September 30th, 2015

Virtualization_Sep30_B When it comes to IT, it is always important to separate fact from fiction. Too often you will have IT people looking to get themselves a bigger piece of your budget by proposing technology solutions you don’t really need. Virtualization is one of those items you have probably heard about, but is it right for your company? Here are some of the facts and fiction about virtualization to consider.

Virtualization involves the creation of a virtual version of your operating systems, servers storage devices or network resources so here's what you need to know.

All virtualization is the same

FICTION - All virtualization is not the same. In fact, you will need to discuss with your IT person the aspects of your business you want to virtualize, in order to see what works best for you. For some companies, it only makes sense to virtualize servers and nothing else. On the other hand, some businesses will want to virtualize their desktops but keep their servers on-site. There are many different scenarios, and you need to find the one that works best for your business.

You can keep your current hardware/software/applications

FACT - Just because you virtualize one or more aspects of your IT doesn’t mean you will lose access to your current hardware, software or applications. As with anything, there are a few exceptions to this, but by and large it shouldn’t be a problem.

Technology flexibility is increased

FACT - Arguably the biggest benefit of virtualization is the flexibility you will have to put up and take down new servers as demand dictates. Like most companies, your business probably has peaks and valleys throughout the year; yet with physical servers, you have your capacity set regardless of if you're using them or not.

This can create a problem for businesses, as often times they end up with a server capacity that isn’t large enough to handle the peak season, but is too much for slow periods. With virtualized servers you are able to customize your capacity throughout the year, giving you unmatched flexibility.

Managing IT is easier

FICTION - You will still need dedicated IT personnel who know what they are doing, regardless of whether you embrace virtualization or not. Like every other aspect of IT, virtualized equipment must be maintained and looked after accordingly. If not, it can fail. If you decide to go through with virtualization, managing your IT won’t necessarily be easier - just different.

Virtualization will save you money

FACT and FICTION - Virtualization can save you money depending on what aspect of your business you decide to virtualize. The greatest savings come with server virtualization, which sees pricey physical servers phased out, and the corresponding electricity costs associated with them removed as well. Of course, virtualized servers might bring more operational costs with them as the infrastructure becomes more complex.

You should perform a cost-benefit analysis before switching over to virtualized desktops. If your company just invested in new computers a year or two a go, switching them for virtual machines probably isn’t the best use of money. However, if it is time to replace your desktops anyway, then going with virtual machines as part of a wide-sweeping office virtualization might a great way to save.

At the end of the day, virtualization is complex, and its benefits will vary from company to company. The positives can be quite exceptional under the right circumstances, but it isn’t the right technology for everyone.

If you're curious to see whether virtualization can help your business, or if you are looking for other IT solutions, contact us today for assistance.

Published with permission from Source.

September 28th, 2015

164_B_SMFor many small business owners, maintaining an active presence on social media can be a challenge. It takes time and money, and when you see little return on your investment it can be both perplexing and disheartening. If you’ve personally struggled with social media marketing, it may offer you some comfort to know you’re not alone. A recent survey reports that the problem is widespread.

Survey details

The survey was conducted by a small business directory and support network known as Manta. They surveyed 540 of their small business members with the aim of learning how much ROI these companies are gaining from social media marketing.

The results

Based on data on the 540 participants, 41% of businesses are receiving a return from social media marketing, which leaves nearly 60% with nothing to show for their investment of time and money. And as for the businesses that are gaining a return, over 80% earn less than $1,000 a month from their social media efforts. More surprisingly, close to half bring in less than $100 a month.

As a small business owner, should these numbers be cause for alarm? According to the CEO of Manta, John Swanciger, part of the reason the return is so low for most businesses is that their social media priorities are misguided. He notes that social media is less about bringing in new customers, and more about community building. "For a long time, the mantra was that social media could bring in new customers,” he says. “In reality, social media is a community builder, and your biggest fans are your already-loyal customers. When small businesses treat social media as the new word-of-mouth community, the real return will follow."

One of the oldest marketing tactics around is word-of-mouth marketing. Every day, people recommend products, restaurants and businesses they love to friends and family members. And social media is the perfect platform to cultivate your fans’ love of your brand. But according to the Manta survey, less than 8% of business owners cited building community as their primary social media goal.

So how do you build a community on social media?

Besides the obvious investments of time and money, here are a few quick tips to get you started:
  • Regularly post content that is valuable to your social media following - the keyword here being valuable.
  • Ask your followers questions to start conversations, and then engage with them. This builds a connection between your brand and customers.
  • Show your followers that you genuinely care about them, and they’ll likely do the same for you with glowing recommendations to friends and family.
Of course there is much more to it than this, but these quick tips can help you get started. If you’re struggling with your own social media efforts and would like to learn more, we’re happy to point your business in the right direction. Call us today to speak with one of our experts.
Published with permission from Source.

Topic Social Media
September 24th, 2015

164_Gcare_AWhile many small businesses mistakenly think they’re immune to data breaches because of their size, and therefore put minimum protection in place, healthcare organizations can't ever risk taking this laissez-faire approach - and they'd be in trouble if they did. After all, there are rules and regulations when it comes to healthcare IT systems, and huge fines if you don't meet certain standards. Health practices are tempting targets for hackers, who appreciate the high cost of patient treatment and the wealth of personal information stored by doctors. This is why malicious attacks are carried out on healthcare centers all the time. Two separate 2015 surveys, performed by the Ponemon Institute and the global corporation KPMG, produced some alarming statistics. Here’s what they discovered.

The 2015 KPMG Healthcare Cybersecurity survey

This survey of 223 chief healthcare executives revealed that 81 percent of healthcare organizations have been breached in the last two years. What may come as even more disturbing news is that 25% of these executives noted that their organizations were attacked anywhere from one to five times a week.

And the organizations which are aware they’re being attacked are actually the lucky ones. According to Greg Bell, KPMG’s leader of the firm’s Cyber Practice, "The experienced hackers that penetrate a vulnerable health care organization like to remain undetected as long as they can before extracting a great deal of content, similar to a blood-sucking insect." That means the longer a cyber attack goes unnoticed, the more damage it can do to your practice.

The survey also revealed the greatest threats facing today’s healthcare organizations by type, according to the respondents:

  • 65% - external attacks: cyber attacks are more sophisticated and well funded than ever. With healthcare organizations as prime targets, they are increasingly difficult to prevent.
  • 48% - sharing data with third parties: because it’s easy to distribute ePHI over the Internet and mobile devices, it’s more likely for this data to fall into the wrong hands.
  • 35% - employee breaches: an unhappy employee steals or alters your practice’s critical information.
  • 27% - insufficient firewalls: a firewall blocks viruses, worms and hackers. If yours is inadequate, it’s easier for these threats to break into and corrupt your network.

The Ponemon study

Released in early 2015, the Ponemon Institute’s Fifth Annual Benchmark Study on Privacy and Security of Healthcare Data may come as even more of a shock than KPMG’s survey. According to this study, 91% of healthcare organizations have experienced at least one data breach in the last two years, 39% have had two to five breaches, and 40% have had more than five.

So what’s the real reason for all these data breaches? The report claims that "cyber criminals recognize two critical facts of the healthcare industry: 1) healthcare organizations manage a treasure trove of financially lucrative personal information and 2) healthcare organizations do not have the resources, processes, and technologies to prevent and detect attacks and adequately protect patient data."

Although the information revealed by these two surveys is anything but positive, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. To protect your practice, there are five key steps you can take:

  1. Prevention - just as integral to data security as it is to your patients’ health
  2. Monitoring your network - so you know when and if your organization is under attack
  3. Management - of passwords, applications, and staff policies
  4. Compliance - it's your legal duty to be compliant with all rules and regulations in the industry, such as HIPAA
  5. Penetration testing - find the holes in your security that a hacker could exploit, and close them
These are just the basics of what you should be doing if you run any sort of healthcare center. Protecting the data of your patients, both personal and financial, is of paramount importance; failure to do so will result in fines or, worse still, the loss of your reputation. Crestview IT Solutions has years of experience in designing, deploying and maintaining IT services and solutions tailored for the healthcare industry. To learn more about how you can protect the data of your healthcare practice, get in touch with us today.
Published with permission from Source.

September 23rd, 2015

AndroidTablet_Sep22_BThe advantages to businesses of putting tablets to use in the office can be huge - not least because of the mobility and flexibility enjoyed by being able to work from anywhere with an internet connection. Yet the cost of equipping an office full of staff with tablets can be prohibitive, at least until now. Amazon could be about to transform the industry with an Android tablet that sells for just $50. Here are the details on this radical move.

The seven-inch Amazon Fire tablet is due to launch on September 30, meaning it will be available just in time for the holiday season - great for individuals looking to treat themselves or loved ones, but also good news for businesses looking to use technology to increase efficiency ahead of the busy peak period.

Given the tablet’s budget positioning - with likenesses to Google’s stripped-back Chromebook, which performs basic functions but is of only limited use without an internet connection - it’s not surprising that it isn’t as powerful as more popular options. While its software is based on Android, the device actually runs on Amazon’s Fire OS 5 Bellini operating system. That means it does not support the Google Play apps used on the vast majority of Android tablets - which will be a drawback for some users - but it does work with the Amazon app store. Other key specs include a 1,024x600 pixel display, a 1.3Ghz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage that can be increased further by using a microSD card. According to Amazon, the Fire supports seven hours of battery life during moderate usage.

Perhaps most interesting, though, is the fact that the Fire comes with built-in advertising-based screensavers displaying Amazon promotions; a small additional payment is required to switch these off. Again, it’s hardly a shock to hear that there’s a semi-catch of this kind when the tablet itself only costs $50. It might also represent a shift in the market positioning of tablet devices, with more focus on business models similar to those of no-frills budget airlines and hotels, where extra payments are required for meals, seat selection, windows, towel rental and so on.

Either way, the Amazon Fire could be the way into tablet use for companies that need their employees to have the ability to work remotely and flexibly, but which don’t require the more intensive capabilities of pricier higher-end devices. To learn more about adapting mobile technology in your business in order to boost efficiency and productivity, give us a call.

Published with permission from Source.

September 23rd, 2015

WindowsPhone_Sep23_BMicrosoft will be revealing the Lumia 950, an all-new and high-end Windows Phone, at its annual event this coming October 6th. In an attempt to target the upper segment of the smartphone market, Microsoft has gone out of its way to install powerful hardware on the Lumia 950, enhancing its features to meet constantly evolving user needs.

Microsoft has been working hard on developing the Lumia 950, the first smartphone to utilize its Windows 10 Mobile operating system. The rumors about the Microsoft Lumia 950, codenamed “Talkman”, have been around for a good while now. Here’s what you need to know about the tech giant’s latest smartphone product.

Design and display

Rumor has it that the latest Lumia 950 will come with a metal frame, coated with matte white or black polycarbonate, with a thickness of just 8.89mm thickness. The device will sport a 5.2-inch screen display, with a Quad HD resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels.


The Lumia 950 is going to boast a 64-bit Hexa core, most likely the Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, as well as 3GB of RAM and an internal storage capacity of 32GB. Users have the option of expanding the memory with a microSD card.


Microsoft will integrate a powerful 20-megapixel PureView primary rear camera, capable of shooting high-definition video, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. Additional features include optical image stabilization, autofocus, and social media geotagging.


It is said that Microsoft’s new Lumia 950 will incorporate Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 technology, allowing for faster battery charging (up to 60% within just 30 minutes). The Lumia 950 will be equipped with a detachable 3,000mAh battery, so you can expect it to last for a full day, even with heavy use.

Price and release date

Although Microsoft hasn’t yet revealed the exact price or a release date for the upcoming Lumia 950, the price point is expected to rival that of the iPhone 6s. The release date is most likely to be on October 10, the very same day Microsoft plans to launch its brand new operating system for smartphones, Windows 10 Mobile.

Overall, the Lumia 950 comes with plenty of improvements that Windows Phone fans will love. It is faster, lasts longer, and is more stable. Want to learn more about Windows Phone and how to use it in your office? Get in touch today.

Published with permission from Source.

September 23rd, 2015

You regularly back up your computers (or at least you should), but do you do the same with your smartphone? Given the massive amounts of contact information, photos, videos and other data we all carry around on smartphones, it’s critical to back them up or risk losing all that data forever. There are two basic ways to back up your phone: automatically to the cloud or manually to your computer.

To The Cloud. Cloud backups are secured with your password-protected account. They can easily be configured to run automatically so you can “set it and forget it.” Apple users can use iCloud to back up photos, contacts, calendars and other data. Turn on and configure iCloud Backup by going to Settings > iCloud. Android users can back up to Google servers in much the same way, using a Google account. Configure your preferences by going to Settings > Backup.

To Your Computer. Both Apple and Android users also can back up data directly to a computer manually. Generally, connecting the phone to the computer by cable is the quickest way to do this. Apple users can also use iTunes Wi-Fi Sync to wirelessly back up phone data to a computer. Remember, though, when backing up your smartphone to a computer, your data is only as safe as that computer. Be sure to back up the computer regularly as well.

September 21st, 2015

Business_Continuity_Sep21_BSomewhere in your Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is a section detailing what is expected from employees during a disaster. Unfortunately, many companies end up overlooking this aspect of their BCP and assume their staff knows what to do. This can lead to problems, as employees won’t necessarily perform the functions required to keep your company operating. Here are a few steps to take to ensure this doesn’t happen to you.

Step 1 - Prepare

What good is a BCP if your employees don’t understand or even know about it? Saving your data and information is important during times of emergency, but so is making sure your employees can execute their day-to-day functions. Guarantee they understand what is expected from them during a disaster by explaining this in a dedicated meeting. This will also provide a forum for your staff to ask questions and better understand how they fit into the BCP as a whole.

Among the most important things to include in the formulation of any planning are clearly defined roles and open lines of communication. Everyone should know who they report to, as well as who his or her backup is. This will help ensure your company has all its bases covered if a disaster should strike.

Step 2 - Give them the right tools

You can’t expect employees to work from home during a disaster if they do not have the proper tools to succeed. Of course, these also have to be cost effective as well; it’s not feasible to simply hand out workstations to everyone to store at home in case of emergency. For starters, investing in cloud-based solutions will help make it possible to keep service interruptions to a minimum. Microsoft Office 365, for instance, lets users access its programs and files from anywhere and on any device. This means that, if your office is no longer accessible, staff can keep working on their existing projects at home from their own device.

Cloud-based VoIP is another tool that can keep employees up and running from home. These systems can make sure all calls to your office are forwarded to your employees’ cell phones. This allows for communication between your clients and employees to continue uninterrupted even if your office is closed.

Step 3 - Practice

Have each employee take a day to work from home so they are able to get hang of how the process will go if a disaster strikes. This will get them comfortable with the workings of everything, as well as seeing if there are any issues that crop up. Rarely, if ever, does anything go perfectly on the first attempt, so practicing before a disaster can help eliminate any problems that might occur during the real thing.

Make sure you take the time to review how it went with each employee. This will give you an opportunity to see how practical this aspect of your BCP is, and which areas can be made stronger. The idea of the exercise is to allow each employee to feel confident in his or her ability to work during a disaster, and to give you the reassurance that they understand their role as it relates to the wider BCP.

Step 4 - Be alert

Finally, it’s important to keep an eye on possible events that could force you to shut down your office, and make sure your staff is also aware of the situation. The more time they have to prepare to work from home, the more ready they will be. Of course, not every event is possible to predict ahead of time, but if the a blizzard is forecast or there have been protests nearby, alert your staff of the possibility that your BCP may go into effect.

A comprehensive Business Continuity Plan can be the difference between your business surviving or failing if a disaster occurs. Let our experts find a BCP that ensures your company can carry on through thick and thin.

Published with permission from Source.

September 17th, 2015

164_Hcare_ALast week, Apple revealed a new app to go along with its Apple Watch that could permanently change the way Healthcare is provided. Through an app known as AirStrip and the new watchOS 2 software, the Apple Watch will allow medical professionals to connect with patients in ways never before thought possible. Here are some of the features the healthcare industry is getting excited about.

Designed specifically for the healthcare industry, the new Apple Watch version of the AirStrip app will allow patients and doctors to easily communicate up-to-the-second, critical health information across long distances. Doctors will be able to monitor patients on the go, with the capability to check their blood pressure, heart rate, pill schedule, lab results, diagnosis and more just by looking at their wrist. Here are a few other ways the AirStrip app and Apple Watch will change the way healthcare is provided.

Mobility and convenience for the healthcare industry

Included in the AirStrip app for Apple Watch are a wealth of new features that can make the lives of nurses and doctors easier. Doctors, who are notorious for their jam-packed schedules, will now be able to view their appointment schedules on their wrists. This will make it easier for them to prioritize meetings and manage their day on the go. And for added convenience, doctors will also be able to view lab results and patient diagnosis information on the Apple Watch.

If you’re not a doctor, you can also benefit from the Apple Watch. For example, as soon as a nurse checks a patient’s vitals, he or she can send them to the doctor immediately via the AirStrip application. This will save time and help any practice operate more efficiently.

Monitoring pregnant women

Currently, the AirStrip app is used to monitor pregnant women - but only while they’re in the hospital. However, the new AirStrip app for Apple Watch changes this. Using sensors that are placed on a woman’s belly and a technology known as Sense4Baby, doctors will be able to remotely monitor the heart rates of a mother and her baby while the two are at home. What’s more, when a pregnant woman goes into labor the doctor will also be able to monitor contractions from the Apple Watch.

What about security?

Since personal health information is being transported over an app, you may very well think that security could be an issue. But believe it or not, AirStrip is compliant with federal law through the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This ensures that patients’ private information is well protected.

Want more up-to-the-second healthcare IT news? Curious to learn how IT can transform your practice? Our technology experts specialize in healthcare. Call us today to learn how we can update your practice for the 21st century.

Published with permission from Source.

September 16th, 2015

You know the standard approach – first, identify your company’s weakness and then do everything you can to fix it. Practice at it relentlessly, feed your team (and yourself) with constant affirmations, do anything you can to dive deep into your weakness and fix it once and for all. If you can’t fix it, then go to Plan B by burying the weakness in hopes that none of your prospects or competitors find out.

Well, here’s the dealio: the business down the street that is naturally strong at the same thing your company is weak at is working just as relentlessly to improve their strength. While you are fixing something that’s broke, they are getting better at something that already works. While you may improve your weakness, their strength gets better too. At the end of the day they are still ahead of you. You lose. That is, unless you know the power of spin.

Instead of trying to fix weaknesses, smart leaders will turn the tables and make their weakness or even an industry weakness a competitive advantage. A wonderful example in the restaurant industry is Dick’s Last Resort. Like all restaurants that struggle with the occasional rude waiter, Dick’s could have tried to fix this industry-wide weakness. Instead they turned the weakness into their greatest strength. Known to have the “most obnoxious waitstaff in the world,” Dick’s built a whole system around exploiting an industry weakness. They hire and train people to be obnoxious (while the competition tries to fix it), and Dick’s has grown explosively.

I have found that exploiting a weakness can draw droves of prospects. So, let’s do it with your weakness. Here are the three simple steps you need to take:

Step 1

Know what your (or your industry’s) weakness is. The process is simple: ask your customer and prospects what they don’t like about your industry. Ask more customers the same question. Very soon you will know exactly what weakness they see.

Step 2

Instead of brainstorming ways to fix it, brainstorm ways to make the weakness absurdly weak. Can you make fun of it? Can you make it the core experience for your customers (think Dick’s Last Resort)? How can you make the weakness a good thing?

Step 3

Now that you have a new and improved weakness, let the world know all about it. Market it to your prospects, inform your customers and even leverage all that work your fiercest competitor put into highlighting your weakness in the past.

The process of spinning a weakness takes courage, and that is exactly why it works. It is likely you have been afraid of doing this in the past, and it is highly likely your competitors are just as afraid too. If you have the courage to spin your weakness into an über-weakness (a.k.a. a big-time strength), you might just blow your competition out of the water once and for all.




September 15th, 2015

MobileGeneral_Sep15_BIt’s not long since static biometrics, like fingerprint sensors, first became available on mobile phones, allowing us, in theory, to do away with PIN numbers and security passwords. Still, static biometrics are only available on high-end smartphones and use proprietary technology that limits their use. But things are about to change with what could very well be the next generation of mobile phone security, behavioral biometrics. Here we’ll explore all you need to know about the technology.

What’s it all about?

Behavioral biometrics focus on uniquely identifying characteristics related not necessarily to who you are, but to what you do.The stress is on the recognition and analysis of something all of us do all the time on our smart devices - typing - as a new way of establishing identity.

How does it work?

“The technology profiles how a person interacts with a website on their smartphone by analyzing their typing rhythm, how they hit and release keys, the pressure they put on the screen as they type, the angle they’re holding their phone, and how quick they move across the screen,” says Dr. Neil Costigan, CEO at Swedish IT and security company BehavioSec, which has a patented technology that can be integrated into an app or even a smartphone OS.

Combined with data from a smartphone's built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, it’s possible to come up with a profile of each person. This could allow for monitoring of typing in real time in order to verify a person is who they say they are, just by watching their typing behavior. “The tech works on all models and makes of smartphones and doesn’t require extra hardware,” added Costigan. In fact, Costigan’s continuous process of verification has already been used by banks across Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Germany as part of efforts to detect and counter fraud. The technology was showcased as possible future-phone tech at Google’s I/O 2015 conference, and has the potential to be installed on every phone rather than just being limited to banking apps.

Looking to learn more about mobile technology and how they can change the way you work? Contact us today; we’re happy to talk.

Published with permission from Source.