Any IT manager who’s had to select provider for Managed Services can attest to the importance of diligence, especially when there’s a long-term contract involved. This article looks at five key questions to ask the bidding service providers during the selection process:
What vendor gear will be deployed as part of the service? The old saying “nobody ever got fired for buying Cisco or IBM” may still hold true. However, there is no shortage of ambitious vendors that offer nimble, feature-rich solutions, at a fraction of the cost. It’s worth checking their long-term viability on the IT equipment market by comparing them to competitors. If there’s any doubt about the future of the equipment vendor, inquire whether the service provider offers vendor alternatives for the same solutions tier.
How would the planning, deployment/cutover and support be handled? Even prior to closing the sale, the service provider should be able to produce a high-level project plan that showcases different phases of the service turn-up, related risks and mitigation plan—which you can leverage in identifying possible pitfalls to hedge against. For instance, the night of the service cutover may last three to six hours, with the possibility of the new fiber circuit failing to activate and requiring escalation to yet another service provider. Your risk hedging strategy may involve having a scalable broadband connection on standby for your users to get by. Also, test the support mechanism by calling and navigating the provider’s IVR system until you get appropriate response to the service level you intend to subscribe to.
What service guaranties does the provider offer (SLAs and SLOs)? Practical benchmarks would be the Service Level Agreement (SLA), or its improved version, the Service Level Objective (SLO) document. Though both are generally described as a “collection of promises,” they include Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that somewhat detail and quantify such promises.
How often are service performance reviews held, and what’s assessed? Performance degradations hardly look alike. Some creep in slowly, over time; others are more noticeable. Periodic metrics documentation and historical benchmarking of key metrics are two approaches to objective tracking. Graphs usually show trends, which tell a story. Keep in mind that performance may also be the result of poor maintenance from the provider. Spare no boundaries.
Does the provider offer a technology refresh? At the rate technology moves these days, most midsize IT gear installed today is likely to be outdated within five years. Experienced providers would be able to share the plan for supporting you through the transition to newer and better-performing alternatives, be that a partial upgrade, or even a complete overhaul of the solution. Note that the life expectancy of the solution could be extended considerably with software upgrades and virtualization technologies. We’ll discuss the latter further in future articles.
Managed Services providers have come a long way in anticipating and being forthcoming with responses to the questions above, so beyond just asking the questions, you must also pay attention to the details of the responses. Because Managed Services involve moving pieces from many players, finger-pointing is a common pitfall.
Seasoned IT service providers display service terms that suggest full ownership of the service issues, regardless of whose fault it is.
Asking service providers the five questions above sets the tone for your expectations on the service. By securing the answers, you have the levers and strings you need—just in case you ever need to push or pull—to get results. Plus, you will have something to show for your detailed vetting process.
Posted on: November 20, 2019 By: Sage Tourigny
In the first quarter of 2020, Evolve IP is going to be offering its partners voice-enabled Microsoft Teams with full enterprise voice capabilities, including contact center later in the year. And this won’t be via a bot, plug-in or third-party app, but a native, fully-integrated solution using Broadsoft/Cisco and Evolve IP’s hosted PBX, according to the company.
Scott Kinka, Evolve IP’s CTO, tells Channel Partners the strategy runs counter to those of competitors in that they have proprietary collaboration solutions that would ultimately position Microsoft/Teams as a competitor or a competing internal solution.
“For us, this is a native use of the Microsoft stack that we are already engaged in distributing, reselling and supporting to do all of that, which is very different than saying we have a plug-in to the Teams client that enables you to use our meetings,” he said. “That is a very different strategy.”
Evolve IP’s, Scott Kinka
Evolve IP’s voice-enabled Teams with full enterprise voice capabilities will provide new opportunities for various partner types, Kinka said.
At Wireless Watchdogs, it’s our mission to always be working on behalf of our customers to give you more savings and greater efficiencies. In line with that mission, we’re proud to announce that we’ve just released several platform enhancements designed to take your mobility management to a whole new level, starting with a new dashboard interface that you can access by clicking the Dashboard menu item on the left of your portal.
The dashboard incorporates a variety of new features, the most significant of which are listed here.
Dashboard Defaults and Features
The initial view of the dashboard is designed to provide you with high-level information about your company’s current bill cycle, with information from all of your wireless carriers. Need more specific information about a particular carrier, or previous billing cycles? You can drill down on those areas as need be. This default view can also be easily changed according to your preferences.
The Group Usage area shows how many devices are in your group, how many of those devices are unused, and the costs related to your devices.
The Bill Comparison area provides you information on your current costs compared to the previous month’s costs, to help ensure your billing stays in line.
The My Devices area will show you all your lines, which can be filtered to show lines with no exceptions, line with exceptions (more on that in the next section), and lines that have had no usage in the given period. You can also click any phone number to get detailed usage information on that line, including what numbers were called and for how long.
Usage Rules Manager
The Usage Rules Manager, accessed from the Settings menu on the left of your portal, allows you to create usage rules for different departments, categories, device and usage types, and more. When a line violates a rule — by using more than 2GB of data during a given period, for example — an exception is generated and the device will be shown in My Devices with a color-coded flag indicating the exception. This feature is designed to give you a way to visually see all devices that are outside of your chosen parameters, as well as to flag possible device misuse for your attention.
As with any new feature release, it’s possible that you’ll have questions on how specific features of the dashboard work, or how best to use them. If so, we’re here to help — just contact your account manager, and we’ll work with you to be sure that you’re getting the most out of all of the new features.
Not a current Wireless Watchdogs customer, but intrigued by what you see and curious as to how you might be able to use our mobility management services to potentially save more than $10 per month, per device? Request a demo, and we’ll get you on the road to better efficiency and reduced costs in your company’s mobility implementations:
What would it cost your business to lose Internet connectivity—even for a short time?
Consider, for instance, the inaccessibility of your digital phone system and your contact center’s inability to process credit cards.
Who can help—quickly? The outside IT guy? Your Internet service provider (ISP)? You go for the ISP. But where’s that telephone number again?
As you gather the information you’ll need to navigate the service request, you realize that each minute your business is offline means a potential hit to your bottom line.
You tackle the pre-human telephone questionnaire on your cell phone like it was a battle of keypad jujitsu. Total time: 6 minutes.
While you’re happy to be one step closer to speaking with a fellow human, you are, nevertheless, frustrated to look up and observe additional signs of lost productivity: employees just standing around, unable to carry out their assigned tasks—and getting paid for it.
Tom’s on the phone. He’s ready to assist you—but, first, he has to confirm your information. It should only take a moment, he says.
As you describe your problem with growing urgency, Tom determines that he is unable to immediately help and must transfer you to someone who can. Please hold.
The rest all seems like a blur, up to the point when the tech support rep says that he’ll try to schedule a visit for today—sometime before the close of business. The nightmare scenario continues with no end in sight.
Costs pile up
According to IHS, IT downtime costs $1 million a year for a typical midsize company and over $60 million for a large enterprise. If your business’s success is tied to Internet connectivity, then you should make every effort to ensure you have the most reliable connection available.
Unfortunately, some organizations overlook this key component of their business model—usually as a presumed money-saving tactic.
A new hope
From meetings in enterprise boardrooms to riding shotgun down camp roads on a golf cart, I meet with a variety of business owners and IT directors frequently. They all have similar mission-critical business tasks.
Outages happen. To gain the confidence that your network can overcome them, deliver on your business objectives and help you capture opportunities, there are three key indicators of a solid ISP:
U.S.-based experts, certified by the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), who proactively monitor, support and secure a fiber-based network 24/7/365. The MEF certification is the ISP’s third-party guarantee that its employees are held to a high standard.
End-to-end service-level agreements (SLAs) that guarantee uptime and timely restoration of your services if a problem does arise.
The ability to quickly scale your connection as your organization encounters new operational demands (e.g., the addition of bandwidth-intensive apps) that can slow a network down.
The Difference Between Managed Mobility Services and Mobile Device Management
Mobile device usage in business continues to be a growth market. And as that usage continues to grow, so too do business challenges that center around effective mobility management. How does a business ensure device security? How does it know that it’s getting the most cost-effective pricing from its mobile device carriers? And how does it cope with the added strains imposed on IT departments required to support the growing number of mobile devices?
The situation that confronts a business with growing mobile device usage is that these questions need to be addressed in order for their mobility initiatives to be cost-effective – but with little experience in mobility management, pulling all of the necessary management and support together can be extremely challenging. The solution for a business plagued with these challenges is very often to turn to an experienced third-party provider of managed mobility services (MMS) and mobile device management (MDM).
But finding a qualified provider can pose its own challenges to a business not familiar with the mobility landscape – including understanding, in the first instance, what it is they need to look for, as well as the vocabulary needed to understand the different solutions on offer from various providers.
With that in mind, we offer this look at exactly what MMS and MDM are, and how they differ from each other.
Managed Mobility Services (MMS)
Managed mobility services are concerned with managing the entire lifecycle of a company’s mobile device fleet, and have a somewhat (but not exclusively) account-based focus. At Wireless Watchdogs, for example, we can be involved with a company before the first device is ever purchased, helping them to understand what their needs and goals are and then helping them to create the policies needed to achieve those goals. We then help with the procurement, provision, and deployment of the devices they need, as well as act on their behalf as an authorized agent to the mobile carriers in order to ensure that they get the best structure and pricing available.
Once the mobile accounts are set up and the devices in place, we then provide continual monitoring in order to achieve two basic goals: That the company’s policies are adhered to, and that the accounts for those devices are always optimal in terms of price. In order to do that, we provide real-time analytics and reporting to our customers so that decision-makers always have the information they need to make informed decisions. They are the same analytics and reports that we use as we manage the accounts to ensure continual cost efficiency, and guarantee synchronicity between a company, its policies and goals, and our MMS efforts on their behalf.
As part of managing the entire device lifecycle, there’s another important service that is provided in order to optimize our customers’ mobility initiatives: Ongoing Help Desk support.
The Help Desk support is a key MMS feature because it removes the burden from a customer’s internal IT staff of having to support a potentially large number of mobile devices. Because the IT department is unlikely to be expert at supporting the mobile devices in use, supporting the devices themselves can chew up large amounts of time and resources. Further, IT departments are typically staffed and funded to support a company’s IT infrastructure, not its new mobile devices, leading to a vicious cycle whereby support all across the board suffers. By including Help Desk support as a part of mobility management services, we remove those burdens and costs from internal IT departments. It’s a win for both the IT department and the device users themselves.
Just as with ongoing Help Desk support, making sure that all mobile devices are always patched and updated is likewise an important aspect of managed mobility services. Keeping devices up to date is important in ensuring that they are always functioning as intended. But it’s especially important for securing devices– and thus, potentially, a business’s network and data – against hacking and malware attacks directed at vulnerabilities known in unpatched devices. And again, ensuring that updates reach all mobile devices could potentially place undue burdens on a company’s internal IT staff. By handing this responsibility off as part of ongoing MMS, companies again save time and money – and are more secure in the bargain.
And finally, because MMS should cover the entire device lifecycle, a device’s end of life is also an important part of those services. Our approach to device end of life as part of our managed mobility services includes ensuring that lost, stolen, or retired devices are no longer able to access networks – an important part of keeping data safe. To further ensure security, we also perform pre-recycle factory resets on retired devices, wiping them of any potentially sensitive data and applications.
Mobile Device Management (MDM)
As you will have gathered, managed mobility services must necessarily have some connection to the devices themselves – but in the bigger picture, MMS is about the lifecycle as a whole.
Mobile Device Management (MDM), on the other hand, directly involves the devices themselves. MDM is typically client-server software; the MDM server is centralized and controlled by administrators, while the mobile devices are provisioned with MDM agent software – the client.
Because the MDM software sits on the device, it offers capabilities that MMS in and of itself doesn’t provide. The details vary by the particular MDM software, of course, but typically they provide enhanced security of the device itself. MDM software may, for example, allow for a device to be partitioned into personal-use and business-use silos. Partitioning a device in this manner prevents users from sharing company data on their personal accounts – and likewise prevents a user’s personal data from being shared to the company network.
Access management and identity management – and thus corporate network authentication and access – are also readily controlled through MDM software. And because proper access management is readily achievable, other features can safely be provided to end users. For example, secure file synching and sharing is an important tool with many business use cases – and is readily achievable via MDM software.
Finally, the client-server nature of MDM software allows administrators to have granular control of devices and users across their network. This is especially important in mobile deployments where different users have need of different levels of access to the company network and its resources, because it can ensure that the right users have the right access at the right time – simultaneously increasing efficiency and security.
The Sum is Greater than Its Parts
Thus, MMS is process-centric, while MDM is device-centric. It’s entirely possible to have MMS without MDM software. Likewise, some companies will choose to do an MDM implementation on their own without any other managed mobility services. But the true potential power of MMS and MDM – decreasing costs while simultaneously increasing security – is only fully unlocked when MDM software is an integrated part of managed mobility services.
At Wireless Watchdogs, we’re happy to talk with you further about the various features of both MMS and MDM. You can request a demo of our platform at any time, and see for yourself the kinds of insights that our analytics and reporting can provide.
We also offer a free, no-obligation audit of your wireless accounts. You provide us your cellular bills for the last three months, and we’ll input them into our system and then show you – again, at no cost to you – how you could be saving money every month through our managed mobility services. The savings are real – tens of thousands of dollars a month, for some of our clients. To get started and see where you could be saving, request your free audit here:
Before modern avionics, pilots set a fixed point on the horizon and flew their planes using a center stick and right and left rudder pedals. These controls allowed the pilot to keep the airplane on course by controlling altitude and direction. Likewise, call center KPIs and benchmarks act as controls to establish direction and to know whether the call center is on course.
You may be familiar with certain call center KPI’s but less familiar with benchmarks. Using our analogy, benchmarks are used to determine whether your call center is on course. When you measure call center performance, benchmarks inform you whether your results are acceptable and can help you know whether you are on target or not. So, how do you obtain KPI benchmarks?
A KPI Benchmark is a Comparative Metric.
Benchmarks can be based on business or call center goals. For example, your call center may want to set a goal to increase reduce first call resolution. That goal can be used as a benchmark. Benchmarks can also be established by looking at other call centers like yours to determine what a standard is within an industry. For example, call centers that provide customer support for software companies may have an average first call resolution rate of say 60%. If your call center also provides customer support for a software company, and if you want to be better than the industry standard, then you need to have a first call resolution rate that exceeds 60%. This kind of benchmark is also known as an external benchmark.
External benchmarks are useful because they help you align with standards considered typical for an industry. This can help properly set targets and avoid overdelivering (or underdelivering) along with the associated financial costs. But external benchmarks are also difficult to obtain.
Measuring call center KPIs and evaluating them against a benchmark is essential for continuous improvement. When benchmarks reveal performance gaps, call center managers can look for causes and take corrective actions to change outcomes. However, you won’t know whether a corrective action has the desired effect unless you remeasure and re-benchmark. Which brings us back to our airplane analogy. When you determine a performance gap and take a corrective action, you are in affect pulling or pushing the center stick or commanding the rudder all in order to keep you heading in the desired direction and altitude.
Learn More from the Premier Expert
Have you considered implementing KPI and benchmark reporting? If you would like to know more about how to implement the right KPIs and benchmarks for your call center, join KPI and Benchmarking expert, Bruce Belfiore , CEO and Senior Research Executive of Benchmark Portal for an in-depth discussion covering:
How to determine the right essential KPIs to measure
How to find and use hard-to-find, external KPI benchmarks
How to understand gaps and steps to take to correct gaps
Bruce is a KPI and Benchmarking expert. He hosts an online radio program called “CallTalk ” and has lectured and consulted worldwide including teaching Call Center Management at Purdue University. He is the author of the book Benchmarking At Its Best for Contact Centers. Make plans to join Bruce for this insightful discussion on how to implement call center KPI benchmarking Oct 15 at 1 pm ET.
Posted on: October 15, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
Our bring your own network (BYON), access-agnostic solutions equip your customers to easily swap phone systems and migrate to the latest communications and networking technologies they need while keeping their underlying connectivity in place. Cloud-based Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), value-added SD-WAN and managed security services will improve customer engagement, employee productivity, network performance, service reliability and cyberthreat protection.
SD-WAN – Choose the technology platform that is right for your business from two of the leading WAN edge infrastructure providers— VeloCloud or Fortinet—both options are recognized as leaders in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, provide PCI DSS compliance, and leverage our state-of-the-art partner portal
UCaaS – Our many “flavors” of Unified Communications as a Service offer a more connected, collaborative workforce, with instant messaging, chat, presence, mobility, conferencing and CRM integrations—all backed by a world-class network with 99.99% always-on reliability
Security and Compliance – Most experts agree that a security breach for most companies is no longer a question of if it will happen, but when it will happen. Our suite of Security Services includes Cloud and CPE Firewalls, SIEM and DDoS Mitigation to shield the most sophisticated threats.
Your contact center needs to strike a tricky balance. On one side, you need to provide excellent customer service to drive more revenue and retain current customers. On the other, you must ensure your team is servicing as many customers as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Most businesses are adopting Intelligent Automation, IVR & Self-Service applications to maintain this tricky balance.
Did you know?
30% of a customers’ interactions with a company’s contact center is with an I.V.R. Yet only about 7% of the companies surveyed offer customer solutions through the IVR experience than an agent can provide. (Source J.D. Power)
The price of resolving a customer need on a call via the IVR versus an agent is a difference. (source: Al Cook)
Almost one-third of a customer’s time is spent in the IVR. (Source: Al Cook)
Many organizations want the flexibility to let their customers choose the level of self-service they want to address their inquiry or whether they purely want to speak with an agent. This becomes especially useful when the contact center is closed and customers can still get answers to their questions via automation. Not only will voice automation free up your agents to handle more complex cases, but customers can quickly solve basic issues like bill pay, account inquiries, and the many high-volume / low value transactions typically handled by an agent.
Evolve IP’s customers typically see a 20-30% completion rate in these low-value self-service transactions which frees up agents to handle higher level or more sophisticated functions.
For customers that do engage with self-service capabilities during business hours, many customers find that the customer still wants to speak with an agent but their question is more focused in nature reducing in shorter handle times. Typically, they’ve received some information from the automation and now have a follow-up question that requires the skillset of an agent to address.
Integrations Power Automation
Integration is the key to creating an IVR experience that leaves your customers feeling like the service was created just for them. When your IVR knows the entire customer journey, the products they’ve purchased, their financial status, etc. it can make a huge positive impact on the customer experience.
Common scenarios include:
Self Service applications that empower customers
Intelligent / data-driven routing provides personalized routing and relevant prompts
Agents can be presented with key customer information along with the interaction
An integrated contact history at the agent’s fingertips
Last agent routing allows organizations to build rapport
Challenges & Considerations
Consider the “openness” of key business applications / CRM for integration: Integrations can be very easy or very tough depending on how open the underlying platform is to building such an integration. Most modern day applications have robust APIs that enable this type of integration. You will definitely need to take a look “under the covers” to confirm that your application is ready to integrate.
Ensure the availability of technical resources to participate: Of course, you are going to need help from the technology folks getting access to these functions and everybody has a large pile of technology wishlist items that needs to be sorted through to determine which projects actually see the light of day.
Start with high-volume / low-value requests for self-service: It’s always great to start with these high-volume interactions like a status request that consumes up valuable agent resources answering simple questions that just need access to the data to answer.
Create a simplified personalized experience with minimal prompts that are relevant to the caller: We’ve had great success simplifying the customer experience by personalizing it. Why ask the caller questions to which you already know the answer? Why offer prompts that aren’t relevant to that customer? Move away from the one-size fits all routing that we all dread.
Early in the process, design your consolidated reporting across the entire CX: You really want to think about the reporting up-front and not leave that for an after thought. Many times the design of the automation needs to be adjusted to meet the reporting needs. You’d rather get the reporting right the first time than having to go back to the technology well again.
Recognize the on-going need to optimize automation based upon results: The IVR is a critical moment of customer engagement, and yet it’s frequently left untouched by companies for years. How often have you heard, “Please listen carefully because the menu options have recently changed” and known that the menu actually hasn’t changed in a very long time? That’s because many organizations don’t take the time and energy to experiment, iterate, and improve the IVR.
Deliver multiple, smaller victories over a phased rollout: My personal philosophy is to have many, small victories instead of the big-bang approach which is always high risk. Iterating through multiple phases of deployments usually results in a better product that builds and learns from the earlier phases.
Evolve IP’s Cloud IVR provides call centers with a higher level of customer interactivity and data driven decision making. This enables call centers to deploy a wide range of self-service and outbound dialing features ultimately freeing up your agents to focus on more complex requests and customers requiring a higher touch.
Posted on: October 11, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
If you run a small- to medium-sized business (SMB), chances are that you’re already aware that cybersecurity should be a concern. In fact, a recent survey from AppRiver found that more than half (58%) of SMBs in the U.S. are more worried about getting hacked than they are about a flood, a fire, a transit strike, or even a physical break-in of their offices.
The question is, what are you going to do about it? Staying secure on a budget can be a challenge for SMBs – a problem that’s often exacerbated by a lack of in-house security expertise. Turning to cost-effective managed services is a good solution – but there are also plenty of tactics that you can implement to minimize your risk.
Understand the Hacker Tricks of the Trade
Cyberattackers are savvy and adaptable, but there are a few common techniques that they use on a regular basis. Understanding what these are can help you protect your business.
Far and away, the most common way an attacker infiltrates networks and harvests sensitive data is through phishing.
Phishing works like this: A victim will receive an email claiming to be from someone they know, or from an organization they recognize or perhaps even deal with often. These emails sometimes clearly stand out as spam, but in other cases, the impersonation will be hard to spot: the adversary will take great pains to make it look and sound like a legitimate email, complete with authentic-looking logos.
Within that phishing email will be a malicious link, attached document, or an app. When a user clicks on a link, it will take them to what looks like a legitimate page with a log-in screen. That page is actually fake (or “spoofed”), and when the victim puts in his or her credentials, the hacker is able to grab them and gain unauthorized access to the victim’s account. In the case of an attachment or app, opening it usually results in malware being installed on the victim’s machine. That virus or a trojan gives hackers access to the data on the victim’s computer or phone (for instance, it could be a keylogger, which captures what the victim types to uncover user names and passwords), and also allows them to gain a foothold on the company network.
There are also watering-hole attacks to worry about. Here, an attacker might create a fake website that offers information that a specific target might be interested in – industry-specific articles or “how-to” blogs, for instance – while in the background it is executing malware on the visitor’s computer. In a variation of this, adversaries create fake mobile apps that appear to do something useful; but when installed, they turn out to be malware.
A third common attack method is via malicious Wi-Fi networks in public places. A hacker can use software to set up a wireless access point (with an innocuous or attractive name like “free public Wi-Fi”) – and once someone has connected to it, a hacker can intercept and eavesdrop on any traffic that flows through it.
There are other techniques out there as well, but these are common tricks to watch out for.
Employee Training: A Crucial Line of Defense
All three of these attack types require the user to take some kind of action – click on a link, download an attachment, visit a dodgy website, download a rogue app, or connect to an untrusted Wi-Fi network. And that means that the attacks can be prevented with good security hygiene.
Training your employees is a critical first line of defense against these opportunistic kinds of attacks. For starters, implement the doctrine of verification: Before clicking on a link or downloading an attachment in an email, send a separate email to the supposed sender to make sure the person did indeed send the message – especially for anything unsolicited. Better yet, pick up the phone and call the person.
Another training tactic is to learn to always hover over a link to make sure it’s the legitimate address. Malicious links won’t have the proper URL – however, they may have similar-sounding URLs. If the message claims to be from the Bank of Peter, the malicious link may read something like www.bankof.peter.com or www.bankofpeeter.com instead of www.bankofpeter.com.
In a similar vein, employees should be trained to never download an app from a third-party app store. Even if they do download something from Google Play or the Apple App Store, advise them to read the reviews to make sure all is on the up-and-up; sometimes bad apps do get through.
And finally, on-the-go employees should be wary of public Wi-Fi, and should always verify the legitimate SSID with the airport, café, or other operator of the space. It’s also a good idea to use a VPN – there are plenty of free offerings.
Require Best Practices
Along with basic security training, SMBs should always ensure that best practices are being carried out. For instance, all software should be kept up-to-date. Most of the time, a malicious attachment or watering-hole attack will only be successful if there are unpatched software vulnerabilities on the target machines.
For any cloud services, employees should be required to enable two-factor authentication (2FA), which will make it necessary to enter a one-time password that’s sent to a mobile phone before the user can log in. That way, even if hackers somehow gain a user’s credentials, they still won’t be able to log in because they don’t have access to that user’s mobile device.
Speaking of which, password hygiene is critical as well. Businesses should be thinking about complex passwords which include a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. SMBs should require that their users change these often, are unique and not used anywhere else. In a similar vein, users should make sure that their website security questions are difficult – not information that could be gleaned from social media or elsewhere, such as your mother’s maiden name or the city where you were born – and consider making up the answers to thwart hackers even further.
Simple Administrative Fixes
Beyond user actions, there are simple actions that SMB network administrators can take to help their companies get out of the “low-hanging fruit” camp. Most hackers are looking for an easy score. Anything that raises the bar of effort for them – even a little bit – will cause them to move onto the next potential victim rather than expend any more time and effort on something that isn’t easy.
To start, enable firewalls and traffic encryption – you can easily enable the basic tools that come with your networking gear. Secondly, make sure that all default passwords on devices connected to the network are changed to unique combinations, and keep the software and firmware up-to-date. Next, replace any systems with outdated operating systems like Windows 7 – Microsoft no longer supports these, and there are known vulnerabilities that hackers can easily exploit to gain access.
And finally, think about permissions. Take steps to manage and limit access to data, drives, and systems for those employees that don’t need it. Also, don’t forget to deactivate access for those who don’t need it anymore – ex-employees are a leading cause of data theft.
The bottom line: as a small business, you are a primary target for hackers. Make time for these easy steps today to avoid difficult situations in the future. Need help securing your business or want to learn more? Visit www.tpx.com/managedIT or call 888-407-9594.
About the Author
Erik Nordquist is the Senior Product Manager for TPx Communications’ managed security services. He’s led a broad range of critical activities, including Field Operations and the Hostmaster team where he built TPx’s anycast DNS network to service its 55,000 customer locations. His work on the Network Integrity team made him the resident expert for mitigating Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. After interfacing with customers for years, Erik is bringing his customer-focused approach to his Product Manager role, helping to deliver first-in-class security services to TPx clients with unsurpassed customer support.
Posted on: By: Carolyn Kuczynski
Yes! It’s a Match Made in Heaven!
SD-WAN has been a trending topic in the technology world for quite a while now, and long enough that it’s beginning to become commonplace in network discussions and more routine when it comes deployments.
Today, most SD-WAN deployments are managed by companies that exclusively handle SD-WAN. So any voice provider that planned to sell SD-WAN as a part of their solution to a customer would essentially be relying on these third-parties or outsourcing to manage the SD-WAN service.
That’s why Momentum recently made headlines when they added SD-WAN to the company’s solution portfolio.
Although unique, a voice and communications provider offering a managed SD-WAN solution brings a number of advantages to every deployment. Here are a few:
1) The Benefit of the UCaaS Experience
VoIP and unified communications are a few of the primary applications that use an SD-WAN connection. So while traditional SD-WAN providers may be concerned with general deployment, connection speeds, etc., voice and communications providers are able to approach SD-WAN configurations and designs with a firmer understanding of the application requirements and end goal.
This allows voice providers to optimize and lay out an SD-WAN blueprint and delivery plan for customers that ensures each and every deployment gets maximum results for their voice, UCaaS and all other applications.
2) Access to More Advanced Technology and Integrations
Because SD-WAN providers deal exclusively with that technology, they don’t always have the access or the capability of integrating into all the latest pieces of technology. This especially happens at the individual application level where you’ll see handshake deals or head nod agreements on how particular services and applications will perform on the connection.
Voice and communication providers have the experience, understanding and partnerships to combine cutting-edge branches of technology to deliver the absolute best delivery to work with applications
For instance, Momentum has designed a way to deploy SD-WAN in a way that builds on the technology’s enhanced availability, visibility and control without having to sacrifice security and reliability. One way this is accomplished is through the option of placing a virtual session border controller in Momentum’s data centers to ensure peak performance and quality.
Additionally, Momentum’s SD-WAN deployments can leverage both wired and wireless bandwidth. This is a game-changer because the expansion of available connection options allows for deployments to truly find and use the best available bandwidth. It also means the solution isn’t limited to locations with wired connections so it can be used almost anywhere.
3) Streamlined Experience
At the end of the day, one of the biggest benefits of having managed SD-WAN from a voice provider is the customer experience. You can see this in getting a single bill for multiple services, receiving access to savings through using multiple services and having main a single point of contact for questions and troubleshooting. Also, a voice and communication provider delivering SD-WAN can actually also provide even tighter protective security because all transmissions and signals remain in a single network.
SD-WAN from voice and communication providers delivers expertise, enhanced technology, a better experience and move financial value to customers. And if the provider is like Momentum and provides a white-glove experience, having a single provider for voice, SD-WAN and even possibly other network services can give deliver additional meaningful value that simply can’t be ignored.
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