SMB Trends for 2022

READ TIME: 4 MIN

SMB Trends for 2022

The new year has arrived! For businesses, it is a time to celebrate the successes of 2021, reflect on the lessons learned, and strategize how to enhance the business going forward.

The workforce has changed rapidly over the last 24 months. Although the technology term “digital transformation” has been a buzzword for a few years now, a multi-year global pandemic and evolving employee workforce preferences has accelerated the adoption of this tech philosophy.

We’ve compiled what the market experts are saying some of the technology and employee trends will be for small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) in 2022.

“Big Business” Systems and Processes

Customers have easy access to information at the tip of their fingers, and they’re doing more research about the products and services they’re interested in before initiating contact with a company. According to Keenfolks, 87% of buyers now begin product searches online, 75% of consumers expect a consistent experience across every channel, and 67% of customers prefer self-service over speaking to a company representative.

What do all those stats mean for SMBs?

It means if your business processes and technology are not making it easy for customers to self-research your company, engage with your brand across different channels, or provide a certain level of self-service automation (for both prospective and current customers), you may be missing a golden opportunity to stand out from your competitors.

Deliver the “seamless and easy” experience consumers have come to expect in the marketplace by utilizing cloud-enabled technologies and automated process where it makes sense for your business model.

Hybrid & Remote Workforces

Initially thought to be a temporary solution to navigate around the recent pandemic, companies are now faced with an inevitable truth…employees do not want (and are refusing) to go back to the office.

Over the last year and a half, the “experiment” of remote working has shown that businesses can still operate smoothly, employees are productive (some research shows an increase in production versus in an office) and they prefer the flexibility that comes with remote working.

Consider these stats from Forbes Magazine:

  • 97% of employees do not want to return to the office full-time
  • 61% of employees prefer to be fully remote

Of course, not every business can be fully remote, as some jobs require in-office/field workers to perform essential tasks to meet the demands of the business. Sometimes a hybrid of remote/in-office policies and procedures work better for some businesses.

Whichever option better fits your business needs, make sure your business-critical applications and data are accessible in a secure cloud environment, your employees have cloud-based productivity and collaboration software (e.g., Microsoft Office 365 and Teams), and your networks have end-point security protection to defend against increasing cyberattacks on remote workforces.

Strategic Inventory Management

Over the last several months, businesses across the U.S. have been faced with supply chain challenges brought on by the lingering pandemic effects of economies shutting down, manufacturing slow down (or coming to a complete halt), and the limited availability of raw materials.

This trend will continue well into 2022, so businesses of all sizes and in all industries must be prepared to manage their inventory accordingly and manage customer expectations.

Technology like cloud-enabled ERP systems and the ability to provide mobile real-time data updates will help with tracking and forecasting product inventory, as well as the accompanying labor/services your business delivers.

In a recent Forbes article, Rick Itzkowich states, “Supply chain shortages are not going away. Delays in getting raw materials and delivering finished products are going to be longer than expected. Planning, adjusting, and strategizing your inventory management is critical. Manufacturers look to increase raw materials, as the cost of not having a product is higher. If your company isn’t suffering directly, your customers are feeling the stress.”

Employee Experience and Career Development

Your people are your most valuable asset. The ability to work remote, and the work/life balance it provides, has become the standard in the minds of many workers. Couple that with the now expanded job market, where talent can be accessed from across the U.S. instead of confined within your city, employees want more from their employers.

Chris Herd, Founder and CEO at Firstbase, captured this when he stated, “Companies who adopted technology 20 years ago replaced every company that didn’t. Companies who adopt remote work will replace every company who doesn’t in 20 years. The reason is incredibly simple: Talent and efficiency.”

People are now empowered more than ever to ask the question “why should I work for your company?”.

In addition to flexibility with remote working, make it a point to build and/or reinforce a company culture that lets your employees know they’re valued and can grow. Create an employee experience, from new hire on boarding to career development, that demonstrates to employees that you’re invested in helping them succeed in their role. Train your employees with new skills and look for opportunities to promote from within.

Businesses that offer growth opportunities and create an employee-focused culture are more likely to attract top talent, reduce employee turnover and increase performance.

Best Tech Gifts for the 2021 Holiday Season

READ TIME: 6 MIN

Best Tech Gifts for the 2021 Holiday Season

This holiday season, whether it’s for your colleague or your spouse, your cousin or a friend, give them a present that embodies the spirit of innovation! We’ve collected an array of the best technology gifts on the market, with multiple options to fit any budget. Empower your colleagues and loved ones with everything from productivity hacks to workstation must-haves so that they can start 2022 off right.

Screen Time

A monitor is a workstation essential, whether working in the office or from home. While a laptop is perfect for on-the-go, a monitor—or better yet, dual monitors—offers more screen space for productivity, improved picture quality for photo or video editing, and a more ergonomic setup for a happier, healthier work environment. Below are three of the best monitors, according to N.Y. Times:

  • Best Picture Quality: Dell P2721Q for *$510
  • Best Ultrawide: Acer XR342CK Pbmiiqphuzx 34″ 21:9 Curved IPS Monitor for *$650
  • Best on a Budget: ViewSonic VA2456-MHD for *$270

Dell’s 4K monitor, ideal for creative workers, is highly rated for its color accuracy, adjustable stand, and port selection. For those who enjoy one ultrawide screen for a seamless layout of applications and programs, Acer offers 34 inches of unbroken horizontal space as well as a pixel count high enough to replace two monitors. ViewSonic’s 24-inch 1080p monitor is ideal for both space savers and money savers, offering a quality monitor for smaller workstations that is considerate of smaller budgets. No matter which of the three you may choose, rest easy knowing they all have three-year warranties

All in the Wrist

Now that you’ve got the monitor sorted, it is time to pair it with a wireless mouse and keyboard combo. The wireless feature is top notch when on the go, whether on a hybrid schedule between the office and home or rotating through favorite local cafes. Even if the keyboard never gets packed up, having no visible wires to get caught on or clutter a workstation can greatly simplify things. Here are some of the top wireless keyboard and mouse combos, as recommended by Reviewed.

  • Best Overall: Logitech MK850 for *$80
  • Best Value: Logitech MK270 for *$25
  • Best for Multiple Devices: Dell KM7321W for *$80

Type in ease with MK850’s comfortable wrist rest and its fully-featured, ergonomic mouse. For a quarter of the price, MK270 is not only an affordable option, but a quality one that is easy to type with programmable hot keys. Dell’s premier multi-device wireless keyboard and mouse connect with up to three devices that are easy to switch through and features an elegant design for a minimalist workstation.

Get in the Zone

Whether in the office or at home, tuning out distractions and tuning into projects is critical for maintaining high productivity levels. Noise-cancelling headphones eliminate the water cooler chatter or the tumbling washing machine so that your colleagues and loved ones can get stuff done. Here are the highlights from TechRadar’s round-up of the best noise-cancelling headphones of 2021:

  • Best Overall: Sony WH-1000XM4 for *$350
  • Best Earbuds: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds for *$280
  • Best on a Budget: JBL Tune 750BTNC for *$130

Sony took first place for its sound quality and new features, including multipoint pairing, DSEE Extreme upscaling, and conversational awareness, all wrapped up in a lightweight design. For those who do not enjoy over-ear headphone designs, Bose earbuds offer best-in-class ANC, clarity, and a comfortable fit. With a reliable brand name like JBL, the Tune 750BTNC are easy to use and feature strong active noise cancellation at a budget-friendly price.

Make a Call

Nowadays, basically everyone has a phone. Since it is the one item many people never leave home without (because it is usually glued to their person), investing in a high-quality phone is a worthwhile expense. If you’re a practical gift giver, then you can’t go wrong with a smartphone. Check out a few of the best phones to buy in 2021, according to CNET.

  • Best Overall: Apple iPhone 13 Pro for *$999
  • Best Foldable Phone: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 for *$1,050
  • Best Camera on a Budget: Google Pixel 5a with 5G for *$450

Apple is known for its high-quality cameras, and its latest smartphone, iPhone 13 Pro, adds a third rear camera with 3x optical zoom. Samsung is bringing back the flip phone in a big way with a main screen that measures 6.7 inches but folds to fit in a pocket without the bulge. While half the price, Google Pixel 5a features a 6.34-inch OLED display, a quality camera, and is water-resistant.

Power Hungry

Whether travelling to a coffee shop for an afternoon change-up or flying in between meetings, there is one thing you can count on: Charging stations may be few and far in between. Empower your colleagues and loved ones this holiday season with portable power banks so that they can take charge(s) wherever they go. PCWorld reviewed the best power banks of 2021:

  • Best Overall: Mophie Powerstation XXL for *$60
  • Best on a Budget: Anker PowerCore Fusion 5000 2-in-1 Portable Charger and Wall Charger for *$30
  • Most Rugged: Goal Zero Sherpa 100AC Portable Power Bank for *$300

Mophie’s efficient power bank offers 74Wh of power, three ports, and a sleek design, making it the complete package. Free two birds with one key with Anker’s combo power bank with two USB-A ports plus a built-in wall charger. For those on the road all the time, Goal Zero has got you covered with a rugged power bank loaded with extra features that can take the jostles of travel.

Lost N’ Found

Running late for work and can’t find your keys? Never again with a Bluetooth tracker. Attach it to your phone, keys, laptop, or another valuable item so that you can quickly locate it or track if stolen and in range. Giving someone one of these smart devices is a smart choice (ha!), so check out the best Bluetooth trackers, according to PCMag:

  • Best iOS-compatible: Apple AirTag for *$30
  • Best Android-compatible: Tile Pro for *$35
  • Best Smart Home Integration: Samsung Galaxy Smart Tag for *$20

Whether stuck in the couch cushions or left 100 miles away in a hotel from last week’s conference, your Apple devices can be found with the nifty AirTag. Durable with good connectivity, Tile Pro can be submerged for up to 30 minutes and has a battery life estimated to last up to a year. Track and locate your devices as well as activate start home automation routines with Samsung’s Smart Tag.

Pocketful of Sunshine

With the huge increase in video conferencing due to remote and hybrid work environments, most people are in front of a camera at least once a weekday, and so, a ring light makes a solid gift. Help your colleagues and loved ones put their best face forward with one of these best ring lights of 2021, according to Spy.

  • Best for Video Conferencing: Rotolight Video Conferencing Kit for *$300
  • Best for Remote Work: Video Conference Lighting Kit for *$21
  • Best Pocket-Size: Auxiwa Clip-On Selfie Ring Light for *$14

Kit out your loved one with Rotolight’s 1000+ Lumens and a CRI color accuracy rating of 96 so that they always look sharp. The Video Conference Lighting Kit offers a 48 LED light with 360-degree adjustment that clips onto a laptop or computer for easy setup. Carry a ring light wherever with Auxiwa’s pocket-size, clip-on light with 36 LEDs and three brightness settings.

Lunch Break Fun

All work and no play didn’t work so well for Jack, so help your colleagues and loved ones decompress with a fun tech gadget that won’t take up too much desk space. These quick games will keep brains active and fingers warm so they’re ready to hit the keyboard again after lunch.

  • Best for Mindful Gamers: Winning Fingers Electronic Memory & Brain Game for *$40
  • Best for Star Wars Fans: R2-D2 Tamagotchi for *$20
  • Best for Arcade Lovers: Street Fighter II Champion Edition Micro Player for *$60

Winning Fingers offers four speed games and memory games fit for adults and kids in an LED cube design. Tap into 90s nostalgia and help your digital friend, R2-D2, learn new skills and play mini-games. Released in 1992, Street Fighter II: Champion Edition has been miniaturized with twelve characters and 78 different possible match combinations.

Focus Group

Jumpstart productivity in 2022 with a gadget that improves time management and focus. Enable the people in your life to work towards their goals with technology designed to help keep them on top of their game.

  • Best for Hot Drinks: Excalibur USB Beverage Warmer/Cooler for *$16
  • Best for Time Management: Mooas Cube Timer for *$15
  • Best for Fidgeting: Fidgi Pen for *$30

Ideal for coffee or tea drinkers, users can eliminate wasted time with a beverage warmer/cooler that keeps them out of the kitchen and away from unnecessary chitchat. Users can delegate how much time each task needs with a cube timer, perfect for time management and any size desk. For those fond of clicking pens, try the Fidgi Pen, which comes packed with seven different features for discreet (and quiet) fidgeting while focusing.

Happy Holidays

We hope you’ve found some exciting technologies and inspiring gifts in this blog!

 Thank you for reading, and happy holidays from NexusTek! We look forward to seeing you in 2022.

*Please note all prices mentioned in this blog were up to date at the time of publishing on December 8, 2021.

**This list of technology products is solely for the purposes of offering our audiences market knowledge and does not signify NexusTek’s endorsement of the abovementioned brands and/or products.

2021 Technology To Be Thankful For

READ TIME: 4 MIN

2021 Technology To Be Thankful For

There’s plenty of technology to be thankful for in 2021: dual monitors, automatic standing desks, noise-cancelling headphones, streaming, food service delivery apps, mRNA, which led to the COVID-19 vaccines, etc.

For the purposes of this blog, let’s narrow the focus to trending and emerging technologies that are making businesses faster, more accurate, and more productive. While these technologies may not be brand new, their uses and impacts are still new to many businesses going through their digital transformation journeys brought on by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Let’s start counting our blessings.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things, or IoT, is not new. In fact, it has been around for over 20 years since Kevin Ashton first coined the term in 1999. IoT did not begin to gain popularity until 2010 when the number of objects or devices connected to the internet (such as smartphones, tablets, fitness trackers, etc.) outnumbered people on the planet. With the onset of IoT came the birth of Industry 4.0, which capitalizes on interconnectivity, automation, machine learning, and real-time data to maximize business operations.

With the widespread shift to distributed business models due to the COVID-19 pandemic, investments into digital solutions to support remote workforces increased. Among these investments were IoT devices and sensors to streamline and automate processes, perform tasks remotely, increase productivity, and collect and analyze real-time data to improve operations and customer service. Thank you, IoT!

Edge Computing

The increased volume of data from IoT devices gave rise to a new IT architecture. Edge computing, distributed and open, analyzes and processes data at or near the original source of data unlike cloud computing, which transmits data to a data center that may be miles away. Edge computing lowers bandwidth costs and decreases latency levels. Rapidly growing, edge computing is forecasted to reach $17.9 billion by 2025, according to Research and Markets.

The addition of edge computing to a distributed cloud-based solution allows businesses to analyze and process data in real-time without impacting the performance of the application itself. Limiting the distance data travels also increases data security and privacy, protecting businesses from cybersecurity breaches, non-compliance fines, and lost customer trust, which is probably the best gift no one ever thinks to wish for.

5G Connectivity

The next generation of the mobile network, 5G is based on multi-access edge computing, leading to increased connection speed and reliability. For example, you could experience 40-50 seconds of lag time on a 4G network, but only 10 milliseconds on 5G. Seeing as how broadband usage increased 47% in Q1 of 2020, slowing down broadband speeds by as much as half, according to Open Vault, companies might consider switching their networks to 5G pronto.

5G makes software-as-a-service (SaaS) products more effective and run smoother and faster simultaneously, so one application’s performance does not impact another app. 5G also allows companies to connect more endpoints, including IoT devices, which will only be enhanced with 5G connectivity. Today’s distributed business model also benefits from the improved mobility of 5G, allowing companies to more reliably connect with remote employees, customers, and new audiences in expanded territories. So, do you want to do more in less time? Yes please!

Remote Services

IoT, edge computing, and 5G networks support remote services, which grew rapidly in 2020. From remote diagnostics to remote monitoring, companies can remotely check the performance of and identify errors in manufacturing equipment, farming technologies, or even ATM machines through the real-time data of their corresponding IoT connections. This proactive maintenance can eliminate issues before they arise and avoid unplanned downtime.

Utilizing mobile devices, interconnected equipment, and remote monitoring management tools, IT service desks can also remotely support distributed workforces. Remote employees do not have to commute to offices or mail their devices in order to troubleshoot their issues. Service desk technicians can remote into their devices from anywhere and resolve the problem at any time. Remote services lead to increased employee productivity and improved customer satisfaction. Oh, remote services, where would we be without you?

Security

Since 5G is mostly software-based, cybersecurity can be written into anything connected to the network, improving data analysis and threat detection. However, devices that sit on the network’s edge (like in edge computing) are more vulnerable to cyber breaches. With IoT connections expected to reach 30.9 billion by 2025, according to Statista, the number of vulnerable entry points is high.

That’s why a multilayered cybersecurity approach is quite possibly the technology to be most thankful for. Firewalls and anti-virus software won’t cut it. Businesses need endpoint security, multifactor authentication, email security, incident response, Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), and vulnerability scans of network edges. In case of a security breach, a business continuity/disaster recovery plan wouldn’t be a bad idea either. All of these elements work together to build protection, detect threats, and eliminate breaches, ultimately avoiding non-compliance fines and leading to increased system uptime and improved brand reputation.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us, resulting in improved business operations thanks to the power of IoT, the speed of edge computing, the capability of 5G, the flexibility of remote services, and the protection of cybersecurity. Companies that embrace the possibilities of such digital solutions will be forever grateful as they keep pace with ever-increasing customer demands and outstrip competitors. If your business has yet to invest in remote service desk support or a multilayered cybersecurity plan, NexusTek’s managed IT services and managed cybersecurity plans feature multiple variations with customizable options so that you can find that right solution for your business.

5 Ways to Improve the Wholesale Customer Experience

READ TIME: 4 MIN

5 Ways to Improve the Wholesale Customer Experience

Providing an excellent customer experience strengthens the loyalty of 64% of customers, according to a Salesforce survey. In today’s world of instant gratification, customers expect on-demand engagement and satisfaction of their needs. Industry 4.0 is revolutionizing every market, including wholesale distribution, and it is the key to enhancing the customer experience, and ultimately, leading to the industry’s success.

Here are five ways to improve the customer experience through the digital transformation of your wholesale distribution business.

Technology

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is automating manufacturing and improving efficiencies through smart technology such as sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. These advanced technologies collect real-time data and analytics to improve productivity and enhance the customer experience. Such data can be crucial to catering towards customers, 45% of whom, Salesforce noted, say they will switch brands if a company does not actively anticipate their needs. Wholesale distributors must stay abreast of this rapidly evolving transformation and invest in smart technology to outpace the competition because it will only continue to progress. In fact, the total number of IoT connections will reach 83 billion by 2024, according to Juniper Research, and sensors will reach $27 billion by 2022, reports Zion Market Research. To support such advanced technologies and securely store and process big data, wholesalers will need to proactively monitor and maintain their IT infrastructures.

Omnichannel Environment

Rather than a multi-channel approach, where a customer can access your business from multiple touchpoints, from mobile to desktop, an omnichannel approach creates a uniform customer experience that picks up where they left off across all touchpoints. According to Salesforce, connected processes are very important to winning the business of 70% of customers. To ensure retailers receive their goods and services as quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively as possible in this omnichannel environment, wholesalers must utilize fully integrated Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) solutions to streamline business processes, from inventory management to scheduling shipments. Not only will this improve real-time demand fulfillment of customer expectations, but also increase customer security and improve compliance with vendors. Healthy IT is critical for an omnichannel environment and a seamless customer experience.

Anywhere Operations

Anywhere operations is an IT model that supports customers, enables remote employees, and delivers product deployment from anywhere, no matter the location of the assets or people. Gallup identified anywhere operations as a top strategic technology trend, and estimated that by the end of 2023, 40% of organizations will have implemented anywhere operations. Fully integrated EDI solutions will help implement anywhere operations, drawing together various business operations as well as improving real-time decision-making. The ability to remotely access real-time information, data, and analytics from anywhere at any time allows on-the-road salespeople to provide updated pricing, check inventory, and review customer profiles for a more tailored customer experience. Wholesale distributors need to maintain a health IT infrastructure to sustain anywhere operations and must manage asset tracking, software licensing, and hardware warranties and provide 24/7/365 help desk support to ensure their mobile workforces never miss a sale due to IT headaches.

Uptime

According to Salesforce, 66% of customers want instant, on-demand engagement. A slow website or shipping mistake can cost brand reputation and loyalty. It is critical that wholesale distributors ensure their products and services are always available to the customer or risk losing their business for good. A Vanson Bourne survey found that 82% of companies had experienced unplanned downtime in the past three years for an average time of 4 hours and costing an average $2 million. As a result, 46% of companies could not deliver services to customers and 37% lost production time on a critical asset. From supply chain management to a reliable online presence, wholesalers and distributors must maintain a smooth integration between the back end and front end of their business, and that means dedicating resources towards decreasing downtime. Increasing system uptime reduces errors, improves productivity, and enhances the customer experience.

Security

It is also important to maintain a healthy IT infrastructure for security. System glitches cause 27% of data breaches in the consumer industry, according to Ponemon Institute; and the average cost? $2.59 million. Whether it’s from the non-compliance fines, cost of lost productivity, or various charges to get your systems back online in a timely manner, the cost of unsecure systems is high. Maintaining the security of your systems and customer data is not only important for compliance, but also for customer loyalty. 59% of customers believe their personal information is vulnerable to a security breach, reports Salesforce, and 54% agree a commitment to safeguarding their data strengthens their loyalty. Wholesalers must support the front end of their business with seamless, healthy IT on the backend, because without security, there is no customer experience to be had.

A good customer experience is built on good technology, whether that means IoT devices with real-time data, seamless omnichannel environments, anywhere operations and support, system uptime, or information security. If your IT department is small, overwhelmed, or even nonexistent, a managed service provider has the expertise and bandwidth to ensure optimal technology performance at your wholesale distribution business. An award-winning MSP, NexusTek offers multiple managed IT plans with various levels of support so that you can find the plan that best fits your company needs and goals. Our 24/7/365 proactive system monitoring, alerting, and maintenance keeps your IT infrastructure running smoothly to increase uptime, decrease glitches and breaches, support advanced technologies and applications, and enhance customer loyalty. Improve the customer experience with managed IT from NexusTek.

3 Ways to Prep Your Business IT for the Holiday Shopping Season

READ TIME: 3 MIN

3 Ways to Prep Your Business IT for the Holiday Shopping Season

The holiday shopping season is coming.

Last year, U.S. online purchases during this time totaled $188.2 billion—32% more than in 2019, according to Adobe Analytics. However, serious sales, enormous crowds, and frenzied purchases can both promote and disrupt business. Massive, simultaneous traffic can lead to website crashes, shipping errors, and security breaches that impact the business and its customers. Companies must shore up their mission critical infrastructure to properly prepare for the onslaught of holiday activity.

Here are three ways to prep your IT for the upcoming holiday shopping season.

Systems Upkeep

Ensure your business has a healthy network infrastructure to handle massive traffic and support smooth integration between the back end and front end of the business, eliminate unplanned downtime, and enhance the customer experience.

A downed website is a direct hit to a business’ bottom line. In 2019, J. Crew lost 323,000 shoppers who were on track to spend $775,000 in five hours; Walmart may have lost as much as $9 million in half that time; and Costco, down for 16 hours, missed out on $11 million. That’s rough. But it’s not all about the money; it’s also about the people. PwC reported that 1 in 3 customers would leave a brand—they love, by the way—after just one bad experience. Would you say missing out on 50% off the latest big screen television because of website malfunctions counts as a “bad” enough experience? Probably. In today’s world of instant gratification, 66% of consumers want—and expect—on demand engagement, according to Salesforce. For those consumers who would give their favorite brands another chance, PwC found that 92% would still completely abandon a company after two or three bad experiences. With a poor IT infrastructure, a business could easily lose more customer loyalty in one season than in the entire year.

Security

Safeguard your business data and customers’ personal information through a multilayered cybersecurity plan that protects your systems, detects cyber threats, defends against attacks, and eliminates breaches through incident response.

The end of the year is prime hunting season for cybercriminals on the prowl for overwhelmed businesses and unsuspecting holiday shoppers. Kaspersky found that cyberattacks on holiday shoppers were up 15% in 2019, and last year, the most DDoS attacks in Q4 were on December 31 with 1,349 attacks recorded across the globe. Consequently, 59% of customers believe their personal information is vulnerable to a security breach, according to Salesforce, and 54% say that a company’s commitment to safeguarding their data strengthens their loyalty. Unfortunately, the consumer industry lacks security automation with only 41% partially deployed and 42% not deployed, according to IBM; as a result, malicious attacks comprise 45% of data breach causes in the consumer industry, with system glitches accounting for 27% and human error for 28%. The cost of weak cybersecurity practices and a lack of security awareness training can lead to lost data, customer loyalty, and overall brand reputation.

Backup and Recover

Maintain frequent data backups and proactively outline business continuity and disaster recovery plans so, in the event of disaster, whether virtual or physical, your business can minimize damage, restore data and systems, and recover business operations quickly. Data backup and restore can be a lifesaver if a website goes down or a ransomware attack strikes in the frenzy of Cyber Monday. According to FEMA, 40-60% of small businesses will never reopen after a data loss; in fact, 90% of companies that are unable to recover business operations within five days of a disaster fail within a year. Mercer reported that more than half of companies do not have a business continuity plan. Ponemon Institute found that companies that implemented business continuity management policies nearly halved the mean time to recover and improved cost savings by 50%. A robust BC/DR plan promotes a swift rebound, which can make all the difference to your bottom line and customer loyalty this holiday shopping season.

Ensure the optimal customer experience for this year’s massive waves of website traffic with a healthy IT infrastructure to increase uptime, a strong cybersecurity approach to protect data, and tough cyber resilience to quickly recover business operations in the event of disaster. If your IT department needs extra help this holiday season, NexusTek’s certified engineers are available 24/7/365 to offer proactive system monitoring and maintenance, managed cybersecurity and incident response and remediation, and data backup and recovery services so your business never misses a sale. Maximize this holiday shopping season with optimized IT support from NexusTek.

Cybersecurity as a Matter of National Security

READ TIME: 4 MIN

Cybersecurity as a Matter of National Security

Business security, energy security, food security…national security. All one in the same.

While Iowa grain co-op, New Cooperative, may seem far removed from the capital of the U.S. government, a ransomware attack threatened food security of people in the Midwest. The event is not just a concern for local residents; the cyberattack, and its implications, are a concern for everyone across the nation.

A few months before the $5.9 million attack on New Cooperative, the world’s largest meatpacker based in Brazil, JBS, experienced a ransomware attack that disrupted meat production in North America and Australia during the height of grilling season. Prices of U.S. beef shipped to wholesale buyers increased more than 1%, according to USDA.

And it’s not just the agricultural sector that cybercriminals can target to cripple U.S. national security. In May, another ransomware attack hobbled Colonial Pipeline, interrupting fuel service for six days to large sections of the east coast. The oil pipeline finally paid $4.4 million for the decryption key.

Furthermore, certain industries are more heavily targeted for their widespread effects on broader swaths of the U.S. population. Markets with essential services face more threats and harbor greater responsibility in shoring up vulnerabilities.

Here are the top 10 most targeted industries and their most common form of cyberattack in 2020, according to 2021 X-Force Threat Intelligence Index.

Top 10 Industries Targeted in 2020*
Most Common Attack Per Industry in 2020*
1. Finance
Server access attacks
2. Manufacturing
Business Email Compromise
3. Energy
Data theft and leaks
4. Retail
Credential theft
5. Professional Services
Ransomware
6. Government
Ransomware
7. Healthcare
Ransomware
8. Media
Malicious domain name system (DNS) squatting
9. Transportation
Malicious insider or misconfiguration
10. Education
Spam or adware
*According to findings in 2021 X-Force Threat Intelligence Index
The ever-increasing onslaught and sophistication of cyberattacks is not just a concern for businesses. They pose an imminent threat to the security of the U.S. and the privacy, health, and financial well-being of its residents. The significance of cybercrime cannot be ignored and is on the minds of the nation’s top government officials. Earlier this year, President Biden released Executive Order 14208, addressing the modernization of the nation’s cybersecurity. Here are a few takeaways from Biden’s “Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity”:
  • IT service providers must inform the government of cybersecurity breaches that could impact U.S. networks.
  • A standardized playbook outlines a predetermined set of federal responses to cyber incidents.
  • The Federal Government must modernize its cybersecurity infrastructure through cloud services and zero-trust architecture, mandated multifactor authentication and encryption, robust endpoint detection and response, and consistent event logging practices.
  • Software developers must share certain security data publicly and must meet baseline security standards before the software can be sold to the government.
  • A Cybersecurity Safety Review Board, comprising government and private sector officials, may convene after a cyberattack to analyze the event, its causes, and impacts, and make recommendations to further improve the nation’s cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity is so important that the President of the United States is making sweeping Executive Orders to improve it.

If the United States has a multilayered approach to protecting the nation’s cybersecurity and cyber resilience, shouldn’t your business have a plan?

Here’s a list of effective tactics to build your business’ multilayered cybersecurity:

  • Endpoint Detection and Response
  • Windows Patching and Third-Party patching
  • Cloud Email Security per User
  • Cybersecurity Health Check and Review
  • Security Awareness Training
  • DNS Security
  • Incident Response and Remediation
  • Vulnerability Scans of Network Edge
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
  • Event Log Correlation and Aggregation
  • 24/7/365 Monitoring
If your company only has some or even none of the abovementioned cybersecurity measures in your IT repertoire, NexusTek has developed three customizable, managed cybersecurity plans—Essential, Standard, and Advanced—comprising user-focused strategies and carefully selected solutions to protect, detect, and respond to cyber risks and threats that target your business. As an SSAE-18 SOC II certified company and award-winning managed service provider, NexusTek has the expertise to build and improve your cybersecurity. We protect your company and customers so you can help protect your country.

NexusTek Achieves CRN Triple Crown Status for 2021

NexusTek Achieves CRN Triple Crown Status for 2021

Recognized for Exceptional IT Solution Provider Service Third Year in a Row

Denver, CO (October 11, 2021) – NexusTek, a national provider of managed IT services and full IT outsourcing solutions to businesses across the U.S., announced today that CRN, a brand of The Channel Company, has named NexusTek as a 2021 Triple Crown Award winner for the third consecutive year. This award celebrates standout solution providers for the accomplishment of being featured on three of CRN’s prestigious award lists.

“This Triple Crown Award, which is a culmination of multiple awards, makes us extremely proud,” said Bill Wosilius, CEO, NexusTek. “This recognition reflects our commitment to excellence in the IT industry, and even more importantly, our commitment to the businesses who place their trust and investment in NexusTek. With this honor, we are one step closer to our goal of being the largest national MSP with the highest customer satisfaction in the industry.”

CRN Triple Crown Award winners earned a place on three elite award lists in the same year, including: the Solution Provider 500 list, a ranking of the largest IT solution providers by revenue in North America; the Fast Growth 150 list, a ranking of the fastest-growing organizations in the channel; and the Tech Elite 250 list, for having received the highest-level certifications from leading vendors in the industry. Making any of the three lists is an achievement, but being named on all three lists in a single year highlights exceptional service and commands special recognition from the entire channel community. 

“What an achievement to attain the Triple Crown Award — we are thrilled to congratulate these top solution providers who are leading the pack by revenue in North America, and whom have experienced more substantial growth this year than many other channel organizations while maintaining and building upon the technical skills that result in the highest level of service in the IT channel,” said Blaine Raddon, CEO of The Channel Company. “This award is the trifecta of honor, highlighting truly extraordinary solution providers who continue to go above and beyond in their contributions to the channel and to the future of the industry with their dedication and expertise.”

This year’s Triple Crown Award winners will be featured in the October 2021 issue of CRN and online at www.crn.com/triplecrown.

About NexusTek

Trusted by thousands of businesses for over two decades, NexusTek, a national provider of managed IT services and full IT outsourcing solutions, offers a comprehensive portfolio comprising end-user services, cloud, infrastructure, cybersecurity, and IT consulting. Ranked among the top MSPs in North America and a multi-year CRN Triple Crown Award winner, NexusTek’s 24/7/365 domestically-staffed support team designs holistic technology solutions to improve business continuity, productivity, operational efficiency, and cost-effectiveness for companies across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. As an SSAE 18 SOC II certified company, NexusTek conducts yearly rigorous security audits to ensure customer safety and provide optimal service.

Share On Social

LinkedIn
Twitter
Facebook

4 Ways To Future-Proof Your AEC Business

READ TIME: 4 MIN

4 Ways To Future-Proof Your AEC Business

Industry 4.0 is revolutionizing every market. According to Statista, global spending on digital transformation technologies and services increased 10.4% in 2020 to $1.3 trillion. A 2021 Board of Directors survey revealed that 86% agree rapid digital transformation is a key priority, and 69% accelerated digital business initiatives in response to COVID-19.

The Architecture, Engineering & Construction industry is no exception: 98% of AEC businesses agree that digital solutions are critical to the future viability of their companies. Small- and medium-sized businesses comprise 90% of the construction market, and without the deep pockets of an enterprise-sized organization, the construction industry is one of the least digitized industries. The lack of digitization has contributed to the AEC sector’s decreasing productivity, costing the industry an annual estimate of $1.6 trillion.

To move forward into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, architects, engineering firms, and construction companies must embrace digital business operations. Here’s four ways AEC businesses can jumpstart their digital transformation journeys.

Technology

The Internet of Things (IoT), Digital Twins, and Building Information Modeling (BIM) are a few of the advanced technologies revolutionizing the AEC industry, improving timelines, collaboration, and productivity. The total number of IoT connections will reach 83 billion by 2024, and sensors will reach $27 billion by 2022. Utilizing data from IoT devices, digital twins can improve productivity 50-60%. Additionally, 49% of builders use BIM, and 82% of users report positive ROI. The other 51% of builders will likely invest in BIM soon as the market is projected to reach $13.2 billion by the end of 2024. Working to keep up with such advanced technologies, networks are more vulnerable to crashes, resulting in data loss and delayed project timelines. In fact, system downtime costs $5,600 per minute on average, reports Gartner, and an hour can amount to $140,000 to $540,000 depending on the organization. The high-performance computational power of the CPUs, GPUs, and SSD drives demands a healthy IT network. An AEC business needs a strong IT infrastructure with frequent monitoring and proactive maintenance to support such (necessary) advanced technologies, secure their connectivity, and excel against competitors.

Remote Workforce

In 2020, approximately 75% of civil and commercial contractors restructured work procedures to accommodate social distancing, and in effect, accelerated digital transformation. Anywhere operations not only are the standard expectations of present-day job seekers, but also the keys to increasing project speed and reducing costs. Now architects, engineers, and construction contractors can work on projects in different time zones, collecting information from the field and making decisions in real time while saving the time and cost of travel. One Texas concrete company implemented a real-time digital time tracking solution with GPS and face recognition and ultimately saved $72,900 in the first 12 months. In the next three years, the AEC industry should expect to see 33% of contractors using wearable technology, increasing communication and streamlining operations.

Remote workforces are the way of the future. AEC businesses must stay on top of asset tracking, software licensing, and hardware warranties to ensure their mobile workforces never miss a beat. And a 24/7 IT help desk wouldn’t hurt either.

Data

Construction data is quite possibly the most valuable asset for an architecture business, engineering firm, or construction company. Since 52% of all rework is caused by poor data and miscommunication, 71% of owners believe capturing more data during design and construction will reduce lifecycle operations costs. IoT, augmented reality, and BIM technologies generate big data that is essential to improving production and decreasing costs. With 70% of manufacturers also transmitting personal information to and from these connected devices, this data is also sensitive to both the business and its clients, and therefore, must be protected. Unfortunately, 23% of data breaches in the industrial sector are caused by system glitches, resulting in data loss, exposure of personal information, and non-compliance fines.

A healthy IT infrastructure supports workstations, runs sophisticated CAD/CAM software tools, and prevents data loss from system failures. Network infrastructure must be proactively monitored and maintained, decreasing the loss of valuable, sensitive information and increasing business continuity and brand reputation.

Production

The benefits of advanced technology, a mobile workforce, and big data culminate into the most valuable advantage of all: increased and improved overall production. IoT in the construction market is expected to grow at a rate of CAGR of 14% until 2027, totaling $19 billion and increasing efficiency all the while. Online collaboration tools and digital workspaces that bring together remote partners strengthen workplace productivity 20-30%, and connected teams experience a 21% increase in profitability. Big data increases the likelihood of a business making better strategic decisions by 69%; and companies that use big data analytics report an 8% increase in revenue. To capitalize on the benefits of digital transformation, AEC businesses need sturdy IT environments that do not falter under high computational power or vast amounts of data, as well as a 24/7 help desk that supports their remote workforces wherever they may be. That’s where a managed service provider like NexusTek comes in.

As an award-winning managed service provider for architects, engineering firms, and construction companies across the country, NexusTek offers multiple managed IT plans with various options of support and guidance so that you can find the plan that best fits your AEC business needs and goals. Our 24/7/365 proactive system monitoring, alerting, and maintenance keeps your IT infrastructure running smoothly to increase uptime and maintain project timelines. Our unlimited help desk supports your remote employees in case of IT challenges, and our inventory and configuration management ensures your assets, hardware, and software remain online and optimized. Proceed confidently on your digital transformation journey with managed IT from NexusTek.

Videotelephony: The Future of Remote Meetings

READ TIME: 4 MIN

Videotelephony: The Future of Remote Meetings

Video conferencing experienced a 535% increase in daily traffic in 2020. 76% of remote employees utilize video to overcome the isolation of social distancing. In fact, 87% feel more connected to each other when using video. The higher morale and effectiveness of video conferencing improves productivity by 50% and enriches communication, with 90% finding it easier to get their ideas across while using video. With the shift towards hybrid work schedules or permanent work from home situations, videotelephony, or the exchange of audiovisual communication between users in real-time, will own a lasting space in professional (and personal) settings. The question is not “When will the need for videotelephony cease?” but rather “How will it evolve?” Thus far in 2021 alone, three major players have launched three major videotelephony developments, ranging the gamut from virtual reality to holograms to augmented and mixed reality. Let’s explore these new realities.

Microsoft Mesh

Tech Type:
  • Mixed Reality (Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, & Holograms)
Equipment Needed:
  • A fully immersive head-mounted display (HMDs) like Microsoft HoloLens, HP Reverb G2, or Oculus Quest 2 for a 3D experience
  • A PC, Mac, or an Android or Apple smartphone for a 2D experience
Availability:

“Feel presence” is one of the main promises Microsoft makes in its mixed reality platform, Mesh, introduced this past March. As a cross platform SDK built on Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure, Mesh can be optimized for whatever technologies users enable to connect, whether those are AR, VR, PC, Mac, or a smartphone that is using any Mesh-enabled app. Depth and dimension bring remote users into the same space where they can use AI-powered tools to manipulate spatial maps, designs, and 2D and 3D content in realtime. Users can choose to appear as either a 3D avatar or enable the photorealistic holoportation, both of which multiuser sync keeps updated within 100 milliseconds of latency. Are you ready to connect from anywhere with Mesh?

Google - Project Starline

Tech Type:
  • Mixed Reality (Virtual and Augmented Reality)
Equipment Needed:
  • Mix of cameras, depth sensors, and specialized hardware and software
Availability:

Google’s hyper-realistic 3D video chat booth, Project Starline, creates the sensation that you’re sitting across from whoever you’re conferencing, whether they’re a few cities away or a few countries away. Computer vision, machine learning, spatial audio, and realtime compression play major roles in Starline. Using specialized cameras and depth sensors, Starline captures a person’s likeness from multiple perspectives to show their photorealistic, three-dimensional image on a 65” custom-developed light field display, or a “magic pane of glass,” as Steve Seitz, Director Engineering, Google, describes. To send such big data over existing networks, Google also developed compression and streaming algorithms to reduce the size of the data. The video booth is currently only available in select Google offices, so freshen up that resume if you want to experience Project Starline sooner rather than later.

Facebook – Horizon Workrooms

Tech Type:

  • Virtual Reality

Equipment Needed:

  • Oculus Quest 2 VR headset

Availability:

Horizon Workrooms is Facebook’s first step into CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s intended “metaverse,” or a place where the physical and digital realms collide in collaboration and communication. Using Oculus Quest 2 VR headsets, sixteen people can appear in full VR in a Workroom at the same time, and an additional 34 users can call in without headsets for a more traditional video conference. Horizon Workrooms creates a 3D virtual office environment with highly detailed avatars that execute lifelike movements courtesy of some nifty hand-tracking software from the Oculus headset. Hand-tracking also proves useful for writing on the virtual whiteboard or note-taking on your keyboard, which can be brought into the VR space where it is animated with 1:1 positional tracking for speed and accuracy. If Horizon Workrooms is just the beginning of the Facebook metaverse, what’s next?

Three new technologies, three new, mind-blowing ways of connecting on a truer, more natural level with colleagues miles away. As exciting as these developments are, they won’t be standard business tools for a few more years. In the meantime, businesses of all sizes must ensure that their remote and hybrid workforces have the proper tools and applications to improve communication and increase productivity.

Microsoft has the videotelephony and IT solutions to support and propel your remote workforce, from the video conferencing capabilities of Teams to remote collaboration tools like SharePoint and OneDrive. As a Microsoft Gold Partner ranking in the top 1% of all Microsoft partners nationally, NexusTek offers expert implementation of Microsoft Business Products to help businesses leverage the best resources in the market.

Connect your workforce. Connect with NexusTek.

4 Reasons Why Agriculture Businesses Need Managed IT

4 Reasons Why Agriculture Businesses Need Managed IT

READ TIME: 4 MIN

4 Reasons Why Agriculture Businesses Need Managed IT

4 Reasons Why Agriculture Businesses Need Managed IT

Farming is no longer the cultivation of crops with simple tools: It is the adaptation and progression of plant and animal life via advanced technology. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, is sweeping through the world of agriculture and produce, boosting efficiency, production, and quality through the Internet of Things (IoT). In fact, the total number of IoT connections will reach 83 billion by 2024, reports Juniper Research, and the industrial sector, which includes agriculture, will account for more than 70% of its 130% growth. Here are four reasons why agribusinesses need managed IT to handle this digital transformation.

Technology

Advanced connectivity infrastructure is expected to cover 80% of the world’s rural areas by 2030, according to McKinsey & Company. Precision farming, smart farming, and digital farming all demand a solid internal infrastructure. IoT devices, including smart sensors, robotics and drones, positioning and location tracking, cloud computing, AI analytics, and cellular communication systems, generate big data, which can overwhelm aging IT systems. Consequently, agribusinesses need to routinely assess their IT infrastructures to ensure they are optimized for the advanced technologies of precision agriculture.

Production

With industry-wide connectivity from IoT devices, the agri-food sector could increase $500 billion in additional value by 2030, according to McKinsey & Company. However, the increased production and quality of agricultural goods can be devastated by a downed server or expired software license. Downtime costs $5,600 per minute on average, reports Gartner, and an hour can amount to $140,000 to $540,000 depending on the organization. Save time and money through regular, proactive systems monitoring to maintain the health of your business’ IT infrastructure and guarantee system uptime and business continuity.

Workforce

Dispersed across acres of fields, checking different crops and monitoring different IoT devices, agricultural employees cannot walk across the office and knock on the door of the IT department. Often widespread and remote, these workers need immediate access to big data and sensitive information in order to manage produce, which is directly impacted by weather and natural elements that wait for no human or lagging network connections. Agricultural employees require around-the-clock help desk and IT support so they can get the job done no matter the hour, no matter the IT request.

Customer Experience

All three of the prior reasons—technology, production, and workforce—impact the health and food security of people across the world. Their efficiency, output, and success—or lack thereof—trickle down into overall customer success. The world’s population is set to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, and thus, global agricultural production needs to rise 69% between 2010 and 2050, according to the United Nations. The boost in production from Industry 4.0 is the key to this goal. Precision agriculture can reduce operations costs by 15% and increase crop yield by 13%, according to the American Farm Bureau. Agribusinesses should invest in managed IT services from a qualified managed service provider to ensure optimal network performance and a healthy IT infrastructure that supports the advanced technologies necessary to boosting production and putting more food on more tables.

What NexusTek Can Do For Your Agribusiness

As an award-winning managed service provider, NexusTek delivers experienced IT consulting and IT services for agribusinesses across the U.S. We offer multiple fixed-fee Managed IT plans so that you can select the service that best meets the needs of your business. Here are the ways in which our dedicated IT supports your business:

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing the way we produce food.
Change with it, with NexusTek’s managed IT services.