The Great Resignation and IT Employees: Where Do Things Stand Today?

The Great Resignation and IT Employees: Where Do Things Stand Today?

READ TIME: 5 MIN

The Great Resignation and IT Employees: Where Do Things Stand Today?

The Great Resignation and IT Employees: Where Do Things Stand Today?

April 2021 marked the onset of the Great Resignation when a record-setting 3.99 million U.S. workers voluntarily left their jobs1. Over a year later, many are wondering about the status of the Great Resignation. Is it over yet? Still continuing? We were interested in these questions as well—especially as they apply to IT employees—and the following is an overview of the situation we face today.

Status of the Great Resignation in 2022

Although many were shocked at the record-setting quit level of 3.99 million in April 2021, the ensuing monthly tallies of voluntary resignations reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggest that this was just the beginning. The number of monthly resignations has continued to climb, reaching a new record high of 4.51 million in November 20212.

Since the beginning of the Great Resignation, the average number of job quits has been 4.15 million per month, and in fact, the number of resignations per month has not fallen below 4 million since August of 2021. The most recent statistics from BLS show that 4.35 million workers left their jobs voluntarily in February 2022, indicating that the Great Resignation has not abated3.

Technology Employees and the Great Resignation

With a history of higher-than-average turnover that spans many years, the technology industry has been hit especially hard by the Great Resignation. To provide context, turnover rates for the technology industry in 2018 were the highest among all industries, at 13.2%4. More recently, in 2020, technology employee turnover rates were clocked at 21.3%5.

Data collected on turnover intentions during the Great Resignation suggest that turnover rates for technology professionals may only continue to climb in coming months. Survey data collected in September 2021 suggested that a full 72% of technology employees in the U.S. planned to quit their jobs in the next 12 months6.

The adverse effects of IT staff turnover are multifold. Losing members of your IT team can result in remaining team members feeling overworked and stressed, which can itself exacerbate turnover. Furthermore, losing IT knowledge and expertise can have a direct impact on the management and upkeep of your company’s IT systems. And of course, turnover in IT is expensive. A conservative estimate is that the cost of replacing an employee is about 30% of their salary7. This means that an IT employee who earns $90,000 per year costs approximately $27,000 to replace.

The Increasingly Important Role of Retention Strategies

The ongoing costs and challenges of high turnover have brought retention strategies into the spotlight. The high demand for talent in general—and IT employees specifically—translates to an employment market where job seekers are free to be choosy about which offers they accept. The abundance of demand places IT workers in a situation where, if they are unsatisfied with their current jobs, they have plenty of other options to consider.

For companies that wish to retain IT employees to the greatest extent possible, the questions then become: Why do IT workers quit, and what might entice them to stay? Research indicates that the most common causes of IT staff turnover are8:

  • Seeking better pay
  • Looking for better working conditions
  • Desire for more responsibility
  • Seeking opportunity to express creativity

Previous studies of turnover and retention in IT affirm these findings, demonstrating that factors like stress due to excessive workload and lack of professional development opportunities can send your best IT talent looking for greener pastures elsewhere9.

Managed IT Services as a Strategy for Curtailing High IT Turnover

Retooling your IT retention strategies is certainly a timely idea, and an option that you might not have considered is outsourcing a portion of your IT management to a managed services provider (MSP). By partnering with an MSP, you can:

  • Decrease stress and burnout in your in-house IT team: Co-managing your IT systems with an MSP allows you to outsource the time-consuming and urgent tech support requests that make for long, stressful days for your IT team. When your employees can call the MSP’s help desk for support whenever they need it, this relieves the pressure that often drives in-house IT talent out the door.
  • Give in-house IT staff opportunities for higher-value activities: Another benefit of co-managing your IT with an MSP is that, with the day-to-day tech support calls taken off your in-house IT team’s hands, they have more time for strategic IT activities. Not only does this provide your IT staff with more responsibility and opportunities for growth, but it also improves your company’s ability to achieve business goals by more effectively leveraging technologies.

Co-managing your IT in partnership with an MSP allows you to create working conditions that better meet the needs and expectations of top IT talent. In addition, containing turnover costs relieves pressure on your budget, allowing for salary increases for your IT team. In these ways, partnering with an MSP can help you to retain your key IT professionals.

Are you interested in exploring managed services as a retention strategy for your IT talent?

References:

  1. Kaplan, J., & Kiersz, A. (2021, September 8). Another 4 million workers quit for the 4th month in a row, and it shows how Americans are rethinking work in a way they haven’t in decades. Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/record-number-workers-quit-fourth-month-labor-shortage-delta-economy-2021-9
  2. (2022). Quits by industry and region: Levels, seasonally adjusted. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/release/tables?rid=192&eid=7022&od=2021-11-01
  3. (2022). Quits by industry and region: Levels, seasonally adjusted. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/release/tables?rid=192&eid=7022&od=2021-11-01
  4. Booz, M. (2018, March 15). These 3 industries have the highest talent turnover rates. LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/business/talent/blog/talent-strategy/industries-with-the-highest-turnover-rates
  5. Silverman, R. (2020). Retail sector wages are rising due to higher employee turnover and e-commerce demand. Aon. https://humancapital.aon.com/insights/articles/2020/retail-sector-wages-are-rising-due-to-higher-employee-turnover-and-e-commerce-demand
  6. (2021). Survey: Retaining tech employees in the era of The Great Resignation. https://www.talentlms.com/tech-employees-great-resignation-statistics
  7. Work Institute. (2020). 2020 retention report. https://info.workinstitute.com/hubfs/2020%20Retention%20Report/Work%20Institutes%202020%20Retention%20Report.pdf
  8. Stowe, L. (2020, March 25). Employee attrition rate. DevSkiller. https://devskiller.com/attrition-rate-in-tech/
  9. Harden, G., Boakye, K. G., & Ryan, S. (2018). Turnover intention of technology professionals: A social exchange theory perspective.Journal of Computer Information Systems, 58(4), 291-300. https://doi.org/10.1080/08874417.2016.1236356

How Cloud Computing Furthers Your Sustainability Goals

READ TIME: 3 MIN

How-Cloud-Computing-Furthers-Your-Sustainability-Goals

How Cloud Computing Furthers Your Sustainability Goals

In contemporary society, consumers and businesses alike place increasing weight on the sustainability implications of a company’s practices. The pervasiveness of technologies to facilitate critical business functions has led to an explosion in demand for data processing, raising concerns about the cloud’s energy consumption and prompting the question: Is cloud computing better for the environment than on-premises IT infrastructure?

In short, the answer to this question is yes, and in this blog, we review current evidence related to cloud computing and sustainability.

Change in Energy Demand Over Time

Early forecasts from a decade ago suggested that the expansive data centers used by cloud providers would drive up energy consumption dramatically. However, the overall changes in energy demand across all types of data centers—on-premises deployments and cloud—illustrate the efficiencies of cloud computing and modern equipment. From 2010 to 2018, the computing output of data centers worldwide increased by 6 times, but the corresponding energy consumption rose by only 6%1. These efficiencies are attributed to widespread movement from on-premises servers to cloud computing, along with more efficient equipment.

More Efficient Equipment in Cloud Data Centers

Because cloud providers must cover the costs of running an enormous quantity of machines, they are incentivized to seek out efficiencies. For this reason, cloud providers are more likely than on-premises server rooms to use the most recent, energy-efficient hardware. This has significant implications for energy consumption; compared with servers from 10 years ago, modern servers use about 25% of the energy on a per-output basis2. Public cloud providers also take specific measures to reduce the total amount of energy their facilities consume, using tailored chips, high-density data storage, ultrafast networking, and airflow systems that are specially designed for the environment.

Location of Cloud Facilities

Another contributor to energy efficiency of cloud data centers is location. Public cloud facilities are often deliberately located closer to energy sources, such as hydroelectric dams in the Pacific Northwest. This proximity to sources of energy reduces the amount of energy loss during transmission. Some cloud providers may also locate cloud facilities in colder areas to reduce the need for cooling. Companies that choose to maintain their own private, on-premises servers are less likely to have the same level of control over location, resulting in a net higher usage of energy on a per-output basis.

Efficiencies Created by Higher Usage Levels

Cloud providers are also able to attain greater efficiencies due to their higher levels of server usage. This is because running a single server at a higher level is more efficient than running multiple servers at the lower levels that are typical for smaller businesses. Increasing the computing output of a single server by a factor of 4 only increases its energy consumption by a factor of 1.7, illustrating the comparative efficiency of using a single server at higher levels3. Through use of demand forecasting and multitenancy, cloud providers can serve a mix of customers whose use patterns balance each other out. This avoids spikes in usage that are followed by periods of wasteful idle time, as often occurs in on-premises server rooms.

As a provider of cloud services that utilizes cloud data centers, including a Sustainability Certified data center in Las Vegas, NexusTek can help you achieve your sustainability goals.

References:

  1. Lohr, S. (2020, February 27). Cloud computing is not the energy hog that had been feared. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/27/technology/cloud-computing-energy-usage.html#:~:text=Its%20data%20centers%20on%20average,of%20the%20world’s%20electricity%20output.
  2. Knight, W. (2020, February 27). Data centers aren’t devouring the planet’s electricity—yet. Wired. https://www.wired.com/story/data-centers-not-devouring-planet-electricity-yet/
  3. (2020). The carbon benefits of cloud computing: A study on the Microsoft Cloud in partnership with WSP. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=56950

Are You on the Edge? Edge Computing, That Is…

Are-you-on-the-edge

READ TIME: 4 MIN

Are-you-on-the-edge

Are You on the Edge? Edge Computing, That Is…

As the next “big thing” in technology, edge computing has created a buzz that is exciting but not always easy to decipher. Is edge computing just a fancy name for the Internet of Things (IoT)? Will edge computing replace the cloud? How do I prepare my business for edge computing? These are all relevant questions for business leaders to consider, so let’s start with a straightforward description of how edge computing works.

What Is Edge Computing?

Although IoT devices are currently the most common application of edge computing, the two are not synonymous. Edge computing is similar to cloud computing, with a major difference being the distance between (a) where the data is created, and (b) where the data is processed. Usually, “where the data is created” equates to an endpoint, like a laptop or IoT device.

With cloud computing, the data you or your device creates might be processed in a cloud center two states away. With edge computing, however, that data will be processed in a location that is much closer to you or your device. Edge computing relies upon micro data centers that are more widely dispersed than cloud centers, as proximity to endpoints is central to its functionality.

Why Is Everyone So Excited About Edge Computing?

Although it is still in its nascent stages, edge computing is already used in some form by 38% of small and medium-sized businesses—and this proportion is expected to rise sharply over coming years1. The excitement swirling around edge computing is largely about its speed, and what its speed makes possible.

Because data travels a shorter distance with edge computing compared to cloud, the processed data is returned to the end user or device much more quickly. Although you might not notice this speed difference if you’re, say, creating a report in Excel using existing data, you might observe lags or delays (i.e., latency) for tasks that involve processing a higher volume of data, such as reviewing a dashboard that is fed by real-time data, or streaming video content.

Strategic IT Planning and Edge Computing

For purposes of strategic IT planning for your business, it is important to understand that edge computing is not expected to replace cloud computing. However, Gartner predicts that 75% of business data will be processed at the edge by 2025, a steep increase from 10% in 20182. Edge computing is expected to augment the cloud in an increasingly prominent way, with each type of computing occupying its own specific role.

Integrating edge computing into your IT strategy will require that you determine where it is needed to drive business outcomes and where it is not:

  • Real-time data processing: When real-time data processing is required for staying on top of sensitive processes or outcomes (e.g., medical or factory sensor monitoring), edge computing is the optimal choice.

  • Enhancing customer experience: When being faster makes a difference in customer experience, edge computing can give you the advantage. Keep in mind that even milliseconds matter in the customer experience. To illustrate, a 2020 study of mobile website performance across 37 brands found that an increase in speed of just 100 milliseconds was associated with an 8.4% increase in retail conversion rates3.

Edge Computing and Cyber Security

With the introduction of any new technology that is accessible via the internet, cyber security concerns should be front and center. Edge computing as a process is tightly intertwined with the devices that supply the data, such as factory sensors, actuators, mobile phones, and autonomous vehicles. Incorporating edge computing into your IT landscape will likely bring an explosion in the number of endpoints.

This has implications for cyber security because each endpoint creates an additional point of entry for hackers. The proliferation of IoT devices has not gone unnoticed by cyber criminals, who increasingly target these devices. At the same time, 48% of businesses that use IoT devices have no processes in place for detecting whether such devices have been hacked4. Having a solid cyber security plan, both preventive and responsive, is essential for businesses as they move into edge computing.

Integration of edge computing into your IT strategy requires careful planning and preparation. NexusTek can assist with strategic IT assessments, cyber security solutions, and ongoing managed IT to maintain optimal functionality of your edge computing infrastructure.

Would you like to learn more about optimizing your IT strategy?

References:

  1. Research and Markets. (2021, November 30). Global edge computing markets 2021-2026: Rising use of BYOD in modern business and technological evolution to drive the market growth. GlobalNewswire. https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2021/11/30/2342704/28124/en/Global-Edge-Computing-Markets-2021-2026-Rising-Use-of-BYOD-in-Modern-Business-and-Technological-Evolution-to-Drive-the-Market-Growth.html
  2. (2018, October 3). What edge computing means for infrastructure and operations leaders. https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/what-edge-computing-means-for-infrastructure-and-operations-leaders
  3. (2020). Milliseconds make millions. https://www2.deloitte.com/ie/en/pages/consulting/articles/milliseconds-make-millions.html
  4. Schwab, K. (2019, January 16). IoT security is so bad, many companies can’t tell when they’re hacked. Fast Company. https://www.fastcompany.com/90292568/iot-security-is-so-bad-many-companies-cant-tell-when-theyre-hacked

3 Teams Capabilities You Didn’t Know Existed

READ TIME: 4 MIN

3 Teams Capabilities You Didn’t Know Existed

The sharp increase in demand for remote or hybrid work arrangements over the last couple of years has thrust Microsoft Teams into the limelight as a video conferencing and chat all-star application. To illustrate, what comes to mind when you hear the phrase, “I have a meeting this afternoon”? Do you envision sitting around a table with colleagues in the conference room, or do you imagine sitting at your desk in your home office talking with coworkers via video on Teams?

More and more, “attending a meeting” means connecting with others through video conferencing, even when working in the office. For anyone who has used Teams, the video conferencing capability is surely familiar territory, as is the chat function that has made office communication so convenient. How nice is it to be able to ask a coworker a quick question through chat? It’s hard to imagine how we got along without this technology before!

Although Teams is often synonymous with video calls and chat in many people’s minds, the application has a few other nifty features that we’re betting you haven’t heard about. If you’re like us, you love getting the most out of your technologies, so we’ve put together this review of three lesser-known features of Teams to help expand your horizons.

#1 Links to Document Storage

We know that Teams offers great communication channels through video and chat, but another neat way that it allows us to communicate is through the documents we share. Our collaborative processes so often correspond with various documents—from presentations to spreadsheets to policies. Teams makes such collaboration even easier, allowing you to:

  • Directly access stored files on your OneDrive, SharePoint, or other cloud storage: The “Files” feature allows you to conveniently access files that you need to reference while communicating with coworkers through Teams. You can also share documents with others and use your Teams session to collaborate on document development and editing in real-time.

  • Automatically store documents in SharePoint: When documents are shared by a colleague in Teams, the files are stored in a default document folder on SharePoint. Every team that uses Teams will have its own folder on SharePoint, so you always know where to look for documents from previous conversations or meetings. Given that 31% of office professionals frequently struggle to locate documents when pressed1, this can be a mighty handy feature.

#2 Full Telephone System

You’ve probably noticed the little old-school phone handset icon labeled “Calls” in Teams. Maybe you’ve even used this feature to make audio-only calls to coworkers when you’re working from home and aren’t looking especially professional (read: are still in your pajamas). But, this phone icon represents a full telephone system that can be activated if you choose.

Using Teams for both internal and external calls may help to alleviate “app fatigue” in employees, a state of technology overload that can cut into productivity. App fatigue is a growing concern; employees report using an average of 28 different apps to complete daily tasks2. Consolidating all of your calls into one solution can be a nice way of streamlining your processes and making life a bit easier for employees.

#3 Integration With Other Apps

If you click the “Apps” icon on the bottom left of your Teams interface, you’ll open up a world of new possibilities for communication across different applications. Here are just a few:

  • Task planning: Teams can access task planning apps like Planner and To Do, which allows you to monitor task progress for a specific team all in one place. Using Power Automate, you can even set up workflows that will automatically initiate a task assignment following specified triggers, such as when a new message is added in Teams.
  • Approvals: You can also use Teams in conjunction with the Approvals app to request approval from an individual or group for items such as reports or budgets, which you can attach directly to the approval request in teams. Teams notifies the parties of the request for approval, and you can monitor the status of the approval request directly in Teams.
  • Create apps: By accessing PowerApps, you can set up your own custom apps right in Teams. More than a quarter of employees report that switching between apps causes them to miss actions and messages By keeping multiple apps in a central location, you reduce this risk. An advantage of PowerApps is that it is low-code, meaning that you don’t need sophisticated programming knowledge to create apps that make information collection and dispersal quicker and easier for everyone.

These and so many other great features of Teams are making it a staple of office modernization for both remote and onsite teams. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, NexusTek can help you with all phases of your workplace modernization efforts, from initial needs assessment through implementation and training.

Would you like to learn more about workplace modernization using tools such as Teams?

References:

  1. Mendoza, N. F. (2021, May 18). More than 50% of office pros spend more time searching for files than on work. TechRepublic. https://www.techrepublic.com/article/more-than-50-of-office-pros-spend-more-time-searching-for-files-than-on-work/
  2. Austin, M. (2020, October 13). Are workplace apps slowing you down? Out of Office. https://outofoffice.room.com/workplace-app-fatigue/#:~:text=Turns%20out%2C%20one%20of%20the,right%20applications%20decreases%20their%20productivity.
  3. Torres, R. (2021, January 29). App switching, bloat, a drag on employee efficiency: Report. CIO Dive. https://www.ciodive.com/news/app-switching-enterprise-asana-report/594233/

Using Workflow Automation to Boost Employee Productivity and Satisfaction

Using-Workflow-Automation-to-Boost-Employee-Productivity-and-Satisfaction

READ TIME: 4 MIN

Using-Workflow-Automation-to-Boost-Employee-Productivity-and-Satisfaction

Using Workflow Automation to Boost Employee Productivity and Satisfaction

When you hear the term “automation,” it may evoke images of robots performing manual tasks in factories or warehouses. Although this is one form of workplace automation, the type of automation we’ll discuss in this article involves use of software to automate routine office tasks.

This is the type of automation that employees love, as it takes some of the most disliked job tasks off their hands. What are employees’ most disliked office tasks? Here’s what topped the list of responses workers shared when asked this question: data entry, digital filing, managing emails, and creating reports1.

If your eyes glazed over just reading this list, we understand. These are essential tasks, without a doubt, but they are also undeniably boring and repetitive. Additionally concerning is that they often occupy a rather large proportion of employees’ time. In fact, office employees in the U.S. reported that they spend about 40% of the work week on repetitive, routine tasks2.

Obviously, work can’t always be fun—that’s why it’s called “work”—but creating a positive work environment for employees is important for staying competitive in the war for talent. Reducing routine task load is an important retention strategy to consider because when such tasks are excessive, employees may:

  • experience boredom and disengagement;
  • need to work extra hours;
  • make mistakes due to feeling rushed; and
  • have less time for higher-value activities.

Both boredom and burnout due to excessive workloads can decrease employee productivity and increase the likelihood of turnover3. So, it’s worth your while to evaluate possible ways to minimize routine tasks by taking advantage of business process automation.

Microsoft 365’s Power Platform offers some handy tools for automating routine work tasks. The great thing about these technologies is that they don’t involve writing code; you simply use a point-and-click approach within the flow designer4. They also allow for cross-platform connections, which opens up an enormous range of possibilities.

Following are just a few ideas for process automation using Microsoft’s Power Automate, Power BI, and Power Apps:

1. Expedite document approval, notifications, and filing processes:

Using Power Automate, you can designate a trigger that sets in motion an automated sequence of actions. For example, a trigger might be uploading an incident report to SharePoint or via Microsoft Forms. You could use this action to trigger notifications via Teams or email to persons in the approval chain.

For field employees, you might create an incident reporting app through Power Apps that allows them to submit reports via a mobile device. You can also add automatic reminders to ensure the approval process doesn’t stall. You can even specify the file format and location of the approved report, and Power Automate will take care of these final steps for you.

2. Receive notifications when data thresholds are reached:

Power BI can be used to track and visualize streaming data from multiple sources, which you can use to create real-time dashboards where you can specify data alerts. For example, you can create data alerts for sales targets, factory sensor readings, or mentions on social media. In Power Automate, you can then designate Power BI data alerts as triggers for notifications (via Teams, Slack, SMS, etc.) to keep team members updated.

3. Eliminate redundant data entry:

Power Automate allows you connect data sources across platforms to streamline data entry and reduce errors. If, for example, you were using Salesforce for lead tracking but also maintaining a related spreadsheet in SharePoint, you could designate new entries into Salesforce as a trigger for automatic updates to the SharePoint document.

4. Generate and disseminate reports:

Power BI allows you to generate reports using real-time data, and you can use Power Automate to distribute the reports via routes such as email or DropBox. As an example, you could collect customer feedback using Forms, stream this data into Power BI, and then specify the reporting interval in your Power Automate task flow. You could then set up additional task flow steps for distribution and storage of the final report.

As you’ve probably gathered by now, the combinations of automated workflows you can set up across platforms are numerous, creating almost endless opportunities to streamline your employees’ workflows. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, NexusTek can provide support with implementing Power Platform in ways that meet your specific business needs.

Would you like to learn more about how to leverage business process automation tools?

References:

  1. Cision PR Newswire. (2020, January 21). Global research reveals world’s ‘most hated’ office tasks. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-research-reveals-worlds-most-hated-office-tasks-300989956.html
  2. (2021). How much time do we actually spend on recurring tasks? (Study 2021). https://clockify.me/time-spent-on-recurring-tasks
  3. Lufkin, B. (2021, July 4). Being chronically bored at work can have damaging consequences—and we need to talk about it more, say experts. BBC Worklife. https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20210701-the-damaging-effects-of-boreout-at-work
  4. Foley, M. J. (2019, November 4). Microsoft rebrands Flow to ‘Power Automate’; adds no-code Power Platform virtual agents. ZDNet. https://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-rebrands-flow-to-power-automate-adds-no-code-power-platform-virtual-agents/

Disaster Recovery as a Service: Protecting Your Business From Ransomware

READ TIME: 4 MIN

Disaster Recovery as a Service: Protecting Your Business From Ransomware

Defending your business against ransomware attacks is a multifaceted process. Your first layer of defense is prevention, which should include measures such as employee awareness training, proactive monitoring for malware, and timely installation of updates and patches.

In spite of such precautions, ransomware attackers may still manage to find their way into your systems. With a ransomware attack on businesses occurring every 11 seconds1, this is clearly a threat of the highest order. This is why it is vital that you honestly assess the dreaded, worst-case scenario question:

What If My Company Were the Target of a Ransomware Attack?

If threat actors successfully launched a ransomware attack against your company, they would almost certainly encrypt your data. This means that, although your data would still be present, it would be converted into a form that is unusable. This would immobilize your IT system, effectively shutting down most if not all business operations.

When you consider the fact that the average downtime resulting from a ransomware attack is 3 weeks2, it becomes glaringly apparent that downtime is immensely expensive. Downtime costs quickly accumulate due to lost productivity, loss of daily revenues, and even loss of long-term customers. For some industries, such as healthcare, network downtime can even be life threatening (e.g., for patients who depend upon continuous care).

The operational paralysis caused by downtime is a primary source of leverage that hackers use to coerce their victims into paying ransoms. That coercion takes the form of an extortion attempt that would go something like this:

The threat actors would inform you that upon your payment of an untraceable ransom (usually in the form of a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin), they will provide you with the decryption code that will allow you to convert your data back into usable form. Until you pay, they will hold your data hostage.

To Pay or Not to Pay—Is That the Question?

Now, you might be thinking, “But we have our data backed up…why would I pay these criminals for a code to decrypt our data when we can just rely on our backups?” Smart question, but the thing is, before you thought to ask that question, the threat actors anticipated not only the question but the answer.

A concerning trend over the last few years has been for ransomware attackers to first go after existing backups, well before anyone is aware that their systems have been breached3. After deleting or compromising the backups, the attackers then proceed to the stage of their scheme when they inform the victimized business of their shakedown.

As a key decision maker for your business, this would put you into a position of choosing between (a) paying the ransom, or (b) losing your data and possibly your entire business. This is one reason why so many businesses ultimately do end up paying ransoms.

Interestingly, 66% of businesses polled stated that they would never pay the attackers if caught up in a ransomware attack; however, in reality, up to 65% do go through with the payments4. This suggests that if you wound up in the crosshairs of ransomware attackers, you might actually find yourself defenseless and willing to concede defeat by paying the ransom.

Your Protection Against Ransomware Attackers

This brings us to the good part of our story: The key to protecting your business against ransomware attackers is indeed backing up your data. However, cybercriminals may specifically seek out backup files in your network, so you must also maintain backups in off-site storage that is inaccessible to threat actors.

Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS), which includes off-site data storage, is an essential element of establishing your business continuity strategy. Data is backed up continually and is immediately retrievable in the event of loss. Integrating DRaaS into your overall IT strategy helps you to prepare for the worst of situations, ensuring that your IT systems—and therefore your business operations—remain functional during crises such as ransomware attacks.

By storing backups safely out of reach, you disable the attackers’ capacity to manipulate you via data encryption. The happy conclusion to this story is that with thorough preparation that covers all contingencies, your company can successfully weather a ransomware attack.

Are you interested in learning more about how DRaaS solutions can help you to weather IT disasters?

References:

  1. Morgan, S. (2021, December 30). Top 6 cybersecurity predictions and statistics for 2021 to 2025. Cybercrime Magazine. https://cybersecurityventures.com/top-5-cybersecurity-facts-figures-predictions-and-statistics-for-2021-to-2025/

  2. Durbin, S. (2021, June 1). Ransomware is everywhere—Here’s what you need to consider. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2021/06/01/ransomware-is-everywhereheres-what-you-need-to-consider/?sh=2f0023ee7c1f

  3. Weeks, R. (2021, March 31). #WorldBackupDay: How to protect the last line of defense. Infosecurity Magazine. https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/opinions/how-to-protect-the-last-line-of/

  4. Fruhlinger, J. (2020, June 19). Ransomware explained: How it works and how to remove it. CSO. https://www.csoonline.com/article/3236183/what-is-ransomware-how-it-works-and-how-to-remove-it.html

NexusTek Ranked Again on CRN’s Elite 150 Category of MSP 500 List for 2022

NexusTek Ranked Again on CRN’s Elite 150 Category of MSP 500 List for 2022

Recognized for the sixth consecutive year as an exemplary technology provider

Denver, CO (February 24, 2022) — NexusTek, a top national cloud, managed IT services, and cyber security provider, announced today that CRN®, a brand of The Channel Company, has named NexusTek to its Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500 list in the Elite 150 category for 2022. CRN’s annual MSP 500 list identifies the leading service providers in North America whose forward-thinking approaches to managed services are changing the landscape of the IT channel, helping end users increase efficiency and simplify IT solutions, while maximizing their return on investment.

NexusTek was selected for inclusion on the Elite 150 list because of its continuing responsiveness to clients’ IT needs, many of which changed in the wake of the pandemic. Notably, NexusTek assists organizations with the integration and optimization of remote operations, and provides support to adopt cybersecurity best practices to protect their employees and data. NexusTek also collaborates with technology partners to deliver end-to-end IT solutions and the support businesses require to achieve their desired business outcomes.

“It is truly an honor to be recognized on CRN’s Elite 150 list for the sixth year in a row,” said Mike Hamuka, CRO, NexusTek. “NexusTek’s consistent inclusion on this list is evidence of our commitment to excellence in IT services. We will continue to draw upon our team’s considerable talents, core values, and aspirational goals to deliver solutions that meet and exceed our clients’ evolving needs.”

“In addition to having to adjust their own business operations to account for the changed conditions during the pandemic, MSPs have also seen increased demand for their managed communications, collaboration and security services,” said Blaine Raddon, CEO of The Channel Company. “The solution providers on our 2022 MSP 500 list deserve credit for their innovative and game-changing approaches to managed services in these unpredictable times, as well as their ability to optimize operational efficiencies and systems without straining IT budgets.”

The MSP 500 list will be featured in the February 2022 issue of CRN and online at www.crn.com/msp500.

About NexusTek

Trusted by thousands of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), NexusTek is a national managed IT services provider with a comprehensive portfolio comprised of end-user services, cloud, infrastructure, cyber security, and IT consulting. We design holistic solutions for customers that deliver a superior end-user experience, backed by a 24/7/365 domestically staffed support team. NexusTek Managed Service Plans offer end-to-end IT management with fixed-monthly, per-user pricing through which SMBs can leverage helpdesk, backup, disaster recovery, dedicated engineers, security, 24×7 remote support and network monitoring services while creating predictable IT budgets.

Share On Social

LinkedIn
Twitter
Facebook

Creating Opportunities for Your IT Team

READ TIME: 3 MIN

Creating Opportunities for Your IT Team

In today’s business context, where most—if not all—critical functions are mediated by technology, it’s not an exaggeration to say that your IT team literally keeps your business running. As we grapple with the ongoing trend of increased turnover across industries and job types, the unfortunate reality is that the chances of losing some of your top IT talent are high. The financial costs of turnover are staggering; a conservative estimate is that the costs associated with losing and replacing a single worker come to about 33% of the employee’s salary1. Losing key members of your IT team, however, can have far-reaching consequences that extend beyond the financial costs. Turnover within the IT department can be unsettling to remaining team members, resulting in increased workloads, fatigue, and mistakes. This type of disruption can ultimately create ripple effects across all departments, reducing organizational productivity and performance. Clearly, holding onto your top tech professionals is an urgent business priority.

Predictors of Turnover for IT Employees

Stemming turnover of your IT talent requires a solid appreciation of its root causes:
  • Stress due to excessive demands: Work overload can cause IT employees to feel lower levels of commitment to their organizations, which increases the chances that they’ll submit their resignations2. Many IT professionals—especially in smaller businesses—are a “one-stop shop” for any and all technology-related processes and administrative tasks.On any given day, this may include maintaining technology infrastructure, managing updates, and troubleshooting technology issues. Compounding IT workers’ stress levels are the after-hours tech support calls that can adversely impact their work-life balance. These conditions set the stage for burnout, which is a common cause of turnover.
  • Lack of opportunity for growth: One of the most important factors IT professionals seek in a job is the opportunity for stretch goals—those that challenge them to develop their skills and abilities in new ways3. Many IT employees may have valuable strategic insights into ways to better utilize technologies to achieve business goals. IT staff who are run ragged managing service calls and administrative tasks all day, however, may be deprived of the chance to apply their technological acumen more strategically. If this is the case, they may look elsewhere for better opportunities.

Supporting Your IT Team Via a Managed Services Provider

Working with a managed services provider (MSP) can be a great way of addressing predictors of turnover in your IT team. Partnering with an MSP reduces demands on in-house IT staff, making their workloads more manageable and decreasing the likelihood of burnout. The nature of MSP support can vary depending upon an organization’s needs and priorities:

  • Help desk support from an MSP provides employees with guidance and instruction to resolve a variety of IT issues that arise during the workday.
  • On-site technical support from an MSP provides a dedicated engineer to help with troubleshooting and planning when an in-person presence is important.
  • Full MSP support involves system monitoring and technical support on both a remote and on-site basis.

Freeing up IT professionals’ time gives them the opportunity to grow and expand, ideally into more strategic roles. A robust IT strategy that aligns with the overall business strategy is essential to maximizing your organization’s performance.

Creating opportunities for IT employees to contribute to strategy not only creates a stimulating environment where they can thrive, but it also furthers the company’s capacities for attaining its overall business goals. This is the definition of win-win.

As technology occupies an increasingly pervasive role in the business realm, leading thinkers suggest that all businesses are now essentially technology businesses4. Recognizing this fact, we must acknowledge that our IT employees are no longer solely technicians who help us get through the tactical elements of our days. IT professionals now represent an essential voice in strategic planning conversations.

Partnering with an MSP such as NexusTek can ensure that you stay on top of day-to-day IT needs, while also giving your in-house IT staff the opportunity to contribute in strategic ways to your business.

Would you like to learn more about using MSP services to create opportunities for your IT team?

References:

  1. Avogino, T. (2019, February 23). To have and to hold. SHRM. https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/all-things-work/pages/to-have-and-to-hold.aspx
  2. Harden, G., Boakye, K. G., & Ryan, S. (2018). Turnover intention of technology professionals: A social exchange theory perspective. Journal of Computer Information Systems58(4), 291-300. https://doi.org/10.1080/08874417.2016.1236356
  3. (2021, June 23). New research finds that stress and burnout are the main reasons more than half of leaders plan to leave their jobs in the next year. https://www.qualtrics.com/blog/labor-shortage-study/
  4. Rakesh, N. (2018, December 7). Every business is a technology business—some just don’t know it. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2018/12/07/every-business-is-a-technology-business-some-just-dont-know-it/?sh=566e6677360e

Getting Ahead of Cybercriminals: 5 Essential Cybersecurity Practices

READ TIME: 4 MIN

Getting Ahead of Cybercriminals: 5 Essential Cybersecurity Practices

Ransomware attacks that hold large, prominent companies’ networks “hostage” pending multi-million-dollar ransom payments make for attention-grabbing media coverage. We’re much less likely to hear news stories about cyberattacks on small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), which might give you the impression that smaller businesses are less likely to be victimized by cybercriminals. Did you know, however, that two thirds of SMBs experienced a cybersecurity attack within the last year1?

This may come as a shock, as the resources of smaller businesses are dwarfed by those of large companies. Although you might assume this would make SMBs less attractive targets for cybercrime, consider the following2:

  • SMBs often have less sophisticated security practices, making them easier targets for cybercriminals.
  • Lack of cybersecurity knowledge within SMBs may result in failure to recognize that a security breach has occurred, giving criminals ample opportunity to obtain sensitive information.
  • SMBs are less likely to report cybersecurity breaches to law enforcement, making them less risky targets for cybercriminals.

If you’re finding the prospect of staying ahead of cybercriminals overwhelming, you’re in good company: 88% of SMB leaders view their businesses as vulnerable to cybercrime3. However, many of these leaders share that they don’t know quite where to start to protect their businesses.

The first step in cultivating a security strategy is to understand your sources of risk. The following is a list of five essential cybersecurity practices, along with descriptions of the underlying risks they address:

1. Cybersecurity Awareness Training

Why Is This Important?
Social engineering attacks, such as phishing and smishing, harness psychological manipulations aimed at tricking employees into clicking on links or sharing confidential information. All it takes is one employee to fall for a social engineering ploy for a security breach to occur. This is why employee error is the #1 cybersecurity risk your business faces; cybersecurity awareness training is the best way to counter this threat. In fact, businesses that offer awareness training can cut their cybersecurity risk by up to 70%4.

2. Install Patches and Updates Immediately

Why Is This Important?
Patches and updates are routinely required to address known vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can target. Staying on top of patches and updates is vital to keeping hackers out of your systems, but busy professionals often delay installations as they attend to competing priorities. Make it a priority to ensure your software and operating systems stay current.

3. Proactive Monitoring

Why Is This Important?
Although you might imagine that you would easily recognize if your systems had been penetrated, many breaches are not obvious to the untrained eye. In fact, the average length of time between breach and detection is over 6 months5. Proactive 24/7 monitoring of your systems by a certified engineer ensures that any breaches are identified quickly so that you can respond immediately.

4. Vulnerability Scanning

Why Is This Important?
Every device—remote or in-office—that is connected to your organization’s network creates a possible entry point for hackers. With the rise in remote work and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) practices, there is an increasing number of devices connected to workplace networks. BYOD practices create particular risks, as employees’ personal devices are less likely to be updated and more likely to be lost. Routine scanning of your company’s network edge helps to identify any points of vulnerability that need attention.

5. Create an Incident Response Plan

Why Is This Important?
Most SMBs lack the knowledge and preparation to respond effectively in the case of a cyberattack. This can be disastrous in the event of an attack, as 60% of SMBs are forced to close within 1 year of a cyberattack7. Develop a comprehensive incident response plan for your business, so you know exactly how to respond should you fall victim to cyberattack.

Partner with NexusTek for Your Cybersecurity Strategy

To address your cybersecurity needs, NexusTek offers the above and additional services in our three cybersecurity plans:

Essential Plan:
This managed protection plan offers 24/7/365 monitoring and alerts with managed cybersecurity and an annual security health review for a crucial foundation of defense.

Standard Plan:
Building on the protective base of our Essential Plan, this managed protection and response plan adds proactive steps to fortify your business, including security awareness training, managed DNS security, vulnerability scanning, and incident response.

Advanced Plan:
For robust cybersecurity, this managed detection and response plan enhances a business’s security effectiveness with managed SIEM to detect malware, log correlation and aggregation to analyze malicious logins, and incident response to eliminate threats. A security health review is conducted each quarter to stay on top of vulnerabilities and their solutions.

Would you like to learn more about how to get ahead of cybercriminals?

References:

  1. Hubschmid, F. (2021). How to protect your small business from cyber threats. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2021/06/02/how-to-protect-your-small-business-from-cyber-threats/?sh=2453e01556cd
  2. Gafni, R., & Pavel, T. (2019). The invisible hole of information on SMB’s cybersecurity. Online Journal of Applied Knowledge Management7(1), 14-26. http://www.iiakm.org/ojakm/articles/2020/OJAKM_Volume8_2pp1-16.php
  3. S. Small Business Association. (2022). Stay safe from cybersecurity threats. https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/manage-your-business/stay-safe-cybersecurity-threats
  4. Morrow, S. (2021). What is security awareness training and why is it needed? https://vpnoverview.com/internet-safety/business/security-awareness-training/
  5. Ponemon Institute. (2020). Cost of a data breach report, 2020. https://www.capita.com/sites/g/files/nginej291/files/2020-08/Ponemon-Global-Cost-of-Data-Breach-Study-2020.pdf
  6. (2021). Why every small business should care about cyberattacks, in 5 charts. Vox. https://www.vox.com/sponsored/11196054/why-every-small-business-should-care-about-cyber-attacks-in-5-charts

How to Improve the Employee Experience with Technology

READ TIME: 4 MIN

How to Improve the Employee Experience with Technology

What is the Employee Experience? Employee experience (EX) is the collective of what people encounter and observe during their employment at a company.

Remote working continues to be a growing trend going into 2022, and as a result the talent available to organizations can now be recruited at a national level. Not only is this beneficial to businesses looking to recruit top talent, but it also empowers job candidates to be more selective with which company they want to join. If one company doesn’t offer the perks they desire in a job, they now have access to thousands of other businesses competing for their talent.

One of the ways companies are distinguishing themselves from competitors is a focus on EX. Creating a work environment that’s positive, collaborative, motivating, and provides work/life balance helps to attract top talent, improves employee retention, and increases productivity. The technology employees rely on plays an important role in the employee experience, especially for remote workforces.

Here are some examples of how technology can help improve EX…

Employee Need: Efficiently and seamlessly perform job tasks Technology Solution: Latest IT Hardware

There are few things more frustrating than a device that runs slowly or constantly malfunctions. Employees require efficient laptops with the latest standard in HDD space and RAM, and a mid to large sized monitor (sometimes 2 for dual viewing). Those items should be the golden standard for technology needed to productively work from home.

Devices like HD web cams, wireless mouse and keyboard, Bluetooth headphones, and wireless printers, help to expand employee capabilities when working from home. Employees that are well equipped with the right technology will be more productive, feel valued by their employer, and confident in carrying out business critical tasks.

Employee Need: Work collaboration and people engagement Technology Solution: Microsoft 365

With the increase in remote workforces, one of the new challenges that businesses face is creating a collaborative and engaging environment away from a physical office. Microsoft 365 can help employees stay connected and collaborate with team members, as well as create a positive and engaging experience.

Microsoft Teams (a video conferencing and collaboration platform) is tremendously valuable not only for teamwork, but also as a tool to foster a positive employee experience.

Some examples of how Teams can be leveraged to enhance the employee experience include:

  • Communication during recruiting and onboarding
  • Getting to know your employees and starting a dialogue
  • Recognition and acknowledgement of key achievements
  • Regularly provide updates and progress to team/company goals
  • Team building activities like Coffee Calls, Trivia, Book Clubs, Virtual Celebrations, Cross-department calls, etc.

Employee Need: Technology that simply works and easily fixed if faulty Technology Solution: Expert IT Support

Traditionally, an office may have an “IT person” that can troubleshoot and fix system or device issues. However, now that many workforces have transitioned to work from home…how can remote employees resolve issues on their work devices? If an employee is having technology issues and doesn’t have an IT expert readily available 24/7 to help them, you’re looking at hours (maybe days) of lost productivity and an exasperated employee that just needs their technology to work.

We all know technology is prone to have moments of failure, so ensure your employees have the tech support they require to maintain productivity and perform their job responsibilities without hassle.

Employee Need: Confidence in the protection of their work devices Technology Solution: Cybersecurity Awareness Training

The security of a company’s data and assets isn’t only the responsibility of IT leadership, everyone in an organization has a role in exercising cybersecurity best practices. Employees (especially remote workers) are heavily targeted by cyber criminals because they know the greatest vulnerability in a business’s defenses is the people due to natural human error.

The absence of cybersecurity training, along with not having the proper security solutions to help protect employees, can lead to uneasiness and a lack of confidence in carrying out daily tasks…especially if employees routinely engage with external parties.

Investing in cybersecurity awareness training will provide your employees with the essential knowledge they need to identify potential cyber threats and protect company assets.

Need Help Improving Your Company’s Employee Experience?