Deploying Devices and Software in the Field

Managing the devices and related software and web applications you have deployed in the field can be a complicated undertaking. Now IT Connects has decades of experience managing device and software deployment remotely. Here are a few tips we’ve learned over the years.

Move Essential Tools to the Cloud

If you manage software locally across multiple sites, it’s time to upgrade your management strategy. Keeping software localized to single locations silos data and makes it onerous for your team to collaborate. This setup also makes it more difficult to troubleshoot software issues as they arise.

Instead, upgrade your software to cloud-based solutions. Start with your company’s server network to make data available across all of your locations. We often recommend Microsoft Azure to our clients because of how easy it is to migrate data to Azure. Plus, since your data is on a Microsoft platform, your team can use all of your favorite Microsoft 365 tools to access it and collaborate, wherever they are.

If you have software deployed on mobile devices in the field, cloud-based solutions are indispensable. Web applications and other cloud-based tools can be updated and maintained from a single location in real time, making it easy to keep your team up and running.

Manage Devices from a Single Dashboard

Gathering all the information about your deployed devices and software into a single place is absolutely essential. Mobile device management software, or MDM, allows you to see, track, and manage all mobile devices you own and operate in the field from one place, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops. You can locate lost devices, shut down devices, and make software and security updates all from a single dashboard.

Automate Backups, Monitoring, and Alerts

Mobile device management and other IT management tools allow you to automate many essential tasks, even when your devices are spread out across multiple sites. From a single piece of cloud-based software, you can automate data backups and continuously monitor all devices from a central place. Any alerts or emergent needs also come through the dashboard so you can resolve issues quickly, minimizing downtime.

We can help you find the right tools to help you keep track of your assets or take the entire responsibility off your hands. Get in touch with Now IT Connects today to see what’s possible for your company.

3 IT Books for Your Summer Reading List

IT blogs for summer reading_Now IT Connects_Clearwater Minnesota

Need some summer reading while you’re out on the boat or up at the cabin? The Now IT Connects team is here for you! Crack open one of these tech books this summer.

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee is a fascinating, inspiring book about the future of artificial intelligence and other advanced digital technologies. The book looks at how these innovations will affect industries of all kinds, from logistics to professional services. If you want a sneak peek at how technologies will revolutionize how we work without getting bummed out, we recommend The Second Machine Age. Buy it here.

Mobilized: An Insider’s Guide to the Business and Future of Connected Technology

Mobilized: An Insider’s Guide to the Business and Future of Connected Technology by SC Moatti is a close look at the intersection of mobile technologies and human nature. The book discusses how basic human needs and desires fuel innovations in mobile technology, and then helps entrepreneurs use this knowledge to dream up the next Facebook, Uber, or WhatsApp. Buy it here.

Digitize or Die: Transform Your Organization. Embrace the Digital Evolution. Rise above the Competition

Digitize or Die: Transform Your Organization. Embrace the Digital Evolution. Rise above the Competition by Nicolas Windpassinger examines the Internet of Things, or IoT, that surrounds us and makes the case to businesses on why they need to embrace this game-changing technology. The book covers how the IoT is already disrupting many industries, and how businesses can survive and thrive in the coming IoT revolution. All proceeds from the book benefit the Alzheimer’s Association and Fondation de France! Buy it here.

We hope you enjoy your time off with these tech titles! If you’re inspired to update and upgrade your business’s IT, we’d love to hear from you.

Plan Now for Your 2020 IT Needs

plan 2020 IT needs_Now IT Connects_Clearwater Minnesota

The new year will be here before we know it. Have you taken a moment to think about what your IT needs are for 2020? If not, here’s a quick list of things to discuss with your team to ensure your company and its data are secure, supported, and productive next year.

Audit Your Current Systems

Did your business run like a well-oiled machine this year, or did you suffer from slow hardware, burdensome workflows, and frustrating email access? During your audit, you may uncover that you haven’t been taking advantage of two-factor authentication, using out-of-date versions of your project management or accounting tools, or backed up your data in a few months.

This month, audit all of your current hardware, software, and web application systems. If they’re working well for you, that’s great! If not, it’s time to investigate other options. The Now IT Connects team is here to help with your IT needs.

Determine What Needs to Be Updated or Replaced

Once you’ve completed your audit, you should have a list of all of the hardware, software, and web applications that may need to be updated or replaced. It is helpful to prioritize these changes in order of financial and security risk they pose. For example, you’ll want to back up your data before you invest in a new project management tool.

Update or Create Your IT Policies and Other Documents

Once you’ve determined the technologies you need to update, it’s time to turn to your IT documents. Every company should have a disaster recovery plan, email policy, and acceptable use policy. Consider documenting your process for backing up your data, adding and removing employees from your systems, and acquiring new devices. These documents make it much easier to enforce the policies and procedures you follow at your company. They can save your company time and money in the event of a data breach or other tech disaster.

Hire the Pros

Maintaining a safe network and efficient workplace are vital to the success of your company. That’s why we strongly encourage you to consider hiring a professional managed IT team to do the legwork for you. Now IT Connects can take full stock of your current systems, help you identify updates and create a timeline for completing them, and help you document your IT policies and procedures. We are also able to maintain your IT remotely, ensuring you never miss an update or data backup again.

Take your IT to the next level in 2020. Contact the Now IT Connects team today to get started.

The Dance Macabre of IT: What Technology Is Dying at the End of the Year

technology end-of-support_Now IT Connects_Clearwater Minnesota

It’s spooky season, and nothing is scarier than booting up your computer on a Monday morning to discover your project management software or inventory system no longer works. Even more terrifying would be to learn that the manufacturer no longer supports that software, so you no longer have a way to get all your data back.

The dance macabre of IT is swift and unyielding. Many technologies are here one day and gone the next. Hardware is constantly getting faster, leaving slower tech in the dust. Software is moving to the cloud, making that shelf of software installation CDs useless.

If you’re finding it difficult to keep up, we’ve done some of the hard work for you so you can keep your tech in step with innovations and security updates. Here’s a look at what’s meeting its end-of-support date in the next few months.

Windows 7 Reaches End-of-Support on January 14, 2020

We’ve mentioned this a few times over the last few months, but for good reason. The Windows 7 operating system is still installed on nearly a third of all computers running Windows. That’s millions of machines.

Each machine that is running Windows 7 on January 14 will no longer be protected by regular security updates and routine maintenance. This presents a major opportunity for bad actors to take advantage of millions of Windows users. Don’t be among the victims. Upgrade your operating system to Windows 10 today.

WatchGuard AP100, AP102, and AP300 Reach End-of-Life on December 31, 2019

Several WatchGuard Wi-Fi access points will reach their end-of-life at the end of 2019. These devices keep your business’s Wi-Fi fast and secure. Several WatchGuard products are available to replace the AP100, AP102, and AP300. Give us a call at 320-558-6300 to discover your options.

Tech obsolescence is something to take seriously. Always install your software’s latest updates and have a plan for how you will upgrade your systems once they reach end-of-support or end-of-life. Now IT Connects is here to help.

Why Software and Hardware becomes Obsolete

technological obsolescence_Now IT Connects_Clearwater Minnesota

Bill Gates once said that “the only big companies that succeed will be those that obsolete their own products before someone else does.” Technology companies are constantly innovating to better serve their clients. This applies to hardware, such as computers, tablets, and other devices, as well as software and even file types.

While it can be difficult to keep up with these changes, technology obsolescence is necessary. Our smartphones have more computing power than the systems that sent astronauts to the moon decades ago. Without innovation and obsolescence, our devices would fit in ROOMS, not our pockets.

There are three ways IT can become obsolete. A piece of hardware or software may no longer be supported. That’s technological obsolescence. Or, a piece of software or hardware may not work on your current computer (think floppy disks). That’s functional obsolescence. Other times, a file format is no longer readable by software. That’s logistical obsolescence.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the ways technology becomes obsolete.

1. Technological Obsolescence

Technological obsolescence occurs when a product reaches end-of-sale or end-of support. In these cases, more advanced technology is available, so the older version is going away. This is happening with the Windows 7 operating system on January 14, 2020. If you’re still running Windows 7, talk to us!

If a piece of tech or software has reached its end-of-sale, it means the manufacturer no longer sells that hardware or software. Products reach end-of-sale long before they reach end-of-support. Windows 7 has not been on the market since October 2014, but it will still be supported through January 14, 2020.

End-of support and maintenance simply means the company no longer supports or updates a piece of hardware or software. While the technology may still work, it is no longer protected by security updates or maintained to ensure it functions smoothly. Using technology that’s reached its end-of-support date is risky. You could lose customer data, access to important software, or be hacked.

2. Functional Obsolescence

Have a few floppy disks lying around? Maybe an ancient computer with a ZIP drive? Perhaps inventory software that’s still DOS-based? If you’ve answered yes to one or more of these questions, you’re familiar with functional obsolescence. Modern computer towers don’t have floppy or ZIP drives. Many don’t include CD drives, either. Hardware and software reach functional obsolescence when they can no longer be used with current hardware or software.

3. Logistical Obsolescence

Logistical obsolescence occurs when changes to digital files and formats make it impossible to access those files. Remember Lotus 1-2-3? It was a spreadsheet program before Excel became dominant in the market. Lotus is long gone, which makes it impossible to open .wks files (unless you have access to old technology). The same is true for countless software brands that have been lost to history.

Wondering if you have obsolete technology in your office? Contact Now IT Connects. We can audit your hardware and software and make recommendations for updates and upgrades where necessary.