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State of Your IT 2015

State of the UnionAccording to President Obama, the shadow of crisis has passed. While we may be optimistic, most business owners know the midmarket carries the economy by paying the lion’s share of corporate taxes. Pending cyber legislation could also mean more government control and scrutiny, along with greater penalties for cyber crimes.

Now, more than ever, midsized businesses need a strategy for technology and intellectual property. Until recent years, most organizations of any size tended to treat technology like the great castles depicted in the Lord of the Rings. Instead of intricate walls, elaborate layers upon layers of hardware and software were put in place to protect important data and critical systems. Just like archers and swordsmen, several skill sets were required to keep it all protected and running. If the monstrosity didn’t crumble from brute force attack, any periods of lacking maintenance were just as problematic. Then trying to control more than one castle was often the downfall of many.

Normal assets can be replaced by insurance, but it’s the intellectual property that is really valuable. Unfortunately, new hacks like Sony only underscore the two main facts of most security breaches:

  1. Inside job. Most hacks are an inside job, often by a system administrator or an employee provided inadvertent access.
  2. Lack of controls. Few organizations have just 2 years of automated e-mail retention, two-step authentication, or segmented data libraries with no administrator access.

While some blame the ex-Sony employee, the reality is that management is ultimately responsible both legally and financially. Not only has the game changed for technology strategy, but shareholders now face greater personal liability.

At Matrixforce, we escaped the castle long ago and are in the process of moving our accounting to the cloud. Our website, e-mail, corporate files, and customer relationship management are all already in the cloud. Now accounting will be accessed via remote application with Federal Information Security Act compliance using specific encryption by assigned user on any device. If headquarters is destroyed, ordering and billing continue anywhere there is an Internet connection.

If there is no Internet anywhere, we all have bigger problems. However, since the application appears to run locally, a regular backup may be ran for quick restoration purposes. You always have to plan for many contingencies, but it’s hard to argue with the advantages:

  • Better security
  • Easy remote access
  • Limited maintenance
  • Fast and low cost disaster recovery

While the competition focuses on their castles, we help and advise customers providing an example of streamlining technology for more agile business. In emergent situations, it’s largely business as usual. Ask any business owner or management team, and they’ll say “we want that peace of mind”.

Slick technology aside and the associated know-how, you still have to start with the basics that most new customers do not have:

  1. Strategy. The cost of doing business approach is now a boat anchor so heavy that it will sink any ship. Everyone understands divide and conquer, as well as making shareholders and key vendors exclusive administrators after setup. Start with key applications. Don’t let your competitors beat you by using cloud computing.
  2. System Plan. The cornerstone is a simple logical diagram of systems, tables of critical information like passwords and application settings, schedule of common events like updates and backup, and a summary of risk points.
  3. 5 year technology forecast. Servers are only warrantied for 3-4 years and software license agreements are generally 1-3 years. Add the cost of no more than 1 project per quarter for the current year and now you know well ahead of time how to budget and the impact of new systems.
  4. Evaluate requests. The reality is that few organizations have case management or performance goals for technology. The cost is usually significant and “things seem to be running”. Without case management, you’re flying blind not knowing whether your staff needs training, a particular system needs attention, or if maintenance is even being performed. No need to reinvent the wheel, managed IT services provide this information so you can make informed decisions about your business.

Perhaps we had a few of our own zingers, but technology is not something you can ignore any longer. By taking a typical approach, you’re likely in crisis and don’t even know it. Do some research and assess your own state of technology. If you need help or simply what a fresh perspective, check out our knowledgebase, try a trial, or contact us.

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