May 21, 2015

Sure it’s convenient – hunkering down at your local Starbucks to do some work, sipping a latte and listening to your favorite playlist, perhaps even taking a quick break to do some online banking.

I mean, it’s easy (and free!) to connect to their Wi-Fi network, and you’re obviously being careful, right? You look around and make certain no one is scrutinizing your keystrokes as you enter your password, you’re sitting at a private table and no one is right at your elbow, so you feel you’re safe and secure. Oh, how you are so not.

Public networks like those at a Starbucks are inherently insecure, given they have to accommodate everyone, so they’re susceptible to all sorts of security breaches. Conducting any type of sensitive business while connected to an unsecured wireless network is not quite like playing Russian Roulette, but it’s close.  That data traversing around the Starbucks is available for any skilled, unscrupulous individual to pilfer.  And you won’t even know it until it’s too late – if ever.

The same advice goes for the public computers in your local library, school, hotel business center, or even those at an Internet café.  These machines are safe for checking your fantasy stats, the weather, or mapping out your next run.  But if you have to enter a username and password into a particular site, it should be done with much care.

Be smart. Enjoy the convenience and ambiance of working at Starbucks, or any public space really, and feel free to use their Wi-Fi.  Just check yourself before you do anything more than read the latest restaurant review or find out what’s going on with the Kardashians/Jenners.

#PokeTheBear

May 14, 2015

Can a robot replace you? Maybe not you the person, but you the employee/worker/professional?  Hate to break it to you, but what used to be a blue-collar phenomenon of robots replacing humans on the assembly line has now crossed over to white-collar jobs as well.  (Just check out our recent Tweets from @Syzygy3.)

The concern (resentment?) about “human” jobs being passed over to robots or machines was once limited to a small fraction of the working population.  That is not true any longer.  Accountants, lawyers, IT professionals, salespeople, cab drivers, the list goes on.  These changes are more than just about money.  Efficiency (self checkout), less chance of human error (autopilot), convenience (self-parallel parking), broader access to information (online courses).  Currently the only safe job is barista, but that will soon change.

Whether you fear technology, think it is the bane of our modern world, or are resigned to a future of devalued human labor, being a Luddite – a person opposed to new technology – can no longer be the de facto excuse for resisting technology in your business.

We're not talking about implementing bleeding edge technology.  There are basic technologies that need to be a standard part of all businesses: PC/laptop/Mac, high-speed Internet, accounting software, professional email (Exchane or Gmail, but with your domain), customer tracking software, and security software/device.  You'd be amazed how many companies still tell one or more of the above is not necessary for their business.  Every business runs on technology now; these are just the basics you need to even stay in the game.

You may resist the rapidly changing landscape of technology, but resisting current basic technologies is no longer an option.  It's a silicon-based world out there, so afraid you're gonna have to get with the program.

#PokeTheBear

May 07, 2015

The Cloud.  Everyone’s talking about it; it seems everyone is using it (data storage, email, music, file sharing, etc.).  Cloud is about as hot as you can get in technology, but there is still one question prospects/clients ask us more than any other: Can I trust the Cloud with my business?

We wouldn’t be writing this entry if we didn’t think you could, and here are three reasons why:

1. It’s their business and what they do best.  For a Cloud service provider to remain in business they need to provide customers with a safe, reliable operation.  Regular outages, poor tech support, shoddy performance – any negative experience a user has with their Cloud service will force people to question if it’s worth doing business with that provider.  Why stay with Cloud service provider X if they can’t deliver a reliable service?  Which brings us to #2…

2. They spend more on security than you do.  Protecting your data – and those of millions of other users – costs a great deal of money.  And nobody gets into the Cloud service business with fingers crossed merely hoping enough cash has been spent on security.  A successful Cloud service provider invests what’s to secure the service and the data their client house.  Sure, you may think your most important files are safer sitting on your machine or a local device, but you’d be mistaken.  That invisible fence built by the Cloud provider is inherently more secure than your local security options.  And this leads to #3…

3. It’s where major investments are being made today.  The Cloud is a commanding force in the 2015 tech industry and we don’t see its influence waning in future years.  It’s not only driving hordes of computer- and business-savvy people to these companies; it’s also attracting hundreds of billions of dollars in investment capital every year.  That investment helps drive the innovation, security, support, etc.  which are transforming almost every aspect of IT.  Even Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has said the company is moving away from Windows-based operation and evolving to be more Cloud-centric.  As in many other endeavors, follow the money.

The time is now to take advantage of the Cloud.  And while no system – yours or your service provider’s – is 100% safe, you can be fairly confident in those companies who are in this for the long haul.  They’ll do right by you and your data, keeping both as secure as possible.

#PokeTheBear