Monthly Archives: October 2015

How a Managed Service Provider (MSP) Will Benefit Your Business

Using a Managed Service Provider, like Systemsnet, removes the hassle of having an in-house IT department, while still having the IT support you need.

Using a Managed Service Provider, like Systemsnet, removes the hassle of having an in-house IT department, while still having the IT support you need.

Information Technology (IT) can be a hassle, and it is often the last thing a company wants to worry about. That is, until something goes wrong. And with IT, a lot can go wrong. Depending on the size of your business, you may have any number of computers, all networked together, VoIP phone systems that rely on the Internet, and active Internet connection that must be maintained at all times with all computers connected to that Internet connection for employee productivity. If it is running smoothly, IT is just running in the background and no one even notices it is there. But the second a phone line goes down or a computer hard drive starts acting funny, IT is the first group to get called, and it is all on them to make things right while the employee stands there impatiently waiting to get back to work. Without properly functioning IT, a business in the 21st century simply cannot operate.

So what do you do to make sure that your business’s IT is working all the time, without having to worry about the headaches that come with managing IT all the time? Your business needs to turn to a Managed Service Provider (MSP) such as SystemsNet. An MSP is a dedicated provider of IT services, hired by a company to handle all the details of that company’s Information Technology infrastructure. Their services will vary from client to client, depending on the client’s needs, but they often have the capability to handle any IT situation that may arise. This leaves the client free to handle the running of their business, and frees up resources that would otherwise be dedicated to an IT team that no longer is needed.

By hiring an MSP, a company is able to reduce their costs because they are contracting out the IT portion of their business. Any business knows that by contracting out something – whether it be work or IT – money will (usually) be saved. By contracting out the IT services of the business, the management is making a decision to let someone else handle all of the IT problems. Someone else will be on call 24×7 to fix IT problems, rather than having employees of the business on call to fix those problems. Because, let’s face it, a business is an around the clock operation in one way or another, and without an active IT system that is working around the clock, that business runs the risk of falling behind. An MSP will ensure that the IT systems will be operating at all times, whenever someone needs them. And by contracting these services out, the management is saving money because they are not paying for the benefits or overhead cost of the MSP employees – those costs are covered in the contract between the business and the Managed Service Provider.

The contract between the business at the MSP could be such that the business pays a flat monthly cost for all of the services that the two parties have agreed for the MSP to cover. More services, which could include computer hardware and software maintenance, phones, VoIP, and Internet, in addition to other IT needs, will generally require a higher monthly fee. But service plans may be bundled, so that a business receives multiple services for one rate, or picks and chooses individual services at individual rates. It is up to the business, and the operational standards of the MSP, to work out the details of the contract under which the work will be carried out, but it is nearly certain that the business will be saving money and receiving a valuable service because they will not be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the IT infrastructure and ensuring that it is working at all times for their employees. They leave all of that up to the contracted MSP.

If you are interested in exploring the options that SystemsNet can offer your business as an Managed Service Provider, please contact us, and we would be happy to discuss with you how we can not only save you money on IT management, but resources on not managing your IT yourself.

Contact Management After the Fact: How Small Businesses Can Keep Their Contacts Clean After ACT! Contact Management Software Integration

Managing your business's contacts is key to turning leads into customers.

Managing your business’s contacts is key to turning leads into customers.

Developing an effective contact management is crucial for any small business, potentially making the difference between a lead becoming a customer and a customer who walks to a competitor. That’s why following best practices when moving your contacts to a new CRM is absolutely crucial.

But the worst thing you could do to your small business success is think of contact management as a one-time ordeal that is done once you’ve fully implemented your CRM. While customer relationship management software is undoubtedly helpful in managing your contacts for you, your strategy must continue in order to allow you to manage contacts as well as possible. Here are 3 ways you can optimize your processes after moving to ACT! contact management software.

1) Keep a Dynamic Contact List

One of the major benefits you will enjoy from Act! is the fact that your contacts are not managed on a static list. Depending on their interactions with your brand, their profile will grow, giving you a fuller picture on just who they are – and how you can convince them to become customers or repeat customers.

But of course, even the best CRM has its limits: it can not record interactions dynamically that happen offline. You may interact with your customers on the phone or face-to-face, and both are important interactions that help inform you about just who your contacts truly are. When these offline interactions happen, you should create manual entries in your contact files to ensure that a salesperson looking at the profile gets the full picture.

2) Clean Out As Needed 

Naturally, not all of your leads will become customers, and not all of your customers will give you business throughout their lifetime. So instead of wasting efforts trying to reach or interact with contacts who have “jumped off,” you should establish regular contact cleanings in which you sort out those contacts that aren’t worth reaching again.

Act! does some of the work for you. For example, some recipients of your email messages may simply choose to unsubscribe, and your software can ensure that they’re automatically excluded from future email communications. But are your unsusbscribes still getting phone calls or direct mail from you? If so, you may want to take them out of your contact lists altogether, or keep a master “do not contact” list.

3) Establish a Contact Quality Score

As we mention above, not all leads are created equal. Some will be more likely to become customers than others, and you can predict their likelihood to buy based on the number of interactions with your company.

It makes perfect sense: a lead who regularly clicks on or even responds to emails will be more likely to become a customer than one who may have filled out a form on your website once, but has never interacted with you since. That’s why Act! ‘s E-Marketing system can pick up and assign varying scores to leads based on these interactions, allowing your sales team to stop wasting time and only approach those leads who are most likely to convert to customers.

Such a lead scoring system can be time-consuming to set up, and requires continuous adjustment for maximum effectiveness. But done correctly, it is also an incredible contact management tool that helps you efficiently direct your sales efforts and maximize your ROI.

Contact Management can take some work, but the results will speak for themselves. And it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a tool that helps you maximize your efforts! That’s what Act! can do for you, so you can focus on the most important part: increasing your business by attracting, converting and delighting your leads. For more information on how the software can help with your contact management, contact us!

How Extensive is Malware in Today’s Business World? The Realities, and the Best Protection

Malware is becoming increasingly prevalent in this digital age, but that doesn't mean you need to become a victim.

Malware is becoming increasingly prevalent in this digital age, but that doesn’t mean you need to become a victim.

The word malware is an old term that probably makes you bristle whenever you hear it. You’ve likely heard the term used often ever since you’ve been on the Internet, and possibly close to 20 years. In those last two decades, malware went from something only the careless ended up getting on their computers to everyone getting it, even when taking precautions.

This doesn’t negate the reality it’s still preventable. What the real problem is involves not having proper managed services in place for expert preventative measures. When you’re on your own trying to stop malware, you’ll be tempted to skimp on real security just to save money.

It’s then when you place yourself at a higher risk based purely on complacency just because nothing happened before. Once it does happen, it can instigate downtime costing you more money than you think, sometimes enough to put you into bankruptcy.

The reality is, malware is a daily problem that’s only growing more troublesome because of its ubiquitous nature and how it’s fooling companies. Far too many types of malware are out there that come in emails looking eerily real. When someone clicks on a link they think is legit, it’s already too late.

Take a look at what’s really going on in the world of malware lately, what effect it’s having, and what you can do to prevent it. At the very least, you should see what tools are available to at least get you back on your feet if malware still hits you.

Malware in Apps

You’re starting to see an increase in malware getting into popular apps available on prominent app stores. Most recently, an Android malware ended up on Google Play and into an intelligence app (ironically) that infected multiple thousands of people in the process. It was an example of how something looking so innocuous in a prominent place is just as vulnerable as anywhere else.

What makes this malware especially bad is it stays on many mobile devices even after the infected app gets uninstalled. As a result, it poses a new problem for malware becoming more prolific in the app world and possibly beginning to infect more mobile devices across the country.

However, the above is only the beginning in malware infiltrating various tech devices worldwide.

Malware in Routers

A recent report shows that a new type of malware once thought theoretical suddenly infected routers made by Cisco. Found in several different countries, it shows you how global malware is. You can also see how malware can technically get into any device, which could cripple your company if infecting something you wouldn’t expect like a router.

Even worse is a type of malware that completely hijacks your computer to a point where your business could shut down for weeks.

Ransomware as the Worst Type of Malware

Arguably, ransomware is the worst malware currently in existence because it so easily fools people in emails and ends up hijacking your systems until you pay a ransom. Even after paying ransoms, businesses don’t always get their systems unlocked, though some lucky few do.

Wired recently did a detailed piece on ransomware and how you can avoid it. They reiterate as we do here at SystemsNet: Good managed services matter in how well you protect yourself.

With our managed services, you have everything you need and done remotely so it doesn’t get in your way. You’ll have complete protection from viruses, malware, plus remote IT support whenever it’s needed.

Contact us to find out more about our comprehensive IT services and how you can get protected from the encroaching threats of malware.

IT Help Desk Discusses How to Share Files Safely

IT Help Desk allows your business to share files in the cloud quickly and securely.

IT Help Desk allows your business to share files in the cloud quickly and securely.

In the old days before the Internet, the only way to share files was to copy them to hard media, such as a CD, and then send the media to the recipient either through the mail or by hand delivery. Such transfers were inconvenient, required extra time, and cost money. But they were also secure. Unless a potential criminal had a way to break into a mailbox on the exact day the files were being transferred, there was no way he could gain access to your data.

Today, sharing a file is as easy as emailing it or popping it in a cloud storage locker to which the recipient has access. Transfers are almost instantaneous but can be insecure. Putting your file on the Internet potentially exposes it to hackers next door or in Eastern Europe. While no online sharing of information can be 100-percent secure, you can increase the safety of your transfers with the following tips.

  • Educate everyone involved with file sharing. Make sure all people involved with the sharing process, whether it’s your clerk at reception or the client getting the info, are aware of the safety issues and what they need to do for security. Create a list of best practices that you can distribute to people involved. For example, do not allow file transfers over insecure public wi-fi services, such as coffee shops or commuter lines.
  • Add encryption and password protection. A file sharing or cloud service that automatically encrypts files adds a strong layer of security. But even if it does not, many operating systems, such as Windows, have built-in encryption services that are easy to use as right-clicking a file and marking a check box. Third-party encryption tools are also available, such as VeraCrypt or 7-Zip. Just make sure your recipient has access to the same encryption protocols or she won’t be able to access what you send.
  • Add security software and keep it updated. Viruses and other malware can hitch a ride on your files at any point during the transfer. You may not be able to stop a determined hacker from infecting your work but you can prevent his efforts from spreading throughout your systems with anti-virus and security software. Make sure that your firewall is enabled at all times. Keep all your software updated. Hackers constantly always develop more sophisticated attack methods, which requires nearly constant updates from security software manufacturers. The only way you can keep up is by implementing any changes as soon as they appear.
  • Double-check any files you receive. Your security software will hopefully automatically run checks on any files that are shared with you, whether they arrive online or via hard media. It will typically inform you that it is performing the checks and acknowledge what it finds with a message. If you see neither the performance message nor confirmation result, run a manual check on the files yourself. If nothing still happens, ask the sender what’s going on. The files may have picked up malware that prevents your security software from functioning on those particular files.

The most secure way of sharing files is also the most old-fashioned and inconvenient. Put them on media that you physically transfer to your recipient. Barring that, you can continue to share files online more conveniently and securely but only if you do so with knowledge and by taking appropriate precautions.

If you want to know more, please contact us. As your IT help desk experts, we will be glad to show you how to implement enterprise-wide security precautions that protect all your file transfers with minimal fuss on your part.