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Exploring Mobility, the Cloud, and Analytics

Posted by Brett Anderson on Feb 27, 2015 4:21:00 PM

It’s an exciting time to be in technology! With new advancements each year, we are seeing increasing productivity, decreasing costs and many new ways to interact with customers. As these new technologies become more mature, their credibility increases and their usefulness in everyday business grows. Looking out into 2015, Network Center, Inc. is excited about 3 technologies in particular, and we encourage our customers to explore how they can make a difference in their business. Although Mobility, Cloud and Analytics have been around for many years, we believe they have grown in their features and practical uses. These three technologies will play an even larger role in 2015 and beyond. Here are a few of our thoughts in these areas.

mobility-1024x572Mobility

The use of mobile devices (tablets and phones) to drive productivity has gained popularity over the past several years. The reality is mobility is a two-sided coin and both sides of the coin need to be understood before you can embrace all that a mobile strategy can do for your business. The first consideration is related to productivity. How can you maximize your workforce via mobile devices? Allowing employees to access corporate email on their mobile devices is the easiest way to drive productivity, but everyone is doing this. How do you set yourself apart from your competition?  How can you make a difference in your employees’ success? How can you improve on the customer experience? These three questions can help you craft ideas that really make a difference. For instance, do you need an app with sales information? Or maybe a secure, responsive intranet site for inventory or scheduling details? There are many ways to leverage a mobile device to empower your employees and differentiate yourself from your competitors. Network Center, Inc. encourages you to build a strategy that fits your business!

The second consideration is the risk associated with allowing company resources to be accessed via mobile devices. What if the device is lost or stolen? What if there isn’t a passcode on the device? What if there are documents stored locally? What if the applications on the device have loose security? How do you mitigate these risks? The best way to address this is with an ‘insurance policy’ – a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution can help you mitigate these risks. There are many MDM solutions in the market, but we can help you choose one that is a good fit for your needs.

shutterstock_105420140Cloud

If you have heard a few of us at Network Center, Inc. talk about “The Cloud”, you’ve probably heard a little sarcasm in our voice when we use that word – people are using the term “Cloud” to mean everything but nothing in particular. We’ve been fortunate enough to have many great clients who have embraced the cloud at varying levels. And this is really the power of the cloud – being able to choose what makes the most sense for your organization. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution but rather a fully customizable palette you can choose from. A few of these scenarios we have helped our customers with include: 

  1. Moving servers, compute and infrastructure offsite
  2. Leveraging productivity-based software in the cloud
  3. Building a business continuity/disaster recovery (BCDR) solution
  4. Mitigating connectivity or other soft issues
  5. Addressing cyclical and seasonal needs with scalable solutions

There are so many benefits to moving pieces of your business to the cloud. We encourage you to talk with Network Center, Inc. to see how the cloud can save you money, drive productivity and reduce risk. 

analyticsAnalytics

If you attended nVision 2014 you heard me talk about the power of analytics. I call it one of the most impactful yet underused technologies of the past 10 years. The best way to define the concept of analytics is to describe its benefits:

  1. Self-service: Easy to use and does not require a report writing expert.  If you can use Excel you can leverage analytics.
  2. Interactive: You can ask questions of the data, build variations of reports and be more analytical without writing new reports from scratch.
  3. Predictive: Analytics can be used in trending and predicting!
  4. Distributable: Rather than sending out large files, analytic solutions are based on reports that link back to the server data.

Many of our customers define Analytics as a game changer. If you want to learn how analytics can change your business, talk to your Network Center, Inc. representative. We at Network Center, Inc. are excited for what's to come, and we challenge our customers to do great things.

Contact Us Today!

Topics: Mobility, Website Analytics, Mobile Device Management, Interactive Services, Cloud Services, Analytics

Transparent IT - File Sharing in the Mobile Age

Posted by Sean Todd on Jan 17, 2014 4:40:00 PM

enterprise mobile devices 2011As we become a more mobile workforce conducting business outside of the traditional office, intellectual property becomes harder and harder to protect. We no longer only need to worry about encrypting a laptop hard drive or making sure someone has secure access to a server via a VPN so they can access their shared drive, but now we are faced with more avenues outside our physical walls on which our information travels, secured or unsecured.

As business professionals, we can choose to turn a blind eye and assume that our information is secure because we haven’t officially authorized anyone to use something other than their company issued workstation thus eliminating concern. In reality, should we choose to do nothing, we are leaving a gaping hole in our document security as more and more employees are turning to their own consumer technology to conduct everyday business. More than half of a survey of 4000 office workers admitted to working on business content on personal devices. Truly alarming if you think of the implications of losing data on a device on which you have no control. This means statistically speaking, more than 50% of your employees have company information on their personal devices and you can’t do much about it without proper controls in place.

box LogoSo how can we protect this information? The bigger answer includes a multi-tiered approach, but if we are focusing on documents and document sharing alone, then we’ll look at an enterprise grade file sharing service. Insert Box. This enterprise grade file sharing application is easy to setup, deploy, and manage allowing us to effectively and efficiently control access to our beloved documents.

Box has applications for iPhone/iPads, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Mac, and Windows meaning whatever the platform you’ll be sure to get seamless integration translating to less of a learning curve for end users who are already used to this type of technology. Users can sync their documents directly to Box, and immediately have it available on all devices they have registered. From the office to the field and from the field back to the office the data is easily accessible. Even better, you have the ability to control the types of devices, how many per person, and whether or not documents can be downloaded to these devices. If documents are downloadable to mobile devices, you are able to force passcodes on the Box app restricting access to anyone without authorization.

mobile file sharingThere are several ways to share files with third parties. Among them include: sending a hyperlink via email and allow it to be publicly accessible; sending a hyperlink and allow it to be opened via a pre-set passcode you would share; or simply allowing others with Box logins access to the folder or file directly. Of course this is just scratching the surface of the collaboration features available.

Unlike similar competing products, data security considerations are second to none. Your data is encrypted during transit with high-grade SSL and at rest with 256-bit AES. Box data centers are SSAE16 Type II and Safe Harbor certified as well as HIPAA compliant.

In the end, your data is only as safe as the habits of your end users. By providing an easy to use file-sharing solution you encourage your employees to use company adopted applications upon which you have a great deal of control while at the same time preventing IT from becoming a road block to productivity. If you have any questions about mobility solutions or secure file sharing, contact NetWork Center, Inc.

Contact NetWork Center, Inc.

Topics: Technology Solutions, Mobility, Mobile Device Management, Security

Managing Company Data on Employee Owned Devices

Posted by Joe Dunnigan on Jun 13, 2013 5:10:00 PM

MDMIn the continued drive to help businesses deal with employee-owned devices being used to connect to company resources, industry leaders have been debuting new products that provide solutions to the issues of securing and managing data and access.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) is becoming very common in the workplace, allowing companies to manage devices that are given to employees, as well as secure data such as email and documents that are being accessed from employee-owned devices. Companies can track devices they own, securely distribute documents and company applications, set email and secure access configurations, and wipe sensitive data from any enrolled device if the device is lost or stolen.

New tools being offered by many of the top MDM solutions now allow complete separation of work and personal data. Employees are provided a secure application that loads company email and documents, and removes the ability to move data between this secure location and personal applications installed on the device. The interface maintains many similarities to existing mail and document applications, giving users a familiar experience. Early device support includes the iOS and Android platforms.

Device makers are also starting to offer solutions for separation of work and personal data. With the debut of the Blackberry Z10, Blackberry maker RIM introduced Balance, which provides a secure space for work files, email, corporate network access, and more. The use of Balance is transparent to the user, with minimal learning curve. RIM is also offering some features of this software for Android and iOS devices through their Blackberry Enterprise Server technologies.

mobile device managementSimilar to Balance, Samsung has recently introduced Knox, which aims to provide similar features to that of Blackberry Balance and MDM software. Samsung is also working with MDM software providers to ensure their Knox software will be compatible with investments businesses have already made in mobile device management software. In addition, the Department of Defense recently finished testing and approved Knox-enabled devices for use on DoD networks. This puts Samsung in the same space as Blackberry, which has enjoyed DoD approval for some time, along with iOS devices, which are seeing some approval and adoption in secure government usage.

Android maker Google has also implemented user profile support natively in their recent software updates. These features are most commonly available in Android tablets, allowing multiple user profiles to exist on a single device. These profiles can be used to separate work and personal data, as well as create separate areas for family members to keep individual apps, email, and other user data.

With the growing availability of options for managing company data on employee-owned devices, it is important to develop a policy that details how data will be secured, and to identify the technologies and products that will be used to achieve those goals. With so many options, it should be possible to find and implement the solution that fits your business needs!

If you have any questions regarding MDM, feel free to contact our NetWork Center, Inc. team. 

Contact Us Today!

Topics: Technology Solutions, NetWork Center Inc., Mobility, Mobile Device Management

Mobile Security 101

Posted by Tyler Voegele on May 17, 2013 5:04:00 PM

mobile device securityWhat is mobile security to you? You hear people talk about security on PCs and laptops, but what about the new wave of technology that is taking over the corporate world? Smart phones, tablets, and other mobile devices are becoming more prevalent and sometimes even our main communication tools. We plan, organize, work, and input all of our data on these devices as we do with PCs and laptops. We are moving to a mobile age, and may soon be working solely with mobile devices instead of our standard PCs and laptops.

What do you keep on your phone? How do you keep it secure? I’ll provide some statistics from Consumer Reports to give you a better idea of mobile security today. Over 39% of the more than 100 million Americans fail to take even minimal efforts to protect their smartphone and their data; 64% don't even have a simple screen lock, 69% do not back up data, 79% have yet to install an app to locate a missing phone, and 92% have not installed an app to remotely wipe data in case of loss or theft.

Most of us feel pretty comfortable in the fact that we take and keep our phones close by anywhere, but in the past year alone over 7.1 million smart phones were irreparably damaged, lost, or stolen and never recovered. Now that you've got a number to associate with the problem, imagine how much data you store on your phone. What could a malicious user possibly learn from you if your device was lost or stolen? Bank account transactions and passwords? Contact and location information? Personal emails and access to social mediums? We store about as much information as we do in our mobile devices, if not more, than our PCs or laptops. So now you may be asking what steps you should take to make sure your mobile devices are safe and secure.

Iphone5 Security Image

Create a secure password instead of using the default security locks on the phone.

It takes almost no effort at all to crack a 4 number password combination or other security measure on a smart phone. You need to make sure if you want to stay secure you'll need a stronger security lock password.

Stay cautious of mobile purchases when Wi-Fi is on.

When roaming with your Wi-Fi on your smart phone or mobile device, it will automatically connect with any Wi-Fi in range and without an encryption password. If you decide to use your phone while connected you could be vulnerable to other users on that network. Even worse, a malicious individual could host a wireless connection point and make "false" websites to most popular banking websites, Facebook, and other sites you may enter personal data in. Making sure you are connected to a secure and trustable Wi-Fi network is essential to your mobile security.

Keep your phone locked when you’re not using it.

This may seem like a no brainer, but many of us may often forget to lock our mobile devices and if someone picked it up the secure passcode would be useless.

Make sure you download apps that are reputable and watch for those that have been known to carry malware.

Malware is becoming a larger issue on mobile phones. Just like any other device, you can infect your mobile device just as simply as downloading an app with malicious code. With access to all of your data, passwords, and even location there is nothing a malicious individual couldn't find out. 30% of users using PCs and laptops have malicious programs or malware on them, and while 5% of mobile users doesn't seem like much, it is still cause for caution. A lot of antivirus and security companies are developing apps to protect your phone also.

Mobile security word cloudRemember to download any manufacturer’s updates to your device in a timely way.

When you download the latest updates for your devices you are protecting yourself from any vulnerabilities or bugs in the software that could be a security risk for you. Usually before you update it will often tell you what it is fixing in your mobile device.

Learn how to read and understand Terms of Service and Permission Agreement screens.

This is important when downloading applications onto your mobile device. What does this app do, what does it need to access on the phone, and why does it need to access the things it needs? These are all questions you should ask when agreeing to let the application use most of the services or data you have accompanied with your mobile device. You may be sharing more data with companies you use than you realize. Location tracking is a service that a lot of mobile apps use on your phone even if it isn't necessarily needed.

Only make financial transactions on secured sites.

This is also something that you probably already look for when using PCs and laptops, and just as important on your mobile device. It is much easier to make purchases from anywhere and anytime with our mobile devices, but using unsecured sites or malicious sites while roaming is always something you need to watch out for.

These are just a few scenarios you can look at to better secure yourself in the ever encompassing mobile world. There are applications out there that secure our devices and more and more are developed each day. If you would like additional information about mobile security in the corporate environment you can contact us at 1-800-723-5353. Talk to our representatives today and learn how you can keep your mobile life secure!

Contact Us Today!

 

Topics: Technology Solutions, NetWork Center Inc., Mobility, Mobile Device Management

Top 5 Technology Trends for 2013

Posted by Brett Anderson on Jan 11, 2013 2:45:00 PM


As most technology leaders have already seen, Gartner released what they believe to be the Top Ten Strategic Technology Trends for 2013. It is a good read and if you have not already looked at it, I would definitely recommend it. 

2013 tech trends

I cross-referenced the 2013 list with the 2012 Top Ten Strategic Technology Trends list (found here), and noticed quite a bit of overlap, which is not surprising given both lists are intended to be strategic and not tactical. This got me thinking – in our area, what can we really expect to see in 2013? I thought it would be helpful to share my ideas on what 2013 will bring, based on what I have learned from my customers and peers at NetWork Center, Inc. More of a “rubber meets the road” list for 2013 than the Gartner list.

1. Core Infrastructure is Still Critical 
Nothing on my list or the Gartner list works without a well-maintained, efficient and secure infrastructure. From servers to desktops, routers and switches to wireless networks, you need these pieces to make everything else perform.

mobile devices2. Mobile Devices! 
No surprise here, but more specifically:

  • More smartphones will be in the hands of employees and customers – how will you use this to drive service, revenue and efficiency?
  • Customers expect a self-service tailored web experience on their mobile devices. How does your site look from a smartphone or tablet? Can web visitors learn more about you, contact you, request information and gain the confidence they need to start working with your business?
  • Apps for employee productivity. Now that most people have tablets and smartphones, and in many cases, business are paying for a portion of them, what are you doing to drive productivity from your workforce?
  • Mobile Device Management (MDM). With employees having corporate resources available on their devices (email, apps, VPN), the risk when a device is lost is greater than ever before. We recommend to our clients an MDM solution that proactively secures devices, has centralized management, streamlines support and makes monitoring easy. Are you protected?

social media3. Social Media 
I suspect more businesses start to utilize Twitter, Facebook, You Tube and LinkedIn this year. To date, most companies I work with do not have an online social strategy and are uncertain on how to engage customers and drive revenue with social media. Does your company have a social media strategy in place?

4. Data is a Differentiator 
Every business collects information on their customers. What do you do with it? Do you analyze it, mine it, and act on it? What are they buying, what corollaries can be drawn, how do you act on this? If you can successfully understand the buying habits, you can align your sales team with your customer’s needs.

cloud computing datatrend5. Cloud Hybrid
I don’t believe there will a massive, ‘all or nothing’ shift to online storage and processing, but we are working with clients to create more of a balanced approach of local apps, storage and processing along with more cloud-based hosting for sites, data, applications and processing.

Beyond 2013 I expect there to be a bigger focus on Google Apps and their Office-like suite of tools – more on this to come, but as one of my customers said, “I spend $400 on a new desktop and $400 for an Office license”. The reality is that 95% of users don’t need the power of Office Professional. Google Apps (and Office 365 for that matter) provide attractive alternatives.

Are you interested in learning more about Mobile Device Management? Download our MDM Ebook today. 

Download MDM Ebook to learn more!

Topics: Technology Solutions, NetWork Center Inc., Mobile Device Management, Cloud computing

5 Reasons You Should Attend our 2012 Technology Showcase

Posted by Brad Maczkowicz on Dec 7, 2012 1:20:00 PM

There may not be a busier time for IT shops than the last two months of the year. Between trying to close out the open projects, reporting to leadership, budgeting and planning for the next year – finding time to get out of the office is difficult to do.

Technology Showcase Email Signature Final450x97 Register Today

Our annual Network Center, Inc. Technology Showcase is on December 12th and we have five great reasons for you to pull away from the office and attend!                                           

  1. Mobility, Mobility, Mobility! The biggest trend in technology is smartphones and tablets. Learn how to manage, secure and deploy mobile devices and how they can make your employees more productive and your customer service better!
  2. 2013 Technology Trends. Learn what the biggest players in IT are expecting from 2013 and how you can benefit!
  3. Breakout Session. We have 6 breakout sessions scheduled that will help you with your 2013 plans!
  4. Top Technology Leaders. Interact with many of the top technology leaders and learn about their emerging technology innovations!
  5. Build Relationships! Establish relationships with technology vendors at our reception and exhibitor display. Visit with Parallel, Exagrid, Implementation Specialists, IBM, Video Guidance and ESET.

Event details can be found at www.netcenter.net/TechShow

What are you waiting for? Register today!  
 

Topics: Technology Solutions, NetWork Center Inc., Mobile Device Management, Managed Services

Small Technology, Big Risks: Top 5 Mobility FAQs

Posted by Brett Anderson on Oct 5, 2012 4:53:00 PM

mobile device managementI love my job!  I get to meet with a variety of businesses and work with them to make the complicated less complicated.  Our conversations cover a broad spectrum including strategy, marketing, business drivers, revenue, cost, efficiency and how it all ties to technology.  Over the past 12 months the most consistent topic in these discussions is related to mobile devices and how they fit in this mix. From iPads to smart phones and everything in between, this is the most misunderstood topic I work with.  

Unlike most of the technology drivers over the past 5 years, mobile devices are driven from the bottom-up and not from top-down.  This brings a whole new dynamic to the problem.  We hear more and more of it every day – employees are bringing their cell phones and tablets to work and want to be “hooked up to the network”.  But with this comes a whole new set of concerns and desires from the business. 

Five most common mobility questions we receive:

1. What should I be concerned with when employees ask to connect their mobile devices to our network?

First off, treat the mobile devices like any other laptop.  Secure it, manage it, and control it.  Your policy and rules for mobile devices may be different for corporate purchased items versus employee owned (BYOD-Bring Your Own Device).  This is an important facet to work out.

We recommend you use a robust Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution.  The right MDM solution will help you with mobile security– locking the phone, wiping it, black listing applications, and location services.  In addition, a good MDM solution will also  help with productivity and efficiency – document distribution, app distribution and expense management.      

BYOD Bring Your Own Device resized 6002. How is BYOD different than other technology trends?

Simply put – your employees are driving it.  Instead of a master plan to select and deploy a piece of software, your employees are connecting to your wireless network and Exchange server without you knowing about it.  They may even have a VPN connection configured.  If you don’t get in front of it, and a device is lost or hacked, you may face enormous risk. 

3. How difficult is it to connect a device to an MDM server?  

This is very easy to do!  It’s designed so someone with very little understanding of technology can simply click ‘yes’ on a couple of dialog boxes and they’re up and running.  Once the device is being managed, you’ve mitigated the security risks and positioned yourself to improve productivity with mobility. 

4. Should I worry about how my current website appears on a mobile device?

If you have an active site that customers visit frequently to learn more about your business and how to contact you, YES, you should open it up in a mobile browser and see how it looks. 

  • Is there too much information on the home page?
  • Do the images run off the side?
  • Does your site loop while trying to load content?
  • Is it difficult to navigate to the sub-pages and contact information?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, there’s room for improvement! There are many inexpensive ways to solve this problem. Personally, I can’t remember the last time I looked up a website from my desktop – it’s all being done from a smartphone or tablet!  This will only become more common with your customers too! 

mobile app5. Should I build a mobile app?

A little background first.  An “app” in a native software application built to run on a smartphone or tablet.  Angry Birds and Dropbox are examples.  Apps can be built for 2 reasons:

  1. Internal use – sharing information, driving productivity, managing costs or expenses, or streamlining processes.  The goal of building an app for your employees is realizing the promise that mobile devices will help your workforce be more productive. 
  2. For your customers – typically gives you a presence, shares important customer information (think CRM), decreases workload on your customer service reps, and helps drive revenue.

In most situations I’m able to walk my customer through a quick decision tree that helps them determine if an app would be helpful, or if there are other ways to accomplish their objectives.

There are many facets to the mobility trend and how it applies to your business.  If you would like to learn more about it, drop us a line.  We’d love to help!

Download our Free eBook to learn more about MDM - Mobile Device Management: Guide to the Essentials and Beyond.

Download MDM Ebook to learn more!

Topics: Technology Solutions, NetWork Center Inc., Mobile App Development, Mobile Device Management, Apple Certified Network Consultants

Applying Technology To Solve Business Challenges

Posted by Brett Anderson on Sep 22, 2012 7:00:00 AM

It’s an eye opening and humbling experience to tell the story of your company. Earlier this month The Forum spent time with some of the leaders of NetWork Center, Inc. to talk about technology, our record of employee retention and what we expect in the future. The Forum did a wonderful job telling this story, but we thought we could elaborate on the future of technology with this blog. 

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” – Albert Einstein

Ben CarlsrudIt’s often said that business success can be tied to your ability to predict change and adapt quickly. Over the past 10 years we’ve seen an evolution in technology that’s changed the way everyone does business. From e-commerce to more powerful mobile phones and the popularity of tablet computers, the successful companies are those that have embraced change and adapted quickly. Two examples to consider: 

  • Where was Apple 10 years ago? How well did it predict the market and its consumers?  Has it paid off? 
  • In contrast, how has the automotive industry faired in the past 10 years?  Specifically, how would you describe the rollercoaster General Motors has been on?
  • How is your business reacting to the changes in the market place?  Are you leveraging technology and these changes to secure your future?

For many years NetWork Center, Inc. has been a regional leader in core technologies which are at the heart of the changes in the market place. This is a difficult concept to understand, but it’s important if you want to evolve with the future. The core technologies – or what we refer to as “traditional” offerings – include the servers, switches and routers, phones and connectivity. Our success over the past 25+ years is based on our deep understanding of how they all come together to make up the core infrastructure.

So how does this help our customers adapt in the future?

Connectivity and core infrastructure isn’t going away any time soon – this technology backbone is what makes all the “new” technology possible. From social media to tablets and smart phones to the Cloud – they all rely on the “traditional” core infrastructure at some level. We’re building on this proven track record of “traditional” offerings with experience in more forward-facing technologies:

  • Mobile Device Management and advisement.  We’re the only local reseller and provider of MaaS360, the leading solution to help manage and secure mobile devices and tablets.
  • We’re the only Certified Apple Consultants in the region.
  • We’ve developed mobile applications for Android and iOS.
  • We‘ve developed feature-rich and robust solutions based on Google Apps.
  • We’ve designed and deployed hybrid solutions that leverage our customers’ local software, remote locations and Cloud based storage and computing.

“Computers are useless.  They can only give you answers.” – Pablo Picasso

Twenty years ago this was what most people thought.  But doesn’t it still hold true?  Computers and technology and all the “traditional” pieces mentioned earlier are just the means to an end. Without the intelligence that Albert Einstein talks about, the core technology itself isn’t very useful. You need smart people who understand business, understand challenges and can apply the technology appropriately to make your business better.

This is what Network Center, Inc. does. We have passionate, intelligent people who listen to your concerns and partner with you on solutions. From the core infrastructure and “traditional” technology to all of the new challenges technology brings. We can help you adapt to the changing landscape and take advantage of opportunities the future holds. 

Contact us to talk about your business –we’d love the opportunity to share our knowledge with you and help map out your future! 

Contact Us Today!

  

Topics: Technology Solutions, Mobile App Development, Mobile Device Management, Cloud computing, Apple Certified Network Consultants, Managed Services

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