With each day in our tech-driven world, businesses are relying more and more on technology in the workplace in order to optimize their operations. However, while technology is great, it can cause a lot of challenges if not understood or used correctly. Advancements in technology can sometimes move quicker than most businesses are able keep up. So to help our readers stay ahead of the curve, we spoke to a few local tech buffs who were able to share some of their expertise.
Learning new things can be scary, and since technology is constantly evolving and new devices, software, apps, etc. are emerging every day, many business owners don’t even attempt to try. If you’re someone who claims to be “technology challenged,” don’t give up hope. It may be uncomfortable or even seem impossible today, but learning how to utilize technology could be what makes or breaks your business tomorrow.
“It never hurts to educate yourself,” Nick Polite, service desk engineer at Lutz Tech, told us. “I would say the first step would be to learn more about the different technology and software offered today that could potentially help your business. There are very manageable technologies and software out there that even the least tech savvy person can implement with a little training and education. We can help you understand everything you need to know in order to update your IT infrastructure correctly and provide continued support, so you’re never in the dark.”
Lutz, founded in 1980, provides accounting, financial, merger and acquisition, staffing, and technology services. They work with clients to ease their mind and invigorate their success. As Nick went on to explain, “The Lutz Tech division has grown significantly since its establishment in 2000, providing a variety of services from application development to infrastructure project design and build. We also offer managed IT services, through which we become the IT resource for the client’s internal IT needs from A to Z.”
“Today, we have roughly 40 employees that contribute to our tech division and our clients’ needs in a variety of ways, from the person answering the phone at the helpdesk to the high-level VCTO consultant that advises on the correct technology to advance your business forward, all while being cost conscious and aware of the cultural and operational structure of your company.” Nick added. “A few trends we’ve seen regarding technology in the workplace include: the adoption of using two-factor authentication, moving to the cloud (Office 365, Microsoft Azure, AWS, Google Drive, etc.), and outsourcing IT and data security.”
Of course it depends on what type of business you are running, but if you are able to outsource, you don’t have to worry about hiring and training an individual or an entire department. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a full-time computer support specialist was over $52,000 in recent years. Through outsourcing, you can know the bare minimum about technology and have a qualified professional on call for support only when you need it. Outsourcing to capable companies like Lutz Tech frees up resources and cuts your operating costs. They’ll also be able to make the shift into technology a little bit easier by talking you completely through it. The biggest reason most people outsource, though, is to decrease security risks. If you don’t have an extremely knowledgeable IT team that’s constantly monitoring your system, your risk of breach increases immensely.
Considering more people are worried about cyber security than ever, we talked to Darren Lichty from Panology Tech Solutions more about this concern: “Ten years ago, I was always the one to have to bring up security. People didn’t really think about it and definitely didn’t understand the importance. Now, there’s been a shift in the conversation. Clients have become more technology-savvy and bring up security, demanding it from the very beginning of the conversation.”
Panology is a tech company devoted to the development of small- and medium-sized businesses. As Darren informed us, Panology utilizes Cylance, which finds current threats and issues in technology better than the traditional antivirus products. With CylancePROTECT, Panology is able to up the security of your business with a unique artificial intelligence (AI) approach that predicts and protects against known and unknown malware, fileless attacks, and zero-day payload execution.
Panology wants to make technical support and cloud services accessible for their clients who don’t have as many resources as larger companies. For new clients, they always start off with an assessment to perform a comprehensive investigation of the technology currently in use at the business. They can help with technological growth, IT efficiency, business security, or even creating business emails.
Even though outsourcing is a great opportunity to save some money, always be careful. A common problem in the online security world is people who believe whatever the IT person tells them to do and end up paying for systems they don’t need.
“You never want to partner with an IT expert who just tells you what box to click,” Darren warned. “To learn more about technology, you need to ask questions and you need to find a partner who is willing to answer those questions and educate you from the perspective of your own business, not from the perspective of someone trying to hit a sales quota. For example, if one of my clients is asking about security, then I would explain antivirus software to them or an endpoint detection response (EDR), and then I would talk about all the risks and benefits. To learn about anything in the technology industry, you need partners who will tell you not just what to buy but why.”
Once your business goes online, it’s important to protect your data and communications. One of the most basic ways you can do this is by having a server that is hosted at a secure source. For example, Binary Net, LLC has data hosting services that feature a 99.9% uptime rate—which basically means your website data is guaranteed to be running almost 100% of the time. If you need to store confidential data such as financial records, credit card numbers, protected health information, social security numbers, etc., or you just need to clear up some space on your servers, Binary Net also has two data centers in Lincoln to provide peace of mind through uptime guarantees.
We spoke to Mike Edwards, business development manager of Binary Net, to learn more about what data centers can do for a business. “For people who may not know, data centers are secure locations that allow businesses to store their data for backup, in the events of natural disasters or other concerns.” Mike stated. “One of our facilities, known as The Vault, is actually built in a Federal Reserve bank vault that is underground in the heart of downtown Lincoln with 30” concrete walls. Data centers need to have redundancy, meaning readily-available power backup. Basically, downtime can’t exist. They also need to have redundant cooling because all of the machines give off a lot of heat. They need to constantly have A/C. Lastly, they need to have high levels of security. Our center, located in the Sharp Building, features biometric security. We utilize fingerprints, key fobs, PINS, and all the whole nine yards to only allow authorized personnel into the area. All of these aspects are imperative for data centers.”
Data centers are high tech ways to protect your data, but what about your physical property? Utilizing technology in terms of property protection is huge right now! With surveillance cameras and other security options, you will always know what is happening at your business regardless of where you are.
“Most people undervalue how much protection a security system will provide compared to the cost. In most cases, added security actually saves businesses time and money by deterring revenue loss from stolen merchandise, destruction of valuable information, and vandalism. They also create a safe work environment for your employees, allowing you to make sure all your employees are in line, and give you peace of mind when you’re away,” Pat Killeen from Engineered Controls told us. “Today, you can get your security system tied into your phone or email so that you’re never disconnected from knowing what’s going on. The latest security systems are all about constant communication and crystal clear reliability. At Engineered Controls, we design, install, maintain, and upgrade a wide range of video and other types of systems to keep your business safe. We always keep the user in mind and contain an efficient and straightforward approach to safety.”
Engineered Controls has solutions for small offices to multi-campus facilities. They are passionately committed to helping their customers achieve their safety and security goals with different security system offerings.
Along with making sure your business has an effective monitoring system in place for optimal function and security of all technical equipment, data, and processes, there is little your company will be able to do without a reliable Internet provider. On the other side of that, if your business’s online presence is slow, uneasy to navigate, or completely nonexistent, you’re really hurting your full potential for success. One of the newer, yet increasingly important technology-centered ways to take your business to the next level is through an interactive, user-friendly mobile app. Most small businesses don’t realize the importance of having a strong online presence, or they just don’t know how to get started altogether. With the current economic climate, businesses throughout the country are looking at ways to reduce costs and increase competitiveness. The mobile app market is experiencing huge growth with over 700 million smartphones activated last year with analysts predicting that there will be more mobile devices than desktop computers by 2020. A quick glance at any busy street or coffee shop would provide further proof, as dozens of people appear busy on their phones—updating their Facebook status, watching YouTube videos, or online shopping at their favorite stores.
Recently, a business entered the Lincoln market that has been able to help other local businesses create an app to make their products/services more easily accessible for their customers. Renee Sobotka of True North Technologies, powered by Eazi Apps, told us a little bit about what they do: “In the last two years, we have seen phenomenal growth in the mobile app market, and businesses are now realizing they need a mobile marketing strategy to meet their customers’ expectations. However, most small businesses are currently out priced when it comes to developing a custom app. True North Technologies will work with businesses to offer a mobile app solution that allows businesses and customers to engage on a platform that is active 24 hours a day. Our experienced team of expert developers will design, build, and publish your app. We share effective promotional strategies to ensure downloads that ultimately result in increased business.”
Identifying this barrier between small businesses and the mobile app market has allowed True North Technologies to provide a solution that is cost effective and allows small businesses to compete with larger companies. With mobile usage set to increase at an alarming rate for the foreseeable future, the real challenge will be to compete for the attention of customers and to produce apps that provide value and encourage interaction.
Keep your customers coming back by utilizing technology that is designed to help your business succeed. Updating your technology and outsourcing the maintenance of it will save you time, money, and energy in the long run. While new technology can be scary, ignoring the trends can be even scarier for the sake of your business!