BizTech Magazine - Technology Solutions That Drive Business en The Right Tech Mix Helps Businesses Support Rapid Growth <span>The Right Tech Mix Helps Businesses Support Rapid Growth </span> <span><span lang="" about="/dashboard/bobkeaveneyu64t" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Bob.Keaveney_u64t</span></span> <span>Tue, 05/21/2019 - 15:37</span> <div><p>After Hurricane Harvey devastated southeast Texas in 2017, people in the area needed the <a href="" target="_blank">Houston Food Bank</a> more than ever.</p> <p>The organization, which was already the largest food bank in the nation, received an influx of food and monetary donations in the wake of the storm and quickly added staff to accommodate increased demand — <strong>growing nearly twofold to more than 400 staffers</strong> in a matter of months.</p> <p>“We really pushed to open up the food bank as soon as possible after the disaster because we knew we needed to get the food out into the community,” says Casey Ferrell, the food bank’s director of IT. “As soon as we came to work, we started hiring people immediately.”</p> <p>The <strong>growth spurred the food bank to refresh its aging infrastructure</strong> and adopt cloud solutions, on-premises hardware and end-user devices that would help existing and incoming staff to better serve clients.</p> <p>Rapid <strong>business growth can certainly put pressure on IT shops</strong>, but it also represents an opportunity for tech managers to both update existing technologies and carve out a role for themselves as strategic leaders within their organizations.</p> <p>“The key is to make sure you’ve thought about it ahead of time,” says Raymond Boggs, vice president for small and medium business research at IDC. “But it’s the problem you would like to have as a business: We’re growing so rapidly, how do we backfill as efficiently as possible? And it speaks to the role of IT as both a facilitator and a unit that can help transform the business.”</p> <p><a data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Digital%20Transformation_IR_1.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/" /></a></p> <h2>How Tech Supports Business Growth</h2> <p>Growth forces organizations to <strong>pay closer attention to the role that IT plays</strong> in their success, as the negative consequences of skimping on technology tend to grow along with the business. “It’s an ongoing education with management,” Ferrell says. “One of the big expenses they didn’t see in adding 100 employees is that we have to run Ethernet cables, we have to add power. You can’t just add a person and have them be effective without all of the tools in place. IT is absolutely a part of growth.”</p> <p>As the Houston Food Bank grew, the organization moved away from aging data center infrastructure and <strong>migrated resources to the public cloud</strong>. The organization also upgraded to new <a href="" target="_blank">Cisco</a> switches both at the core and throughout the organization, deployed <a href="" target="_blank">Office 365</a> and refreshed its entire endpoint fleet, standardizing with high-end <a href="" target="_blank">Lenovo</a> laptops.</p> <p>“The move to the cloud and the new devices allowed us to <strong>support a mobile workforce</strong>,” Ferrell says. “We hadn’t updated any on-premises infrastructure in over eight years. The upside to doing all of this is we can serve the community better. That’s always the math: Is this purchase going to help out the community?”</p> <p><img alt="Casey Ferrell" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11px; line-height: 20.8px;">"You can't just add a person and have them be effective without all the tools in place," says Casey Ferrell, the Houston Food Banks' IT Director. "IT is absolutely a part of growth." Photography by Robert Seale.</span></p> <p>Veritas Collaborative, based in Durham, N.C., is a specialty healthcare system for the treatment of persons with eating disorders and has expanded from one site to six and from 75 employees to 600 over the past several years.</p> <p>The organization brought Randy Williams on in 2017 to serve as director of IT — and to formalize Veritas Collaborative’s IT strategy.</p> <p>“When I came on board, <strong>IT was primarily desktop support services</strong>,” Williams says. “I came in to build a strategy to support the current environment and lay the foundation to support growing the business. We’ve assessed the entire IT environment — from the core network backbone to security to staffing.” Within a year and a half, the IT department has grown from three to 10 employees.</p> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"><a href="/author/calvin-hennick" hreflang="en">Calvin Hennick</a></div> </div> Tue, 21 May 2019 19:37:57 +0000 Bob.Keaveney_u64t 43846 at Moving to the Cloud: What Small Businesses Should Know <span>Moving to the Cloud: What Small Businesses Should Know</span> <span><span lang="" about="/dashboard/bobkeaveneyu64t" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Bob.Keaveney_u64t</span></span> <span>Tue, 05/21/2019 - 11:21</span> <div><p>Small businesses are <strong>moving to the cloud in dramatically increasing numbers</strong>. According to Gartner, the market for public cloud, which tends to be the best option for most small businesses, will increase by 17.3 percent this year to $206.2 billion.</p> <p>The benefits of cloud computing for smaller organizations are clear. One is financial: Moving workloads from an on-premises data center to the cloud means <strong>shifting that portion of your IT spending from capital expenditures to operational expenditures</strong>. The lower up-front investment for OPEX, as well as the cost certainty of subscription pricing models, are advantages for cash-flow conscious SMBs.</p> <p>Another advantage is <strong>simplified scalability</strong>. Instead of deploying new data center equipment as the business grows, it can simply pay for cloud services as it needs them. This also removes the need to anticipate future growth and avoids overprovisioning, as cloud infrastructure can be scaled up or down as needed. And for seasonal businesses with resource needs that change throughout the year, this kind of simple provisioning can be extremely valuable.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>SEE MORE:</strong> Get help sorting through the dizzying array of cloud and on-premises computing options.</em></a></p> <h2>5 Keys to Cloud Strategy for Small Businesses</h2> <p>Does that mean the cloud is right for every business? Perhaps not. But the vast majority should <strong>begin developing a cloud strategy</strong> if they don’t have one already. To that end, here are some things for SMBs to consider when it comes to deciding whether — and what — to move to the cloud.</p> <p><strong>Know what you’re already doing in the cloud. </strong>Just because a business has an on-premises data center where most of its workloads are performed doesn’t mean it has no cloud experience. Most businesses use some cloud-based solutions. Anything from Gmail to a number of Software as a Service solutions run in the cloud.</p> <p><strong>Consider your goals for a cloud transition. </strong>Every business should determine what it hopes to gain from a cloud transition over a period of time. Is it seeking to lower total costs for data management and storage? That’s often a benefit of cloud computing, but not always. Depending on the circumstances, maintaining or acquiring the right kind of data center technology can offer advantages. Is it merely to simplify business management processes such as bookkeeping or human resources? It’s worth considering cloud-based services that specialize in those areas.</p> <p><strong>Assess your workloads for cloud readiness. </strong>Many businesses are adopting a cloud-first mentality — striving to build new applications in the cloud while taking a slower approach with their existing workloads. The goal should be to evaluate each workload individually and determine what is a candidate for a cloud transition and what should stay on-premises.</p> <p><strong>Understand the security implications. </strong>The cloud is just as secure, and probably more so, than most on-premises data center technology — provided that organizations place their data in the cloud with the proper security configurations. The major cloud vendors, such as <a href="" target="_blank">Google</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft</a>, have outstanding security expertise and all are certified compliant with federal data governance standards.</p> <p>The truth is <strong>data is much more vulnerable</strong> when businesses are protecting it on their own. Unpatched vulnerabilities account for <a href="" target="_blank">60 percent of data breaches</a>, according to the Ponemon Institute. </p> <p>There’s also a growing market of <a href="">cloud access security brokers</a> that can not only help <strong>secure cloud applications</strong>, but also monitor use and enforce firmwide policies. Yet any business transitioning to the cloud should remember it is still ultimately responsible for data security.</p> <p><strong>Get help. </strong>Converting to the cloud can be a complicated undertaking. With so much at stake, businesses are wise to seek the counsel of a trusted adviser who can help them understand what workloads are most suitable to move and which cloud provider is best for them.</p> <p><em>This article is part of </em>BizTech<em>'s <a href="">AgilITy blog series</a>. Please join the discussion on Twitter <em>by</em></em><em> using the <a href=";src=typd">#SmallBizIT </a>hashtag</em>.</p> <p><a data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" href=""><img alt="Agility_Logo_sized.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/" /></a></p> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"><a href="/author/larry-burt" hreflang="en">Larry Burt</a></div> </div> Tue, 21 May 2019 15:21:52 +0000 Bob.Keaveney_u64t 43841 at 4 Ways to Set Up Whitelisting in Windows Pro <span>4 Ways to Set Up Whitelisting in Windows Pro</span> <span><span lang="" about="/dashboard/bobkeaveneyu64t" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Bob.Keaveney_u64t</span></span> <span>Tue, 05/21/2019 - 10:48</span> <div><p>Every system administrator worries about what end users might install on their computers. Many people simply don’t understand that a seemingly innocent pop-up inviting them to download something may be dangerous. One solution is <strong>whitelisting, which allows only preapproved programs to run</strong>.</p> <p>Windows Server has this ability built in. Those running Pro versions of <a href="" target="_blank">Windows</a> on their desktops can use Software Restriction Policies to implement whitelisting. SRP offers several ways to add programs to the whitelist.</p> <p><em><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>MORE FROM BIZTECH: </strong>Check out how to get the most from Windows 10 File History, OneDrive and more.</a></em></p> <h2>1. Add Programs to a Whitelist By Path</h2> <p>This is the broadest method, allowing administrators to add entire folders. This is the method used to add the <strong>default items, such as the Windows folder</strong>. This should only be done with trustworthy paths that cannot be written to by users. If a user has access to write to the path, it isn’t safe.</p> <h2>2. The Filename Method of Adding Programs to a Whitelist</h2> <p>This allows administrators to specify a particular location (for example, <em>c:\MyProgram</em>) and only allow a certain filename to run from it. This is a little more restrictive than allowing an entire folder, but if users can write to this location, there is<strong> the chance that they might delete the real program</strong> and replace it with something of their own. This isn’t very likely to happen, though, except with tech-savvy users determined to undermine the policy.</p> <h2>3. Hash Rules Are a More Secure Method of Creating a Whitelist</h2> <p>With this option, <strong>SRP will create a hash of the desired file, and then it will be allowed to run</strong> no matter what folder it happens to be in. This is considerably more secure than a path rule because only this exact file will be allowed. If the administrator ever needs to update the file, he or she will need a new rule to create a new hash.</p> <h2>4. Certificate Rules Are the Most Secure Whitelisting Method</h2> <p>This is probably the most secure type, because it is based on a <strong>certificate from the manufacturer</strong>. Because of this, more work is required from the PC, which can slow down processing. Each time a user runs a program with a certificate rule applied, it has to check in with the server to see if the certificate is valid and if it’s expired or not. When the certificate does expire, a new rule is needed.</p> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"><a href="/taxonomy/term/12186" hreflang="en">Larry Glusman</a></div> </div> Tue, 21 May 2019 14:48:10 +0000 Bob.Keaveney_u64t 43836 at IT Service Management: More Than Just a Troubleshooting Platform <span>IT Service Management: More Than Just a Troubleshooting Platform</span> <span><span lang="" about="/dashboard/bobkeaveneyu64t" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Bob.Keaveney_u64t</span></span> <span>Mon, 05/20/2019 - 13:09</span> <div><p>Although it has thousands of employees at 2,600 locations across the U.S., few people outside its industry have heard of the Houston-based <a href="" target="_blank">Service Corporation International</a>. But when its services are needed, the funeral, cremation and cemetery services company has a special responsibility to its grieving customers.</p> <p>“If the telephones are down or a computer can’t be accessed or if there’s a saturation of bandwidth so a location can’t use our point-of-sale equipment, you’re giving that bereaved person more stress and not <strong>giving them the service that they deserve</strong>,” explains Thomas Smith, director of telecommunications, IT support and special projects for SCI.</p> <p>With so much at stake, <strong>SCI relies on IT service management to help it handle more than 250,000 internal incident reports annually</strong>, including password resets, hardware installation and support. And ITSM is critical to supporting its IT and software infrastructure.</p> <p>The company upgraded to a <strong>cloud-based IT service manager </strong>from <a href=";searchscope=all&amp;sr=1" target="_blank">Ivanti</a> about five years ago. The tool helps IT keep everything running at the organization, and gives the company’s telecom and networking vendors a way to interact directly with its internal resources. Finally, it helps the IT team proactively set policies and processes that protect the infrastructure from harm, says Smith.</p> <p>“At one point, we had so much malware, and we needed to find a way to eliminate it,” he says. “We reviewed where it was coming from and realized that it was an end-user problem.”</p> <p>Users were installing unapproved software. Smith’s team <strong>used ITSM to remove administrative rights across the entire network</strong>, virtually eliminating the problem, improving productivity for IT as well as for other employees, who no longer have to deal with outages or slow PCs.</p> <p>“Our people are funeral directors and mortuary operators,” Smith explains. “They didn’t realize what they were doing. Employees are no longer able to install malware. As ITSM helps us get smarter and identify problems, it helps us across the board.”</p> <p><em><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>DOWNLOAD:</strong> Check out what workers of the future expect in “The Modern Workforce Insight Report” by CDW.</a></em></p> <h2>ITSM Helps Tech Teams Manage Processes</h2> <p>ITSM is a tool that small and midsized companies — not just enterprises — have been using for years. But those who consider ITSM old-school couldn’t be more wrong, says Roy Atkinson, a senior writer and analyst at industry research organizations HDI and the International Customer Management Institute.</p> <p>“Without a system of record to <strong>capture and help manage the details of an organization’s service management actions</strong>, everything becomes ad hoc, measures and metrics become difficult if not impossible to obtain, and duplication of work is almost guaranteed,” Atkinson says.</p> <p>ITSM, at its core, can help organizations with simple yet time-consuming functions such as <strong>patch management, upgrades, asset management and policy adherence</strong>. It allows IT to create repeatable and defined IT processes, automating them so there are fewer mistakes and higher returns on IT software and hardware investments.</p> <p><a data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Digital%20Transformation_IR_1.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/" /></a></p> <h2>Use ITSM to Keep Assets From Crashing</h2> <p>ITSM helps <a href="" target="_blank">Jacobs</a>, an engineering firm based in Dallas, save money and time, explains James Milburn, the company’s IT asset manager. Milburn, who joined the company about a year ago, says the <a href=";searchscope=all&amp;sr=1" target="_blank">ServiceNow ITSM solution</a> Jacobs uses helps his team <strong>avoid computer and server crashes </strong>that can be costly and disruptive.</p> <p>“We recently upgraded to <a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft Windows 10</a>, which has very specific requirements,” he says. “We wanted to push it out, but we wanted to make sure we weren’t pushing it out to computers that couldn’t handle it.”</p> <p>Using ITSM, Milburn could <strong>specify which hardware would get the upgrade</strong> and which would stay on the legacy OS.</p> <p>Another way the company is <strong>using ITSM is to keep up with repairs and upgrades</strong>. Recently, Jacobs was able to avoid costly repairs on a certain laptop model, which was having problems with its internal batteries. The batteries expanded and broke laptop cases, but the problem was covered under warranty for the first year, according to the vendor.</p> <p>“Using ITSM, we could do a quick search for the laptops by vendor, model and the date they entered service. We were able to identify the laptops that were covered and get them repaired at no cost,” says Milburn.</p> <p><em><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>MORE FROM BIZTECH:</strong> Find out how Everything-as-a-Service models can boost ROI for small businesses.</a></em></p> <h2>Keep Upgrades and Patches on Schedule with ITSM</h2> <p>SCI is also using IT service management proactively, <strong>slashing upgrade and patch errors</strong>. The company’s service management team of 35 uses Ivanti’s ITSM product for a wide variety of functions, including supporting the help desk, asset management and incident tracking.</p> <p>User issues are documented as soon as they come in, starting a workflow process that can be automatically escalated through the different support groups within IT. For instance, SCI recently upgraded its VPN. Using <strong>analytics within ITSM, SCI’s team identified a bandwidth issue</strong> and addressed it early in the upgrade process so it could proceed as planned.</p> <p>Jacobs is considering deploying a<strong> feature that keeps track of software licenses</strong> and checks to see that every license installed on a device is actually being used.</p> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"><a href="/author/karen-j-bannan" hreflang="en">Karen J. Bannan</a></div> </div> Mon, 20 May 2019 17:09:26 +0000 Bob.Keaveney_u64t 43831 at Blockchain Adoption Rates Continue to Increase <span>Blockchain Adoption Rates Continue to Increase </span> <span><span lang="" about="/dashboard/bobkeaveneyu64t" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Bob.Keaveney_u64t</span></span> <span>Thu, 05/16/2019 - 15:45</span> <div><p>Blockchain — best known as the <strong>backbone of the cryptocurrency market</strong> — now is making inroads in the business world.</p> <p>Adoption is not yet widespread, with just <strong>1 percent of companies having already deployed the technology</strong>, but nearly 1 in 10 are in some phase of development with it. About 8 percent of CIOs are in short-term planning or active experimentation with blockchain, according to a <a href="" target="_blank">2018 Gartner survey</a>.</p> <p>State Farm Insurance has dozens of <strong>ideas in the hopper for deploying blockchain</strong> technology to improve efficiency, benefiting the business and its customers, according to Cara Shoup, director of RED Labs, the company’s innovation arm.</p> <p><em><strong><a href="" target="_blank">MORE FROM BIZTECH: </a></strong><a href="" target="_blank">Explore what blockchain means for the banking sector.</a></em></p> <h2>Insurers Adopt Blockchain Aggresively</h2> <p>The one that is furthest along, she says, is “net subrogation” in auto claims. Insurers often seek restitution from one another when one company’s insured driver is deemed at fault in an accident after the other has paid.</p> <p>Through blockchain’s <strong>open ledger, transactions are verifiably and permanently recorded</strong>. State Farm is testing the use of blockchain with another insurer to automate the net restitution process.</p> <p>“Currently, this is a very manual process,” Shoup says. “You’re sending paper checks back and forth.”</p> <p>She says <strong>blockchain could improve efficiencies at State Farm</strong>, allowing -customers to get money from their deductibles faster.</p> <p>Manish Shah, executive vice -president and global product head at Majesco, a provider of consulting and technology services to insurers, says companies are starting to see blockchain’s potential.</p> <p>“Whether it’s managing large amounts of data, the rising number of claims and transactions processed through personal devices, or creating new payment and distribution models, insurers are recognizing that blockchain can support the wide range of <strong>digital innovation that’s reshaping the insurance industry</strong>,” Shah says.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>MORE FROM BIZTECH:</strong> Retailers are embracing blockchain in growing numbers.</em></a></p> <h2>Businesses Pay Taxes in Cryptocurrency</h2> <p>Blockchain may also soon play a <strong>larger role in how businesses pay their taxes</strong>, according to Ari Lewis, a cryptocurrency adviser who had a role in helping create, which enables businesses and citizens to pay their taxes in bitcoin. Two businesses have already done so, the state says.</p> <p>“Cryptocurrency and blockchain are working <strong>from a niche technology to the mainstream</strong>,” says Lewis. “This is a watershed moment in the history of cryptocurrency and blockchain.”</p> <p>Not everyone is as bullish, however. David Furlonger, a Gartner vice president, argues the technology has been “massively hyped.”</p> <p>“Blockchain technology requires understanding of, at a fundamental level, aspects of security, law, value exchange, decentralized governance, process and commercial architectures,” Furlonger says. “It therefore implies that traditional lines of <strong>business and organization silos can no longer operate under their historical structures</strong>.”</p> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"><a href="/author/erin-cunningham" hreflang="en">Erin Cunningham</a></div> </div> Thu, 16 May 2019 19:45:36 +0000 Bob.Keaveney_u64t 43821 at Biometric Security Brings Benefits to Companies, But Also Legal Concerns <span>Biometric Security Brings Benefits to Companies, But Also Legal Concerns </span> <span><span lang="" about="/dashboard/bobkeaveneyu64t" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Bob.Keaveney_u64t</span></span> <span>Thu, 05/16/2019 - 15:35</span> <div><p>Use cases for <strong>biometric data</strong> are expanding in ways both fascinating and frightening. Today, employers use fingerprints to track employees’ hours, retail stores implement facial scans to identify troublesome customers, and office buildings are equipped with biometric security access.</p> <p>The use of <strong>biometrics, however, brings significant legal risk</strong> as states implement and enforce laws seeking to protect individuals’ privacy. For example, Illinois’ <a href="" target="_blank">Biometric Information Privacy Act</a> creates a private right of action, and violations can carry significant statutory damages. BIPA claims are often combined in class actions, exponentially increasing financial risk.</p> <p>As a result, businesses around the country have been surprised to find themselves facing <strong>hundreds of millions of dollars in legal exposure</strong>.</p> <p><a data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" href="" target="_blank" title="CDW Cybersecurity Insight Report"><img alt="CDW Cybersecurity Insight Report" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/" /></a></p> <h2>Businesses Must Be Aware of Laws Around Biometrics</h2> <p>BIPA governs the collection, retention, disclosure, storage, transfer and deletion of biometric data, including <strong>retina, iris and hand scans; face geometry; fingerprints; and voiceprints</strong>. It requires that companies collecting or possessing biometric data develop a written policy, made available to the public, that establishes a retention schedule and plan for deleting the data.</p> <p>Companies must provide <strong>any person whose data will be captured with written notice of the collection </strong>and of the specific purpose and length of time the data will be collected, stored and used. The company must also obtain a written release from every participant, and the data must be stored no less securely than the way other confidential information is stored.</p> <p><strong>BIPA is a class-action lawyer’s dream come true</strong>. Even technical, unintentional violations can place a <a href="" target="_blank">company in grave jeopardy</a>. Individuals can sue for at least $1,000 per violation. No actual harm must be demonstrated. If a plaintiff establishes the violation was intentional, the damages increase to $5,000.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>MORE FROM BIZTECH: </strong>Find out how businesses can simplify authentication procedures for their users.</em></a></p> <h2>Biometric Regulation Is a National Issue</h2> <p>Damages can accrue quickly. Some class-action complaints have argued that every time a company captures biometric data, such as when an employee uses a thumbprint on a lock,  counts as a separate violation — each with a <strong>minimum penalty of $1,000</strong>. Such thumbprints might be used hundreds of times a week.</p> <p>Although BIPA is an Illinois law, <strong>BIPA litigation has not been limited to Illinois</strong>. In April 2018, a California federal court certified a class of individuals in relation to <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook’s alleged BIPA violations</a>. The class includes all Facebook users in Illinois whose facial templates have been created and stored by Facebook — more than a million people.</p> <p>At least seven <strong>other states are considering laws like BIPA</strong> that allow a private right of action. An increasing number of states are also including biometric data within the definition of “personal information” in already existing data breach notification laws. Other states will likely follow.</p> <p>None of this is to say that businesses should not deploy <strong>biometric technologies, which offer significant benefits to companies</strong>, employees and customers. Efficiency, security and convenience are all bolstered by biometric identification systems, which render passwords and security badges obsolete.</p> <p>But wherever a business is located, if it is considering biometrics, it should develop written, <strong>publicly available policies that explain the reason for the data collection</strong>, the retention schedule and guidelines for destroying biometric data. It should also get written consent before collecting anyone’s -biometric data and protect that data in the same manner that the business would protect other confidential information.</p> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"><a href="/taxonomy/term/12176" hreflang="en">Ian H. Fisher</a></div> <div class="field-author"><a href="/author/gillian-g-lindsay" hreflang="en">Gillian G. Lindsay</a></div> </div> Thu, 16 May 2019 19:35:01 +0000 Bob.Keaveney_u64t 43826 at Grid Modernization Activities are Taking Off Nationwide <span>Grid Modernization Activities are Taking Off Nationwide</span> <span><span lang="" about="/dashboard/bobkeaveneyu64t" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Bob.Keaveney_u64t</span></span> <span>Thu, 05/16/2019 - 11:09</span> <div><p>Grid modernization is on the upswing: Last year, 44 states plus the District of Columbia explored or took action on the issue — <strong>an increase of 60 percent</strong> over 2017.</p> <p>The ongoing boost is due to a combination of lower investment costs, a growing urgency to strengthen vulnerable infrastructure and <strong>increased pressure from state regulators</strong>. That’s according to the latest <a href="" target="_blank">“50 States of Grid Modernization”</a> report by the <a href="" target="_blank">NC Clean Energy Technology Center</a>, which is affiliated with North Carolina State University.</p> <p>“We’re seeing a lot of new states jump into this area because they see it as something they need to start working on,” Autumn Proudlove, the report’s co-author, tells <em>BizTech</em>. “The costs are coming down on those technologies, and <strong>there’s a lot of adoption happening</strong> across the country.”</p> <p>Among those developments: new or revised policy proposals, energy storage targets and implementation of <a href="" target="_blank">advanced metering infrastructure</a> such as smart meters, communications networks and data management systems enabling <strong>two-way communication between utilities and customers</strong>.</p> <p>Although costs and specifics have deterred or reduced some efforts, the investments’ long-term advantages continue to drive momentum.</p> <p>“As we see increasing major storms, we’re seeing the reliability and resilience benefits of grid modernization,” says Proudlove, senior manager of policy research at the clean energy center, who addressed some key points of the report. </p> <p><a data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" href="" target="_blank"><img alt="IT%20Infrastructure_IR_2.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/" /></a></p> <h2>Grid Modernization Studies Have Spiked</h2> <p>The number of related studies increased by 70 percent in 2018, a sign of potential developments to come.</p> <p>The report — whose authors reviewed state utility commission dockets, legislative bills and news sources — found that Maryland, Nevada, and North Carolina completed independent studies focused on energy storage last year, while New York published an energy storage roadmap. Legislators in New Jersey and Virginia authorized studies on the topic.</p> <p>“Of course, not all proposals are actually adopted, but <strong>the increase in activity shows that there is more conversation</strong> and there are more proposals under consideration,” Proudlove says. “We’re going to see more concrete action coming out of these pretty lengthy investigations.” </p> <h2>Energy Storage Deployment Is a Main Focus</h2> <p>Producing and capturing energy for use at a later time — a process known as energy storage — is also driving much of the momentum, Proudlove says. The report notes that several states took steps <strong>to set or expand energy storage targets</strong>, including Nevada, New Jersey and New York.</p> <p>The approach “can offer different ancillary service benefits, improve quality and retain reliability,” Proudlove says. <strong>Energy, she notes, can be “islanded”</strong> via battery storage, or in a microgrid, when the broader grid goes out during a natural disaster or blackout.</p> <p>Still, Proudlove says, “a lot of states and utilities differ on how storage can offset the grid that is driving some of these questions more holistically — how the grid can be transformed to accommodate more distributed energy resources and how to achieve the same reliability.” </p> <p><em><a _blank="" href=""><strong>MORE FROM BIZTECH:</strong> What will utilities look like in the near future?</a></em></p> <h2>Utility-Driven Proposals Are Rising</h2> <p>Lawmakers aren’t the only ones pushing for change: “We’re starting to see more of these grid modernization plans being proposed by utilities,” Proudlove says, noting that the pitches can meet resistance or refusal <strong>if technology specifics and cost recovery methods aren’t addressed</strong>. “I think a lot of regulators are struggling with how to evaluate these proposals,” Proudlove says. “<strong>There’s a general need for more information</strong> and a framework to evaluate potential investments and determine what is in the common interest.”</p> <p>It’s no surprise, then, that AMI proposals in Kentucky, Massachusetts and New Mexico were rejected in 2018, the report notes. Meanwhile, expansive grid modernization plans put forward by utilities in North Carolina, Rhode Island and Virginia were scaled back substantially. </p> <h2>Performance-Based Regulation Is Driving Some Updates</h2> <p>A revenue model that rewards utilities’ performance against set goals — rather than cost-of-service regulation, where returns come from the level of capital investment — are on the rise as states seek to <strong>reduce costs and drive efficiencies</strong>.</p> <p>Massachusetts regulators evaluated performance incentive mechanisms put forward by Eversource and National Grid, and the Hawaii Legislature enacted a bill requiring a transition to performance-based ratemaking, the report found. The approach is also being considered by Michigan and Minnesota lawmakers.</p> <p>The concept is appealing because it can be customized to meet a state’s needs or goals. Targets, Proudlove notes, can range from reducing system peak demand to building electronic vehicle charging stations: <strong>“There are limitless opportunities in the metrics you can develop.”</strong></p> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"><a href="/author/kevin-joy" hreflang="en">Kevin Joy</a></div> </div> Thu, 16 May 2019 15:09:46 +0000 Bob.Keaveney_u64t 43816 at How Atlantic Packaging Got the Data Center Performance It Needed <span>How Atlantic Packaging Got the Data Center Performance It Needed</span> <span><span lang="" about="/dashboard/bobkeaveneyu64t" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Bob.Keaveney_u64t</span></span> <span>Thu, 05/16/2019 - 10:40</span> <div><p>When it was time for <a href="" target="_blank">Atlantic Packaging</a> to refresh its data center, the company was faced with stark questions: How would it achieve the storage and speed it needed while keeping costs down? With help from CDW, the company opted to upgrade from its legacy spinning-disk data center to a hybrid flash and disk solution, giving it plenty of room to grow within its budget.</p> <p>Learn more about Atlantic Packaging’s process for discovering it’s just-right data center solution below, and start to discover how to build your own high-performance data center with "<a href="" target="_blank">The Modern IT Infrastructure Insight Report</a>" by CDW.</p> <p><img alt="Atlantic Packaging Infogram" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/" /></p> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"><a href="/author/bob-keaveney" hreflang="en">Bob Keaveney</a></div> </div> Thu, 16 May 2019 14:40:33 +0000 Bob.Keaveney_u64t 43811 at Cryptojacking: What Is It and Why Should Your Business Be Concerned? <span>Cryptojacking: What Is It and Why Should Your Business Be Concerned?</span> <div><p>The digital revolution of finance and payments is exciting. While there are some who will always love cold, hard cash, there are plenty of people who excited about upending the currency model and doing something that is completely digital. This excitement has led to the rise of digital-native cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. While innovation is certainly a key part of this transformation, there's some risky activity, namely cryptomining, associated with this emerging technology. We spoke with two Cisco experts while we were at RSA to better understand what cryptojacking is, why the behavior poses a risk to organizations and what tools can help detect and mitigate this threat. </p> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/dashboard/rickyribeiro" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">ricky.ribeiro</span></span> <span>Wed, 05/15/2019 - 16:49</span> <div> <div>Tweet text</div> <div>Have you heard of #cryptojacking? Get up to speed with @akfirat on what it is, the security risks and how you can mitigate the threat.</div> </div> <div> <div>Video ID</div> <div><p>1320731567</p> </div> </div> <div> <div>video type</div> <div><a href="/conference" hreflang="en">Conference</a></div> </div> <div> <div>CDW Activity ID</div> <div><p>MKT30873</p> </div> </div> <div> <div>CDW VV2 Strategy</div> <div>Security</div> </div> <div> <div>CDW Segment</div> <div>SMB</div> </div> <div> <div>Customer Focused</div> <div>False</div> </div> <div> <div>Buying Cycle</div> <div><a href="/awareness" hreflang="en">Awareness</a></div> </div> <div class="pw-widget pw-size-medium pw-layout-vertical" data-layout="vertical" data-url="" data-title="Have you heard of #cryptojacking? Get up to speed with @akfirat on what it is, the security risks and how you can mitigate the threat." data-via="BizTechMagazine" data-button-background="none"> <span> <span>May</span> <span>15</span> <span>2019</span> </span> <a class="pw-button-twitter cdw-taboola-social"></a> <a class="pw-button-facebook cdw-taboola-social"></a> <a class="pw-button-linkedin cdw-taboola-social"></a> <a class="pw-button-reddit cdw-taboola-social"></a> <a class="pw-button-flipboard cdw-taboola-social"></a> <a class="pw-button-email cdw-taboola-social"></a> <!-- Pinterest button is in EdTechk12 theme's vertical template --> </div> <div class="pw-widget pw-size-medium pw-layout-horizontal" data-url="" data-title="Have you heard of #cryptojacking? Get up to speed with @akfirat on what it is, the security risks and how you can mitigate the threat." data-via="BizTechMagazine" data-button-background="none"> <div> <a class="pw-button-twitter"></a> <span class="pw-box-counter" pw:channel="twitter"></span> </div> <div> <a class="pw-button-facebook"></a> <span class="pw-box-counter" pw:channel="facebook"></span> </div> </div> <div class="pw-widget pw-size-medium pw-layout-horizontal" data-counter="true" data-url="" data-title="Have you heard of #cryptojacking? Get up to speed with @akfirat on what it is, the security risks and how you can mitigate the threat." data-via="BizTechMagazine" data-button-background="none"> <div> <a class="pw-button-twitter cdw-taboola-social"></a> <a href=";" target="_blank"><span class="pw-box-counter cdw-taboola" data-channel="twitter"></span></a> </div> <div> <a class="pw-button-facebook cdw-taboola-social"></a> </div> <div> <a class="pw-button-linkedin cdw-taboola-social"></a> </div> <div> <a class="pw-button-reddit cdw-taboola-social"></a> </div> <div> <a class="pw-button-flipboard cdw-taboola-social"></a> </div> <div> <a class="pw-button-email cdw-taboola-social"></a> </div> <!-- Pinterest button is in EdTechk12 theme's horizontal template --> </div> <div> <div>Pull Quote</div> <div> <p class="quote"><a href="node/"> With cryptojacking, 80% are targeted at 10,000 employees or below, so it really is a much more common problem for smaller businesses in general. </a></p> <img src="/sites/" width="60" height="60" alt="Brian Roddy, Cisco" typeof="foaf:Image" /> <p class='speaker'> <span>Brian Roddy</span> VP/GM Cloud Security, Cisco </p> </div> </div> Wed, 15 May 2019 20:49:27 +0000 ricky.ribeiro 43806 at Digital Signatures: One Small Step Toward a Better Customer Experience <span>Digital Signatures: One Small Step Toward a Better Customer Experience</span> <span><span lang="" about="/dashboard/bobkeaveneyu64t" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Bob.Keaveney_u64t</span></span> <span>Wed, 05/15/2019 - 12:32</span> <div><p>The user experience has crept beyond the boundaries of the browser. Marketers describe every interaction with a customer as part of the customer experience. That makes sense: <strong>Customer satisfaction begins with a prospect’s first contact </strong>with a company and continues throughout the relationship.</p> <p>Marketing tends to own the customer experience, but that needs to change. As companies embrace digital transformation, they need to examine their processes and systems for chances to embed the experience into their interactions with everyone — customers, vendors, investors, and employees alike.</p> <p>In the short term, companies that think about the customer experience solely as a marketing activity and not an operational imperative are missing an opportunity. In the long term, they will <strong>lose the ability to remain competitive</strong>.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>MORE FROM BIZTECH: </strong>Find out why your small business needs a digital strategy.</em></a></p> <h2>Each Link in the Service Chain Affects the Next</h2> <p>Gartner describes the <a href="" target="_blank">customer experience in five segments</a>:</p> <ul><li>Employee engagement</li> <li>Quality operations</li> <li>Customer satisfaction</li> <li>Loyalty churn/retention</li> <li>Advocacy and brand reputation</li> </ul><p>They call this <strong>the service-chain methodology</strong> because each segment builds on the previous ones. All the segments are inextricably linked.</p> <p>To understand what this means, consider how it works in our own lives. For instance, ask almost anyone what they think of their cable provider and they’re likely to have some harsh words. The thing people complain about most? It isn’t the network speed or the monthly bill. It’s poor customer service. No matter how fine the product is or how great of a value is delivered, the brand as a whole suffers because of problems at the call center.</p> <h2>Customers Are Frustrated by Paper Processes</h2> <p>Paper processes are a black hole of inefficiency. Enterprises spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on security, storage and destruction for each document throughout its life. Workers spend innumerable hours tracking down approvals and seeking signatures. <strong>Paper documents must be printed, scanned, faxed and mailed</strong>, and the inevitable delays frustrate customers, vendors and employees. In the end, the brand doesn’t come out looking good.</p> <p>Companies are striving to transform their businesses by replacing their old processes with digital technologies that deliver agility, efficiency, cost savings and great customer experiences.</p> <p>Overhauling operations at such a fundamental level is a big job, and it comes with some risks. Achieving a quick win in the early days is important to building credibility and generating support from leaders across the organization.</p> <p>That’s why the <strong>document signature process is one good place to start a transformation</strong>. Moving away from paper to digital documents is a manageable hop for companies, and tackling document processes first will accelerate the rest of the transformation while also making an immediate positive impact throughout the organization. The risk is low, but the visibility is high.</p> <p><a data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Digital Transformation" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/" /></a></p> <h2>The Customer Experience Starts with the Signature</h2> <p>An electronic signing process doesn’t just benefit the seller. Customers are also saved from having to print, scan or fax documents, install software or create new logins. They notice and appreciate fast response times and speedy contract-signing processes. A document can be red-lined and approved in minutes instead of days, and even complicated contracts can be executed more quickly. For example, when the company Ricoh moved to electronic signing, its <strong>turnaround time on contracts shrank by a week</strong>. Another company, LeasePlan, reduced its contract turnaround time by 83 percent. </p> <p>These companies and others that have shed their paper processes and moved on to electronic signing are not only streamlining operations and closing deals more quickly, they’re also strengthening their brand reputations. When <strong>a complex negotiation can be finalized with ease and speed</strong>, trading partners get the message that a company is easy to do business with. And that starts relationships off on the right foot.</p> </div> <div> <div class="field-author"><a href="/author/dan-puterbaugh" hreflang="en">Dan Puterbaugh</a></div> </div> Wed, 15 May 2019 16:32:33 +0000 Bob.Keaveney_u64t 43801 at