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Archive for March, 2013

This marks the 9th year that I have written articles for our CMIT newsletters reminding our readers about the story of  the Ides of March and how this 2,000 year-old quote and story have significance in our lives today when it comes to your business and technology.

Julius CaesarThe soothsayer warned Emperor Julius Caesar of his death. The Ides of March didn’t signify anything special back then since it was a way of saying “March 15th.” Each month has an Ides (15th day in March, May, July, and October; the 13th in the other months) and this date had no significance until it was associated with Caesar’s untimely, yet foretold, death.

In year’s past, I have often made the analogy to watching your (technology) systems and taking good care so no attack is made upon your business from within or outside. And, if someone were to initiate an attack, your technology’s health and management would be solid so as to shut down the attacker with minimal casualties to your business.

The business owners and principals in a business need to be aware of what’s going on around them. When it comes to computer networks and how people within the organization are using the technology, it’s even more important. A few years ago there were less things of which you needed to be aware like employees using their smartphones for work and bringing in their iPads and so forth. Now, this is another aspect of business policy and IT security that has to be determined and enforced.

Julius Caesar had enemies in the Roman Senate that we could analogize to those insufferable computer viruses that are poised to attack at any moment. Is your network prepared for attacks or downtime due to hardware failure, disasters or human error or mischief? Does your business have a disaster recovery plan in place and the tools to minimize such dangers (including financial)?

We always speak with our existing and prospective clients that the best and least stressful way to defend ourselves against costly downtime is to be prepared. This translates into ensuring that your business is managed  and monitored proactively which includes data backup and test restores.

Ask us about our stress reducing and productivity increasing programs, CMIT Marathon and CMIT Guardian. Don’t forget to inquire about
our Disaster Recovery Plan that can be customized for your particular business.

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SecurityBreachWith the unending announcements of IT security breaches with the most recent coming from Evernote, we must be proactive in protecting our respective small and mid-sized businesses. As an IT service provider and consultant to small and medium-sized businesses, we see a few common problems among new customers. Whether because of oversight, ignorance, neglect, or user error, the following five issues keep many businesses from achieving their full potential and, at worst, jeopardize a company’s very existence.

1. Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) – A company’s electronic data is one of its most valuable—and fragile—assets. A shocking number of small businesses either rely on manual backups or just keep their fingers crossed. For maximum protection, a business needs not only an automated backup system (to minimize human error), but also a thoroughly tested and simple to implement disaster recovery plan to get the business back up and running in the event of a disaster. Companies should implement such a disaster recovery plans as part of an overall business continuity strategy designed to minimize any disruption to business operations.

2. Adherence to Security Protocols – Your car alarm won’t give you much protection if you leave your keys on the hood. As with many security systems,
the human factor is often one of the weakest links. Poor login management, shared passwords, and other shortcuts leave your computers and network open to
threats. Educating your staff about the importance of adhering to security measures (and making sure they do) is of the utmost importance.

3. Outdated Equipment – This especially applies to network infrastructure such as routers, bridges, and firewalls. Just because a device still works doesn’t mean it’s working securely. As security protocols have progressed, especially in the wireless space, manufacturers have had to increase performance to keep up with increasingly complicated encryption schemes. Running older hardware makes you more an easier target (and therefore more attractive) for hackers.

4. Unsecured Mobile Devices – Yes, employees love the convenience of accessing their email via a smartphone, but smartphones are also easy to lose (as are laptops and USB drives). What if that device held sensitive information? Or provided a direct path into your corporate server? Again, adherence to proper
security protocols is paramount. All devices need to be protected with robust, regularly changing passwords, and all employees need to understand and adhere to a written “mobile device acceptable use” policy.

5. Lack of Cohesive IT Strategy – Most companies expand their IT infrastructure as their business grows. As such, they often find themselves with a patchwork system. Smart business owners see IT as a strategic business asset, not just a necessary evil. Investing in a coherent, well-designed IT infra-structure and strategy not only provides security and increased performance, but also does good things for your bottom line.

No disaster recovery plan?
Unsure if you’re backups are correctly backing up? Don’t wait for disaster to strike before putting a data security and business continuity plan in place.
Sign up for a free technology and security assessment from CMIT (valued at $697), and we’ll show you how to protect one your business’s most valuable assets—your data.

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Do As The Romans Do

The Romans Have A Lot Of Which To Be Proud

On this Ides of March (March 15), should we ask ourselves “Why should we do as the Romans do?”  Roman history can boast phenomenal feats and accomplishments. Conversely, there have been a plethora of bad, unsavory and unjust things done.

The Romans have had an overall positive effect on civilizations old and new. Many of the tenets, practices and cultural carry-overs for business, philosophy, government and life in general have evolved over the centuries and millenia from the Roman Empire, Great Britain, Asia, the Middle East and our own U.S.A.

Keep reading books and watching programs – whether it’s straight non-fiction or historical fiction – to better understand how we got to where we are today and to help us move successfully into the future. Keep meeting others to expand your sphere of influence in your different circles – personal, work, community, religious. The successful people whom I know in my industry follow this mantra of learning from the masters who have preceded us and adapt it to what you do. Remember that phrase “imitation is the highest form of flattery?”

In the daily e-zine from ItalianNotebook.com, there was a story about this whole phrase of “do as the Romans do.” Contributing author, Tom Weber, tells us that this phrase dates back to St. Ambrogio (St. Ambrose for us English speakers) in 387 A.D. (Click here for the entire story).

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Debi Bush, CEO, CMIT Solutions of Denver

At my February Executive Committee (ExComm) meeting for my Rotary district we were presented the most recent membership numbers for all 68 clubs. I was concerned when I read that we had yet another drop in membership. I asked myself “How could this be?” My team and I had made ourselves available to clubs, especially those who struggle with maintaining or growing their numbers. Communication with clubs and Rotarians across the district has been consistent and informative for the past twelve months.

Fortunately, I reached out to a Rotary team member asking for another set of eyes. She and her Rotarian husband have a wealth of experience in how the membership reporting works and they alerted me to a discrepancy between how our HQ reports numbers and when compared to our District’s process. The end result was that our district numbers were only down single digit. Had I not consulted a trusted team member (i.e. colleague), I would have been teetering  on the proverbial cliff and continuing to question my efforts and initiatives.

This “fire alarm” with my Rotary numbers reinforced to me the necessity for staying on top of one’s numbers in business (and in Rotary or any other endeavor). My CMIT Pacesetters mastermind group has invested in an online financial metrics tool that allows us to compare our numbers to one another as well as to industry benchmarks. With the help of some financially savvy Pacesetters, we have tweaked, refined and standardized our chart of accounts so our  numbers are “apples to apples.” Otherwise, the comparisons are for naught and the time and money that we have invested in this project.

So far in this article the two lessons learned have been: Know Your Numbers and Reach Out To Your Peers. The next two have been re-validated in  the past month and they are Smile and Keep At It. My husband and partner in our CMIT Denver business, Phil, is known for his smile and his positive attitude. When the two of us are on our game with our smiles and outreach, people respond. People (and their businesses) want to do business with people they like, know and trust. It’s hard to get to the “trust” portion of the relationship if the “like” and “know” segments don’t precede it.

Much like at my Rotary club when we welcome first-time guests, we must make prospects feel welcome, comfortable and at ease. When you think about it, each party involved is interviewing each other to determine if they want to go on a second date (i.e. meeting). And, it’s not just the owners or leadership who are part of the welcoming committee. It’s our front line team members who answer the phone, respond to emails and deliver red boxes with a smile on their face, in their voice and body language.

Keep At It is the fourth and final lesson for the time being. For almost nine years I have produced my electronic newsletters and my print newsletters number seven years.  Sometimes I have pondered whether these newsletters are having any impact upon the recipients. Over the past two months people whom I had never met in person smiled when they saw me because they recognized my face from the headshot in my print newsletter and other marketing materials. How satisfying that has been to know that I can make a difference and create new connections with wonderful people. So, keep at it, take your efforts and strategies up a notch or two and remember to smile!

There is no silver bullet to success in business or life. Learn from those around you and give yourself a pat on the back for your persistence and consistent efforts.

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In the earlier years of CMIT Solutions, software training for Microsoft Windows and Office was part of our repertoire of offerings. We provided 1 on 1 training with accompanying manuals and homework in between sessions. Since then, we have established relationships with businesses that offer basic and in-depth training on programs – in person and online/web.

Do a Google or Bing search for training in the programs that could benefit you by making you more efficient and, therefore, more productive. An online resource that I have used a few times and would recommend for a wide range of training on office software, visual applications, scripting, and even time management is Lynda.com. You pay a monthly subscription fee and with the Premium version, you can download project files for the program you’re training on from which there are hundreds to choose.

To give you a flavor of online training from Lynda.com, check this out below:

Using the weather bar from Office 2013 New Features with David Rivers

Here’s a neat little perk in Outlook 2013 for monitoring the weather.

Office2013-weather

Sometimes when you’re scheduling meetings, you need to consider the weather to determine if other attendees will be able to make it to your location. Here’s
how to access the weather for various locations by using the Calendar view in Outlook.

Go to the folder pane on the left-hand side of the screen and click the Calendar icon. (If your navigation pane is expanded, you’ll find the Calendar pane at the bottom of your Outlook window.) You’ll see your current location up next to the month and year, and a couple of days worth of weather. Hover over the days to get more information.

You can also add additional locations, which is useful if you have offices in more than one location. Click the dropdown menu next to your location, then
click Add Location. Now type in the location you want to add. You can add as many locations as you like. Click the dropdown to switch back to your current
location.

For more tips on suite-wide enhancements to Office, watch David Rivers’s full course, Office 2013 New Features.

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