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Tag Archives: Zona Rio

IT Consultant or Computer Tech?

http://www.varjan.com/articles/0912-dec-09-it-consultant-or-computer-technician.shtml

Mr. Varjan says"Most people know the difference between a builder and an architect, a bookkeeper and a chartered accountant and an line cook and an executive chef. But there seems to be some confusion about the difference between computer technicians and IT consultants.

For some reason there is a preponderance of computer technicians who love calling themselves IT consultants.

And probably there are some computer technicians out there who'd like to migrate to the area of IT consulting. And this is what I'd like to discuss this month. This magic migration from being a computer technician to becoming an IT consultant.

And don't get me wrong, one is not better than the other, but they have different mandates, so it's vital that we understand the difference and how companies differentiate, position and package their services accordingly. There is nothing more pitiful than a bunch of computer technicians posing as IT consultants.

The market also perceives them differently."

 

I find this to be very true in the environment we work in.  As consultants to SMBs, many of our clients are unaware of a distinction between the two.  The pitfall is years of lost or declining productivity.  We spend a lot of time retraining our clients to think of IT as a partner, rather than an enemy.  And we have measurable results proving the positive.  Likewise, we choose not to work with clients who treat what we do as a commodity, rather than a partnership.

A mentor of mine is fond of calling the IT Department he oversees "IM" (Information Management).  He tells me that he wants his techs to think in terms of how we manage information rather than what technology we are using today.  It's brilliant.  Why?  Because the average desktop support tech doesn't care about seeing the forest for the trees.  What is on her mind is solving the problem right in front of her.  Now that is great for the problem at hand, but it does nothing to raise the customer to a new level of efficiency, or to bring significantly higher value to the commodity of desktop support.

TRA Consulting, Inc. seeks to align our business goals to those of our clients; to form lasting, long-term partnerships; and to maximize our client's efficiencies.

TRA

Who is your desktop support provider?

Our organization has been fighting for years to differentiate ourselves from the rest of our competition.  Our competition has changed over the last 12 years because we have followed a model of continual improvement.  When we began the process, our target audience was the end-consumer.  Beginning with the recession of 2008 and the sharp increase in competition for residential business that same year, combined with the decrease in price of hardware, we realized we had to do a better job of differentiating ourselves from our competition as a local computer repair shop to a value added reseller with a managed services practice.  I won't bore you with the blow by blow of that process.  What I will do is outline the difference between a traditional computer repair shop and a managed support practice from an executive level outlook.

What TRA does to differentiate from the rest is easily summed up into the words proactive and value-added.

Proactive:

We look for ways to be proactive rather than reactive in our response to problems.  We do not strive to be a break-fix shop.  There is always a place for break-fix work, and we do fill that need when it comes up.  To our customers, downtime is toxic, efficiency is a must, and costs should be predictable.  We employ RMM agents to catch issues as they come up, perform updating, patching, alerting, schedule maintenance, and remote support.  Furthermore, we employ managed AV agents to provide an added layer of security.  By putting the right pieces in place, we are able to successfully charge a flatter rate to our customers, and there are very few surprises.

Value-Added:

To our customers, we strive to be not only the "computer guys", but rather a partner in their growth.  We seek to align our business to our customer's businesses to partner for long-term growth.  This means we are always looking for opportunities which allow us to serve our customers better while increasing their efficiency.  This means that in addition to providing traditional deskside and remote support, we are providing the peripheral services that make us even more valuable to our customers; whether that be hosted exchange, business-productivity software, subscription-based services, hardware leasing, or support of proprietary software.

TRA Consulting has developed considerable internal competencies as a result of our growth.  We are looking to the future and thinking big for our customer's benefit.

Who do you partner with?  Is your IT provider keeping you in a box, hindering your growth?  Can you consider your IT provider a partner in your success?

TRA Consulting, Inc.

Will the cloud solve all your desktop support problems? Probably not.

See discussion: http://tech.slashdot.org/story/12/05/31/0332220/it-desktop-support-to-be-wiped-out-thanks-to-cloud-computing

For the SMB, many of whom are just beginning to adopt cloud services in their organizations, the cloud will change nothing with respect to desktop support.  The cloud can actually, in some cases, increase the complexity of serving the needs of SMBs.  The modern desktop support tech needs to not only be versed in the onsite needs of the SMB, but also be familiar with the most popular cloud-based productivity services: Office 365, GoogleApps, Lync, Symantec.cloud, etc.

The future of computing probably sees us moving towards dumb-teminals and 100% cloud services.  When we get to that point, services must still be configured and maintained for users IN THE CLOUD.  The role of desktop wupport will change at that point.  Three things must happen first – internet bandwidth and speeds must increase, QOS must improve, and the price of dumb terminals must come down.  I see it on the horizon for the SMB, realistically, in the next two years. The adoption rate will be much slower than that, however.

Be careful when choosing your IT provider.  It is imperative you make the right choice, expecially if you have adopted cloud-based services to offset your on-premise services.  The industry is changing rapidly.  The driving force behind all of these changes are efficiency and price, but IT can turn into a very costly endeavor very quickly if your trusted IT provider is behind the eight ball.

TRA

Protecting your data

From: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/10/17/indonesia_number_one_attack_source/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

"Indonesia has had the dubious honour of supplanting China as the number one source of attack traffic globally in the second quarter, according to the latest stats from content delivery and security firm Akamai.

The vendor’s State of the Internet report for Q2 found Indonesia accounted for 38 per cent of the world’s attack traffic, almost double the previous quarter’s 21 per cent."

No matter where the primary vector of attack; the fact remains that the globalization of the hacking industry continues.  As companies increasingly rely on data and the free exchange of information over the internet, the sheer abundance of unprotected data will continue to be a tempting way to get rich quick.  The SMB environment is extremely vulnerable.

I cannot count the number of environments I have walked in to which are a BIG RED target due to lax security.  I cannot count the number of SWOT analyses we have done for free for local businesses that never resulted in extra business for us.  Some SMBs see the value in securing, protecting, and backing up one of their primary assets – their data.  Sometimes we add a new client and can get them to where they need to be.  More often than not, the executive I am negotiating with either thinks the price of doing what they need to do is too expensive to implement or choose not to see it as a very important priority.

I pray that said businesses took appropriate security; but I fear many have not.  A different mindset needs to be adopted when you grow a business of, say, 3 people to the size of, say, 25 people.  The amount of data the organization relies on increases exponentially, the number of vulnerable targets increases, and the number of social attack vectors increases.  Hacking proprietary data is becoming more and more profitable, and those organizations who choose not to see the value in protecting that data are treading deep waters.

IT is not the enemy of growth.  To growing companies, companies watching the bottom line, companies who have vulnerabilities to protect; I encourage them to see IT as a partner to grow with and align with, rather than a handicap.  Your IT provider, the right IT provider, can make the transition from a very small business to a small business to a medium-sized business much less dangerous.  If you partner with the right IT organization, the process can even add efficiency to your process.

How long can your organization deal with a major breach?  A breach that results in data loss?  A breach that results in stolen intellectual property?

TRA Consulting, Inc.

Your employees could be your number one security threat

From Article: http://www.tripwire.com/state-of-security/risk-based-security-for-executives/connecting-security-to-the-business/insider-threats-big-problem-shouldnt-surprise/

"I was just reading the results of a Forrester study called, “Understand the State of Data Security and Privacy.” One of the big findings was that “insiders” were the top source of breaches in the last 12 months, with 36% of breaches attributed to the (often inadvertent) misuse of data by employees.

I’m not surprised by this and I doubt you are, either. After all, insiders have the most access to our critical systems and data, so it stands to reason they would be a top vector for attacks and data disclosure problems.

This Forrester report drives home the need for enterprises to monitor their systems and data for suspicious changes and activities, regardless of the source. Merely watching network traffic is not sufficient."

TRA:

This is very true.  Although 36% of breaches were directly attributable to employees, I would speculate that the majority of breaches are based on both the misuse of employee data by both indirect and direct means; by the employee, and by people exploiting the employee.

It seems sometimes that our number one security threat is your employee.  And that is why it is very important that we segregate data.  That we allow access to confidential data on a need-to-know basis.  That we institute the appropriate security and preventative measures to protect systems from employees AND from neglect and incompetence.

A good first step is to invite your IT staff or consultant to perfor a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis so we can see what weak points we have in our systems and find ways to improve.  The worst thing you can do is be reactive and not proactive on something as important as the information that drives your comapny.

A breach can teach you what you are doing right or what you are doing wrong.  A customer of ours was hit two weeks ago.  Ironically, I was in Hawaii on my first vacation since I started the business.  We have a strong competency in our team, however, and we were able to manage the breach well.  We have multiple redundancies built up into all of our systems.  The breach taught us where we had been lacking in our defense, and we made adjustments accordingly.

Don't leave your security to chance and the good graces of your appliances.  As my friend TIm says, "Trust God, but lock the car."

TRA

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