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What Do End-Of-Support and End-Of-Life Dates Really Mean?

end-of support end-of-life

Have you ever run into technological terms where you don't fully understand their meaning? Have you felt this way when hearing your technology is approaching "end-of-life" or that a product has an upcoming "end-of-support date"?

We'd like to give you a little insight as to what end-of-support dates are, what end-of-life means, as well as what your action items should be when your IT team tells you that one of these is approaching. This way, you will know what your engineer is talking about, and you will have peace of mind when navigating upcoming changes.

 

End-Of-Support dates

So, what does end-of-support actually mean? It's just how it sounds. This is put into place when a company decides to stop providing support on a specific product or service. Oftentimes this occurs when newer software or hardware is released, and support for the older version is no longer provided.

Think about it this way, whenever your technology breaks, freezes, or simply isn't working correctly, you pick up the phone and call a support line. Imagine not being able to call a support line for one of your products. If something breaks and you're in that position, it becomes a larger problem as it may not have an easy fix. This is why updating your software and hardware, and paying attention to end-of-support dates is so important.

 

End-Of-Life dates

End-of-life dates are slightly different, as this is the date when the product goes end-of-sale. Utilizing end-of-life hardware can be especially risky, as businesses could experience compromised data security, decreased productivity, higher maintenance costs, problems with scalability, as well as non-compliance.

According to the State of IT Study conducted by Spiceworks, end-of-life is the top driver of new technological purchases as it was reported 57% of purchases were motivated by end-of-life. In fact, 62% of small businesses are driven to purchase new technology due to end-of-life dates that are fast approaching.

 

Business Reviews/Budgeting

So, what should you do when you hear end-of-support or end-of-life dates that apply to your business are approaching? It's important to set a meeting with your main IT contacts to cover all of your bases. Take time to discuss all of your current products, what you should keep, what isn't necessary, and which of your hardware or software is approaching an end-of-support or end-of-life date. Even if the date is a year away, they tend to sneak up on you, so it's always good to start the discussion in order to be prepared ahead of time.

From there, you will have a clear picture that will help you to budget and prioritize for the upcoming year. You will have the opportunity to really plan ahead and allocate your IT budget dollars in the right places.

For free presentation slides from the 2018 NE Tech Summit titled, "End-of-Life: The Technology Graveyard", click below. This presentation will provide you with tools to create an end-of-life management plan, and will outline upcoming and recent end-of-life dates you should be aware of.

Click Here To Access The Presentation

Topics: End of Life, End of Support

Gartner Study Breakdown: 2019 it trends To Watch For

2019 IT Trends

The tech world has been taken by storm since Gartner released research about the top 10 strategic tech trends of 2019. It's always intriguing to see what the next year has in store for technological advancements, and can also be very helpful in keeping your business competitive.

Below are top trends we pulled from the Gartner study to keep an eye on in 2019. These are based on research that highlight "changing or not yet widely recognized trends that will impact organizations through 2023."

 

ALL THINGS AI

AI has been on the radar for several years now, and is now being used on autonomous things to perform tasks that are normally done by humans. Examples of autonomous things being impacted by AI are: robotics, vehicles, drones, appliances, and agents. This is expected to increase in strength in 2019 and beyond. An AI-related tool that might be more relevant to your business are chat bots. This technology is becoming more and more prevalent in the way users seek information and make requests. Chat bots are expected to improve immensely in 2019 as users continue to rely on them. According to a recent study conducted by Spiceworks, within the next 12 months 40% of large businesses, 25% of mid-size companies, and 27% of small businesses are expected to implement chat bots into their communication strategies.

Data reporting and collection is extremely helpful in measuring business success, which is where augmented analytics come into play. Through automated algorithms, more conclusions can be drawn where it might have previously been missed. Generating analytics will become easier than ever before, and according to Gartner, by 2020 more than 40% of data science tasks will be automated. Bias will be removed, and data insights will become more readily available.

 

THE MIX OF DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL WORLDS

Gartner states that this next year will raise more opportunity for the blending of the digital and physical worlds, in order to create a more immersive world. These two worlds will be blended in several ways, one being through immersive technologies such as augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and virtual reality (VR). Gartner predicts that increased productivity will occur in both VR and MR, VR technology will increase its' ability to sense shapes and track user's positions, and MR will enable people to interact with their world. According to the study, by 2022 70% of enterprises will be experimenting with immersive technologies.

"Digital twins" are also a prediction expected to slowly arise in the upcoming year and advance in future years. This is defined as a digital representation that mirrors a real-life object, process, or system. These will become more advanced as they will provide a focus on improving specific business outcomes, real-time monitoring and control, driving new business opportunities, and the evaluation of "what if" scenarios. An example? A business model or process will be moved from a white board in a board room meeting to a process that is tracked and implemented completely through business technology.

 

BUSINESS PRACTICES

As information grows more and more valuable, keeping information private will increase in importance. Gartner states that privacy must be rooted in ethics and trust. "The conversation should move from 'Are we compliant?' toward 'Are we doing the right thing?'. Digital ethics and privacy will continue to grow in importance and relevance, especially for businesses.

Gartner defines a smart space as a physical or digital environment in which humans and technology-enabled systems interact. These smart spaces are predicted to increase momentum in the next few years. Smart spaces are all about the collaboration of technology to create an interactive environment for the user. These will be used to connect businesses to their communities, and will drive more social and community collaboration.

The overall theme we are seeing from this study? Interaction. Technology is only going to increase the amount of interaction it has with users and other pieces of technology as the years go by, and 2019 will be no different. Continue keeping your business competitive by staying on top of the latest, most relevant technology to your industry, and don't be afraid to try new things that will streamline your processes.

Technology is always going to outgrow previous expectations, and we can't wait to see what the future holds.

Want to focus your time on business continuity and planning ahead? Click below for our free presentation slide deck about planning for the worst, to keep you at your best.

Click Here For The Free Download

 

 

Topics: Tech Solutions, Business Continuity, AI, Tech Trends

A Special Year For Scruff 4 Schools: Record-Breaking Results

Blog Grpahic - S4S

"We are intentional about helping those in need, be it our family, peers, clients, or our community. We are always on the lookout for these impactful opportunities."

Five Niners all across Nebraska operate on 14 fundamentals that were carefully drafted years ago to represent Five Nines in its' entirety, from core cultural values to customer service excellence. The statement above is from the 6th Five Nines fundamental, We Care. What we came to realize this November during Scruff 4 Schools, however, was not only does our team operate on this fundamental, but so do the amazing partners of Five Nines who were more than willing to jump in and help in any way they could to fight childhood hunger in Nebraska with us.

We are proud to announce that this year was a record-breaking year for our Scruff 4 Schools campaign. Last year, Scruff 4 Schools provided 10,215 meals through the annual initiative. Our Scruff Squad went into November wanting to make it bigger than ever before, and it has been amazing to see Nebraska communities rally behind this cause.

The Results

With over 7,141.8 pounds of food collected in combination with monetary donations raised, the total meals provided that will feed Nebraska kids is…26,354!

Thank You

The results above would not have been possible if not for every single Five Nines partner whose teams proactively collected nonperishable food items and monetary donations in their offices. From the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank every single individual who participated. We would also like to thank everyone who participated in the Scruff 4 Schools Driving 4 Donations campaign. Our Scruff Squad camped out at the Kearney, Grand Island, Columbus, and Omaha Hy-Vee's throughout the month in an attempt to collect even more nonperishable food items. We'd like to thank Kat 103.7 and Hits 106 for helping to raise awareness for the Hy-Vee events, as well as anyone who was shopping at those locations on those days who was kind enough to donate. We would also like to thank the Food Bank of Lincoln and the Food Bank for the Heartland for their Scruff 4 Schools partnership, and for giving us the amazing childhood hunger programs that we are able to support.

Every single donation in this campaign made a huge difference in these children's lives.

An Inspiring Story

Finally, Five Nines would like to take a moment to thank the team at H&M Trucking for their inspiring donation to Scruff 4 Schools. The team at H&M Trucking alone rallied together to collectively raise $4,771.00 + 2 full barrels filled with nonperishable food items in the fight against childhood hunger. From employees asking to deduct a certain amount from their paycheck to go towards Scruff 4 Schools each week, to a veteran who donated his entire week's paycheck to the cause, the generosity of the H&M Trucking team will provide many meals to feed children in need in Nebraska.

"For us, this experience has highlighted just how much our people want to help others. We put the notice out on a Thursday to our drivers, and by the next Monday morning we had already raised over $1,500.00 in pledges. Everyone was excited to see the updates on how much we had raised each week. We had one driver that pledged his ENTIRE PAYCHECK for a week (over $1,000.00) to the program.  He’s a veteran, and said he’s seen starving children when he was deployed, and it was the worst thing he’d ever encountered. He wanted to help as many children as he could with this opportunity." said Cyndi Meurrens, Project Solutions Manager at H&M Trucking.

"We had other drivers pledging weekly amounts as we offered to deduct their donations directly from their pay. Drivers would call daily for progress amounts and then pledge even more to bump us up over our goal. The office staff wanted to make sure we also filled the barrels – and boy did we ever! They were already overflowing a couple of weeks into the campaign. The results are absolutely amazing, even to us!"

Not only did the H&M team surprise Five Nines with their generosity, they seemed to have surprised themselves.

Meurrens stated, "It's indescribable!  Everyone here is absolutely baffled by our results, and so grateful that we have so many incredibly generous people in the H&M family."

HM Trucking

"The H&M Trucking team went above and beyond for the 2018 Scruff 4 Schools initiative," said Joel Friesen, President of Five Nines. "We are grateful for our amazing Five Nines staff and partners who embrace the 'We Care' fundamental, and who work hard to better the communities they serve."

Our team is humbled by the support this initiative received throughout the month of November. If we have learned one thing, it's that Scruff 4 Schools is not just a Five Nines effort, it's a community effort. We can't wait to see what difference we can make together in 2019.

To learn more about the annual Scruff 4 Schools initiative, click below: 

Visit Scruff 4 Schools Website

Topics: Scruff 4 Schools

Tech Gadgets Worth Buying On Cyber Monday

Cyber-Monday-Blog

Cyber Monday is a day with no lines and no stress. Where users can jump online, find deals, and purchase the holiday must-haves. 

Where do a lot of Cyber Monday sales lie? The technology products. According to a report by Adobe following Cyber Monday in 2017, online sales last year reached $6.59 billion, making it the largest online shopping day in history. 4 of the 5 top sellers were selling different pieces of technology.

There will be endless tech deals as Cyber Monday progresses. If you are online shopping, here are the tech gadgets that are most worth your attention and investment.

LAPTOPS

There are plenty of laptop deals out there today on Cyber Monday from Microsoft, Lenovo, HP, Apple, and more. Laptops are one of the best tech gadgets to invest in as their functionality expands beyond simple day-to-day uses. The average lifespan of a laptop is between 3-5 years, and while it may operate past that time frame, the amount of files, updates, and software can really take a toll on a laptop's hardware. If you notice your laptop is overheating consistently, running more slowly, and giving you problems on a weekly basis, it might be time to invest in a new laptop. What better time to do so than on Cyber Monday?

CELL PHONES

It seems as though we blink and there is a new, better phone out there, each one more advanced than the last. Cyber Monday is full of deals on Apple, Samsung, and Google cell phones from many different stores and vendors. Your cell phone is one of the most utilized pieces of technology in your daily life, as it is always with you and is consistently used to stay in touch with the people in your life. If you are ready for an upgrade, Cyber Monday might be the best time to enhance your every day device.

Your mobile device is very personal to you, holding all of your information within the click of a few buttons. While it's always on you, that doesn't mean it cannot be hacked. Here are 3 signs that will tell you whether your phone has been hacked.

Click Here For The Free Download

TABLETS

Around 164 million units of tablets were shipped worldwide in 2017. Why have these devices become so popular? The functionality and pricing has put it at the top of many wish lists over the last couple of years. Tablets, whether created by Apple, Samsung, Amazon, Microsoft, Lenovo, etc., all have one thing in common: a simplified approach. They are easy to travel with, and are very useful for entertainment and communication purposes. Combine that with the price points, especially on Cyber Monday, and it's no surprise they continue to grow in popularity.

SMART SPEAKERS

2018 has been a big year for smart speakers such as the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, as well as the accessories that support those particular smart speakers. The increase in popularity could be attributed to the quick access to information as well as the hands-free tasks that these smart speakers provide. Asking, "Alexa, what is the weather today?" as you are getting ready for work, or telling the Google Assistant to create a grocery list for you has drawn in a crowd of on-the-go individuals who love to utilize different pieces of technology. According to research by NPR, over 43 million Americans own a smart speaker, that is 18% of the adult population in just 2+ years of existence. Not to mention, 61% of these individuals are promoting others to purchase a smart speaker device as well.

Cyber Monday is a great way to save money on great tech gadgets on the market. As always, be sure to only make purchases through secure websites. You can check the safety of a questionable website here: https://fortiguard.com/webfilter

Curious about the cost of NOT replacing old equipment? Click below for a free presentation slide download filled with helpful stats and additional information.

Click Here To Learn More

 

Topics: Equipment, Cyber Monday

Unplug Over The Holidays: Leave "IT" To A Managed Services Provider

Unplugging Blog-2

There are only a few times throughout the year when it is encouraged to unplug from work. Where you should spend time with family, eat too much food, and unplug from your phone and email. I think you know where we are going with this… it's almost officially the holiday season.

How unplugged will you really be over the holidays, if you are constantly worried about your business technology? The truth is, you can never really unplug from the chaos if your IT infrastructure is not fully supported.

We encourage you to unplug over the holidays, and leave your IT in the hands of a capable Managed IT Services team. What services should you be able to count on this holiday season?

24/7/365

Your technology is not an 8am-5pm job and it never will be. It requires 24 hour monitoring, every single day of the year so that your organization can not only stay protected, but competitive and efficient as well. On-call engineers are also a great resource as they help to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity within your IT environment. If something were to go awry, they are there to respond. According to Ponemon Institute, only a third of organizations believe they have adequate resources to manage security effectively. That statistic is enough to keep a decision maker awake at night. Knowing that an IT team is monitoring your business technology for you will help you and your coworkers to really unplug over a holiday.

CONTROLLED IT COSTS

Your IT team should provide you with 1 - 3 - 5 year budgets so that your organization isn't faced with unexpected costs as you are budgeting for the next year throughout the holiday season. Technology is not going to slow down in the professional world, so it's best to have your IT spending for the next year determined ahead of time before the new year creeps up on you. According to a study conducted by Spiceworks, 89% of companies expect their IT budgets to grow or stay the same over the next 12 months. IT spending is becoming a strategic move by most businesses, and investing in the right technology is something that you must plan ahead for. Long-term budgeting and planning will give you peace of mind towards the end of the year as the direction of your IT environment is more controlled and defined.

Want to learn more about how to make your technology a strategic business asset? Sit back, grab some popcorn, and click below to download the FREE Five Nines webinar, "IT As An Asset".

Click Here To Access The Free Webinar

FOCUS ON YOUR CORE BUSINESS

Time is limited, you don't want to take the extra time to worry about your IT efforts, especially as the end of the year approaches. Leaving it up to the pros has become the common trend when it comes to specialized departments as a study showed in 2017, 57% of organizations increased their use of outsourcing. There was a huge increase because organizations wanted to stay focused on their core business. This can be extremely beneficial when you have an IT team worrying about your business technology for you. No more working late nights or long hours trying to squeeze in time to prioritize the direction of your IT, it will all be handled for you, and you can have a more stress-free holiday season.

The end of the year approaches quickly, as does the craziness of the holiday season. Rather than juggling a million things at once, leave your IT to the professionals and really unplug during your time away from the office. Focus on the things that matter most before the new year.

Are you ready to unplug over the holiday season? Click below to schedule a free technical walk-through, no strings attached!

Click Here For A Free Technical Walk-Through

Topics: Outsourced IT, Managed IT Services, Business Continuity, Strategic Planning

Cyber Insurance: Do You Need It?

Cyber Insurance Blog

You might be thinking to yourself, cyber insurance… is it really necessary? Think about it this way - cybercrime damages will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021. A lot of these cybercrimes will be conducted over the internet as a Symantec study showed that in 2017 1 in 13 URL's were identified as malicious, an increase by 3% from 2016. Regardless, the internet has continued to become a large part of how organizations work and operate, and that trend is only going to increase as technology advances even further.

What will also continue to advance is the way cybercriminals try to attack businesses and exploit data online. For example, Symantec found the number of URL's resulting from malicious botnet traffic increased by 62.3% from 2016 to 2017, and the number of URL's resulting from phishing activity rose by 182.5% as well. While managed IT organizations and IT professionals will always do their best to set up IT infrastructures for success, technology will consistently evolve and change. In order to stay ahead of the curve, and have peace of mind, cyber insurance may be a practical investment for your organization.

WHAT DOES IT COVER?

Cyber insurance is a sub-category of general insurance that is meant to protect businesses and/or individuals against internet-based liability and risks. While general insurance may cover tangible aspects, it will not protect your organization's intangible information. Cyber insurance is typically broken up into 2 categories of coverage: first-party and third-party cyber liability coverage. The first-party coverage will take into account the direct losses to an organization, while third-party coverage will extend to claims taken by the organization's customers as well. Another way cyber insurance may cover your company is through a method called incident response, where your organization could receive support via legal services, public relations services, forensics, and much more. Coverage will look different for everyone, it will all depend on your organization as well as your provider, but a huge area of coverage for business is typically loss caused by a data or security breach. Cyber insurance may also cover trademark liability, business interruption caused by a data breach, restoration efforts, etc. 

THE SAVINGS

Whenever there is a data breach, data isn't just compromised, organizations will almost immediately lose money as well. There will be legal fees and costs associated with the breach, as well as organizational downtime, forensic investigations, recovery costs, etc. The point of cyber insurance is to save your organization from all of those unforeseen costs if you are ever put in that position. With a study showing that 54% of companies experienced one or more successful attacks that compromised data, investing in cyber insurance has the potential to save you a lot of money.

Click below for free presentation slides presented by Unico Group at the NE Tech Summit titled: Your Digital Shield - How Cyber Insurance Protects You. This presentation covers how cybercrime is not a matter of "if", but "when", as well as the common misconceptions in regards to cyber liability insurance.

Click Here To Download The Presentation

 

THE PEACE OF MIND

According to Cyber Insure One, the cyber insurance market is expected to grow from $2.5 billion in 2015 to $7.5 billion by 2020, which shows that cyber insurance is becoming a standard component when it comes to organizations executing cybersecurity strategies. While cyber insurance is NOT a replacement for additional cybersecurity efforts, it will provide you peace of mind knowing you wont be left with piles and piles of costs trying to restore your business if you were to ever fall victim to an attack. It's all about asking yourself if you would rather know you are supported and covered in the event of a cyber attack, or if you would rather take the risk and deal with the costs later on if your business was ever impacted.

The right cybersecurity efforts will protect you, the right cyber insurance will give you peace of mind, but it is all about focusing on what solutions will best support your business. Don't overlook the rising statistics that reflect cyberattacks and data breaches each year, take time to map out solutions that will protect and reinforce your organization and your IT environment.

Want to learn more about what we recommend in terms of cybersecurity efforts? Click below to download the free Five Nines webinar about Cylance and how it proactively protects businesses.

Click Here To Watch The Webinar

Topics: Cybersecurity, Cyber Insurance

Don't Overlook The Rising Threats: Protect Your Business

Protect Your Business Blog

How many times have you seen cybersecurity breaches in the news in the last year? If you can recall even one time, we think that is one too many. Why? Because that one news story you might have seen represents a company that potentially experienced significant downtime, loss of data, unplanned exposure of user information, and the list goes on. It takes a lot of time, effort, and resources to get your organization to where it is right now. Make sure you are protecting your business despite the rising threats in cybercrime.

Not Just Big Business

Cybersecurity threats are consistently evolving, and as 2019 approaches these threats will only grow in strength and maturity. Remember Equifax, where personal data of 145 million people was stolen? Or WannaCry ransomware, where machines were locked down in more than 150 countries? Although Equifax is one of the largest credit bureaus out there, small businesses are not out of sight for cybercriminals. Sometimes these small businesses are direct targets, as cybercriminals assume they do not have strong security measures in place. According to Symantec, 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses, and the U.S. National Cyber Security Alliance found that 60% of SMB's go out of business within 6 months of a cyber attack.

We do have good news, however, and there are ways to effectively protect your business from becoming a mark on the checklist of a cybercriminal.

 

Protection Methods

Antivirus. We can't stress this enough - it's important to have a quality antivirus in place that can not only re-actively detect viruses and malware, but can actively prevent them from entering your system as well. Want to discuss quality antivirus with a Five Nines team member? Click here and mention this blog in your message.

Two-Factor Authentication. Implement two-factor authentication when any employee attempts to sign on to any internal system. When an employee goes to log in, they must confirm it is them via email or a push notification on their mobile device as an extra precaution. This action typically takes less than 10 seconds and could save your organization a lot of time and money in the long run.

Intrusion Monitoring. Implementing intrusion monitoring on your systems will help to detect suspicious system and network activity. If suspicious activity is detected, it will generate an alarm or activate email alerts to draw attention to a potential security breach. That way, your IT team can always be on top of what is going on within your system.

Employee Training. Employees are a large target when it comes to cybercrime, as they can be tricked into clicking on things they shouldn't, accidentally leaving room for a cybercriminal to access to your entire network. The more trained and informed your employees are, the more skeptical they will be about clicking on random links, accessing unprotected Wi-Fi networks, using easy passwords/one password for everything, etc. Don't let your employees fall victim to a cyber attack that could infiltrate your entire organization.

Quality IT Team. It's important that you have a trusted IT team on your side, whether they are internal or a Managed Services Provider. Having a team that can provide you with 24/7/365 support and monitoring is key to actively detecting and preventing cybercrime attempts.

While cybersecurity breaches are hitting headlines, many businesses are taking the necessary steps to keep their organization properly protected. Don't overlook these rising threats, be proactive in protecting your business from cybercrime.

 

Not sure if everything you are doing is enough? Click below to schedule a free technical walk-through to learn more about your IT environment, no strings attached.

 Request Free Technical Walk-Through

 

Ransomware is growing in popularity and strength in the cybercrime world. Click below to download our free ransomware rescue guide that you can utilize if you ever find yourself in the middle of a ransomware attack.

Download Free Ransomware Rescue Resource

Why You Should Get Involved With Scruff 4 Schools

Blog-Photo

As of today, individuals from the Food Bank of Lincoln and the Food Bank for the Heartland are out in their communities delivering bins for the annual Scruff 4 Schools initiative that begins tomorrow. The purpose? To continue the fight against childhood hunger in Nebraska. There are a lot of great causes out there during the holiday season, but this one means so much to the Five Nines team, and we hope you take the time to learn a little more about it. 

Here's why you should help us raise food, funds, and awareness for Scruff 4 Schools throughout November.

 

WHAT IS IT?

Scruff 4 Schools is an annual initiative put together by the Five Nines team that focuses on fighting childhood hunger throughout the state. Why childhood hunger? After seeing the statistic that 1 in 6 children don't know where their next meal is going to come from, we knew it was the right cause for us, which is why we decided to dedicate the month of November each year to the cause.

Throughout the month of November Five Nines promotes partners to collect food in their offices while collecting food and raising donations and awareness ourselves. All donations benefit the Backpack Program in emergency situations for Nebraska Public School students. In Nebraska, 227,350 people are food insecure, and 80,070 of those individuals are children. Last year Five Nines and its' partners raised 10,215 meals for children throughout Nebraska, and we hope to increase the stats again this year.

 

HOW TO HELP

If you or your business would like to support Scruff 4 Schools, there are several ways to get involved to help make a difference.

  • It's not too late to let our team drop off a barrel to be placed in your office throughout the month of November so that you and your team can collect non-perishable food items. If you're ready to start collecting food, please click here to request a bin.
  • Help Five Nines raise funds to stop childhood hunger by donating directly to the food banks. For every 1 dollar donated, the food bank can provide a child 3 meals. Last year, some of our partners added a fun spin to their Scruff for Schools support by offering jeans or t-shirt days to their staff for a $5 donation! You can donate directly to the food banks by clicking here and scrolling.
  • Support the newest Driving 4 Donations campaign. New to this year, the Five Nines team will be driving across Nebraska to local Hy-Vee's to collect nonperishable food items to benefit Scruff 4 Schools. If we will be in your area, please stop by with your team to donate. We would love to see you there!

Driving-4-Donations

  • Increase awareness for the cause by following the Scruff 4 Schools 2018 Event Page hosted by Five Nines. If you post about the cause, feel free to tag Five Nines (@GoNines) or use the hashtags #Scruff4Schools and #Driving4Donations. Another method of awareness would be to grow out your "scruff" throughout the month of November to honor the fight against childhood hunger.

 

FAQ'S

Why is it called Scruff 4 Schools?

The initiative is called Scruff 4 Schools because it is Five Nines' spin on No-Shave November. The "scruff" is just another method of awareness.

 

What percentage of the proceeds goes towards the cause?

100% of the donations and proceeds go to the local food banks to support their Backpack Programs.

 

Do you have to be a Five Nines partner to participate?

No, we are looking to build upon Five Nines' mission to give back to communities we serve across Nebraska, and we want to include whoever is excited to participate.

 

Who can we contact if we have additional questions?

Please contact marketing@gonines.com with any questions about the Scruff 4 Schools initiative!

 

For an informational video on the Scruff 4 Schools initiative as well as more information, please click below.

Click Here To Learn More About S4S

 

Topics: Scruff 4 Schools, Community Involvement, Volunteering

IT Strategic Planning for 2019 and Beyond

Strategy Blog

2019 will be here before we know it, is your technology accounted for? In order to keep a well-maintained IT environment, you must make your technology a part of your annual strategic efforts. As the new year creeps closer, it's time to start thinking about your IT strategic planning for this next year. How can you do this? Where should you start?

Guide your strategic planning conversations with the touch points below to set yourself up for success in 2019.

 

GOAL SETTING

When it comes to strategic planning, an initial objective should be sitting down to establish effective goal setting. This is such an important aspect of general business, and the same should apply to your business technology. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit, executives see technology as their #1 business challenge. Identifying and discussing goals can help to conquer the technical challenges that seem impossible or difficult to face. We recommend sitting down and discussing any upcoming goals or changes you have to your technical environment for the next 18-24 months. To further your discussion, identify the strengths and weaknesses that will contribute to the success of your IT infrastructure. Things may need to be adjusted over the 18-24 month period, but your organization will continue to have clear goals and expectations when it comes to your business technology.

Want tips on how to discuss the need for strategic IT with your organization's decision makers? Click below to download our free guide on How To Sell Managed IT Services To Your Decision Makers.

Click here to download the free guide

 

 

 

FOCUS ON EQUIPMENT

Take some time to assess all of your IT equipment. You will want to take note of how your equipment is currently performing, the age of the hardware, gather all EOS and EOL dates, and work with your IT team to forecast when certain pieces of technology will need to be replaced. Inventory all hardware or anything that has a renewal date such as a warranty, domain, or SSL certificate so you can stay ahead of the curve. Having this information on hand will help you to prepare a full IT budget that will also align with the goals you are setting.

 

PREPARE YOUR BUDGET

To forecast well in advance, map out a 3 year budget to go along with your strategic planning. This will include any equipment that will need to be replaced in that time frame, an estimation of renewal prices based on vendor recommendations or past renewals, IT projects you have coming up the pipeline, as well as any partnership agreements or paid IT employees you will have. According to Boardview, 60% of organizations do not link their strategic priorities to their budget, yet 88% say successfully executing initiatives in order to deliver strategic results is essential for competitiveness. Successfully executing IT strategies will require an alignment of your goals and your budget. The more you can map out ahead of time, the more you can act on the goals you have set for your IT environment which will set you up for success in the long run.

Continue to better your IT environment with strategic planning so you can stay ahead of the curve and increase your organizational up-time in 2019 and beyond. Start with a goal setting discussion, run inventory on all of your equipment, and move forward with preparing a 3 year IT budget. The more intentional you are about your technology, the more impactful it will be for your organization.

 

Want to implement a true strategic IT plan? Click below to request a free IT assessment from Five Nines. We will come to your office and assess your workplace technology, no strings attached!

Click here to request a free IT assessment

 

Topics: Managed IT Services, Business Continuity, Strategic Planning

Is Video Conferencing Technology Worth The Investment?

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Video conferencing has taken the business world by storm as technology has progressed throughout the years. Because it is such a growing phenomenon for business communication, it can be overwhelming for small-to-medium-sized businesses to determine how this technology should play a role within their organization.

We'd like to help you with your research. Below you will find information about the need for video conferencing equipment in the business world, the potential advantages for business communication, what hardware you would need, as well as how to determine if this technology is worth the investment for your particular organization.

 

WHAT IS THE NEED?

According to a study conducted by IDC, video conferencing is becoming more and more prevalent as last year 64% of companies had video conferencing setups in small "huddle" rooms that sat five or fewer individuals. These setups help connect meetings for all aspects of your business, whether it's internally or externally. Studies have shown that 87% of professionals say they feel more connected and engaged with their colleagues as video conferencing technology has increased in connectivity. The same goes for clients who cannot travel to you as well. In today's world, meetings can be anywhere at any time with the right technology in place. Like any business tool, the rise in video conference calls are due to a rise in productivity and effective business communication efforts. These advantages have led to video conferencing technology becoming more of a priority for organizations.

 

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES?

Whether it's a company wanting to connect with remote employees, link multiple offices together for a meeting, reduce unnecessary travel expenses, or simply streamline a voice call so that everyone can see who is speaking, there are plenty of advantages to having video conferencing technology at your disposal. Companies are able to meet more frequently with a higher attendance rate, and they can be there for their clients in a way that feels more personal if their clients are not within driving distance. 65% of individuals also believe that video conferencing is the best method of screen sharing and collaborating on content. Five Nines utilizes Skype for Business (soon to be rebranded to Microsoft Teams) for video conferencing needs, and our team has the ability to host an HD meeting with up to 250 participants, share our presentations, collaborate on an Office document together in real time, poll our audience for feedback, and remotely share control of workstations from anywhere so we can best assist our partners. Reducing costs and increasing efficiency is the best equation when analyzing the investment on a piece of technology.

 

WHAT HARDWARE WOULD WE NEED?

Your hardware needs are as unique as the room you are putting a conferencing system in. A small-to-medium-sized conference room with a flat screen TV on the wall would do well with an all-in-one camera/speaker/microphone mounted underneath the TV, but you may need to move the TV up higher on the wall to make sure the camera can view everyone at the table. A larger conference room with a long table and an over-head projector will need a front or side wall mounted camera, multiple microphones, and multiple speakers to accommodate everyone and ensure a consistent experience. Acoustics can also play a large role in conference quality. If you have a room with a noticeable echo, you should look to adding sound dampening wall panels or acoustic ceiling tiles to reduce the reverberations.

Interested in the possibility of video conferencing equipment, but not sure where to start? Click below to request a free IT Assessment of your environment, no strings attached.

Request An IT Asessment

 

IS IT WORTH THE INVESTMENT?

From the outside looking in, you might not think video conferencing equipment is something your business needs. Perhaps you are thinking that all of your employees are in the same office, or all of your clients are driving distance from you. Video conferencing might not be necessary for every organization, but it can streamline meetings for almost every business. Investing in video conferencing equipment would make the most sense for organizations who have several locations that need to work together, have the need to host all-staff meetings, but do not have enough space to host all users at once, or who need to have the ability to connect with clients more quickly than driving to them.

Video conferencing helps to build the feeling of connectedness with your remote workers or clients you cannot meet with face-to-face. Having the ability to see the individual you are meeting with helps participants to be actively engaged, pick up on body language or visual cues, and keeps your meetings efficient and timely. Investing in video conferencing equipment is worth the consideration, as it can change your whole meeting dynamic and productivity.

 

Interested in learning more about Skype for Business as well as why Office 365 is more than just email? Click below to download our free Five Nines webinar about Office 365 tools that enhance collaboration and how Five Nines helps clients leverage Office 365 tools and packages.

Power Hour: Office 365 - More Than Just Email

 

Topics: Office 365, Equipment, Working Remotely, Video Conferencing