JMARK Flood – A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through ItIt is funny how things are sometimes pictured in the news and how rumors fly in the public eye, we saw things like:

  • “Flooding causes evacuation of JMARK.” Actually we couldn’t even get in the building until water receded in the late hours of Sunday night.
  • “I am standing here at JMARK in 3 feet of water.” That one was fun, since the water at the most was 3 or so inches inside.
  • “All the cars were destroyed.” Still waiting on the final assessment, but yes a large number of vehicles were destroyed, but not all. That’s OK, employees have cars and 98.2% of our tickets are solved remotely.

There was more, but we cherish and welcome anything we can hear so that we can get in front of it. We know there are concerns, so that is why we are trying to maintain communication with our clients and employees, as well as the media.

Here are a few concerns we heard that we want to address:

  1. Is client data secure? Abso-freaking-utely. SOC, change management, and security is being addressed throughout this recovery process. It is being addresses at beginning and not after. Our security and logging is tight and continues as status quo.
  2. Is JMARK going to have to get a new office? We really don’t know yet until final assessments are made by assessors and clean-up crews. Whether we move temporarily or continue working remotely does not really matter, what matters is that operations continue to function. Today I received so many emails that had absolutely nothing to do with the disaster recovery efforts. This was a sign to me that business as usual is happening.
  3. Is my project going to be delayed? If you have a project that is scheduled with JMARK, we are doing everything we can to make sure things are running as scheduled. This is not an after-thought. The biggest delay will happen if any equipment that was allocated to a project was damaged in the flood. We are working today and tomorrow to determine that with our assessor.
  4. Is service going to be delayed? So far we are not seeing any delays in service. We are working hard from every corner of JMARK to make sure clients are put first, even as recovery efforts are underway.
  5. Is JMARK data about our account damaged or lost? Not a single dot or tittle is lost or in jeopardy. Every core system is operational and working as expected.

We appreciate the well wishes, the patience, and all those supporting us. As a client though, please don’t ever feel like you come second to a disaster, that is just not the case. Let us know how we can serve you and if there are any concerns.

For questions related to the flood, please send an email to JMARK@jmark.com with the subject of “Flood.”

Thank you and please let us know if there is anything you want to hear about.

Warmly,
Todd Nielsen
Chief Strategy Officer
tnielsen@jmark.com

Improve Your Business Strategy Through the Use of Technology

Technology-strategy-it-servicesToday’s businesses must take into account technologically forward ways to achieve their strategic initiatives. It’s inevitable to hold an annual planning session without some discussion of technology. As competition and business in general gets tougher, businesses need to embrace innovative ways to use technology to help achieve the organization’s strategy and overall success.

Organizations are always looking for better productivity, increased profitability, more unified collaboration, improved communication, reduced costs, increased customer acquisition, fantastic customer service, and more systematic business processes, among many other initiatives. Technology can help achieve all that and much more, and is a strategic tool to help make those things a reality.

The Advantages of Planning  for Technology

Companies include technology in their business plans to achieve many things that help the business become more successful. Here are a few items that might be in your strategic plans:

Increased Output – Better output might mean better sales. Better sales will likely result in many great outcomes. Everything is connected together from the efforts of the employees to customer satisfaction. With managed services, both business owners as well as the employees can work efficiently knowing there is a lifeline to help them be productive at any time.

Increased Profitability – A company that achieves efficient work has a good chance at earning more profit. An increase in profitability can be directly connected to how employees work together for the common good. From top-level plans to the day-to-day execution, every step can slow down with poor technology, or poor technology services.

Improved Security – Security is a top-level concern for any business owner, and it very well should be. The lack of security can kill just about any strategic initiative in many ways. Making sure that a business’ systems are not just optimized but secure, will allow everyone to focus on what they do best.

Increased Teamwork – Internet-based communication and collaboration platforms are now one of the most preferred types of systems for working together. They let employees communicate and share information easily, wherever they are. While technology is not an end-all solution for poor teamwork, it can facilitate the communication, sharing of information, and accountability for team projects.

Less Surprises – JMARK’s budgeting and strategy services help our clients be prepared for technology refreshes, new advances in technology and more that help businesses become more successful. After discussing needed and desired changes we help plan out a 5 year budget, so that you never have to guess on an allocation for technology.

Investing on IT Services

The use of the right technology can catapult the success of your business throughout the next year. Investing in reliable IT support services and proper technology investments, will help your organization achieve many of the benefits discussed in this article. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you.

Managed Services Providers – You Get What You Pay For!

Value-VS-Cost-Managed-Services-JMARKOver the years I have purchased a lot of things, I am guessing you probably have as well. Whether it is a new washer or dryer, a tool to fix or build something, a lawn mower, or a hundred other things; there is one truth that I have found to be a solid fact – over and over and over again – you get what you pay for.

I have been in the technology world for over 15 years, and have experience with LOTS of managed services providers that I have worked for and consulted with, of all shapes and sizes. This inarguable fact has also been present in all these managed services companies – you really do get what you pay for. Let’s examine what is the difference between two managed services providers; one that charges a premium for their services, and one that charges much less, we’ll call them cheap. This is what I have seen:

Premium MSP

Cheap MSP

They are more stable of a company and understand what they need to be successful in serving their clients. They are less stable as a company and typically do not understand how to price their services or know what it will take to make their clients successful.
They differentiate themselves by the value and level of service they give to their clients. They differentiate themselves by price, because they can’t compete on service levels or in other value driven models.
They understand that technology is a strategic asset and they use that knowledge to help their clients be more successful and profitable in business. They understand technology is an important tool, but don’t have the business skills to help their clients properly plan or use those tools to create profitability for other benefits for their clients.
They have highly advanced tools to manage their clients to properly prevent issues and secure the network and systems better. They use the cheapest tools possible, which only gives them a small set of features to use to help their clients.
They value skill and know they have to pay for good skill to serve their clients better. They have great training programs to consistently keep their technicians up to date. They do not have training programs. They “hope” their technicians will get certified on their own time.
They provide their clients with insightful reporting to show the value of their service. They don’t provide insightful reporting.
They meet quarterly and annually to help their clients plan for technology and work with them to make sure that their technology is being used to advance the strategic initiatives of the client. The wish they had the time to perform quarterly and annual reviews.
They perform test restores on client backups every single month. They only monitor alerts and hope the data will be recoverable if there is a problem.
They understand that security is a critical component of network health and have invested in internal training and tools to ensure they are on the leading edge of security. They don’t believe any hacker would target their clients, so they don’t spend too much time on it, but do the basic things.
They are able to support a wide range of applications and hardware in order to serve different client needs. They are able to support a small set of core applications and hardware.
They monitor every single log and alert generated from clients and have very expensive tools to assist them in the analysis and resolution. They setup a few alerts and monitoring of client servers, but don’t have the time to really dedicate to reviewing them.
They understand the value of metrics and have advanced systems to pull data for analysis and forecasts of service levels and capacity in the organization. They think numbers are cool, but don’t give the “real” picture. They hire based on stress levels, than on forecasting capacity.
They manage service by guaranteed service levels agreements. They generally do not understand SLAs, nor include them in their agreements.

 

I could go on and on with many more examples, but the truth still stands, you get what you pay for. It could be true that you could have a mediocre company that charges a lot for their services, but “by their fruits, ye shall know them.” In the end, a cheap managed services provider is no different than a cheap vacuum, eventually they will break down, and leave their clients in a wake of destruction. JMARK of course is on the left side of this table, but that does not mean we are outside of your price range. Contact us so we can show you the true value that we provide to our clients.

Managed Services for Media and Design Firms

Managed Services – IT Support – IT Services

IT Services has become an important issue in the world of design, advertising and media. From paintbrushes, air brushes, colored pencils and more to tablets and high powered workstations. This day and age brings us digital media and digital marketing like we could have never imagined. Managed Services

Managed Services & IT Support Services

More traditional advertising and professional graphics work still have their place. Whether or not a design firm is hi-tech or more old-school, it can benefit from tremendously from outsourced IT Support Services or Managed Services. A media firm must have allowances for extreme amounts of multimedia data, much of it raw and uncompressed since firms often must deal in high quality original imagery. Graphical revisions of one file can span multiple gigabytes of data.

Media and design firms need to be able to scale and adjust to growing data needs, as well has have an effective disaster recovery plan that is difficult to muster with so much data. Access to their data needs to be as fast as technology allows because time is money for a media or design firm, and no employee has time to wait extreme amounts of time for a video to render or for a design software to crash in the middle of changes. The media firm’s IT solution and support services also need to data protected and visible only to authorized. Leaks can be a real problem in the world of media.

Managed Services and Cloud Services are a perfect fit for a media and design firm’s needs. Most importantly, specially tailored managed solutions can give the amount of data protection, accessibility, and scalability needed for managing a vast trove of professional multimedia. JMARK has all the tools, services, skills, and capability to solve a media firm’s tech problems and give its employees more time for the creative enterprise on which the world of design relies. Contact us to learn more about managed services.

Twas the Day of The Install – Happy Holidays from JMARK!

IT Support

Here is a Happy Holidays message to all the communities we serve, our clients, our friends, and associates. We hope you enjoy!

‘Twas the day of the install, when all thro’ the workplace,
Not a device was humming, nor was found any disk space;
Wiring was hung and was organiz’d with care,
In hopes that a speedy & reliable network… soon would be there.

The employees were nestled all snug in their chairs,
While the Services Director glared and pulled out his hairs.
The IT Director in his slacks, and I in my jeans,
had been there all night… it was quite a scene.

When out in the parking lot there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the server room to see – what was the matter!
Through the boxes and manuals, I flew like a flash,
Tore open the door, and peered through the sash.

The sun on the windshields of the cars and the snow,
Gave a heavenly lustre to the objects below;
When, what to amazement do I see through my specs,
But a JMARK Truck, and eight – not so tiny techs.

With a confident driver, a true network protector,
I knew in a moment it must be JMARK Director.
More rapid than flash memory, the techs in they filed,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by titles:

“Now! Systems Admin, Level One, Two, and Three,
“On! You Network Gurus, map this old network tree;
“To the server room and network closet, we go!
“Script, implement, and optimize! Make this network flow!”

As bits and bytes, in optics they fly,
Speed ever so faster by and by.
So up to the server room and network closet they flew,
With a tray full of donuts, tech toys – and a JMARK Director too.

And then in a twinkling, I heard through the hall,
The beeping, and typing of the techs… one and all.;
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
A smiling project manager, came in with a bound.

He was outfitt’d all in tech, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish’d from a major reboot;
A tablet and phone were his tools of trade,
And he look’d oh so grand, as his case was made.

His eyes – how they twinkled! His manner full of elation,
He introduced all the techs and explained the migration;
His confidence waxed strong, the techs were in the know.
He promised to wrap it up quickly, and destroy my tech foes;

With an end of a stylus, that he held tight in his teeth.
He rolled out the plan, from 0 to 100% complete.
Though it might have been caffeine, or other consumptions,
I thought I saw halos above the heroes – fighting my tech negations.

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave us to know we had nothing to dread.
They fixed our email, expanded our storage,
They just made it work, eliminated the disparage.

The bits went faster, the bytes went smoother,
The employees no more whispered any rumor;
The printing printed, the errors disappeared,
My to do’s and fears, they were all cleared!

The work they achieved was not for the faint hearted.
But before the sun dropped, they all smiled and departed.
They sprang to the truck, the director to his team gave a whistle,
And they drove away, like the launch of a missile.

But I heard them exclaim, ere they drove out of sight-
Happy Holidays to all, and to all a speedy network without errors, slowness or pain.”

Well it went something like that… 🙂 Please share your comments below, and we hope you have a great end of year. Happy Holidays!

 

How to Kill Your Brand, Your Reputation and Your Company – Overnight

IT Services – Technology – Company Reputation

IT Services

IT Services – Technology – Company

Target announced today that approximately 40 million credit and debit card customer accounts have been affected by a data breach. WOW. Let’s examine the ramifications of this:

  1. Target’s brand is diminished as a company that does not take proper action to protect their customers.
  2. Thieves could use the data to make counterfeit cards and use those cards, thus affecting the individual consumers both with stress and time in dealing with the situations, not to mention the potential financial ramifications of the customers.
  3. Thieves could also use the cards to make online purchases, quickly racking up thousands of dollars of tangible or even intangible assets or services on the stolen cards.
  4. Millions of dollars will be spent in “cleaning up,” policing, and in legal matters around the data breach.
  5. Consultants, PR experts, legal big wigs, and other experts will need to be brought in to handle the chaos and fallout of the situation.

Do you know that if you store personal information on your customers, and you suspect that your company has been hacked, that you are required by law to tell ALL your customers? What would that do to your reputation? Do you have the funds to handle the PR, Legal, and even technical fallout from a security breach? Do you have the funds to offer all your clients credit monitoring because of your breach?

In the over 15 years I have been an executive in the technology industry I have seen a lot of scary things. I can tell many stories of clients who thought they were covered, who thought that their security was adequate, and who thought that their backup was sufficient. On that same note, I can also tell you of some companies… who are no longer in business.

JMARK has a top notch network infrastructure team that specializes in making sure that bad people do not get in our clients networks. JMARK has dedicated backup experts to make sure that we can recover our client’s data from any situation. We have experienced systems engineers that specialize in many verticals to make sure that our clients’ systems are secure – according to industry regulations. We have dedicated and knowledgeable account managers (VCIOs) and experts that can assist with continuity planning and detailed network assessments.

Hope is not a strategy. Don’t put your data, reputation, and brand on the firing line. Give us a call and let’s make sure that you are protected and can recover from any situation. Contact us today for IT Services & Support!

4 Simple Tricks that will Dramatically Reduce IT Problems

IT Support

The fact of the matter is that the people in general have a lot more expertise in things that are not related to IT Support or  technology. The old saying, “They know enough to be dangerous,” is something we hear and experience a lot in supporting technology. There are a few methods that can be put into place though; that will reduce the danger from people that, “know enough to be dangerous.” JMARK can help put these and many more methods into practice at your company.

Lock Your Technology Down!

The first thing is to password protect and lock-down anything that is not absolutely vital to the computer’s functionality: date/time settings, antivirus settings, registry access, windows updates, the ability to install software, and much more. This method also includes company data. Many companies have an antiquated structure to their data that makes locking it down very difficult. When things are locked down, there is less of a chance it will get messed up.

Training on Technology Do’s and Don’ts

The second method is just as important: training. Locking things down can only go so far. I have seen many company execs open phishing emails. A training program should be specific and often. Every single person in your organization should know not to click on random links, not to open random email attachments, and not to even look at, let alone REPLY to, random junk emails…but you’d be surprised how often this sort of mistake happens. Make the training programs thorough and mandatory. Training should include what people should and should not do.

Implementation of Technology and IT Use Policies

No one likes more policies, but in this world of constant litigation and security risks, having proper acceptable use policies related to technology are vital to every company. Some of these include: mobile use policies, social media policies, email use policies, and much more. If you are a JMARK Netcare client, we can provide sample policies for your company for free, just ask your VCIO.

Monitoring of IT and Network Resources

JMARK monitors dozens and dozens of vital services and statistics on our client networks. Doing this allows us to identify small problems, and fix them – before they become big issues. Often we can spot and fix a problem before our clients even experience any issues. We can prevent downtime and improve the quality and speed of our client’s work, by just monitoring small things.

So keep this stuff in mind, and think about putting these methods in place at your company. After all, your company has more important stuff to do, than worry about the dangers of people in your company that, “know enough to be dangerous.”

3 Keys to Streamlining IT Operations

IT Operations – Managed Services

IT Operations

IT Operations & Managed Services

IT Operations exist to make our tasks in the business world easier and to help companies focus on the issues they must tackle in order to serve their customers. That, of course, is the theory: in many organizations that have not been so careful or have not caught up with the times IT can be a bottle-neck. If a day of productivity gets eaten up by server downtime with no reliable recovery strategy or the average employee has to wait a week after filling out a wall of online forms and having half-hour long conversations with support staff to get a workstation, then there is probably something wrong. Here are a few keys to streamlining IT operations & Managed Services:-

Understand Where the Barriers to Entry Should be Placed

Organizations must be extremely cautious as to who has access to their data and systems. This is especially true in the world of banking, defense, medicine, security firms, or any other organizations where the risks of failure are immense. However, ask yourself the following, “Does my business need as many layers as a defense contractor?” In most cases the answer is no. Have security experts and IT  support staff identify the key areas of business that need protection and the business roles that need to access them. Try to strike a balance between safety and flexibility because too much protection can eat productivity.

Leverage Collaboration

Managing hardware and resources such as disk drives can be cumbersome. It is typically suggested that users refrain from saving work locally and use network drives that have been mapped to the system. However, with SharePoint, cloud storage, and other convenient ways to store, share, protect, and back up data, the drive mapping concept might need to be rethought as well. Though it is unintuitive for many of us, we have been conditioned to hit “save” on a menu bar for decades now – it would benefit many businesses to get into the habit of making the most out of online collaboration tools and recognize the value of sharing.

Managed Services

The most surefire way to streamline IT is to trust it to dedicated IT firms that can manage them for your business. JMARK can take care of servers, workstations, cloud, hosting, storage, Internet circuits, backup, and many more technologies and services; and thus free up a business to work on the business’ mission itself. Contact us for a free assessment to determine IT operations how best we could help your organization.

Company Leaders Promoted to New Positions

IT Services – Company Leaders

Congratulations to Jeff Bendure and Tony Beabout for their recent career advancements at JMARK.

 

IT Services

Jeff Bendure

“Jeff has been a successful part of the Service Department for many years,” said President of Thomas H. Douglas. “He’s now transitioned to the Sales Department to help meet our client’s strategic objectives. Jeff’s move will be a great benefit to the Clients he supports. His knowledge of their business and technology will produce great results.”

 

 

 

 

IT Services

Tony Beabout

Tony Beabout has made the transition from being on a service team to leading a service team of his own. “Tony’s leadership experience from the military and technical knowledge are going to continue to improve JMARK’s ability to exceed the needs of our clients,” said Douglas.

 

 

 

 

Managed IT Services – Reduces Risk, Catapults Success!

IT Services Company – Managed IT Services

IT Services

As a business owner, your plate seems to shrink each day–and the mountain of things to do only seems to increase!  Suddenly, you’re concerned with hiring, firing, payroll, insurance, financial controls, regulations, sales and marketing, let alone the day-to-day operations of your business.

One of the most neglected aspects of business is the IT department.  Often one employee simply becomes the “go-to-guy” for any computer problems.  From troubleshooting to implementation, this employee is often stretched outside of their skills and abilities simply to help the company.

While there are costs associated with Managed IT Services, the costs of not having an IT department are even more significant.  From lost time to lost data, failure to have a functioning IT department can cost productivity, sales, and even customers. Unexpected disaster can strike at any moment, crippling a company that doesn’t have a robust and redundant computer network.

Managed IT Services solve this problem by outsourcing your IT needs to a team of specialists.  By entrusting your network architecture and trouble-shooting to the experts, you free your employees to do what they do best!  Managed Services often include:

  • Network architecture and security
  • System updates
  • Anti-virus updates and training
  • Automated nightly off-site backups
  • Cloud computing

Even though you may have an employee who is skilled in handling some routine maintenance and trouble-shooting, that employee probably doesn’t have time to stay up-to-date with developing trends and security risks. Managed IT Services offers reliable coverage for your business, providing the service and expertise of a full-time professional IT department at an affordable price. Call us for a free comprehensive  network assessment to get an accurate picture of your risks.