Game Changers – Worcester Chamber Business Conference & Expo on October 14th

Hear from the experts – the innovators, investors, and developers – who are transforming Worcester’s skyline on Friday, October 14th, from 7:30am to 1:30pm at Mechanics Hall, 321 Main Street, Worcester, MA.

To register, please visit 2016 Game Changers – Business Conference and Expo.

What’s new in Massachusetts manufacturing and technology

Gavin Livingstone, Bryley Systems Inc.

Manufacturing (which represents about one-third of our client base) is a growing and vital industry within the Commonwealth.  Some relevant statistics1:

  • There are over 6,500 manufacturers in Massachusetts
  • They provided more than 248,000 jobs in 2014; about 7% of the workforce
  • The average manufacturing-employee compensation was $93,682 in 2013
  • Over $45b in manufactured goods were sold nationally and worldwide in 2013, which accounts for over 10% of the state’s economy
  • 40% of Mass. manufacturers report difficulty finding skilled craftsmen

According to the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative, a sub-group of MassTech (Massachusetts Technology Collaborative) launched in 2011, manufacturing is a “…cross-cutting sector that touches essentially every region and every industry of the state’s innovation economy and which provided good paying jobs to citizens of every skill and ability…”.1  Because engineering and technology tend to associate closely with manufacturing, it is attracting attention within both state and local governments as well as educational facilities at the high school and college levels; the priority is to invest in training future employees, while removing the outdated stigma that manufacturing jobs are dirty and underpaid.

MassTech based the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative on a 2008 study2 that focused on manufacturing health in Massachusetts, followed by a second study3 from the same team in 2012.  The focus areas brought forth from these studies:

  • Promoting the image of manufacturing
  • Education and workforce development
  • Technical assistance and innovation
  • Access to capital

Related programs include:

  • Technology & Market Acceleration:
    • Technology Acceleration Program – Grow and succeed with invention, innovation, and commercialization endeavors
    • Technology Driven Market Intelligence (TDMI) – Focus on the market benefits a technology enables in a product
    • Technology Scouting – Search outside of normal channels for an unmet technology need
  • Workforce training grants:
    • The Express Program – Up to $3,000/employee, but restricted to companies with under 100 employees
    • The General Program – Grants up to $250,000
  • On-the-Job Training (OJT) and Apprenticeships:
    • Train Employees – Reliable OJT and apprenticeships
    • Aging Workforce – Prevent brain drain due to retirement
    • Recruiting the Right People – Core skills training
  • Working Capital Loan Guarantees – Guaranty product by MassDevelopment to guarantee up to 25% of working-capital loans for manufacturers
  • Massachusetts Manufacturing Month 20164 (October) event categories:
    • Education – Prepare/motivate people to pursue manufacturing careers
    • Innovation – Solve difficult problems and pave the way for the future
    • Products – Highlight amazing products manufactured in Massachusetts
    • Sustainability – Promote incorporation of green/sustainable processes
    • Workforce and Jobs – Spotlight training and career paths

Additional state-wide organizations and their missions:

  • AMPItUp! (Advanced Manufacturing Program) – Amping up students for an amazing future in manufacturing.
  • Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) – Largest employer association (4,500 members) within Massachusetts that addresses manufacturer’s (1/3 of membership) and employer’s concerns; they advocate for their members.
  • MakerSpaces – Evolving hotbeds of innovation where woodworkers, robotics engineers, machinists, etc. can participate or rent incubator space.
  • MassMEP (Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership) – The expert resource committed to manufacturing growth in Massachusetts.
  • Massachusetts Technology Collaborative – An innovative public agency working to support a vibrant, growing economy across Massachusetts.

qcc-mac1

qcc-mac2

Finally, a look in a classroom at the new Manufacturing Advancement Center at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, MA; the center, funded by a $2M grant in 2014, opened to students this week.

1Massachusetts Manufacturing Facts from the National Association of Manufacturers.

2Please see Staying Power – The Future of Manufacturing in Massachusetts by the Center for Urban and Regional Policy, School of Social Science, Urban Affairs, and Public Policy, Northeastern University.

3Please see Staying Power II – A Report Card on Manufacturing in Massachusetts 2012 by the Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University.

4Please see Massachusetts Manufacturing Month 2016 from AMPitup!.

Bryley Basics: Why do my outbound emails show up as spam?

Anna Darlagiannis and Gavin Livingstone, Bryley Systems Inc.

I just got a call from a prospect; he notes that his emails are showing up as spam and his email recipients now think he is a spammer.  This is a topic that many email-oriented organizations experience.

Unfortunately, with ransomware growing more common, spam-filtering efforts are getting more aggressive, which makes it even easier to be labeled a spammer and then blacklisted.  Is it a losing battle?

Spam is unsolicited/unwanted bulk email; it is often easily identified, but can also be a bit ambiguous, making it difficult to separate desired email from undesired.

Spam filters, both free-standing (Reflexion, MimeCast, Proofpoint, etc.) and built-ins (spam-deterrents built into Google Gmail and Microsoft Office365) use various algorithms and keyword searches to review incoming email, apply a spam “score”, and then block those that exceed a specific threshold.  In addition, they blacklist repeat offenders considered spammers, effectively preventing the source emailer from reaching their intended audience.

Subject-line triggers are a significant issue; using words like “Free” or “Viagra” in your email subject line (and within the body of your email) can easily get your message labeled as spam.  Send this email to hundreds of recipients will get you blacklisted as a spammer.

In addition, these are other common email-spam identifiers:

  • Generic greetings
  • Grammatical and spelling errors
  • Unusual use of capitals or punctuation (BUY!!!)

Here’s how to stay off the spam-filter radar:

  • Avoid attachments
  • Check spelling and grammar
  • Provide an unsubscribe option
  • Avoid certain keywords1 and subject-line triggers

1Please see The Ultimate List of Email SPAM Trigger Words by Karen Rubin of Hubspot on January 11, 2012.

Boo To The Flu

The Hudson Public Library is offering a free flu shot clinic on Wed. September 28th from 9:30-12:30.

If you are interested, bring your insurance card. That is it! Very easy.

boo-to-flu

Do I need Cyber Liability Insurance?

Gavin Livingstone, President, and Mike Carlson, CTO at Bryley Systems Inc. with Bill Percuoco, Sales Executive at DF Murphy Insurance Agency, Inc.

In general, Bryley retains business insurance to address all areas of significant risk; we ensure that we have sufficient coverage for all big-event issues, while usually requesting the greatest deductible possible.  Cyber Liability Insurance is high on our list of must-have coverage; both for ourselves, and for our clients.

Cyber Liability Insurance is designed to protect consumers of technology services or products.1  It provides coverage for data breaches, known or even undiscovered, and is a risk-transfer option designed to address some of the costs of mandatory notification (required within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and 45 other states) and to deal with the remedial aspects of a data breach.2

Coverage typically includes:

  • Data breach/crisis management costs – Reporting and managing an incident, including remediation
  • Network security liability – Third-party damages due to denial of access
  • Multimedia liability costs – Restitution for defacement of website(s)
  • Extortion liability costs – Losses due to extortion attempts

Organizations that process credit cards are at risk; more so if they store credit-card information on their network.  In addition to credit-card information, a data breach that discloses other types of personal information can introduce extensive liability:

  • Employee information is a risk for any employer.
  • Information collected and retained from medical applications may include confidential medical and/or personal data.

While non-Fortune-5000 organizations are unlikely to be specifically targeted for their data, many of these attacks are broadly distributed, often via forged emails sent to thousands of people.  The attackers gather data from successful attacks and then determine if it is of any use to them.

Another targeted area could be your public presence – web site, Facebook/Twitter, etc.  This is more of an embarrassment than a financial liability, but restoring the web site and regaining access to hacked social-media accounts and the like does have a cost.

Bill Percuoco of the DF Murphy Insurance Agency, Inc. (our insurer), notes that they have recently seen several claims stemming from social engineering where a criminal has tricked an individual into transferring money.  (Social engineering is the psychological manipulation of someone to reveal confidential information or perform a desired action.3)

Due to supporting the technology of our clients, Bryley Systems remains extremely diligent; in addition to our security measures and internal controls, processes, and policies, we have had Cyber Liability Insurance for many years.  Our premiums are based on annual sales, factored by industry, services, policies, security, and risk-exposure; we are likely at the high end since we protect other organizations.

We believe that it is far less expensive to purchase Cyber Liability Insurance coverage than it is to face these situations without sufficient resources.  To that end, we recommend Cyber Liability Insurance to our clients and to all organizations using online technology, particularly those that accept credit cards and/or use online financial, medical, or employee-oriented applications.

1Please see Data breach and cyber liability:  Real risks in a virtual world in the blog at DF Murphy Insurance Agency, Inc. from May 11, 2015.

2Please see Understanding Cyber Liability Insurance from Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agents.

3Please see Social Engineering in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Carol Misulis brings years of administrative experience to Bryley Systems

Carol Misulis is the newest member to join Bryley Systems and will be working directly with Business Development.  Prior to Bryley, she worked as a Food Program Specialist for the Department of Agriculture and as a successful business owner.

Ms. Misulis has a BA in Business Administration from Clark University, Worcester.