Virtual Business Solutions Blog

Virtual Business Solutions has been serving the Metairie area since 1999, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

What You Need to Know to Manage a Remote Workforce

What You Need to Know to Manage a Remote Workforce

There are many reasons that your team may want (or need) to work from home, and there are many reasons to allow them to do so. A 2019 survey by OwlLabs indicated that 71 percent of remote workers are happy with their job (as compared to 55 percent of on-site workers); remote workers responded that they are 13   percent more likely than onsite workers to stay in their current job for five more years than onsite workers will; and when respondents claimed to be working longer than 40 hours per week, onsite workers were doing so out of necessity, while remote workers did so out of desire and enjoyment.

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The Employee’s Guide to Working Remotely

The Employee’s Guide to Working Remotely

It’s not uncommon where a situation arises and you will find yourself working from home. To make this work, it is important that you keep a few additional issues in mind so that you can make the most of it. We have put together a few simple best practices that you should keep in mind as you operate remotely.

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Why (and How) SMBs Should Strategically Adopt Technology

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There is no question that a small business can benefit from technology, as has been proven time and time again. However, an issue can arise if a business bites off more than it can chew, so to speak, and ultimately creates a spike in costs. A responsible business owner will resist this temptation and prioritize the solutions they need over the ones they want - building profitability and generating capital needed to make other improvements.

In this blog, we’ll examine some of the implementations that can deliver a good return on investment to a small business.

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Is Your Cloud Solution Actually a Money Pit?

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The cloud has proven to be an extremely useful tool for the modern business. Not only does it provide anywhere-anytime access to applications, processing, storage, et al; it also delivers those products as a service, allowing you to budget for recurring costs rather than major upfront ones. This provides your organization with functional, supported, and secure computing environments that eliminate a lot of the support costs that traditional computing environments require. It sounds like a perfect scenario for small and large businesses alike, but things aren’t always what they seem, as a lot of cloud users have found that they have incurred several hidden costs by using cloud platforms. Today, we take a look at these hidden costs.

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How to Avoid Becoming the Next Data Security Cautionary Tale

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Data security isn’t a matter to be taken lightly, as too many businesses have found out the hard way. Unfortunately, there are far too many simple ways to correct common security issues - enough that it’s foolish not to do so. We’ll review a few ways to fix security issues, after discussing one of, if not the, most egregious security failings in modern history.

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When it Comes to Security, Two Factors are Better Than One

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The password isn’t nearly as secure as it used to be. Hackers have begun to take advantage of extremely powerful solutions designed to brute force their way into accounts by using software to rapidly guessing thousands of passwords per second, making it extraordinarily difficult to prepare yourself for them.

What’s the best way to guarantee that passwords aren’t going to be the downfall of your company? A great start is by taking a close look at password best practices and two-factor authentication.

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4 Ways a Managed Service Provider Can Help Your Business

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How much does your business rely on technology to keep your organization running forward? As business technology becomes more complex, it’s becoming increasingly popular for organizations to have their own internal IT departments to manage and maintain it. Yet, small businesses don’t often have the necessary funds for such a feat. How can your company afford quality IT service? You can start by pursuing managed IT solutions from a managed service provider.

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Knowing, and Planning For, Your Organization’s Compliance Burden

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Despite what detractors say, regulations are in place for good reason. They typically protect individuals from organizational malfeasance. Many of these regulations are actual laws passed by a governing body and cover the entire spectrum of the issue, not just the data involved. The ones that have data protection regulations written into them mostly deal with the handling and protection of sensitive information. For organizations that work in industries covered by these regulations there are very visible costs that go into compliance. Today, we look at the costs incurred by these organizations as a result of these regulations, and how to ascertain how they affect your business.

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A Look at Business Computing Costs: Cloud vs. On Premise

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Profitability is less the measure of being able to turn a profit, and more the measure of how much profit you can make. For the successful small business, the integration of technology can dictate what kind of annual margins you are looking at. For the new company, however, it can be something even more critical: the difference between setting a course for success, or wallowing in failure. Today we analyze the cost difference between hosting your IT in-house, or choosing to host it in the cloud.

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Strategizing Your IT Leads to Better Business

Strategizing Your IT Leads to Better Business

Business technology continues to grow in importance for the small and medium-sized business, especially as many prepare for 2019. Where enterprise-level companies have long been using technology to bring people together and drive overall productivity, many SMBs are new to these opportunities. The availability of cloud resources, coupled with shifts in security, mobility, and other core technologies, makes it important for every organization, no matter what size, to have a comprehensive technology strategy.

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Investigating the Value of Managed IT Services

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Managed IT services can present a lot of benefits for small businesses. Since not many smaller businesses can afford to staff expert IT technicians, managed IT services are an attractive alternative that allows an organization to get the IT support and management they need to keep their business running efficiently. Today, we’ll go over all the benefits a managed service provider can present a small business,and just how a MSP delivers significant returns on your IT support investments.

The first thing that should be mentioned is that, with all the threats out there, every business needs dedicated IT management. Many small businesses have tried to keep their crucial IT working properly through what is known as break/fix. The basic strategy of this is: when a part of your company’s IT infrastructure breaks, you get it fixed. This strategy has some merits for companies that don’t necessarily use enterprise-level, or complicated, IT solutions; but, no matter what their position is, when they rely on the break/fix strategy, downtime is going to end up being an issue. The average small business owner may not even consider this costly as much of the technology management services that you would call when your IT breaks (or starts acting up) is done onsite and only takes a short time to fix. However, it typically costs a pretty penny, and there is no telling if the problem will cause others, or come back again frequently.

The problem with this is that every minute that your IT is down, your organizational profitability is hindered. Say you run a small retail store and your point of sale computer goes down. You make the call to the computer repair company and they come within an hour and your computer is up and running in two. That’s two whole hours where you are scrambling around trying to figure out how to service your customers’ needs without the use of your most important computing system. If you are lucky, you will be able to keep your business open during this time, but often you simply cannot as many businesses not only have their register through their POS system, they also have their inventory system through it. When dealing with IT downtime your service will inevitably be hindered, and you may actually lose repeat customers because of the outage as word of mouth carries further than ever before as a result of social media.

IT Services

With Managed IT services, you’ll never have to shut your business down or deal with long stretches of downtime. This is because it is handled much differently. With an MSP looking after your business’ computers and computing network, you will know in advance if one of your computers is going to fail. Virtual Business Solutions’s brand of IT services proactively monitors your computers and network; and, using state-of-the-art software, is able to leverage its built-in and extremely innovative automation options to your advantage, effectively reducing your IT costs by keeping your systems up and running efficiently. The fact is that most of the problems the modern PC has can be remedied with dedicated monitoring and management.

It’s easy to see how our proactive monitoring service can present value. Your return is properly functioning technology, boosting profitability, and effectively cutting your IT support costs; but that is just the beginning. An MSP provides several other services that are designed to deliver value. One such service is our Backup and Disaster Recovery service. You may be thinking, “how could backup produce a significant return?” Not only is it part of the value-based approach, it also protects your business from data loss, a major problem for any business that depends on its data.

Data loss doesn’t just happen when a disaster hits your business, it can happen any day in a multitude of different ways. In fact, most data loss is a result of employee negligence. Many businesses also have to deal with strategic hacking and social engineering attempts that put data at risk. A majority of small businesses that deal with an event where they lose large portions of their data are out of business within the next fiscal year. This scenario is especially problematic when the data that is lost belongs to vendors and customers, since, for a small business, reputation damage is hard to rebound from.

MSP-offered backup and recovery typically comes in the form of a network attached storage device that is expanded with the use of cloud computing. All the data you need will be backed up initially. After your data is redundantly stored in multiple places, snapshots of the changes made to your organization’s data will be taken periodically to ensure that, if you are forced to restore, that you aren’t losing much data. Data snapshots can be completed as little as every 15 minutes, preserving your data and immediately boosting the potential effectiveness of your business’ continuity strategy.   

The value doesn’t stop there. MSPs typically also offer thorough network security practices to ensure that your network is protected. Outside of the comprehensive management you get with network and endpoint monitoring, you also will be outfitted with security solutions designed to ensure that if they don’t have access to the network and infrastructure, that they don’t get in, period. This is where the years of experience managing and maintaining business networks comes in. By knowing what to look for, and knowing where to strengthen security measures, your organization will deal with less downtime, essentially presenting you further opportunities for profitability.

Most MSPs also offer a vendor management service that is designed to keep clients from wasting time trying to juggle all their vendors. By handling your vendor relationships we are able to be a single point of contact for anything that you could need, saving you a lot of time. You can then focus on your business and not your vendors, which are relationships that tend to take up a lot of time. Moreover, with vendor management, you will get the solutions, services, and products you need at a price that works for you.

Additionally, most MSPs will also offer 24/7/365 help desk, so that if your organization does have problems, that it can get in touch with a remotely-connected technician immediately. Moreover, many MSPs also provide training resources that delivers information about industry best practices designed to keep security top of mind. If your staff is repelling threats instead of accepting them, it will go a long way toward securing your organization’s IT infrastructure and network.

Calculating Value

There is a lot a value in rolling out managed IT services, but how valuable is it to you? Well there is no simple algorithm for this particular service. You could produce ROI totals for every service that your MSP provides for you then add them up, but that algorithm would get pretty long. Between the monitoring and maintenance, the network security, the vendor management, the backup and recovery, the around the clock support, the consultation, and the onsite support, you’re looking at a pretty significant amount of value from your monthly service agreement.

While it is hard to put a ROI on managed IT service delivery, people do try. There are managed IT ROI calculators all over the web. One of the easiest ways to do this is to estimate the revenue you generate by uptime and successful IT outcomes and compare it by the cost you pay for managed services. That will give you a rough idea about the value of your managed IT service.

Typically, the variable that most companies focus on when partnering with a managed services provider is downtime. As stated above, downtime is a business killer. Our strategy to deploying managed services is pretty simple: stop downtime from costing our clients’ money and marginalizing their success… and this strategy works! It takes committed and knowledgeable technicians, today’s best technology solutions, and clients that aren’t afraid to trust that we can deliver a valuable resource.

If yours is one such company, contact the IT professionals at Virtual Business Solutions today at (504) 840-9800 ext 105.

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Is Data a Commodity? Maybe Not, but It Is an Asset

Is Data a Commodity? Maybe Not, but It Is an Asset

The late American author Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, “New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become.” Written in the 20th century, it has been put in practice by 21st century businesses. As the Internet has grown, the amount of companies expanded, and the amount of data that those companies collect has grown exponentially, especially now that there is a market for such data.

Today, many of the largest and most lucrative companies in the world, Google, Apple, AT&T, Amazon, Verizon, Facebook and Microsoft are all, more than manufacturers of computer-based goods and services, data brokers. These data brokers create services that they then sell to advertisers that allow them to target you based on the information these companies have of you, which can accurately tell how and what to sell you.

Since nearly everyone has a near-ubiquitously-connected experience there is a lot of data collected, bought, and sold every year and it’s big business. Facebook, a company whose main revenue stream is from selling advertising, made a net profit of nearly $16 billion in 2017. This tells us that if you have people’s data, you have people’s hopes, fears, and dreams, which means you can pretty easily get someone to pay you for access to that information.

For small businesses it’s much less lucrative. In fact, all the data your organization needs to keep, is probably necessary to simply do business, not to sell to advertisers. Facebook voluntarily gets a lot of personal information from every one of their users, as where the typical small business often has to strategize to just get a name and a phone number. The information that is sensitive (mostly customer information that you collect) has a lot of value to the people looking to steal it. So while you aren’t making billions of dollars selling consumer profiles, it is still a mightily important part of doing business, and needs to be secured.

Is Data a Commodity?
Technically speaking, it isn’t. Since a commodity’s value is based namely on its scarcity and the amount of capital that needs to be put up to create it, in both resources and labor, the data that is being purchased isn’t really a commodity. In lieu of the dissolution of the U.S. Net Neutrality laws, this has created the argument in the U.S. that since now it’s up to the telecommunication companies how they want to manage (or more accurately bill) data consumption, that they would throttle and tier service, something that isn’t possible with a true commodity, where there are laws prohibiting those types of practices.

On the other hand, Internet access is something that a majority of the commerce requires, and delivering data is in itself an expensive endeavor (infrastructure spending, development, utility costs, etc.) so telecoms, who are seeing their would-be profits syphoned by over-the-top content providers, and publicly demonized as a result of a very public lobbying effort to gain control of the ability to implement some sort of prioritization strategy, have to find a strategy to sustain their ability to get a workable return on their investments.

Securing Your Organization’s Data
Regardless of what your view of data is, it’s an important resource for your organization, and as mentioned above, it needs to be secured. For one of your company’s most important resources, data can be lost relatively easily, so there needs to be a concerted effort to keep your network and infrastructure free from the threats that could put your data at risk. At Virtual Business Solutions, that’s what we do. We ensure organizations like yours get the professional IT expertise you need to work efficiently, effectively, and securely in what is the most turbulent time in computing history. With the litany of threats your business faces everyday, you need experts that have your back. We offer:

  • Backup and disaster recovery: With a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery system in place, all of your organization’s data is safe, redundant, and able to be restored on demand.
  • Proactive monitoring and management: By keeping a dedicated eye on your network and infrastructure, our technicians can be proactive.
  • Patch management: By keeping all of your organization’s software up to date with the latest threat definitions, you can ensure that your software isn’t going to be a problem.
  • Access control and threat detection: By having full control over who can access what, and a complete view of the entire network, we can keep people who aren’t supposed to see certain information from accessing it.
  • Training: Most times, your own staff is responsible for data breaches and malware. We can train you all on what to look for to ensure that you are doing your best to keep your network and infrastructure free from threats.
  • Around the clock support: If three out of every four businesses deal with phishing emails, and over 95 percent of all phishing emails deliver ransomware, chances are that if a mistake were to be made, you will need immediate IT support. Our support and help desk can remediate a lot of your security issues to keep downtime to a minimum.

With data such a major part of doing business today, ensuring you have the right solutions and support in place to be confident that any situation you face will be managed before it becomes a problem is in itself a benefit. Call Virtual Business Solutions at (504) 840-9800 ext 105 for more information.

 

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Virtual Business Solutions
3000 19th Street
Metairie, Louisiana 70002