Category Archives for "News"

business continuity
Aug 01

4 Ways a Business Continuity Plan Can Help Your Company

By Twin Networks Staff | News

As a business owner, the buck stops with you. Your employees rely on you to have the answers when problem occurs. But what are you going to do when you find out a hurricane or wildfire is heading your way? What about massive hardware failure? Will you be prepared? 

Nobody wants to think about a natural or manmade disaster affecting their business, so that’s why companies delay or ignore creating an emergency plan. A Travelers Insurance study found that 48 percent of small businesses have no plan in place. 

To be prepared in the event of a data, natural or manmade disaster, companies need to have a business continuity plan in place before a crisis occurs. A business continuity plan is a document outlining how a business will continue services following an emergency. 

With that in mind, here are four ways a business continuity plan can help your business:

  1. Identify Essential Business Functions

Do you know the minimum requirements for running your company? One of the primary goals of a business continuity plan is to identify the core functions of your business. These functions are what need to be addressed first to get back up and running at a minimum acceptable level. That way, you can reopen while continuing to address other issues.

  2. Minimize Downtime

Every hour your website, production line or office is down costs you money in lost profit. Following a disaster, 90 percent of smaller companies fail within a year unless they can resume operations within five days, according to FEMA. With a well-developed plan, your employees will know what to do to get operations running again as quickly as possible. 

  3. Uncover Gaps in Your Business

While doing a business impact analysis, you may find gaps in your plan. For example, if you’re in manufacturing, do you have a secondary location to shift operations if the main facility is inoperable? If not, then you may need to come up with a plan to temporarily use a rental facility or stock up on emergency inventory. 

  4. Get Peace of Mind

Researching and developing a business continuity plan can be a daunting task, no matter the size of your company. But once you’ve tested your plan and it works, you’ll be glad you have it. You and your employees can rest easy knowing that if the worst happens, you’ll be ready. 

Unfortunately, not all small-to-midsize businesses have the time to halt work and focus on building a plan. Luckily, they don’t have to do it alone. Our team of experts can help simplify the business continuity process to help prepare your business if the worst ever happens. 

Stop worrying about the worst-case scenario and contact us today. 

Financial Compliance
Jul 17

Is Your Business Following the Right Financial Compliance Regulations?

By astrid | News

As a business owner, you’re always focusing on how to best move your company forward. But have you taken time to consider the potential threats to your operations?

Having a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) plan is the best way to safeguard your data from all types of loss and destruction. Get to know these threats and the preparations you can make to keep your business going when dark clouds begin to loom.

Natural Disasters

You may assume backing up your data locally on a hard drive is the best way to recover it in the event your primary system fails. But what would you would do if that hard drive (and the entire building it resides in) was destroyed by a natural disaster? Be it a hurricane, earthquake, fire or flood, the threats to your vital data are very real.But even if your business becomes a sinking ship, you can have enough lifeboats for every byte.

The best course of action is to store all data in a secure location using cloud services.This way, when it’s time to pick your business back up, your only concern will be selecting new office furniture.

Cyber Crime

A common way for cyber criminals to steal your data and make money is ransomware. This malicious software holds data hostage unless a specified amount is paid. “WannaCry” ransomware was a recent program that received worldwide attention for its effectiveness in blocking access to crucial data. Unfortunately, many of those who paid the ransom never had their data returned.

Setting up a firewall will block most attacks, but having an active image of all your data stored is the best defense. Data images provide a comprehensive and usable mirror of everything you’ve worked on and provide access when your primary system is locked out. It will also save you time on setting up new servers and reinstalling applications.

Internal Problems

Technology will induce audible rage in even the quietest cubical when it malfunctions for seemingly no reason. Sometimes data loss can occur due to forces from within your company. Even though you invested in the best servers and equipment, there’s always the chance something will cause a catastrophic failure and the loss of everything your business relies on to function.

Data loss can also stem from basic human error. Employees who are new, temporary or even long-term could mistakenly delete vital data. There’s also the unfortunate reality that data could purposely be deleted or corrupted by disgruntled employees.

How We Can Help

With so many unpredictable threats looming, BDR is your shelter from the storm. Disasters do happen, but you can rest easy knowing that the most important things will survive. Contact us now and ask how we can disaster-proof your business.

backup-disaster-recovery
Jul 17

BDR: A Shelter from the Storm

By astrid | News

As a business owner, you’re always focusing on how to best move your company forward. But have you taken time to consider the potential threats to your operations?

Having a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) plan is the best way to safeguard your data from all types of loss and destruction. Get to know these threats and the preparations you can make to keep your business going when dark clouds begin to loom.

Natural Disasters

You may assume backing up your data locally on a hard drive is the best way to recover it in the event your primary system fails. But what would you would do if that hard drive (and the entire building it resides in) was destroyed by a natural disaster? Be it a hurricane, earthquake, fire or flood, the threats to your vital data are very real.But even if your business becomes a sinking ship, you can have enough lifeboats for every byte.

The best course of action is to store all data in a secure location using cloud services.This way, when it’s time to pick your business back up, your only concern will be selecting new office furniture.

Cyber Crime

A common way for cyber criminals to steal your data and make money is ransomware. This malicious software holds data hostage unless a specified amount is paid. “WannaCry” ransomware was a recent program that received worldwide attention for its effectiveness in blocking access to crucial data. Unfortunately, many of those who paid the ransom never had their data returned.

Setting up a firewall will block most attacks, but having an active image of all your data stored is the best defense. Data images provide a comprehensive and usable mirror of everything you’ve worked on and provide access when your primary system is locked out. It will also save you time on setting up new servers and reinstalling applications.

Internal Problems

Technology will induce audible rage in even the quietest cubical when it malfunctions for seemingly no reason. Sometimes data loss can occur due to forces from within your company. Even though you invested in the best servers and equipment, there’s always the chance something will cause a catastrophic failure and the loss of everything your business relies on to function.

Data loss can also stem from basic human error. Employees who are new, temporary or even long-term could mistakenly delete vital data. There’s also the unfortunate reality that data could purposely be deleted or corrupted by disgruntled employees.

How We Can Help

With so many unpredictable threats looming, BDR is your shelter from the storm. Disasters do happen, but you can rest easy knowing that the most important things will survive. Contact us now and ask how we can disaster-proof your business.

Apr 01

5 Things to Outsource to Your vCIO

By Twin Networks Staff | News

As your business grows, you’ll eventually need someone to help you choose and deploy technology to protect your business, improve processes and support your organization’s goals. If you’ve never heard of a virtual CIO, you might assume you don’t need one – but virtual CIOs, or vCIOs, give companies the benefits of a high-level technology executive without the cost of hiring an in-house CIO.

Virtual CIOs examine your current infrastructure, locate gaps in security and productivity, and implement solutions to improve your business operations. They bring their personal experiences and a network of technical resources to work with you and determine the best IT solutions for your business. Here are five aspects of your business that you can outsource to a vCIO:

  1. Strategic Initiatives
    Have you been putting off large projects because you’re worried about not having enough bandwidth to successfully manage them? Virtual CIOs can be brought in on an as-needed basis to oversee strategy IT initiatives that promote long-term growth and competitiveness within your organization.
  2. Business Continuity Planning
    Natural disasters, employee errors, even potential data loss during a planned system update or migration – there are numerous threats facing your business’s mission-critical information. A vCIO designs a comprehensive strategy to keep your business in operation during and after a disaster.
  3. Emerging Opportunities
    Technology trends come and go, but the right solutions can make a measurable impact on your efficiency, growth and profit. Your vCIO keeps on top of emerging technologies and identifies opportunities for innovation in your business to help you make higher-ROI technology investments.
  4. Cybersecurity Services
    Small and medium-sized businesses aren’t immune to cyberattacks – in fact, hackers often view them as easy targets. With help from an experienced vCIO, you can protect your business by implementing strong security measures to deflect malicious software and unauthorized access.
  5. IT Budgeting
    Technology costs can vary wildly from month to month – or, you can partner with a vCIO who helps you stick to a predictable IT budget. Plus, virtual CIOs implement technology strategically to reduce operating costs and drive revenue, allowing a larger budget for your business to expand and thrive.

Virtual CIOs are ideal for businesses that don’t have the budget for a full-time, in-house CIO. With our vCIO services, you get access to a team of knowledgeable IT experts at a price that makes sense for your business. To discuss how a vCIO fits into your company, contact us today and start your business transformation.

Mar 11

5 Tools to Improve Your Collaboration

By Twin Networks Staff | News

The McKinsey Institute found that teams improved productivity up to 25 percent through increased collaboration. But, finding out which collaboration tools will round up your most isolated employees can be tougher than it sounds.

From tools that focus on bringing your team together to apps that strengthen your communication skills, identifying where exactly your team is struggling should be your first step to determining the right solution for your business. Once you’ve pinpointed the problem, you can scour hundreds of cloud-based applications and tools designed to resolve your issues.

To get you started, we’re sharing five top productivity tools.

  1. Microsoft Office 365

Office 365 lets your team collaborate on documents and projects with applications like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Work on the same file in almost real-time, exchange feedback seamlessly and access past versions of a document. Because your files are hosted in the cloud, your team can collaborate on projects from any device and any location with an Internet connection.

  1. Yammer

Yammer is described as the Facebook of the corporate world. That’s because the platform provides a news feed, different group channels and file-sharing features just like Facebook. Post updates in a client’s group and tag the people who need to see the feedback, or create a channel for your internal team, department or entire company to share information, communicate and collaborate on projects.

  1. Slack

Slack provides a nearly instantaneous response platform for peers and clients. You can set up an unlimited number of channels and use them to share task information, get feedback from clients and adjust expectations for project deliveries. Because Slack integrates with other solutions like Office 365 and Jira, you can submit tickets and collaborate on documents with a single click.

  1. Cisco Webex

Webex keeps you connected with clients, peers and prospects from anywhere with an Internet connection. Eliminate miscommunications with crystal-clear video quality that lets you see every nonverbal cue from meeting attendees. Plus, Webex keeps your video communication channel safe and encrypted with a multi-layered security solution that protects everyone – regardless of where they’re calling from.

  1. Evernote

Evernote provides a scalable note-taking platform where you can sync and share documents to multiple users. This easy-to-use application lets teams collaborate quickly and seamlessly in nearly real-time. Whether you’re working on different parts of a project or need to quickly make changes during the quality-check process, you can do so from any laptop, desktop or mobile device.

To learn more about cloud-based collaboration tools, which solutions are right for your business and how we can help you improve your productivity, contact us today.

Feb 12

3 Technologies that Flourish with the Cloud

By Twin Networks Staff | News

According to research from Ovum, 20 percent of business processes have already moved to the cloud. The cloud isn’t only an asset to your business; it’s become a requirement for driving efficiency and reducing costs. So, what are the next steps for cloud usage?

By combining innovative cloud technology with the latest trends, you can empower your business with the tools it needs to enhance operations and outperform the competition. When integrated with the cloud, these three technologies lower operating costs and make your life easier.

  1. IoE (Internet of Everything)

Like its well-known cousin, the Internet of Things (IoT), IoE uses cloud computing and real-time data analytics to communicate with different machines and devices. With a focus on machine-to-machine communications, IoE has a general “understanding” of how humans interact with everything in their environment – from people to devices.

As IoE develops, your customers can intelligently interact with every device within your network. You’ll gain greater insights into the relationships of consumers and how they view and purchase your products and services. You’ll gain visibility on which pages your customer views, which links they click and how many times they visit your site – adding this information to a customer profile and giving you valuable insight into how they interact with your products. Innovative cloud technology makes IoE possible and leverages crucial information for your business.

  1. AI

Automating processes is an easy way to reduce operating costs. By leveraging AI and big data, you’ll gain a holistic view of all your business functions. As the cloud continues to grow, system administrators are getting more time-consuming, repetitive tasks. Innovative cloud technology supports AI and automation to take over labor-intensive tasks – including copying and extracting data.

By automating simple tasks and preventing duplicate effort, you can eliminate unnecessary costs and improve efficiency. Plus, AI platforms ensure work is distributed evenly and support data governance to keep your business meeting compliance regulations.

  1. Containers

Containers are influential development tools that scale and optimize ROI across multiple cloud environments. Developers can use these containers to extract information like code, configurations and dependences, and push it to production seamlessly and easily – making deployment a breeze.

Containers enable cloud resources to run in multiple settings, enhance data fabrics and improve mobility. When working with different cloud environments, containers make it easier to move data from one environment to another – eliminating the restrictions of on-premises applications. For businesses using multi-cloud environments – private, public or hybrid – containers are critical for transferring information.

As the cloud becomes a necessity for business operations, the next steps are learning how to integrate other IT services to enhance your cloud solution. By combining the latest technologies with a solution designed to enhance workflow, you can improve your customers’ experience and stand out from your competition. As your partner, we’ll integrate the latest trends into your strategic IT roadmap.

To learn how we can help implement the latest innovative cloud technologies to improve your business operations, contact us today.

Jan 01

5 Things You Should Know About Ethics & Privacy

By Twin Networks Staff | News

Understanding ethics and privacy may seem simple at first, but when you start to dive in, you discover that finding the balance between being supportive and intrusive is difficult. Data helps you understand your audience and customers better, but how far is too far when it comes to monitoring their physical and digital footprint?

Deciding what is and isn’t ethical doesn’t have to be determined on your own. Here are five things you should understand about ethics and privacy:

  1. Digital ethics makes up your online moral code.

Digital ethics includes the principles of conduct practiced online or in a virtual environment. How you handle your customers’ confidential data and what security you put in place to protect it contributes to your digital ethics. Do you record digital footprints? Do you sell that information to advertisers so that they know which of your users like certain products? All of these things and more contribute to your digital moral compass. So, what path is your business on?

  1. The GDPR affects your business – even if you’re based in the US.

The EU created the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to ensure websites are doing everything they can to protect the information they gain from users. This act requires companies that have EU users – essentially any company around the globe – to update their policies and promote more rigorous privacy strategies. Security concerns include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Asking users for permission to collect and retain key pieces of their data
  • Asking users for permission to sell the data you’ve collected
  • Giving users the right to request their data to be deleted
  • Giving users the option to download the data you’ve collected
  1. Digital ethics involves three practices – monitoring, transparency and the fine line.

Distinguished VP and Gartner Fellow, Frank Buytendijk, suggests that digital ethics has three key guidelines – monitoring, transparency and what he calls the win/win. When it comes to practicing digital ethics, these can be considered the golden rules.

Not only should you monitor how prospects and customers are visiting your site, but you also need to monitor your own systems for vulnerabilities. A large part of meeting compliance involves transparency. You need to ensure that the data you’re tracking doesn’t violate the privacy of the customer. Finding that middle ground or fine line is what Buytendijk’s refers to as the win/win. There’s a fine line between being helpful with personalization and algorithms and being creepy. Always make sure your processes are on the cautious side of that line.

  1. Security should be your number one priority.

Even if your customers and visitors give you permission to collect their data, you still have a responsibility to keep their confidential information safe. With cyberthreats escalating, you need absolute diligence when it comes to protecting the data you collect. From natural disasters – like fire, hurricanes and power outages – to malicious intent from ransomware and cyber criminals, you need a security solution that protects your business and customers’ data from all angles. But, how do you ensure that your solutions are enough to keep customers’ information safe?

  1. How can a managed services partner help?

Understanding and implementing best practices for ethics and privacy can feel overwhelming. You don’t have to do it alone. As a managed services provider, we’ll evaluate your security processes and make suggestions to eliminate risks and keep your collected data safe.

For more information on how we can help keep your business and customers’ data safe while helping you balance the fine line of digital ethics, contact us today.

Dec 03

7 Holiday Gift Ideas for People Who Rock Your Business

By Twin Networks Staff | News

One of the best things about the holidays is that they give you an opportunity to show the people who help your business the most how much you appreciate them. They may be employees, investors, partners or vendors, but they all have one thing in common – they make a huge contribution to the organization, and you want them to know that you know it.

Any of these seven hot tech gifts should do the trick.

Samsung Galaxy Note9 or iPad with OneNote

Executives love mobile devices that allow them to hand write with a stylus and save them to the cloud. Both the iPad with OneNote and the Samsung Galaxy Note9 provide that capability. You just need to know whether the recipient prefers Apple or Android.

iPhone XS or XS Max

The CPU inside the iPhone XS is 50 percent faster and 50 percent more efficient than that of its predecessor, the iPhone X. What that means for the lucky person you give it to is an even more brilliant screen and better camera that work faster.

HP Spectre X360

Finally, a Windows laptop that rivals the MacBook Pro in power, weight (as light as 2.78 pounds), speed and long-lasting battery. Available with a 13 or 15-inch 4K resolution LED backlit touchscreen that is compatible with a digital pen. Who wouldn’t love this?

Apple Watch Series 4

With its Series 4 Watch, Apple has improved the hottest thing going on. There are still ways to track heart health and fitness, redefining what a watch is, and now the watch face is 30 percent larger while the sound is 50 percent louder. The only thing that has shrunk is the price, which is way smaller.

4K UHD TV with HDR

First there was Full HD TV, then 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV. Now, there’s 4K UHD with High Dynamic Range (HDR). With HDR, a TV displays a heightened difference between the brightest whites and the darkest colors. Huge price drops have helped make them a very hot gift.

Linksys Velop Mesh WiFi

WiFi signal drop-out is real for folks with a large home or yard. Linksys Velop Mesh WiFi solves the problem quickly and easily with small, attractive nodes that are daisy chained to provide seamless WiFi coverage indoors and out. Each node adds 2,000 square feet of coverage.

Bose Home Speaker 500 Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa

At just eight inches high and less than seven inches across, the Bose Home Speaker 500 is the little speaker that could. Could what? Fill a room with impressive wall-to-wall stereo sound, connect to WiFi for wireless music listening that supports the most popular music services, stream directly from compatible devices and give Alexa voice commands.

Any of the items on this list that made you say, “I want that,” would make a terrific holiday gift Now, we have a gift for you. We’ll be happy to analyze your IT infrastructure and show you how it could be improved to better serve your organization. No obligation, just valuable information. Contact us today.

Nov 28

3 Simple Trends to Implement in the New Year

By Twin Networks Staff | News

Updating your technology can be complicated and overwhelming – especially if you try to do all the research and make decisions on your own. Don’t let this year’s choices close your doors in the new year. As your partner, we’ll help you identify areas for improvement and research the latest tech trends to help you make informed decisions.

Whether you’re looking to improve security and reduce costs or increase your productivity and efficiency, we’ve analyzed hundreds of tech trends and found three trends that you should implement to enhance the way you do business.

Improve Security

As cybercriminals gain more knowledge, they’re coming up with smarter, better ways to obtain your confidential data. One way is through phishing emails. With sophisticated graphics and language, they’re designed to look credible and legitimate. Training your team to recognize the differences and having a good backup strategy can mitigate the risk of falling for this scam.

So, what happens if your confidential information is stolen? The dark web offers a complex network for exchanging stolen information and selling it on the black market. But, encrypting your crucial data ensures that the information taken can’t be sold or acted on by unauthorized users.

Conclusion: Protect your customers’ confidential information with multi-layered security that includes training and encryption.

Upgrade Technology 

Microsoft announced that in January 2020, they’re ending support for Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and Exchange Server 2010. That means you have one year to upgrade your systems or migrate your servers to the cloud. Updating your older Microsoft solutions ensures that you keep your systems secure and clean up the gaps in your defenses from outdated tech – preventing cybercriminals from exploiting your weaknesses.

Improving your productivity doesn’t have to involve redesigning your entire infrastructure. Research from Fujitsu Siemens Computers found that adding a monitor to your workplace setup improves productivity by 35 percent. By simply installing dual, triple or quadruple monitors, you’ll be able to work on several projects at the same time or display multiple documents or spreadsheets to make writing and data entry easier.

Conclusion: Upgrading your technology provides a better user experience for your employees and helps keep your business safe from cyberthreats.

Migrate to the Cloud 

Cloud computing continues to gain momentum, and for a good reason. With solutions like server hosting, hosted applications and Office 365, you improve efficiency, reduce costs and streamline operations – it’s hard to justify not making the move.

As cloud solutions improve in popularity, the question becomes less, “should you migrate?” and more, “when will you migrate?” Make this the year that you create a cloud migration plan or modify your existing plan to incorporate operation-enhancing solutions.

Conclusion: Migrating to the cloud streamlines your operations by providing more storage, easier app updates and additional flexibility without raising your costs.

Researching trends and knowing which ones to adopt is difficult without extensive industry knowledge. That’s why we evaluated the upcoming trends of the coming year and decided which ones would be easiest and most beneficial for your business. Are you ready to work toward a more fruitful future? Contact us today to see how these trends could improve your business.

Oct 02

Section 179: Your Guide to Keeping Your Competitive Edge

By Twin Networks Staff | News

Are you losing customers to competitors because of lagging technology? It might not seem like there’s any room in the budget for an upgrade, but there is a way to adopt the newest technology solutions without getting crushed by upfront costs – Section 179.

Here’s the scoop on Section 179:

The Section 179 tax deduction allows you to deduct the full price of any qualifying equipment or software purchased or leased during this past year, instead of depreciating it over a period of several years. This means you don’t have to wait for holiday sales to kick in – you can make your move now to stay competitive and purchase the equipment you need while benefiting your bottom line.

Here’s what qualifies:

  • Purchased, financed or leased equipment
  • Workstations, laptops, tablets, smartphones
  • Servers and printers, routers, network switches, network security appliances
  • Off-the-shelf software (productive, anti-virus, administrative, etc.)
  • Other business expenses like machinery, company vehicles and improvements to nonresidential real property

Here are a few limits:

The maximum total amount you can write off in 2018 is $1 million. And, the maximum total amount of equipment purchased in 2018 eligible for a full deduction is $2.5 million. This cap makes it an ideal tax incentive for small businesses. Even if you are declaring a net loss for the year, you may be qualified to deduct some of the cost of new equipment and carry forward the loss.

Here’s what you need to do:

Purchase, finance or lease the technology and put it into use by midnight on December 31, 2018. And, your purchase must be for business use more than 50 percent of the time.

Here’s how you can take advantage of the Section 179 Deduction:

You’ll use form 4562 to claim your deduction. The full deduction can be claimed until you’ve reached the allotted $2.5 million in equipment and software purchases. Past that point, the deduction decreases on a dollar for dollar basis until it disappears at $3.5 million. If you have questions about how to qualify, consult your accountant and visit section179.com for additional information.

Here’s how you benefit:

You:

  • Upgrade tech according to its lifecycle
  • Minimize tech-related downtime
  • Give your customers a positive UX
  • Improve your ROI

Your competitors:

  • Upgrade tech when it breaks
  • Experience frequent downtime
  • Lose customers frustrated with poor UX
  • Struggle with ROI

Is it time to reinforce your business with the latest technology solutions? We want to help. Contact us today to learn which software and hardware investments will benefit your business right now.

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