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Category Archives for IT Outsourcing

Are You Confident Enough in Your Organization’s Ability to Mitigate Risks?

Cybersecurity is a huge concern for all businesses. Companies understand that they need to prioritize their security methods in order to ensure they don’t experience major losses due to a potential data breach. Despite major headlines that have repeatedly demonstrated the impact these hacks have on companies, recent studies have found that people are still not as prepared as they need to be in order to mitigate such risks. While these companies may be confident saying that they believe in their organization’s ability to manage cybersecurity internally, according to the data, that doesn’t seem to be working (or entirely true).

Even companies who have the best IT teams and equipment understand the need for an outsourced CIO to handle cybersecurity, as well as other managed services.

Here’s why:

Many Risks are Internal

One reason that companies are unable to mitigate all the risks is because they are simply looking in all the wrong places. Every time we learn of another major breach, it doesn’t take long to discover that it happened due to something internal. Perhaps a firewall wasn’t updated, an employee used their personal unsecured device to access work, or the network infrastructure the company is using isn’t being maintained properly, leaving gaps all over. Companies don’t want to admit that they are a risk to themselves. And, even if a breach came from elsewhere, the fact that a hacker could get in is usually the company’s fault.

To fix this, an outsourced CIO can come in, take a look at your systems from an outsider’s point of view, and do what they need to do to patch it up.

Everybody Needs to be Vetted Before Being Onboarded

If your company hires contractors, partners, or interns to work with you, they will likely be given access to the company’s network. And, the more often you’re onboarding “strangers,” the easier it is for one of these people to let in a breach. Typically, it’s unintentional, but there are times where perhaps an employee who was recently let go seeks to take some kind of revenge on the business.

However, with the right network infrastructure (these days, it’s the cloud), security is placed on identities themselves, provided for new or temporary employees. When this is set-up by a managed service provider, HR and IT follows the process and works together with the outsourced CIO to prevent any leaks from occurring. Of course, proper vetting of the individual is necessary before providing them with company access as well.

Because Your Day to Day Job Doesn’t Involve Monitoring Security Risks

In general, 70% of respondents off the Marsh-Microsoft Worldwide Cyber Perception Survey reported that their IT departments are in charge of making important decisions about the company’s network. A lot of these decisions naturally have to do with the network’s security overall. As a business leader, this definitely isn’t your department, so you’re counting on the individuals over in IT to make the right choices. But, believe it or not, IT shouldn’t really have that kind of say, either. Their job isn’t just calling the shots on security measures.

While cybersecurity is certainly a task that involves a little work from everyone in the company, it takes a little more expertise than that. An outsourced CIO can help assign appropriate roles to each employee to make sure everyone is doing their part. Additionally, companies who have moved over to a cloud infrastructure are likely to face fewer risks, too, as cloud technology manages many risks on its own.

The Costs Alone Aren’t Worth the Risk

According to Business Insurance’s breakdown of the survey, 40% of respondents who reported a data breach in the last 12 months said that the worst-case scenario lost them $50 million or more. Out of that number, only 19% revealed “they are highly confident in their organizations’ ability to mitigate and respond to a cyber attack.” 

With that much money at stake, it doesn’t really seem worth it to take your chances. As a C-level leader, if you’re not totally comfortable in your company’s ability to mitigate such risks, then it’s time to find someone you can trust who can.

In the meantime, try our RiskAware™ Cyber Security Scan & Report to see where your security currently stands.

It’s Time to Start Giving Your Data the Respect It Deserves

Many of us like to think of data as bits of information floating around in the cloud — after all, what other way is there to envision something that’s more or less invisible to the naked eye? Well, if that’s how you refer to the data in your network, then it’s likely you’re treating it as such, too. The problem with this is that data deserves more respect than it’s getting. When companies make big decisions based on what they consider a ‘single-entity of data,’ they might be missing a lot of worthy information and could end up making a costly choice because of that.

The Deal with Data

There are currently a lot of trends surrounding data, but sometimes it’s not about the data itself — it’s about how you’re managing it. Because data is so fundamental to business operations, it’s time that we start treating data as a valuable asset to the company. Whether you need to imagine data wearing a suit and tie to work every day or that it’s sitting in the conference room at a team meeting, that’s fine. But,  if you don’t, there may as well be big consequences for your company.

Unfortunately, it’s not so easy. The problem is, data is just too big. When it comes to gaining real value from interpreting data, it’s impossible to know where to begin. This is why companies are starting to look at data lakes and other solutions to help find what’s valuable, without wasting time on shuffling through data that might not serve a purpose. While data lakes might be out of the question for your business, there is a lot you can do on your own, first.

How to Make Data a True Asset

Just as you would set certain protocols and management tasks as a company leader, data shouldn’t be left out from this. Remember, data in many ways is an enterprise. Therefore, those same protocols and principles you assign to anything else in your company should also be assigned to data. Just as you would measure an employee’s performance, calculate your sales, or monitor your network’s security, you should monetize, measure, and manage your data the same way. This way, you can be sure that the information you gain from this data is truly meaningful, without any part of it being overlooked.

Apply Analytics to Data

How would you really internalize potentially imperative information at your company?

You would analyze it.

So, data needs to be analyzed, too, in the appropriate manner — just as you would apply analytics to any other aspect of your business. If you want real ROI, then it’s absolutely necessary to put data under the microscope. This can be hard when there is just a plethora of data out there, waiting to be sorted. Therefore, data needs to be evaluated while being combined with the analyses done on sales, marketing, and feedback.

If you’re not quite sure how to go about this, keep in mind that there are several lenses with which to look at data. According to James Burke, director at ISG, you can proceed this way:

  • Descriptive analytics: What happened?
  • Diagnostic analytics: Why did something happen?
  • Predictive analytics: What will happen next?
  • Prescriptive analytics: How can we make something happen?

Today, there are many resources companies can utilize to help analyze their data correctly and treat that information as an asset. When done consistently, companies will see positive results.

How Outsourcing a CIO Can Help With This

The right data can tell us about our business. If your company is eager to find strategies to grow, then it’s worth looking at that data to see if it holds any clues. Likewise, companies don’t want to spend money on resources they don’t need, especially if that budget is needed elsewhere. When treated as an asset, data can be very valuable in terms of understanding your business because it can give companies a better visual of what’s really necessary. But, this is difficult for companies to do on their own.

The solution?

Outsourcing your CIO — a professional who knows how to do all of this. They know what to look for, how to analyze it, and how to apply it to future decisions. They know what to take from a large amount of data, putting it under the microscope to find what’s valuable. They know what they are doing and how to help you. Investing in a CIO, then, will save your company a lot of time and money in the long run.

In the meantime, try our RiskAware™ Cyber Security Scan & Report to see where your security currently stands.

Are Your Employees Hiding the Truth About Your Recent Security Breach?

Though company leaders would like to believe that their own employees wouldn’t do anything to put the company’s security at risk, sometimes, these employees are actually the most likely suspects. Though we tend to think data breaches are only caused by malicious hackers, usually, those aren’t the people you need to worry about. That’s because most of the potential problems are being caused by the people sitting right in front of you every day.

So, are your employees ignoring security measures deliberately? Probably not. But, they could be avoiding telling you about a cyber-security incident, that could ultimately result in a major loss for your company.

So, if it’s just a little mistake, why are these employees not saying anything? And, as a leader of your company, how can you get them to speak up so you can stop the problem in its tracks?

 5 Reasons Employees are Causing Data Breaches and Not Saying Anything

Typically, one of the biggest reasons an employee won’t tell you about a data breach is the same reason no human likes to admit he or she is wrong. After all, why bring attention to something when it might not be a big deal after all? This mentality, along with other things, is putting companies at major risk, resulting in huge losses that could have otherwise been avoided.

Besides that, there are other reasons why employees don’t say anything.

1) They’re scared of losing their job.

These days, companies have strict rules in place when it comes to their employees correctly managing the equipment. If employees are held accountable for a data breach, it’s certainly not the kind of news an employer wants to hear. Therefore, employees are under a lot of pressure and thus afraid of losing their job if they put the blame on themselves.

2) Policies are too loose and employees are taking advantage.

If your company has a BYOD policy or you have a lot of remote workers accessing the system from all over the world, you’re already at risk. If that device is not solely for work and thus lacks the proper security on it, you’re at risk of a data breach whenever that person uses their device at home, at a cafe, or while traveling. Don’t let your employees take advantage of your leniency, because once a BYOD policy is implemented, it’s very difficult to supervise.

3) They were uninformed or unaware that they even did something.

Perhaps an employee made a security error, but they didn’t even know they did. With technology being so advanced, even the best and most skilled employees may not be too read up in the IT department. In many cases when there’s a data breach, it’s very likely the person who is at fault isn’t even aware that they are. All employees need to have basic knowledge when it comes to protecting your company’s security.

4) They were actually careless.

While in most instances we want to believe that a potential cyber breach was really just an accident, we know that’s not always the case. There are employees who don’t follow guidelines and are quite careless. And, if that is what happened, that’s not something an employee is going to be so willing to admit.

5) They were doing it intentionally.

It’s hard to trust any one 100%, and when that one untrustworthy person has access to your company’s most sensitive data, there’s always a chance that you’ll receive an unfortunate surprise; that someone you hired has been intentionally stealing your company’s data or hacking your systems to their own benefit. As scary and unlikely as this may seem, it has happened before, and will continue to happen if employers aren’t more diligent.

How to Prevent Employees from Causing Serious Breaches

The first step in making sure your employees don’t cause a data breach is by screening employees before they start working for your company. It may seem obvious, but you don’t want any suspected hackers slipping through the cracks.

If your employees are all deemed trustworthy but you still want to prevent them from accidentally causing a breach, start by implementing strict security standards in the office. Make sure new employees are aware of how to use the systems securely and update current staff regularly. Secondly, make sure your employees feel comfortable letting you know that they may have made some kind of error. If they feel worried about losing their job, they aren’t going to be willing to talk. But, encouraging them to speak up and assuring them that it’s the right thing to do, will save your company from any serious breaches and leave your employees feeling secure in their job.

Additionally, it’s your job as a company leader to make sure you implement specific instructions given to you from your outsourced CIO. For example, if your CIO strongly advises you against using a BYOD policy, then listen. Most of all, make sure your CIO is doing their job of keeping your company’s security safe above everything else, and it will be much easier to prevent problems from happening altogether.

Don’t have time to worry about your employees making an expensive mistake? Your CIO will take care of that.

In the meantime, try our RiskAware™ Cyber Security Scan & Report to see where your security currently stands.

The Role a CIO Can Play for Your Company and Why You Should Hire One Now

Technology has taken over the business world. Ever since we’ve become more reliant on technology, we’ve been seeing new jobs added to companies to help maintain it all. And, when it comes to that technology, those who will be managing it on your company’s behalf need to have the appropriate skills and expertise to do their job correctly.

You may already have an IT team, or maybe even a CTO. But, you as the CEO need to make sure the right decisions are being made for your company at all times (and at all costs). So, isn’t it about time to outsource a chief information officer?

Why You Need a CIO

While all roles in a company are unique and important, a CIO does a number of tasks that bridge all those roles together. Ultimately, the CIO is responsible for making sure technology is properly integrated throughout the company so that operations can run smoothly. He or she has the final say on how technology is managed so that the business can keep moving forward without any hold ups.

Why Outsourcing is Important

One of the biggest questions that comes up when a company integrates technology into their everyday tasks is the issue of cyber security. Though there are many ways in which a system could potentially be hacked from outside intruders, human error is still one of the main causes of breaches that we commonly see today. Certain protocols need to be followed in order to guarantee a network’s safety. To eliminate any risks of vulnerability or conflicts among high-level decision makers, a CEO should consider outsourcing their CIO. This way, any decisions that are made are unbiased and are therefore solely for the best interest of the company.

Also, don’t forget that one of the perks of hiring any type of managed service means that you have more time to run your business. Any worries you may have will now be dealt with by that service provider.

When is the Best Time To Hire a CIO? 

Most company leaders may think it’s best to wait until a company reaches a certain level before hiring a CIO. Perhaps when a certain number of sales have been made or a certain number of followers has been reached. But, it may be that it’s time to get one sooner than later if you’re noticing some inconsistencies at your company. This could involve anything from repetitive inefficiency, seeing your network has become vulnerable to attacks, disagreements among executives, or too many tasks being handled by a small staff. Whether it’s one of these reasons, a combination of these reasons, or you just feel the need to extend such an important role to someone else, then it might be time to hire a CIO.

In the meantime, try our RiskAware™ Cyber Security Scan & Report to see where your security currently stands.

Thanks to Samsung, It’s Time to Amp Up Your Mobile Device Security

Over the last few months, Samsung has made the news for their Galaxy Note 7, which has had its batteries exploding, causing danger for users. The problem has gotten so bad that you can now get into serious trouble for bringing one onto an airplane. Though, the recent round of total recalls on all devices should help prevent that from happening.

Besides the fact that a phone exploding in your pocket or under your pillow can be a serious physical risk to a person, it also presents a huge security risk. If you were one of the one million users who had to send their phone back, then you must know Samsung now has a ton of phones with sensitive information on it. One of them could be yours.

So, Samsung may care less about your information. But, this whole situation is a clear representation of the security risks mobile devices can present if not handled correctly. All it takes is one bad person to get their hands on a device to ruin your identity or your company. Whether you owned a Galaxy Note 7 or not, you might want to give more attention to your own company’s mobile security situation.

And, you can do it in less time than a phone blows up. Here’s how.

Add Mobile Devices to Your Current Security Plan

If you already have a current security plan managed by a service provider, you don’t need to take out a new one for your mobile devices. It’s easy to call up whoever is helping you run your network and ask them to add on security for any devices that are or will be connected. There’s no sense making things more difficult for yourself and your budget when you can keep everything simple.

Make Sure Your IT Team is Well-Prepared

If you rely on your IT team or an IT person to manage your security, then there are some things you need to understand. First of all, it’s time to consider outsourcing to a managed service provider, because then you can be sure your bases are covered. We live in a world where technology is rapidly changing and therefore mobile device security must be a priority. Unfortunately, not all IT personnel can keep up. If you’re still using your IT person or team, then that’s fine, but make sure you’re investing in their tools and resources which would be necessary to ensure you’re protected

Re-Assess Your BYOD Policy

A BYOD policy is definitely not something you want to take away from your employees if you’ve already implemented it. We know that having a BYOD policy allows for a happier and more efficient workplace. That being said, in light of the events of Samsung, you might need to tighten up your mobile device security until things get under control. This could involve anything from keeping very close tabs on who is starting to bring in their own devices, to having a stricter procedure altogether.

Be Careful about Who Goes in and Who Goes Out

Does your company have a WiFi system that anyone can connect to? What about people who work at your company for a year, have access to everything, and then they just leave? Shouldn’t their devices be swiped of all company-related information and access before they’re gone for good? Remember, when it comes to cyber security, you can’t trust anyone. And, when mobile device usage continues to grow as such a fast rate, companies need to crack down.

Smeester & Associates can provide you with the tools and recommendations needed to make sure your company’s mobile devices aren’t putting you at risk.


How low is your fruit hanging? Is that bear about to eat you or the other guy?

Discover how much risk you’re exposed to and get a complimentary RiskAware™ Cyber Security Scan & Report today!

The IT Guy That Didn’t Scale, and the Client Who Went With Him

How can a lone IT guy compete with large teams of certified technicians? Though having one IT guy may be easier, there are just a lot of factors of why going with he or she can put you at risk. If you’re still stuck with choosing between an IT person or an outsourced team, then we’re going to make your choice very easy. Don’t be the client who went with the IT guy. Be the client who went on to a bigger and better managed service provider.

Here’s what you need to know!

Two Heads (Or Five) are Better Than One

Now, not all things are better when they are left to more than one person. But, in the case of managing your network, you want there to be more people. When you’re counting on one IT guy, there may be a problem that he or she just can’t figure out. After all, we are only human. That being said, an entire team of certified technicians can work together to quickly find a solution to your problem.

Managed Service Providers Lower Costs Overall

On the surface, it may seem like hiring just one IT guy is more affordable for a company. But, when you go with a team of certified technicians, it will lower your costs. This is due to ‘economies of scale,’ in which production is increased across the board, and therefore, costs decrease.

The IT Guy Just Can’t Handle it All

Maybe your IT Guy is super-efficient and gets things done, sometimes even before you ask. But, the reality is, if your business is growing, there are just some things that can’t be dealt with alone. For example, let’s say your company is thinking of switching over to the cloud. That’s a big switch on its own, but it’s something that requires a lot of monitoring. Monitoring that an IT person can’t handle by him or herself. Something like the cloud is constantly changing and growing, with new features and additions. Only a team of managed service providers can stay on top of everything associated with something as vast as the cloud.

You Don’t Need to Let Anyone Go

So, you’re starting to see the advantages of having a managed service provider. But, what are you supposed to do with the IT guy you already have? Or, what about the in-house IT team you already rely on to help you manage everything? Well, the good news is, doing what’s right for your company doesn’t always mean having to let your staff go. Choosing one over the other isn’t necessarily mutually exclusive.

Instead, use both. Managing your network is one of the most important things you can do for your company, but there are ways to go about it so no one needs to lose their job. One way to do this is by keeping your IT guy, but hiring a managed service provider to help him or her as a back up; an extra set of hands, if you will.

BUT, If You Had to Choose…

If your company is in a place where they can choose between an IT guy and a managed service provider, then you know what you need to do. A managed service provider can conduct an entire array of useful services, and you can choose how much help you need (or how much you want to pay for).

The Bottom Line

Whether you choose to go full throttle with a managed service provider or you’re going to make the transition gradually, make the best decision for your company. Even if you choose to keep your IT guy, a managed service provider can be there to pick up any dust that wasn’t swept up by your IT person.

Smeester & Associates is here to provide you with the tools and recommendations necessary to choose the appropriate IT management option for your company.


How low is your fruit hanging? Is that bear about to eat you or the other guy?

Discover how much risk you’re exposed to and get a complimentary RiskAware™ Cyber Security Scan & Report today!

IT Management Vs. Vendor Management: What’s Right for Your Company?

When it comes to protecting your company’s network, there are a lot of questions you need to ask yourself. What type of approach is right for your company? Should you choose the hands-on IT management, or the remote and resourceful vendor management?

The two are very different, and depending on various factors, like the size of your company or what kind of company you have (like e-commerce), makes a difference as to which type of management will be right for you.

If you’re having trouble deciding, then this is what you’ll need to look at.

What’s the Difference?

IT management is a type of network management that’s in the hands of one individual, or in some cases, an IT team. It’s the actual management of network resources, including, but not limited to, patch management, service pack updates, or just any quick adjustments that need to be done. Their expertise is more general.

Vendor management, on the other hand, happens remotely. The vendor is managing and monitoring your backups, mobile devices, and your security. The vendor has all the resources beside them to deal with a whole array of network issues. They are able to do this because they know the specific products and networks they are dealing with and can leverage them effectively.

Which Type is Better for Which Company?

IT Management

IT management is hands on and it usually involves one IT person at a company. In IT management, your network resources are being managed as best as they can. When those are confirmed to be working well, then business should run smoothly. An IT person checks on your software, your firewalls, your devices, and any other type of network resources your company is currently using, to make sure they’re working correctly.

If you are a small company or you’re just starting out, then IT management is a good way to go. It’s best for companies that just want to be sure everything is working how it should be; that nothing gets in the way of you interacting with your customers or managing your website.

Vendor Management

Vendor management is essentially when your management is outsourced to one person or group who can help you remotely. A vendor typically has better resources than your company’s IT management, simply because this is what they specialize in. They are therefore able to manage each thing in your company that needs to be managed, one at a time, and with precision. They can do what they need to do from the back-end, without interrupting your flow of business.

Vendor management is, therefore, better for small and medium sized companies, if they are able to switch over.

Make Your Choice

Still not convinced?

We are. Having a vendor to manage your network is just more reliable and consistent than a single IT person. While having an IT person around is certainly a nice thing, as companies grow, they simply can’t manage it all alone. With vendor management, you simply won’t have to worry because they have EVERYTHING covered.


How low is your fruit hanging? Is that bear about to eat you or the other guy?

Discover how much risk you’re exposed to and get a complimentary RiskAware™ Cyber Security Scan & Report today!

Can Managed Services Bridge the IT Skills Gap?

The IT skills gap phenomenon isn’t a new concept, but it has become increasingly evident in the past several years. Most small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have the same IT needs as larger organizations, but unfortunately lack the necessary internal bandwidth and resources. With new IT rules being written every day, complicated by the internet of Things (IoT) and an increasingly mobile workforce, IT professionals need to stay up-to-date and receive the latest certifications to cover their bases. As conditions continue to evolve, how can SMBs deal with the widening skills gap?

Did you know that 83 percent of organizations have voiced concern about their ability to find workers with the right IT skills and experience? These organizations need but don’t have a team of skilled IT specialists, who are dedicated to providing them with peace of mind and the expertise they need to grow profitability.

Closing the IT skills gap remains an on-going challenge for most SMBs because it can have a significant impact on the operations and effectiveness of their business. Due to the expertise that is now required to keep a company’s IT department up and running, it’s becoming more beneficial to outsource low-value, time-consuming tasks to a managed service provider (MSP). According to a 2012 study, businesses are seeking help. CompTIA’s International Technology Adoption and Workforce Trends Study shows the trends.

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