How To Tap Into The Remote Workforce 

New technologies are making it easier than ever to collaborate with teams of freelancers and remote employees. With less overhead, greater flexibility and access to a bigger talent pool, many companies are eager to tap into this modernization advantage. 

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Cloud Storage is Risky

The Risks of Consumer Cloud Storage

You’ve undoubtedly heard the names and would recognize the logos of the biggest players in the current cloud storage market. This widely used software provided by GoogleDrive, Dropbox and Amazon Cloud Drive have millions of users between them. Just because they’re popular, doesn’t mean you should trust them with your company’s important data. We recommend ignoring the hype and doing some research before signing up. 

The convenience of consumer cloud storage: inexpensive syncing among employees and their devices, isn’t necessarily a fair trade off for the risks your company takes. These file share solutions answer a single problem while opening you up to many more. Here are three big risks you take when using cloud storage for your company: 

  1. No Tech Support:

    Users of cloud-based storage technologies must deal with slow to non-existent tech support. Many of these large companies divert frustrated customers (you) to a robot chat box or delayed online support for answers. That means, there will be little help and potential long-term downtime when you or your team has trouble accessing important data.

  2. No Control Over Data:

    Data is nothing to play with. If your employees and customers trust you with sensitive information, it’s your responsibility to keep it out of the wrong hands. You allow data to be stored in servers around the world by using third-party cloud-based services. That means, no assurance of what laws are protecting it or when. One thing you can be sure of, it’s only a matter of time until someone unauthorized attempts to access it. 

  3. Remote Devices:

    Using a remote staff will save on traditional costs associated with running a business. However, allowing remote workers to use their own devices introduces a significant security risk, especially if you’re using cloud sharing software. Remote employees’ devices are rarely adequately protected and easily become another portal for cyber criminals and hackers to access information. 

 

It’s critical that organizations keep the above security issues in mind before making the switch. Instead, hire a company like BCS Voice and Data, who will design and implement a secure wireless network to meet your specific needs. The cloud may be right for your business, but there are alternatives that significantly help mitigate the risks. Contact us today for a consultation or with questions about our services.

Protect yourself by creating a safety culture at work

Creating a Cyber-Safe Culture 

In this cyber environment, business owners and employees must be aware of the horrors of an insecure system. Criminals can hack into corporate property and compromise customer information, sometimes even holding it for ransom. Methods such as these recently brought the entire city of Baltimore to a halt for multiple days.

Although it’s everyone’s duty to assist their organization against targeted attacks and security breaches; the importance of cyber security should be strongly delivered from your top management team at all times. Here are three tips to build a sound cyber security culture in your workplace.

1. Maintain a sound password policy
The most common passwords of 2018 were “111111”,  “12345678” and “password”. Many of us, including your employees, will forgo a safe password for one that’s easy to remember or quick to type into their login screen. With data that must stay secure, you can’t risk anyone using something easily guessed. Avoid this issue by instituting a proper password policy. This policy should make common passwords off-limits and create a required framework for combining numerals, letters and punctuation. It should also force frequent password changes.

2. Train employees on Workplace security
Conduct regular training for employees to learn how to identify suspicious cyber activities and report them. Educate teams on how to use their resources to analyze emails and attachments and be wary of activity they did not do or request. Additionally, make it easy for employees to report anything out of the ordinary. Share incidents of cybercrimes with your employees and discuss how your organization is equipped to combat similar attacks.

3. Act as a Role Model
If you are a manager or business owner, it is up to you to enthusiastically communicate security objectives and adhere to them. Practice what you preach and lock your system whenever you leave your desk. Doing so will encourage your employees to contribute to a positive and secure environment as well.

If you have any questions about how to better protect your systems, don’t hesitate to contact us at BCS Voice and Data. We offer solutions and support for any business with safety concerns, and provide additional services depending on your business needs. Contact us today for a no-obligation conversation about how we help keep data safe.

Network Cabling and Structured cabling

How Structured Cabling Pays Off

Many business owners are skeptical about the benefits of structured cabling.The prevailing myth being that only big companies with excessive wiring and an immediate need for more productivity can afford the enhancement. We beg to differ.

Sales offices, customer service departments and call centers remain common work environments that require the service. But, any business with even a small telecoms network will reap the rewards. Here are the ways we see structured cabling paying dividends for all business: 

1. Organization

Look around your office. Are there wires piling at the bottom of desks? Some with redundant uses and cords that don’t even work? Structured cabling eliminates the mess and gives your office a modern and sleek look. You’ll have confidence when prospective clients or visitors are on-site. Additionally, a tidy and presentable space creates a more productive working environment.

2. Faster Speeds

The worst scenario for any business is slow data when interacting with an important client. You don’t want to compromise your professionalism due to slow data speeds. Structured cabling uses high quality cables, including fiber optic connections, to decrease noise and interference, while increasing bandwidth and speed. Not only will your current data travel faster, but operations will not slow if additional connections are ever needed.

3. Minimal Downtime

That brings us to our next benefit, minimal downtime. You can’t risk current tasks when it’s time to upgrade or grow. With a direct point A to point B connection, both software and hardware upgrades are quicker. Better organization means that if you encounter a problem, it’s exact location is easier to find. And finally, increased bandwidth will accommodate additional equipment without slowing down other operations. 

4. Positioned for Growth

We have yet to encounter a business that didn’t want to grow, so BCS Voice and Data ensures the cable and network structure grows with you. Our designers create an organized framework that is easy to configure as your business grows, meaning you’ll be able to adapt without major additional investment.

Although the organized look is part of it’s draw, structured cabling is more than meets the eye. It ensures that you have a scalable infrastructure in place to best optimize your voice and data needs for years to come. Contact BCS Voice and Data to learn more from our team of designers and technicians about how structured cabling can work for you.

Reasons to Invest in Your Remote Workforce

The advantages of creating a remote workforce are making it an increasingly popular option for business. Improved technology makes old deterring factors, like communication and data sharing, simple while employers save on facilities costs and scheduling hassles. BCS frequently connects remote staff to their corporate headquarters through cloud computing and networking methods, but we often see one drawback. That is, remote staff doesn’t always get the best equipment.

Although they aren’t on-premises, it’s still important (if not more so) to invest in the tools these workers receive. Why? Because more than other employees, they rely on their devices. If a remote worker is experiencing a malfunction, they can’t walk down the hall for help, and will lose valuable time if their network connection and equipment isn’t efficient. Your remote staff is only as good as the tools you give them, so consider these reasons for investing in the technology they use:

1. Durability
Satellite employees use their laptop every day. The last thing that you want is to replace it on a regular basis. Buying a cheap laptop now might mean saving money in the short-term, but over time, the cost of replacing cheaper computers quickly adds up. Instead, a high-end, commercial-grade laptop ensures they have a durable, reliable piece of tech that’s going to last a long time.

2. Quality Assurance
Make sure your workers trust the performance of their tools. Do the research to find what they need. Consider the tools, accessories and software most important to complete their duties. For example, a customer service agent requires a crisp, great-sounding headset and reliable telecommunications system to deliver the best service, while a graphic designer will need a fast processor to render creations without downtime. Ask your IT team or consult BCS Voice and Data if you need help determining what is best for your team.

3. Good Relationships
It’s common to see companies with not-so-best practices making employees feel unhappy or dejected. Distributing poorly maintained and repurposed devices demonstrates a low worth, leading to a negative response. Disgruntled staff contributes to low production, high turnover and reduced ownership over their duties and your company’s success. With so much research proving the pay-off, it’s necessary for businesses to show they value their teams, or risk losing them. One of the simplest ways to do so, is by trusting them with high-end tools that demonstrate their importance to the company they work for.

BCS Voice and Data implements efficient systems for business with both on-premise and remote staff, no matter what jobs they perform. Contact us today for a consultation or ask about services to keep your teams connected and up-to-date.

Costs of Choosing Reactive IT Services

Profit is normally the end goal for businesses, so it makes sense that owners look for the most cost-efficient options when it comes to outsourcing work. But sometimes frugality results in costly mistakes down the road. We often find that’s the case with IT support services, particularly when we are called in to fix problems that could have been avoided.

When technology works, it’s tempting to believe it always will. That belief can make it hard to see the value in a long-term IT service, so many businesses cut costs by forgoing them. In its place, they respond reactively tech problems, only calling professionals when there is an issue. Even then, many owners will put off calling support thinking the problem will fix itself. Unfortunately, this approach leads to temporary patches, poor security and inefficient billing, creating more issues and higher costs over time. 

Here are some of the typical costs associated with reactive IT methods:

Temporary Solutions: Finding support sporadically means inviting someone with a minimal understanding of your network into its delicate environment. They attempt to rectify an issue without knowing the underlying cause, resulting in patch or temporary fix. These methods leave your internal systems haphazardly chopped together, creating more issues. Without a doubt, you will need to call again. An IT service like BCS creates a finely tuned and fully functional system that’s maintained by a professional familiar with your network.

Poor Security: Viruses and Ransomware don’t download themselves. User must facilitate it. Disgruntled or unknowing employees and anonymous visitors commonly introduce malicious software into networks. Not every IT company is equipped to step in when these disasters hit. If you only hire support reactively, you’ll waste time finding a capable provider while your network collapses. This severely limits what you’ll recover. Not only will long-term IT help defend you against disaster better, but they will be on call for you when it hits. 

Additional Hourly Time: Most outsourced IT companies have hourly or block billing. That means you’re billed during the time a technician is learning about your network before solving the issue. They may use hours of paid time to research your problem and educate themselves at your cost. Avoid these costs by investing in a consistent service, with a team who provides ongoing monitoring and understands your system, and can therefore work quickly. 

Don’t cut corners by only hiring IT help during a problem. You’ll get inadequate protection in the least cost-effective way. BCS Voice and Data provides managed IT support for any small to large business with monthly proactive services. Learn more on our Managed Support page or call us today for more information on what we can do for you. 

 

Growing Your Business With Technology Basics

All business owners begin their venture with a mind for growth. In the past, growth wasn’t easy. Expansion sometimes presented more problems than opportunity. That’s because issues like managing larger teams or keeping costs low were difficult obstacles with limited solutions.  

With modern advances in technology, come improved methods for businesses to scale effectively and create opportunities for increased profit at the same time. Much of what presented obstacles 30 years ago are now problems of the past. That doesn’t mean growth is always easy, though.  

Here are some of our best suggestions for growing your business with new technologies on the horizon:

Utilize the Power of the Cloud

There are many benefits of using cloud-based programs and applications, but it’s especially conducive to growing companies.  

With these scalable tools, you and your employees have the freedom to manage operations from anywhere, any device and at any time. That means your team expands but your facility expenditure doesn’t have to, thanks to a remote workforce. For example, cloud-based phone systems can maintain the impression that your employees are on-premises by granting them a phone line wherever they are based. While cloud-distributed software means employees can access the systems they need, wherever they are.

Additionally, the cloud updates easily. Once you implement these types of systems, staying up-to-date is much easier.

Shifting your business to the cloud is a great approach to increase employee coordination, reduce spending and stay current, while growing the business.

Leverage the WIFI

These days, people wish to stay connected everywhere they go. Therefore, offering free WIFI to your customers is an effective marketing tool. We mentioned many of these benefits in a previous post but in terms of growth, it’s an instant win. Free WIFI increases client satisfaction meaning more business and increased profit. This applies to retail spaces, hospitality and even office environments – happy guests and visitors lead to happy customers, clients, partners and vendors.

Hire an IT Firm

No matter what your industry is, increased dependency on technology is inevitable. Unfortunately, new tech isn’t foolproof. A crashed telephone system or network brings business operations to a halt. Fixing these issues require a professional technician, but companies don’t need an in-house team. Maintain the bottom line by hiring IT consulting firms who will monitor your network and spot issues before they become show-stopping problems. Leading IT firms maximize the potential growth of your company by implementing and maintaining new technology correctly. The great ones can help you plant for the future and provide scalable solutions as well.

If you are a growing company and want to know how a firm like BCS Voice and Data can help, visit our website or call us today.  

 

Critical Elements of a Business Backup Systems

There are countless ways to lose your important data, especially if it isn’t backed up regularly.  Information stored on devices falls victim to accidental deletion, hard drive crashes, theft or virus and malware infections. Storing information on paper runs the risk of losing it to fire, flooding or other natural disasters. By saving data on a single device or in one place and not backing up, you gamble on losing it forever. Without critical data, many businesses cannot perform, making a backup system crucial for protecting your business.

There are two steps to creating a proper backup system. First, identify the types of data you need to protect and second, make sure it’s performed regularly.

Identify Critical Data
What needs to be in a data backup? Anything you’ve created or modified. This includes everything from accounting files to emails. When deciding, live by this rule: If losing the data interferes with doing business, protect it.

It’s rare that you need to save applications. Most modern business software deploys through a browser, meaning they aren’t installed on the computer. This software is accessed online through any device. If you lose the device, simply reopen the application with another.

Implement Backups on a Regular Schedule
We recommend backing up your data nightly. There is software that allows you to set a schedule and perform these tasks automatically.  Software that also zips and encrypts files saves space and increases security.

Consider the Cloud
Now that you know the key elements of a backup system, it’s time to consider the best way to implement it. One of the many benefits of cloud storage is for safe, secure off-site backups. By using the cloud, your files live in a secured online account and you don’t depend on a single computer or server open to attacks or accidents. The cloud has other advantages, as well, like automatic backups, minimal infrastructure and quick recovery.

It isn’t easy finding the proper protection method, especially if your business quickly accumulates important information. Hiring a professional IT service like BCS helps navigate the confusion and find the best solution for your business needs. If you need assistance on backing up your data or moving existing archives, contact BCS Voice and Data services today.

Reasons Why Cyber-Security is Never an Afterthought

Small businesses tend to believe they fall under the radar for a sophisticated cyber-attack. With that thinking, they operate with minimal or no cyber-security. The truth is, these businesses are known for lacking security measures and often targeted. Almost half will experience at least one cyber-attack during their business lifetime. If you’re on the fence about adding security to your operations, here are four reasons to make it a priority.

1. Prevent Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware is a type of malicious software, or malware, designed to deny access to a system or data unless a ransom is paid. It spreads through phishing emails or by unknowingly visiting an infected website. These attacks are especially hurtful to businesses without backups. Prevent your data from being used against you by installing software that protects you from ransomware attacks and have a robust backup program.

2. Defend Mobile Devices
Now, more than ever, professionals conduct business on the go. Cellphones, computers and tablets often connect to your network in a variety of ways. If lost or stolen these devices can become a gateway to an attack. A proper security system allows you to lock, wipe and locate any connected or company-controlled devices, remotely.

3. Protect You and Your Employee’s Data
All companies have sensitive data that needs to be protected, regardless of size or industry. That includes not just your information, but that of employees and customers. Hacking software is easily available and its users look for the social security numbers and banking information entrusted to an organization. A business owner is potentially held accountable for any breach of that trust. Implementing a security solution bolsters encryption, protecting you from hackers and subsequent legal and financial challenges.

4. Block Spam Downloads and Emails
Email communication is a staple for daily business dealings. While most of us are aware of the signs from phishing and spam mail, it’s still easy to miss. It only takes one click for an unprotected PC to suffer the effects of these culprits. Added security protects your business from infections by automatically blocking malicious emails, removing unsafe browser extensions and preventing suspicious downloads.

The bottom line is that IT security shouldn’t be an afterthought. At BCS Voice & Data, we offer solutions and support for any business with safety concerns, and provide additional services depending on your business needs. Contact us today for a no-obligation conversation about what we offer and how we help keep your data safe.

The Benefits of Moving Your Phone System to the Cloud

Your company doesn’t need to keep up with every tech trend, but sometimes there are advantages worth investing in. BCS helps firms to decipher what new technologies best suit them, particularly deciding between phone systems. Rather than sticking with traditional hardwired telephone equipment, we’ve found universal benefits by upgrading to a system based in the cloud.

#1 Easy and Cost-Effective Install
Implementing cloud communication is simple compared to a hardwired install. On-site phone systems take longer to establish because they require bulky hardware and labor. With fewer physical components, VoIP (voice over internet protocol) costs are lower and up and running quickly.

#2 Simplify Multiple Locations
Creating identical settings across multiple locations is tricky with the tedious hardware of business phone systems. A key benefit of cloud phone systems is the ability to centrally manage company communications through a single online portal, instead. With a VoIP system, implementing settings through shared software is easy. It also prevents employees from making changes and guarantees all locations stay on the same page with a few clicks.

#3 Automatic Upgrades
Upgrades are inevitable regardless of the phone system you choose. Capitalize on the cloud and give your company an edge with automatic upgrades. Traditional phones require on-site visits and potential downtime while the business owner bears the responsibility and cost. cloud-based environments shift the responsibility to the provider, handling the update virtually. It’s usually done outside of working hours and without service interruption, allowing for frequent upgrades and fewer missed calls.

#4  Accommodate Remote Workers
An on-premise phone system limits the communication capabilities for anyone outside of the office. Keep your remote workers connected despite the distance with a VoIP phone system. It eliminates boundaries by routing traffic to its destination through any internet connection. Send calls to their home office as easily as the actual office.

#5 Trustworthy Modern Security Practices
While you have more direct control over traditional business phones, they aren’t as safe as they seem. Physical office connections suffer more attacks than their cloud counterparts, according to this article. Traditional office hook-ups lack the extra protection from the presence of built-in protocols and encryption tools, like passwords and firewalls.

As with any new technology, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. This is why partnering with an experienced business telephone system integrator like BCS is crucial. We will evaluate your needs and ensure that whatever solution you select, you’re well prepared for future growth. Contact us today for a no-obligation conversation about your business phone system needs.