Archives for November 2011

Happy Holidays from Network Management Group, Inc.

Happy_holidays

I would like to extend Happy Holiday greetings to our extended family of NMGI clients and friends. One of the many things that I am always thankful for, during the holiday season, is the wonderful clients that we have had the opportunity to serve at NMGI. Too often we don’t pause long enough to say THANK YOU for the support, confidence, and loyalty shown to us by you, our clients and friends.

 

Thanks to all of you, we are closing out our year with moderate sales growth and set a company record for both product and services revenue. While that is all well and good, please know that we are committed more than ever to meeting and exceeding your expectations in 2012. We continue to invest in our people, our processes and technology, in order to provide the most efficient and value rich service offerings to you, our clients and friends.

As the calendar year winds down, please know that our sales and service teams stand by ready to assist you with any year end purchases or projects that you would like to complete. Simply give us a call at 620-664-6000 and we at NMGI will be glad to work closely with you to get your year-end tasks accomplished.

The entire Network Management Group, Inc. Team would like to wish all of our clients a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We will look forward to our continued business partnership as we turn the calendar to 2012.

Steve Harper
President-CEO
Network Management Group, Inc.

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NMGI Welcomes back Joel Cash to the Sales Team

Joel_cash

Joel Cash recently re-joined the NMGI team after taking off four years to work for First National Bank of Liberal, in SW Kansas. Joel lives in Hutchinson and is having fun spending time with his children. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking on his BBQ grill for family and friends, reading and playing Call of Duty.

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Controlling Social Media in the Business Environment

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Everywhere you turn, you hear something about “Follow us on Twitter,” or “Like my Facebook Page.” Social media is a communications platform that is here to stay, and if you’re like many business owners, you’re wondering “what does this mean for me and my business? How do I use it in my business without it becoming a distraction?”

Social media should be a part of your business’s marketing plan, and controlling employees’ usage on these sites will help keep them productive instead of allowing them to use company time for personal interaction.

But now that businesses are effectively using social media as a marketing and communications tool, the question becomes whether to allow employees to use social media while at work or on work equipment.

Social media can be a distraction and it poses IT security risks. These sites are known to bring viruses and malware into organizations, so if you decide to allow employees to use social media for business or personal reasons, there are options to mitigate the risks.

One step is to craft and distribute an Acceptable Use Policy to all employees. This policy should clearly define:

  • Where employees can and cannot go online

  • What types of files employees can and cannot download to your network or upload onto social media sites

  • When and to what extent they are allowed to use the Internet for personal matters

  • Which types of activities are strictly forbidden

  • What the consequences are of violating these policies

  • Another step would be to make sure you put the appropriate controls on your employees’ computers.

It’s nearly impossible to police every activity your employees do online, but installing a Web filter is an easy way to control who can access social media sites and other websites that are not related to business. Web filters also block Internet applications that you don’t want your employees using at work and offer additional protection against malware and viruses.

These controls can be as loose or tight as you want them. You can offer access to specific employees and can even determine what time they are allowed to access these sites. For example, you could decide that your staff is allowed to access Facebook only from noon to 1 p.m. during their lunch period. Or you can decide that just your marketing staff can access it all day, every day. It’s a flexible system, so it’s really up to you to decide.

Additionally, web filters offer Internet usage reporting, which will give you a high-level look at your bandwidth consumption, how much time your employees are spending on non-business related Web activities, what sites they are visiting, as well as your exposure to viruses.

When dealing with potential security threats, it is always best to address the situation before something bad happens.

Your IT administrator, or outsourced IT department, can easily set up any of these systems, which will help secure your business from social media-related viruses and problems.

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Remote working is no longer an employee perk, it’s a business necessity

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Reprinted with permission from the Microsoft Small Business Center

 

The kind of office most of us are familiar with is a building with four walls and a roof that we probably drive to 40 or so hours each week, Monday through Friday. Today, many companies still maintain traditional offices, but the decision makers are also discovering that to compete in the current economy, employees must be able to do their jobs anywhere, anytime.

Microsoft recently commissioned a survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs among more than 4,500 information workers in 15 U.S. markets to better understand opinions and attitudes related to mobile and internal business technologies and capabilities. The survey results further underscore the growing requirement for mobile work solutions – more than half of respondents (57%) report that their company has a formal telework policy and more than three quarters of information workers (77%) say their company provides access to technology support for working remotely.

Working without walls – what it is, and isn’t At Microsoft, we like to describe remote working as “working without walls,” because it’s becoming much more than simply handing employees laptops and giving them the ability to check e-mail outside the office . . . though that’s a start. Rather, today’s business climate demands that employees be able to work just as effectively inside the office as they can outside the office. This means being able to use laptops as well as handheld devices to securely access vital business information, collaborate with colleagues (even face-to-face), make critical business decisions, and more.

Tools that can help A range of technology tools exists to help businesses effectively mobilize employees. Here are a few that are particularly helpful for working without walls.

Cloud-based software: One of the primary benefits the cloud has delivered to businesses of all sizes is access to software that formerly only existed on local servers and required employees to be in the office to use the applications. Now, thanks to the cloud, workers can use many of the programs they formerly only had access to in the office wherever they have a secure Internet connection.

Microsoft recently launched the beta version of Office 365 — an all-in-one solution that combines SharePoint, Exchange, Lync, and Office in an up-to-date cloud service. Ideal for letting employees remain productive in and out of the office, Office 365 makes things like videoconferencing, document and desktop sharing easy for mobile workers, as well as tasks like e-mail, chat, calendaring and document creation.

Smartphones: Sometimes, when working without walls, it’s just not efficient to conduct work from a laptop. For instance, you might be at a business lunch and can’t lug your laptop to the table, or it could already be stowed in the overhead compartment of an airplane when you realize you need to send off a quick e-mail before your plane departs.

In these instances, having a smartphone can make all the difference. A phone like Windows Phone 7, designed specifically for the business user, includes applications that make it possible to do virtually everything you already do on a desktop PC or laptop. It also includes numerous data protection features that help safeguard your business information should your phone be lost or stolen. What’s more, Office 365 will be available on Windows Phone 7, ensuring that users get the maximum productivity benefits this software provides.

Security enhanced operating systems: In those instances when using a laptop makes more sense than working from a smartphone, it’s vital that your computer’s operating system is security enhanced.

Windows 7, Microsoft’s newest operating system, is its most secure operating system to date and provides data encryption features through BitLocker — for hard drives, as well as BitLocker to Go — for removable disk drives. Another feature included in the Enterprise version of Windows 7 that’s particularly beneficial to mobile workers is DirectAccess, which gives users security enhanced and easy access to corporate networks without a VPN.

Collaboration, connection and security are business essentials inside, and outside the four walls of your office. Fortunately, today’s technology tools can easily help you empower employees to work productively from any location and will likely make your business leaner and more efficient as a result.

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NMGI Seeks Experienced Engineering Talent

As we continue to grow our Managed Services Practice the need for additional talent is great. We’re looking for self-starters that want to be part of a growing company that works with the latest and greatest tools and technology from industry leading companies like Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, VMWare, Citrix, and SonicWall. If you’d like to join our team please apply on-line at http://www.nmgi.com/about/careers

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News on HP and Hard Drive Shortage

Hitachi

Ken McClelland — Vice-President of Sales, Network Management Group, Inc.

 

There are a couple of things that have transpired in the computer industry in the last month that I believe are worthwhile to note. First, a typhoon caused massive flooding to parts of Thailand at the end of August. This flooding has covered about one-third of Thailand’s surface area. What does this have to do with technology you ask? The flooding has had serious impact on the countries manufacturing business, notably the manufacturing of computer hard drives. Thailand accounts for approximately twenty five percent of the world’s hard drive production. Supply chains for hard drive manufacturing in other countries will be disrupted as well. Factories that produce components used in over 70% of worldwide hard drives produced by Western Digital, Seagate, Hitachi, Toshiba and Samsung have been damaged as well. Industry analysts are noting that the reduced manufacturing capacity will cause inventory constraints and increased prices throughout the end of the year and into the first quarter of next year. Please keep this under consideration as you plan your year-end computer purchases as well as your budgeting for 2012 Q1.

On a brighter note, Meg Whitman (Hewlett Packard President and CEO) announced last week that HP will not sell off its Personal Systems Group. The Personal Systems Group (PSG) is the business unit responsible for the manufacture and sales of desktop, workstation and mobile computers. This unit was the number one manufacturer of personal computers in 2010 with worldwide revenues totaling $40.7 billion. This accounts for over one third of Hewlett Packard’s overall revenue, the number ten ranked company on America’s 2010 Fortune 500 list.

This follows former Hewlett Packard CEO Leo Apotheker shocking the technology industry on August 18th when he announced that HP was exploring “strategic alternatives” for its PSG unit. These alternatives may have included a sale or spin-off of the Personal Systems Group. In a written statement Meg Whitman states, “It’s clear after our analysis that keeping the Personal Systems Group within HP is right for customers and partners, right for shareholders, and right for employees. HP is committed to PSG, and together we are stronger.” Hewlett Packard believes the PC business is too ingrained in the company’s supply chain and other key HP operations to let it go. Computers also help promote HP’s brand, and are a crucial part of the company’s “one-stop shop” services that it offers to corporate customers, HP said.

“As part of HP, PSG will continue to give customers and partners the advantages of product innovation and global scale across the industry’s broadest portfolio of PCs, workstations and more,” said Todd Bradley, head of HP’s Personal Systems unit. “We intend to make the leading PC business in the world even better.”

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