set guidelines for what needs to be accomplished and the budget can be built from there.

Are we spending more just because?

Knowing that business spending on IT is increasing in many industries is useful, but just because others are doing it does not mean that you need to do it. Increasing spending on IT is not enough on its own to improve your business. That increased spending needs to have a purpose. Maybe you are upgrading important infrastructure. Or, perhaps you know of a new tech tool that is virtually guaranteed to make you more competitive. Just make sure that an increased budget has a purpose.

Is the budget based on current economic conditions?

Some businesses are still stuck in a recession mindset. They try to avoid any extra spending because they think it is a necessity for survival. But if the economy has picked up, it is vital to take advantage of increased revenue to bolster your technology while you can. The better you equip your company to move into the new age now, while you have the resources, the more capable your company will be of weathering any storms to come.

The reality of IT budgets is that they need to be customized to the business using them. Fortunately, the process of determining the IT budget can greatly improve your company’s understanding of where it is, where it is going and how technology will help it get there.


How to Stop Spam from Ever Hitting Your Inbox

June 6th, 2019 by Julie Lough

Spam Emails

Spam emails can be incredibly annoying. Not only that, it can be downright dangerous, considering the phishing schemes and other email scams that are prevalent today. We can’t avoid spam completely and hope to have any kind of digital life, because so many services require an email address as part of the sign-up process. These can tend to clutter our inboxes with (technically not spam) promotional emails, and the less scrupulous of these may send real spam. That’s not to mention the frequency with which these companies’ databases are breached, creating a whole new layer of spam potential.

How to Avoid Seeing Spam

All of the most prevalent email services offer some degree of spam protection. Great spam protection is one of the reasons Gmail rose to such prominence a decade ago. Most services enable spam filtering by default, but check your email service’s settings to ensure that this setting is turned on.

If you’re still seeing a lot of spam, or if you’re using a service that doesn’t offer much in the way of spam filtering, here are some other suggestions.

Create Filters or Rules

You can create your own rudimentary spam filter by setting a filter or a rule. The terminology varies based on your email service, but you should find something by a similar name. You can create rules that auto-route email based on certain characteristics. For example, you can create a rule that sends any message containing NSFW language straight to the trash. Simply insert all those explicit terms in the field “message contains” and select “move to trash” as the action that is taken.

You can use filters or rules to move less important messages to a folder, too. If you still want to know about the latest sales at a few retailers, but you don’t want to be inundated right alongside emails that are actually important, create a rule that sends these emails to a “Retail” folder that you can check when you get the shopping urge.

Block Addresses

In the same area of settings, you should also have the option to block specific email addresses or even all addresses from a particular domain. Granted, it’s rare these days for spammers to frequently reuse the same address, but this function can still help with overly persistent individuals as well as companies or domains that refuse to take you off their mailing lists.

How to Stop Spam from Ever Arriving

There are other tools available to stop spam from ever showing up in your inbox.

Use “Report Spam” Button

The spam filters from email services like Gmail aren’t static. They can actually learn from you. When a spam message leaks through, you can help the spam filter learn. Look at the menu options available on the message. You should see one that looks like a stop sign with an exclamation point. Click this button to report to Gmail that the message is spam, and you should never see a similar message again.

If Gmail recognizes that your spam message is actually from a mailing list, it will try to unsubscribe for you if you click that option.

Set Up a Spam or Throwaway Account

Another savvy way to avoid spam is to set up a “spam account” that you use only for email signups, website logins, and the like. Give your main email address only to those personal and professional contacts you actually want to hear from, and sign up for everything else using your “spam account.”

If your current account is beyond hope, turn it into your spam account. Create a new main account, and let all your real-life contacts know about the switch.

These tips should help cut down on the chaos in your inbox. Got your own tips? Let us know!