Archive | Inc RSS for this section

An IT Guy Gets Fired And Promptly Torches 23 Amazon Web Servers

inclogo

(This post originally appeared on Inc)

Thinking of terminating that under-performing or problematic employee? If you do, just make sure protect yourself…and your data.

That was a hard lesson learned by the management at Voova, a marketing and software company based in the UK.  Back in 2016, Voova terminated an IT staffer…and paid a big price.

The employee – 36-year-old Steffan Needhan – was let go due to “poor performance” after only four weeks on the job.  But the reasons why he was let go isn’t important. The aftermath is. That’s because the company left themselves – and their data exposed. Needhan – remember that he’s an IT guy  – was still able to access the company’s systems soon after being terminated because he stole a fellow employee’s login credentials. The fellow employee was nicknamed “Speedy” Gonzalez.  I only include that part because it’s kind of funny.

Read More…

Five Technologies Every Construction Company Should Own

inclogo

(This post originally appeared on Inc)

You’re a small contractor or you run a mid-sized construction business.  You do general contracting or you specialize in drywall. You build retail stores or you build homes. Either way, you either employ, partner or contract with mechanical engineers, electricians, carpenters, masons, welders, glaziers and many others like them.

When it comes to technology, none of those specifics matter. That’s because if you’re in the construction business you’re likely doing the same thing. You’re estimating jobs. You’re overseeing projects. You’re managing teams. You’re making calculations.  All of these tasks – and many others – have been made easier by technology and the smartest construction clients my firm works with are leveraging new technologies to improve productivity, quality, safety and profit.

Here are five construction techs that I like.

Read More…

The Speedy Refund Trick and 3 Other Cyber Tax Frauds That Can Make Your Life Miserable

inclogo

(This post originally appeared on Inc)

Want a quick way to make some easy dough? OK, here’s what you do.

First of all, you need to impersonate someone from the Internal Revenue Service. Just act bored and listless. If it helps, read a few of my columns. That’ll get you in the right mood.

Then you either call or email (using a fake email address, of course) a small-business owner or an unsuspecting payroll manager or bookkeeper from a small business, and say you need to verify the information of an employee or executive or even the actual owner. You ask for the person to send to you a copy of the W-2 form or at least share the social security number from the form. Amazingly, there will be people that do this. Once you have it, quickly make up a fake tax return that’s due a sizeable refund using that number and then collect the check when it’s mailed to a post office box you’ve established. By the time anyone realizes it, you’re long gone.

Read More…

Should You Consider Facebook Workplace For Your Business?

inclogo

(This post originally appeared on Inc)

With all of the negative news surrounding Facebook’s privacy and data woes, should your business consider using their Workplace collaboration tool? Of course you should. Two million users already have, and that number is growing.

Workplace is Facebook’s business application. Think of it as an “internal” Facebook, a platform where you and your employees can chat, message and share information about your customers, prospects and others in your community. Did I mention that it’s free? Oops…sorry.

Read More…

This Is How Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 Will Soon Significantly Change Your Business

(This post originally appeared on Inc)

The headset is leveraging the cloud to help you do things you couldn’t do before.

Do you remember that scene from The Matrix where Neo and Trinity are being chased and they stumble upon a helicopter? Neo asks “Can you fly that thing?” Trinity says “Not yet.” Trinity then makes a call to Tank back on the ship and “requests” the instructions which are then “downloaded” to her and well…as she puts it: “Let’s go!” Trinity now knows everything she needs to know to fly a helicopter. Problem solved.

 

Crazy, right? Not so much.The Matrix, made back in 1999, was only foreshadowing some of the technology that is now, in 2019, becoming reality.  Augmented reality.

Microsoft HoloLens 2, the company’s new augmented reality headset, essentially plugs into that Matrix. Except today we call it the cloud. And its potential uses will change the way many of us do business in the very near future.

 

Augmented reality is not the same as virtual reality. In a virtual reality environment, you’re sitting in a room somewhere with a headset that’s creating a fake world.  In an augmented reality environment, you’re in the real world, except your headset is enhancing it with more information to help you navigate the world better.

 

HoloLens 2 is that headset. There are competitors, of course. But Microsoft’s hardware, which was demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress earlier this week, is leading the pack.  When it’s released later this year I predict it will be snapped up by many companies and developers eager to build applications for it. At $3,500 the price is almost reasonable. And because it’s been re-designed for better weight distribution and comfort (some say it fits like a baseball cap) it’ll be more easily adopted by companies who will take advantage of its many potential uses.  What kind of uses?

Troubleshooting, inspecting, maintaining and fixing machinery on the floor using interactive guides, pointers and diagrams that’s taking the real life object into consideration and specifically walking an employee through a procedure.  Treating people or animals onsite during an emergency where the medical technician is given immediate visual instructions or is acting as the eyes and ears for a more experienced doctor who’s located potentially thousands of miles away. Inspections of infrastructure and facilities where heat maps point out potential problem areas along with steps to repair.

Want more?

 

How about the enabling of teams located around the world to collaborate on plans, designs, structures and situations as they happen? Or the walk through of homes and properties with a prospective buyer who can’t travel to that location? Or a hologram of a colleague or customer that’s participating in a meeting? And of course, there’s the teaching or guidance of a novice on how to operate complicated equipment, drive a vehicle or yes, even fly a helicopter.

 

Microsoft’s HoloLens can do all of this because the headset is capturing a lot of real-life, physical information from the person who wears it and then using artificial intelligence to process that information. Eye movements are being tracked. The field of view has been expanded. Hand gestures like pointing and pinching and waving are comprehended. Will this thing one day be able to interpret feelings, emotions and the user’s personality? I wouldn’t count that out either.

 

Don’t dismiss this. Already drones, sensors and even autonomous vehicles are being used by hundreds of companies for mapping, analytics, preventative maintenance, deliveries and construction. These technologies were once considered science fiction. But now they’re quickly becoming reality.

HoloLens was once considered just a potential gaming tool. But this is no game. This hardware is all business. So regardless of whether you decide on the red pill or the blue pill, your company is still going to receive a serious does of augmented reality in the not-so-distant future.

The 10 Most Popular Business Apps of 2018

(This post originally appeared on Inc)

Let’s not waste time. You don’t want to read an introduction. You just want to cut to the chase. So here’s the list of the 10 most popular business applications of 2018.

Runners up (in order): DocuSignZendeskDropboxADPServiceNow.

While we’re at it, here’s another list of the 10 fastest growing business apps of 2018.

Where did this data come from? It was compiled from a company called Okta — an independent provider of identity management and access tools — like multi-factor authentication security – for the enterprise. Okta was able to compile this data from the thousands of customers, applications, infrastructure integrations, and millions of daily authentications and verifications from countries around the world. that they help secure. They crunched the numbers and put all this data into a recently published report called Businesses@Work.

“Our customers span every major industry and vary in size, from small businesses to enterprises with hundreds of thousands of employees or millions of customers,” the report promises. “This data is representative of Okta’s customers, the applications we connect to, and the ways in which users access these applications through our service.”

It’s a big, worldwide sample size that seems pretty legit. So what are the major takeaways for your business?

I’m not so sure about Amazon Web Services. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dispute that AWS is the leading cloud platform provider in the world and (currently) dominates its competitors like Microsoft Azure and Google. But isn’t it just a platform for hosting applications and not an actual business application like the others?

Microsoft still rules the roost. Although competitors like G Suite have grown faster than Office in recent years, I’m predicting that this trend will slow and that Microsoft will expand its dominance (my company is a Microsoft partner). If you’re an Office customer then you should consider an investment in training and consulting because I bet you’re only using a small percentage of the features available.

Collaboration is key. When you look at the most popular list, you’ll discover that more than half of the applications focus on collaboration. Whether it’s CRM (Salesforce) or communication (Zoom) they all provide functionality for sharing notes, activities, chats and other data across companies and teams. If your company doesn’t have a good collaboration application then you’re going to fall behind those that do.

Up-and-comers can give your business the edge. Admit it, have you even heard of KnowBe4 (it’s a platform that measures the security awareness of your employees), LastPass (a password manager) or Proofpoint (a provider of security tools).  Don’t worry, I write about this stuff and I have to admit I haven’t!  In fact, of the top 10 fastest growing applications I only readily recognize three. Some of these applications are security-related which does give me a little pause because Okta is a security company. Is that just a coincidence? Regardless, it’s clear that tens of thousands of companies are using these applications and it’s those organizations that truly have their eye on the future. For your company – and mine – to grow and survive we should be doing the same.

Where’s accounting? Doesn’t every business have an accounting system? Where is Quickbooks? Sage? Netsuite? How come there aren’t more accounting applications on these lists? If I were to guess it would be that no one accounting software provider dominates the worldwide market and that there are so many options available for companies in various industries that the market is too fragmented for a clear leader to appear.

The most important takeaway is this: 2019 should be a pretty good year economically. That should motivate us all to make some serious investments in at least some of these technologies to better position our companies for the future.

Why The Gun Industry’s “Trump Slump” Is Not A Good Thing For Many Small Businesses

inclogo

(This post originally appeared on Inc)

You would think with the election of Donald Trump and a wave of Republican, pro-firearm representatives taking over state legislatures and Congress in 2016 that the subsequent years would be great for a small business in the firearms industry.  Not so.

“Our business was off about 15 percent in 2018,” said Anthony Filippello, who owns Delaware Valley Sports Center in Northeast Philadelphia which offers shooting ranges, a pro shop and educational and certification programs. “But based on what I’ve heard from other gun store owners I know around the nation some were off by about 30 percent. I guess it depends on where you are located.”

Read More…