Why Your Business Must Take a Proactive Approach to IT

Why Your Business Must Take a Proactive Approach to IT

 

If you’re like most businesses today, you rely heavily on technology to support your daily operations. When your systems stop working properly, productivity grinds to a halt, employees and customers become frustrated, and your bottom line suffers.

A singular IT disaster can set your company back months, decimate your budget, leave staff struggling to pick up the pieces, and seriously risk damaging your reputation. From data loss to network malfunctions, downtime due to IT issues costs businesses in excess of $1.5 million each year in terms of lost productivity and sales.

There are two primary ways of addressing IT support for any business: the reactive approach and the proactive approach.

Some might argue that a reactive approach has its benefits. Common wisdom says that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” If your business is tight on cash, you may be seeking ways to cut expenses — and in general, you don’t see the point in paying for something you might not need.

With a reactive approach to IT support, when something goes wrong you try to get in touch with a technician to come and check your systems, then wait for them to resolve the issue. The problem with this working model is that it can lead to significant downtime. The technician will first need to analyze the problem before they can get to work on it. If updates or replacement hardware are necessary, business operations could be disrupted even further until the upload or order is completed.

Reactive IT support staff often don’t have the right tools in place to keep tabs on the end-user’s experience, instead relying on issues being reported as they crop up. According to a recent study by Forrester Research, 35% of the time IT support first learns about issues when end-users contact the service desk and open a ticket. This is because their support is reactive rather than proactive.

In order for your business to be able to foresee the challenges that may lie ahead, you need to take a more proactive approach to your IT needs. Proactive IT support allows you to better manage your IT budget, secure your data, and avoid some of the major technology risks that your business faces today. 

Through continuous monitoring and real-time analytics, proactive IT support provides excellent insight into your IT infrastructure and endpoints from the end-user perspective. Potential problems are spotted early and resolved before they can jeopardize your business.

Businesses that opt to outsource their IT needs to a managed services provider (MSP) can expect to save time, money, and stress in the long run. MSPs continuously monitor a company’s infrastructure in search of would-be problems and work to remedy those issues before a major catastrophe occurs.

 

WHAT IS REACTIVE IT SUPPORT?

Let’s dive into this one a little bit deeper.

Reactive IT support involves taking measures to correct problems only when they materialize. It’s often referred to as the “break-fix” model. Under this model, a business contacts IT support (whether in-house or an external company) when something goes wrong and makes arrangements to have the problem repaired as quickly as possible. The business is then forced to wait for the IT team to address and resolve the issue, all too often resulting in a great deal of downtime.

The cost of a provider agreement for reactive IT support tends to be lower than a fully managed plan, primarily because this support is implemented on an as-needed basis. If your business already employs in-house staff to provide general IT maintenance, partnering with a reactive support team gives your company access to highly skilled, reliable resources at a budget-friendly price tag. 

Having a variable service agreement means you’ll only be billed for the time that’s spent fixing problems, and this can be a very attractive option for companies with limited financial resources. But there’s a catch.

The time that elapses between detecting a problem and getting it resolved can be hours or days, depending on the specific situation. In that time, significant damage could be done to your system. Since a typical IT project often surpasses its original budget by 45%, fixing an existing problem can be both cumbersome and costly for your business.

 

WHAT IS PROACTIVE IT SUPPORT?

Now, for the good news!

With proactive IT support, you can stay ahead of your technology problems. You don’t have to worry about losing productivity, damaging your company’s reputation, or tanking employee morale. Plus, it’s much friendlier to your budget in the long run!

Proactive support is all about prevention — mending potential problems before they can snowball into much more severe issues. By proactively managing your IT support needs, you can empower your business to do more with its technology. You’ll get more out of your existing systems, establish new solutions in a strategic fashion, and develop long-term plans for business growth.

Key components of proactive IT support involve automating certain processes and monitoring technology assets to further streamline operations and make analyzing and identifying issues in advance considerably easier.

12 Advantages of Proactive IT Support Businesses

Proactive IT support offers a number of decided advantages which can make a considerable difference for businesses. Here are 12 benefits to taking a more proactive approach to your IT needs:

Early Detection of Problems

Through continuous monitoring, your IT support partner is able to identify potential issues before they even occur. Resolving problems quickly prevents them from extending to other parts of your system. More often than not, a problem can be eliminated and maintenance carried out before it’s even detected by end-users.

Increased Productivity

Employees and clients depend on your technology to help them achieve their goals. Software and hardware failures and other IT-related issues cause disruptions that can hamper productivity and foster frustration for all parties involved. Solving issues proactively means less time sitting around waiting for repairs to be completed. Reducing the risk of downtime empowers your workforce to be as productive as possible. Productivity and happiness go hand in hand; giving your staff the right tools for the job creates a more harmonious, happier workplace.

Upgraded Cybersecurity

A proactive IT support team is able to cover every aspect of cybersecurity, from software updates to employee training. They’ll create security plans, protect your network against basic threats, and outline steps to be taken if systems are breached. Managed antivirus and anti-malware programs help keep viruses and malware at bay, while strategic backup procedures ensure that data loss doesn’t occur.

Predictable Costs

Most managed services providers offer their services for a fixed monthly fee which covers ongoing monitoring, maintenance, and updates, making it easier to budget your IT expenditures accurately and strategically. You may pay more in a given month than your would in a variable fee arrangement, but you’ll also incur fewer costs as a result of downtime. When tech problems inevitably arise, you won’t have to worry about an unexpectedly high bill for repairs. Having your systems continuously monitored keeps your infrastructure in good working order at all times. It’s always cheaper to prevent technology failure than it is to clean up the mess afterwards.

Team of IT Professionals

When you partner with a managed services provider for proactive IT support, you have an entire team of certified IT experts at your service, instead of just one or two individuals whose daily grind consists of putting out fires or solving routine problems. These IT specialists recognize how each device on your network plays an essential role in the operations of your company. Having a team in place to keep an eye out for problems and handle them in a timely manner gives even smaller companies the IT support strength of much larger institutions.

Better Decision Making

Before the onboarding process even begins, an MSP will perform a strategic analysis of your IT infrastructure to identify any areas of weakness that could impede optimal performance. Based on automated tools provided by the MSP, you will be able to make informed decisions about your specific IT needs. Having all the information presented clearly in front of you puts you in the driver’s seat, making it easier to see when you need to scale up.

Strategic Planning

From carrying out thorough risk assessments to inventorying your IT assets to updating your software and hardware to align with your business goals, MSPs are fully equipped to handle all strategic aspects of your IT. A proactive strategy allows you to adapt to a changing business environment and meet future challenges head-on. MSPs will work to head off issues that can not only crop up again but worsen over time.

Regular Updates & Patches

Many successful cyberattacks rely on unpatched hardware and software. A proactive update schedule minimizes opportunities for hackers to intrude on your systems. The most recent patch may also add new features that could improve overall performance. Proactive upgrades are particularly beneficial for maintaining older technology that may be more vulnerable to attacks. MSPs can schedule these updates for ideal times, ensuring that servers don’t go offline at inappropriate times.

Regulatory Compliance

Understanding how your company performs in regard to regulatory compliance is a fundamental facet of proactively protecting your company and its data. Regulatory compliance can safeguard your company from unwanted fees and preserve your customers and employees from impending data breaches.

24/7/365 Monitoring

Remote monitoring of your workstations, servers, routers, printers, and other network devices keeps your IT network in good shape at all times. Knowing that a team of skilled computer experts is regularly testing your systems and thoroughly evaluating them for a wide range of potential problems give you and your employees peace of mind. When the team is alerted of an issue, they start working on a fix immediately, often without you ever noticing it. Software problems can generally be fixed remotely, while hardware issues typically require a technician who is physically present on the premises.

Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity

Major events such as fires, floods, hurricanes, and cyberattacks are a hazard to all businesses. A reliable MSP will set up a robust disaster recovery plan for your business and implement software solutions that will keep your business up and running. All data is backed up regularly so that, in the event of an emergency, your most crucial information is completely safe and easily accessible.

Around-the-Clock Help Desk Support

Most managed services providers offer 24/7/365 help desk support as well. Not only does this come in handy whenever there’s an after-hours incident, it also allows your internal IT staff (if applicable) to focus on projects that add value to the business rather than running around troubleshooting everyday problems.

Final Thoughts

Managing the health of your IT systems in a merely reactive way is like managing your own physical health reactively. Like many health issues, most IT issues can be detected by early warning signs that could be picked up through proactive monitoring. By analyzing your business and identifying the gaps, weak points, and strengths, a managed services provider can better determine how to protect your company from emergency expenditures, last-minute crises, unexpected downtime, cyberthreats, data loss, and compliance issues.

When partnering with an MSP, you can count on effective monitoring and maintained functionality of your network, enhanced overall performance of your IT infrastructure, reduce downtime and increased productivity, ongoing support whenever you need it, and more time to devote to your core business.

Taking a proactive approach to IT doesn’t make your problems go away. But it will make them easier to plan for and simpler to manage.

DataGroup Technologies, Inc. (DTI) is the premier managed IT services provider in our area, delivering ideal IT solutions to businesses of all sizes. We strive to provide significant value and outstanding service to all of our clients by acting as an extension of your business’s IT team. If your organization could benefit from the many advantages of managed services, including proactive IT support, give us a call at 252.329.1382 today!

6 Indicators That You Need to Overhaul Your Data Recovery Plan

6 Indicators That You Need to Overhaul Your Data Recovery Plan

Disaster recovery planning is no easy undertaking, but it’s an important one. With a wide variety of different data recovery plans that businesses can implement, the process of determining the best fit can be intimidating. A number of organizations still neglect to adequately invest in disaster recovery – considering the resources, funding, and amount of time needed to execute a solution – even though the ramifications of a disaster can easily surpass the investment.

In spite of how much effort has been devoted to your strategy, you might think that your organization’s data recovery plan is sweeping and unassailable. Regardless, if you haven’t evaluated it recently, it’s possible that your data recovery plan needs to be updated. With that in mind, we’ve come up with six surefire signs that it’s time to update your data recovery plan:

Languishing Servers

As a server ages, it begins to deteriorate; thus, the probability of a crash tumbling an organization’s network starts to escalate considerably. This is a recovery scenario you need to plan for. Replacing a server can be challenging and costly, but doing so will boost business efficiency, leading to reduced costs as opposed to using an older server that’s susceptible to crashes.

Outsourcing the monitoring of your servers and critical data to an IT support company can help you recognize potential problems before a disaster can materialize. Approaching maintenance in this manner enables your organization to prepare for planned outages within your infrastructure, including patch installation, security updates, and service packs.

Ill-Suited Infrastructure

Small- and medium-sized businesses can often become too reliant on their in-house IT teams to track, repair, and upgrade the network and corporate IT assets around the clock. However, a lack of experience often results in the task list exceeding the IT team’s ability to execute it; this, in turn, can beget errors.

When your IT team is constantly consumed with resolving day-to-day issues, it may not be plausible for them to gain a thorough understanding of system upgrades or identify how they can affect existing systems. If this is a frequent occurrence for your business, it may be time to revamp your data recovery plan.

These circumstances make it considerably simpler to misconfigure a network and can translate into devices becoming incompatible with business-critical applications if the network can’t be accessed. When this scenario results in downtime, your staff is being paid while work is not being completed, triggering a financial loss. In addition, if all devices on the network are impacted, the organization has a bigger problem to solve, with business resources taking a negative hit.

One way to counter this situation is to partner with an IT support company that can monitor the necessary system upgrades within your infrastructure, from setup to completion. By the same token, a managed services provider (MSP) can complete a comprehensive audit of your infrastructure to figure out how data passes through the network. This will enable you to better develop your future IT strategy.

Large RPO and RTO Windows

Recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs) are two key elements of a solid data recovery plan. RPOs determine how much data an organization can bear to lose in the event of a disaster. On the other hand, RTOs reveal how much time an organization can allow to pass between the beginning of the recovery process and its completion.

Minimizing RPOs and RTOs is a primary goal of IT managers. When these values are lowered, businesses undergo a lesser amount of downtime, increased productivity, reduced costs, and a diminished risk of credibility loss.

A key approach to curtailing your RPOs and RTOs is by ramping up the frequency of your backups. With a greater number of backups comes an increase in the number of snapshots of your all-important data. Having more of these snapshots naturally limits your RPOs. Escalating backup frequency also decreases your RTOs, since having recent backups minimizes the total recovery time.

Replication is also a way to help lessen RTO windows. In replicating your data, you will retain a copy of it to revert to should a disaster occur, which lowers your RTOs. When using an off-premises secondary server, your RTO will be limited to the amount of time it takes to switch over from one server to the other. Your RPO will be determined by how often you replicate your data. Replication at a higher frequency results in a lower RPO. Simply put, minimizing RPOs and RTOs can reap substantial benefits for your business.

 

You’re Making Use of Multiple Data Recovery Tools

Using a wide array of recovery tools can be a contributing factor in a lagging data recovery plan. This technique suggests an incremental strategy, a disjointed group of tools intended to function independently of one another and on separate schedules. The more diverse your disaster recovery resources are, the more likely it is that a certain element of your plan will go awry at an inopportune time. Merging these disconnected systems is vital in order to alleviate the risk and simplify the recovery process.

Overdependence on On-Premise Backups

In the event of a natural disaster, equipment failure, or power outage, any backup files kept on-premises will be unavailable. In addition, ransomware has progressed to the point where it can automatically remove any on-site backup files and encrypt the original files. Due to this possibility, implementing a comprehensive backup plan is an exceptional way to preemptively secure your data from disaster.

One method to contemplate putting into action is the 3-2-1 backup strategy. This involves maintaining three copies of any set of data, two copies of which are stored on local devices, such as a server and an on-premise backup appliance. One copy is then kept off-site in an online storage space in the cloud or an equivalent location.

You Haven’t Tested Your Data Recovery Plan In a While

Having a data recovery plan is all well and good, but it means nothing if you can’t prove that it actually works! To verify that your plan is effective, you must thoroughly test each step of it.

With repeated testing, you’ll be well-informed as to how your organization will respond and be affected by a disaster that undermines business continuity. Testing also makes allowances for any weaknesses in the plan to come to light, providing the information you need to adjust the plan as necessary.

Final Thoughts

The value of having a rock-solid data recovery plan has never been more evident than it is presently. To minimize the amount of time spent scrambling amidst an emergency, use the COVID-19 outbreak as an opportunity to closely inspect your business continuity plan. Take the time to upgrade and test the plan to make sure that you and your business will be ready the next time disaster strikes.

Need help getting started? We can help! At DataGroup Technologies, recovering your business data is our top priority. No recovery is too big or too small for our expert team! Give us a call today at 252.329.1382 or visit our website to learn how we can help you #SimplifyIT!

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How To Secure Your Business Website In 2022

How To Secure Your Business Website In 2022

If you have a booming business website that’s raking in profits and helping you establish your brand, that’s great! However, you still need to make sure your site is protected from hackers and trolls who might want to tarnish your image. To ensure continued success and prevent bad actors from appropriating your intellectual property, follow these tips to help better secure your business website.

What Is Business Email Compromise?

According to TechRepublic, business email compromise (BEC) is “a sophisticated scam that targets companies and individuals who perform legitimate transfer-of-funds requests.”

Through the use of social engineering or malware, cybercriminals will masquerade as one of the individuals involved in these money transfers to trick the victim into sending money to a bank account owned by the cybercriminal. Once the fraud is exposed, it’s often too late to recoup the money. Scammers are quick to relocate the money to other accounts and withdraw the cash or use it to buy cryptocurrencies.

However, the scam is not always associated with an unauthorized transfer of funds. One BEC variation involves compromising legitimate business email accounts and requesting personally identifiable information (PII), wage and tax settlement (W-2) forms, or even cryptocurrency wallets from recipients.

How to Protect Your Business Against BEC Attacks

In the public service announcement, the FBI offers several suggestions for businesses to adopt to better protect against business email compromise attacks.

  • Use secondary channels (such as phone calls) or multi-factor authentication to validate requests for any changes in account information.
  • Ensure that URLs in emails are associated with the businesses or individuals from which they claim to be originating.
  • Keep an eye out for hyperlinks that contain misspellings of the actual domain name.
  • Steer clear of providing login credentials or PII of any sort via email. Bear in mind that many emails requesting your personal information may appear to be legitimate.
  • Verify the email address used to send emails – especially when using a mobile or handheld device – by making sure the address appears to match that of the purported sender.
  • Enable settings on employees’ computers to allow full email extensions to be viewed.
  • Monitor your personal financial accounts routinely for irregularities, such as missing deposits.

What to Do If You or Your Company Should Fall Victim to a BEC Attack

According to TechRepublic, business email compromise (BEC) is “a sophisticated scam that targets companies and individuals who perform legitimate transfer-of-funds requests.”

Through the use of social engineering or malware, cybercriminals will masquerade as one of the individuals involved in these money transfers to trick the victim into sending money to a bank account owned by the cybercriminal. Once the fraud is exposed, it’s often too late to recoup the money. Scammers are quick to relocate the money to other accounts and withdraw the cash or use it to buy cryptocurrencies.

However, the scam is not always associated with an unauthorized transfer of funds. One BEC variation involves compromising legitimate business email accounts and requesting personally identifiable information (PII), wage and tax settlement (W-2) forms, or even cryptocurrency wallets from recipients.

What to Do If You or Your Company Should Fall Victim to a BEC Attack

Cybersecurity has never been more important. We live in an increasingly connected world, which enables cyberattackers to constantly find new ways to carry out digital attacks. Even the most vigilant business owners and IT managers can become overwhelmed with the stress of maintaining network security and protecting their data.

These increasingly advanced cyberattacks create unprecedented situations of data breach and money extortion. The tools that hackers use are getting smarter and stronger every day. If you’re not proactive about protecting your network, your business will become a target of cybersecurity attacks.

DataGroup Technologies, Inc. (DTI) offers a wide variety of cybersecurity services to help protect your business from cyberthreats, including security risk assessments, email security solutions, web/DNS filtering, next-generation firewalls, network security monitoring, operating systems/application security patches, antivirus software, and security awareness training. If you’re not 100% certain that your business is protected from cybercriminals, contact us today at 252.329.1382 or message us to find out more about how we can help #SimplifyIT!

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