Category Archives: Small Business

3 Must-Have Apps for Small Business with Remote Teams

More small businesses and startups are turning to the virtual team concept to help keep costs low. Thanks to the Internet, your employees can work from virtually anywhere. While that’s great, the question that still lingers in many small business owners’ minds is this: “How do I ensure my staff members function as a cohesive unit when they aren’t operating in the same physical location?”

Thanks to some terrific apps and technology providers, there are many slick solutions to help your team function harmoniously. Here are three of my favorite small business apps focused on communication.

3 apps for remote team communication and collaboration

1. Jell

Even with the best video conferencing platform, daily or weekly “stand-up meetings” can be a groan for your remote employees. If I’m honest,  they can be a groan in person, too! Jell takes the tedium out of the stand-up meeting by turning it into more of a reporting process that’s quick, easy, and transparent.

Each day, team members fill in the answers to three core questions:

•     What did you accomplish yesterday?
•     What are you planning to do today?
•     What challenges stand in your way?
Once Jell captures this information, the status update is distributed to the team and recorded in a central location. On paid plans, you can set organizational goals, add additional questions, and more. Jell integrates with Slack or HipChat, and there is an app for smartphones, too.

2. Grasshopper Virtual Phone System

Depending on the type of business you run, you may need a toll-free line or local line along with extensions for your employees. Fees for telephony services and hardware can get costly. That’s where Grasshopper can save the day. Grasshopper offers a variety of features that make your small business look and sound more professional. With Grasshopper, you can get extensions for employees, a company directory, main greeting, voicemail, professional text messaging options, and more. Your employees can use their existing home office or mobile phones to make, take, and transfer calls.

The mobile app is one of the nicest features of the Grasshopper service. The app, available for both iPhone and Android smartphones, allows your employees to call customers, prospects, and vendors while displaying your toll-free or local business number on the caller ID. This capability keeps their mobile numbers private. Users can also manage call forwarding, listen to company voicemails, send texts from your business, and manage faxes directly from the Grasshopper mobile app.

3. Hootsuite

Hootsuite has been around now for several years and is used by countless individuals, thanks to its easy-to-use features and free plan option. But there is a lot more to Hootsuite when you move to the Pro plan. (Disclosure: I am a Hootsuite Brand Ambassador, which is a volunteer position.) With the Hootsuite Pro plan, you have access to more social platform profiles and have the option to add additional team members to help you manage and monitor social media marketing efforts. You can set user roles and create approval workflows, too.

While it’s a useful tool for marketers, a Hootsuite Pro plan can be an excellent solution for small customer service teams as well (up to 10 members). Imagine having your reps at the ready not only to answer phone calls and emails but to tackle those publicly posted customer complaints, too! Your customer service supervisor can assign customer issues through Hootsuite to a particular rep. Plus, well-known support desk platforms such as ZenDesk and FreshDesk integrate directly with Hootsuite. It’s an opportunity for your team to turn possible social media disasters into customer delight.

What are the right apps for your remote team?

These are just a handful of the collaboration and communication tools available to small business owners. Although the above are my favorites, they are not necessarily the right choice for every business. When considering solutions for your remote team, determine what you are trying to accomplish with each app. Take a free trial. Ask for employee input, and then help your employees through the change process.
MozyPro Online Backup

3 1/2 Tips to Make The Most Out of Your IT Budget

It’s not unusual in a small business for the IT administrators to feel beat up over their budgets (or lack thereof), and it’s not without cause. Most small businesses struggle along, especially after the devastating effects of the great recession. In fact, after the 2007 financial crisis small businesses were hit the hardest. Between 2007 and 2012 roughly 60 percent of all the jobs lost were from businesses with fewer than 50 employees. When compared to larger organizations, the job loss was 71 percent worse; small companies lost 11 percent of their jobs compared to only 7 percent from larger companies.

To further compound the problem, executive leadership in these small companies often have unrealistic demands. A study by Bain & Company, about how to make IT spending more effective, found that 70 percent of senior managers believe that IT spending is highly correlated to future business growth. But of those surveyed, 80 percent believe that IT is out of step with their most strategic business objectives.

With limited budgets, soaring demands, and pressure to align closely with business objectives, IT administrators are in a tough spot: How do you deliver more services and better communicate expectations and delivery to senior managers with smaller than needed budgets?

Here are 3 1/2 tips to help you get the most out of your IT budget. In addition to aligning budgets, these tips will help senior managers better recognize your efforts and help you better understand their expectations.

1. Use company-wide task management software
At the risk of sounding cliche or overdone, using task management software such as Trello or Asana to manage IT projects can greatly increase transparency, reduce over expectations and save you budget. Here’s how:

Both of these are free tools, and there are a slew of other free tools out there that do the same thing.
These tools are easy to use and have all the buzz-word-based features your executives love to talk about–collaborative, cloud based, redundant, and secure.
These tools increase transparency by allowing others to see what you’re currently working on, what you have in your backlog, and what you plan on working on next.
Likewise, these tools also increase transparency into all that you’ve done. If you choose Trello, there is a nifty Chrome plugin that allows you to assign time estimates to tasks and easily report time measures and time budgets up to executives or down to those who are submitting requests.
These tools truly empower you to accurately set expectations. Instead of allowing users to email you, drop by your desk, or chat you an IT request, require that they instead put the request into a new task and submit via this software tool. That way they can see how much other work you are currently working on and will better understand why you can’t just drop everything to come help them reset a password.

2. Meet digitally
In small organizations travel can be expensive. If you have sales people who are flying around and meeting with prospective customers, then your executive team is well aware of the costs associated with travel. Instead of simply going with the flow and allowing these travel budgets to eat into the overall company budget you can be proactive and approach your management team with a solution: digital meetings. Be sure to couch the idea as one that will save money but also increase the likelihood of a sale. In our quick-paced world, making time in a schedule for an in-person meeting can delay meetings by days or weeks. Instead, jump on a Google Hangout or Zoom meeting.

3. Purchase nearly new equipment
Equipment purchasing is one of the largest expenses in an IT department. That will probably never change, but it can be throttled considerably, without giving up performance or increasing your hassle. With Moore’s law (computing power doubling every year) being accurate and relevant in today’s age, people are swapping up for new hardware all the time. This leaves lightly used equipment available on Craigslist for the picking. If your organization needs equipment that is even newer, it’s easy to find strong deals by shopping the outlet/refurbished sections of Dell or Apple where you’ll get 15 to 30 percent savings while still getting a new warranty and like-new equipment.

3 1/2. Give up some control
IT administrators are often weary about giving up control, and for good reason. Giving up control often means opening vectors for security breach, over-complicating the network, or increasing time burdens. This tip is an odd one, and one that all organizations may not be ready to adopt, and that’s why we’re making it just a 1/2 of a tip–though we honestly feel like it will bring you some of the greatest cost savings and highest returns in added productivity.

The tip is this: give new employees a budget and allow them to purchase their own equipment before starting at your company. Tech/software company Kuali, a creator of higher education enterprise software, uses this strategy and has seen fabulous results. Their employees hit the ground running, have the hardware they want, and save money over their own “corporate discount” purchase plans extended by Dell and Apple.

At most companies IT staff struggle to find time to purchase equipment for new employees, and often don’t get it set up in time for the new employee’s first day. On their first day in the office they often have considerable downtime due to not having the needed equipment. If your new employees are given a budget with their offer letter they will excitedly purchase their equipment well before they start and they’ll often set up the equipment themselves.

Additionally, these new employees know what their purchase price cap is and often want to impress their new employer so they’ll spend additional time hunting for a strong bargain, time that an IT administrator simply doesn’t have.

These tips and tools will empower you as small business IT administrator to do more with less, and help your executive leadership team recognize you for all that you’re doing.

How to Get a Small Business Grant without Borrowing Money

Getting access to capital is the biggest challenge facing small business owners, according to an OnDeck Capital survey. 55 percent of business owners surveyed sought financing, but of those who applied, 64 percent failed to get any sort of financing, and 82 percent were turned down by their bank. Fortunately, there are other ways to finance a small business than getting a loan. For certain types of businesses, applying for a government, nonprofit, or private grant may be an option. Here’s how to go about getting a grant without having to borrow money.

1. Know What Types of Grants Are Available

The first step is learning what types of grants are out there. Grants are available from three main sources: government agencies, nonprofit foundations, and private businesses and corporations.

Government grants include federal, state, and local government resources. As the Small Business Administration explains, federal government grants come from programs that have been authorized by Congress and the President, and they are geared towards specific federal government initiatives and agencies. For instance, the Small Business Innovation Research Program awards grants to small businesses engaged in scientific research and development. Some states award grants for purposes such as creating energy-efficient technology, providing child care centers, and developing marketing campaigns to support tourism.

Nonprofit foundations award grants that serve their organization’s mission. For example, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation awards grants that support its key areas of assistance for disadvantaged communities, early childhood education, journalism and the First Amendment, serving veterans, and youth civic engagement.

Private businesses and corporations award grants that serve their organizational missions and community outreach campaigns. For instance, each year the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest awards a total of $50,000 to six deserving U.S.-based entrepreneurs and small business owners.

2. Research Prospective Grant Resources

Your next step is to research online databases and library references to find prospective grant resources for your business. Grants.gov provides an online resource for searching federal government grants. State & Local Government on the Net provides a tool for searching state government grants. The Foundation Center provides one of the largest online databases of grants available from philanthropies and offers a subscription-based Foundation Grants to Individuals Online database of 10,000 programs. BusinessGrants.org lists grants available specifically for small businesses. The Open Education Database provides a list of more than 100 different grant resources. You can also research library reference resources such as The Foundation Directory, which now also has an online counterpart.

3. Match Your Goals to Your Grant Prospect’s Mission

The third step is finding a good match between your business goals and your grant prospect’s aims. To do this, you must thoroughly research your grant prospects and their grant application criteria and instructions. The best way to do this is to contact the organization via their website, email, or phone and request their basic application guidelines.

4. Follow Application Instructions

Finally, once you’ve found some good grant prospects, follow their application instructions carefully. If you need help, you may want to engage the services of a professional grant writer. Some organizations such as Resource Associates offer free grant writing services to certain qualifying organizations, or you can hire a grant writer from a source such as the American Grant Writers’ Association.

How Cloud Backup Options Benefit a Small Business

Depending on the size of your business, the cost of lost data could total in the millions. A 2015 Ponemon Institute Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis found among 350 companies in 11 countries, the average cost per lost or stolen record is $154. The average complete data breach cost is $3.79 million, while unexpected damage caused by natural disasters, physical hardware theft and lost hardware or employee error are other factors that make small business digital data so vulnerable to threats. Off-site backup options that use cloud storage technology and encryption security help ensure data protection and peace of mind when dealing with sensitive company material.

Besides the high cost of permanent loss of data, temporary data loss can be debilitating. The Data Center Journal reported in 2013, the average cost per minute of unplanned downtime was nearly $8,000, which was an increase of more than 40 percent compared to 2010. The average reported outage length was nearly an hour-and-a-half in 2013, which would cost a business nearly $700,000. For e-commerce sites, downtime not only results in loss of sales, but negative sentiment and loss of trust in a company, as breaches against companies like Target have shown. The company has agreed to reimburse financial institutions more than $100 million for a 2013 breach, according to The Wall Street Journal. Cloud backup is constantly monitored against breaches and provides uptime guarantees, while keeping data safe, secure and easily recoverable.

What is cloud backup?
Cloud backup is simply data storage located on an external server away from the business, with security functions in place to make sure the data stays safe, and with immediate backup that allows data to instantly be recovered should something negative happen to the physical servers. It also helps alleviate in-house IT needs, since data is backed up and accessible with user permissions from any device, from anywhere.

Research and advisory firm Gartner reported an increase of nearly 5 percent in worldwide spending on information security in 2015 over 2014, to reach more than $75.5 billion. As hackers become more sophisticated, and businesses need to protect customers’ personal information, data protection is of increasing importance to both large and small business enterprises. The Ponemon Institute report states a 23 percent increase in total cost of data breach since 2013, while the Breach Level Index reports more than 3.7 billion records lost since 2013 as of March 2016. As data protection becomes more affordable, and breaches do more damage, return on investment for off-site backup makes sense.

What to look for in off-site backup data protection
When considering backup options for your small business, consider the following qualities:

•     Automatic backup protections. With automatic cloud backup, you won’t have to worry about remembering to backup            your data — the off-site backup does the work for you. Services that offer the option to time backups throughout the day            give your small business continuous protection and safeguard your data.
•     Multi-device capabilities. In today’s mobile age where increasing numbers of employees conduct business activities on            mobile and tablet devices, and more employers allow a bring-your-own-device landscape, backup from devices beyond            desktops is essential. ZDNet reports 74 percent of organizations            currently use or plan to allow employees to bring their own            devices to work, so it’s vital to look for a data protection provider            that works on any device.
•     Instant restoration. To decrease the amount of downtime your            business might experience, cloud backup should offer one-click            data restoration to keep you moving.
•     Industry grade security. Besides guaranteeing 99 percent            uptime for data, a data protection service should offer the same            security standards that are used by institutions such as the            military and banks to give a business the highest quality security            available. Multi-encryption standards make sure data is protected            from breaches.

Security issues can happen at any time, which is why 24/7 customer support is also a critical consideration. There are backup options to fit any business budget, and when you weigh the costs of data loss, investing in off-site backup makes financial sense for your business and your customers.

How the Internet of Things will Change Your Business

Small businesses across many industries are using the Internet for more devices now than ever before. Beyond point of sale terminals, tablets, laptops and desktops, the Internet is now collecting and transferring data from:

Touchscreen self-serve kiosks
     •     Metering and monitoring devices on equipment and machinery
     •     Barcode readers
     •     Trucks and company vehicles
     •     Drones for cameras and transport
     •     Lighting
     •     Heating, ventilation and air conditioning
     •     Building security
     •     Wearable devices
     •     Product inventory

Though all of these devices, sensors, and items will cost your business money, there are tremendous savings opportunities to be discovered.

Here are six areas of your business where the Internet of Things (IoT) will drive down cost, create efficiency, and lighten your workload.

1. Operational Building Costs
Let’s say you are a Chartered Accountant, and you needed to work late at the office. You were the last out of the building, and forgot to do the rounds and turn off corridor lighting. Fortunately, you are equipped with a smartphone enabled device, so you can turn off the lights from your driveway, instead of driving back to the office.

Climate control, security systems and other environmental infrastructure can also be interfaced with a mobile application. You’ll benefit from the system’s convenience, and the cost savings of being able to regulate your office even when you’re not at the office.

2. Self-Serve Kiosks and Devices
Here are a few more scenarios. Let’s say you run a restaurant, or a retail store. Your employees work hard, yet there are often long line-ups, or your employees can’t be in every aisle. Self-serve touch screen devices can take food orders, help shoppers find what they are looking for, and even find out about promotional offers you have in your establishment.

If you your business is in an area where it is difficult to get qualified employees to serve your customers, or if your business is growing rapidly, IoT connected kiosks, tablets and other devices will increase the accuracy of customer orders, increase the productivity of your staff on the floor, and improve customer satisfaction.

Cashier-less check-out machines have helped to process express lane customers for several years. Since fewer customers are using cash, and turning to credit and/or debit cards, so it seems fairly certain retail transactions will continue to evolve to automated systems.

3. Connected Equipment Monitoring Devices
If your business is in the manufacturing or construction business, you will have machines and equipment which require regular maintenance. Connecting these company assets to the IoT ensures they are maintained either on a usage cycle, when they are due for some down time, or in case a sensor identifies some sort of performance or safety issue.

4. Telematics
Telematics sensors can be equipped on transport trucks or fleet vehicles, to monitor for maintenance, performance, or on-site/off-site location. Although telematics gear and related apps historically have been geared towards large enterprise and public sector, the technology cost is now affordable for small and medium businesses.

5. Wearable Devices
The use of fitness bands, smart watches and IoT enabled garments continues to evolve for personal and business use. For healthcare-related businesses, patients with diabetes, dementia or other mental/physical challenges can be outfitted with connected devices which will alert loved ones or medical professionals in case of an emergency.

6. Practical Uses for Drones
Internet-connected drones have been getting a bad rap lately for their privacy implications and safety. If you have a large warehouse, or operate farms with livestock, or plants, drones can be very useful.
     •     Want to find out where your horses went when the gate wasn’t            secured?
     •     Looking to find out if you have any forest green gas ranges left in inventory, but don’t want to walk back in the            warehouse?
     •     Interested in creating a video of your car dealership from a few hundred feet above, and stream it to the web?
           There are drones for that!

The Internet of Things offers small businesses many opportunities to save money. The role of employees and management will change as more tasks become automated, small businesses will find ways to benefit, and adapt to the evolution of smart things.

Small Business Owners and IT: Yes, You Can DIY

Running a small business requires creativity, a relentless work ethic, and the ability to wear multiple hats at any given time. While regular employees can “turn it off” once they leave the office, owning a business is a 24/7 undertaking and business owners simply don’t have that luxury.

No matter what type of business you own, it’s likely that technology plays a key role. These days more business is done via smartphones and computer screens than ever before. So it stands to reason that in order to remain competitive in the marketplace, small business owners have to stay on top of their technological needs. Generally this means having to pay an expert to manage their IT process.

The problem is, a lot of business owners can’t afford a dedicated IT admin, and as a result many tech issues go unresolved.

But what if there was a way for the small business owner to manage some of these IT needs themselves, without having to hire an outside person? Luckily there is! Here are a few ways that business owners can pick up tech skills that are relatively easy to learn, yet incredibly powerful for helping manage a small business.

Look online
Whether you are just starting out and handling multiple tasks within your company or you are an experienced business owner, every entrepreneur can benefit from continuing education and do so without paying tuition and taking evening classes at the local community college.

These days there are a number of online resources that will help develop skills in any subject matter—information technology included—often for free or at a much lower cost than college or tech school tuition.

Among the most popular options (Udemy, Coursera, and Lynda), business owners can learn from experts in their field the skills needed to become proficient in managing technology issues.

Reach out to your local Small Business Development Center
Small Business Development Centers work in conjunction with local colleges and universities to provide training, advice, and assistance to small business owners. They offer courses, workshops, and seminars on a range of topics from how-to courses on accounting software to Internet marketing and managing tech issues.

While the exact courses and workshops offered may differ from one SBDC to another, they generally will offer some basic instruction on managing technology for small businesses.

Seek out a mentor
Although online coursework and workshops are an invaluable resource for business owners, all learning doesn’t have to be completely structured. Organizations like SCORE match retired executives with small business owners who are in need of advice or help.

These interactions generally take place on a one-on-one basis, and an owner can get help on a wide variety of business topics from general business to specific technology-related questions.

In addition to the one-on-one assistance, SCORE’s website also offers online learning options. These can serve to supplement the other learning options and help reinforce understanding in a particular subject area.

By educating yourself on your company’s technological needs, and working with the correct tools and professionals to help you make sense of it all, you’ll be well on your way toward long-term success—all without a negative hit to your bottom line.

How Women Can Secure Grants to Jumpstart Their Business

Do you have a great business idea but need the cash to fund it?

Believe it or not, there are grants that might be able to help you jump start your business. There are ones that offer small business grants to women. That being said, it is not as easy as you think.

What about government grants?

Most might believe that the government has a lot of money to hand out, when in fact that is simply not true. Many federal grants for small businesses are for very specific things, such as development or research projects for rural areas. So if you’re looking to get a grant to cover startup costs or daily expenses, you might be out of luck.

However, if your business features a product or service that can positively affect women’s lives, you can try your hand at the InnovateHER Challenge, hosted by the US Small Business Administration. The top three national finalists can win up to $40,000. To qualify, you need to win a local InnovateHER challenge.

Because grants like the InnovateHER challenge can be very competitive, you might want to consider your state or local government grants. Keep in mind that the availability and types of grant differs depending on where you live, so you’ll need to do some research to find specific grant programs.

A good place to look is at your local women’s business centers. The Small Business Association (SBA) sponsors around 100 of these centers all over the country. They are specifically there to help females gain access to capital and with developing their business plans. Some of these places will actually lend you money directly. Others will help you figure out what kinds of grants you can qualify and apply for.

Another place to look is your local SBA sponsored centers. They are usually found at colleges and they offer free one-on-one business consulting. Simply set up a meeting with an adviser who can help you find grants in your area.

Are there any private grants?

There are a few national grant programs for women. You can win $500 from the Amber Grant Foundation. If you are a winner, you might be one of 12 grant winners to be awarded another $2,000. To apply, all you need to do is describe what your business is all about and tell them what you plan on doing with the money. After you pay a $7 application fee, you just have to wait and see if the foundation’s advisory board likes your story and passion.

Another grant you might want to look into is the FedEx Small Business Grant. They award 10 small businesses up $25,000 each annually. To apply, you need to explain what your business will be and how you would use the money. In addition, you need to provide photos or a video or your business. This one is not specifically geared towards women, but it doesn’t hurt to look into it.

If you need more options, a great website is Grants For Women. You can search through their database for grant opportunities, though you need to make sure the grants are specifically for businesses.

Conclusion

Grants are a great way to jump start your business. Again, understand that the grant money you receive might not be enough to cover all your costs, so try your hand at applying to as many as you can to help make your business dreams come true.

When Old Tech Becomes New Tech

Every few years we are forced to upgrade the devices that are so much a part of our everyday lives. In fact, we explored the limited lifespan of technology in a recent blog post. For example, the resolution on your new camera soon becomes grainy when compared to what’s available just months after you’ve made your purchase. Smartphone operating system upgrades soon make it impossible to run the apps that you so love. That 42” TV just doesn’t show your football game like the new 80” 4K Ultra HD that stares you down every time you hit the electronics section of your favorite store.

The rapid advance in technology is causing a glut in tech devices such as computers, mobile devices, camcorders, game systems, computer hardware, and video players. In 2014 the world produced 41.8 million metric tons of e-waste. To put that in perspective, that amount of garbage would fill 1.15 million 18-wheel trucks. If you lined up those trucks they would stretch from New York to Tokyo and back again! The EPA estimates that only 15-20% of e-waste is recycled and the rest goes to the landfill. Once the materials in the computers start to break down or are incinerated, they release a variety of toxins that are harmful to the environment as well as to humans. Unfortunately, a lot of that e-waste could have been recycled, up-cycled, or useful to someone else.

I found out that I am part of the 68% of consumers who are stockpiling old devices for no reason. For starters, I have an old iMac G5, a ‘90’s Compaq computer, and a handful of phones and mp3 players. You can probably relate. So it’s time we start doing something about the problem! It’s time we stop dumping them and adding to the fastest-growing source of waste; instead, we can save time, space, and money by properly “disposing” of out-of-date devices.

There are many local organizations that would love your old tech; for example, schools and low-income members of the community. And your donations are tax deductible. If you don’t want to spend the time to find a taker, there are organizations that will pick up your items, refurbish them, and donate them to someone in need. human-I-T is one organization in particular and is a non-profit that transforms unwanted or inoperative technology and makes it operational again for those in need. Consumers as well as companies like LinkedIn, Google, and Cars.com have all reduced e-waste and benefited the community by donating technology to human-I-T.

If you are worried about the data on the device, organizations that refurbish outdated technology follow strict guidelines on removing data from devices so that it can no longer be accessed. This process follows guidelines specified by such laws as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).

Your old tech can find new life with low-income families, veterans, those with disabilities, and schools and organizations. Consider that in 2014 human-I-T was able to divert more than 15 tons of e-waste from landfills. But even more importantly, what was once considered waste was turned into tools to help kids to stay current in their studies and the unemployed to find jobs.

Source;
https://www.causesinternational.com/ewaste/e-waste-facts

Efficient cloud-based backup

Although it’s true that most large organizations rely on on-premises backup solutions, many of those organizations realize that backing up to the cloud is making more and more financial sense. For those organizations that are just now looking into the cloud, the idea of building and managing another data center might seem formidable and expensive. But that’s not how it is; just the opposite is true.

Building and managing a remote and reliable data center for backup and disaster recovery is easier than you might think; it even makes good financial sense. That last part—good financial sense—is particularly important in this day of ongoing cost-cutting measures. It isn’t likely that the need to further decrease costs and increase efficiencies is ever going to fall by the wayside. (Try telling your finance department and shareholders that decreasing costs and increasing efficiencies no longer matter!)

Why does a cloud-based backup solution make sense? Two words: capital expenditure. Actually, it makes more sense to mention four key words: capital expenditure and operating expenses. Recent research demonstrates that organizations that implement cloud solutions are enjoying significant benefits, among them (1) no capital expenditure for hardware, (2) very little up-front cost, and (3) minimal administrative overhead.

Those benefits become particularly important when you consider that more than 40 percent of respondents to a recent survey indicated that reducing IT infrastructure costs was the top benefit of backing up and protecting their data in the cloud. Here are the top-five most common benefits:

  1. Reducing IT infrastructure costs
  2. Reducing complexity within the IT environment
  3. Reduced IT personnel costs
  4. Improved user productivity
  5. Reduced power and cooling costs

An interesting aspect of benefit #3 is that reducing IT personnel costs doesn’t necessarily mean more workers in the unemployment line. Not by a long shot. Because cloud backup is a cost-effective way to protect your servers and computers, IT personnel who once worked on on-premises backup solutions can now focus on other important tasks; they can be repurposed to work on more strategic onsite systems and/or applications.

It’s no surprise that organizations large and small—and everything in between—are becoming more and more reliant on digital capabilities. With those capabilities come opportunities for growth and success; however, the exposure to threats to data is increasing dramatically.

In the beginning, sending data to the cloud might have seemed like a challenging prospect, perhaps more bother than benefit. But that’s certainly not the case today. Security and trust are essential elements of the cloud. The uncompromising physical security of offsite data centers, the backing of third-party certifications and validations, the experience and reputation of the cloud provider monitoring and management, the ability to restrict data access and, should it ever become necessary, the capability of restoring data all contribute to keeping data safe, secure, and accessible.

Once you understand and embrace the benefits of the cloud, you can focus additional energy on supporting your business goals and doing more with existing resources. That kind of efficiency makes all kinds of good sense.

Do you have too much access to data?

Be aware: You probably have access to too much data!

That’s right: you can access data you’re unauthorized to see. That’s according to the Ponemon Institute’s latest research report, Corporate Data: A Protected Asset or a Ticking Time Bomb?

In its December 2014 report, the research center found that 71 percent of the 2,276 U.S. and European employees surveyed have access to sensitive information that they don’t need access to.

The report reveals that there is insufficient oversight and control over employees who have access to confidential information. Oftentimes, such information is sensitive in nature and includes:
• Customer lists and contact information
• Intellectual property
• Private information about customers, employees, and business partners

Part of the challenge with controlling data is that too much oversight could sacrifice employee productivity. On the one hand, employees cannot work efficiently if they cannot access the information they need to do their jobs. On the other hand, too little oversight means that employees can access sensitive data that they don’t have any reason to access, jeopardizing an organization’s security and the privacy of customers, co-workers, and others.

Interestingly, it is the employees themselves who believe that they have access to company data that they should not have access to. Even so, of the 71 percent who said that they have such access, 54 percent admitted that their access to the information is frequent or even very frequent. In other words, they know they shouldn’t be accessing the data but they’re doing it anyway, even frequently.

The report found that employees who participated in the survey believe that data protection oversight and controls to their company data are weak. That’s a serious concern, but no less concerning than the survey’s finding that 78 percent believe their organization is unable to tell them what happened to lost data, files, and emails.

It should come as no surprise that IT professionals who participated in the study agree with employees who believe that data protection oversight and controls to the data are weak. Part of the problem, according to the IT practitioners, is that their organizations do not enforce a need-to-know data policy.

Although more than 70 percent of IT practitioners in the survey said that their department takes data protection very seriously, clearly more needs to be done to ensure that their data is protected from unauthorized access.

What can be done to protect corporate data? First, organizations must see data protection as a priority. Second, organizations must ensure that they have a need-to-know data policy and then enforce it. Unenforced policies increase the risk of misused and unauthorized access to confidential and sensitive data.

Today’s technology allows the workforce to access large amounts of data quickly and easily, even from smartphones and tablets. Fortunately, with Mozy cloud backup, critical and confidential data on servers, desktops, and portable devices can be automatically backed up and protected. With Mozy, your data is always protected, recoverable, and secure.