Productivity tools

5 Tools that Keep Our Team Productive

It is our goal to ensure clients’ businesses remain secure, compliant, and operationally efficient. That’s our mission and always will be.

As a professional services company specializing in technology, we like to help you cut through the noise of the numerous tools, especially software, that exist for business productivity. It’s definitely a trending topic this time of year, after all.

So in honor of the new year, we’ve shared 5 ways our team approaches productivity. We share some of our tech stack in this content because it’s also our goal to educate our clients and subscribers more on that this year. Other recommendations below are just practices we believe in.

1. Up-to-Date Hardware

Of course, we recommend updated software, but the reason we focus on hardware is because the performance of old devices will struggle and eventually stop keeping up with continuous software upgrades. Effective software should always work with reliable hardware. 

It’s human nature to avoid change. However, you don’t want to wait until something breaks to upgrade. Unscheduled downtime is a huge obstacle to productivity! To learn more about hardware lifecycles, please reach out to our team now. 

2. Microsoft Teams

If you haven’t tried it before, this collaboration software allows you to set up your team’s virtual space so you have everything you need to work together in one location. We recommend Microsoft Team’s virtual and interactive video conferencing capabilities for its security, compliance, and privacy. Many other virtual meeting tools cannot offer this kind of management. This tool is especially helpful for larger enterprises or hybrid work environments where collaboration and communication can be hindered.

3. Streamlined Reporting

This recommendation is not a product but a practice, although there are tools involved. Leaders lead well when they have clear insight into their department’s assets and output. It also helps streamline all areas of the business. That’s why in recent years we began offering services focused entirely on data reporting and analytics. Simply put, this begins with finding and connecting all your data points in one place and in real-time so you and your key players can leverage it. 

Imagine being able to gather insights more easily that lead to quicker decisions and, ultimately, better results, whether that’s faster production, less waste, or increased revenue. Hopefully all of the above!

4. Cisco Meraki

We trust Cisco Meraki as the network infrastructure for our teams and our managed services clients. It allows any employee to move between workspaces securely. Besides the obvious security it provides, this software also helps with productivity in the following ways:

  • Provides faster application validation and issue resolution for employees
  • Protects personal devices with contextual insights via the cloud
  • Leverages proactive mitigation of performance bottlenecks
  • Offers faster response times via native integration for trouble-ticketing and service management

5. Company Culture

Amidst workplace upheaval across the world lately, we believe company culture should be a priority this year and probably any time. Here’s why. Our employees do their best work not because they have been given the next trendy method of production but because they embody our foundational values. A strong culture acts as a guide and a mindset that all team members can work through. It’s how we’ve achieved many of our successes and growth for over 25 years!

We hope your business is more productive than ever this year! If you have other questions about software or how our team works, please reach out to us.

Why Every Business Needs Cloud-Based Solutions

cloud-based solutionsCredit: Pixabay

Cloud computing, in essence, encompasses every service that can be accessed online anywhere and at any time. Storage platforms like Azure Cloud Storage and customer relationship management apps like Microsoft Dynamics CRM are good examples of the cloud at work. And while businesses have been slowly adopting this service for years, the increasing need to digitalize operations in 2020 spurred over 25% more organizations to migrate to the cloud.

Clearly, businesses are now more confident about leaving important data in the cloud and embracing its adoption more than ever before. If your organization is still on the fence about cloud-based solutions, these benefits might just change your mind.

They’re cost-effective

The costs required to scale and maintain in-house servers are not cheap. After all, you need to buy new equipment when you want to scale and IT needs to regularly check the servers if they’re functioning as intended on a daily basis. Conversely, cloud-based infrastructure like Microsoft Azure gives you only as much storage as you need without requiring you to pay for upkeep. This is because it’s the cloud solutions provider who will be hosting the servers for you.

Though you’ll still be making regular payments, it’ll be at a low, fixed price that doesn’t include unexpected costs like repair and downtime.

Cloud-Based Solutions flexible

As mentioned above, the cloud only requires you to pay for as much storage as you need. This dynamic scalability can be useful in periods of growth or decline, especially with tools like Azure Autoscale that can immediately adapt according to the demands of application usage. For example, Netflix’s user base exploded as people stayed home, as the company saw over 37 million new users last year. But because their service runs on the cloud, Netflix was able to upscale its operations quickly and with minimal lag.

They’re secure

The cloud can protect your data in two ways. First, unlike in-house servers, cloud data centers are designed to be resilient. We’ve previously written about how cloud-based applications can prevent data loss or downtime because they’re affordable, scalable, and, most importantly, consistent. That’s because their servers have printed circuit boards with high power integrity. This helps cloud data centers stay stable even during sudden voltage spikes or power outages, so you don’t need to worry about your data during these events.

Second, the cloud is designed by cybersecurity experts, so you don’t need to worry about data breaches, either. Companies like Vivino use it to protect the private information of customers who wish to have wine delivered right to their doorstep.

They’re easy to use

Cloud-based solutions are designed to be simple and convenient. They’re easy to install and update automatically so they don’t lose functionality over time.

They’re also accessible remotely, which can facilitate more collaboration. Cloud-based tools powered by products like Azure Communication Services allow you to manage your operations more easily. Even tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon are recognizing this and allowing employees to work hybrid work schedules as a result.

Cloud-based solutions provide a competitive edge

Finally, cutting-edge cloud-based solutions can keep your business ahead of the game. Azure Applied AI Services can automate various manual tasks like document processing and customer service so you can turn time into value.

Meanwhile, Azure Power BI can conduct business analytics to make data-driven resolutions for growth. Such decisions have led enterprises like Kroger to further digitalize and innovate their services. Today it boasts a unique, AI-powered, guided shopping experience that uses technology like digital shelf labels and smart shopping carts.

Cloud-based solutions are cheap, easy to use, and so versatile that they can be applied to practically every aspect of your business operations. If you’re looking to drive profitable growth, adopting the cloud is one of the best steps you can take to do so.

Content solely for the use of
Written by Alicia Carter

25 years

Celebrating 25 Years

This year marks 25 years here at Advanced Business Solutions. From our beginning as the brainchild of CEO Mark Lewis, to establishing the ABS Way, to now serving the throughout the Kentuckiana region, we are thankful for each step and opportunity along the way – it’s been an awesome journey so far. Join us as we reminisce on the last 25 years!

A Humble Beginning

The vision for Advanced Business Solutions started small – 4 technicians and 1 administrative person in addition to CEO Mark Lewis. That was the “dream.” After just two years, ABS quickly surpassed that dream. We began adding to our team and expanding our services and reach and continue to do so today!

One of the first additions we made to our services was the implementation of the Help Desk. While we see this service as our first line of defense and a critical part of how we serve our customers, its origins are a bit unconventional. In fact, the Help Desk began when a team member, current VP of Operations David Lacey, had surgery on his foot and had to remain immobile for a season. The solution was to have David take calls and serve clients remotely. This worked so well, we quickly hired another person to join him – our current VP of Business Development John Clark.

Building a Strong Foundation from 25 Years

Each year, ABS has grown continuously and faced new and exciting possibilities along the way. Since our beginning, it quickly became evident that we were doing something right and fulfilling a need in the marketplace that had yet to be addressed. Looking back, we give a lot of credit to the ABS Ways. From guiding principles such as “We Help People” to “Set Expectations Every Time” the ABS Ways have allowed us to deliver quality service and solutions to our customers time and time again. We attribute a lot of our success to the ABS Way.

As the business has grown, so has the ABS family. If you visit our office today, you will meet team members who have been with us from the start. They will tell you stories of cramped old office spaces and living out the “no job is beneath you” mentality as they painted walls and learned on the job! New employees might enjoy better facilities and a more structured environment today, but they attest that ABS continues to operate very much as a family and we’re grateful for that.

Looking Forward to the Next 25 Years

Twenty-five years later, ABS has expanded to over 100 employees (and counting) and serves the Kentuckiana region from a building designed specifically for ABS – with room to grow.

As we reminisce on the last 25 years, we are amazed to see how far we have come. Each new step has brought amazing opportunities, grown our ABS family, and given us so much to be grateful for. We invite you to enjoy our anniversary video we made as a tribute to this milestone.

We look forward to the next 25 years as we continue to serve our customers from Louisville to Lexington and beyond.

As one employee stated – “No matter how we’ve grown or how we will grow, we’re still the same company – we still have fun and we still help people.”

cybersecurity challenges

How to Overcome the Toughest Cybersecurity Challenges

Business and computers go hand-in-hand today. Technology empowers enterprises but that doesn’t mean it’s not complicated. That’s coming from IT professionals! It’s important to have a baseline understanding of the cybersecurity threats facing businesses. However, we want to emphasize that the best way to face a cybersecurity challenge is to have a proactive and comprehensive plan already in place that includes a dedicated team to manage your IT, specifically your data back-ups, network firewall, risk mitigation, and disaster recovery. Below is an overview of the top cybersecurity challenges you may experience. There are immediate actions you can take if and when you face any of these situations.

Stolen Hardware

Unfortunately, computer theft is not out of the question. Besides the financial implications, if a business is broken into, company information on any stolen devices is a concern. If your laptop has been stolen, (hopefully your IT team encrypted it!) then you’ll need to secure your identity and other highly important information stored on that device right away.  To ensure that the culprit cannot access your info, you’ll want to immediately log out of sessions remotely and contact your financial institutions to alert them of the situation. Be sure also to report the theft to your local police to initiate an investigation into the theft. 

Hacked Data

From passwords to banking information, hackers illegally access computer systems to steal personal data. Changing passwords regularly is a preventative measure that you can use to avoid a data breach.  However, if you suspect that your data has been hacked, you’ll need to change your passwords immediately. In the event of a significant data breach, you also need to monitor your accounts, consider freezing your credit, and watch for company updates to ensure that you’ve wholly addressed the breach.

Computer Viruses

Computer viruses can enter your system by disguising themselves within legitimate programs and documents that execute their codes. To guard against virus threats, be sure to keep all your website and network protection up to date, as well as other software and your browser. If you think there’s a virus on your computer, there are immediate steps you can take to identify and resolve the issue. First, run a virus scanner to check for virus presence. If your software run detects a virus, it may identify files that you should delete. Then, you’ll want to disconnect from the internet and reboot your computer.

Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware is one of the most dangerous software threats that a company can face. It acts as a block to computer system access until a ransom is received. If you’ve been attacked by ransomware, it’s crucial to assess the attack as quickly as possible, and we can’t stress enough the importance of looking to the experts.  In the case of a ransomware attack, your Cybersecurity Insurance provider will engage a forensic team and likely Federal Law Enforcement. If you are reading this and do not have a Cybersecurity Insurance policy, please get one ASAP!  Ransomware is a malicious technology that’s constantly evolving, and so it is also vital to already have someone who specializes in the threat on the line. While you may be able to retrieve your data from backups, some ransomware is more advanced and could affect those too. 

Be proactive!

These are not comprehensive instructions, just immediate steps you may take. As mentioned, the best move is a proactive one. You can face cybersecurity challenges with confidence if you’ve established three operations standards:
  1. Complete a comprehensive assessment of your IT framework and possible weaknesses.
It’s important to know exactly what you’re working with. A comprehensive assessment of your IT framework and its possible weaknesses can help you to analyze your entire network infrastructure and make updates and security improvements where needed.  
  1. Focus on implementation and management of effective security controls.
The analysis of your IT framework then shifts to a focus on implementing and managing effective security controls. Your company can use the data to build and improve upon the security measures already in place to ensure an extensive and thorough safeguard for your valuable information. 
  1. Have a plan for handling and responding to security incidents.
Like we’ve stressed: being proactive is key. From malware to data theft to service outages to ransomware, you need to understand the threats to your security and be able to swiftly react if they occur. Having a plan for handling and responding to security incidents is the best way to ensure that your business’ digital operations are prepared to not only detect but respond to and recover from security breaches.  Our dedicated team provides you with support and proactive technology services to reduce friction and frustrations caused by technology in the workplace so that you can focus on your business. If you’re in need of a comprehensive cybersecurity plan, take the first step here.  

Microsoft Announces Price Increase for Office 365 and Microsoft 365

Just Announced:

Microsoft announced a new pricing schedule for both Office 365 and Microsoft 365 that is scheduled to go into effect in March 2022. So, if you’re getting started on your 2022 budgeting for IT services in your organization, here’s what you need to know: Read more

IT Jobs

IT Skills That Will Be In Demand for the Future of Work

Technology changes constantly to keep up with trends and innovations. Thus, IT professionals need to do the same. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the computer and IT field is experiencing steady growth. Jobs are projected to grow by 11% up to 2029, amounting to around 531,200 new jobs. The growing demand for IT employees stems from a greater need for specific skill sets. In line with this, here are some of the most in-demand IT skills in the industry:

Read more

cybersecurity insurance

3 Reasons the Rules have Changed with Cybersecurity Insurance

Five to ten years ago, businesses used cybersecurity insurance more as a precaution than a necessity. Large payouts for cybersecurity breaches were rare and not significant enough to break the bank, which meant those kinds of insurance agencies were making money and keeping it.

Read more

What Every Business Owner Should be Asking About their Data

Using data to make more informed business decisions is a no-brainer – especially for businesses that already have this data at their disposal. 

The challenge is that many businesses have this data, they just don’t have a simple way to collect and interpret it. And, without this, they face a major roadblock on their path towards the informed business decisions they want to make.  Read more

TAM Spotlight – James Hutchinson

As the VP of Business Development, I have the best seat in the house – I see the beginning of our relationships with clients and how they develop over time. I also have the fortunate opportunity to introduce each of our customers to ABS and hand them off to the Technical Account Managers. I get to watch our TAMs educate our clients on what they should be considering strategically as they grow and how they evolve their security posture. Our TAMs are critical to this process, from service delivery to customer satisfaction!

Read more

Three Cybersecurity Services Every Business Needs

Three Cybersecurity Services Every Business Needs

Technology advances everyday, and as it does so do hackers taking advantage of it. Businesses cannot afford to have subpar cybersecurity measures in place. In order to protect your information and save yourself the time, money, and stress that comes with a data breach or other hacking event, you need to have the best plans in place. Read more