Expand Your Workforce With Remote Work Possibilities
Do you remember how it used to work, way back in the 90s, when you wanted to hire someone with a specific skill set for your company? Before social media venues like LinkedIn changed the employment landscape forever, companies used to have to place ads in these archaic forms of communication called newspapers.
These newspapers only reached a specific audience: local readers who were actively seeking employment. It severely limited a company’s options. Of course, technological advancement brought things like Monster and CareerBuilder, and other online job search engines, so you could reach a larger labor pool, but companies then had the cost of bringing people in for interviews and paying for relocation expenses in order to be competitive.
As with everything in the tech industry, things change fast, and the last few years have brought a number of improvements to the way people work and live. Job seekers don’t use classified ads; in fact, they rarely use job sites anymore. Job seekers network, are comfortable conducting business over the Internet, and don’t need a tour of the corporate office to know whether or not you’re a good employer. It can be easier to find skilled employees who meet your criteria. For businesses, particularly in the tech industry, the biggest advantage of the changing nature of work is that instead of having to draw from the local labor pool, you can now draw from anywhere in the country they can find the talent – without having to pay relocation costs.
What does offering a flexible work environment mean for your business?
With the right tools and security in place, such as hosted exchange servers, cloud data storage, and encrypted security protects your information,data, and intellectual property, you can change the nature of your workforce, reduce overhead costs, and improve efficiency. Not only do you have more options for hiring, but your employees don’t have to give up their lives and homes to work for you. Remote work environments give you the advantage of having happier, more productive employees who are more likely to remain loyal. It can also free you to hire contractors on an as-needed basis and avoid the costs of paying for salaries and benefits when work volume shifts.
Whether your employees work from home or are out meeting with clients and away from the office, working remotely adds efficiency and immediacy to your ability to service your clients. Your employees simply need access to the Internet to be able to collaborate on projects, access needed information, and complete work. In the long-term, it’s possible that the typical corporate office will disappear and be replaced by virtual companies with employees who connect from all over the world.
Will you be ready?
The Columbus Partnership and CSC
Recently I was invited to attend a Columbus Partnership leadership retreat at Harvard. My experience was eye opening and encouraging! The Columbus Partnership is a civic organization of community leaders whose goal is to improve the economic vitality of Central Ohio. Although The Partnership has many guiding principles & initiatives, their current focus is with economic development in Central Ohio-which is being executed. through the Columbus 2020! Plan.
I had an amazing surprise right off the bat - I was invited to fly on Les Wexner’s private jet with Partnership members. I definitely count this as a top five business experience! We flew to Cambridge and met for two days with Harvard Fellows and Professors who talked about business development, leadership and many other important topics. The conference provided a great opportunity for me to grow professionally and personally.
My initial take away from the leadership retreat is the humility of this group of leaders. The prevailing attitude was, “We’re here to learn because we believe that leadership is a journey and not a destination.” Their concise focus and mission is to develop Columbus & Central Ohio into the greatest community in the US to both work and live.
The Partnership retreat started with a roundtable discussion about the generations from Baby Boomers to Generation X and Generation Y and the differences on how people think based on their generations. We dovetailed into how each generation works and what they expect from the companies where they work. I found it fascinating: We are all the same and yet we are not-based on the generational timeframethat each of us was raised. Generational leadership is blossoming in Columbus, and to have this conversation with Harvard Fellows about what makes each of us tick is applicable to Columbus and our workforce.
Three successful city leaders led another discussion on where government and business work well together and where they don’t. The Partnership can take this information and knowledge and apply it to Columbus. When city government and business community leaders work together, long-term goals can be realized more effectively.
The Partnership believes – and I agree – that community involvement is good business. The biggest gift you can give and the biggest difference you can make is your time. Whether it’s reading to a second grade class or meeting with juniors and seniors who are contemplating college, the time and experience you share with students is invaluable.
I learned much at this leadership retreat-the value of trans-generational communication, the importance of humility & the positive impact and outcomes of community involvement.
CSC is already drawing up a plan to participate in Columbus education programs and expects to become more proactive and impactful in the daily business objectives of Columbus - I hope that you do too!
Security Is Something to Think About Before a Breach Occurs
E-mail is a cornerstone of business communications, and obtaining your customer’s email address is a privilege that allows you to personalize your marketing efforts and learn details about your target market and gain insight that might otherwise be difficult to obtain. How do you assure your customers that their email address (and all the other information they share with you) is secure?
Right now, Sony is busy doing damage control over the security breach that occurred on the PlayStation 3 that let user information, including credit card numbers, escape their grasp. Last month, many financial institutions and retail stores were scrambling to reassure customers and apologize for a breach that occurred when their email company, Epsilon, was compromised and hundreds of thousands of names and email addresses were stolen. While only names and email addresses were accessed and not credit card information, there was a lot of placating to do to reassure uneasy customers. The month before that, Play.com admitted that their email provider had experienced months of irregular activity before revealing that their customers email addresses had been accessed and compromised.
As a business, ensuring the security of your internal email as well as the information you maintain about your customers has to be a primary concern – something you think about doing before there’s a risk for a breach. The question is, can you really create an environment that provides you with the security you need to offer the reassurance your customers and your investors want? It’s a matter of choosing the right hosted e-mail service that provides you the best possible security.
Here at CSC, we have biometric security in place that ensures that only certain people can access the data center and firewalls. We run regular backups, but our backups are completely encrypted, so even the information stored on our back up server is safe from harm. Even if someone were to break in and physically steal our servers, the thieves would not have access to anything because all of the information on it is encrypted. We’ve literally locked out the hackers from the get-go.
We can actually run a piece of software from your location that encrypts your data before it is sent over the internet. When it gets to our site, even we can’t access it unless we have that encryption password. Most of the time, we are taking care of your whole network environment, so we will be the ones managing that password, and we have layers of security protocols in place that keep you protected. But we can also provide you with complete control, and can set it up so you’re the only who has the password.
The choice is simple: you’re either aggressively protecting your customer’s information by having the best email security available, or you’re preparing a letter to your customers to apologize to them after their information was stolen.
The Benefits of Using a Hosted Exchange Server
The Benefits of Using Microsoft Exchange Server
Have you ever been away from your office and urgently needed information that was only available on the server at work? What do you do? You either muddle your way through, without the information you need or make the long commute back to the office. Neither choice is completely satisfactory. There is a way you can have access to the information you need, without compromising security, that will allow you to make changes that update regardless of where you access your email: a hosted exchange server.
There are a number of reasons why businesses should consider using a hosted exchange server. One of the primary reasons is security. Free services like Gmail and Yahoo, who offer some centralized data capability, but do not offer the extensive security and privacy of a hosted exchange server. In addition, a hosted exchange server offers the ability to efficiently share information with colleagues, including the ability to share contacts, calendars, and resources. You can view someone else’s calendar and they can view yours if they have the proper permissions. Everything is maintained in one central location.
Another advantage of using an exchange server is the ability to access your email from anywhere. Because it is web-based, the same data set is available on your local computer, your terminal server, or even your mobile device - a mobile phone or tablet. It's a single data set, whether your accessing sent files, contact lists, or your inbox, so whenever you make a change, the change is reflected wherever you access the email next.
That flexibility to access and change information from anywhere and have the changes reflect across every access point, ensuring everyone who shares the information has the most current data possible, is the brilliance behind using a hosted exchange server.
With a typical email account, using a POP server, once you've downloaded the email off the server and onto your computer, that is the only location it is available. If you later need to access the email from your mobile device or another computer, it will not be there. With exchange email hosting, you have access to all of the data inside the exchange. Combined with the advantage of being able to access colleagues' calendars and contacts makes it a powerful tool.
What does all this mean for businesses and busy executives? With a hosted exchange server, it means corporations can promote themselves as supporting flexible working conditions, without having to worry that they are sacrificing security or productivity. It means the c-level executive who spends more time in an airplane than an office won't be out of touch with up-to-date information. It means coming back from vacation and getting a day of cleaning out your inbox, while staying in your pajamas and drinking coffee on your front porch. It empowers busy executives to have everything - including any historical data - they need to do their jobs at their fingertips, whether on they are in a meeting, at home, or in Barbados.
Cloud Computing - What does it mean?
I am frequently asked by client and colleagues about the exact nature of “Cloud Computing”. Recent commercials have end users charging “to the cloud” and this further blurs the lines between real business value and consumer marketing for cloud services. Here I will try to break down common services that can be obtained from the cloud. I think that you will find that you are well aware of “the cloud” and have already come to depend on it. This does not exhibit an all-inclusive list, but these simplified categories will give you an idea of the variety of available services.
1. SaaS (Software as a Service)
This type of cloud computing delivers a single application through the browser to thousands of customers. On the customer side, it means no upfront investment in servers or software licensing; on the provider side, with just one app to maintain, costs are low compared to conventional hosting. Salesforce.com is by far the best-known example among enterprise applications, but SaaS is also common for HR apps and has even worked its way up the food chain to ERP. And who could have predicted the sudden rise of SaaS "desktop" applications, such as Google Apps and Zoho Office?
2. Utility computing
The idea is not new, but this form of cloud computing is getting new life from Amazon.com, Sun, IBM, and others who now offer storage and virtual servers that IT staff can access on demand. Early enterprise adopters mainly use utility computing for supplemental, non-mission-critical needs, but one day, they may replace parts of the datacenter.
3. Web services in the cloud
Closely related to SaaS, Web service providers offer programing interfaces that enable developers to exploit functionality over the Internet, rather than delivering full-blown applications. Some web services that you may have used are Google Maps that have been embedded in an independent web site like a hotel, ADP payroll processing, the U.S. Postal Service, Bloomberg, and even conventional credit card processing services.
4. MSP (managed service providers)
One of the oldest forms of cloud computing, a managed service is basically an application exposed to IT staff rather than to end-users, such as a virus scanning service for e-mail or an application monitoring service. Managed security services and cloud-based anti-spam services can filter your network traffic and deliver clean purified traffic to your doorstep. Other offerings include desktop management services that can alert a service provides to problems areas in your network before they progress to full blown outages.
Today, cloud-based services might be more accurately described as "sky computing," with many isolated clouds of services which customers must plug into individually. These loosely coupled services running on an agile, scalable infrastructure is among the biggest of trends that is here to stay. Now, when you hear of “The Cloud”, you understand that it has value and you probably have been using it all along.
Is the 3 year refresh cycle a reality or myth?
As PCs age, the number of IT issues they have typically begins to rise, increasing total cost of ownership (TCO) through a combination of factors including the cost of keeping those machines patched and up-to-date and the diagnosis and repair of machines after hardware and software failures. On average, the routine task of updating and maintaining PCs is the greatest cost driver. Failures become commonplace as machines age and manual resolution of these issues can become time consuming and expensive. Gartner estimate lifetime costs for repair and maintenance to be as high as $2,162.89 per PC, nearly half of the average PC TCO of $4,850.33.1
The recent economic downturn is forcing many agencies, businesses, and IT departments to test traditional IT lifecycle as a means to save money. If nothing is done to improve performance and system health, extending the life of those machines could become very expensive, very quickly. But all these figures make an assumption that desktop and laptop performance will gradually degrade over time.
Through automated regular refreshes, periodic reboots, scheduled patching and dynamic maintenance, any organization can now proactively maintain the health of every PC on the network, new or old. This regular maintenance, which can be carried out overnight or at weekend so as not to impact users, removes many of the performance concerns associated with older machines.
In fact, third party maintenance providers can not only save you up to 60 percent of the cost of hardware maintenance, but you can extend the life of your hardware, helping you to realize significant savings during a time when you need to make a dollar last.2 – recession or not!
By employing such tools, any organization can extend the life of their PCs beyond the usual limit of three years but without incurring the higher TCO associated with older machines.
1 How to Reduce Your PC TCO 30% in 2011 | 20 March 2009 | Gartner ID: G00166195
2 Cost Optimization: Re-evaluating Your PC Hardware Replacement Strategies | 27March 2009 | Gartner ID: G00166285
Print Management - The Bottom Line
It is estimated that 1 – 3% of a company’s annual revenues are consumed by printing as stated by Gartner Group while IDC states that print volumes are declining by 1 – 2% per year.
Most companies and organizations have a good idea of what they are spending on printers, copiers, toner and paper, but have no idea what the impact is to performance when they need to be serviced. Now day’s organizations have a split support environment between copiers and printers. A copier company services the copier, while the IT department maintains the printers. However, printer manufacturers are bringing inexpensive “Multi-Function Printers” (MFP’s) to market that further blurs the lines between copier and printer. Thus the roll of the IT department and copier service provider gets confused. These MFP’s scan, fax and print in B/W AND color making it very easy to dramatically increase the cost to print. The MFP’s require computer drivers and integration into your network resources and this is clearly the responsibility of IT. When you begin use the copier like copier, and it needs to be serviced, the wear and tear requires a local service provider to get it running again. What is largely unaccounted for in this arrangement is the amount of time that IT spends trouble shooting these MFP’s. It is estimated that 50% of the help desk calls into an IT department are printer related and distracts your critical IT resources from more important productivity issues. Worse, if you do not have an IT department, the “power user” stops what they are doing and digs into the problem with mixed results but always consuming a lot of time.
A solid print management strategy that focuses on;
1. Rightsizing your existing fleet of printers. This is done with a print study that determines print volumes, locations and manufacturers of all printers in your organization.
2. Utilize the benefits of the Multi-Function Printer. These printers are well designed, energy efficient and offer many excellent features.
3. Purchase competitively. The hardware is not the goal of the manufacturer, it’s the supplies. Leverage your buying power of the base unit for all its worth.
4. Maintain control of the fleet. Adjustments will have to be made. Equipment will have to be retired and printers be returned to some desktops for special needs. Be ready for change management.
The bottom line in print management strategies is that an organization can trim 10 – 30% from there spend on document production. Not only can a good print management strategy hit your bottom line, it can also return your critical resources to work faster.
Do you have a Security Response Policy?
Security Incident Response Policy and Procedures should be in place for institutions to have a security plan to protect the confidentiality and integrity of personal information.
Clients are also responsible for taking steps to ensure that their affiliates and service providers safeguard customer information in their care.
The plan should include;
• designate one or more employees to coordinate the safeguards;
• identify and assess the risks to customer information in each relevant area of the company's operation, and
evaluate the effectiveness of the current safeguards for controlling these risks;
• design and implement a safeguards program, and regularly monitor and test it;
• select appropriate service providers and contract with them to implement safeguards; and
• evaluate and adjust the program in light of relevant circumstances, including changes in the firm's business
arrangements or operations, or the results of testing and monitoring of safeguards.
Securing your Data - An Event for Cities, Townships, and Villages
Please join us for an informative and valuable presentation on physical and data security topics by former regulators from the Ohio State Attorney General and Auditor Offices. The event provides an excellent platform for participants to exchange ideas and share experiences on security issues that face local government.
This half day seminar will feature a key note presentation from Former Wood County Prosecutor, State Attorney General and Auditor Betty Montgomery, with other informative presentations from past Senior Regulators, State Consumer Protection Section and a City Magistrate. The last presentation of the day will feature an IT security systems engineer that will discuss the most current events and threat recognition.
Signs of a Scam
In today’s electronic age, email communication has become the norm both professionally and personally. It’s quick, allows for conversations involving many people, keeps records of exchanges, and can accommodate any schedule. But with these many conveniences, come dangers as well. Users must beware of email scams. Designed to obtain your personal information, these messages often pose as legitimate emails. So, to help protect you from identity theft (and obnoxious spam!), here are five signs of a scam from Microsoft for online safety.
- The email uses a generic greeting. A salutation like “Dear Customer” indicates that the sender does not know you, and therefore should not be trusted.
- The message uses alarming or urgent statements requiring an immediate response. If you don’t reply within an abbreviated period, the email threatens dire consequences.
- You are asked to provide sensitive information. This can be personal information, (like usernames, passwords, your residence, social security number, or date of birth) or financial information (like credit card or bank account numbers). Never give out identifying information through unsolicited contact.
- Errors in spelling and grammar. These can include minor variations of an actual web address, called typosquatting or URL hijacking.
- Discrepancies in outbound links. The message is from one address, but uses another address as the recipient. Or the message body includes a link, but the link text does not match the destination (you can check this by hovering your cursor over the link, or by right-clicking on the link and choosing Properties). These sorts of bait and switch methods
Once you’ve identified a message as spam, do not reply to it (even to unsubscribe). And remember to never open a suspicious attachment. Always practice discretion and caution online, and take steps to protect your personal information!For an overview of the top 10 most common types of email scam, visit: http://www.onguardonline.gov/topics/email-scams.aspx
Columbus Non-Profits Take Advantage of Social Media
Here’s a fantastic article by Business First on local non-profits utilizing the power of social media. Social media gives consumers and organizations a chance to carry on spontaneous, real-time conversations. It can generate free publicity while simultaneously connecting you to potentially exponential audiences. Non-profit organizations are particularly well situated to benefit from social media usage, since social media works best when it’s personable. There are tons of excellent resources available online too, to help you get started. As long as your content is interesting and your online presence is engaging, it’s hard to go awry. Your success is really up to you!
So check out this article, and be sure to start using these great free tools if you’re not already.
Social Media Tips: Twitter
Do you or your organization use Twitter? A popular online platform for micro-blogging, Twitter allows for tiny posts of 140 characters or less, called “tweets.” Whether you’re a tech-savvy business looking to utilize Twitter’s social media power, or you’re an individual looking to interact with the online community and promote yourself professionally, Twitter can be a powerful tool. To be sure you’re maximizing your Twitter’s potential, know your terms and follow these basics.
Followers – These are the people subscribed to your feed. They can see all of your tweets. If your profile is locked, only accepted followers can see your tweets; if your profile is unlocked, then all of your tweets are public.
Following – These are the people that you are subscribed to. You can see their tweets in your home feed, or by clicking on their profile. If their profile is locked, then you can only see their tweets if they have accepted your follow request.
@Username – Using @ in front of a username allows you to mention someone or reply to someone on Twitter. By using @, you can carry on conversations via Twitter, or direct attention to a person, event, or information.
RT – This is a retweet; it’s a re-post of someone else’s tweet. RT precedes the tweet you are reposting. When retweeting, you should also mention (@username) the original author of the tweet. RT is a way of spreading information and giving credit.
#topic – Hashtags are a way to categorize your tweets. You can then follow a specific keyword #topic using Twitter’s search engine.
- Publicize your Twitter profile. Include a link to your Twitter in your email signature. Put a Twitter badge on your site. Let people know that you’re on Twitter! Visitors to your website and frequent email correspondents are likely interested in you or your services and products already. Why not capitalize on these contacts?
- Personalize your Twitter profile. Fill out your bio. Add a profile picture. Customize your profile (colors and background). Start tweeting! Think quality over quantity.
- Get involved. Twitter is about maintaining a dialogue. Ask questions, answer questions. Get and give referrals. Use a mix of interactions to keep your Tweets interesting; from retweets, to @replies, #topics to links, and original content. Avoid the temptation to over-promote yourself. Like in any conversation, one-sided chatter is boring, and you’ll lose followers. So keep it interesting.
Twitter offers a lot of different opportunities for meaningful interaction. Use Twitter to network, to track topics and keywords, to publicize announcements and events (like seminars or job openings), and to increase traffic. Keep these guidelines in mind, and have fun. Happy tweeting!
Tips to Speed Up Your Computer
By following a few simple guidelines, you can maintain your computer and keep it running smoothly and at top speed. There are tools available in Windows 7, Vista, and XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) to help efficiently maintain your computer and protect your privacy when you're online.
One: Free up disk space.
By using the Disk Cleanup tool you can free up space on your hard disk to improve the performance of your computer. The tool identifies files that you can safely delete, and then allows you to choose whether you want to delete some or all of the identified files. Typically, temporary Internet files take the most amount of space because the browser caches each page you visit for faster access later.
Two: Speed up access to data.
Disk fragmentation slows the overall performance of your computer. When files are fragmented, the computer must search the hard disk when the file is opened to piece it back together. The response time can be significantly longer. Disk Defragmenter is a Windows utility that consolidates fragmented files and folders on your computer's hard disk so that each occupies a single space on the disk. With your files stored neatly end-to-end, and without fragmentation, reading and writing to the disk speeds up.
Three: Detect and repair disk errors.
In addition to running Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter to optimize the performance of your computer, you can check the integrity of the files stored on your hard disk by running the Error Checking utility.
As you use your hard drive, it can develop bad sectors. Bad sectors slow down hard disk performance and sometimes make data writing (such as file saving) difficult, or even impossible. The Error Checking utility scans the hard drive for bad sectors, and scans for file system errors to see whether certain files or folders are misplaced. If you use your computer daily, you should run this utility once a week to help prevent data loss.
Four: Protect your computer against spyware.
Spyware collects personal information without letting you know and without asking for your permission. From the Web sites you visit to usernames and passwords, spyware can put you and your confidential information at risk. In addition to privacy concerns, spyware can slow your computer's performance. To combat spyware, you might want to consider using the PC safety scan from Windows Live OneCare. This scan is a free service and will help check for and remove viruses.
Five: Learn all about ReadyBoost.
If you're using Windows 7 or Windows Vista, you can use ReadyBoost to speed up your system. A new concept in adding memory to a system, it allows you to use non-volatile flash memory—like a USB flash drive or a memory card—to improve performance without having to add additional memory.
Compliance for the Savvy Business
According to a study done by the market researcher Gartner Group, an astounding 97% of all business communications are done via email. And a startling 80% of respondents ranked email as more valuable than the phone in business communications in a META Group survey. Email facilitates communication with multiple parties, generates written records of interactions, and allows for the mobile, prompt delivery of information and documents. With email such an active component of the modern company, email accessibility, security, and archiving have become key factors to the successful business.
Email accessibility and security are obvious concerns. Restrictions on email access can limit productivity and efficiency, but uncontrolled email access can put businesses at risk for spam, malware, and data loss or theft. But email archiving is just as important as email accessibility and security. Besides the internal benefits of information accessibility and saved disk space (archived emails are stored in a compressed format), email archiving helps businesses meet regulatory and compliance laws. Compliance is composed of three elements; data durability, data security, and ability to audit. Data must be retained in its original format. Data must be protected from physical damage and unauthorized access. And data must be easily accessible by authorized sources. Email archiving fulfills each of these aspects, protecting the business from hefty fines and severe penalties. So reap the benefits and ensure compliance; use email archiving.
Security in the School System
As technology advances, so too must the protection.
Information technology has become an integral part of the education experience for students. It interfaces at all levels of the classroom, from students to teachers to administration. Technology is no longer a standalone component to a well-rounded education; technology is a means for connecting and strengthening all areas of the education process. But as technology plays a greater role in education and society in general, cyber security also becomes increasingly more critical.
Technology security must focus on the unique difficulties and needs of the K-12 education environment when targeting solutions. The increased connectivity that comes with technology also puts schools at risk for viruses and malware, data loss/corruption, and system misuse (like illegal file sharing). These issues mean that schools can be exposed to federal law and regulation violations, loss of sensitive or restricted information, and civil issue liabilities. A comprehensive security solution must include conventional safeguards like intrusion prevention, but should also protect against Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. It also needs to handle the fluidity of the modern network perimeter. Laptops, remote and wireless access, email, web-connections, and G3 smart phones that utilize IP all contribute to a constantly changing and variable environment. So take the proactive approach-make sure your security is up to date and meeting your needs before problems arise!