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Real estate companies typically perform a variety of functions including both the buying and selling of residential and commercial properties, along with minor or perhaps even major involvement in the rental markets as well. While the real estate industry has been somewhat reluctant to wholeheartedly embrace technology as an integral partner to help them provide services to their clients, there are signs of that changing.

Streamlining Communication

Real estate agents typically spread their time between the office, visiting properties with clients, as well as working from home. One of the ways a managed service provider can help make the work lives of real estate employees easier is by offering them a VoIP communication system. With one phone number accessed over the internet, real estate agents are much more available to both clients and other real estate staff. An added bonus is that VoIP is significantly less expensive than traditional methods of voice communication.

Simplifying Tenant Oversight

Managed service providers can also help set up applications that help automate tasks involved in tenant oversight. With property management software, the more mundane tasks such as running credit checks on potential tenants along with analyzing past payment records is now automated. Digitizing lease agreements can help real estate companies reduce their previously enormous paper use, down to a fraction of its former level. Property management software can also automate some of the processes involved in the tracking and collection of rental payments as well.

Expanding Globally

Professional MSPs typically view keeping abreast of the latest technology trends as one of their primary responsibilities. This allows them to provide the necessary support behind the scenes for these newer types of technologies. For the real estate market, this means MSPs can make suggestions regarding the best apps, social media outlets, and websites for reaching the widest audience available. Real estate agents can reach a wider audience by providing recorded video walkthroughs, along with photo close ups of unique features of a home or property, then uploading that information for viewing by a global audience.

If you would like more information on how to expand your real estate company by using a managed service provider, please contact us.

The post How Do Managed Service Providers Benefit Real Estate Companies? appeared first on 4 Corner IT.

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Time and time again, managed service providers have stressed the importance of completing regular data backups, even for very small businesses. As even these small businesses have come to rely on their data more and more, most companies do understand why backing up their data is a very smart move on their part. Unfortunately cyber criminals are always on the lookout for additional targets and they do seem to target businesses much more than simple personal users. While performing regular backups is still a must, it’s important to discuss one additional aspect of backing up data that can make or break a company if the worst should happen and they become a target of a cyber thief.

Onsite Backups

If a company never encounters a threat from a cyber criminal, an onsite backup would still be an invaluable asset to have in the event of equipment failure or some other internal failure. All a company would have to do is restore their most recent backup, check for any issues, and once given the all clear sign, employees could continue their work.

The problem with onsite backups is that once a cyber criminal gains access to a company’s network, they likely can gain access to their onsite backup as well. In the case of a ransomware attack, a cyber criminal could hold the data of an entire company hostage, including their onsite backup. Either the company pays the ransom or they face potentially losing all their vital business data.

Offsite Backups

The above scenario is precisely why service providers not only encourage regular backups, but they also encourage companies to store a copy of their backups in an offsite location. As everyone becomes more dependent upon their business data to function, it’s a perpetual race to see whether the cyber criminals will take advantage of vulnerable institutions, or whether companies will start taking their business data seriously and take concrete steps to protect this vital asset.

If you would like to know more about establishing an offsite location for your data backups, please contact us.

The post Backup Data Offsite to Thwart Cyber Criminals appeared first on 4 Corner IT.

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While almost everyone can appreciate the value of a classic car, “classic” servers do not necessarily hold their value, especially when they decide to fail during a typical workday. Although very large businesses might have a spare server to fall back on, small businesses typically do not. To rely upon an old server, perhaps offering up a daily prayer that it will continue to run properly even though it is showing signs of age, is not a good business plan.

Why Servers Matter

When operating smoothly, servers run quietly and efficiently in the background of an organization. Most users don’t think much about or even see the server(s) they use — but they are the invisible workhorse(s) providing crucial functions for organizations. Servers allow employees to have internet access, they serve up corporate data in applications for viewing and updating, they allow employees to collaborate on group projects, along with many other critical tasks that employees must complete in any given workday. When a server functions properly, a business can function as well. If a company should experience server failure during a workday, it stops most, if not all employees from working altogether.

A Comprehensive Plan 

The best way to avoid receiving an unpleasant surprise from an old server is to prevent it from failing in the first place. Servers have become much to valuable for companies to have a “set it and forget it” attitude. Enlisting a managed service provider is the first step in taking a proactive stance to effectively managing vital technology hardware.

Managed service providers can monitor a company’s essential equipment and alert interested parties when they discern that older equipment needs replacement. MSPs also monitor equipment patches, ensuring that all equipment stays up to date in order to avoid the latest vulnerabilities. Professional managed service providers can also create an effective backup and data recovery plan to ensure that an organization’s data always remains protected no matter what.

If you would like to know more about protecting your organization’s hardware and software capabilities, please contact us.

The post Exactly How Old is Your Old Server? appeared first on 4 Corner IT.

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Modern-day businesses have never seen a more streamlined, convenient, and affordable means to collaborate with teams, employees, managers, or business partners — thanks to technology.

These days, almost every industry you can think of utilizes technology in every facet of the business. From brainstorming, production, to product distribution, the dependence on this Omni-system is at an all-time high.

It’s safe to say, without it, a business is truncated from a sturdy structure that hinders growth and revenue.

If you’re not optimizing technology in your business, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to propel your business into the limelight.

Here are the seven powerful uses of technology in business today that entrepreneurs should watch out for.

1. Boosts Marketing

Although the conventional forms of marketing like outdoor advertising still work nowadays, digital marketing is way ahead of the marketing ballgame. Businesses can now leverage different digital marketing strategies depending on their budget and audience. Regardless of the industry, here are the most common types of online marketing tactics gaining popularity in the market today:

•    Social media marketing

•    Content marketing

•    Influencer marketing

•    Email marketing

•    SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

•    PPC (Pay Per Click)

•    Affiliate marketing

2. ERP Integration

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is now a must-have in small- and large-scale businesses today. ERP is a software that streamlines all operations within an organization. Here are some uses of ERP in organizations:

•    Purchasing

•    Inventory management

•    Manufacturing

•    Sales and marketing

•    Financial management

•    Customer relationship management (CRM)

•    Human resource management (HRM)

•    Business intelligence

•    Compliance monitoring

•    Project management

•    IT optimization

•    E-commerce platforms

3. Cloud-Based Services

Cloud computing is the most adapted form of IT collaboration, automation, and computing without the need for hardware installations. That means, businesses can take advantage of applications or software that can store, monitor, and modify data over remote servers. Cloud-based service providers are clamoring for client attention, namely Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and more.

4. Mobile Assimilation

More and more companies have associated their products and services with mobile applications. For instance, home and office security providers have connected their entire systems into mobile apps so customers can access surveillance clips anywhere. Mobile phones may be small, but they’re compelling gadgets that can protect a whole office!

5. Easier Transactions

Financial technology companies, also known as ‘fintech,’ are on the rise. Fintech is paving the way for better, quicker, and easier transaction methods in terms of finances. Consumers can now pay through mobile apps, get a loan online, and apply for insurance from a website. This establishes confidence and reliability between companies and their customers.

6. Robust Security

Nothing is more valuable than customer information. After all, this goes beyond to-and-fro negotiations – trust is an essential factor in safekeeping business partnerships. If you break that trust, you’ll lose regular customers, and word of mouth is going to spread like wildfire. With an upswing in the number of hackers, security companies are making their systems more robust than ever. Firewalls, SSL certificates, WEP, WPA, and all encryption tools are at every business’ disposal.

7. Affordable Outsourcing Solutions

About 40 percent of freelancers will dominate the US workforce by 2020. This is a huge deal for businesses. While this eliminates the additional upkeep of brick-and-mortar offices, server installations, and hardware maintenance, this also gives organizations a more extensive recruitment process that can search for the crème de la crème in the industry worldwide. Companies are no longer limited to in-house employees that cost more. They can hire remote employees and collaborate with them like they’re in the same physical office.

Final Thoughts

The powerful uses of technology are what we need in this digital era. It puts the whole business force in common ground, a level playing field where both neophytes and veteran entrepreneurs can go neck and neck with each other.

Author Bio:

Kerry Brooks is an ardent blogger and frequent traveler who writes about home improvement, travel and the latest trends on emerging technologies. She is currently working with EyeSpySupply, which offers a wide range of surveillance equipment, including wireless spy camera, nanny cams, GPS trackers, and voice activated audio recorders and more.

The post 7 POWERFUL USES OF TECHNOLOGY IN BUSINESS TODAY appeared first on 4 Corner IT.

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There is increasing speculation about whether automation is taking jobs away from workers, whether it is creating completely new fields, or at least expanding older fields. In reality, both sides of the argument likely offer at least some partial truths. While some workers may very well see their jobs eventually disappear directly because of automation, others will see new opportunities opening up.

Why Automation?

The push for automation generally stems from two loosely related forces. The first force is fairly traditional in nature. Businesses are always looking for ways to keep costs down in order to remain competitive. Repetitive tasks often are the first ones business owners analyze to determine if automation offers a more efficient solution. Over time, it is simply less expensive and more efficient to have machines, software programs, etc. perform repetitive tasks than to have a human perform the same job.

The second driving force behind the push for automation is artificial intelligence. The capabilities of artificial intelligence to go beyond repetitive tasks and actually make intelligent decisions based upon interaction with other machines as well as with humans, is quite phenomenal.

Change Never Stops

Whenever a new industry starts, there are going to be winners and those who lose — hopefully only temporarily. When automotive vehicles became mainstream, many people who made a living driving a horse and carriage, or who made deliveries with a team of oxen, found their services no longer needed. The truth is that change actually never stops. As industries change and new ones created, some individuals find themselves on the forefront, while others may struggle for a time.

Staying Aware and Competitive

Just as companies who want to stay in business must continually remain aware of emerging trends, so do employees. As trends come and go, it’s not uncommon for companies to periodically remake themselves almost from the ground up. Workers who want to be part of the workforce for a long time need to be savvy about their employment decisions, and be open to the possibility of training for a different career at some point in their lives. It doesn’t mean every truck driver will have to become a software developer. For the foreseeable future there will always be a need for trade employment such as plumbers, electricians, etc. It just means employees, employers, and society in general, needs to remain vigilant, flexible, and adaptable when inevitable changes actually do occur.  

If you would like to know more about trends in artificial intelligence and/or automation, please contact us!

The post Are Increases in Automation Taking Jobs Away from Workers? appeared first on 4 Corner IT.

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In a global world, a company may find themselves competing with organizations, not just around the block or in another state, but perhaps with other businesses halfway across the globe. With more competition than ever, no reputable company wants to gain a fly-by-night reputation with the public. This is where focusing on business continuity comes into play. What does an organization need to do to cultivate a reputation that says they are reliable, trustworthy, and committed to fulfilling the needs and goals of its customers? Understanding what contributes to the steadfastness of an organization can make the difference between being a company that quickly rose to the top, (and failed just as quickly), and is a company that truly earned its solid reputation.

Why Resiliency Matters

When the business climate is doing well, it’s relatively easy to rise to the top, perhaps even becoming a star performer. What often separates the wheat from the chaff is when there is a downturn in the economy or a business finds themselves in the middle of a natural disaster. Those who enjoyed success only on a superficial level often find their company’s reputation is in tatters, or perhaps the business simply folded altogether. In contrast, organizations who incorporated the concepts of business continuity and resilience into their overall business plan may very well take some hits, but ultimately they will persevere through the down times because they used the right building blocks to create their foundation.

IT Providers – A Key Building Block

With today’s heavy reliance on information technology, any business that wants to ensure the resiliency and continuity of their organization must understand that selecting the right provider is one of the key building blocks for success. A successful business absolutely does need continuity in their information services in order to consistently provide the highest level of service to their customers. It’s very important to find a provider who is not only reliable when business operations are running smoothly, but they are also ready to provide seamless support for your company if a less than desirable event should occur.

If you would like to know more about our commitment to providing outstanding reliable IT support, please contact us.

The post Business Continuity – One of the Keys to Maintaining Success appeared first on 4 Corner IT.

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The familiar adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is”, often holds true for many different types of services and products. Especially for newer, rapidly growing industries like information technology, it is not uncommon for companies to be somewhat unfamiliar with what constitutes a fair cost, what level of service to expect, and so forth. Unfortunately, when searching for an IT vendor, some companies still allow themselves to be dazzled by extraordinarily low fees, coupled with a vague promise such as “we’ll always be there for you”. Later on they find out the quoted fees were merely a teaser rate, good only for a short period of time and the promise of “we’ll always be there for you”, well, that was only true if the client was willing to shell out quite a few extra $ to pay for steep overtime rates.

Fixed Costs – Buying Peace of Mind

More and more companies are realizing just how dependent their organization is upon technology. That dependence is likely to continue, and perhaps even increase, if an organization hopes to remain competitive. Just as with many other aspects of running a business such as a mortgage, utilities, salaries, etc., IT costs are now simply an integral part of running a successful organization.

It is probably safe to say that most businesses do recognize the incredible value added by IT, including both software and hardware — it’s just a matter of finding the right IT vendor that does an outstanding job on delivery of their peace of mind guarantees.

Delivering Exceptional Value and Service

An IT vendor that refuses to perform the proverbial bait-and-switch tactics is the ideal IT vendor to look for. This premiere type of vendor will instead provide a comprehensive contract clearly defining all the services they provide. The emphasis will be on 24/7/365 availability in order to keep their clients’ IT processes running seamlessly and dependably. The ideal IT vendor stays on top of the latest technology trends, current issues, and challenges specific to the field in order to provide proactive advice and support to their clients. For a clearly defined fixed fee, a top notch IT vendor will provide all the technical expertise required by today’s competitive organizations, so these organizations can do what they do best — that is supporting and growing their own business. 

If you would like to know more about negotiating a contract for reliable, comprehensive IT services, please contact us.

The post The Cost of IT Support for Small Organizations appeared first on 4 Corner IT.

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It is a brilliant idea that everyone has a good preparedness plan for the upcoming 2019 hurricane to protect their IT systems. We understand the massive damages that hurricanes can do when it gets us unprepared.

Below are some steps you can follow in preparation for a hurricane:

  • Property check – Ensure your property is well protected from water damages as it is the main thing that affects IT  systems during a storm.
  • Regarding your building protection, ensure any openings near the IT systems are well covered to keep water at bay. These openings include doors and windows.
  • Disable the restart feature of your electronic devices. This is because, once power is back after a blackout, the presence of water can cause a short electric circuit. This, in turn, can lead to unexpected damages.
  • You can also back up your data and files in case computers fail. Offsite backup is more advisable since you’ll still retrieve them in case of damages at your data center.
  • Most importantly, have hard copies of some relevant documents that may be needed when your IT system is still offline after the hurricane.
  • Good communication plan

Check out 7 Tips for Preparing Your Business for a Hurricane

When disaster strikes, you’ll probably need a reliable way of communication for emergency purposes. That is why you are advised to use cell-phones as they are quick ii matters of emergency and you need immediate help.

Landlines and VoIP phones need aren’t much convenient during this time as they use electricity which is likely to be absent during a hurricane.

Remember to charge your cell-phones earlier before the hurricane.

To conclude, a hurricane is something that needs appropriate preparedness to avoid damages which means extra costs to repair and even replace some valuable assets. It is therefore crucial that you keep the above measures in mind and the earlier, the better.

Contact us if in need of professional information regarding hurricane preparedness.

The post Early Preparation for the 2019 Hurricane appeared first on 4 Corner IT.

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Cybersecurity risk assessment is an essential element of any information security program.  As the technology landscape continues to evolve, your company needs to take appropriate steps to make sure your data isn’t vulnerable to potential threats.  A great resource for conducting risk assessments is the U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology Guide for Conducting Risk Assessments, often referred to by its publication number, NIST 800-30.  The guide can be broken down into six steps.

Identify threat sources.  The very first thing your organization needs to do is identify and characterize threats.  Build a team to assess the various threats facing your company. Examples are divided into “Adversarial Threats” such as organized crime and hostile nation-states, and “Environmental Threats” such as earthquakes and tornadoes.

Identify threat events.   This step requires identifying potential threat vectors, the relevance of those vectors, and correlating them with threat sources identified earlier.  A good example would be a hostile nation-state running a brute-force dictionary attack on default SSH port 22 on your ISP’s subnet. A course of action could be to weigh whether enforcing good password practices is more or less important than running SSH on another port.

Identify vulnerabilities.  It’s important to identify vulnerabilities and conditions affecting the likelihood that threats will result in loss of data, time, and revenue.  For example, if your organization has chosen to run SSH on a non standard port, but users choose passwords vulnerable to a dictionary attack, what data can be lost via SSH?

Determine probable impact.  Once an attacker is in via SSH, what can be lost?  If your website’s users choose poor passwords, what data can be taken and what’s the worst-case scenario?

Calculate risk weighing both likelihood and impact.  Will the cost of implementing a strategy to deal with the impact of an earthquake outweigh the additional operational expense during normal day-to-day operations?

Compliance with NIST 800-30 can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.  For 17 years 4 Corner IT has been a premier IT services company. With over 60 employees, let us help you with your technology needs.  Contact us today or fill out a contact form to speak to a technical adviser.

The post Six Steps of a Cyber Security Assessment appeared first on 4 Corner IT.

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As we settle into the new year, many companies are beginning to roll out updates and upgrades to their tools and systems. Microsoft is no exception. Microsoft continues to add value to the Microsoft Teams tool with new functions and capabilities. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Communication

Effective communication within a business requires tools and products that can work together seamlessly. Teams is adding the new functionality of Teams Rooms and Teams-Only mode to further streamline Teams communication elements. Teams Rooms is basically a re-brand of the Skype rooms system with the added functionality of proximity detection so that nearby rooms can be added if needed. Teams-Only mode allows companies to make a seamless switch from Skype for Business to Teams by enabling Teams as the primary communication tool for their organization. IT Administrators will have the capability to upgrade only select people to Teams Only or enable an entire organization or group.

IT Administration

Teams is rolling out some new tools for IT administration of Teams. In order to help an organization run smoothly, the IT administration needs to have a good idea of how their tools are being used and be able to tailor tools to their users specific needs. With the addition of usage reports, IT Administrators can view Teams usage, user activity, and device usage to determine how well their organization is adopting Teams and if they are using it to its full capabilities.

Teams Templates

When you find something that works for you, you want to be able to replicate it, right? The Teams Templates function allows IT Administrators to pre-define channels, apps, and tabs that their organization can use as a template when building a new project in teams. This allows the organization to focus more on their collaboration and spend less front-end time setting up the system. Teams is also introducing a set of industry-specific templates for education, retail, and healthcare focused on the organizational areas where they are most likely to use Teams. IT Administrators will be able to customize and expand these template to better fit their organization by leveraging new APIs.

Employee Empowerment

Microsoft understands that everyone works a little differently and work styles change across role, function, and industry. Microsoft is committed to enabling Teams as a tool that everyone can use to meet their needs and work to the best of their abilities. The new Shifts functionality in Teams simplifies the process of planning and creating schedules by offering key capabilities to both managers and workers. You will also be able to integrate your workforce management system with Teams by leveraging a Graph API. Additionally, key mobile features such as location sharing, record and share audio messages, and smart camera are being enabled. The mobile experience is customizable to provide workers and IT teams the ability to choose the capabilities most useful for their organization.

Customization

Build and enable your bots to become more powerful and impactful by engaging new capabilities like retrieving a list of channels in a team, creating a 1:1 chat with a specific user, or accepting messages only from specific users.

Microsoft is constantly adding new and improved apps to Teams. Karmabot, MindMeisterThe Connector for Jira server, and Atlassian’s Confluence Cloud are a few recent additions that have a made a big impact in furthering Teams’ collaboration capabilities.

Teams continues to grow and evolve as a communication and collaboration tool for businesses with new updates rolling our regularly. Reach out to 4CornerIT for your Teams enablement and IT needs.

The post Microsoft Teams Adds New Functionality in 2019 appeared first on 4 Corner IT.

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