IT Solutions

Smart Hands, do you need them?

Many businesses today are utilizing managed services to keep their systems running at peak efficiency and performance or they tend to build large internal IT groups to handle all of their IT needs?  Is there something in between?  Smart Hands is one avenue to handle IT! 

Smart Hands basically refers to a technical support system wherein technicians stationed at the site can quickly respond to problems that may arise within your IT environment. In contrast to certified technicians, they are not necessarily trained nor duly recognized to specialize in a specific technology but have enough knowledge that under the guidance of certified technicians they can address many issues immediately!  Instead of needing the high end, expensive engineers at a given location Smart Hands can be used to work with a central team of certified staff to accomplish quickly and efficiently and at a reduced cost what normally would require expensive staff.  

How do Smart Hands work?  They are the onsite component of a technical delivery system whereby the certified “high end” engineering support can be remote and the onsite staff has enough knowledge to leverage the remote certified support.  Smart Hands make use of central certified resources and highly trained project management staff to accomplish local implementation and management tasks at a fraction of the price.  

Here are some of the advantages of Smart Hands: 

The onsite staff receives instructions from certified technicians and project managers to troubleshoot advanced issues.  So why use …

3 Common Small Business Technology Problems & How to Fix Them

Modern business is powered by modern technology—but modern technology does have its hang ups. Businesses need to master common technological issues to grow their business, stay ahead of the competition, and protect their data from cybersecurity threats.

Massive equipment failure, digital communication systems going down, or a data security breach can cause business operations to grind to a halt. Technology is absolutely essential to your business—but glitches happen. How can you ensure issues with your business tech won’t leave your business in the dark? Here are three of the most common business technology problems, and how to address them:
1. Lack of Proactiveness
The best way to fix a problem is to stop it before it starts. Because digital systems require routine maintenance to run securely and efficiently, wise business owners will institute proactive processes and procedures to predict, plan for, and prevent issues before they become time-consuming and money-consuming emergencies.

For example, protect against accidental file deletion by developing a reliable data backup and disaster recovery plan, or institute regular maintenance checklists for your company IT personnel. No matter what type of business technology you have, the old Benjamin Franklin adage most certainly applies: an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

In addition to backing up files and performing routine maintenance, adequate power protection is an essential component of any tech protection plan. Beyond anticipating a lack of power, business tech leaders should protect against sudden spikes or surges …

Importance of Network Segmentation for Cybersecurity in Small Businesses

Owners and managers of small businesses may think they are immune to attacks from cybercriminals because they believe larger enterprises would seem to be a much more appealing target.

But security through obscurity is not a viable defense against computer hackers who have all the time in the world and plenty of software tools to gain access to systems lacking defenses or whose defense is minimal and outdated. To make a computer system safer, information technology professionals now rely on network segmentation.
What Network Segmentation Is
Essentially, network segmentation is the process of dividing a network into different segments, according to how much protection they warrant. It protects information and also helps you visualize it better. When you connect multiple devices to the same network, they can have insight into the network traffic of all the devices in your setup. Properly segmenting your networks is crucial for increasing the security of your data.

You isolate different parts of your computer network from one another in network segmentation. The idea is that if a criminal hacker penetrates one lower-level network, he or she won’t be able to leverage that access to gain entry into a more valuable network, such as a database holding customers’ payment details.

When you segment your networks, it’s easier to protect them all by applying appropriate levels of security to them.
Why Network Segmentation is Important for Small Businesses
You must adhere to network segmentation best practices because the safety and security of …

3 Cybersecurity Strategies Your Small Business Needs

When faced with unknown dangers, it pays to formulate a strategy to protect your small business.

A case in point: Your business has a computer network that you rely on to keep everything humming along smoothly. If your system crashed or if criminals broke in to steal data or delete files, how long would it take for you to restore the network? Not only will employees be idled until you sort out the problem, your customers also will be left in the dark, waiting for you to restore service.

Cybersecurity attacks happen pretty constantly, and you don’t want your small business to be the next victim. A cybersecurity attack will cost you more than money—you’ll also be paying in the form of your reputation as a business and lost customers.

The minimum requirements for good cybersecurity for businesses are endpoint security, firewall and intrusion detection, and vulnerability scanning. With that in mind, here are three cybersecurity strategies that your small business needs to implement sooner rather than later.
1. Endpoint Security
The endpoints in your company are the devices used by the end-users. This includes smartphones, laptops, and desktop computers. They are the main point of contact to your company’s computer network and as such need protection.

If your organization allows workers to carry their own smartphones and laptops to do company business under a Bring Your Own Device program, your IT department will need to establish a policy to keep them secure.

This will include …

3 Steps to Take When Call Quality Drops

Call quality is a prime consideration for anybody looking to get the most out of their phone system. Nothing is more frustrating than a bad connection with a client or lead during an important phone call, and though VoIP systems have many business benefits, they have also created a new set of obstacles to overcome. Because VoIP systems rely on a fast connection on both ends, a weak connection could mean a disturbance in audio or visual quality. While we have limited control over what happens outside our networks, some things can be done internally to ensure the quality of your VoIP phone systems.

Here are five steps you can take to improve your phone call quality.
1. Calming the Jitters
VoIP delivers voice information through network packets. When functioning correctly, they are evenly spaced and delivered in a constant stream. However, network malfunctions can lead to communication delays, or the audio can be scrambled, making it hard to understand.

Minor jitters can be fixed by replacing an Ethernet cable. Using a category six cable transfers the information between networks faster, which reduces the likelihood that data will arrive out of order.

For more severe problems, installing a jitter buffer can briefly store and organize voice packets to make sure it plays them in the proper order.
2. Reduce Bandwidth Usage
The amount of bandwidth being used on a network will impact audio during a call. Monitoring your network traffic is the easy and cost-effective route to audio …

Should You Use an MSP For Your IT Solutions?

The managed services business model is booming as more and more businesses partner with providers for their IT solutions. The MSP market is forecasted to grow from $152.45 billion in 2017 to $257.85 billion by 2022, and is expected to continue to grow steadily beyond that point. But while widespread adoption is a nice endorsement, the fact that everyone’s doing it isn’t exactly the best basis for making a business decision.

We’ve written about the benefits your business can reap from using managed IT services before — with talking points like predictable monthly costs, better security practices, and faster responses for improved technology uptimes, it’s hard for us to not get carried away. But what makes MSPs really stand out? Why should you take the leap and use managed IT services?

More Business Partner than Tech Desk
While managed services providers can certainly fix your computer when it breaks, their capabilities are above and beyond the purview of technical support services. A good MSP works with you and your business to understand your practices and goals, then strategizes to ensure that everything they do helps to achieve those goals. All at once, they are technicians, data security specialists, technology advisors, industry experts, troubleshooters, hardware installers, and more. The break/fix model of IT is obsolete, replaced by the holistic approach of MSPs.

Expertise for Any Level of Service
Shifting the responsibility for commodity IT services – that is, services like email, web, and file serving which work more or …

Why IT Productivity is Important

IT departments work hard to make sure their company’s equipment is functioning properly, but what happens when everything is working the way it should? Although solving computer problems and other technological issues is no small task, an IT department that only focuses on putting out fires is not living up to its full potential. IT department productivity requires that teams have the time and flexibility to focus on strategic business goals, not just responding to requests.

Outside of the department, IT teams are perfectly poised to solve problems within their companies and drive forward company innovation. With an intimate knowledge of the company’s technological systems, IT specialists have insights that are valuable to any number of company issues or initiatives. Their involvement could lead to forward-thinking solutions with technology seamlessly integrated, saving them the future work of trying to incorporate company systems into a policy, service, or product that wasn’t designed with technology in mind.

By encouraging IT specialists to do work in other departments, they also have the opportunity to see the way other employees use company technology. This could lead to better practices and the streamlining of processes, saving both time and frustration among employees. When IT department employees are in problem solving and task groups, the company gains new perspectives that could lead to better solutions.

Within the IT department, teams should be collaborating to set expectations and business goals. Teams should know exactly what their job entails, including all duties. …

Mitel & ShoreTel

As many of you have been made aware, Mitel announced last week that they’ve entered into a definitive agreement to purchase ShoreTel.  This transaction is projected to finalize in the 3rd quarter of 2017.

We’ve had several customers reach out with questions as to how this affects them with their current ShoreTel system along with prospects curious about how this may affect a future or eminent purchase, all great questions.

We’re providing a document from Mitel concerning several of these questions for you to read through. You can access it here.

In short, we feel this is very positive and exciting news.  Between the two companies they will create the 2nd largest Premise/Cloud Manufacturer/Provider in the US giving us a much more robust product set for our customers.  And from everything that’s been disclosed so far, all existing ShoreTel products will remain on the same trajectory.  Any future changes will allow for the best of both products to be merged together in order to create the best possible products for our customers.

As always, we are happy to address any questions you may have so feel free to reach out to us directly at

How Unified Communications & IT Solutions Can Help Attract Millennials

Millennials are taking over the world, and not just only in a figure of speech. There are more millennials in the current workforce than any other generation, and it’s estimated that they will constitute roughly 75% of the global workforce by 2025. From inventing new IT solutions to pushing boundaries in marketing, the young workforce is doing it all!

The go-getter mindset millennials possess is the result of growing up with ever-evolving technology. It is a fact that this generation is the first to have used cell phones, computers, tablets, laptops, and other gadgets to complete day-to-day tasks.

The technological expertise they have developed over the years can be a boon for corporations, but only if they truly adapt to the “millennial attitude.” Unified communications can play a significant role in utilizing this tech-savvy crowd to their maximum potential due to all its benefits.

How unified communications can attract millennials:

1. By encouraging virtual relationships

Millennials grew up building virtual relationships all their life. From the days of dial-up internet and Rediff mail chat rooms to the ongoing dominance of Facebook and Snapchat, millennials have managed to find a place among them all. Naturally, they are more comfortable in dealing with virtual relationships that involve tweeting, texting, WhatsApp, social media, and what not.

So, if you want to attract the best pool of millennial employees, it’s important to provide them modern communication options such as web chat, video conferencing, etc. Millennials want to work with …

What Could Be Hindering Your IT Department Productivity Levels?

Companies often find themselves in positions where they have to increase their IT department productivity. With “more for less” being an increasingly common expectation in today’s market, more is at stake when it comes to staying productive.

But just because productivity is top of mind does not mean that your current business strategy is supporting the productivity of your IT department. In fact, you may not even know how to measure that productivity. IT department productivity is essential to the development and growth of your business. Keep reading to learn how to understand IT productivity measures and what may be keeping your team from reaching its true potential.
Defining & Measuring IT Productivity
Finding the pulse of IT productivity can be like shooting in the dark. A few techniques have been posited and tested over the years though none truly manages to capture the whole picture with one single measurement. Some of the different techniques that have bee explored include:

Measuring software development using function points, as delivered per person
Calculating support desktops per system administrator
Calculating servers per system administrator.

While all of these can give valuable insight into productivity, no single measurement serves to adequately answer the question as to whether an IT department is getting more, or less, productive over time.

Instead, companies are more likely to be able to measure the true productivity and value of an IT department by assessing how the department is contributing to overall costs. IT projects can and …