Expanding Copilot for Microsoft 365 to businesses of all sizes

Expanding Copilot for Microsoft 365 to businesses of all sizes

 

Our vision for Microsoft Copilot is to bring the power of generative AI to everyone across work and life. Customers like Visa, BP, Honda, and Pfizer, and partners like Accenture, KPMG, and PwC are already using Copilot to transform the way they work, and 40% of the Fortune 100 participated in the Copilot Early Access Program.

We are updating our Microsoft Copilot product line-up with a new Copilot Pro subscription for individuals; expanding Copilot for Microsoft 365 availability to small and medium-sized businesses; and announcing no seat minimum for commercial plans—making Copilot generally available to individuals, enterprises, and everyone in between.

Read on for all the details.

Copilot for Microsoft 365

Copilot for Microsoft 365 enables users to enhance their creativity, productivity, and skills.

Updates to our Copilot product line-up

First, we are announcing an update to our Copilot product line-up: Copilot Pro—a new Copilot subscription for individuals priced at $20 per individual per month.

Copilot Pro has foundational capabilities in a single experience that runs across your devices and understands your context on the web, on your PC, across your apps, and soon on your phone to bring the right skills to you when you need them. And it has web grounding, so it always has access to the latest information. When you’re signed into Copilot with your Microsoft Entra ID, you get commercial data protection for free—which means chat data isn’t saved, Microsoft has no eyes-on access, and your data isn’t used to train the models.

Copilot Pro provides priority access to the very latest models—starting with OpenAI’s GPT-4 Turbo. You’ll have access to GPT-4 Turbo during peak times for faster performance and, coming soon, the ability to toggle between models to optimize your experience how you choose. Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscribers can use Copilot in Word, Excel (currently in Preview and English only), PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote on PC, and soon on Mac and iPad. It includes enhanced AI image creation with Designer (formerly Bing Image Creator) for faster, more detailed image quality as well as landscape image format. And Copilot Pro gives you the ability to build your own Copilot GPT—a pre-customized Copilot tailored for a specific topic—in our new Copilot GPT Builder (coming soon) with just a simple set of prompts.

MICROSOFT COPILOT STUDIO

Sign up for a free trial 

While Copilot Pro is our best experience for individuals, Copilot for Microsoft 365 is our best experience for organizations. Copilot for Microsoft 365 gives you the same priority access to the very latest models. You get Copilot in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, and Microsoft Teams—combined with your universe of data in the Microsoft Graph. It has enterprise-grade data protection which means it inherits your existing Microsoft 365 security, privacy, identity, and compliance policies. And it also includes Copilot Studio, so organizations can customize Copilot for Microsoft 365 and build their own custom copilots and plugins as well as manage and secure their customizations and standalone copilots with the right access, data, user controls, and analytics.

Here’s a summary of the updated Copilot product line-up:

There are 9 rows of text: Foundational Capabilities, Web Grounding, Commercial Data Protection, Priority Model Access, Copilot in Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, Copilot in Teams, Microsoft Graph Grounding, Enterprise-Grade Data Protection, and Customization.
Click the image above to make it larger.

No seat minimum and expanded availability of Copilot for Microsoft 365—including small and medium-sized businesses

THE COPILOT SYSTEM

Watch the video 

To empower every organization to become AI-powered, we are making three changes. First, we are removing the 300-seat purchase minimum for Copilot for Microsoft 365 commercial plans. Second, we are removing the Microsoft 365 prerequisite for Copilot—so now, Office 365 E3 and E5 customers are eligible to purchase. We’re also extending Semantic Index for Copilot to Office 365 users with a paid Copilot license. Semantic Index works with the Copilot System and the Microsoft Graph to create a sophisticated map of all the data and content in your organization—enabling Microsoft 365 Copilot to deliver personalized, relevant, and actionable responses. Third, we are excited to announce that Copilot for Microsoft 365 is now generally available for small and medium-sized businesses—from solopreneurs running and launching their first business to 300-person fast-growing startups. If you are using either Microsoft 365 Business Standard or Microsoft 365 Business Premium, you can now purchase Copilot for Microsoft 365 for $30 per user per month.1

Small and medium-sized businesses are the heart of every community and the lifeblood of local economies. They have an outsized impact on the world and markets they support—in the United States, this category accounts for 99.9% of business and employs nearly half of the workforce.2

These businesses stand to gain the most from this era of generative AI—and Copilot is uniquely suited to meet their needs. Small and medium-sized business owners report that communicating with customers takes up most of their time (66%), with managing budgets (50%) and administrative tasks (48%) not far behind.3 Copilot for Microsoft 365 can help reduce this daily grind, giving business owners valuable time back to focus on what matters most: growing their business. And with the Microsoft Copilot Copyright Commitment, small business owners can trust that they are working with a reliable partner. Small and medium-sized business customers that have Microsoft 365 Business Standard or Business Premium can learn how to purchase Copilot for Microsoft 365 via our website or by contacting a partner.

We have been learning alongside small and medium-sized business customers in our Copilot Early Access Program. Here’s what they’re saying about how Copilot for Microsoft 365 is already transforming their work.

“I love that it’s in our environment. It’s able to cross-pollinate and gather information from all of the data we’ve got in Microsoft 365. As a business owner, that’s really important to me because it keeps our people working inside our systems.”

James Hawley, CEO and Founder at NextPath Career Partners

“I do believe that there isn’t a single job position in the company that won’t benefit in some way from Copilot being available to them.”

Alex Wood, Senior Cloud Engineer at Floww

“Copilot accurately summarizes the call and meeting notes in minutes. That’s not just faster, it means callers can add more value to the discussion rather than just take notes.”

Philip Burridge, Director, Operations and Strategy at Morula Health

Empowering partners to help every customer become AI-powered

Commercial customers—including small and medium-sized businesses—can now purchase Copilot for Microsoft 365 through our network Cloud Solution Provider partners (CSPs). This means Copilot for Microsoft 365 is now available across all our sales channels. CSPs have served as trusted advisors to their customers, unlocking profitability for businesses and expanding their own capabilities. Learn more about Cloud Solution Provider partners.

Next steps for Microsoft 365

These announcements come just one month after we announced that we are making Copilot for Microsoft 365 generally available to education customers with Microsoft 365 A3 or A5 faculty, and we’re expanding that to include Office 365 A3 or A5 faculty with no seat minimum. While education licenses are not yet included in the CSP expansion announced today, we will share updates in the coming months. It’s all part of our vision to empower everyone—from individuals to global enterprises—for an AI-powered world.

Learn more about Microsoft Copilot and visit the Copilot for Work site for actionable guidance on how you can start transforming work with Copilot today.

Learn more about how Copilot for Microsoft 365 for small and medium-sized businesses, including next steps licensing and technical requirements, and get familiar with Copilot capabilities.

Visit WorkLab for critical research and insights on how generative AI is transforming work.

a close up of an umbrella

Microsoft Copilot

Copilot helps you achieve things like never before using the power of AI.


1Copilot for Microsoft 365 may not be available for all markets and languages. To purchase, enterprise customers must have a license for Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 or Office 365 E3 or E5, and business customers must have a license for Microsoft 365 Business Standard or Business Premium.

Copilot is currently supported in the following languages: English (US, GB, AU, CA, IN), Spanish (ES, MX), Japanese, French (FR, CA), German, Portuguese (BR), Italian, and Chinese Simplified. We plan to support the following languages (in alphabetical order) over the first half of 2024: Arabic, Chinese Traditional, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (PT), Russian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, and Ukrainian.

2U.S. Small Business Administration. (2023). Frequently Asked Questions.

3Wakefield Research. (2023). Microsoft study: Small businesses intrigued by AI and the opportunities it brings.

Preparing for AI: Are You Ready for a New Era of Work?

The Era of AI-Powered Productivity

How is your business preparing for AI?

The way we now work—defined by an era of digital transformation—is evolving at such a pace that keeping up has become a challenge for many organizations. Business leaders are recognizing the enormous opportunity that modern work solutions like AI tools present and are now exploring ways to use them to their best advantage.

That means implementing AI in a way that allows employees to be more engaged and productive, focusing on the work that matters most.

AI helps your employees offload time-consuming tasks by jumpstarting the creative process, analyzing trends, and summarizing email threads and key discussion points from meetings. Less time spent on more tedious tasks grants employees the freedom to focus on the work that matters most.

Organizations that made employee engagement a top priority have performed twice as well financially as businesses that deprioritized an engaged workforce (2). And AI is poised to empower employees to be more engaged through opportunities for creativity, skill building, and increased productivity.

Discover What’s Possible with AI

Imagine a workforce driven by the powerful combination of irreplaceable human ingenuity and skill with the innovative capabilities of a secure, user-friendly AI system. With the right tools and mindset, any organization can embrace the transformation to an AI-powered workforce.

 

Responsible AI Practices

With all the potential that working with AI holds, it’s critical to remember to take an approach of preparing for AI that prioritizes fairness, transparency, and accountability. Microsoft is a leader in the development and implementation of AI systems, which includes creating guidance on principles and best practices for responsible AI use—and ensuring those principles are at the foundation of Microsoft’s AI technology. Only with responsible AI implementation can your organization unlock the full potential of what’s possible with AI.

 

preparing for AI Microsoft copilot blog image

Credit: Microsoft

AI Readiness

How do you know your organization is prepared for AI?

The platform shift to AI isn’t one that can be made without clear leadership and focused investment. Implementing AI technology can be complex, especially without a well-defined plan in place. It requires a culture of productivity and collaboration, a secure foundation for endpoint management, and the willingness to embrace change in order to outpace it.

What does AI readiness look like? An organization ready to embrace AI understands its potential as a strategic asset, how it can be used to benefit the business, and the ability to guide employees and customers in responsible AI practices.

Assessing your readiness level is the first step toward transforming your organization into one that can outpace the changes and challenges of this new era of working with next-generation technologies like AI.

 

Assessment: Evaluating Your AI readiness

To help you begin the transformation to an AI-powered organization, we’ve compiled a quiz with questions aimed at evaluating readiness level.

The quiz is in five parts and assesses your organization's:

Choose the answer that sounds most like where your organization currently stands and keep a tally of your answers as you go. At the end of the quiz, you’ll be able to estimate whether your organization is Very Ready, Almost Ready, or Needs More Guidance in preparing for AI to begin the transformation to an AI-powered workforce.

 

Part 1: Your organization’s relationship to change and productivity

Rate your organization’s openness to change and innovation.

  1. Very open: We welcome and seek out opportunities for change and innovation.
  2. Somewhat open: We approach opportunities for change and innovation with caution.
  3. Not very open: We don’t take on many opportunities for change and innovation.

How confident are you that your current technology empowers your employees to be productive?

  1. Very confident: Our technology greatly improves employee productivity
  2. Somewhat confident: Our technology somewhat improves employee productivity.
  3. Not very confident: Our technology does not support employee productivity

 

Part 2: Your organization’s relationship to AI

How fundamental is AI to the success of your business?

  1. Very important: AI will greatly improve the success of our business.
  2. Somewhat important: AI will support the success of our business, but it isn’t necessary.
  3. Not very important: AI would be beneficial in other ways but won’t affect the success of our business.

Rate your employees’ current willingness to adopt new technologies, including AI

  1. Very willing: Employees are excited to learn about and use new technologies like AI.
  2. Somewhat willing: Employees are cautiously optimistic about new technologies.
  3. Not very willing: Employees are resistant to new technologies, including AI.

 

Part 3: Your organization’s willingness to use AI

How important is it to provide secure, user-friendly AI systems to your workforce?

  1. Very important: We want our employees to be able to learn and use AI as soon as possible.
  2. Somewhat important: We’re interested in adopting user-friendly AI but want to learn more first.
  3. Not very important: User-friendly AI systems are a “nice-to-have” but not currently a priority.

How much, if at all, has your organization’s leadership bought into the business value of AI-powered tools?

  1. All in: Our leadership is ready and willing to begin transitioning to AI-powered tools.
  2. Somewhat in: Leadership understands the importance of AI but needs some convincing on the business value of adopting it.
  3. Not at all in: Our leadership doesn’t understand the importance or value of AI just yet

 

Part 4: Investment and funding

How strong is your investment in change management and training to support the transition to AI-powered processes and systems?

  1. Very strong: We could begin the transition immediately.
  2. Somewhat strong: We could begin the transition soon but have some challenges to overcome first.
  3. Not very strong: We need a lot of support and training in preparing for AI before we can begin the transition.

Does your organization have funding for deploying and implementing a secure, user-friendly AI system?

  1. Fully funded: Our organization is ready and able to invest in AI technologies.
  2. Some funding: Our organization can afford to transition, but leadership is unsure the benefit outweighs the cost.
  3. No funding: We’re working toward a place where we can invest in AI technologies, but we’re not quite there yet.

 

Part 5: Endpoint management and security capabilities

How confident are you in your organization’s current endpoint management capabilities to enable employees that are preparing for AI to help them do their best work, regardless of where they work and what device they use?

  1. Very confident: Our endpoint management capabilities allow employees to work where and how they feel they can be most successful.
  2. Somewhat confident: Our endpoint management capabilities are stable for certain experiences but could be improved.
  3. Not very confident: We need a better system to support endpoint management for employees working anywhere and from any device.

Rate your organization’s current security foundation for enabling AI-powered work from any endpoint.

  1. Very secure: Our systems are built on a robust security foundation and support our strong endpoint management capabilities.
  2. Somewhat secure: We have strong security systems but aren’t confident they can support the additional requirements of using AI-powered tools.
  3. Not very secure: We need a more secure system to protect our organization’s data and ensure our employees can confidently work from anywhere.

 

Results

 

Mostly A’s: Very Ready (GREAT NEWS)

Your organization has put the work in preparing for AI and true transformation is underway. The Microsoft 365 team is excited to help you move forward. A couple of key notes for Very Ready organizations:

Having that baseline productivity in place will enable your employees to start exploring the benefits of Copilot as soon as possible. You can find a link to get started at the end of this blog.

 

Mostly B’s: Almost Ready (GOOD NEWS)

Your organization is nearly there. Like Very Ready organizations, your Almost Ready business should consider deploying Microsoft 365, if you haven’t already. Help your employees learn their way around Microsoft 365 now so that it's easier for them to adopt the AI integrations down the road.

A couple of notes for Almost Ready organizations:

 

Mostly C’s: Need More Guidance (IT'S OKAY)

It sounds like your organization could benefit from personalized guidance on implementing AI tools. For more information on the requirements and benefits of a secure, user-friendly AI system, Microsoft can help!

A couple of notes to get organizations that Need More Guidance started:

 

Next steps

Unlock the potential of AI with Microsoft 365 and Copilot

An organization that is preparing for AI and ready to unlock all that's possible, has a strong foundation in security, streamlined endpoint management, and an openness to innovation that improves productivity. With Microsoft 365, your organization can achieve those checkpoints with one complete solution.

With Microsoft 365, your organization's technology landscape will be grounded in Zero Trust, ensuring a secure foundation for all of your endpoints, no matter where access is coming from. A Zero Trust security foundation in turn makes endpoint management safer and less complex, so you can efficiently grant employees access to all the tools they need to be more productive than ever.

Microsoft offers decades in future forward technology expertise, and that experience is built into the features that make Microsoft 365 so powerful. Now, with Copilot, your organization can extend the capabilities of Microsoft 365 even further.

Microsoft 365 delivers a secure, productive working experience. With Copilot, it becomes an intuitive, next-generation productivity partner that works alongside your employees, empowering them to collaborate and work more efficiently to become more productive contributors to business outcomes.

Copilot can empower your team to tap into the rich functionality available throughout Microsoft 365, making employees better at what they’re already good at and mastering what they’ve yet to learn. It integrates seamlessly with the apps your teams already use and is designed to unlock their untapped potential.

Ultimately, Copilot elevates the powerful capabilities of Microsoft 365 to enhance your workforce’s productivity, creativity, and skills—benefits your organization can experience when you make the transformation to AI.

 

What can Microsoft 365 with Copilot do for your organization?

 

Ready to see what Microsoft 365 Copilot can do for your organization? Learn more.

 

 

Sources: 1 “Will AI Fix Work?” Work Trend Index, May 9, 2023. Microsoft. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/worklab/ work-trend-index/will-ai-fix-work. 2 “The New Performance Equation in the Age of AI.” Work Trend Index, April 20, 2023. Microsoft. https://www. microsoft.com/en-us/worklab/work-trend-index/the-new-performance-equation-in-the-age-of-ai. 3 “A Whole New Way of Working.” Work Trend Index. Microsoft. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/worklab/ai[1]a-whole-new-way-of-working.

©2023 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. This document is provided “as-is.” Information and views expressed in this document, including URL and other Internet website references, may change without notice.

What is Microsoft Azure

Cloud computing has emerged as a game-changer for businesses, enabling companies to scale, secure, and streamline their operations more efficiently than ever. Among the cloud giants, Microsoft Azure has risen to prominence as a go-to platform for organizations worldwide. In this blog, we'll delve into what Azure is, to help users and companies looking for cloud opportunities understand how it can benefit them.

 

What is Microsoft Azure?Microsoft Azure logo

Azure is Microsoft's cloud computing platform and infrastructure. It provides a vast array of cloud services, including computing, analytics, databases, networking, storage, and more through global data centers. It also empowers organizations with the flexibility to build, deploy, and manage applications and services through Microsoft-managed data centers globally.

Key Features and Services

Azure Virtual Machines

Azure offers virtual machines that allow businesses to run applications in the cloud, providing scalable and flexible computing power without the need for physical hardware.

Hybrid Cloud Capabilities

Azure's hybrid cloud solutions enable seamless integration between on-premises and cloud environments. This flexibility allows MSPs to cater to clients with varied infrastructure requirements, ensuring a smooth transition to the cloud.

Single-pane Operations

Microsoft Azure's single-pane operations via the Operation Management Suite (OMS) offer seamless monitoring and management of hybrid environments, including virtual machines, storage, network services, logs, and insights. OMS prioritizes security, providing comprehensive solutions for hybrid infrastructure challenges.

Computational services

  1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Azure offers virtual machines, storage, and networking resources, allowing businesses to migrate their existing on-premises infrastructure to the cloud, reducing hardware costs, and enhancing scalability.
  2. Platform as a Service (PaaS): Developers can leverage Azure's PaaS offerings to build, deploy, and manage applications without worrying about the underlying infrastructure. This enables quicker development cycles and enhanced collaboration.
  3. Software as a Service (SaaS): Azure hosts a variety of SaaS solutions, including Office 365, Dynamics 365, and more, which simplify application access and management.

Azure Blob Storage

This service enables secure and cost-effective storage of large amounts of unstructured data, ideal for backups, media files, and application data.

Azure SQL Database

A fully managed relational database service, Azure SQL Database offers high-performance, secure, and scalable database solutions for various applications.

Azure AI and Machine Learning

Businesses can leverage Azure’s artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to gain valuable insights, automate processes, and create intelligent applications.

Azure IoT Hub

For companies delving into the realm of IoT, Azure IoT Hub facilitates seamless communication between IoT applications and devices, enabling real-time monitoring and control.

 

Why Azure Matters for Businesses: Key Benefits

key benefits

Scalability

Azure's elasticity allows businesses to scale resources up or down on-demand. It caters to the dynamic needs of companies without forcing them to invest in expensive hardware. Whether it's handling a sudden surge in web traffic or expanding storage capabilities, Azure provides the necessary scalability to support business growth.

Global Reach and Reliability

Azure boasts a global network of data centers, ensuring high availability and redundancy (i.e. ensures that accounts meet their durability targets). This infrastructure minimizes downtime and data loss, which is crucial for businesses in the digital age where loss of data can cost millions.

Not to mention that with Azure’s world-wide distribution of data centers, businesses can expand into global markets with more ease. This can greatly advance growth opportunities for a number of businesses and therein lead to greater innovation when competing in new markets.

Security and Compliance

Security is paramount in the digital age, and Azure prioritizes it. Azure's robust security features include threat detection, identity and access management, encryption, and compliance certifications like ISO 27001 and SOC 2. With Azure, organizations can rest assured that their data is secure and compliant with industry standards.

Cost Effectiveness

With a variety of licensing and pricing models, organizations have the option to leverage Azure’s revenue-boosting productivity enhancements while paying only for the resources they consume. It also provides flexibility in allowing businesses to scale their resources up or down based on demand.

compare cost of Azure to AWS

credit: Microsoft

Furthermore, Azure offers an array of tools and services designed to assist businesses in maximizing their cloud expenditure, such as cost management and resource optimization tools. These resources empower organizations to supervise and manage their Azure expenses.

With flexibility and cost-management features, Azure enables companies to optimize their IT budgets, minimizing wastage while providing the resources necessary to meet their specific needs.

Check out this in-depth forum post that demonstrates how Azure is one of the most cost-effective cloud infrastructures.

Analytics and Business Intelligence

Microsoft Azure offers powerful analytics and business intelligence tools for data-driven insights. Services like Azure Machine Learning and Power BI enable businesses to analyze data, enhancing decision-making processes. Furthermore, Azure seamlessly integrates with Microsoft products like Dynamics 365 and Office, ensuring a smooth user experience and boosting productivity.

Collaboration and Productivity

Microsoft Azure offers diverse tools and services aimed at enhancing business collaboration and productivity. Azure Active Directory enables streamlined management of user accounts and access control for cloud applications, enhancing security measures and simplifying user administration.

Additionally, Azure provides a suite of collaboration tools, such as Microsoft Teams and SharePoint. These platforms facilitate real-time collaboration on documents and projects, fostering increased productivity and teamwork among employees.

Innovation and Integration

Azure continuously evolves, offering cutting-edge technologies such as AI, machine learning, and IoT. For businesses, this means they can stay ahead of the curve by integrating these innovative technologies into their operations, driving efficiency and competitiveness.

 

More than Just a Cloud Platform

Microsoft Azure is more than just a cloud platform; it's a catalyst for innovation and transformation in the modern business landscape. Businesses have a unique opportunity to leverage Azure's capabilities to meet their dynamic IT needs. Namely, because Azure offers scalability, reliability, security, cost-efficiency, and access to cutting-edge technologies.

As businesses continue to navigate the digital frontier, Azure stands as a powerful ally, helping them achieve their goals and thrive in the digital age. Embracing Azure is not just a choice; it's a strategic imperative for all businesses.

 


Learn More + Free upcoming webinar

If you're ready to talk more about Microsoft Azure with a qualified expert, send us a contact request here and we'll set up a time to chat with you. For a deeper dive into the platform, join us on October 25th for part two of our free Azure Webinar series.

Choosing the right Managed Service Provider

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

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.

Knowbe4 Security Training: The Importance of End Users and Security Awareness

 

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

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

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!

Managed Solution Turns 20 in 2022- Cheers to 20 years!

managed solution celebrates 20 years banner

Managed Solution is proud to celebrate 20 years in business!

 

In 2002 our Founder and CEO, Sean Ferrel, launched a business out of his college dorm. His mission? To create a better way to support companies through the power of technology. What began as a dorm-room dream grew to a fully functioning organization. 

Fueled by an exceptional team of talented individuals -- our success intersects at passion for people and expertise of technology. 

Our Why 

Our reason for coming to work everyday doubles as our secret to success: people. Both internally and externally, we explore technology solutions through a people-first perspective. We believe that the care we take of our team sets the standard for the care that we take of our clients and partners.  

20 Days to celebrate 20 years!  

So how are we celebrating this massive milestone? Every day for 20 days we are digitizing fun group activities through Microsoft Teams. Kicked off with pictures of the team members from 20 years ago! 

On Day 6, we reflected on the core values that make us who we are by looking at the code of conduct that got us where we are today.

Most importantly, we took a moment of gratitude for our team and accomplishments in our quarterly meeting, where many of our amazing staff members were highlighted for their incredible contributions. 

In Our 20th Year We… 

Awards 

This year alone, Managed Solution has been awarded 14 times. Our top-tier leadership team has been recognized for their dedication and direction in a string of honors. Starting with our very own CEO, Sean Ferrel, making San Diego Business Journal’s Most Influential People in San Diego, 40 under 40, and being a finalist for SDBJ’s CEO of the Year.  

Furthermore, we had multiple C-suite staff placements on SDBJ’s Top 50 Influential Women in Tech’s list by our VP of Sales and Marketing - Tina Rountree, and VP of Strategy and Programs - Alecia Wilson, as well as our amazing COO - Jenell Mott! 

As a company, we were also over-the-moon to learn that we were placed on SDBJ’s Best Places to Work list 2022! 

Our powerful solutions and services have also been recognized this year in Expertise.com’s Best Managed IT Service Providers in San Diego, Techreviewer’s Top IT services Companies in 2022, Cloudtango’s Top Managed Service Providers US Select 2022 and many more! 

Community 

At Managed Solution, another huge focus for us is giving back to our San Diego Tech community. 

Some ways we were able to do that include donating Microsoft Technology to San Diego’s Just in Time Foster care Sponsoring and participating in this year’s Cause Conference, to empower ourselves and fellow organizations to make a positive social impact within our community.  We proudly helped sponsor Farm to Table’s charity event, benefiting Hospice of the North coast.

With Center for Community Solution’s Tea and Tonics event, our sponsorship helped raise over $510,000 to aid survivors of domestic abuse and contribute to abuse-prevention initiatives.  

As Cyber Security Month Champions, we spread Awareness during October’s Cyber Security Month to help businesses and organizations stay in-the-know about the best practices for safety and security!  

Speaking of Cyber Security, we had a blast at SIM’s Cyber Security Padre event where we came together with other IT professionals for two of our favorite things: Cyber Security and sports! 

We also enjoyed participating in many of Telarus’s golf events throughout the year, where we were able to connect with an onslaught of amazing individuals in the Tech community!  

Internally 

We've had a big year here at Managed Solution. From employee shout outs to fun bonding events, to babies and weddings and promotions! We couldn’t be more thrilled with the memories and bonds we’ve made this year. 

In February, with our 14 days of love for Employee’s – we shared what we loved about our stellar staff members! 

We came together in fun team building trivia events including this totally tubular 80’s themed trivia night. 

We also highlighted our Rockstar team members in our ‘Player of the month’ program. Every month, we reward a staff member who has gone above and beyond with 8 additional hours of PTO.  On top of this, we’ll be adding an Employee of the Year category in 2023! 

Want to learn more about our 2023 initiatives, sponsorships and events? Click here[link] to sign-up for our monthly newsletter to stay connected with us! 

The Years Ahead 

Businesses can sometimes lose their purpose in the grind of meeting bottom lines. Here, we understand that by doing right by our people the numbers will always follow.  

What has really defined our success and kept us in a state of growth, is the happiness of our team. Our future holds the promise of maintaining that ideal. Along with that – we have a collective excitement and curious approach for the challenges ahead. 

We are so grateful to have served you for these 20 years and we look forward to the next 20 years… and heck, the 20 after that! Thank you for your continued support, be sure to join us in the celebration on Instagram and Facebook!  (more…)