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Technology Trends

Technology Trends you Will Hear About in 2018

According to technology research firm Gartner Group, technology spending is expected to grow to $3.7 Trillion dollars in 2018. Communications Services ($1.387 billion) and IT Services ($931 billion) make up the majority of spending. In contrast, Enterprise Software and Data Center Systems are the smallest categories of spending expected for next year. Shifts in IT spending from Data Centric to Cloud Computing change the landscape for buyers, vendors and technology solution providers alike. Here are top Technology Trends you will hear about in 2018.

Cybersecurity

2017 was a year full of data breaches and ransomware. According to a 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study by the Ponemon institute, the average cost of a data breach in 2017 was $141 per record lost. Consider how many customer, prospect, employee, member or supplier records you may have within your organization. With the risks so high, expect Cybersecurity to be top of the list of Technology Trends for most companies next year.

Cloud Computing

According to Forbes, 80% of IT budgets will be committed to the Cloud. Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions will help line-of-business managers from Sales, Marketing, HR and Finance become more productive. Communications and Collaboration applications including Email, VoIP and Web conferencing solutions will connect employees across companies and supply chains. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) will host a range of solutions including websites, online backup and more. The utility model, or paying for usage, appeals to businesses replacing technology capital expense (CapEx) for subscription-based operating expense.

Managed Services

As the “everything as a service” model gains in popularity, more companies will adopt fixed- priced managed services contracts. Rather than waiting until an issue arises, the managed service delivers proactive IT service for on-premise and cloud-based systems.

Software-Defined Everything

Technology research firm IDC predicts Software Defined Networking to top $8b in 2018. As more companies rely on technology for communications, customer experience and remotely hosted cloud solutions, cost-effective network performance becomes critical. Increased cost savings combined with improved connectivity make Software Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) a popular choice for companies expanding to multiple locations or those reviewing their networking expense.

Emerging Technologies

The technology industry is known for its infatuation with the “New, New, Thing.” Many technologies will impact the buzz meter in 2018–Big Data is one of them. Standards for collecting information and connecting the dots between demographics, geographics and other insights begin to provide companies both small and large competitive advantage.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the form of process automation, chatbots and other computer-to- computer conversation and learning will creep into the technology stack in 2018. You may find AI emerge in popular productivity applications throughout the workplace.

Companies wanting to stay on the edge of technology will turn to Digital Transformation to fuel growth and efficiencies. Expect large businesses to acquire their digital counterparts, while small business will deploy technologies to improve customer experience and ensure employee productivity.

BlockChain or Distributed Trust technologies will go beyond Bitcoin and other distributed ledgers to drive efficiencies in select industries including Healthcare and Financial services. Blockchain technology uses encryption to link a continuous series of records. By securely confirming agreement to complex transactions, BlockChain technology will begin to rattle in 2018 for many larger organizations. It may take more time before this technology applies to small and medium businesses.

Internet of things (IoT) and other smart devices will emerge in consumer and business technology markets. From security systems to smart cities expect more and more connected devices to contribute to efficiencies from the factory floor to the warehouse door.

As technology becomes a greater part of our business operations, it is more important than ever to ensure we have secure and reliable business systems. IF you have questions about how your business can benefit from emerging technology trends, contact your technology advisor today.

Disaster Recovery and Data Protection –Now More Than Ever

Disaster Recovery PlanRecent Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, along with major earthquakes in Mexico, remind us how vulnerable we can be to disasters, and underscore the importance of data protection. As businesses depend on access to a range of systems–including call center, communications and collaboration application, customer management, and more–having a solid data protection plan can help you in a disaster recovery scenario. Now more than ever, a range of options exist to help maintain business continuity. Here are a few options to consider.

 

Review Your Data Protection Plan

Key to your data protection plan is identification of mission-critical systems. The most important systems should be redundant, with the ability for failover in the event of a disaster. Your data centers and failover options should be geographically dispersed and on different network backbones. This can minimize downtime and get you back up and running sooner. Having your data backup available in Cloud Storage can help you recover other important files and application data if you lose access to your on-premise systems.

SD-WAN for Business Continuity

Software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) can also provide you a highly reliable and redundant network. Having the ability to switch Wide Area Networks using SD-WAN as an alternative to more costly MPLS solutions can ensure connectivity during a natural disaster. What’s more, Software-Defined Wide Area Networking can save you money in the long run by giving you the flexibility of a multi-carrier solution.

Software as a Service for Disaster Recovery

More businesses are turning to the Cloud for a range of applications–hosted email, Voice over IP (VoIP), Call Center, and others–to keep communications flowing during a disaster. Using Software as a Service (SaaS) for these important communications and collaborations applications keeps your employees, customers and business partners connected even when you are unable to gain physical access to your facilities. Having these applications in the Cloud can help you ensure everyone on your team is present and accounted for.

Don’t wait until a disaster strikes to review your data protection and disaster recovery plans.  Contact your technology advisor today if you are unsure how well you will weather the storm.

How is Your Network Health?

Proactive Network MonitoringYour network is the backbone of your IT Infrastructure. Your network health is also an integral part of your defense against Cyber threat. Cloud Computing, Communications and Collaboration, Data Protection, and Digital Transformation put more reliance on your network.  This begs the question, how is your network health? Ask yourself these three questions to find out the answer…

How Well Does Your Network Perform?

You rely on your network to communicate with your employees, customers, prospects, and suppliers. What’s more, your network links your company to public and private cloud services and applications that are critical to your business operations. Performance bottlenecks from social media, streaming applications, faulty hardware, and lost connections can impact your employees’ productivity. Offsite backup and other IT functions also rely on your network. Ensuring network health keeps systems running smoothly and available when you need them.

How Secure is Your Network?

Network security is an imperative for businesses of all sizes. Your business may face additional compliance requirements–for example, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Data protections standards are rapidly evolving, which could increase your responsibility and exposure to fines and penalties. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the European Union’s data protection rules, could apply to your business regardless of your location.

Keeping your network in compliance through monitoring, endpoint protection, content filtering, and other network security detection and protection technologies is a good start. Train your employees on the implications of phishing emails and how to identify one. Teach them to avoid malicious links in unsolicited scam emails. Underscore the importance of a strong password and steps to take to keep data private.

How Efficient and Flexible is Your Network?

Technology advances at an exponential rate, ensuring access to enhanced technologies at an affordable price. Network solutions continue to evolve, providing better value and performance for your business. Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) allows companies to mix and match networking solutions from multiple carriers in an efficient and effective manner. If properly optimized, SD-WAN provides you the best performance at the most competitive price.  What’s more, SD-WAN provides capability for failover for your most important voice and data systems.

Your Network Health is critical to your business success. Proactive network management keeps things operating smoothly without failure. If you are concerned about your network health, contact your technology solution provider and ask about a network health check today.

3 Technology Trends Driving Business Outcomes

Technology TrendsMany businesses turn to technology to find ways to reduce costs and overhead. Technology trends–Software as a Service, Internet of Things, Software Defined Wide Area Networking, marketing automation, and Cloud-based communications and collaboration–are top of mind with business owners who prioritize improving staff productivity and capability, and reaching new customer segments. Here are three technology trends to take advantage of to drive business outcomes.

Software as a Service

One of the more popular ways to access Cloud Computing is Software as a Service. To start reducing costs and improving employee productivity, first consider your Communications & Collaborations applications(email, chat, instant messaging, voice, audio, web and video conferencing). In addition, applications including marketing automation and call center applications are available as Cloud services to help businesses grow their top line by reaching new customers.

Software Defined Wide Area Networking

Companies are adopting Software Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) as an alternative to more expensive wide area networking infrastructure. SD-WAN can optimize performance of multiple providers of business-class Internet to match costly alternatives. This saves money while improving performance between your locations and ensuring consistent access to Cloud Services.

Internet of Things

Enhancements to the Internet, combined with low-cost sensors, and wireless connectivity allow businesses to connect, monitor and automate a wide range of devices. Smart metering can track consumption of energy, water and gas, provide insights into usage, and remotely control a wide range of equipment and machinery. Not only does IoT save costs, the data collected from these devices can also be used gain insights that improve business outcomes.

Many technologies are at our fingertips to help businesses maintain competitive advantage through lowering costs, increasing productivity, and driving new sources of revenue. To make the most of these significant technology trends, the pieces of the technology puzzle need to come together. Contact your Technology advisor to see how you can use these technology trends to drive business outcomes.

 

 

Rethinking Wide Area Networking

SD WANThere is a shift in how businesses use technology. New applications, including Voice over IP VoIP phone systems, Cloud Based Email, File Sync & Sharing all require solid network infrastructure. According to a recent report from the Enterprise Strategy Group, Demonstrating SD-WAN Business Value: Rethinking WAN for a Modern Age, distributed organizations with multiple Remote Office/Branch Office (ROBO) locations may need to reduce unnecessary deployment and management of network infrastructure. Elements of infrastructure, such as head-end devices or appliances at branches, can be replaced with simple appliances supported by Cloud-based services. Here is a highlight of ESG’s findings:

Simplify your Wide Area Network

Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) technology can act as an enabler for Hybrid WAN technology by combining multiple transports, such as MPLS networks and business-class broadband networking. Managing your network can be streamlined by centralizing policy management, monitoring, and systems for troubleshooting. What’s more, reducing dependency on specific network suppliers and transport mechanisms results in the flexibility to find lower-cost alternates without compromising service levels.

Minimize Operational Expense

By using a zero-touch deployment model, companies can reduce truck rolls by remotely managing installation, configuration updates, and troubleshooting. Like Software as a Service (SaaS) works for application deployment, SD-WAN can remove the complexity of managing a Wide Area Network (WAN) for Remote Office/Branch Office (ROBO) environments.

Reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of Your Wide Area Network

Implementing SD-WAN technology is expected to save costs related to bandwidth by providing more flexible networking options. In addition, by reducing the operating expense of service delivery related to installation, configuration, operations, and management additional costs will be eliminated from moving services to the Cloud. Wide Area Networking (WAN) as a Service eases deployments by minimizing truck rolls.

If you are looking to save by upgrading your WAN infrastructure by using SD-WAN technologies, contact your network solutions advisors for an independent assessment of your needs.

Technology Trends for 2017

Technology Outlook 2017It’s that time of year when many businesses are setting goals and budgets for next year. This is a good time to reflect on the impact technology can have on your business. While Cloud Computing adoption remains strong, companies will increase migration from Public to Private Cloud and even migrate back “on premise.” Cloud adoption, digital transformation and streaming media will increase the demand for bulletproof networking. New technologies including SD-WAN will hit mainstream in 2017 to improve network performance in support of business requirements. Cyber threats will continue to keep business owners up at night with increased intrusions from ransomware and unplanned downtime from DDoS attacks. Here are a few takeaways to consider for your 2017 plan.

More Choices for Cloud Computing

In a recent study by the Computing Technology Industry Association’s (CompTIA), 43% of those using Public Cloud are expected to migrate to another Public Cloud Provider. For example, companies using Hosted Exchange may find themselves adopting Office 365 or Google for Work to keep current on the latest version of these communications and collaborations applications. The CompTIA “Trends in Cloud Computing” research also revealed 21% of Cloud usage will move from Public Cloud to Private Clouds. This scenario is driven by the need for compliance with industry regulations, including HIPAA regulations for health care and SOX compliance for Financial Services, among other business requirements.

Digital Transformation Will Emerge as Competitive Advantage for Business of All Sizes

Businesses will adopt new strategies for reaching new customers and servicing existing customers in 2017. These new strategies will fuel the need for digital transformation. Reaching new buyers through digital channels, along with automating customer service, order or fulfillment, and linking supply chains, will drive this digital transformation in support of new business strategies. Cloud Contact Center, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Marketing Automation, eCommerce, and other customer-facing technologies will emerge as transformation enablers. Other technologies helping with administrative functions (including workforce recruitment and development) will help companies maintain competitive advantage and manage their growth.

Resolve to Bulletproof Your Network in 2017

In 2017 Business Networks will become a strategic advantage. Access to Cloud infrastructure, connecting remote offices, reliance on VoIP, Cloud Call Center and video streaming will all drive demand for high-performance networking. Technologies allowing wide area networking optimization, known as Software Defined Networks or SD-WAN, will become mainstream technology in 2017. Through simplified management and reliance on business class Internet, network performance is expected to increase while related costs are expected to decrease.

Security will Continue to Keep Business Owners Up at Night

The Gartner Group predicts demand for Security related to the Internet of Things (IoT) will be driven by 11 billion connected devices. Similar to adoption of mobile devices in the workplace, connecting “things” will create the need for additional security and proactive management. Additionally, Cyber Threats from malware and phishing schemes will continue, as will additional threats and downtime from Ransomware and DDoS attacks in 2017. Keeping your network running will be more complex and more important for the foreseeable future.

As you adjust your strategy to accommodate the rapidly changing business environment, consider how technology can influence your outcome in 2017. If you feel you need help with your 2017 technology plan, contact your technology advisor today.

Tips for Reducing Telecom Expense

Telecom ExpenseBusinesses today rely on resilient network connectivity to ensure employee communications, collaboration, and productivity. Applications including Voice over IP (VoIP), Hosted Contact Center, Cloud Backup, and more, need a bulletproof telecom network. What’s more, for companies with Remote Offices/Branch Offices ROBO), telecom expense can quickly add up.

Here are some tips to keep your telecom expense in check:

Audit Your Telecom Expense

By periodically performing a telecom expense audit, you can compare your telecom bills to the contracts for your voice and data network solution. Billing errors can add up, and the savings from catching these errors can be significant. Having an independent expert review your telecom expense can save you a lot of money.

Revisit Your Carrier Network at Renewal Time

When your telecom network contracts are up for renewal, you may be able to get better service for less. You may also find cost-effective alternatives when you add a new Remote Office/Branch Office (ROBO).The market for carrier services is competitive, with new technologies introduced all the time.

Consider Software Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN)

SD-WAN is an emerging wide area network approach allowing you to use multiple business- class Internet providers to get the same reliability as MPLS or other networking alternatives. By using multiple carriers to connect your Remote Offices/Branch Offices with each other, the savings can quickly add up.

Proactively Monitor Your Network

By proactively monitoring your network you can avoid downtime and ensure better network performance. Many of these issues can be rapidly resolved using remote management. This proactive managed service approach will reduce network failure while saving IT expense. In many cases you can subscribe to a flat fee managed service providing predictable costs and savings.

If you feel you are paying too much for network services, contact your technology advisor today. An independent advocate can evaluate your needs and find ways for your to save.