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Emerging Technology

Combining Security and Convenience in Your Business with Single Sign-On

In the modern workforce, managing passwords is tough. Most employees manage 85 different passwords, according to this year’s Annual Global Password Security Report by LastPass, and this presents a significant cybersecurity risk for businesses while also harming productivity and user experience.

Most business leaders are aware that maintaining a robust password security posture is more important than ever, as cybercriminals continue to target small and mid-sized businesses (and their employees). However, the rise of cloud adoption also means that most users expect to have seamless access to multiple applications from anywhere and on any device, and 2020’s exponential increase in work-from-home situations only exacerbates the issue by adding new applications and forcing users to enter passwords more often.

One of the best solutions to this security/productivity dilemma is called Single Sign-On (SSO). Single Sign-On means that users don’t have to sign in every time they need to use an application—instead, they log in using a master username and password and those credentials are used for all their other business apps. This solution perfectly combines security and simplicity, allowing your team to stick to a single master password while also improving your organization’s security posture. SSO also helps satisfy compliance requirements built on the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and CIS Top 20 Controls, making it a win-win for organizations subject to CMMC, HIPAA, CCPA, and others.

How SSO Improves Security & Increases Productivity

By allowing employees to use a single set of login credentials everywhere, SSO boosts productivity while also improving your overall cybersecurity posture. Here’s how:

Better Passwords

Employees at small and mid-sized businesses manage 85 different passwords on average. This presents a large security risk as users are likely to create simple passwords and reuse them across multiple logins. With SSO, users only need to remember a single password for all their applications, which means they are more likely to create a stronger passphrase that can’t be reused in multiple places.

Two-Factor Authentication on Everything

Enabling Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is one of the single most important things you can do to improve your cybersecurity posture: a recent Symantec study found that over 80% of all data breaches could have been prevented by 2FA.

2FA and SSO are a match made in heaven: by enabling Two-Factor Authentication on each user’s master login, you effectively protect every application that your team needs to access, without forcing them to enter their 2FA code for every app. To learn more about how Two-Factor Authentication works, check out our One-Minute Wednesday episode.

Secure User Provisioning

Traditionally, when an employee leaves the company, the IT department needs to track down and change every single password that employee had access to. With an average of 85 passwords to update and (generally) a lack of documentation about which accounts were in use, this can present a major security vulnerability for most businesses.

SSO solves this issue by streamlining the user provisioning/deprovisioning process: when someone leaves the company, the IT team only needs to disable a single master account and/or update a master login. This can save a ton of time and, more importantly, means your IT team will never overlook an account that needs to be locked down.

Fewer Support Requests

Users often forget passwords and get locked out of important applications, and this usually necessitates a call to your IT department or IT provider to initiate a password reset. Enabling SSO means your employees only have a single password to remember, which means they’ll get locked out less often and the downtime associated with password reset requests will be significantly reduced. This frees up your employees to be more productive and your IT team to focus on important proactive work.

Improved User Experience

Single Sign-On is already a part of most people’s personal lives—we’re used to logging into a single Google login and then automatically having access to our Gmail, Google Drive, YouTube, etc. SSO extends this user experience to your employees’ work environment: your team won’t need to stress about password management or click through multiple login windows for every application, saving time with every login and boosting overall productivity.

Find Out How SSO Works For Your Business

With more people working from home and using cloud applications than ever before, it is increasingly important for businesses to develop a cybersecurity strategy. SSO is a powerful tool for securing your business from cybercriminals while also improving user experience and boosting productivity. If you have any questions about how SSO could work for your business, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

November 18th, 2020|

The One Cybersecurity Assessment Every SMB Needs

Most cybersecurity assessments today do not follow an authoritative framework, are incredibly expensive for what they provide, and (most importantly) fail to answer these three critical questions:  

  • How secure is our business today? 
  • What is the appropriate level of cybersecurity for our business? 
  • How can we improve cybersecurity practices to meet business objectives? 

TechMD’s Security Maturity Level Assessment (SMLA) process fully answers these three questions by following the nationally-recognized NIST Cybersecurity Framework (you can learn more about NIST framework here). And with an all-in flat-rate price of $6,000 for the entire SMLA process, our assessment is as cost-effective as we can make it. 

Here is an overview of how TechMD conducts the NIST SMLA and what we provide once we’re finished: 

Security Maturity Level Assessment (SMLA) 

Step 1: Confirmation of Business Cybersecurity Requirements 

The SMLA process begins with scheduling a complimentary meeting where TechMD will seek to understand your business cybersecurity needs, what your cybersecurity posture looks like today, and how your IT infrastructure, IT systems, and IT support are set upBy the end of this meeting, you’ll understand how the SMLA process works, you’ll know the all-in flat rate costs for the assessment, and you’ll have a high-level overview of how our process will impact your overall cybersecurity posture. 

If you want to move forward, we’ll sign an SMLA agreement and will begin the process of identifying the key personnel that will need to be interviewed as a part of the assessment process. Click here for a sample Statement of Work document for the SMLA. 

Step 2: Interviews with Key Personnel 

The SMLA is built to follow the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and the CIS Top 20 Cybersecurity Controls. Once we begin the assessment, we will sit down with key personnel, usually a C-level executive plus whomever manages IT and HR, to understand how your organization stacks up against the NIST framework and CIS Top 20 Controls. 

 

This is a highly-detailed, structured process where we assess the status of and execution on each of the CIS 20 controls and sub-controls one-by-one. The goal is to understand whether there is a policy or practice in place that satisfies each control, and if so, to what extent it satisfies the control. For each control, we’ll be looking for:  

  • Is there a verbal policy that satisfies this control? 
  • If yes, is there a written policy that satisfies this control? 
  • If yes, is the policy fully automated? 
  • If yes, is there a reporting process in case the policy fails to execute properly? 

Once we gather all the data for each of the CIS 20 Controls, we will make evidence requests to prove compliance. We will also be documenting everything along the way and maintaining an inventory of evidence provided. This is important because we are taking the position of an outside auditor—our job is to ensure that you can pass an independent audit, and we will stand behind you if and when you decide to engage one. 

Step 3: Review the Evidence 

Once the initial key personnel interviews and evidence-gathering process is completed, we will review the policies provided by the client and the technical evidence provided by the IT team, determine if each policy satisfies its corresponding control and would pass an audit, and finally analyze all the information to get a high-level overview of the organization’s cybersecurity compliance. 

After our analysis is complete, we normally expect to schedule follow-up meetings with key personnel to fill in any gaps in information. Once we have a complete picture, we’ll move on to the deliverables. 

SMLA Deliverables 

As a result of the SMLA process, you will receive: 

Official Security Maturity Level (SML) Score  

Your SML score will range from 0-5 and will include a full breakdown of the percentage to which each control has been satisfied, along with a comparison to other companies in your industry. 

Executive Summary Report  

This report contains high-level insights into how your cybersecurity policies fit together and an overview of your overall cybersecurity posture. This report is based on your cybersecurity goals and where you’re falling short in relation to those goals. Not every organization needs to have an SML Score of 4 or 5, so the analysis in this report will be highly dependent on your specific needs and goals. 

Full Detail and Risk Analysis Report  

This report includes a full breakdown of what is missing from each policy and what is needed to satisfy its corresponding CIS Control, along with an assessment of how much risk each policy presents to the organization. 

Customized System Security Plan 

The first three deliverables may paint a depressing picture about your cybersecurity posture, and if so, you probably already knew roughly how bad it was. But what you probably want to know is what you should do next, so the most important piece of the SMLA process is the customized System Security Plan (SSP) and its companion Timeline and Budget.  

 

The custom SSP will provide you with a step-by-step plan and budget for improving your SML score. This plan will be designed to satisfy your organization’s specific timeline, budget, and goals—normally we develop 1-year plans, but you may be willing or required to spend more and arrive at your targeted SML score sooner. Our SSP applies to any industry or compliance requirement and will be customized to fit your organization’s needs. For example: 

  • You may need to be HIPAA compliant, CMMC certified, or follow any number of other industry-specific compliance requirements 
  • You may need to meet the cybersecurity requirements of a large customer  

Once you receive your customized SSP, you’ll have the freedom to execute the plan yourself if you have in-house cybersecurity expertise, or we can help you drive that process forward through a Managed Security Services Agreement. 

Get Started Today 

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the different cybersecurity solutions out there, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We now have a nationally-recognized cybersecurity standard in the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and CIS Top 20 Controls. With the SMLA process built on that standard, TechMD can help you understand your cybersecurity risks and develop a customized action plan that will get you where you need to be, at your own pace and according to your budget. 

To learn more about the SMLA, contact us here! 

September 16th, 2020|

Top 5 Cloud Trends for SMBs in 2020 

The coronavirus pandemic has drastically accelerated the pace of cloud adoption, as organizations nationwide were forced to migrate to a fully remote workforce in a matter of daysEven as many organizations return to the office, remote work and cloud infrastructure is here to stay. 

Here are our top 5 cloud trends for small and medium businesses: 

1. Cybersecurity for Office 365 and G Suite Must Be Tightened 

The pandemic has radically accelerated the pace of cloud adoption—for example, Microsoft added 58 million new Office 365 licenses in Q1 of this year (a 29% increase). Predictably, cybercriminal attacks on Office 365 and G Suite have gotten even more aggressive with the increase in new usersThese cloud services were already the number one target for cybercriminals before the pandemic, so tightening up their security is more important than ever. 

The Department for Homeland Security recently released specific cybersecurity recommendations for Office 365, which are equally relevant for G Suite. Here’s the high-level summary: 

  • Use multi-factor authentication (MFA), also known as two-factor authentication (2FA). 
  • Protect Global Admins from compromise and use the principle of “Least Privilege.” 
  • Enable unified audit logging. 
  • Enable Alerting capabilities.
  • Integrate with organizational SIEM solutions. 
  • Disable legacy email protocols, if applicable, or limit their use to specific users. 

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is especially important, as it is the single most effective tool for fighting off cyberattacks. According to Microsoft, it can prevent up to 99% of automated account breaches. 

If you’re not sure whether your organization’s Office 365 or G Suite accounts are secure, check with your IT team or reach out to us for help. You can learn more about our cybersecurity offerings here. 

2. Exponential Growth in Cloud-Based Collaboration Tools 

Unified Communications platforms and cloud-based productivity suites have seen exponential growth over the last few months. For example, Microsoft Teams adoption grew from 32 million daily active users on March 11 to 75 million users on April 29, a 235% increase over a 7week period. G Suite’s Google Meet has seen similar growth, with Google reporting a “30-fold increase in usage since January”. 

In other words, remote work is here to stay, and businesses are looking to adapt to new communication and collaboration challengesUnified Communications platforms like Microsoft Teams are the perfect solution to fill in these gaps, allowing team members to seamlessly collaborate via voice, video, and chat no matter where they’re working. 

At TechMDMicrosoft Teams has replaced a significant amount of our day-to-day email correspondence, improving productivity and collaboration. During the pandemic, it has also enabled us to continue holding meetings with full video support, without exposing ourselves to the security risks associated with consumer-grade video platforms like Zoom. 

If you’re on Office 365 or Microsoft 365, you likely already have Teams licenses included with your subscription, and if so, you can get started right away. To learn more about Microsoft Teams, check out our recent Tech Talk covering what it can do, how it works, and how to get started. 

3. Mobile Workforce Creates Access, Identity, and Data Control Issues 

The mass adoption of cloud platforms like Office 365, Teams, and G Suite means that people are now using personal devices to connect to corporate networks on an unprecedented scale. Company data used to live in a controlled environment, where it was accessed primarily by company-managed devices, but this is no longer the case. The new distributed workforce will require a new approach to managing access, identity, and data governance. 

There are plenty of tools available to help sandbox personal devices and secure company data, but most businesses have not yet adopted them. We expect that this will change over the next year, with cybercriminals increasingly targeting personal devices as an entry point into sensitive corporate networks.  

For our money, Microsoft 365 is one of the best options for this, offering a full suite of security tools that allow organizations to implement secure bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policiescontrol how company data is accessed and shared, and remotely manage identity and mobile devicesFor example, you can prevent users from downloading or saving sensitive documents onto personal devices, and you can manage access permissions for those documents remotely. You can also sandbox company data on personal devices, allowing you to wipe data or revoke access remotely, without affecting any personal data on the device. For more on how this works, check out this quick video from Microsoft. 

Access, identity, and data governance tools will become a key feature of business cybersecurity strategies over the next year, allowing teams the flexibility to work conveniently without sacrificing a robust security perimeter. If you have any questions about this, you can contact us here. 

4. Big Players Begin to Dominate the Cloud Desktop Space 

Remote work is becoming the new norm, but many organizations still rely on legacy applications that are not yet cloud-native and cannot be easily accessed outside the office.  

This is where cloud desktop solutions from major players like Microsoft’s Windows Virtual Desktop or Amazon’s WorkSpaces come inThese solutions provide a feature-complete desktop that is fully hosted in the cloud, providing access to all your software applications, files, data, email, and contacts from any device, no matter where you are. This gives your team the flexibility to handle remote work without sacrificing productivity or access to critical line-of-business applications. 

Cloud desktops also reduce dependence on computer hardware during a time when it is difficult to support and replace company computers. When combined with the proper cybersecurity measures to protect company data, cloud desktops could allow organizations to migrate away from owning computers at all. Employees can bring their own device and access everything they need via their cloud desktop, while the company cut costs on computer hardware without sacrificing their cybersecurity posture. Learn more about cloud solutions here.

5. Cloud-Based Phone Systems Become the New Standard

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many organizations to reconsider their phone systems. We’ve talked to many businesses recently that ran into issues migrating to an all-remote workforce because their phone system required specific phone hardware and was inoperable from outside their office.  

For many organizationscloud-based VOIP has been the lynchpin holding business operations together under workfromhome requirements. It provides employees with the flexibility to make or take calls from anywhere on any device, ensuring businesses can remain available to their clients and coworkers without being tied to a desk in an office building. It also tends to be more cost effective than maintaining the telecom hardware and infrastructure associated with conventional phone systems. 

We were already seeing significant growth in adoption of cloud-based VOIP solutions before the pandemic, and the rapid adoption of remote work has only accelerated this trend. If you are looking for guidance on why and how to move to cloud-based VOIP, contact us and we can put you in touch with someone who can help. 

June 3rd, 2020|

Are all your IT eggs in one basket?

 

5 Principles to Eliminate IT Risk

Can you evaluate risk with your organization’s information technology? Unfortunately, many businesses that we speak with on a regular basis do not realize they are one unexpected circumstance away from a business disaster.

The story goes something like this: the keys to the IT kingdom are placed in the hands of one IT employee or IT consultant. They have full access to all the email, data, software, configurations, and credentials that run your business, and little to no contingency plan is put in place. Then something unexpected happens: they get sick, incur financial hardship, their service quality suffers, they place your data and systems in an IT “vault” where you have limited access, or you suffer a cybersecurity breach. Disaster strikes and now it is too late.

By now we are all aware that we’re living and running our businesses in uncertain times, but IT does not need to be a single point of failure situation. Here are 5 practical principles you can implement to ensure you spread out your IT eggs in more than one basket.

1. Have an IT Overflow Button

If your strategy for handling an increased IT workload is to make your IT manager work overtime and take less vacation, you’re in a tough spot. If put in that position, your IT manager will either quit or be forced to leave important work unfinished.

Every IT manager needs an overflow button and every company should consider an outside IT partner. This is especially important for small businesses, since their IT department normally consists of just one or two people, and it’s impossible for them to possess all the technical skill sets your business needs. For IT professionals: think about your workload today and ask yourself if you would be offended if an outside company took over the boring work of making sure backups are running properly or applying security patches outside of regular business hours. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that those tasks are automated and handled consistently?

Now is the time to address this major business risk and find an overflow button service. Setting up a backstop for your IT will ensure that your IT eggs are not all in one basket.

2. Improve Your IT Toolbox

If your IT support is not simple and automated, there is something wrong. Even if your staff are working from home, IT support should be able to immediately remote into their computer, view their screen, and fix the problem. If software needs to be installed or removed from company workstations, IT should not be required to sit down with every user to complete that task. Most of the time, you can create a script and push it out to all endpoints. Professional IT tools like IT support ticketing platforms, network monitoring tools, and IT documentation software all streamline and simplify IT so that you are not dependent on one individual to get things done. It’s much easier to navigate through complex times when your IT foundation is stable and your IT toolbox empowers IT professionals to maximize their effectiveness. What does your foundation and toolbox look like? If it’s not great, reach out to an IT partner for help.

3. Audit Your IT

You audit your books. You have your finances and taxes reviewed by a CPA or accounting firm. Your operations might go through an annual audit to meet an ISO certification standard. Businesses are used to auditing critical systems, but most fail to do so for their IT.

In 2020, IT can make or break your business just as easily as accounting or operations. The risk is there and the trends are shifting: data privacy and security regulations have increased; technology landscape is changing quickly and becoming more complex; cybersecurity threats are without a doubt a top risk for any business. Internal IT teams need guidance from outside professionals just like accounting departments. If your business has not completed an IT or cybersecurity audit recently, this needs to move up your priority list. Reach out to an IT consulting firm that offers this service and get the details.

4. Don’t Let Private Cloud Providers Trap Your Business

The cloud provider you choose can easily trap your business and steal your potential. Operating systems, databases, code and technology changes happen so quickly that a significant amount of capital is required to keep custom built IT systems secured and up to date with modern standards. Make sure your cloud providers are backed by well-established companies.

Public clouds like Microsoft Azure and AWS have an infinite amount of resources that will provide stability to your organization, and there are well-established exit strategies if their systems don’t perform to your expectations. Additionally, it’s easy to find IT providers to help manage your Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure, but if you are working with a private cloud, you are stuck with one option and they know it. Getting out of private cloud providers tends to be costly and complicated, so avoid them if possible. If you’re already in a private cloud, double check your contract for exit terms.

5. Leverage the Public Cloud

Cloud-focused companies were able to quickly and easily adjust to work-from-home requirements when the pandemic hit. Most companies operating out of an all-cloud infrastructure probably didn’t even notice much of a change while companies with a more traditional IT stack hit the panic button. Solutions like Microsoft 365, Azure AD, Microsoft Teams, and Virtual Desktops are a good fit for a vast majority of businesses out there. Cloud is mobile by design and can easily scale up and down as businesses grow and shrink. Right now is a great time to evaluate your cloud strategy. Have an honest conversation about what didn’t work during this recent shift to work-from-home and see how to improve your position for next time. If all your IT resources are still on-premises at your office, all your IT eggs are in one basket.

Whether you’re an IT Director, IT Manager, CFO or CEO at a small business, these principles can help focus your attention on the risks that may exist within your information technology. Stay healthy, be smart, and strengthen your IT resources today. Who knows how long this crisis is going to last!

About TechMD

TechMD is an award-winning Managed IT Services Provider that is dedicated to making co-managed IT the most effective partnership for companies with under 500 employees. TechMD is an extension of internal IT departments. Our solution is effective, well-defined, and affordable. It offers both IT staff and business leaders the peace of mind that you have a partner that can help you weather storms like the current coronavirus pandemic.

Check out our reviews on Clutch or contact us today for more information on how TechMD can help eliminate IT risk in your business.

April 13th, 2020|

Does the new CCPA law apply to your business?

What is the California Consumer Privacy Act?



Many California businesses will need to address new compliance and privacy requirements this year due to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which went into effect on January 1st, 2020. CCPA established new data privacy rights relating to how businesses handle consumers’ data. Companies that fall under CCPA have a six-month grace period before enforcement actions from the California attorney general begin in July.

Once enforcement begins, penalties being out of compliance are up to $7,500 per intentional violation and up to $2,500 per unintentional violation. Consumers also have the right to pursue individual actions against companies that mishandle their data.

Does CCPA apply to you?

CCPA regulates any company that does business in California (or has customers who live in California) and falls into at least one of the following categories:

  • Earns annual gross revenues over $25 million
  • Receives, buys, sells or shares the personal information of at least 50,000 California consumers
  • Derives at least half of annual revenue from selling the information of California residents

For more details on the CCPA standards, see Microsoft’s FAQ.

How to Prepare for CCPA Enforcement

If CCPA applies to you and your business, you’ll want to start taking steps to ensure you’re compliant now. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Understand the scope of your obligations

First you need to understand what kind of consumer data you are collecting and storing. CCPA defines “personal information” as anything that “identifies, relates to, describes, is capable of being associated with, or could reasonably be linked, directly or indirectly, with a particular consumer or household.” This includes things like:

  • Personal identifiers (names, addresses, emails, social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, etc.)
  • Geolocation
  • Biometric information
  • Employment information
  • Educational information
  • Internet or network activity

If you don’t already have a good understanding of what data you’re collecting and how you’re storing it, you’ll want to get a compliance assessment. If you have a Microsoft 365 subscription, you already have access to the Microsoft 365 Compliance Center and the new Compliance Score. These tools will help you assess your current compliance posture and point out areas that require improvement.

2. Develop processes for responding to Data Subject Requests (DSRs)

CCPA gives consumers the right to control how companies use their information, including the right to access, delete, or transfer data. Consumers exercise these rights by submitting Data Subject Requests (DSRs) to companies, and businesses subject to CCPA will be obligated to review and respond to each DSR in a timely manner. The Microsoft 365 Compliance Center can help you streamline the DSR response process and is another reason why we recommend Microsoft.

3. Find and secure sensitive data

Most businesses are not taking steps to secure corporate data, and data breaches are becoming more common every day. Because CCPA imposes penalties for data breaches of consumer information, it’s important to have the right systems in place for securing sensitive data. Tools like Message Encryption, which enables users to encrypt messages going in and out of your organization, and Microsoft Information Protection, which blocks sensitive data from leaving the organization, are a critical part of your compliance stack.

4. Train your employees

CCPA requires all employees who are responsible for the company’s compliance or might find themselves handling requests related to data privacy (opting out, deleting or accessing information, etc) to undergo specific training about how CCPA works and what it requires. This training requirement most likely covers all customer service representatives along with the company’s legal/compliance team. You will want to make sure all employees who are required to undergo CCPA training complete it before enforcement actions begin later this year.

TechMD Can Help

If you have any questions about how CCPA might affect your business, please feel free to reach out to us!

February 11th, 2020|

Tech Talk: How to Develop an IT Strategy for the Coming Year

5 Things to Consider For Your IT Strategy


At this time of year many of our clients are finalizing their budgets and plans for the coming year. Part of our job at TechMD is to help them develop and implement a sound IT strategy that aligns with their business objectives. With that in mind, here are 5 things you should consider while developing your IT strategy for the coming year.

1) Develop a technology mission statement.

Consider how you want technology to support your organization’s goals. The basics like email and file storage are similar in all organizations but what you need to figure out is the unique way you want your technology to impact your specific business. In general, you need to determine where your company is going and how technology can help take you there.

2) Perform a technology SWOT analysis.

This is where you outline your company’s technology related strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Doing this will help you see areas where technology can help mitigate weakness and threats or provide you with the ability to capitalize on strengths and opportunities. A sober word of caution: just about all organizations should have cybersecurity in their threats column.

3) Review your short- and long-term goals.

Knowing what your organization is working to accomplish will help you think about which technologies are worth investing in and how they can bolster your team to better achieve those goals. The business world is rapidly moving towards cloud technology. If you haven’t considered this already, next year needs to be the year where you consider how the cloud will impact your business. The digital transformation is happening, and your response could make or break your business.

4) Address the training and development needs of your team.

You’ll want to prioritize cybersecurity training for your staff, because they are the number one target for cybercriminals. You’ll also want to consider what new skills need to be learned as you adopt new technologies and how you will educate your employees who utilize those skills.

5) Develop an IT budget.

Many businesses leaders we talk to consider an IT budget an oxymoron; they feel like IT costs are always surprises and investment is always out of control. But with the right focus and team an IT budget can be created and followed. The IT budget should align with your goals and ensure your company can properly invest in the technology you need to run your organization effectively.

The most useful IT budgets are based on a 3-year cycle and provide you with great visibility into the investments required for that time frame. During this process, make sure that you involve your organizations leadership team and stake holders. If you don’t have a C-level IT employee at your company, you may want to look into engaging a company like TechMD or an outside IT consultant to help guide you through the process.

We’d love to help!

If you have any questions about how to build your IT strategy for the coming year, we’d love to help. Please feel free to reach out to us here.

For more information about the cloud and cybersecurity, please check out the links below:

Further Reading

December 16th, 2019|

Tech Talk: Is AI Ready For Small Business?

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is rapidly emerging technology that is set to change the landscape of all kinds of industries. But with so much news surrounding new developments, you may be wondering if AI is right for small and mid-sized organizations today.

First let’s dispel some myths. The first thing to know is that AI will not instantly solve all your business needs. And despite its growth, implementing AI will require both massive commitment, resources and the right set of skills to integrate it into your systems. Also, you’ll want to avoid adopting AI for AI’s sake alone; 99% of businesses don’t actually need AI to be profitable right now. Instead, ensure new technology aligns with your business needs.

Tools You Can Use Right Now

Now with that said, there are some current AI applications that you can leverage today, ranging from marketing, logistics and operations to fraud detection and more. For example, Fin is an app that utilizes machine learning in tandem with skilled remote staff to act as your personal virtual assistant. Using speech-to-text technology, you can have a variety of tasks performed on your behalf.

Salesforce’s Einstein is another example that uses artificial intelligence to gather predictions and recommendations based on customer data and business processes. You can then use that data to automate responses and actions to improve sales, and in so doing, happier customers. Also, if you feel that your business objectives are in line with the capabilities of AI and machine learning, be sure to check out the solutions provided by Microsoft Azure, AWS or Google’s Cloud AI.

Steps To Take

Understand that the key to AI is good data, so make sure you are implementing effective solutions to collect and store data so it can be leveraged in the future. Lastly, follow these steps to keep up with AI trends:

  • Capture your most important data digitally so it can be leveraged in the future.
  • Stay on top of AI advancements in your industry.
  • Don’t hesitate to leverage AI and machine learning today if you have clear business needs that might be accomplished with today’s AI technology.

Thanks for watching this Tech Talk and come back next time to learn more!

Further Reading

November 6th, 2018|