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5 things IT consulting does for your business

IT consulting is different than hiring an in-house IT team or using a third party IT firm to handle all the technical needs for your business. An IT consultant may only work with your business for a short time. They can also come in intermittently to make sure everything is running as it should and make adjustments or recommendations.

Here are 5 ways hiring an IT consultant could help you:

1. Make projects happen

You’ve been considering a technological project, but you are not a technical expert. It can be hard to launch other projects when you are focused on your small business’ day-to-day operations.

Whether it is implementing a new CRM, setting up services in the cloud or making sure your technology infrastructure is truly secure, an IT consultant can come in and make it all happen, finally.

IT consulting can leaves you with space to focus on your area of expertise while giving you the comfort knowing your project is not simply getting done but getting done in a timely manner with professional oversight and accountability.

2. Help you get the most bang for your buck

IT consultants can help your business save money by implementing new and innovative solutions. For example, virtualization can help your business run multiple operating systems on the same server, letting you harness the power of different programs while saving you money on server space.

Moving to cloud services and storage with the help of IT consulting can also save money on expensive physical data storage costs.

3. Keep you secure

Digital security is of the utmost importance in this day and age. One way IT consultants can help to keep your business and data safe is by helping you to manage mobile devices and policies around employees using their own devices for work.

An IT consultant can make sure that your team connects via a secure VPN to encrypt any data transferred between mobile devices and your company’s valuable digital assets.

They can also help you come up with policies that protect data during the onboarding and offboarding process when personal devices are involved. IT consultants can also further minimize risk by training your team on digital safety risks like phishing schemes and malware viruses.

4. Be prepared for disaster

Hire an IT consultant to get your business ready for the unthinkable. Of course you hope you will never need to use these solutions, but it’s best to be prepared. Let an IT expert help you come up with a disaster recovery plan for your technology infrastructure, create trustworthy backups and educate your team on how to avoid errors that could lead to data loss.

5. Communicate better

Communication is the foundation of any small business. You have to communicate with your employees, your vendors and your clients.

Having the latest in VoIP technology, seamless integration of applications like Office 365 and other modern solutions, and proper training on using these tools can make your office function as efficiently as possible.

Contact an expert IT consultant to get more information on how consulting can help with your small business IT needs.

How Expensive Is Downtime, Anyway?

If time is money, then how much money does downtime cost your business?

That’s a difficult question to answer. All companies have unique business plans and technologies. One thing is certain, though: downtime costs small businesses a lot of time and harms their reputations.

The damage that your company experiences depends on several factors, but you can expect downtime to harm you in the following ways.

Lost Revenue During Peak Hours

Most websites go down because their servers receive too many requests from internet users. As more people come to your e-commerce store, the server inches closer to capacity. Once it crosses the line, the server will crash and your store will go offline.

Suddenly, your business doesn’t have a way to sell its products and services to online shoppers.

That’s really bad news.

To make matters even worse, website downtime usually happens during peak hours when the most visitors come to your site. You have more people than usual trying to buy your products, but you can’t sell them anything because your website doesn’t work.

Since people do most of their shopping around 8 p.m., that’s probably when your website will fail. An hour of downtime, therefore, doesn’t mean that you’ve lost an hour of selling. It means that you’ve lost one of your most lucrative hours of selling.

The Cost of Reviving Your System

If your business struggles with downtime, then you probably don’t have an IT team that knows how to address the root of the problem. Since you don’t have the right personnel on staff, you’ll need to hire someone to revive your system and get everything back online.

Related: How to Create the Perfect BDR Plan

The good news is that most managed IT services are very affordable. The bad news is that you don’t have time to compare quotes. You need someone to solve the problem as quickly as possible.

In your rush to revive your system, you may choose a high-priced IT consultant that wants to take advantage of your situation. That person will probably solve your problem, but you’ll spend big bucks on the project.

Calculating the Cost of Downtime for Your Business

It’s relatively easy to talk generally about how expensive downtime is. In reality, downtime affects different companies in unique ways. The cost of downtime depends on factors like how many employees you have, how much of your sales take place online and how much you will have to pay someone to fix the problem.

A basic equation might look something like:

Cost of Downtime = Lost Revenue + Hourly Employee Pay + Recovery Fees

Unfortunately, not all factors related to downtime are easy to quantify. How do you determine the cost of:

  • Losing customers to your competitors.
  • Low employee morale.
  • Customer dissatisfaction.
  • Lost productivity while replying to angry customers.
  • Ripple effects in your supply chain.

No matter how much you think downtime costs your business, you’re probably wrong. The true cost is much higher.

Related: How the Cloud Fits Your Business

Defeating Downtime for Good

Instead of worrying about how much downtime will cost your business, hire an IT company that offers network, business continuity, security and help desk services. Having a team of professionals on your side will help you avoid downtime. If downtime is unavoidable, the team at GB Tech can minimize its impact on your business.

Contact GB Tech to learn more about avoiding downtime and scheduling maintenance outside of busy hours. With the right approach, you can protect your business while your competitors suffer the consequences of unplanned downtime.

How Does the Cloud Work, and How Does It Benefit Your Business?

Cloud computing has caused a storm in the tech sector. It’s just a gimmick, people say. It won’t last. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Cloud computing improves cash flow, boosts productivity and keeps all your data safe and secure. It’s no wonder, then, that experts predict the public cloud computing market will be worth more than $159 million by the year 2020. Get used to it, cloud computing is here to stay. What’s the forecast? Clouds everywhere.

Is Cloud Computing the Future of Tech?

There’s a lot of hype that surrounds cloud computing. Even a few experts believe it’s just a trend – soon to flop like the Dreamcast games console or Microsoft Kin. But cloud computing isn’t a fad, it’s the future. And the statistics speak for themselves. Cloud spending has grown 4.5 times faster than IT spending since 2009, and experts predict it will grow six times faster through 2020.

How Does It All Work?

Here’s the technical bit. The cloud refers to delivering and managing information services through a remote network like an internet, instead of a computer system.

Think of the cloud like your basement – a place where you can conveniently store loads of seasonal, bulky or special stuff that you don’t need right now and access it whenever you like. You can keep documents and photos and resources in a virtual space, away from your premises. This provides you with loads of security benefits.

“Each cloud service is a series of servers, each with its own purpose,”says Technology Services at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Some servers store data while others run software or control access to information. The function of the servers is largely dependent upon the cloud service being provided.”

Cloud Benefits for Your Small Business

So, how can the cloud work for you? First, this tech-savvy network model reduces inefficiencies in your workplace. You can access your data from anywhere in the world and reduce the amount of IT infrastructure you keep on your premises.

Second, you can improve your data security by implementing a cloud setup. When your data is maintained in a  remote, professionally managed environment, you won’t lose valuable information if your local network hardware or software malfunctions or you experience a physical disaster like a flood, fire or hurricane.

“Cloud services can be especially practical for smaller organizations because they reduce internal IT resources and the time spent managing them,” says Tom’s IT Pro. “Instead of relying on additional hardware and software and people to manage and secure them, organizations can take advantage of cloud’s flexibility, scalability, security, availability, reliability and more.”

The Future of the Cloud

The forecast for this technology isn’t cloudy. Research suggests that 83 percent of all data will be cloud-based within the next three years. That’s a lot of data.

Hiring a managed service provider helps you maximize those cloud benefits. These professionals provide around-the-clock security and monitoring services to ensure your data is safe from hackers. No longer will you need to maintain your IT hardware, either. Plus, you save on your electricity bills because everything happens off-premises.

Incorporating cloud computing into your small business just makes sense. If you want to reduce infrastructure costs, improve efficiencies and boost security, this tech provides you with a solution. If you think this is just another fad, think again.

Hurricane Harvey and Other Disasters: Why Your Business Needs a BDR Plan

In August of 2017, the Houston area experienced around 50 inches of rain in a four-day period due to Hurricane Harvey. The storm was devastating. Lives were lost and homes and businesses were destroyed.

Even those businesses that remained physically intact suffered huge losses because they experienced power and data outages, forcing them to shut down. Few companies emerged unscathed, but those companies with a BDR (backup and disaster recovery) plan minimized their losses.

In fact, many of the companies with a plan in place were able to get back to business quite quickly after the rain stopped. This fast response allowed construction companies and other rebuilders to help the entire city recover.

What is a BDR?

A BDR is a detailed plan to recover and restore your data when disaster strikes. A BDR includes multiple strategies, including comprehensive data backup and methods to minimize downtime. A good BDR plan will ensure that your company stays productive during extreme conditions and lets you work even if your office is destroyed.

Related: The Cloud: Why It’s More Important than Ever

How Does a BDR Plan Work?

A BDR plan will typically call for storing copies of files and other data in separate locations. If business computers are damaged or hacked, you can retrieve all of your important information, usually through a cloud service.

Disaster recovery may include recovering a physical or virtual server by using a virtual machine. This process restores files and other data that may have been damaged.

Why You Need a BDR Plan

Every area in the country is vulnerable to some sort of disaster, whether it be weather-related or a result of hacking. Your company needs a BDR for multiple reasons, including the following:

Finances

The downtime resulting from a data disaster can put your business in the red or even cause it to close. In fact, downtime costs small businesses up to $8,600 per hour. Though the number grows for larger organizations, the core message is the same – any amount of downtime can be financially devastating to your business.

Inevitable Issues

Your company will face system issues at some point. Hardware and software are prone to failure. Cyberattacks are all too common. Very few businesses exist without at least one major data crisis, and some must endure multiple failures.

In short, your business can’t avoid disasters, but you can plan for them.

Related: 3 of the Worst IT-related Disasters Ever (And What You Can Learn From Them)

Customer Expectations

Customers have little patience for system failure. They have come to expect constant access to your company, often through the internet. If you are not available to meet their needs 24/7, they will find another company that will.

After Hurricane Harvey, many small businesses suffered from terrible physical damage as well as system failures. Six months out from the hurricane, some businesses were still struggling.

Those with a BDR plan were able to quickly resume service again.

No business can afford to function without a clear disaster plan that safeguards their data and their servers. If you do not have a detailed plan, a disaster can put you out of business. If you have not made preparations for a crisis, consult with IT specialists to find out how to get started.

Data Backups and the Erroneous Behavior of Your Employees

When Hurricane Harvey swept through Houston, it left behind catastrophe, in both lives lost and in at least $125 billion in damages. Twenty seconds in Mexico City in September 2017 was all it took to shake hundreds of businesses to the ground. In California, too, wildfires ravaged 1.2 million acres, destroying more than 10,000 structures and killing hundreds. These kinds of disasters exist all over. And yet, the number one threat to your business’s data is your employees.

So, how are your employees damaging your data backup system? We’ve compiled some of the most common ways employees can release your hard earned data into the world.

Simple Human Error

People make mistakes. This isn’t surprising. And when it comes to technology and data, things can get particularly hairy. If you were in Hawaii this past January, you may have gotten this text: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” Whether you sought immediate shelter or a change of pants, you soon realized the ripple effect of human error when the wrong button was pressed during a routine shift change.

Employees can accidentally delete files, move files to unknown locations and more, effectively ballooning downtime for businesses with lax backup protocols. It should be noted that the employees of businesses with strong backup protocols do commit the same errors. However, the more prepared businesses get their data back.

“90% of all cyber claims stemmed from some type of human error or behavior.” – Chief Executive

Leaving the Company

Yes, there are always those times when a disgruntled employee walks out with access to data. When leaving the company, bad feelings could cause any number of circumstances to arise. Ex-employees could access your cloud computing tools and delete files, projects, or tasks. Likewise, access to the network is often through Wi-Fi. A disgruntled employee could sit outside the building and decimate your network files from a mobile phone.

The temperament of the exit is irrelevant. Think: An employee who accessed work email through a home computer could have downloaded plenty of sensitive data onto that computer. You should have protocols in place that eliminate access in entirety, whether the employee is disgruntled or not.

Malicious Intent

Malicious intent could be the big problem with employees who leave the company. But this could also arise with current employees. You obviously don’t want to spend your day giving sidelong glances at employees, but knowing this is a possibility, you want to ensure you have taken the steps to protect your data from bad actors within your organization.

Part of this can come from network architecture and the principle of least privilege. By giving employees access to the least amount of data they need to complete their tasks, you’re well on your way to safeguarding your data.

Non-Compliance

There are many regulatory bodies that govern business, and keeping in tune with their cybersecurity requirements is a full-time job in itself. But the reasons are pertinent. Much of data loss for businesses could’ve been avoided with due diligence in terms of compliance. But, of course, a good majority of businesses do not maintain adequate compliance measures. In 2018, 90% of firms will receive compliance deficiency letters.

Read Blog: 3 of the Worst IT-related Disasters Ever (and What You Can Learn from Them)