Why Is Cybercrime So Bad For Mid-Sized Businesses?

CIOs today are most concerned about data security and cybercrime. It’s no wonder. Mid-sized businesses are major targets for hackers. Plus, when a data breach occurs, their customers are often so angry that the take their business elsewhere. This can be the “kiss of death” for any company no matter the size.

Cybersecurity Small Business

CIOs today are most concerned about data security and cybercrime. It’s no wonder. Mid-sized businesses are major targets for hackers. Plus, when a data breach occurs, their customers are often so angry that the take their business elsewhere. This can be the “kiss of death” for any company no matter the size.

Your customers are concerned about the security of their data. No matter how good your service or products, if their confidential data is revealed due to your negligence they’ll just go to your competitors.

Are You Prepared For A Cyberattack?

Many mid-sized businesses aren’t. In fact, 31% don’t have a plan to respond to a cyberattack, and 22% lack the expertise to develop one. According to a report in Tech Republic, 71% percent of small and mid-sized businesses aren’t prepared for cybersecurity risks, even though 96% believe they are susceptible.

The report also found that nearly 2/3rds said they believe it would be more difficult to restore their company’s public image and to regain employee trust and morale if they were attacked.

If this surprises you it’s probably because you’re uninformed. It’s not your fault. The media tends to only cover attacks on large enterprises and government agencies. Attacks on mid-sized businesses like yours aren’t newsworthy (probably because there are so many).

Have You Made Plans For A Cyberattack That Disrupts Your Business?

What would you do if one happened right now? Downtime isn’t acceptable. Here are the consequences:

  • Idle Employees
  • Lost Productivity
  • Lost Revenue
  • Disgruntled Customers Who Go To Your Competitors

Cyberattacks Not Only Affect Your Customers But Your Relationship With Other Companies You Do Business With

What the media ignores is that attacks on mid-sized businesses present a conduit to larger ones. This is what experts believe happened to Target when they were attacked, leading to the exposure of 40 million accounts.

So, when considering your businesses cybersecurity, not only should you be concerned about losing your customers, but you could also be losing the good relationship you have with larger enterprises. This is the double-edged sword that kills so many mid-sized companies.

Have You Invested In IT Security As You Should?

What does all of this mean? You must be certain that you’re on top of your IT infrastructure’s security and be able to prove it, or you risk losing customers and contracts with business partners.

If you think investing in IT security is too expensive, the opposite is true. You can’t afford not to because the consequences of a data breach can be devastating to the future of your company.

CIOs of mid-sized firms must keep on top of all the IT security strategies available to them to protect their infrastructure. The CIOs of large enterprises know this and practice it daily. Are you?

For help setting up your IT Infrastructure Security and a Plan to respond to a cyberattack, contact the cybersecurity experts at ICS.

 

 

Move Up To The Big Leagues

Cloud Computing

Compete With The Major Players Using Cloud Computing

One thing that has changed in the last few years is technology. Today’s technology-driven world expects the best and fastest internet, computers, networks and servers. In the past, it was impossible for a small business to afford most of it.

The cloud has changed all that. Nowadays, the smallest companies can afford cloud technology and once they have it, they can compete with much larger businesses.

You don’t need millions of dollars to build physical retail locations anymore. All those old barriers to market entry disappear when you have the cloud. But there are other breakthroughs for today’s small businesses as well.

In the old days, you’d have to spend thousands of dollars creating a top-notch IT infrastructure in order to compete with larger companies. You’d have to hire experienced IT people, purchase expensive software licenses. The cost of servers, computers, software and labor was just too much for a new start-up.

All those high costs made having an enterprise-grade IT infrastructure out of reach for most small firms. However, these days small firms can join in and benefit from the massive combined IT infrastructure available in the cloud.

There are so many ways that the cloud enables small firms to compete on a level playing field.

For one thing, no matter how little you think you’ll use technology, there are too many processes that rely on it to get business done each day. That means large capital expenses. If a system fails, you’ll quickly realize how much you use technology in day-to-day operations. If your systems are down for even one day, you can lose thousands of dollars. So what’s the answer? Mirrored servers and other redundant hardware.

The second thing is that small businesses experience cyclical sales peaks. During certain seasons, you’ll need all hands on deck. At other times, you may benefit by cutting back on your use of technology. Scaling up and down used to be expensive, but the cloud makes it easy.

Third, there’s the cost of labor. The average salary for an IT specialist is around $60,000 per year. You may need several IT people even in a smaller company. And they don’t work around the clock. What if you run second and third shifts and need IT support at midnight? That will be expensive. In short, the traditional IT model doesn’t work well for a small firm.

But all those obstacles are a thing of the past. Today, even a small start-up can compete by having a redundant IT infrastructure, 24/7 support, easy upgrades, the ability to scale up or down when necessary and so much more.

With cloud technology and managed IT support, you can forget about barriers and obstacles. The monthly costs are predictable and budget-friendly.

Isn’t it time to explore all the options that cloud technology offer? Are you ready to become a major player in your industry?

Move Up To The Big Leagues with Cloud Computing

CONTACT DETAILS

Jason Simons, Vice President | ICS- IT, Voice, Video Email: sales@ics-com.net or Phone: 1-866-427-4722

How Does Your Technology Impact Your Law Firm’s Productivity?

For any law firm, time is money – billable hours need to be maximized and used efficiently. You can’t afford to have your IT slowing you down.

For any law firm, time is money – billable hours need to be maximized and used efficiently. You can’t afford to have your IT slowing you down.

Technology Law Firms

Downtime caused by your technology not performing as it should isn’t just frustrating – it’s a liability. Whether it’s slowing you down or halting your productivity in its tracks, inefficient or problematic technology wreaks havoc on your team and damages your ability to serve your clients effectively. At the end of the day, you have a ton of wasted billable hours and an IT infrastructure that isn’t giving you what you need.

And when you’re counting on a single internal IT person to handle your technology? The problems are simply going to continue to pile up.

Modern networks are complex, needing to support and accommodate not just the devices and software used in your office, but the applications and devices that allow your team to work from anywhere their cases require them to be. It’s more than a lone IT person or hourly IT contractor can manage effectively.

Managed Legal IT Services Can Pick Up The Slack

The biggest challenge facing today’s law firms is the sheer number of moving parts that make up your IT infrastructure. In order for your technology to operate smoothly, all of those parts need to be kept moving, and kept moving in the same direction. This is where the proactive, hands-on approach of a managed IT provider can make a major difference. Having professionals that are familiar with your entire infrastructure taking care of your technology allows for technicians to correct repetitive issues and keep disruptions from happening in the first place.

Legal IT providers like ICS focus on maximizing your uptime and productivity by monitoring your technology around the clock rather than waiting for something to wrong. We know that the best way for you to make the most of your billable hours is to simply have the ability to work uninterrupted. Whether that requires a few minor changes or updates to your existing infrastructure, or something more extensive, depends on your firm.

How Can I Know If My IT Is Working Against Me?

The best way to figure out what works and what doesn’t is to have IT professionals with experience in legal IT come in and assess your network and infrastructure. This assessment will reveal problem areas, vulnerabilities, and inefficiencies in your technology that need to be addressed.

Why Can’t My Current Provider Do This For Me?

If you’re already partnered with an IT provider, having them review your technology to see where improvements can be made is always an option. But a second opinion never hurts – especially when it won’t cost your firm a dime.

Even if you’re not losing out on billable hours due to downtime and disruptions, you may be curious as to what changes could be made to your technology to get even more out of your workday. Regardless of the answers you’re looking for, a complimentary IT assessment from ICS can provide them to you.

Contact our legal IT professionals to schedule your assessment.

Can A Cloud Phone System Help IT Managers Save Time?

Cloud Phone System

One of the biggest headaches for most IT managers is the lack of time. They’re often working with a small team of people and yet they have a wide range of important tasks that must get done each day.

If you’re an IT manager, then you know how it goes. It’s Monday. The network is having problems, you’re short-staffed, you have requests for help from several workstations. How will you get all that done in just one day’s time? Your phone won’t stop ringing.

This is not an isolated incident either. It happens every week. Some of the computers begin having problems with their operating system, there’s a power fluctuation causing issues in the accounting department—the list goes on and on. And many IT departments are small and understaffed. There’s seemingly nothing you can do. You and your team go to work each morning and do as much as you can. Often, you’re there working past 5pm.

Ready for a Change?

If this sounds like you, then there’s good news. You can eliminate one of those annoying problems by replacing your phone system. Small and medium size businesses are moving their business communications system to the cloud. Cloud communications are highly dependable. In fact, they require almost no maintenance. Even if you have multiple departments throughout the company and dozens of phones, your cloud phone system will always be virtually maintenance free.

For businesses that rely heavily upon their telephones each day, this is really the only option to consider. You simply can’t afford to have your phones working sporadically. Poor reception is a thing of the past when you use cloud technology. And, you can standardize communications across the entire organization. Your cloud phones will integrate well with all the other components of your IT infrastructure.

Cloud phone systems offer clear, reliable connections. You won’t have to worry about missing calls or poor call quality due to outdated telephony equipment.

Adding New Locations or Workstations is Easy

Even if your company opens up several new locations, it’s easy to install a new cloud phone system at each location. You’ll have no conflict issues and all employees will already know how to use everything. With cloud communications, updates are automatic and free. That means you’ll always be using the latest telephony technology.

Consider the Benefits of Cloud Communications

Cloud phone systems are highly customizable so they can be set up to provide all the features that matter most to your business. And, when you deploy a cloud phone system, you can transfer most of the support and maintenance to the vendor. ICS has a highly experienced team of communications experts who can handle any and all maintenance issues for you. Your IT personnel will be freed up to focus on more important issues. And that’s good news for most IT departments.

Predictable Monthly Rates

Our cloud phone system can be set-up and installed as a service that you pay one predictable monthly fee for. In this scenario, the expense is considered an operating expense instead of a capital expenditure. That gives you a good tax break in many cases. You’ll have no large out-of-pocket expenses to worry about. Use your operating capital for something else.

Mitel Provides Top-Notch Cloud Communications

ICS works with one of the world’s leading cloud phone providers, Mitel. With a Mitel cloud phone system, you’ll enjoy the best features and functionalities available. Plus, the ICS team will be responsible for all maintenance and problem-solving. You’ll lower your total cost of operations while enjoying the very best communications system on the market today.

ICS is a valued partner with Mitel. We’ll be happy to speak with you to learn exactly what your company needs in terms of communications and then recommend the best cloud phone system for your business.

Mitel offers a full range of high-quality cost-effective business communication solutions for small single location businesses and large organizations with multiple nationwide offices.

For more information about Mitel products or services and how they can benefit your organization, please call us at (866)-427-4722 or Contact us! We serve Houston, San Antonio and Austin with best-in-class managed IT services including unified communications systems.

Moving Your Phone System to the Cloud: Pros and Cons

Cloud Phone System

If you’ve been wondering whether cloud services might be a good fit for your business, then moving your phone system first could give you some insights into how the process works. This is a great idea for most businesses as well. Your employees can work from anywhere and still get all the amazing features your business phone system offers.

A number of experts like Gartner, believe that the cloud services market will greatly expand over the next few years. Markets like Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) are still in their infancy. Yet they’ve made quite an impact in the business world.

Can the Cloud Save You Time and Money?

Thousands of today’s businesses use Software-as-a-Service because it makes so much sense. Instead of buying an expensive program like Microsoft Office 365 and paying for all those licenses, then worrying about training employees etc., why not just buy the software as a service that is provided by your local managed IT service company?

When you follow this route, you never really own the software, but then you aren’t responsible for its updates, patches, glitches, licenses, training, etc. Your IT service provider is responsible for all that. This leaves you and your staff able to focus on projects and customers instead of technology problems.

Get the Most for Every Dollar

All cloud technology works that way to some extent, including a phone system. You’ll have the advantage of the latest hardware and software without having to install, monitor or maintain the system. However, despite this and the growing adoption rates, many companies still aren’t ready to make a full-scale move to cloud-based technologies.

And, it’s really not necessary to do so. By taking a measured approach to the cloud, you can gradually incorporate this technology into your business workflow. This will give you and your team a better idea of what to expect and how it works. You can get a handle on overall costs, reliability, flexibility and all those things that matter to your business.

Starting off by moving your communications system to the cloud is a pretty smart idea. Most businesses could get better services for their workforce and their customers with a cloud phone system. This is a fairly simple move that will get your staff ready in case you want to move more technology to the cloud later.

Need more reasons to make the move? Below are 4 great reasons to move your phone system to the cloud.

Small Steps: You can manage deployments in small groups

You might want to move only your customer service department to cloud communications right now. This would be much simpler than moving the entire company’s phone system. Plus, it would give you an idea of how easy it is and whether you’ll get much pushback from employees. This small move would be cost-efficient but give you lots of good information about the overall success of any future cloud deployments.

Set Your IT Staff Free: Make smarter use of internal resources

Most IT departments are overwhelmed. They simply don’t have the time to handle any extra projects. But with cloud-based services, they don’t have to. Part of the service is that the provider will handle all maintenance, security, updates, etc.

Flexibility: Subscribe to the features you prefer

With cloud services, you can mix and match, only subscribing to the specific features you want. Plus, cloud communications can evolve as your business grows. If you want to add features as your business grows, then it’s easy and inexpensive to do so. You’ll never be stuck in a long-term rigid contract.

Confidence: Get the security you need to move forward with other cloud-based technology

Once your staff gets immersed in cloud communications, you might consider moving other aspects of your IT infrastructure to the cloud. Cloud-based storage is a great idea. It provides good copies of your database that are stored at onsite and offsite locations. This is the ultimate protection for your data in case of disaster. There are lots more services that could be moved to the cloud. In most cases, you’ll find this to be a good solution that frees up your IT department and offers more reliable products and services.

CapEx Vs. OpEx

There are lots of other excellent reasons to take advantage of cloud services. Since they are a service, they can be expensed as an operating cost instead of a capital expenditure. This offers some tax advantages. Be sure to check with your accountant before moving forward.

Ready to Make the Switch?

Strong communications are important to your business success and Mitel is a well-known provider. Mitel delivers more than 2 billion connections every day and offers solutions that will support your business goals for today and tomorrow.

ICS is a valued partner with Mitel. Our team will work with you to help you find the perfect cloud communications products. We install and set everything up so that it best suits the way your employees work. If you need to add users along the way, it’s fast and easy.

Mitel offers a full range of high-quality cost-effective business communication solutions for small single location businesses to large organizations with multiple nationwide offices. The right phone system can increase mobility, utilizing unified communications within the organization.

ICS is proud to offer Mitel products and services to our clients. We believe they meet the highest standards. For more information about Mitel products or services and how they can benefit your organization, please call us at (866)-427-4722 or Contact us!

We serve Houston, San Antonio and Austin with best-in-class managed IT services including unified communications systems. We can help you understand how cloud technology can benefit your business.

Step by Step Guide to Moving Your Phone System to the Cloud

Have you been thinking about migrating your communications to the cloud?

Cloud Phones Systems

Have you been thinking about migrating your communications to the cloud? Many business owners are and it’s not as complex as it may seem. It takes some planning so that your core operations are not interrupted, but it can pay off big in the end. Switching can be relatively simple as long as you plan and prepare correctly.

This article provides a step-by-step guide that will help your business move all communications to the cloud.

Define Your Business Goals

Before you begin, it’s important to lay out your business goals, including short- and long-term goals. Understand your reasons for switching to the cloud. Are you trying to provide streamlined communications for your workforce? Do you need to offer better services to your customers?

You might be trying to free up IT resources for other projects. Or give your employees the freedom to work from anywhere. These are all good reasons to make the change. Cloud communications offer numerous benefits, but when you know what you want to accomplish, you can better select the right phone solution for your organization.

What’s Your Budget?

Cloud communications are great but there are many cloud phone systems out there with various price tags. It’s important to know what you are comfortable with spending. Don’t forget to include hardware, licensing fees, and infrastructure costs. You’ll also have ongoing maintenance with some plans.

CapEx Vs. OpEx

A capital expenditure (CAPEX) means you purchase the hardware and software upfront. Any expense related to your phone service from cabling to voicemail and dialing features are your team’s responsibility to maintain. With OpEx approach, the costs are considered monthly operating expenses just like your electric bill. There are certain tax advantages to both.

Step-By-Step Project Timeline

Once you nail down your objectives and budget, it’s time to plan your cloud migration project. It goes without saying that you should plan this during a slow time of the year. If you have seasons where business slows down some, that’s the perfect time to initiate changes to your technology. Be sure to prepare your staff for the change as well. Make sure key personnel will be available for the switch so they can oversee important tasks.

Take the Time You Need

Give your staff ample time to plan, analyze, test and communicate and this will greatly increase the overall success. You can begin a full year in advance to review your current communications plan. Be sure to have your staff check contract terms for contract expiration dates and penalties. Plan your migration to coincide with the end of an old contract. With good planning, you can avoid paying penalties for ending an old contract early.

Select a Migration Team

A full 9 months in advance of changing, you can create a special team that will handle the various aspects of switching. Of course, a few IT people will need to be involved. But you should also select a manager or executive to oversee the project. They can make sure that things are moving along well and everyone understands their role. If problems come up, they can get solutions in place so there are no obstacles that turn into costly mistakes.

It’s a good idea to set up a special chat room for your group where they can discuss day-to-day problems. Microsoft Teams is a good app for that. It’s easy to set up a Team and communicate with everyone regularly. Important documents and information can be shared. Your migration team should include a few people who can train everyone on the new phone system once it has been installed.

Research Cloud Communications Vendors

About 6 months before the switch, it’s time to begin checking out all the phone systems available. For this, it can be helpful to have your IT department weigh in on the types of systems available, the cost and the features. You might also consider consulting an IT specialist. If you work with a local managed IT service provider, they can give you a thorough rundown of all the best systems, the pros and cons of each and the price tags.

Get Demos From the Top 3

At about 3 months before switching, you should have your list of potential vendors narrowed to 3 or so. Contact local representatives of each one and ask them to come out and show you their phone system. Be sure to ask relevant questions and make notes about each.

  • How easy are they to use?
  • Will training be included in the price?
  • How frequently are new features released?
  • How easy is it to add new users?
  • What type of security does the system have?
  • Is support included in the cost?

For most business owners, ongoing support is important. A cloud phone service is exactly that—a service. Choose a vendor who will support you through the initial implementation and offers multiple channels for ongoing support.

Installation and Implementation

You’ve done a good job of preparing everyone and getting the research done. Now it’s time for the phone provider to come out and actually install the new cloud system. Be sure to let your employees know what’s going on. Your Cloud Communications team should know by now what their jobs are and be prepared for any obstacles.

When you have a documented rollout plan, it helps to overcome last-minute snags that could interrupt everything and cause delays.

Training
Now that the new system has been installed, it’s time to train your employees. Most Cloud phone systems are fairly easy to use. But there are lots of features that your employees should know about so they can take full advantage of the system. Expect a few weeks of questions as your team learns how to use the new system. After that, they should all be comfortable with it.

Why Wait?

If your current phone system is holding you back, it’s time to explore new options. Good strong communications are important to your business success. Mitel delivers more than 2 billion connections every day and offers solutions that will support your business both now and in the future.

ICS is a valued partner with Mitel. We can consult to learn exactly what your company needs in terms of communications and then recommend a system that will more than meet your needs. We set everything up so that it best suits the way your employees work. If you need to add users along the way, it’s fast and easy.

Mitel offers a full range of high-quality cost-effective business communication solutions for small single location businesses to large organizations with multiple nationwide offices. The right phone system can increase mobility, utilizing unified communications within the organization.

ICS is very careful in selecting the communication products and services we offer to our clients. All products and services must meet the highest of standards. ICS is proud to sell, install and support products and solutions manufactured by Mitel.

For more information about Mitel products or services and how they can benefit your organization, please call us at (866)-427-4722 or Contact us! We serve Houston, San Antonio and Austin with best-in-class managed IT services including unified communications systems.

Can Your Current Phone System Limit the Success of Your Business?

Most businesses take their phone system for granted. After all, it requires very little attention most of the time. You can usually just set it up and then forget about it. But more and more companies are realizing that this “set it and forget it” mindset can cost them in more ways than one.

Business Phone Systems

Most businesses take their phone system for granted. After all, it requires very little attention most of the time. You can usually just set it up and then forget about it. But more and more companies are realizing that this “set it and forget it” mindset can cost them in more ways than one.

Your phone system gives you the ability to interact with your customers. But has it kept pace with the times? Is it capable of helping you meet tomorrow’s challenges?

This eBook outlines five important considerations to think about when evaluating your current phone system or a new communications solution.

Mobility

Can your phone system support today’s “anywhere, anytime, from any device” manner of doing business? Today’s workforce is more mobile than ever. Employees are expected to work on the go. Tech-savvy workers expect their business communications to be just as sophisticated and easy to use as their personal apps.

Does your current phone system provide the same easy features and functionality to all staff members, no matter their location or device? Although many people use their own personal device on the job, they may be hesitant to share their personal number in a professional setting. In addition, use of personal devices further complicates tracking and reimbursement of call costs.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs allow employees to stay connected everywhere and collaborate on important projects. But they can also open you up to hackers and cybercrime. A great BYOD program delivers ultimate security so that your data is not at risk.

The Budget

Does the cost of your phone system fit well into your overall budget? Though it’s important to find a platform that suits how your business works, the budget is also important. Think about whether CapEx or OpEx is the right budgeting approach for your business.

  1. Capital Expenses: Pay one upfront price for all hardware, software and standard services.
  2. Operational Costs: Pay a smaller fee on a subscription basis, taking advantage of frequent updates.

Total Cost of Ownerships

Some phone systems are overly complex and require lots of time-consuming management, resulting in greater costs over time. A business phone provider that offers robust, productivity-boosting services delivered in a streamlined, easy-to-manage way will free up IT resources and save money. Many businesses are moving to the cloud due to all the benefits. It’s cheaper to add new lines and updates are free.

Productivity

Can your employees collaborate on-the-go? Does your phone system help or hamper employee productivity? A connected workforce can get more done each day. But some phone systems make it hard to connect and collaborate. Reduce employee frustration and increase productive work time with these features:

  • Application Integration: Boost the power of your CRM by seamlessly integrating calling features, call histories and customer data.
  • Presence: Enable employees to see when other co-workers are available, in a meeting, on a call or out of the office.
  • Find Me: Follow employees so they can get the call the first time around, regardless of the device they are using.
  • Collaboration Tools: Make it easier to exchange ideas and get work done with video, instant messaging and desktop sharing

Ability to Add Features and Functionality

Does your phone system support future and emerging technologies? Modern times call for modern solutions. Make sure your phone system can keep pace with technological change and has the ability to embrace cloud-based and customized solutions as required.

Plan for the Future

A phone system needs to have the flexibility to accommodate changes to your business over time. Look for these great features:

  • Flexible Service Plans: Change service plans and permissions in real time as business needs change
  • Easy & Intuitive: Users will be quicker to adopt communications tools that are simple to use and work as easily as the consumer apps they’ve come to love
  • Third-Party Integrations: Integrating with third-party software allows you to take advantage of cloud-based business process applications
  • Admin Portal: Make real-time changes to your users, preferences, permissions and groups

Scalability

Can your phone system scale to support changing business dynamics? To stay competitive in today’s fast-moving business environment, companies must be agile. An outdated phone system will slow you down if your communications technology cannot keep up with business demands. If you need to open new office locations, how hard will it be to install a new phone system? Nearly every organization could benefit from the agility that comes from aligning its phone system with its business needs.

The global consumer expects more. Look for these features:

  • Intuitive: Supports easy deployment by administrators and enables users to quickly be productive
  • Plug-and-Play: Provides phones that are easy to install without costly upgrades
  • Flexibility: Easily scales to support both the office and your mobile workforce
  • Flexible Licensing: Delivers simple, flexible licensing so businesses can scale up or down as their needs change
  • Reduced Complexity: Avoids complications that add costs and hinder your ability to scale

Why Wait?

If your current phone system is holding you back, it’s time to explore new options. Good strong communications are important to your business success. Mitel delivers more than 2 billion connections every day and offers solutions that will support your business both now and in the future.

ICS is a valued partner with Mitel. We can consult to learn exactly what your company needs in terms of communications and then recommend a system that will more than meet your needs. We set everything up so that it best suits the way your employees work. If you need to add users along the way, it’s fast and easy.

Mitel offers a full range of high-quality cost-effective business communication solutions for small single location businesses to large organizations with multiple nationwide offices. The right phone system can increase mobility, utilizing unified communications within the organization.

ICS is very careful in selecting the communication products and services we offer to our clients. All products and services must meet the highest of standards. ICS is proud to sell, install and support products and solutions manufactured by Mitel. For more information about Mitel products or service and how they can benefit your organization, please call us at (866)-427-4722 or Contact us! We serve Houston, San Antonio and Austin with best-in-class managed IT services including unified communications systems.

8 Business Dynamics That Can Be Optimized Through The Cloud

Some industry dynamics seem to be made specifically for the Cloud and many companies are using it to grow their business. Therefore, it might be time to see what the cloud has to offer your company.

Some industry dynamics seem to be made specifically for the Cloud and many companies are using it to grow their business. Therefore, it might be time to see what the cloud has to offer your company.

Business Dynamics

The cloud has become more and more accepted in all business circles and there’s a good reason for that. It offers unique business solutions for all types of companies regardless of their size. It also offers everyone the same great chance to make use of advanced technology to forge ahead in their industry sector.

In the past, only large corporations could afford this type of technology. This is why the cloud continues to make such sweeping impacts across the globe. It basically levels the playing field so that small startups can compete with well-established companies.

Below, are 8 more unique reasons why it might be time to find your place in the Cloud.

  1. Spend Less Time on Technology: The cloud simplifies the management of all your IT infrastructure. Instead of spending so much time, staff, money and other resources managing your technology, you can return to simpler times where you focused on building your business. Imagine not having to worry about servers, computers and networks. Everything works as it should all the time.
  2. Mobile Workforce: Today’s business world requires a mobile workforce. You need to be able to allow your staff to work from home, on the road or wherever it’s most convenient. This allows your people to get more done with less effort. With cloud-based technology and mobile apps, this becomes much easier. Employees can log in and edit files or answer emails from anywhere there’s an internet connection. The future of business is mobility. Your executives and employees will be much more efficient. They’ll work less while getting more done.
  3. Lower Operating Costs: Small to mid-sized businesses often have stringent budgets to work with. Not every organization can afford their own enterprise-grade hardware and software. This alone represents a huge investment for most businesses. But what if you could take advantage of all the great features offered by the cloud without spending thousands of dollars? That’s the beauty of cloud technology. It’s affordable for everyone.
  4. Business Growth: Some businesses grow quite rapidly. They go from new startup to successful organization within just a few years. When you start off using cloud technology, you can scale up gradually as needed. There’s no need to make huge technology investments just so that you can move to a new level or serve more customers. The cloud provides low-cost, fast software upgrades. When newer servers come out, your managed service provider is responsible for purchasing and installing them. You get all the perks with none of the financial responsibility.
  5. Multiple Locations: Want to build a new branch in Ohio? You may have staff working from various offices in other states or even other countries. For that to work, you need a single solution that supports your workforce from any location. Wherever they are, your people need access to the same email features, storage, documents, phone system, support and other services. A cloud solution can easily be deployed regionally or globally. It should provide the same professional experience for staff and customers alike. Can your current technology do that?
  6. Data Redundancy and Replication: Your managed IT service provider will maintain multiple copies of your files, apps and documents at data centers in various geographic locations. If the data center in Texas is demolished by a flash flood, you’ll still have copies of your records at other locations. There’s very little probability that every data center will be destroyed simultaneously. This gives you the confidence you need to do business regardless of malware attacks, hurricanes or employee fraud. Your data remains safe no matter what.
  7. Improved Security: Data stored in the cloud is much safer than when stored on local servers. Your managed service provider will make sure that all data and systems are protected through a layered approach to security that is also proactive. IT professionals know what to look for and they’ve seen everything. They prepare for hackers and ransomware attacks as if they could happen today. And with a significant rise in the number of cyber-attacks, there’s every reason to take a strong approach to security.
  8. Scalability: Do you have seasons where business is slow? Many companies experienced a big rush during the Christmas holidays. Scaling your technology up and down used to be a big deal. It was time-consuming and expensive. Your IT department might have to work around the clock to get everything ready for massive uptakes in orders. But with the cloud, that’s no longer a factor. You can scale up and down with ease. That’s real convenience and it’s cost-efficient. No more stressing out during certain times of the year. You’re prepared for whatever the world throws at you.

Are you ready to learn more about why cloud technology is recommended for today’s fast-growing businesses? Managed IT Services and cloud computing from ICS will give your business the edge it needs to grow. Contact us! We serve Houston, San Antonio and Austin with best-in-class cloud services for small and mid-sized businesses.

Looking For A New Business Phone System In 2019? 

Your business phone system plays a critical role in your company’s operations and success. But with more employees working from home and on the go, increasingly expanding global markets, and ever-changing customer demands, today’s workforce requires that we think beyond the traditional phone systems of the past.

Business Phone Systems

A Quick Comparison Of Cloud Phone Service VS Onsite Phones

Your business phone system plays a critical role in your company’s operations and success. But with more employees working from home and on the go, increasingly expanding global markets, and ever-changing customer demands, today’s workforce requires that we think beyond the traditional phone systems of the past.

The modern workplace requires a complete communications and collaboration system that not only lets employees interact with ease but also empowers them to easily manage and adapt to an evolving business environment.

What Are Cloud Communications?

The Cloud simply refers to software services that are hosted by a provider and run on the Internet instead of equipment being housed in your building. Since the documents, emails, photos and software that live in the Cloud are available from any device with a secure internet connection, you can access the information and services from anywhere. Cloud Communications are essentially internet-based communications.

The Difference Between Cloud VS Onsite Phone Systems

Onsite Phones:

With an onsite phone system, you fully own and operate it. You’re responsible for the maintenance, upgrades, reliability and security. Onsite business phone systems also require an upfront purchase.

Cloud-Based Phones:

With a Cloud Phone Service your applications are hosted remotely by your cloud provider or hosting partner. They provide and manage the service relieving you from maintenance and network-related tasks. Instead of paying upfront, you subscribe via a monthly fee.

Onsite Phone System Requirements

  • Upfront Costs
  • Maintenance
  • Upgrades
  • Depreciate as a Capital Expense

Plan to factor in the additional costs of system maintenance, changes/adds/deletes, upgrades and replacements. With technology constantly evolving, there’s a risk of the equipment quickly becoming obsolete. You’ll have limited flexibility when integrating new applications and rapid implementation for new sites or remote workers.

Cloud Phone Service Requirements

  • Are hosted remotely by the cloud provider or hosting partner.
  • The cloud provider manages the service, relieving you of network-related tasks.
  • Services are consumed as a monthly subscription expense.

With cloud-based phone service, you only pay for the services that you use and avoid the maintenance associated with PBX (private branch exchange) onsite phone systems.

Businesses Are Making The Move To Cloud Phone Service For Many Reasons

When it comes to communications, a cloud-based phone service offers unique benefits that a traditional onsite phone system can’t provide. A Cloud Phone System with unified communications can elevate your business.

  • Rapid Growth Potential: You can grow or scale back services easily. The built-in flexibility of the Cloud makes it a great fit for companies that need to scale.
  • Add Users & Locations Easily: If you’re moving or adding offices, cloud phone systems make it simple to add new users quickly. And you can do this in multiple locations.
  • Mobility: Cloud phone services provide seamless mobile applications so your employees can collaborate anytime, anywhere, from numerous devices.
  • Expert Installation & Maintenance: Your cloud provider provides everything you need for installation, ongoing support and automatic software upgrades.
  • No Outdated Equipment: Your provider will handle all upgrades. You never have to worry about equipment coming to an end of life.
  • Improved Customer Experience: Cloud-based solutions offer greater integration opportunities that, in turn, can help you meet the distinct needs of your customers.
  • Beat The Competition: The increased agility of cloud phone solutions can help you increase productivity, retain and attract top talent and more easily set your business apart in competitive markets.

6 More Reasons Why Cloud Phone Service Beats Out Onsite Phone Systems

Cloud Phone Service and unified communications let you use voice, data, Internet, video and other communication services through an integrated product or system. It integrates popular communications and collaboration applications to help you streamline everyday workflows and improve productivity. You’ll benefit from features including:

1. Chat/Instant Messaging: Collaborate and communicate with other employees wherever they are, even across the globe.

2. Web Conferencing & Desktop Sharing: Increase the effectiveness of your online meetings by sharing documents and visuals.

3. Video Conferencing: Benefit from integrated, cloud-based video conferencing that provides a seamless environment for a more personal communications experience.

4. Mobile Applications: Take your business line wherever you go and seamlessly move from your desk to a computer softphone to a mobile device without skipping a beat.

5. Collaboration Tools: Eliminate email clutter with virtual workspaces, team- or project-based chat rooms and task management tools.

6. Back-Office Integrations: You’ll have solutions with a broad suite of integrations to your key back-office systems such as your CRM or helpdesk systems. This will simplify routine tasks and improve reporting capabilities.

Your business will be more agile with Cloud Phone Service that’s reliable, flexible, scalable and provides greater access to innovative features designed to make your employees more productive.

For more information and a complimentary assessment of your business phone needs, contact ICS in Houston, San Antonio or Austin.

Is Your 2019 Business Technology Plan Completed?

The new year is already upon us, but it is not too late to put together a solid, sensible information technology plan for 2019. Strategic planning in all areas of operation—including technology—helps organizations budget for and efficiently manage day-to-day requirements while investing in long-term projects and solutions.

As your business evolves, so will it’s IT requirements. Likewise, as technology advances, your company will also have to adapt to stay viable and competitive. For 2019, your top concerns regarding technology likely will include:

  • Upgrading software
  • Making data and systems more secure
  • Preparing for structural changes
  • Responding to threats and emergencies
  • Supporting business growth—locally, nationally, and/or globally

A vigorous technology plan should address these concerns, as well as those unique to your business and industry, and provide a framework to guide IT-related decision-making, prioritization, and task-implementation. If you have not yet started, here are a few ideas for how you can start putting together a robust technology plan to support the success of your company in 2019.

What should a technology plan account for?

Anticipated changes within your company may impact what items are necessary for your strategic technology plan to address for 2019 and the years beyond. Having a clear picture of where your company or organization is headed will help make it easier for you and other members of the IT team to determine which new technologies and upgrades are necessary and/or preferable for your specific business strategy. For instance, you should consider whether your organization plans to add or eliminate a notable number of employees within the fiscal year. Another question to address: Are you are planning to acquire any additional companies or provide new products or services? All these considerations will factor into your technology requirements. As you determine which new software, hardware or other IT solutions you may need in 2019, make sure they will integrate well with your existing IT environment.

Additionally, your technology plan should include arrangements for support services, including installation, maintenance, upgrading, and troubleshooting. Most business operations for companies across a range of industries are severely limited when technical issues arise, making it vital for you to preempt possible IT disruptions and have a plan for dealing with them.

How can companies deal with IT security threats?

It is common knowledge that cyber-security threats are continually evolving, along with the IT defenses needed to prevent and mitigate the risk. According to the Information Security Forum, an independent research organization, companies should stay well-informed about emerging technologies and corresponding threats to position themselves to make the best business decisions.

Information Security Forum’s Threat Horizon for 2019 reports on nine major threats that companies should expect to face in earnest over the coming year or two.

The first category of threats pertains to disruption from an over-reliance on fragile connectivity. The cyber-security threats in this category include:

  • Premeditated Internet outages
  • Hijacking from ransomware
  • Privileged insiders aiding in cyber-attacks

The second category covered by the Information Security Forum’s report deal with distortion, which occurs when trust in the integrity of information is lost. The risks in this category include:

  • Automated misinformation gaining undue credibility
  • Falsified information compromising performance
  • Subverted blockchains

In the third and final category are threats that have to do with deterioration, or controls eroding because of regulations and technology. These threats include:

  • Surveillance laws exposing corporate secrets
  • Privacy regulations impeding how organizations monitor insider threats
  • Overly enthusiastic deployment of AI (artificial intelligence) leading to unexpected outcomes

The proliferation of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices being used in professional environments only increases the amount and varies the types of cyber-security risks that companies face. As a business of any size, your goal should be to protect your systems and networks from data loss or malicious attacks, both internal and external.

Should you invest in Cloud technology?

Compelled by factors such as profitability, efficiency, and gaining a competitive advantage, about 71 percent of small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) intend to increase their investment in cloud-based technologies in 2019, according to survey data from Bill.com, a company that creates digital business payment solutions. The three primary areas for anticipated investment, according to respondents, include marketing software, sales software, and payments software. Cloud computing allows for streamlined operations, connected through a sort of virtual office accessible to employees and clients. While it comes with some risks, especially about privacy and security, cloud technology is definitely trending for the capabilities it provides, such as flexibility, potentially lower IT costs, collaboration efficiency, access to automatic updates, and business continuity.

Bill.com’s Chief Marketing Officer Yael Zheng reportedly stated, “These businesses are now developing a clear understanding of how technology can help them streamline processes and ultimately power business growth, which I anticipate will lead to even more investment in the future.”

As you put together and implement a technology plan for 2019, consider whether further embracing and investing in cloud-based technologies can help propel the growth of your business.

What changes are coming to Windows?

Beware: Jan. 14, 2020, is an essential date for Microsoft users for a couple of reasons. At that time, Microsoft will end support for Windows 7 software systems, as well as Windows Server 2008 and 2008 RS. If you have not already formulated a plan to upgrade to Windows 10 systems and new server technologies, 2019 is your opportunity to do so. Microsoft’s options for new server systems include upgrading to Windows Server 2016 or migrating your company’s workloads to Azure. Replacing outdated software and server systems is critical to protecting your infrastructure, applications and information. Even as early as April, your outdated Microsoft system may not receive critical security fixes, as new systems are moving over the to the more secure SHA-2 algorithm in the future. Keep in mind this transition may take some time, making it imperative to start the process sooner rather than later.

2019 Technology Plan

Is technology planning an easy goal to accomplish?

As the year progresses, you may have to work with IT consultants and other department heads within your company to update or tweak your technology plan to address unexpected costs and events or to take advantage of current opportunities in the marketplace. Once you start a project outlined in your plan, you may also have to adjust cost estimates or deadlines to have a more realistic framework to guide progress. Just because adjustments might need to be made down the road, however, that does not negate the prudence and benefits of engaging in a formal strategic planning process at the start of the year. Doing so can help you optimize IT spending and proactively invest for the future, creating a culture of continuous improvement rather than merely trying to stay on top of day-to-day technology needs.

From the get-go, and along the way, your organization should take advantage of the knowledge and expertise of IT consultants and advisors who are more well-versed on current market trends, innovative technologies, and emerging cyber-security threats.