Navigating Cloud App Challenges: Insights for CIOs in 2024 - New Role in the Cloud

As cloud application usage continues to soar, CIOs face the daunting task of managing security, compliance, and cost concerns. Discover how CIOs can address these challenges and optimize cloud app usage in 2024.

The proliferation of cloud applications presents a host of challenges for CIOs, ranging from security vulnerabilities to compliance risks. With an average of 461 cloud apps running in companies, surpassing IT estimates, and the public cloud sector projected to reach $191 billion by 2030, CIOs must adapt their strategies to harness the benefits of cloud technology while mitigating associated risks.

Challenges of Unmanaged Cloud Apps:

  1. Security Vulnerabilities: Employees storing company data on personal cloud accounts pose significant security risks, potentially exposing sensitive information to unauthorized access.
  2. Compliance Risks: Mishandling of data within unapproved cloud apps can lead to compliance violations, resulting in regulatory fines and reputational damage for the organization.

Strategies for CIOs:

To effectively manage cloud application challenges, CIOs can implement the following strategies:

  1. Establish Clear Policies: Develop and communicate policies regarding the use of cloud applications within the organization, emphasizing data security and compliance requirements.
  2. Implement Security Measures: Implement robust security measures, such as encryption, access controls, and multi-factor authentication, to safeguard company data stored in cloud applications.
  3. Monitor and Audit Usage: Regularly monitor and audit cloud application usage to identify unauthorized or risky behavior, allowing for timely intervention and risk mitigation.
  4. Optimize Costs: Analyze cloud usage patterns to identify opportunities for cost optimization, vendor consolidation, and resource allocation, ensuring efficient use of cloud resources.

In the face of escalating cloud application usage, CIOs must proactively address security, compliance, and cost concerns to safeguard company data and drive business efficiency. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your organization optimize its cloud app usage and mitigate associated risks.

About Managed Solution

We're technology enthusiasts with a people-first approach. For over two decades, we've witnessed the profound impact that the right technology and support can have on businesses and individuals. Success, to us, is seeing our clients, partners, and team conquer challenges to achieve their greatest goals and build lasting connections. This relentless pursuit of inspiration drives us forward, pushing us to deliver innovative solutions that empower growth and lasting success.

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Choosing the right Managed Service Provider

Driving Growth through Effective Outsourcing


In today’s digital era, every company functions as a technology company. As cutting-edge tools like Artificial Intelligence rapidly advance, companies are having to continuously adapt to an increasingly digitized world.

Businesses across various industries already rely heavily on their tech-infrastructure to streamline operations, improve efficiency, and drive growth. However, as technology continues to boom, it is crucial to leverage the right services and expertise to ensure that your company not only keeps up with our changing world but thrives within it.

In this article, we’ll break down the role managed service providers (MSPs) can play in helping companies stay ahead of the game, and how selecting the right MSP is a significant step in maximizing the benefits of today’s technology.

By understanding the importance of having expert guidance for your IT and technology needs, as well as how to select the right managed service provider -- you can unlock numerous benefits and gain a competitive edge.


Expertise and Specialized Knowledge

When choosing an MSP prioritize providers with extensive experience and specialized knowledge. Look for providers who maintain a proven track record and a team of highly skilled professionals who stay up to date with the latest industry trends, best practices, and advancements.

Their wealth of knowledge can offer valuable insights, innovative solutions, and a proactive approach to technology management.


Customized Solutions for Your Business

Technology encompasses a vast array of tools, and each is unique -- as are different types of businesses. Not every tool that works for one business will be suitable for yours.

That is why the ideal MSP should offer customized solutions to align with your specific business requirements. Prioritize providers that take the time to understand your industry dynamics, organizational goals, and operational processes.

They should collaborate closely with you to assess your current IT infrastructure, identify pain points, and develop a comprehensive strategy aligned to your objectives.  A reliable MSP should be willing to have candid conversations about the best path forward even if this challenges your original infrastructure or plan.

You want to ensure you’re working with experts who will set you up with the best possible strategy and tools for your specific environment. By being able to challenge your company when they see an opportunity that could potentially save your team time, hassle, and cost, you could potentially save thousands in data security, technology costs, employee turnover and more.


Cost-Effective Operations and Scalability

This leads us to note that your MSP should have a trusted track record of enabling savings for their clients. They should be able to explain your cost and savings in a transparent way, and carefully walk you through their plans and work to meet your goals and budget.

Along with setting you up with customized solutions, having an MSP that can deliver sustainable strategies, technology, and support can significantly reduce your company’s spending, especially over the long-term.

This means ensuring the MSP has the necessary processes, resources, and expertise to accommodate your business's evolving needs seamlessly. This includes the ability to scale your IT solutions as you expand operations, add new locations, or adopt emerging technologies.


Enhanced Security and Risk Mitigation

Choosing the right Managed Service Provider also entails finding an MSP that prioritizes cybersecurity and risk mitigation. Evaluate their security measures, protocols, and track record in handling and protecting sensitive data. This will ensure that your technology experts can truly provide you with the data protection and security you need.

Be sure to verify that the MSP provides proactive threat detection, incident response plans, and disaster recovery strategies to minimize the impact of potential disruptions. Furthermore, with new developing technologies (such as generative AI’s) make sure your MSPs experts understand the potential impact on security and can develop preemptive plans to keep your team prepared and your data safe.

Learn more about this from our very own leading security expert, Richard Swaisgood in our latest webinar on Security and AI.


Choosing the right managed service provider is paramount to unlocking the potential benefits of outsourcing IT.

By selecting an MSP with expertise, specialized knowledge, customized solutions, cost-effectiveness, scalability, and a strong focus on security, you can optimize your IT infrastructure, boost efficiency, and drive growth.

Take the time to evaluate different providers, considering their track record, industry reputation, and their ability to cater to your specific business and industry needs. With the right MSP as your partner, you can confidently navigate the complexities of technology management and propel your business forward.

Have any questions for us about MSP vetting? Contact us here and chat with one of our experts. Or check out some of our other blogs for even more insight.

Why More Businesses are Experiencing Digital Transformation


In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, digital transformation has become a necessity for organizations to thrive. In this blog, we will explore the key reasons why businesses are experiencing a digital transformation and how it is reshaping the modern business landscape.

From changing customer expectations to technological advancements, we will delve into the driving forces behind this transformative journey.


Evolving Customer Expectations

Customers in the digital age seek seamless, personalized, and convenient experiences.

Businesses need to be digitally present, offer online interactions, and provide 24/7 access to products and services. By embracing digital technologies, businesses can meet these expectations, improve customer engagement, and gain a competitive edge.


Technological Advancements

Rapid advancements in technology are pushing businesses towards digital transformation. Innovations such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, data analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) have unlocked new possibilities and disrupted traditional business models.

Organizations are leveraging these technologies to enhance operational efficiency, automate processes, gain actionable insights from data, and deliver innovative products and services.


Competitive Advantage and Market Disruption

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, businesses recognize that digital transformation is essential to gain a competitive advantage. Digitally transformed companies can streamline operations, respond swiftly to market changes, and deliver superior customer experiences.

Emerging players and disruptive startups leverage digital technologies to challenge established industry giants, compelling incumbents to embark on their own digital transformation journeys to remain relevant and competitive.


Agility and Adaptability

Businesses are experiencing a digital transformation to become more agile and adaptable in an ever-changing environment. By adopting digital technologies, organizations can enhance flexibility, improve decision-making, and swiftly respond to market trends and customer needs. This agility allows businesses to seize new opportunities, innovate, and pivot their strategies when necessary.


Operational Efficiency and Cost Optimization

Digital transformation offers significant opportunities for businesses to optimize their operations and reduce costs. Automation, streamlined processes, and digital workflows eliminate manual and time-consuming tasks, improving efficiency and productivity.

By leveraging data analytics digitally transformed business can gain insights into operational bottlenecks, make informed decisions, and allocate resources more effectively. Achieving cost savings and enhancing resource allocation.

Enhanced Customer Insights and Personalization

Digital transformation enables businesses to gather and analyze vast amounts of customer data, leading to valuable insights. By understanding customer preferences, behaviors, and needs, organizations can deliver personalized experiences, targeted marketing campaigns, and tailored product offerings.

This level of personalization fosters stronger customer relationships, increases customer loyalty, and drives customer satisfaction, ultimately fueling business growth.


What Does this Mean for You?

Digital transformation is reshaping industries and enabling businesses to connect with customers in new and meaningful ways while optimizing operations and gaining a competitive edge. If you are interested in learning more about how to digitally transform your organization, contact us and one of our experts will chat you through some ideas.

May Mental Health Month: Creating Supportive Workplaces to Foster Mental Well-being


May is a month of blooming flowers and vibrant growth, and it also holds great significance as Mental Health Month. It is an opportune time for businesses and organizations to cultivate open conversations and implement practices that prioritize the mental well-being of their employees.

In this blog, we will explore the importance of recognizing and addressing mental health in the workplace, as well as practical steps that businesses can take to create a supportive environment for their employees.

We’ll also showcase some of the initiatives we’re taking to open the conversation in our own organization and provide our team with access to resources and support.


Managed Solutions Mental Health Week Initiatives

At Managed Solution we work to promote a fun, healthy culture that enables our employees to succeed because they feel safe, happy, and supported.

That is why this month we dedicated an entire week of activities to promote team bonding, highlight the importance of mental health, share available resources, promote self-care, and open a conversation we hope to keep a special focus on beyond the month of May. Check out some of the activities we initiated below!


Mindful Monday

We kicked off Mental Health Week with a deep breath and a mindful pause. Encouraging our team to explore the following options to boost their mindfulness and mitigate stress.


Treat Yo Self Tuesday

We took a note from Parks and Rec royalty, Donna and Tom, for Treat Yo Self Tuesday! Where our team entered a spa-day gift card raffle by listing the things they do for self-care, or to simply “treat” themselves.


Feed Your Soul Wednesday

On Wednesday we fostered team bonding and connection through a virtual luncheon hosted on Microsoft Teams. Our team had a blast gathering to share stories, meet new members, and catch up on each other’s daily lives.


Mental Health Day of Action

Thursday was our ‘Mental Health Day of Action’, where we focused on spreading the idea that mental health IS health. We took more time to address the conversation on the importance of mental health and the tangible steps that we can all take to care for ourselves both mentally and physically. We further backed this by sharing more mental health resources offered to our employees and guiding them to places or personnel they could reach to access them.


Friday Afternoon Move & Groove

We finished big with a virtual dance party on Friday. It may sound silly but sometimes letting your team know that they’re safe to let loose and be themselves can be a great way to promote mental health.

Professionalism is of course important, but people are people at the end of the day, and knowing you’re free to bust out the sprinkler amongst your team can serve as a fun mood booster. At least, it sure did for us!


Acknowledging the Importance of Mental Health

Mental health is an integral part of overall well-being, and businesses have a vital role to play in acknowledging and addressing this reality. By recognizing that mental health impacts employees' productivity, job satisfaction, and overall quality of life, organizations can foster an environment where individuals feel valued and supported.

Creating Open Conversations

Encouraging open conversations about mental health is a cornerstone of creating a supportive workplace. Businesses can take proactive steps to destigmatize mental health by:


Promoting awareness

Use internal communications, newsletters, or workshops to educate employees about mental health issues, symptoms, and available resources. Share personal stories and testimonials to foster empathy and understanding.


Implementing mental health training

Provide managers and employees with training on mental health awareness, recognizing signs of distress, and supporting colleagues in need. This knowledge empowers individuals to offer appropriate support and creates a culture of empathy and compassion.


Establishing support networks

Encourage the formation of employee resource groups or support networks focused on mental health. These safe spaces allow individuals to share experiences, seek guidance, and build a community of understanding.


Implementing Supportive Practices

In addition to creating open conversations, organizations can implement practical measures that prioritize the mental well-being of their employees. Check out some of the examples we have listed below:


Flexible work arrangements

Offer flexible working hours, remote work options, or compressed work weeks to promote work-life balance and reduce stress. Flexibility empowers employees to manage their mental health effectively while fulfilling their professional responsibilities.


Employee assistance programs (EAPs)

Collaborate with mental health professionals to establish EAPs that provide confidential counseling, therapy, and resources for employees seeking support. These programs ensure that employees have access to professional help when needed.


Wellness initiatives

Introduce wellness initiatives such as yoga or meditation classes, mindfulness workshops, or access to wellness apps. Encouraging physical activity and stress reduction techniques can significantly contribute to employees' mental well-being.


Encouraging time off

Emphasize the importance of taking regular vacations, mental health days, and sick leave without guilt or stigma. Encourage employees to prioritize self-care and model this behavior from leadership positions.


There’s no perfect way to talk about mental health. The important thing is to talk about it in a way that’s authentic to your organization. Mental Health Month presents an invaluable opportunity for businesses and organizations to foster an environment that prioritizes the mental well-being of their employees.

By creating open conversations, implementing supportive practices, and recognizing the importance of mental health, businesses can nurture a workplace where individuals feel valued, supported, and empowered to thrive both professionally and personally. Together, let us embrace the journey toward a mentally healthy and resilient workforce.



In today's digitally driven world, businesses face ever-increasing cyber threats that can compromise sensitive data, disrupt operations, and damage their reputation and credibility. While many organizations invest heavily in robust cybersecurity measures, they often overlook one critical component: training their end users.


End users, whether they be employees or customers, are the first line of defense against cyber threats -- which is why proper training and awareness is so imperative. A popular platform for this exact endeavor, KnowBe4, understands that strengthening end-users’ awareness and safety precautions is key for fortifying a business’ security posture.


KnowBe4 was founded in 2010 by Stu Sjouwerman, a cybersecurity expert with over 30 years of experience in the industry. Since its inception, the platform has helped thousands of organizations improve their security posture and protect against cyber threats.


In this blog, we will discuss the importance of security awareness training and phishing simulations, and how, with these tools and tactics, KnowBe4 can help organizations set their end-users up for success and achieve their security goals.


The Importance of Security Awareness Training


In today's digital age, cyber threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated and frequent. Hackers are constantly looking for new ways to exploit vulnerabilities in an organization's security system, and one of the most effective ways to do this is through social engineering.


Social engineering is the use of psychological manipulation to trick people into divulging sensitive information or performing actions that compromise security. Security awareness training is essential for organizations to protect themselves against these specific types of attacks.


By educating employees on how to identify and respond to potential security threats, organizations can reduce the likelihood of successful attacks and mitigate the damage caused by any breaches that do occur.


Security awareness training should cover a range of topics, including:



Phishing is the most common form of social engineering attack, and it involves sending fraudulent emails that appear to be from a legitimate source to trick users into clicking on a malicious link or downloading malware. Employees should thoroughly understand how to identify phishing emails and how to navigate an attempted attack properly.


Password Security

Weak passwords are a major security vulnerability. That is making sure employees understand the importance of strong passwords, and how to create them and keep them secure should be a priority.


Mobile Device Security

With the rise of remote work, mobile devices have become an increasingly larger target for cyber criminals. Helping employees secure their mobile devices and use them safely is instrumental for keeping both their personal and professional data safe.


Social Media Security

Today, we’re seeing social media platforms become goldmine of personal information for cyber criminals. All employees, and especially those who have access to a company’s social platform accounts, should be taught how to use social media in a safe and secure way.


The Importance of Phishing Simulations


We mentioned the importance of training for phishing attacks. One great way to counter these kinds of threats is with phishing simulations. Phishing simulations are mock phishing attacks that are used to test an organization's security awareness training program.


By simulating real-world phishing attacks, organizations can identify areas where employees need additional training and improve their overall security posture. Phishing simulations should be designed to be realistic and challenging, and they should be conducted on a regular basis to ensure that employees remain vigilant and up to date with the latest threats.


The Impact of Security Awareness Training and Simulations for End Users


Let’s take a look at the specific impact of this training and why it is so beneficial for both individual employees and organizations at large.


Heightened Awareness and Vigilance

End users are the biggest target for various cyberattacks. Educating users about the latest tactics used by cybercriminals helps them remain vigilant and empowers them to make informed decisions when encountering potential risks.


Mitigating Human Error

Human error is a leading cause of security breaches. This is because end users, often unknowingly, engage in risky behaviors like clicking on malicious links or downloading suspicious attachments.


Through comprehensive cybersecurity training, businesses can teach their workforce how to recognize these risks, adopt safer practices, and minimize human error. In doing so, organizations can significantly reduce the likelihood of successful cyberattacks and subsequent data breaches.


Safeguarding Customer Data

Organizations entrusted with customer data bear a responsibility to protect it from unauthorized access. Training end users, particularly employees who handle customer information, reinforces the importance of data security and the potential consequences of mishandling sensitive data.


This benefit not only lends protection of the organization’s data in and of itself, but also to the reputation and credibility of said organization as well. By educating employees on data protection best practices through regular training, businesses can create a culture of security that safeguards customer data.


Strengthening Incident Response

Effective cybersecurity training not only focuses on preventing attacks but also prepares end users to respond appropriately in the event of a breach. Training programs can include guidance on incident reporting procedures, recognizing signs of a breach, and immediate response actions.


When end users are adequately trained and given the proper tools, they become an integral part of the incident response process, allowing organizations to mitigate the impact of an attack swiftly and effectively.


Reinforcing Regulatory Compliance

Compliance with industry-specific regulations and data protection laws is essential for businesses operating in today's legal landscape. Training end users on the relevant regulatory requirements --especially in an engaging and interesting way -- ensures that they understand their obligations and the potential consequences of non-compliance.


By integrating compliance-focused training that actually engages end users into cybersecurity programs, organizations can greatly reduce the risk of regulatory penalties and reputational damage resulting from data breaches and compliancy issues.


Fostering a Culture of Security

Cybersecurity is not solely an IT department's responsibility; it is a shared responsibility across the entire organization. By training end users in a continuous way, businesses foster a culture of security where every individual understands their role in protecting sensitive information.


This culture shift ensures that cybersecurity becomes ingrained in daily routines, leading to a proactive and vigilant approach towards potential threats.


How KnowBe4 Can Help


KnowBe4 offers a comprehensive security awareness training and phishing simulation solution. The platform helps organizations of all sizes improve their security posture and even incorporates AI. There are a range of features and tools included that make security awareness training and phishing simulations easy, engaging, and effective.


Here are some of the key features of the KnowBe4 platform:


Pre-built training content

With KnowBe4’s pre-built training content, you’re able to provide your organization with a multitude of resources and training on a variety of security awareness topics. This content is available in multiple formats including videos, interactive modules, and quizzes. It can also be customized to meet the specific needs of each organization.


Phishing simulation templates

KnowBe4 offers a range of phishing simulation templates that mimic real-world phishing attacks. These templates can be customized to fit the specific needs of your organization. They can also include a range of different scenarios and attack types.


Reporting and analytics

KnowBe4's platform includes robust reporting and analytics tools. These tools provide organizations with detailed insights into the effectiveness of their security awareness training program. Track employee progress, identify areas where additional training is needed, and measure the overall effectiveness of the program.


Automated campaigns

Access KnowBe4's automated campaigns! These campaigns enable advanced scheduling to ensure that employees receive regular training. This allows your team to stay engaged and maintain their level of security awareness so that they’re always ready.

Knowbe4 security. Knowbe4 security.

Continuous Education

This powerful platform provides ongoing security education and awareness to end users. This is essential in a rapidly changing threat landscape, where new threats and attack methods are constantly emerging.


We're living in an era where cyber threats are prevalent and evolving at rapid speed. Businesses cannot afford to overlook the importance of training their end users. By investing in comprehensive training programs, organizations empower their employees and customers to be proactive in identifying and mitigating risks.


This is because effective training enhances awareness, reduces human error, protects customer data, strengthens incident response capabilities, and ensures compliance. Ultimately, training end users becomes an invaluable asset in fortifying an organization's overall cybersecurity posture.


KnowBe4's platform helps businesses create a culture of security and end user empowerment. Contact us here to learn more about implementing this invaluable resource into your cybersecurity strategy today!

KnowBe4 Security.  

Technology and Economy: Q & A with Sean Ferrel

Founded in 2002, Managed Solution was barely 6 years old when the 2008 financial crisis hit. Yet, even as a young company we managed (pun intended) to pull through and grow to become the organization you now know today. That is why, today, we're talking about technology and economy.

With that in mind, we sat down to interview our CEO, Sean Ferrel, to discuss the recent economic events and how they pertain to Information Technology and the Tech industry in general. Read on to explore a top-down examination of a post-covid financial climate and gather insight and advice for your business.


A Top-Down Look at the Economy

A lot has been a lot going on with the U.S. economy since the pandemic. Recently though, we’ve seen some real negative indicators with bank collapses on a level reminiscent of the 2008 financial crisis. As a business leader, could you share some insight with us about today’s current economic environment?

Sean: In the last 3+ years there’s been a lot thrown at businesses. From COVID-19 to hybrid workforces; all the way up to how the housing markets have been affected. When people started to work from home it changed the places where people wanted to live. This drove a lot of inflation in certain areas that didn’t previously have these high-salary workers in the market before.

However, the housing market is one aspect. At the core of it, we could argue that there’s been a supply problem across the board. We see it an automobile makers and shipping components. For example, we rely on other countries for things as simple as [computer] chips. Manufacturers couldn’t get the chips to put into cars so a lot of cars couldn’t be built, which then created low supply, and the big companies with low supply were able to charge more for the commodities and goods we needed.

Even with our food and beverage companies. There was a problem there as well due to the lack of potential employees. So, whether it was auto-parts or workers in factories: businesses couldn’t produce as fast as they [normally] would. The demand for goods was still high, the supply was low, and ultimately people charged, and are still charging, more for their product.

Now, the more supply that these companies create and market - the less demand they might get for the product if it becomes more saturated. Meaning they’d have to bring down their inflated costs.

They also have to pay more in taxes if they produce more of something. So, a lot of companies have kind of sat for a minute and said, “well, we're getting a lot of money for our product than we used to get, so why should we produce anymore just to get taxed more for it?”. Which is why many have continued to drive the same amount of supply out of their organization and the inflation has remained. Of course, there’s more nuance to it, but essentially that’s where we’re at.

I think the reason why we’ll run into the “recession”, however, is simply because the dollar goes less far. Things are more expensive and the only way to combat that is businesses paying their employees more. This is challenging and leads to businesses charging their customers more and it becomes a very vicious cycle. One that, unfortunately, will eventually come to a head when businesses can longer afford to pay their employees more and will likely automate their processes instead, or they’ll have to downsize. So, I do think there will be more layoffs coming.

What’s interesting though, we all read about the layoffs at Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. It wasn’t because the companies were doing poorly -- they have more cash in the bank than ever. It’s merely due to the fact that their demand is going to go down because of people’s dollar’s not going as far.


2008 v. 2023

How do you feel our current economic situation compares to that of 2008?

Sean: Compared to 2008, it’s a very different market. Back then it was the way banks were lending with negative amortization loans. Essentially, saying “we're going to loan you for this half a million-dollar house -- which you probably couldn't afford with your salary this much money -- and in three years we're going to increase your interest rate adjusted from an initial 5% or 4% interest rate up to 12%.

That increased the cost of the mortgage and people just got wiped out really fast. They couldn't afford it and hence we had a huge market where things were foreclosing, people didn't have the money and they borrowed against the home and their credit was tapped.

In today’s world though, people have been making a lot of money. It’s been a good economy for a long time, and I don’t think people are tapped credit-wise at this point, so we’re not going to see a big downturn where people are liquidating everything they have. But we definitely need to see some changes happen.


The Tech Industry

From your perspective, what are the main shifts the economy has had on the tech industry?

Sean: In the whole tech-sector; you have four things that happened in the workplace:

  1. Hybrid Workforce
  2. Heightened concern for cybersecurity
  3. Workplace culture shift
  4. Increased interest in the cloud

What I see there is a problem in general with “can technology solve it?” one, but two, “does the workforce for technologists -- like the people that we employ -- have the skill set”?

Technology has sprawled a ton, so it’s almost impossible to find enough talent out there to keep up. There's a huge lack of it from security talent to cloud talent, etc.

So, companies are struggling to find the right IT people who aren’t over-charging for the cost of their labor because, again, the employee-cost has inflated. That’s why now there’s this notion of Do More With Less. Technology and economy, obviously being closely interwoven in this concept. 


Doing More with Less (Technology and Economy)

Could you tell us what “doing more with less” looks like?

Sean: I think one question is; are companies ultimately building tools that are easier to manage by bolting them together? For example, Microsoft owns Microsoft Azure (the cloud).

They also own the operating system within the cloud, which is windows. Then they own the productivity software we all use, which is Office 365 -- and in that you have your communication tools like Microsoft Teams, collaboration hubs like Microsoft Viva -- all the way down to the computer with Windows operating system.

With that, they can control the market from a cost perspective and drive down costs for these suites of products. Not to mention, more Microsoft people in general are probably out there in the world studying and learning.

Making it a little bit easier to find people who do work in that area. And at the ultimate goal; it's easier to manage the process and the technology by consolidating into one or two platforms as opposed to having many, many vendors.

It’s similar to security too. Everybody's coming to market with amazing security tools that do detection at the endpoint or do secure app management to secure applications in the world. But now there's a lot of them and there's not enough resources out there to ultimately manage many different types inside of one business.

So, that's where the big picture of the project-based work consolidation is happening. You have more talent to manage better and more control & cost optimization by consolidating these infrastructures. Today's technology and economy are extremely closely related so business leaders need to emphasize having the right technology for their companies.


The Role of Managed Services

Could you speak about how this all ties into managed services and IT outsourcing? What benefit, if any, could customers gain from these types of services and solutions during this time?

Sean: As I mentioned before, you have the whole thing around hybrid and remote workforces. There are two things that happened:

  1.  Shifted working hours
  2. Changing workforce (great resignation)

Where previously companies had one IT person in the office. That’s not the same anymore. If people are working from home, they're working 24 hours a day. There's not really a regular 9 – 5 anymore.

That means the calls are coming in more than ever. The person who worked internal IT doesn't want to be the person hanging on the phone taking those calls all day every day and it’s not like they can run into anyone’s house to get everything set. That’s why we see technical call-based Help Desks becoming more and more popular. So, outsourcing will continue to grow in a bad economy. Outsourcing and centralizing the tools that are being managed by companies.

The second reason why outsourcing is becoming bigger, is due in part to the great resignation. With the inflation of salaries and expense of increased employee turnover, people are looking at companies, like Managed Solution, instead.

 Beyond that, when it comes to enhancing security, making their users more productive, or having collaboration tools move into the cloud -- many companies are finding that the traditional IT teams are not always tooled up for this. That's why we're seeing more companies outsourcing a lot of that strategy as well; to help them build a long-term footprint that looks at the total cost of ownership. They’re asking organizations like us, “How do we optimize costs and better productivity for my new hybrid workforce of users and make sure we’re secure?”.

For us, it's a nice place to play in the industry right now, being sort of the managed service provider who outsources all this stuff and the consulting arm to be able to go out and help build the future architecture.


Advice to Fellow Tech Companies

We’ve established that the economy today is different than it was in 2008, but one thing they have in common is their negative impact on people and businesses financially. As a business leader who came out of that, do you have any advice or words of comfort for fellow tech companies like Managed Solution?

Sean: For tech companies like ours, it’s always been a good thing to have multiple vendors on your website such as Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Dell, etc. A lot of the traditional sense has been that those are kind of like VARs, or ‘value added resellers’, who could resell all these products and services.

But my advice, is that you’ve got to pick a horse. Make sure you understand what suppliers (Microsoft, Amazon, Salesforce, VMware, Cisco), are building that understand the economic climate. If cost is a big factor and businesses are having to do more with less technology, who's building the technology in one stack of products to ultimately give you all the tools that you need to be successful?

Consolidation is really where I think all businesses should try to head and are trying to head right now. So, ultimately, as it pertains to technology -- I think picking that horse that you think is going to be best in the race is key. Technology and economy is a huge conversation right now. Technology and economy are both make or break aspects for businesses today.


If you’re interested in speaking to one of our team members for more tech-guidance? Contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

Want more resources or interested in more tech content? Head over to our blog page! Technology and economy is a huge conversation right now. Be sure to keep up with us to stay in the know!

Simplifying Security: 6 Easy Steps to Keep your Information Safe

Simplifying security.

Today, we store an incredible amount of sensitive information online, including financial data, personal information, and more. It's essential that we take steps to protect that data, but it's easy get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of fearmongering information and ignore or down right forget to take basic security measures.

This leaves countless individuals and organizations more susceptible to cyberattacks. In this blog, we're simplifying security measures for overwhelmed or forgetful users to help take the power back into their own hands in keeping their data and email secure.


Creating Passwords: Strong but Memorable

One of the easiest ways to protect your data is to use strong passwords. A strong password should be at least 8 characters long, include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Try not to use easily guessable passwords, such as "password1" or "123456," and although its hard, avoid using the same password across multiple accounts.

If you’re more prone to using simple or repeated passwords, and have trouble remembering stronger passwords, consider using a password manager. These tools securely store your passwords and can automatically fill them in for you when you log in to your accounts.


The Power of Password Managers

Simplifying security doesn't necessarily mean simplifying your passwords. In fact, one of the biggest risks to your data is using weak passwords. Weak passwords can be easily cracked by hackers, leaving you vulnerable to identity theft, financial loss, and more. However, it can be hard to remember complex passwords for every account, especially if you have many different accounts. This is what makes password managers such spectacular tools.

Password managers store all of your passwords securely, so you can secure your data with unique, strong passwords without having to remember each and every one. They work by creating complex, random passwords for your accounts and storing them in an encrypted database. All you need is one strong master password to access your password manager.

There are many different password managers available, and some are even free. It is important to choose a reputable password manager and use a strong, unique master password to protect your data.

To further your data protection and streamline your security, utilizing a standalone application such as Microsoft Authenticator can bridge your password management while also providing two-step authentication to give your security an extra boost -- without having to do extra work.


Two-factor Authentication: Annoying, but so Important

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an extra layer of security that requires you to enter a code in addition to your password to log in to your accounts. This code is typically sent to your phone or email.

You can set up 2FA through online services, such as social media platforms, email providers, and financial institutions. Unfortunately, many users opt-out of two-factor authentication due to the inconvenience of it. However, these set-ups can significantly increase the safety of your and/or your organizations data.

Thankfully applications like Microsoft Authenticator have streamlined this process so that you can bridge your password management, easily register 2FA to your devices, and keep your data safe with built in safety tools like one-time passcodes and push notifications.


Keep Your Software Up to Date

Keeping your software up to date is important because updates often include security patches that fix vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. It can be easy to forget to update your software, especially if you have many different programs on your computer or device.

This is why it's a good idea to set up automatic updates if possible. Most software programs, including operating systems, web browsers, and antivirus programs, have automatic update options. To enable automatic updates, go to your settings or preferences and look for an option to turn them on.

If this isn’t an option for you, we suggest setting up monthly notifications on your calendar or even creating something as simple as a sticky note reminder so that you continuously check-in with your system’s updates.


Be Careful with Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi networks are often unsecured, which makes it easy for hackers to intercept data. If you need to use public Wi-Fi, avoid accessing sensitive information like bank accounts or social media accounts. Instead, use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your data and protect your privacy.

Using a VPN

A VPN is a tool that encrypts your internet traffic and routes it through a secure server. This makes it harder for hackers to intercept your data and steal your information.

Even though it may seem like an excessive step, the theme of today’s blog is that anything that seems excessive, is probably a greatly beneficial if not necessary step. This is especially true for those who enjoy working remotely from coffee shops or restaurants.

There are many different VPN services available, so be sure you pick the best one to meet your needs. For businesses or remote workers, we recommend Microsoft’s Azure VPN.

Microsoft Azure VPN is a virtual private network (VPN) solution that enables secure remote access to Azure resources. With Azure VPN, users can connect to virtual machines, cloud services, and other Azure resources securely from anywhere.

Forgetting passwords and losing data can be an incredibly frustrating experience. To prevent data loss, be sure to backup your data regularly. This can be done automatically by using a cloud backup service or an external hard drive.

Cloud backup services automatically backup your data to the cloud, so you can. access it from anywhere and on any device. External hard drives are physical devices that you can connect to your computer or device and use to backup your data manually.

Similarly, to our point about system updates, if you’re unable to automate your backup process for whatever reason, be sure to set reminders for yourself. It is important to backup your data regularly to prevent data loss in case of a hardware failure, theft, or other disaster.

If you are a current Microsoft user, or are considering switching, be sure to take advantage of Azure Backup. For companies especially this is a cost-effective, secure, one-click backup solution that’s scalable based on your backup storage needs.


Stay in the Know

The more you know about data security, the better you will be at protecting your data. Take the time to educate yourself on best practices for data security and stay in the loop on new types of attacks and technology. A great way to motivate yourself to do this is to get creative about the way you think of data protection.

Although it can feel like an abstract topic, once you become more familiar with how security and data protection works, you’ll be surprised to learn just how fascinating our current ever-changing climate is.

Sign-up for our newsletter here for monthly updates and insights into the world of tech and data protection. Or! If you’re interested in learning how start simplifying security by implementing any of the tools we mentioned, contact us here and we’ll reach out to get you started.

simplifying security

8 Tips to Prepare your Business for a Recession

Don't lose your shirt during a recession -- read on for helpful tips and tricks to keep your business thriving!


Recessions can be challenging times for businesses of all sizes. Due to recent events, many businesses are fearful of what lies ahead economically. Thankfully, there is wisdom abound from the financial crisis of 2008, and a plethora of strategies to help you prepare your business for a recession so that you can maintain growth!


Diversify Your Offerings

During a recession, customers may be more cautious with their spending. As a result, businesses that rely on a single product or service may struggle to generate enough revenue.

That's why diversifying your offerings and opening new streams of revenue is a great way to get ahead. By expanding your product or service offerings, you can appeal to a wider range of customers and reduce your reliance on any single product or service.

To do this, consider areas of value your business has the capabilities of providing that you aren’t currently making any revenue off of, or additional products that you can invest in creating that may provide a great profit for you.

For example, a restaurant might consider offering catering services or selling branded merchandise. Alternatively, you could expand your menu to include more options, such as vegetarian or gluten-free dishes.

If, like us, you’re a tech company, this concept can still apply to you! Perhaps you have an abundance of expertise in your field that you can use to create and sell courses through sites like Udemy.

You might also consider challenging your expertise and adding more value to existing clients. For example, if you are a software provider with content writing talent, you can potentially use that to create a content writing service for existing clients.


Focus on Customer Service

During a recession, customers may be more selective about where they spend their money. That's why it's essential to focus on providing exceptional customer service. Providing consistent, quality customer service will help you build customer loyalty while also attracting new customers through word of mouth.

To do this, consider the areas that may affect the quality of service your staff provides. If there is opportunity to boost your teams’ internal engagement and morale, be sure to tune into that. Creating a healthy and engaged working environment sets the stage for your teams servicing to improve.

It’s also wise to consider investing in additional training for your staff. Ensure that your employees understand your business's values and are equipped to handle customer inquiries and complaints. You may also want to consider offering incentives to customers who refer new business to you.


Invest in Marketing

History has taught us that businesses who lean into advertising and marketing during recessions tend to perform better. It can be tempting to cut back on marketing expenses to save money. However, investing in marketing can actually help your business grow during tough economic times.

For one, increasing your marketing efforts in general allows you to reach new customers and increase brand awareness. However, and most importantly, marketing during a recession means there will be less competition.

Many businesses will try to get ahead by giving into cost-cutting temptation or will sadly not have the means to advertise, giving a small amount of other businesses more opportunity to shine. That being said, you want to be sure you budget your advertising and marketing efforts appropriately.

To make the most of your marketing budget, consider investing in online advertising, social media marketing, and email marketing campaigns. These forms of marketing can be highly effective and cost-efficient.

Leaning into free marketing tactics can also make a large impact on lead generation. For this we recommend rolling up your sleeves and putting in the effort to boost your SEO and social presence as much as possible.

Another great and cost-effective strategy is collaboration. Consider partnering with other businesses or organizations to co-promote each other's products or services.


Improve Operational Efficiency

This part probably goes without saying but it's essential to focus on improving operational efficiency to reduce costs and increase profitability. To better help you prepare your business for recession, look for ways to streamline processes and eliminate waste.

You may also consider outsourcing certain tasks to reduce overhead costs, but we’ll discuss that more later.

To improve operational efficiency, consider using technology to automate manual tasks. For example, you could use a customer relationship management (CRM) system to manage customer interactions, or a project management tool to streamline your team's workflow.

If this sounds a bit overwhelming, you can also look into freelancing or booking a consultant to help you identify inefficiencies and implement solutions.


Keep an Eye on Cash Flow

Cash flow is critical during a recession. Make sure that you are closely monitoring your cash flow and again, taking steps to reduce expenses where possible.

If possible, try negotiating with suppliers for discounts or better payment terms, and be on the lookout for opportunities to reduce inventory levels.

To manage your cash flow effectively, consider creating a cash flow forecast. This will help you anticipate your cash needs and plan accordingly.

You may also want to think about working with a financial advisor to help you develop a cash flow management strategy.


Partnerships and Collaborations

As the economy slows, it may prove challenging to fund new projects or initiatives. However, by forming partnerships and collaborations with other businesses, you can pool resources and achieve common goals.

To form partnerships and collaborate with other businesses, start by identifying businesses that share your values and target market. Reach out to these businesses and propose a mutually beneficial partnership or collaboration.

Using social media platforms or attending industry events are also great ways to network with other business owners and find potential partners.


Outsource Non-Core Functions

During a recession, it may be difficult to justify hiring new employees to handle non-core functions. That's where outsourcing can be a valuable tool. By outsourcing non-core functions, you can reduce overhead costs and free up resources to focus on your core business.

To determine which functions to outsource, start by identifying the tasks that are not critical to your business's success. This may include tasks such as accounting, human resources, or IT support. Then, research outsourcing providers and compare their costs and services to find the best provider that fits your budget.

Keep in mind that when outsourcing, it's critical to choose a provider that aligns with your business's values and goals. Look for a provider with a proven track record of success and good customer reviews.

It's also essential to establish clear expectations and communication channels to ensure that the outsourcing relationship is successful.


Outsourcing for Information Systems

Diving a little deeper here into our area of expertise, outsourcing some or all of your IT services can greatly benefit your business during a recession and in general.

Read our full article on that here. But to keep it short and sweet, outsourcing your information systems can help you reduce costs, improve efficiency, and access specialized expertise.

To outsource your information systems, start by identifying the specific functions of IT that you want to outsource. This may include software development, data management, cybersecurity, or Helpdesk support. Then research outsourcing providers that specialize in these areas.

Like all outsourcing goes, you want to be sure to choose a provider with experience in your industry and a proven track record of success. Look for a provider that offers a range of services and can provide customized solutions to meet your business's specific needs.


Final Notes

As unpleasant as economic crisis are, there are so many creative strategies and opportunities to help your business thrive. By expanding your offerings, boosting your marketing, collaborating with other businesses, outsourcing, or doing combination of these things – you can prepare your business for a recession and whatever else life throws at you!

If you’d like to learn more about IT outsourcing, let us help walk you through the process to give you a better idea of what it looks like and how much you can save!

Contact us Today!

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