Discover the Top 5 Barriers to Business Growth with mPower Advisors

Are you worried about missing critical milestones or goals?  Do you want to avoid the next unknown pitfall?  Or, do you want to transition out of your business smoothly?

Join Dave Clough of mPower Advisors for a one-hour webinar: Top 5 Barriers to Business Growth (and How to Break Through Them) on Wednesday, October 14, from 2pm to 3pm.

Learn to predict how growth will impact your company, identify growth issues before they appear, and get a Road Map to help guide your way.  Get an overview of a system that provides predictable growth for your company.

Dave Clough has been a Business Advisor for over 11 years, helping over 70 companies grow.  He is certified from TTI Success Insights: DISC, Motivators, TriMetrix HD, Emotional Intelligence, Stress, and Stages of Growth.

AVCC Coffee Connection

When:
November 20, 2015 @ 7:30 am – 9:00 am
Where:
Bryley Systems
12 Main St
Hudson, MA 01749
USA
Cost:
Free
Contact:
Assabet Valley Chamber of Commerce
(978) 568-0360
Calendar
Assabet Valley Chamber of Commerce AVCC Coffee Connection

The November Early Riser Networking Opportunity -Coffee Connections- will be hosted by Bryley Systems (12 Main Street, Hudson) from 7:30 to 9:00am. Coffee Connections is an incredibly efficient and effective way to make contacts in very short time. After a cup of coffee and quick continental breakfast, participants give a one-minute presentation about themselves and their organization. Participation is complimentary, but space is limited, so reservations are required. To reserve a spot call (978) 568-0360 or email    info@assabetvalleychamber.org

Strengthen your privacy settings in iOS 8 by Laurie Lake – Macs at Work

Macs at Work of Shrewsbury, MA is a trusted and valued business partner; Laurie Lake is their Operations Manager.  Her article, “Strengthen your privacy settings in iOS8”, appeared in their October 2014 newsletter.  (Sign up for their e-newsletter.)

The minute you download and install iOS 8, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system for iPhone and iPad, you should take note of these privacy steps in order to lock down your device.

iOS 8 has a number of new features tied to your location. It also has new privacy settings, allowing users to limit how long data is stored for, such as message expiry features and new private browsing settings.

Before you do anything like customizing your phone, loading new apps, or syncing your data for the first time, these settings need to be checked, and if necessary, changed.

  1. Limit apps from tracking your location in the background

Some apps will ask to use your location in the background — even when you’re not actively using it. If you see this message, it means an app wants to keep using your location. You may see popups and other notifications from the app, depending on where you’re located.

For privacy, select Don’t Allow when it displays. You may have to do this a number of times with different apps. You can always change this setting in your device’s settings.

  1. Prevent apps from accessing, uploading your data

Your contacts, email, calendar, and your photos are some of your most personal bits of data. You can set apps to access this data when it needs it — such when Twitter’s indicates a contact of yours has joined the microblogging service.

However, in many cases these apps upload your contact list to their servers. This can drastically invade your privacy if that data is stolen. Go to Settings > Privacy and select each app, like Contacts, and swipe on or off which third-party apps you want to grant access to.

This may take a while depending on your apps. If you have already granted an app access to your contacts, or other personal data, switching off the service does not mean that service will delete your data. You will have to contact that company or app maker for this.

  1. Enable Find My iPhone for lost and stolen devices 

If you lose your iPhone or iPad, you can generally find it again with the Find Your iPhone app. It displays on a map where your device is, which can be handy if it’s stolen. You can provide that to law enforcement in such a case. Head to Settings > iCloud > Find My iPhone (or iPad) and make sure that it is switched on. You may need to enter your device passcode to authorize this.

Also, by selecting Send Last Location, with less than 1 percent of battery life left, your device will update Apple’s servers with the last location — just before it powers down.

  1. Allow iMessages, voice and video to expire over time 

New in iOS 8 are voice and video messages, sent through Apple’s data-based iMessage network. These can be stored on your device indefinitely. But if you lose your phone, and do not have the security or protections enabled, anybody can scroll back weeks, months, or even years to see your old conversations.

At any rate, it’s good to keep local or iCloud-based backups for your old data.

To reduce the time in which iMessage data is stored on your device, go toSettings > Messages > Keep Messages, and select the time you wish to retain your messages.

Go back a step and check the Audio Messages and Video Messages as well. These options offer shorter life-spans.

  1. Prevent sharing your location to others 

Although a handy feature, if you are in a busy place, such as a town, city, or crowded indoor venue, it acts as a beacon for your location. If you decide to switch this option off, head to Settings >Privacy > Location Services > Share My Location. From here, you can disable it. You can also decide to share other device locations that are connected to your iCloud account.

  1. Prevent iPhone location-based tracking 

Some iOS 8 system services track your location for advertising, location-based alerts, and for enhancing your cell coverage. Not only can they be a drain on your battery life, they can also open you up to heavy-duty location tracking — even if third-party apps and services are not involved.

Although one for the paranoid, you can change these options in Settings > Privacy > LocationServices > System Services and select which services you wish to disable.

The best one to keep enabled is Find My iPhone. Others like Spotlight Suggestions for better search results are generally better than the location-based advertising services for example.

  1. Limit advertisers tracking your location, data 

Safari had a mini-makeover in iOS 7 and iOS 8, and now offers a number of privacy-related tweaks. One of the key ones relates to advertising, which can track and monitor your location.

A little tricky to find, as it’s not in the Safari settings, you can head to Settings > Privacy >Advertising and enable the Limit Ad Tracking option. From here, make sure you hit the Reset Advertising Identifier option, and then accept any prompts.

  1. Enable fingerprint security with Touch ID 

Fingerprints and thumbprints are a near-perfect way to secure your device.

To begin, you need to go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode. Once you follow the prompts for the first time, you can enroll your finger or thumbprint. Make sure the Phone Unlock setting is enabled. For maximum security, set just one finger.

  1. Set a stronger 8-digit backup password

As a backup, you can still use your passcode. But the four-digit “simple passcode” is weak. By going to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode, and entering your existing passcode, you can deselect Simple Passcode. From here you can set an alphanumeric code, or a longer 8-digit (or longer) — which isn’t highly publicized.

If you set a stronger passcode that is just numbers, a numeric-only passcode entry will display on the lock screen in future. This is stronger, and protects your device’s security, but is also easy to enter with one hand and a larger numerical keypad.

  1. Limit what is displayed on the lock screen. 

You can also change which personal items display on the lock screen, including preventing unauthorized users of your iPhone or iPad from replying to your messages by going once again to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode, you can limit what is available on your lock screen. For the best privacy, all items should be disabled. But, you can customize this depending on your preferences.

Winner of our monthly Service-Ticket Survey drawing

Monthly, we select a winner from all respondents to our service-ticket surveys.  Congratulations to JD of SSB, our survey-response winner from last month.

Our winner received a $10 gift certificate, compliments of Bryley Systems.

The value of outsourcing IT

Many organizations invest in Information Technology (IT) as a strategic advantage; others see it as an expensive necessity.  We tend to favor the former perspective, but empathize with the latter; although IT can consume significant financial resources, it is a cornerstone of most modern organizations.

Either way, a key decision is whether to keep IT internally within the organization or outsource it to a Managed IT Services Provider (MSP) like Bryley Systems.  With an MSP, the basic tenet is a long-term relationship between the client and the MSP with an agreement that details types and levels of service at a fixed amount.

We reviewed some considerations of outsourcing in Outsourcing IT in the May 2014 issue of Bryley Information and Tips, but what of its value?

Let’s start with the players, their interests, and their capabilities.

The primary player:  The Client

The client has technology needs and issues, from end-user oriented (“Please show me how to rename a file.”) to network-level critical (“The Internet is unavailable.”) to business based (“How do I plan and budget our technology requirements in a world that is constantly changing?”).

The client has a limited technology budget spread across at least these areas:

  • End-user equipment and applications – Potentially an area of frequent change; typically a three to six-year lifespan with ongoing maintenance
  • Network equipment and software – Relatively stable, but some replacement required on a four to eight-year basis with ongoing maintenance
  • Cloud resources – Fairly stable; requires periodic payments, typically on a per-user basis
  • Security – Often under-invested, especially in the need for multi-layered defenses and ongoing security training
  • Support – Fairly stable in an MSP-supported environment
  • Training – Often neglected, but useful to boost productivity

The client seeks a stable, reliable, optimized IT environment; one that is patched appropriately and is secured against external and internal threats.

The second player:  The MSP

The MSP has a competent, stable, well-trained, and certified technical team with different levels of capability:

  • Technicians supporting end-user environments (PCs, MACs, mobile devices)
  • Engineers servicing back-office/Cloud networks (servers, firewalls, routers)
  • Consultants providing high-level planning, design, and troubleshooting

The technical team works closely with an account-management team, which owns the client relationship and maintains communications while advocating on behalf of the client.  The account-management team discloses the client’s interests and requirements within the MSP; they also set client expectations based on close alignment with the technical team’s schedule and availability.

The MSP spreads its resources across a manageable number of clients, typically assigning an account and technical person to each client.  Exceptions within the client’s environment are noted and shared, allowing others to assist when the assigned personnel are unavailable.

The billing is periodic, usually monthly, providing predictable, recurring revenue to the MSP to support its operations and finance its constant improvement.

The MSP is led by capable, experienced management utilizing a holistic service-management system for ticketing, account-management, reporting, etc.

Next:  What did the survey reveal?

CompTIA, a respected, IT-industry trade association, surveyed 350 companies in June 2015 to compile its Fourth Annual Trends in Managed Services Study.  Their results include:

  • 68% had used an outside IT firm in the last 12 months
  • 64% believe they use an MSP for at least one operational function
  • Six in 10 said it was a collaborative effort with the internal IT staff
  • Many seek efficiencies and competitive advantage in addition to cost savings

Most use their MSP in these areas*:

  • Repairing/troubleshooting IT systems
  • Deploying/installing/integrating
  • General IT consulting
  • Cybersecurity

*Please see “CIOs give Managed IT Service High Marks” by Dennis McCafferty ofCIO|Insight.

Finally:  Where’s the value?

Value is not hard to define, but sometimes difficult to quantify.  Value can often be in the eyes of the beholder, having greater weight with one and less with another.

The easily discerned areas of value include*:

  • Highly competent resource to efficiently resolve difficult issues
  • Service Level Agreement (SLA) with detailed response times
  • Predictable support budget
  • Proactive, 24×7 coverage
  • Team approach
  • Reporting

*Please see 7 Advantages of Managed IT Services by Chase Moritz of Heartland Technology Solutions.

Some of the other, less-quantifiable considerations that come with outsourcing:

  • Secure, stable environment from well-honed best practices of the MSP
  • Strategic, flexible partnership with ongoing counsel
  • Supplement to existing IT team (if any)

For the client, our recommendation is to establish and maintain a strategic relationship with an MSP of similar perspectives and sufficient resources, one that can respond when needed, but acts proactively to manage, optimize, and secure your IT environment.  In a mid-sized IT environment, say 25 to 85 technology users, the typical IT challenges can be met by the MSP at a fraction of the cost of having a comparable team on your payroll.

Dana Biello joins Bryley Systems

Dana Biello is an experienced IT professional with a solid technical background deploying, troubleshooting, and supporting Microsoft Windows desktop computers and Microsoft Office applications.  She has held technical positions as an IT Specialist at Patriot Ambulance and at MarketOne International, supporting the end-users at both organizations while maintaining a successful track record of completing IT projects on-time and on-budget.

Dana will work within the technical-services team providing both remote and onsite support to our clients.

Dana Biello Profile Pic

Bryley Basics: Current VPN issue with iOS 9

If you currently use an Apple device (iPad or iPhone) with a Static IP address, please do not yet update to the new iOS 9 software. There is currently a problem on Apple’s end where the new software is not compatible with a Static IP address and you may lose your VPN connection.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our technical-services team at TechSupport@Bryley.com or via 978.562.6077, option 1.

Garin Livingstone advances to Project Manager

Garin Livingstone, a member of Bryley Systems’ technical-services team since 2008, has been promoted to Project Manager.

In this new role, Garin will focus on project management, from proposal generation through deployment, training, and documentation.  Garin will also support the Business Development team and will address the continuing development of Bryley’s Managed IT Services and Cloud Services.

Garin’s attention to detail, technical knowledge, and product knowledge, along with excellent client-service skills, were instrumental in this change.

Photo of Garin Livingstone

Technology roundtable at the Central Mass. Business Expo

Please join our panel of local IT experts for Examining the Cloud, Mobility, and Data Security, an information-technology roundtable at the Central Mass. Business EXPO (CMBE) on November 5th from 2pm to 3pm at the DCU Center.

Information technology is a strategic concern of business owners and managers.  Our panel will address timely issues, such as the future of cloud computing, how to empower a mobile workforce, and how to protect your data.

The panel includes:

The Central Massachusetts Business Expo is presented by the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.  Use hashtag #CMBE2015 or visit CMBE on Facebook.