Open the Door to Success

“Communication is key” may read as cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Whether you’re aiming to grow a business relationship or strengthen an internal team’s ability to collaborate, clear and concise communication will always unlock success.

Whether your employees are returning to the office, continuing their remote work or a hybrid of the two, technologies that increase efficiency and improve internal and external communication are vital to what your organization can accomplish. With the right technologies supporting your organization’s communication and collaboration efforts, you can better position yourself to compete in your channel.

How the World Works

No matter your industry, the working world has changed. Many businesses still aren’t sure if their entire staff will return to the office by the first quarter of 2021. Either way, you need solutions in place that will increase productivity and make your work easier. The right communication and collaboration technologies can aid:

  • Meetings
  • File Sharing
  • Correspondence
  • Data Storage/Backup

No matter if your staff is separated by feet or miles, before next year begins, your need for dependable and efficient communication technologies remains quite real. With the right solutions in place, you can adequately take on the above-mentioned tasks and boost productivity.

Great Tech Makes It Happen

The easier it is for your team to share ideas, data and documents, the easier it will be for them to complete their tasks with greater quality at higher speeds. Most organizations have some form of internal office instant messaging system and use a video conferencing service. However, if these systems aren’t operating as a unified solution, you and your team are wasting time and money.

With a centralized system like Microsoft Office, you can work with greater efficiency. Microsoft Office is much more than spreadsheets and a word processor. It allows you to securely store and share documents internally, and with clients via SharePoint. Moreover, the Teams application enables you to communicate via instant messaging, phone, and video with greater reliability than the independent competitors.

When you connect everyone in a unified data system, you will reach new levels of success beyond your initial expectations.

In-Service of Your Success

While these solutions sound great on paper, migrating your entire business and its data over to the Microsoft Office suite is a challenging hurdle to clear. The most straightforward solve for most companies is to invest in Communications as a Service (CaaS). This service places the burden of unifying your phone, video conferencing, messaging and data collaboration on the shoulders of a technology partner.

They will work with your team and internal technology professional to move you to the solution you want with little to no downtime. Run your company on the best technology available without stopping its progress when you allow a team of professionals to provide CaaS.

How We Can Help

Without the right technology in place, you and your team could be wasting valuable time on troubleshooting inefficient programs that don’t communicate with each other. With the right technology provider, you can unite your entire staff with collaboration software that is fully integrated. Allow our expert staff to prime your business for 2021 by bolstering your communication and collaboration needs.

Get more work done from anywhere when you meet with us.

4 Ways to Increase Collaboration for Your Remote Workforce

Before the arrival of COVID-19, less than five percent of the U.S. population was working remotely full-time. A Gallup poll conducted in early April 2020 determined that over 60 percent of employed Americans worked from home during the crisis. This year, remote work became a necessity. With social distancing guidelines, government restrictions and serious concerns over a health crisis, businesses worldwide have had to adapt to the times, including allowing all non-essential employees to work from home.

Naturally, transitioning your workplace to remote capabilities at the drop of a mask has presented its challenges. Cybersecurity concerns, an isolated workforce and communication issues are a few of the most pressing issues facing businesses with teams suddenly removed from their everyday work environments. Fortunately, leveraging technology is one solution that can help mitigate many of these issues. With the right people, processes and technologies in place, your entire team can work together from anywhere in a secure, connected, flexible workspace.

Collaboration and Technology

In its most fundamental sense, collaboration is the process of motivating employees to work together toward a shared purpose to reach a collective goal. With the right resources in place and the right technology experts in your corner, you can enable more employee interaction, spark collaboration and increase productivity. Several innovative technologies are available to businesses of all sizes that can maximize workplace collaboration — even during a pandemic.

Let’s discuss four ways your business can thrive in 2020 and beyond.

1) Trust in the Cloud: According to Cisco, cloud data centers will process 94 percent of workloads in 2021. Cloud computing technology gives businesses direct access to the information they need. With workers in the office and at home, file storage applications are secure and allow employees to instantly access and share information. With more flexibility and easy remote access, your team’s productivity will go through the roof.

2) Upgrade Your Software: Cloud technologies do more than store valuable information. When you integrate the cloud with Microsoft Office 365, employees work smarter, more efficiently and improve communication. Teams have access to all their familiar applications. They can work on projects simultaneously, share worksheets in real time, and reduce overlap, miscommunication and other issues that bog down productivity levels.

3) Use Team Collaboration Tools: Microsoft Teams and Slack are two forms of team communication platforms that provide an entire team with a secure, centralized place to communicate and streamline their workflows. Employees can instant message, share files, set up virtual conference calls and collaborate on projects from anywhere. Filtering out the fluff of a traditional email system saves the workforce time and increases productivity.

4) Engage Your Team With Video: Video conferencing software like Zoom and Skype can help your team stay connected and accelerate the decision-making process compared with an email or phone call. Video conferencing tools enhance meetings with recording features, chat messaging, and screen-sharing options for visual engagement. Virtual conference rooms can be an engaging way to assemble your team during a time when they may feel isolated.

The Future of Collaboration

Although many businesses are moving to the above technologies out of necessity, they can become a constant and reliable component of any business model moving forward. Considering that flexible working has become the “new normal,” companies that continue to invest in collaborative tools that increase productivity will work seamlessly in the present day and thrive in the future. We can help your business develop a reliable and affordable IT technology infrastructure that can increase team collaboration and productivity.

Get set up for success with the best collaborative tools. Contact us today.

Six Steps to Compliance

If you’re like most busy executives, compliance is a top priority — but it’s not necessarily at the top of your to-do list. Yet businesses of all sizes are governed by federal (and sometimes even international) regulations, and whether you like them or not, they’re in place for a good reason. As a business owner, it’s up to you to stay compliant and protect your precious data, but it’s a responsibility that nobody should shoulder alone.

Keep Everything in Check with Compliance as a Service

Running a successful business is hard work, and at the end of the day, the last thing you want to be worrying about is noncompliance. But in many industries, executives have no choice but to devote time and energy to meeting federal, and in some cases, even global regulations.

Keep Everything in Check with Compliance as a Service

Businesses are required to maintain compliance with regulations that are constantly changing or risk being penalized with costly fines or worse. Not only is your reputation on the line, but you could be putting your customers’ or patients’ sensitive data at risk. These headaches can be forgotten with Compliance as a Service (CaaS), which facilitates the management of private information and keeps everything HIPAA compliant and PCI compliant. If you’re handing personal details about someone’s health or credit cards, you can protect that data and reduce stress with CaaS.

4 Steps to Disaster Recovery

In the wake of COVID-19 – an unprecedented situation – businesses have begun to realize the importance of planning for the unpredicted. A disaster recovery plan (DRP) is the best place to start because it ensures you’ll have access to everything you need to continue to conduct business in the event that something happens. But where do you begin, and what do you need to do to get started? We’ve pulled together four necessary steps to disaster recovery.

NotPetya/Goldeneye Ransomware Virus Notice

Yet another massive ransomware attack called NotPetya (or Goldeneye) was launched this week using some of the same techniques to spread as the WannaCry ransomware. We anticipate that this will become an increasing trend in 2017. Last month, we sent a similar notice to call attention to the urgency of the issue, provide Windows Update instructions, and additional helpful information for ongoing protection. As a courtesy, we have included the same information again below.

Like the WannaCry ransomware attack, this attack is unique in the way it spreads. Initially, the virus infects a system typically through an email attachment or website link. Once a single user is infected, the ransomware virus attempts to spread throughout the local network like a worm by scanning and exploiting unpatched security holes in the Windows operating system on other systems. The specific security holes exploited are among those that came to light after the recent high-profile NSA hack. Unlike before, the virus may also attempt to spread throughout the network by harvesting administrative credentials from processes running in memory on the same system and use them to issue network management commands via WMI or PSExec to other systems.

A patch was released by Microsoft in March for supported operating systems which resolves some of the security holes used to push the infection over the network. Operating systems that are fully patched with the latest Microsoft updates are not vulnerable including Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, Windows 10, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016. In breaking with tradition, Microsoft has released patches for long unsupported operating systems to help protect users including Windows XP, Windows 8 (not upgraded to 8.1), and Windows Server 2003.

For anyone whose workstations are not covered under a monthly IT management agreement with us, action is required on your part to ensure that your systems are fully patched. In the Control Panel under Windows Updates (Windows XP through 8.1) or Start Menu Settings under Update & Security (Windows 10), download and install all available updates as soon as possible for all Windows-based systems. As a reminder, a reboot is usually required to complete the update process which will be indicated by a prompt. You may need to repeat this process more than once until there are no more updates listed. Once all updates have been installed, your system will be fully patched. Additionally, you should make sure that all systems are protected with a paid security software as most free products lack critical protections necessary to detect ransomware.

Keep in mind that an unpatched security hole is only one of the ways this particular virus spreads. With any malware it is still possible to contract an infection by opening virus attachments in an email or visiting an infected website. We would like to take this opportunity to remind you to exercise caution when opening any emails with attachments or website links – especially if the email was unexpected. It is a best practice to be skeptical of any email containing attachments or website links regardless of sender. Always take care to vet the authenticity of the email before opening the attachment or clicking on any links. It is easy for an attacker to spoof (or “fake”) the sender address of an email in an effort to have you open it. Other times attackers use generic wording to accomplish the same task referencing a voicemail, package delivery, fax, IRS correspondence, or wire transfer. When in doubt, contact the sender by phone or by sending a new separate email (do not use the reply option) to confirm the original message is legitimate.

Ongoing protection against this type of attack or mitigating the impact of such an infection successfully requires the following key IT systems in place:

  • Security patch management for Windows and third party programs like Adobe, Java, Flash, Chrome, Firefox, etc
  • Enterprise-grade endpoint security software (ie: anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-ransomware, etc)
  • Email security and spam filtering
  • Air-gapped backups that support multiple restore points or file versioning
  • We offer a variety of monthly services to proactively address all of these components which will take the guess work out of protecting your systems. Please contact us for more information or with any questions.

    Goodbye Windows XP…

    As you may have heard recently, Microsoft is ending support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. You may be asking, what does this mean for me? Generally speaking, it means that nothing will change on your computer immediately. Your Windows XP-based computer and software will continue to run normally for the immediate future. Long term, however, your computer will become more susceptible to virus and malware infection due to unpatched security holes that may be discovered in the future. It also means that as time goes on your computer will be less compatible with new hardware, software, and websites. If you are a business and must meet certain compliances (ie: PCI, HIPPA, SOX, etc), you may no longer be in compliance if you continue to operate on Windows XP.

    We recommend that you replace your Windows XP-based computers sooner than later to avoid these issues. In addition to our own brand of computers, we have access to a wide variety of name-brand systems. Have questions? We love questions!

    Contact us today to see how this will impact you.

    Which Web Browser Should I Choose?

    In today’s web browser market, there are many choices and sometimes it is hard to who which one to choose. There is no right or wrong answer as it ultimately comes down to personal preference. There is certainly no harm in running more than one browser on your computer but not all websites display properly in all browsers. Further, websites that require ActiveX controls will only work in Internet Explorer.

    From our experience, we find that modern versions of Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome work well and display most sites correctly on modern operating systems. If you are running Windows XP, you are not able to install the latest version of Internet Explorer and should consider Google Chrome for the best performance.

    Still not sure which browser to choose? Call Aspire today!

    Moving to a New Office?

    Moving an office to a new location is a long and tedious process with many details. One of the more commonly overlooked details tends to be the IT infrastructure. Virtually all small business networks rely on Internet connections and phones provided by a local telecom provider and not all providers service all locations. Additionally, your new office may not be adequately cabled for your network needs and office layout. Before moving, make sure that your provider can service the new location and schedule it far in advance as it sometimes takes weeks to complete this process.

    The last thing you want to worry about during an office move is whether or not the network will be fully functional on the move date. At Aspire, we help companies of all sizes with entire process of moving locations as well as assess the adequacy of the cabling in the new office. Call Aspire today for assistance moving your office.