Effective Digital Transformation

3 Variables You Need to Consider for an Effective Digital Transformation

For decades, technology has been the driving force behind some of the biggest and most radical shifts in business. Therefore, it makes sense to assume that the keys to your organization pushing past its limits and becoming truly exceptional lies in the implementation of new technologies that change operations in a profound way. The process of digital transformation does not have to be difficult, but it is important in a business environment so that you can stay competitive.

Digital transformation is the process of implementing new technologies and rethinking the relationship that your goods, services, and operations have with them. It can be seen as a way to innovate and make advancements in ways that might not otherwise be possible. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced many companies to accelerate their adoption of technology, so digital transformation is a trend that is rapidly increasing in popularity. To help your company make the best decision possible regarding technology, we have put together an easy three-step process you can follow when implementing new technology for your company.

Make Sure Your Objectives Align with Your Business Goals

The technology you implement should align with what you are trying to accomplish as a business. If your goal is to develop products, consider technology solutions that streamline that process. If your goal is to get the word out about services, consider ways that technology can help you get the word out. If your goal is to provide exceptional customer support, think of ways that technology can streamline the process for customers to receive the help they need when they need it. In other words, implementing technology without a clear and defined goal is not going to help your business; if anything, it will make your infrastructure more complicated and bogged down, so we encourage you to think about what your business does well and how technology can help you do it better.

Lean On Your IT Department or IT Resource

When it comes to your business’ implementation of new technology solutions, you want to take as hands-off a position as possible. Too often management and the C-suite get too involved in the decision-making process regarding IT. It is important to remember that you have an IT department or IT resource for a reason; respect their opinions and consult them on the implementation process. Understand that you may have a biased opinion of the technology because you want it to succeed and you think that it can be a great asset, but know that the ones making the cold and calculated decisions are often the IT resources implementing the solution. Just because something works perfectly for one organization does not mean that it will for you, and you should ensure that any solution you choose to implement is right for your organization well before the implementation process begins.

Get Your Staff On Board

Any new tools you implement will surely come with some resistance from your staff. Sometimes those who have been with you for a while are stuck in their ways and might not immediately see the benefits of implementing great new technology solutions. Therefore, it becomes your responsibility to show them just how much they stand to gain from not just learning your new tools, but mastering them as well. Implementing new technology is most beneficial when it’s done in a top-down manner, meaning the boss shows the employees just how confident they are in the solution by actively using it themselves. Employees are more likely to buy in when they know there is some passion behind it, and they will appreciate any training you can offer so they too can learn as much as possible about it.

Get Started with Digital Transformation Today

Point North Networks, Inc., can help your organization adopt new technology solutions and improve operations for the better. Our trusted technicians can be there for every stage of the process, from design to implementation to training and support. To learn more about how we can make a difference with your digital transformation strategy, reach out to us at 651-234-0895.

Password Best Practices from the National Institute of Standards and Technology

Passwords are probably the most important part of keeping accounts secure. That’s why it is so important to follow industry best practices when creating them. Today, we’ll take a look at the standards outlined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in creating the best and most secure passwords.

What Is NIST?

For years, NIST has been the predominant organization in the establishment of password creation standards. They continuously change their advised practices to meet with the current cybersecurity demands. They recently updated their guidelines so we thought we would go over what strategies they suggest, to give you an idea of what makes a secure password.

New Guidelines

Many corporations are currently using the NIST guidelines and all Federal agencies are expected to utilize them. Let’s go through their newest password guidelines step by step.

#1 – Longer Passwords are Better than More Complicated Ones

For years, it was preached that the more complicated the password, the more secure the account. Today’s guidelines refute that notion. NIST suggests that the longer the password, the harder it is to decrypt. What’s more, they suggest that organizations that require new passwords meet a certain criteria of complexity (letters, symbols, changes of case) actually make passwords less secure.

 

The reasoning behind this is two-fold. First, most users, in an attempt to complicate their passwords will either make them too complicated (and forget them) or they will take the cursory step of adding a one or an exclamation point to the end of a password, which doesn’t complicate the password as much, if at all. Secondly, the more complex a user makes a password, the more apt they are to use the same password for multiple accounts, which of course, is not a great idea.

#2 – Get Rid of the Resets

Many organizations like to have their staff reset their password every month or few months. This strategy is designed to give them the peace of mind that if a password were compromised that the replacement password would lock unauthorized users out after a defined set of time. What NIST suggests is that it actually works against your authentication security.

 

The reason for this is that if people have to set passwords up every few weeks or months, they will take less time and care on creating a password that will work to keep unwanted people out of the business’ network. Moreover, when people do change their password, they typically keep a pattern to help them remember them. If a previous password has been compromised, there is a pretty good chance that the next password will be similar, giving the attacker a solid chance of guessing it quickly.

#3 – Don’t Hurt Security by Eliminating Ease of Use

One fallacy many network administrators have is that if they remove ease of use options like showing a password while a user types it or allowing for copy and pasting in the password box that it is more likely that the password will be compromised. In fact, the opposite is true. Giving people options that make it easier for them to properly authenticate works to keep unauthorized users out of an account.

#4 – Stop Using Password Hints

One popular way systems were set up was to allow them to answer questions to get into an account. This very system is a reason why many organizations have been infiltrated. People share more today than ever before and if all a hacker needs to do is know a little personal information about a person to gain access to an account, they can come across that information online; often for free.

#5 – Limit Password Attempts

If you lock users out after numerous attempts of entering the wrong credentials, you are doing yourself a service. Most times people will remember a password, and if they don’t they typically have it stored somewhere. Locking users out of an account, at least for a short period of time is a good deterrent from hackers that use substitution codes to try and guess a user’s credentials.

#6 – Use Multi-factor Authentication

At Point North Networks, Inc., we urge our clients to use multi-factor or two-factor authentication on every account that allows them to. According to NIST they want users to be able to demonstrate at least two of three authentication measures before a successful login. They are:

  1. “Something you know” (like a password)
  2. “Something you have” (like a mobile device)
  3. “Something you are” (like a face or a fingerprint)

 

It stands to reason that if you can provide two out of three of those criteria, that you belong accessing the system or data that is password protected.

 

Security has to be a priority for your business, and password creation has to be right up there with the skills everyone should have. If you would like to talk to one of our IT experts about password management and how we can help your business improve its authentication security, give us a call today at 651-234-0895.

How to Get the Most Out of Your VoIP System

By now you’ve heard of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), the telephone system that runs through your Internet connection rather than a phone line. VoIP can save your business up to 60 percent off your current phone bill. What many people don’t know—even ones that utilize a VoIP platform—is that there are many available options that can have major benefits for your business. Companies that have VoIP typically only use between one-third and one-half of the available options. Today, we wanted to showcase five VoIP features that you may not be taking advantage of.

Call Screening

Of course, nobody will ever really admit that they are screening their calls, but most people are guilty of it. Whether you just don’t cop to it or not, it can keep you from having to have conversations that you just don’t have time for. With VoIP, you can send the call to voicemail, disconnect it without giving the caller the chance to fill up your email with solicitation, or you can push it to your mobile phone. Either way, you have complete control.

Auto Attendant

One useful feature is the auto attendant. It’s basically a simple automated receptionist that can facilitate call transfers, send callers to voicemail, or even provide basic information and support. A lot of businesses completely forego having an actual receptionist and use the call attendant feature as a call hub to direct calls. It’s extremely useful.

Find Me, Follow Me

Some members of your staff are always on the move and it can be difficult for clients and other people to get them on the phone in their office. The find me, follow me feature is a sophisticated form of call routing. It provides a person to go where they are needed and still get the calls that come through for them by calling multiple phones at one time.

Hold Music

Many VoIP platforms don’t just make the people you put on hold listen to the same ol’ elevator music, you can pick your own. This may be a completely aesthetic feature, but it can be a benefit and fit in nicely with the company culture you are trying to cultivate. Insert marketing messages, promotions, and helpful advice for your callers.

Do Not Disturb

This is a feature that is not used enough. If you want to stay productive you need to be able to eliminate distractions. Nothing is more distracting than your phone blowing up constantly. In fact, studies have shown that people take over ten minutes to get back into the flow after a call. If you want to shut it down and focus on the task at hand, using the do not disturb feature can help you get in the headspace you need to be truly productive.

 

With other features like text messaging and video conferencing, VoIP can add a lot of value to your business’ roster of communications tools. If you would like to learn more about VoIP or other productivity-boosting tools, give us a call today at 651-234-0895.