eStorm are pleased to announce our support for local AFL team, the Brisbane Lions, as we come on board as an official supplier.
eStorm are pleased to announce our support for local AFL team, the Brisbane Lions, as we come on board as an official supplier.
We can’t do everything ourselves. Onboarding partners and team members that have more knowledge, as well as specialised skill sets, is particularly vital when we want to provide the best service, remain competitive and grow our business. This is where we can leverage the power of outsourcing.
Outsourcing helps businesses to reduce costs while reaping the benefits of specialised and strategic expertise in a particular area of the business.
That sounds fantastic! We’d all love to reduce overheads, increase workplace efficiency, gain flexible staffing, deliver faster turnaround times and generate more profit. But how can we make sure we’re getting the most from outsourcing? And what are the key factors to consider when looking to outsource vital areas of your business like IT support services?
For an outsourcing relationship to be successful, you need to ensure that the company you’re outsourcing to can not only deliver what you need, but when you need it. You’re looking to lessen the burden on your resources, so the ability to deliver consistently is a key factor in having a successful relationship.
Sounds obvious, right? But how do we know what someone is like to work with when we’ve never actually worked with them before? The quickest and easiest way to understand what someone is like to work with is to review their previous work—case studies or even news articles, if relevant, can provide a lot insight into previous work.
What do their customers have to say about them?—client testimonials are great for this, but so is a quick Google or social media search. Do they keep their own technology up-to-date? Are they easily contactable and reliable? Do you know who to talk to if there is an issue?
Consider these points when looking to outsource your IT support and business functions.
Another important factor worth considering is how much access the outsourcing company has to knowledgeable and experienced professionals. Everyone is claiming to be the “leading expert” these days, but are their staff properly qualified or certified? Do they have prior experience doing what you need them to do? Do they invest in professional development and training?
While it’s important to ensure current needs can be met, it pays to look to the future. As your business grows and changes, your outsourcing relationship will need to grow and change too—can your outsourced partner quickly change and move to accommodate your growing needs?
These are important questions to ask as they not only ensure you’re getting the right people for the job, but also that your growth potential isn’t limited by your outsourced provider.
As with any business relationship, you need to ensure that there are clear service agreements in place that outline exactly what will be provided and when.
Consider what’s important. What systems and applications matter and ensure these are covered in the service level agreement.
This ensures all parties are on the same page, are clear on what is expected, what is most important and how the relationship will work.
Look for an outsourcing company that utilises a leveraged infrastructure model. This is when the company uses shared infrastructure assets across multiple clients, which leads to improved flexibility and reduced costs without sacrificing security. You’ll also share in capital and operational costs, which can add further savings back into your business.
Outsourcing your IT business functions is a great way to free up valuable internal resources and get access to the latest technology and expert skill base.
If you’d like to learn more about outsourcing your IT or Managed Services, feel free to get in touch today by emailing [email protected] or calling (07) 3120 0640 for a no obligation chat about creating an outsourcing relationship that will meet your specific needs.
It goes without saying that keeping your business network and data safe should be a top priority—and for most businesses it is. But with the rapid advancement of technology and accessibility, there a growing number of businesses leaving themselves vulnerable.
Data breaches and network infections can cause massive financial loss and reputational damage. In 2017, 53,308 security incidents were reported where over 2,216 involved data breaches, and over three-quarters were financially motivated.
As businesses grow and more technology is added to your stack, it’s now more important than even to find the security vulnerabilities in your network before others can exploit them and your business.
We obviously recommend hiring an external IT provider with the required expertise and proven track record for identifying and resolving network and security vulnerability issues. However, there are key things your internal team can do.
A 2017 Internet Security Threat Report revealed that one in 131 emails contains potentially harmful and dangerous malware. Ensuring employees are proficient in identifying malware and other email attacks is vital for maintaining network security.
You can learn more about how to identify malware and how to protect yourself against email attacks here.
The bane of every computer users existence—the dreaded update. While most people put off updates, attackers can gain access to your network via outdated software, programs, antivirus, device drivers, firmware and operating systems.
Software updates are there to not only help the programs function more effectively, but to address potentially exploitable vulnerabilities.
Probably one of the most important, yet often overlooked, aspects of business network security is access. Establishing who can access your network and assigning levels of access are vital in protecting your network.
By establishing network policies, you protect your vital business assets through compliance parameters, assess associated risks, limit vulnerability points and develop a recovery plan.
It goes without saying that a strong password is important for your on and offline security—both at home and at work—as it is often your first and only line of defence. This is why we recommend organisations use Two-factor Authentication (2FA).
A good password should contain at least 10 characters with an un-guessable combination of words. Using a phrase with multiple words helps memorisation but remains difficult to guess or crack.
A simple rule of thumb is the longer the password the harder it is to hack. Likewise, it goes without saying that you should never share your passwords, or use the same password across multiple accounts, because if one gets hacked the rest become vulnerable.
You can learn more about how to create a strong password that’s easy to remember here.
A full vulnerability assessment reviews your entire network, including on-premise equipment like computers, drivers and servers, along with cloud applications, storage and services used by the organisation. The goal of the vulnerability assessment is to identify weaknesses in your current infrastructure while reviewing security measures to ensure a robust and secure environment.
If you’d like assistance with your IT network and security, feel free to get in touch by emailing [email protected] or calling (07) 3120 0640 for a no obligation chat about your network and security needs.
At our core, here at eStorm, we are driven to help people and businesses succeed. We’re passionate about helping people achieve their goals, increasing efficiency and making work life overall a lot easier—and who doesn’t want an easier work life.
So in order to help us all succeed together, we’ve put together a short and simple list (…I mean it’s kind of a list.. there’s more than one thing so that counts right?) of research backed tips designed to help make your work life a little easier and a lot more productive.
Email notifications. Text notifications. Social notifications. Workplace messenger notification.
Pretty standard for your typical work day, but these distractions are sabotaging your productivity and stealing attention away from the tasks at hand.
According to Gloria Mark’s research on distraction and the cost of interrupted work, it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to your original task after an interruption.
Likewise, multiple studies confirm that the distraction itself isn’t the only cause of your time being eaten up, but that your mental progress is derailed for up to 30 minutes afterwards.
Concurrently, other studies show that attention distraction can lead to higher levels of stress, lower productivity, as well as bad mood.
In other words, the 30 second distraction of checking your email or phone after a notification isn’t really 30 seconds. The true cost of distraction is the length of the distraction itself + 23 minutes and 15 seconds.
It’s no wonder we can often feel like we’re not getting anything done.
We need to be realistic about distractions and interruptions to our work. Eliminating them entirely isn’t necessarily achievable, but we can strive to reduce them.
Self imposed distractions, like the notifications, are much easier to regulate. Setting your phone to silent, closing email tabs, turning off notifications and setting your messenger status to away gives you some necessary breathing room to focus.
Likewise, setting specific times throughout the day to check email and inbound notifications is a great way to prioritise, stay focused, stay connected and remain on top of your tasks.
The more technology advances and the more we adapt to it, the more tasks we can perform at the same time… right?
Earl Miller, a Picower professor of neuroscience at MIT, says that for the most part, we simply can’t focus on more than one thing at a time. However, he said, we can shift our focus from one thing to the next with astonishing speed—known as task switching.
During task switching, we do not pay attention to multiple things simultaneously, but rather we switch between them as similar tasks compete to use the same part of the brain.
“Think about writing an email and talking on the phone at the same time. Those things are nearly impossible to do at the same time,” he said.
“You cannot focus on one while doing the other. That’s because of what’s called interference between the two tasks. They both involve communicating via speech or written word.”
Researches claim they can actually see the brain struggle.
This constant shifting of gears has a significant impact on your ability to complete tasks, with recent estimates showing that it can cause productivity levels to drop by 40%.
Dr. Melissa Gratias, workplace productivity coach and speaker, advises that we don’t fall into the trap of setting ourselves up for failure before the day begins.
“If we pull out a task list of 25 things to do, we’re guaranteed that we’re going to be disappointed in our progress at the end of the day.”
Dr. Gratias recommends choosing between 5 and 9 tasks you want to make progress on that day. It’s important to make sure you’re explicit and honest about your highest priority task so you’re proactively making progress toward something.
eStorm Service Centre Springfield, 1/145 Sinnathamby Boulevard Springfield Central, has today been awarded the “Premium Service Provider” distinction by Apple.
Apple has recognised the Springfield Service Centre as having “demonstrated its commitment to premium service and technical excellence.”
Only the top performing Apple Authorised Service Providers are given this title, with Apple stating that “Premium Service Providers consistently deliver exceptional repair support and customer experience that meet Apple’s exacting standard for high-quality repair and prompt service.”
It is an honour to receive the Premium Service Provider distinction. The team has worked very hard to offer exceptional service, advice and quality repairs to everyone who comes in contact with the Springfield location.
eStorm Service Centre is your dedicated Apple Authorised Service Provider & Reseller. Offering products and services for both PC and Mac users, our goal is to take the hassle out of your computer and phone repair experience, all while delivering you the highest quality service and support with a timely turnaround.
The RE/MAX Rally is an exciting conference where the next generation of real estate agents, Broker Owners, Property Managers, Administrators, entrepreneurs and thought leaders gather to network, hear from remarkable guest speakers and re-energise for 2019!
We’re here promoting the powerful benefits of Microsoft SharePoint and IT support—as well as giving away a brand new Microsoft Surface Go!
We’re excited to be at the RE/MAX Rally where the next generation of real estate agents, Broker Owners, Property Managers, Administrators, entrepreneurs and thought leaders gather to network, hear from remarkable guest speakers and re-energise for 2019!
Stop by our stall and leave a business card for your chance to win a Surface Go!
The way people work and do business is rapidly changing. The ability to be flexible and have the right information at the right time can have a significant impact on your overall functionality and performance.
One of the best ways to remain adaptive in this ever changing landscape is by centralising your data through virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).
Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is a desktop operating system that is hosted within a virtual machine, which is running on a centralised server. This allows the desktop images to be accessed via a number of devices, such as mobile devices, laptops, tablets and desktop computers.
Using VDI, each user’s desktop environment or virtual PC is stored on a remote-access server instead of the local machine. This not only grants access to greater computing power, but the centralised approach to maintaining your data, and the network, saves significant resources, time and money in the process.
With all data being stored on a server and not the device itself, employees aren’t carrying around confidential company data on USBs or personal devices, which can be easily lost, stolen or tampered with.
This approach not only increases data security, but also helps in the event a user’s device is significantly damaged. No data is lost as it is backed up to the server and not stored on the device itself.
Virtual desktop infrastructure allows for the easy management of company wide systems, data and software from a central location. All updates, backups, virus scans and other maintenance are far easier and less time consuming to perform.
Centralised management makes scaling simple. As hardware is virtualised with VDI, when the organisation is growing and new employees are onboarded, you can simply deploy the base image of what their machine should look like and then credential them into that image.
Whether your employee base is seasonal or you’re rapidly expanding the business, you can have extra images to handle the increased demand.
Cost Savings / Cost-effectiveness
Purchasing new, and maintaining current, hardware accounts for some of the highest IT expenditures a company can make.
Virtual desktop infrastructure not only allows you to extend the life of hardware and devices, it also enables you to take full advantage of a data center’s computing power and storage. As a result, your machine requires significantly less RAM, computing power and storage space.
Experts estimate that maintaining and managing PC hardware and software accounts for 50-70% percent of the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a typical PC. Significant cost savings can be found in the maintaining and updating of equipment. A single centralised data centre means the drivers, patches and applications only need to be installed once, which then are pushed out to the entire network where every user benefits from the update—rather than updating individual machines one by one.
From an IT perspective, virtual desktops help reduce the time it takes to provision new desktops, and they also help to decrease desktop management and support costs.
If you’d like to learn more about how Virtual Desktop Infrastructure can be implemented to help your business—contact our sales team at any time on 1300 378 676 or [email protected].
2019 is well under way with strategies and projects being approved and budgets being allocated. However, it’s important to take note of the current landscape, where we’re heading in 2019 and how we can improve.
How people work has evolved over the years. Bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives are becoming more common in the workplace, as well as remote workers seeing a significant increase—one studying showing that 70 percent of professionals work remotely at least one day a week, while 53 percent work remotely for at least half of the week. This means sensitive company data is potentially being exposed to insecure networks and other potential threats.
As a result, we need to shift our thinking toward managing risk based on specific users, user behaviour and the devices being used. Take, for example, two employees attempting to connect to the organisation’s network. The first employee has a trusted work device and is connecting from within the company network. The second is an employee connecting via their home network using a personal mobile device.
In this particular case, the first employee presents far less of a risk and should be granted access easily. However the second user, connecting from their own mobile device from home, might have a multifactor authentication safeguard added to minimise potential risks.
Likewise, we might use this approach to help businesses identify specific users whose roles or activities pose more of a risk. The example Solarwind’s Cybersecurity Predictions uses is the head of human resources who has access to confidential employee data. Someone in this role would require more rigorous security coverage than a graphic designer who might only have access to design files.
You could then require the head of human resources always connect via a VPN in order to guarantee that their device is safe and clean.
Forbes lists industries like healthcare, finance and law as being especially vulnerable to attack, due to their storage and management of large amounts of sensitive data.
While large corporate breaches tend to dominate the headlines, cybercriminals are equal opportunists, which means businesses of all sizes are potential targets. This means smaller organisations should begin to think like larger enterprises and enlist the cybersecurity approaches and strategies they use.
The small to medium sized organisations should be looking to enlist ways to detect and monitor threats in real time, as well as develop strategies to respond in an appropriate and timely manor. Forbes claims small to medium businesses and small enterprises should be considering the large enterprise level approach as larger organisations will begin to demand specific security standards of the businesses they work with.
Breaches caused by a hacker exploiting specific vulnerabilities are far less commonplace. However, people are more often their own worst enemy with a lack of security knowledge, human error or just sheer laziness leaving data exposed far more often than we think.
In 2018, spikes in the number of data leaks and exposures where data was not being protected…at all, not even by a password, saw a significant increase.
With data exposures showing no clear sign of slowing down in 2019, it’s now more important than ever to review all aspects of your IT infrastructure to not only fill gaps, but to improve overall security and efficiency.
Brown, T 2019, ‘4 Cybersecurity Predictions for 2019’, Solarwinds MSP Blog, https://www.solarwindsmsp.com/blog/4-cybersecurity-predictions-2019
Browne, R 2018, ‘70% of people globally work remotely at least once a week, study says’, CNBC, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/30/70-percent-of-people-globally-work-remotely-at-least-once-a-week-iwg-study.html
NeSmith, B 2018, ‘Cybersecurity Predicitions For 2019’, Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2018/12/28/cybersecurity-predictions-for-2019/#6e9a2fc44a27
Whittaker, Z 2019, ‘Here’s what to expect in cybersecurity in 2019’, Tech Crunch, https://techcrunch.com/2018/12/31/cybersecurity-predictions-2019/
Technology and how we use it to achieve business goals and objectives is constantly changing. However, the majority of IT service providers are still tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) that are outdated.
Measuring the success of IT on things like up time, meeting SLAs, targets of 99.99% availability and number of tickets resolved, while still important to track internally, aren’t necessarily relevant to C-suite goals.
99.99% uptime, often marketed as a unique selling point for most IT companies, isn’t a marker of success in this day and age, it’s just what’s expected. Adam Tallinger, vice president at healthcare IT consulting company Impact Advisors says, “You don’t necessarily cheer your plumber every time water comes out of the faucet. You for sure will call if you turn on the tap and it doesn’t come out.”
Uptime can be very useful, but only if tied to a result of the business. Availability is, of course, very important, but what people care about is how it impacts SLAs, or customer satisfaction when relating to website downtime for example.
Likewise, a lot of IT services companies take the perspective on a project’s budget and schedule adherence as the sole measure of it’s success. The issue here is that this view gives no insight into whether or not the completion of the project caused any business benefit.
Brent Rasmussen, CIO of Carrington Mortgage Holdings, says the business doesn’t fully benefit from an IT project until it has been fully adopted, business processes have changed, and it’s measurable and transparent.
He views staying within budget, like uptime, as “table stakes” for IT and says all your IT infrastructure layer needs to run all the time while being scalable and dependable so as not to impede the business.
So if these metrics and KPIs no longer prove the success of IT, what exactly should we be measuring as IT leaders? This will likely be different depending on what’s important to the specific business, which not only varies from company to company, but will also vary over time within the same organisation.
Organisational goals always change over time. One year the business’ primary goal is rapid expansion, the next year it could be profit maximisation followed by brand building. The only real way to decide on the relevant KPIs that IT should measure is to talk with business leaders and users about what matters to them.
User satisfaction is a metric that business leaders consider vitally important. Often times IT organisations will send out a mass survey with little preparation to users asking for support to gauge satisfaction.
Adam Tallinger, vice president at healthcare IT consulting company Impact Advisors says this is a mistake as it’s “too much data, too much variability among the people you’re contacting at a specific point in time.”
He suggests, instead of sending out a blanket survey, to build relationships with organisational and departmental leaders and discuss with them ahead of time how we’re going to measure ourselves in the future. This allows them to give direct feedback, as well as prepares them for your survey in the future after a relationship is formed.
“Why” your way to more insight
The biggest issues tend to arise when business leaders don’t openly communicate the organisation’s specific goals and objectives to the IT service provider.
For example, a business leader might only convey to IT that external customer user experience needs improvement. The reason behind the emphasis on customer experience might be that the business is attempting to increase its customer base, but frustrated customers tend to leave which causes churn—this isn’t always shared with IT.
The new approach requires digging deeper and asking why this matters, often multiple times to find the real business reason.
You care about availability—why?
Because users are happier
Why does that matter to the bussines?
When they’re happier they spend more time on site and make more purchases.
Having a deeper level of understanding of the goals and motivations behind business decisions can often lead to a better way to achieve specific business goals with IT.
Tying metrics to business results
Brent Rasmussen, CIO of Carrington Mortgage Holdings, spends time with clients and departments one on one to determine what projects IT will do for them, along with projected benefits to result from the projects.
This helps IT services to track the relevant time and resources spent on projects to maintain budgets. The new approach to IT partnership also determines whether the desired business results are achieved.
Through bench-marking previous projects we’re able to look at new solutions against baseline metrics to track effectiveness.
Choosing the right KPIs are important and IT leaders are ready to take their place as partners to business leaders to help guide their organisations into successful and secure digital futures.
If you’re serious about driving business growth and improving organisational productivity, talk with us today about how a partnership with eStorm can benefit your business.
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (07) 3120 0640