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It is no secret that technology consumes huge resources globally.

This is not only because hardware is replaced every few years, but also because everything is backed up online, and sits in a data centre.

These data centres use a huge amount of electricity and resources in the process.

The good news is, that we are noticing that things are changing, in the right direction.

Here are a few great innovations that are making incremental changes to the environmental impact.

Cardboard packaging:

Just a few years ago we would end up with piles of polystyrene packaging that the; computers, monitors, phones, and every other IT device were packaged in.

This packaging was NOT recyclable and we could only pay for it to be dumped.

Now, very little packaging comes with IT equipment. Nearly everything now uses pre-pressed cardboard. This contains far less material as it is shaped and not solid, and can go directly into recycling. What a great difference this simple change has made.

Better electronics:

The latest devices tend to use far less power than the ones a few years ago. The processors are more powerful, and less power hungry.

Because they consume less power, they need less cooling and less cooling means they can be designed to use less materials. Manufacturers are thinking hard about how to reduce power consumption.

Smaller devices:

Devices are generally getting smaller and therefore use less materials in manufacture.

The classic example of this is the move several years ago now from the huge CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors to the much thinner and lighter digital screens.

The other clear example is moving from the older desktop computers to predominantly NUCS or mini-PCs, which have a fraction of the raw materials. Again, our recycling racks would be full of old desktop computers, whereas now there is just a small pile of dead NUCs.

Better recycling:

The recycling services have also improved. Whilst e-waste continues to be a huge global issue, New Zealand technology companies are seeing small gains happening.

Use of recycled materials:

Some laptop brands have started using recycled materials in the construction of equipment such as laptop cases, and laptop bags, even letting you know how many plastic bottles it took to make them!

Carbon offset schemes:

Some manufacturers are also offering carbon offset schemes, where you can offset the emissions used in producing and manufacturing the equipment. Ask us for more details if you are interested.

Manufacturers are aware that consumers are increasingly aware of the impact on the environment, and want to make a point of difference.

Whilst it is not all roses. We still despair at the number of plastic bags that are used, and how every little thing comes in its own bag.

In summary, we wanted to let you know that there are many notable changes going on in the IT industry to make it ‘greener’ and less damaging to our planet.

2023 is predicted to be another year of fast movement with technology.

The past few years with the pandemic have seen rapid changes in how we work, and the technology that we use.

IT trends in business will continue to reshape the future of commerce and industries. Not all Central Otago businesses will be impacted by these changes in 2023, but even at the SME level, they are worth being aware of at the least.

Automation and digitization will make a lot of changes in customer experience plus Artificial Intelligence is continually improving and changing.

Here we share some of the key trends:

The Internet of Things (IOT)

The Internet of Things continues to grow at a phenomenal rate.

IoT is essentially an ecosystem of devices and technologies connected via the internet that constantly collect and transmit data to be analysed and implemented.

Day-to-day examples of devices that make up part of IoT are smart meters, security cameras, fridges, and AI virtual assistants.

Currently each person has an average of four connected devices. By 2030 it is predicted that we will each have an average of 15 devices.

One of the key focuses for IoT is security as a lot of them are not equipped with the security required right out of the box.

2023 will see an increased focus in developments of the IoT plus a focus on security. Read more about the IoT here

The Metaverse

2023 will see the Metaverse becoming even more significant. What is the Metaverse you may well ask?

“The Metaverse is like an immersive internet where we’ll be able to work, play, and socialize.”

What does the metaverse mean for businesses? In 2023, it is predicted that the metaverse will create an even more immersive environment for meetings where we can collaborate on projects, meet, work and share even more. We will see the further development of more human looking Avatars, that even have our unique quirks!

An increase in Artificial Intelligence

In 2023, artificial intelligence will become more real in organizations.

  • No-code AI, with its easy drag-and-drop interfaces, will enable people to create more intelligent products and services without necessarily needing to have skilled developers.
  • AI-enabled algorithms can do things like recommend products to its customers.
  • Contactless, autonomous shopping and delivery will also be a huge trend for 2023.
  • AI will make it easier for consumers to pay for and receive goods and services.
  • You may have already noticed Outlook and Teams starting to provide virtual assistant services to help you manage your Inbox and work. These services will likely get better and more useful.

Cyber Security

Less of a trend and more of a continued focus for all of us, Cyber Security will continue to be top of mind as cyber threats become more complex and common.

Smaller businesses with less than 1,000 employees are most likely to be targeted with a prediction that 61% of data breaches will be targeted towards smaller businesses. (source Verizon).

Please be clear – the bigger businesses and organisations are now well protected, and so the criminals have been turning their attention to small businesses who are still lagging when it comes to security measures. The Verizon quote above refers to smaller businesses of less than 1,000 employees, but we do advise our clients to not be complacent, because criminals are actively targeting businesses just like yours.

Robots are coming:

In 2023, robots will be made to look even more like humans. Elon Musk has already revealed the robots of the future, saying these will be ready to roll out in the next 3-5 years. These robots will begin to be used in the real world with basic roles, whilst also performing more complex tasks in warehouses and factories.

ChatGPT

ChatGPT – or Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer – is a chatbot that was launched by OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research and deployment company, in November 2022.

It is a language model that can generate realistic, human-like text.

ChatGPT can be used in language translation and to summarise large chunks of text to give a precis of an article.

It can also generate text responses on any subject when prompted, making it useful as a chatbot for customer service. (Source RNZ)

In Summary:

2023 will see a continued increase in advancement in the world of technology.

IT Centre is keeping an eye on these developments, and especially on those that can add value (at the right cost) to businesses in Central Otago . Our purpose is to help you to leverage technology to support your specific business goals.

Purchasing a new computer is a big decision. Before you rush out to the Boxing Day sales and buy that computer recommended by that enthusiastic sales assistant, it is worth doing your research. 

Buying a new computer is an investment. So, it’s natural to want that investment to last as long as possible. You don’t want to spend $1,000 on a new computer, only to begin experiencing problems when it’s just a year old.

You may have to pay a little more for a system that has better performance. But it will save you in the long run when you have more years of usable life before that device needs replacement. 

This is where IT Centre comes in. We are able to help you to understand your personal requirements and prevent any post purchase remorse! 

We’ve compiled a list of top things to consider before you purchase a new computer:

Remember the RAM

One of the big mistakes that people make when looking for a new computer is to ignore the RAM. Random access memory may be called RAM on the specification or “memory.” If your system has low memory, you run into all sorts of problems.

These issues can include:

  • Browser freezing up when you have too many tabs open
  • Issues watching videos
  • Some software not working properly
  • Sluggish behavior
  • Inability to open multiple applications or tabs and windows
  • Constant freezes

Memory is the “thought process” of the PC. If there isn’t enough, it can’t take on another task until it completes the current processing tasks. This can cause frustration and ruin your productivity. 

People often go for those low-priced computer deals when looking for a new device. But these can include only 4GB of RAM. That’s not a lot if you do much more than staying in a single application or just a few browser tabs.

The higher the RAM, the more responsive the system performance. So, look for PCs with at least 8GB of RAM. Or higher if you do any graphics/video or other processing-intensive activities. It is worth talking to our team at IT Centre about this. 

Personal or Business use?

If you have a small business or are a freelancer, you may try to save money by buying a consumer PC. But this could end up costing you more in the long run.

Consumer PCs aren’t designed for continuous “9-to-5” use. They also often lack certain types of firmware security present in business-use models. The price gap has also shortened between good consumer computers and business versions. If you’re not looking at the cheap systems, you’ll find that it’s not that much more to get a business-grade device.

What do I need to know about the Processor?

It can be confusing to read through the processor specifications on a computer. How do you know if Intel Core i7 or i3 is best for your needs? What’s the performance difference between AMD and Intel processors?

Contact us at IT Centre and we will be happy to steer you in the right direction. We’ll explain in layman’s terms the differences, as well as which processor makes the most sense for your intended use.

The durability of laptops

If you’re looking for a laptop computer, it’s important that it is durable. Laptops have some unique characteristics that differ from desktops. For example, the screen is often folded down one or more times per day. Additionally, the keyboard is part of the case and is not easily replaced by the user.

If you get a laptop with a cheap plastic case, it’s bound to break during normal use. Keys could also easily pop off the keyboard, requiring a trip to a computer repair shop.

You want to consider the materials used for the case. Paying a bit extra for a better casing is definitely worth it. It can help you avoid unneeded headaches.

What storage do you require?

Storage capacity can be a pain point that you experience after the fact. If you buy a computer without paying attention to hard drive space, you could regret it. You may not be able to transfer over all your “stuff” from the old system.

But storage capacity can also be an area where you can save some money. If you store most of your files in the cloud, then you may not need a lot of hard drive space. The less space you need, the lower the price.

Bear in mind though that you always need to keep 15% – 20% free space on your drive for operating system and software temporary ‘working files’. Without this you will find your computer slowing to a crawl and/or freezing up.

What hard drive do you need?

If you can get a computer with a solid-state drive (SSD) rather than a traditional hard disk drive (HDD) you should know that SSDs are faster and less likely to have read/write issues. They have no moving parts; thus they are quieter as well. You will often find that ‘bargain computer’ you have found has an older style spinning hard drive that prevents the computer running as fast as it might. Given that Solid-state drives have come down in price quite a bit recently it just makes sense to go for a computer that uses one. 

Warranties

Most computers will come with a 12 month return to base warranty as standard that covers hardware defects. This means that it will need to be sent back to the manufacturer for diagnosis or repair.

All computers and IT equipment that we sell at IT Centre come with a three year warranty, often onsite which means you won’t have to package it up and send it to Auckland if something breaks. 

Not only that but if the computer was purchased from us we will manage the warranty repair or replacement process with the manufacturer on your behalf at no cost, otherwise this would be a chargeable service.

Talk to IT Centre Before You Spend Money on a New Computer

Before you invest in your new computer, talk to our team at IT Centre. We can help you define the correct specification based on your business requirements and won’t offer you any extras that you don’t require’ e.g. that antivirus software you already have a license for.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Christmas is the perfect breeding ground for Cybercriminals. Mix a dose of stress with some last minute Christmas buying, and voila, you have a recipe that serves the Cybercriminal well.

Take for example that pair of lemon coloured Crocs you’ve been desperate to find for your child. You’ve searched high and low, but they are out of stock everywhere. Everywhere that is, apart from this one store. You can’t believe your luck. Your child will be so happy on Christmas Day. However, weeks later, you are still waiting and waiting and waiting. When you check back, the store seems to have disappeared, along with your dollars.

Or that ipad that you want to buy your partner as a surprise. You search the internet and come across an unbelievably well priced ipad, so much cheaper then all of those well-known retailers. So you click…but never actually get to collect.

The saying “Too good to be true” has never rung more true than with online shopping at this time of the year.

Read our tips below to keep you safe this festive season.

 So how do Cybercriminals work?

 Here are some of the ways that Cybercriminals operate.

·         Setting up fake websites that look completely legitimate.

·         Adding fake online reviews.

·         Copying Social Media accounts of well-known brands.

·         Social media ads that lead you to fake online stores.

·         Fake missed delivery notification texts. Scammers send fake text messages claiming that a package you’re waiting for has been delayed or that you need to pay a fee before it can be delivered.

·         Gift Card Scams

Source AARP

Top Tips for making sure your Christmas purchases are safe:                   

Here are some tips from Knowbe4 to make sure what you’re buying online is not a fraud in disguise.

  1. Always use reputable retail websites when purchasing online.
  2. If you are visiting a site with auctions or resellers, take the time to review their profiles and ensure they have a history of selling.
  3. If purchasing from a site for the first time, research the organization and look for reviews on social media or online.
  4. Make sure to use a credit card for online purchases and monitor the card regularly for fraudulent activity.
  5. Verify confirmation emails and get tracking numbers for purchases.

Gift Cards Scams:

Gift cards are a huge source of revenue at Christmas Time. Let’s face it, a gift card is a far better present then Aunt Mary’s standard soap set.  However, Gift Cards have been the target of a lot of scams in the past few years.

This link here offers some advice on what to avoid with Gift Card Scams.

Summary:

Whilst it is the season to be jolly, it is also the season to be jolly careful about your online purchases.

Along with the above tips it is very important to keep your device operating systems and antivirus programmes up to date. Talk to the team at IT Centre about this if you don’t already have this in place.

These few tips could save you money and time over the holiday season.

Teams and Channels, Channels and Teams. These buzzy buzz words may be leaving you scratching your head. 

Here we break down what Teams and Channels are, along with a basic how to for setting teams up

We are used to helping clients set up teams and channels, so please do not hesitate to contact us.

Teams! 

Let’s talk Teams. Think of teams as a group of people who come together to collaborate. In the olden days, this may have been in meeting rooms, with shared brown manilla folders passed between one another. 

Nowadays you can collaborate easily with Teams either for a one-off project, or maybe as an ongoing internal department that work together e.g. the accounts team, marketing team, sales team or admin team. 

The teams can be created to be both private or public, addressing a broad range of communication requirements, both inside your organisation and with parties outside your organisation. 

Whatever the ‘team’ is, Microsoft teams is like a centralised place where you can chat, share files, store information, and easily find information pertaining to your ‘team’.  

No more going over to Jim’s office to ‘find the file’. Because it is all here. In one place. 

Advantages of Teams:

  • Teams can be created to be private so that they are only accessible to those that are invited. 
  • For private channels this means that all conversations, files and notes across team channels are only visible to members of the team.
  • Teams can be public and open and anyone within the organization can join with up to 10,000 members. 
  • Teams is great for one off project-based work with specific people either internally or externally involved.
  • Teams can be set up to include people from both your organisation and external members. 

Channels:

What about Channels?

Think of Teams as a way to ring fence people together, there are no hard and fast rules. Teams is like Netflix, and Channels as the genres within Netflix – anyone for a good Drama? Sci-Fi? Thriller? That’s the one. Channels are the segments within Teams.

Your teams Channels are dedicated sections within a Team to keep conversations organized by specific topics, projects, discipline. 

Channels are places where conversations happen and where a lot of collaborative work gets done. 

Different types of Channels:

  • Standard Channels are open to all team members. 
  • Private channels are for selected team members. 
  • Shared Channels are for people both inside and outside the team. 

Files that you share in a channel are stored in SharePoint. To learn more, read How SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business interact with Teams.

Private channels:

Each private channel has its own settings that the channel owner can manage, including the ability to add and remove members, add tabs, and @mentioning for the entire channel.

Shared channels:

These create collaboration spaces where you can invite people who are not in the team. Only the users who are owners or members of the shared channel can access the channel
The setup for a shared channel requires some knowledge and thought about how you go about it.
They are really powerful if used correctly, you can have one channel that lives in many teams, cool right?

THE HOW TO PART…..

Creating a team is easy, like really easy. So easy that they can become messy fast. 

Before we create a team it pays to spend a bit of time thinking about the structure of the teams in relation to the business. For example a team for each sector, the partners, customers, suppliers, projects, business, job types, locations, level (SLT, management, everyone), department. As well as this we also want to look at the work stream, the companies growth and who will be accessing teams. 

To make teams scalable you need to do some business analysis, which is where we can help. Understanding the full picture of technology and where this intersects with your business and how you can efficiently deliver teams to ‘make it work’ is the ultimate plan. 

Technology projects are there to provide improvement, not just change for change sake.

Create a team

Creating a team is simple. All you need to do is go to the left side of Teams, click Teams, at the bottom of the teams list, click Join or create a team, and then click Create a new team.

Once you’ve created the team, invite people to join it. Boom easy! 

Create a channel in a team

The next thing you will want to do is to find the team that you created, click More options … > Add channel. You can also click Manage team and add a channel in the Channels tab.

In Summary:

Teams and Channels are simple in theory but can be really hard to understand and to implement in a way that works for your business. Talking about how it works won’t show the benefit or the full picture. Having a demo of teams can take you through how it all works and explain it in simple terms.

For further assistance, please reach out to us here.

2022 was another big year for IT in New Zealand.

The IT Alliance, which is a group of IT companies throughout New Zealand, and which the IT Centre is a part of, have put together their thoughts on the biggest trends they have seen for IT in New Zealand this year.

The IT Alliance members deal with real New Zealand companies who may be facing similar IT issues to yourself. The businesses are generally small to medium sized businesses, often time poor, resource limited and with some cash flow restrictions. These are not multi-million dollar US companies.

Here we share the key trends that we are seeing with I.T in New Zealand companies as we round up 2022.

#1. Teams

The culmination of the past few years has seen a huge shift towards remote and hybrid ways of working. Teams has become much more popular across clients who wish to collaborate on projects from remote locations. In a case study about Northland Kindergarten Association, they share how Teams has helped them through the past few years, and how it can also help your business.

We are seeing companies begin to explore the many options within Teams, and begin to utilise these within their businesses. Sharepoint and power apps are being picked up more for helping companies streamline internal processes and communication.

#2. Security

No longer are Cyber threats something that happen to big overseas companies. New Zealand companies both large and small have been hit by Cyber attacks and have paid the price in time, money and reputation.

The realization that we are not “so far away that this could never happen to us”’ has vanished, and been replaced for a healthy respect for Security.

Nothing can take 100% of the threats away, but having an IT provider making sure that your whole system is as secure as possible, should make any Kiwi business owner sleep more soundly.

 2FA and MFA: 2FA or Two Factor Authentication or MFA Multifactor Authentication are now
being widely used.

 Password Management System: Password management systems are being taken on by most
clients.

 Monitoring and Maintenance: Companies now realise the value in having this taken care of on a
24/7 basis by an MSP (managed service provider).

#3. Supply Chain Issues:

2022 has still seen some post-Covid delays with computer shortages. Whilst that supply chain is now largely back to a good time frame, it has made companies aware of the value of creating a plan for the future. You can read about how to create a plan for computer hardware here.

#4. The move to a Managed Service Provider:

As I.T becomes even more integral in your companies success, companies are realising the benefits of having a Managed Service provider as opposed to “someone you ring when something stops working.”

A Managed Service provider is like your outsourced I.T department, who runs all of the checks and balances remotely, and someone that you build an ongoing business relationship with, so that your IT supports your business key objectives.

If you would like help or advice with any of the above key trends that we are seeing, please do not hesitate to reach out. No question is too silly, and we make it as easy and simple for you because this is what we do! Contact us here.

What is the Cloud?

Good question! The term ‘cloud’ can cause some confusion as it can make us believe that data is stored somewhere in the sky. The truth is that data is still physically stored by companies who offer cloud storage. The cloud is basically “a large computer somewhere else.”  

Cloud storage warehouses are huge business. They have dedicated servers whose sole job is to send and receive data all day. The spaces are massive, with rows and rows of servers, sometimes upwards of 1 million square feet.  

There are two key types of cloud-based services: 

  1. Data centre hosted cloud: This is often used to run application servers or host large volumes of data (too big for 365 for example), that would otherwise need a physical server locally. 
  2. Cloud Apps: These store your data for you on their own cloud, for example Xero or Windows 365. 

 Why would you move to the Cloud? 

Storage Space: 

When you move to the cloud, you no longer have to store all that data on your own hardware. You still have access to your documents, media, or reports, but the third-party provider will likely have more storage space and processing speed, making your onsite technology function better.  

Minimising Risks: 

By moving to the cloud, you are cutting out common cybersecurity risks. You don’t risk storing data on laptops, which can get lost or stolen. You also end the need for thumb drives (or USB drives), which can also be stolen or lost. Plus plugging in these external devices can also expose you to viruses or other risks. 

Security: 

Sometimes we feel our data is more secure having our data on-premises, but these days that isn’t always the case. Data can be safer in the cloud than on-site at your business. 

Advantages of the Cloud: 

  • Backing up to the cloud stores data on an, external, secure server. If thieves take your computers and USB backup, you can still access your data on the cloud.  
  • Cloud storage providers build in redundancy to ensure your backup remains safe.   
  • The Cloud providers also encrypt data during transit to further ensure compliance and security.  
  • Migrating to a third-party cloud storage service also cuts the clutter at your premises.  
  • You can count on expert help to ensure security and compliance. 
  • Plus, you can cut operational costs by offloading in-house storage or external hard drive expenses.  
  • A hacker can use malware or phishing emails to target the data on your business devices. These cyberattacks don’t work in the cloud. Ransomware may work on an individual user’s device; however, it is a lot harder to access the larger data stored in the Cloud. 
  •  If a natural disaster hits one server site, they will offer continued access from another site. 

 When the Cloud might not be your best option: 

Internet Connectivity: Cloud migration makes your business reliant on internet connectivity. If you have frequent outages or slow speeds, these conditions are not great hosts for cloud computing. Make sure to get this sorted out with your IT Alliance member first. 

Large amounts of Data: For some companies that have huge amounts of data transfer, such as video editing, the cloud may not be the best option.  

Limited local support: A lot of the Cloud storage centres are overseas, which may mean that the support is limited, and service sub-par.  

Costs of the Cloud: The costs can be high with cloud hosting and sometimes. In talking with your IT Alliance member, you can work out what is the best option for your business.  

“One IT Alliance member moved their client from Cloud hosting to a physical server as the client had experienced such rapid growth that the fees for the cloud were becoming hefty. The savings worked out to be over $50,000 to purchase a physical server and pay for the IT Alliance members services” 

Making your data more secure in the Cloud: 

Encrypt your data: Make sure you contract with a provider who will encrypt data in transit. This makes it more difficult for hackers to get at your information. 

Multi-Factor Authentication: Enabling multi-factor authentication can also help secure data by adding layers of security. It moves your data security beyond just asking for a username and password.  

Compliance Regulations:  Depending on your industry, there may be particular standards for data storage. Encryption is a common compliance expectation. 

Training your team: Training your team on the importance of securing data is important, especially with people working remotely and connecting from off-site locations. 

What next? 

To cloud or not to cloud is a question that requires discussion. Our team can help you find the right solution for your individual needs and assist you with the process. Contact us here.

The costs of owning a website are complex, and a lot of people are surprised by the number of hidden costs. Let’s break it down:

1) Hosting: this can be either a monthly or annual fee. 

2) Regular maintenance, security and updates: A service provided by your IT partner to help stop your site failing, glitching or getting hacked, 

3) Routine backend maintenance of your site.

4) Keeping your website updated and fresh: This includes adding fresh content and articles, for example updating photos and keeping product details updated. 

5) Small change requests: Whilst many web development companies might build you a site, they may not be equipped or even well suited to handling small change requests. Finding someone who handles IT tickets all the time every day means that you can just email your request and it will be done.  

6) Knowing who is visiting your website. This is crucial to the success of your website. You must analyse who is visiting and how you can improve your organic reach. You can get reports for as little as $5 a month, or more detailed custom report which help to understand who is visiting your website. 

7) Marketing your website: In other words actually getting visitors to your website 

  • Marketing can be as simple as having standard SEO added during the website build and then updated as things change. 
  • Having your website on your business card and email signature.
  • More advanced options include: Advanced SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
  • Ad campaigns.
  • Remarketing goggle ads set up.  

This list helps to give you a more realistic distinction around “website costs” . While the costs are not huge, some customers are surprised because they assume that after they have built the site there are no more costs. 

Website Hosting

Once your website is developed you may find that there are so many web hosting options, that it feels slightly overwhelming. 

Before you go with the one with the cute adverts, or the cheapest ones, here are a few crucial things to consider:

  • Having a strong and reliable web host is important for an effective website.
  • The right web hosting should be considered the foundation of your website. 
  • The wrong web hosting can cause loss of sales and security nightmares. 

What you need to know about Web Hosting ?

  • A web host provider is a company that will host those files for you on their servers.
  • Going with a reliable web host ensures your website is web-accessible 24/7. 
  • Web hosting providers guarantee server maintenance by making sure that all the software and equipment is always updated and tested for functionality. 
  • The right web hosting keeps your website up and running with limited issues.

IT Centre will ensure that the hosting provided for you is high functioning and gives you good value. With the myriad of options that are available, this saves you valuable time and money.   

In Summary:

Knowing some of the costs of owning a website at the outset helps with budgeting for success with your website. 

The advantages of having a good quality web host are many. It really does help with the success of your website in the long run, as well as stand you in good stead with your website security.

IT Centre can help you with this important decision by providing information on how best to progress with your budget and strategy. Contact us here.

So it didn’t work with your newest employee, in fact it didn’t work out would be an understatement…they left under quite a cloud! 

A recent Symantec study states that “half of the employees who left or lost their jobs in the last 12 months kept confidential corporate data and 40 percent plan to use it in their new jobs.”

You’ve got the work laptop/computer back, but have they deleted things?

How do you know what they were doing and looking at before they left?

They used their own devices for work, do they still have their work material?

What to do when employees don’t leave on the best terms

The vast majority of staff finish employment and move on with no issues. But occasionally people leave in less harmonious circumstances, or they are just plain dishonest. We’d like to cover off on some of the basics to ensure that your risks are minimised for if, or when, this happens to you.

Importantly, it makes a big difference what systems you use and how you are set up, so keep that in mind. For the purposes of this simple article, we assume you are a small to medium kiwi business, with a fairly simple IT setup, using one of the lower-level Microsoft 365 licences for your email document storage and sharing.

Set up the employee properly when they join and have proper security

To get the best outcome when an employee leaves you need to start when they join the company. 

Practice ‘need to know’ access to systems and data:

  • People only get access to what they need for their job
  • This includes ensuring your work, documents, emails, etc are protected by permissions appropriate to the user. If they don’t need access, they don’t get it!

Set up an off-boarding system

The obvious (we don’t want to tell you how to suck eggs with your HR, but people sometimes don’t do these things, or forget) things to do when the person leaves:

  • You probably have an induction process when someone joins, but do you have an off-boarding process for when people leave? 
  • Ensure the off-boarding process is promptly followed. 
  • Ensure the off-boarding is responsive enough to handle an employee disappearing at no, or very little, notice.
  • Promptly close off email and other systems access.
  • Promptly close off remote access.
  • Take back company owned devices.
  • Ask specifically if there is any company data in their possession and if so, make a plan with them for retrieving it.

The not so obvious things

Of course IT being the mysterious being it is to most of us you might not consider the less obvious things to do:

  • Don’t let people use personal devices for company work – give them the tools they need, and ensure those devices are properly set up by your IT.
  • Setup your business so that ALL work data/information is only ever stored in company systems. Do not allow people to save work anywhere else. Make sure they have a company owned folder they can save drafts and working documents to, if this is needed.
  • Have remote wipe enabled, meaning you can remotely wipe the data from any devices they have accessed. The next time they connect to the Internet, the data is wiped.
  • Review activity logs; these are detailed, but can give you a picture of what the person was up to.
  • If they delete emails or files, systems like 365 and Dropbox Business keep files for a ‘retention’ period and during this time you can restore them.
  • Use a company password manager such as LastPass so that people actually don’t know their passwords, so if they leave you (or your IT support) remove their access and they can’t get into anything.

Use technology to protect your organisation

If you are on a lower level 365 licence, such as Exchange Online, Business Basic or Business Standard, then talk to your ITA partner about the benefits and costs of moving to a higher licence with more security features such as 365 Business Premium. For example, configure 365 to prevent bulk downloading of company data, etc.

In Summary

Put in place protections now, so that you have them there before you have a problem. Once the person has left, it is often too late. In general, these suggestions are a good place to start with ensuring your business is protected. 

If you need a hand with any of these steps get in touch with the team at IT Centre

How a Managed Service provider can help your business

In IT we love to use fancy jargon, and Managed Service provider or MSP is no exception.

In this article we will break down what an MSP is, how it can help your business, and use some real-life examples of businesses, like you, who have made the switch to an MSP.

Firstly, what is a Managed Service Provider???

In a nutshell an MSP is your ‘outsourced IT Dept’ that provides proactive IT support. An MSP provides preventative measures, detecting most issues long before they become a problem.

The mission of an MSP is to protect your business from costly downtime and ensure that business continues seamlessly.

What is the break-fix model of IT support?

In contrast the ‘break-fix’ model of IT support is when you call an IT company when something breaks, and they come and fix it, on an adhoc pay by hour model. There is no ongoing support or preventative security measures taken. This is a bit like the ambulance at the bottom of the hill.  

Top advantages of an MSP for your business:

We become an IT partner to your business: As an MSP we are interested in understanding your entire business. We see ourselves as a business partner who wants to help your business to succeed and grow. This is quite different from the ‘break-fix’ model. We anticipate a long-term working relationship with your business.  

Proactive IT Support: As an MSP, our mission is to keep your business technology safe and available, and to anticipate your needs and requirements. This means minimum costly down time, and maximum business continuity.

Knowledge of your needs: As we have a long-term relationship with your business, we become closely acquainted with your IT systems, and your personnel. Because of this we understand how the parts make up the whole, rather than just offering a quick short-term solution, which may be costly in the future.

Cost savings: By outsourcing your IT management to us, you get a well-informed IT department on your team, without the cost and responsibility of training, recruiting, and retaining staff.

Case-Study

“An IT Alliance member had a company who was reaching out to them on a ‘break-fix’ basis. During Covid the IT Alliance member reached out to them to discuss becoming their MSP. They sat down and discussed what this actually meant, the services that the MSP offers, and the priority that is given to MSP clients. The client has been using them as an MSP for over two years now, and happily sings their praises, saying that having an MSP has revolutionized their business. No more waiting for IT support, no more downtime and so much more alignment”

So, what does an MSP actually do?

Remote Monitoring: An MSP proactively monitors, patches, and updates your software on an ongoing basis with 24/7 monitoring. This is all done in the background on an ongoing basis and requires no input from you.

Security: As an MSP we constantly review your systems to identify and address vulnerabilities. We can keep up with system updates, software patching, antivirus and more. It would be difficult for any business to keep up to date with all the daily security alerts. With an MSP this is all taken care of and is one less thing to worry about, so you can focus on your business.

Optimising hardware: An MSP provides information on optimal hardware that synchronises across your business. This includes laptops, desktops, and mobile devices, plus your network and servers.  We can work with you to understand your growth requirements and work on the best timeline for your budget.

Strategic advice: As IT is our passion, we hear about a myriad of tools that may be of benefit for business goals. We share this advice with you, rather than you having to research or find out how you can optimise technology for your needs.

Regular reviews: As an MSP client, you are a priority which means that we schedule in regular proactive reviews. No more waiting on the phone to talk to someone to get IT support.

Business Continuity and disaster-recovery strategy: Nowadays it is crucial that you have a solid data-backup plan. We can help you with this process and ensure that everything can be efficiently restored should the need arise.

So what do I do now?

So now you have an overview of what an MSP is, and how they can help your business. The next step is talking to the team at IT Centre about your specific needs. Please feel free to reach out here for further advice. 

Hopefully you are all staying healthy over this period. Please let us know if there is anything we can help with personally or professionally, we understand there is a lot of pressure on everyone, if there is anything we can do to reduce stress you are feeling just reach out.

With the unprecedented events we are currently experiencing everything has slowed down and turned on its head, working remotely has quickly gone from a new concept to a reality.

Isolation does not mean you have to be cut off from friends, family or work colleagues. IT Centre has plenty of solutions allowing you to communicate with others, share documents and run sections of your business from home.

Services we provide:

  • Remote support for Desktop, Laptops, Tablets and Phones – This means if you have a problem we can access your device and help to resolve the issue.
  • Setup businesses with technology to allow remote collaboration tools.
  • Migrate company files to the cloud for easy access.
  • Video conference configuration and training.
  • Answer any technology related questions.
  • General chit chat, us IT nerds are known for our ‘Whitty Banter’.

If you are having issues relating to video calling with friends and family we can help to get you up and running. Staying connected over this period will be vital.

Please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 03 443 5499, even if you just want to run something by us.

We can support you with most technology issues using our remote tools, connect into your devices or talking you through the process, along with phone, email, text or video call support.

Are you prepared?

Many of you may have felt the moderate 5.5 magnitude earthquake centred close to the Queenstown Lakes district over the weekend.

If you were anything like me, the next 10-20 minutes was spent thinking “am I prepared?”
These gentle reminders from mother nature trigger us to think about disaster recovery plans at home, but have you thought about technology disaster recovery and continuity plans for your business? What could you stand to lose?

At IT Centre we are here to help, we have strategies to minimise the risk should anything go wrong. Having a backup, stored in a different physical location, is a fundamental step to disaster recovery that can help you restore lost files.  In doing so, if your computer was destroyed, your files and important documents would still be available. From such ‘uh-oh’ moments like accidentally deleting your family photos to larger scale disasters, back-ups can help prevent a lot of heartache and stress.  You will also want to be assured that any backup plan will work, that the data is verified, and you know how you will access it.


Business Preparedness

IT Centre has many options that can help a business prepare for the worst-case scenario.  We can advise on how to reduce your risk of data loss and how you can get back up and running as soon as possible.

With all things IT, the risks you are dealing with are not just local threats.  Disaster recovery can cover natural disasters, cyber-attack, hardware failure, malicious software, sabotage, the list goes on.  As we are so reliant on technology in our businesses and personal lives, mitigating the risk is the first step in being prepared.

Preparing for cyber-attacks can be as small as running up to date anti-virus and anti-malware applications. If anyone call’s requesting access to your computer, this is a good reason to be suspicious. Recently there has been an increased number of social engineering attacks, where people call under the guise of Spark/Vodafone or your bank (ASB/ANZ/BNZ) and talk you through some common trouble shooting steps to have you drop your guard and start providing access to personal files. Just remember that any suppliers of a service will not ask you for your password and should not require access to your computer. If you have any questions about these types of social engineering attacks, feel free to call IT Centre.

Disaster recovery and continuity planning – do you have policies and procedures in place to minimise down time for your business? How long can you cope with your IT being offline? IT Centre can help you identify steps that will ensure your technology is back online as soon as possible.

Having a backup is great but you will need to consider how you will access and use it in the event of any disaster.  It’s going to be different for everyone, but we can help you come up with a solution that fits your requirements.

You may wish to consider spare computers, local backup copies (in case there is no internet access), and alternate locations for work.  Think about the value of the data to your business and how much it would cost to recreate it.  You should also think about the implications to your business if you are unable to access your IT systems.  These factors can help you decide how much time and money to put into Disaster Recovery.


Personal Preparedness

Only you can prepare your family for a disaster as you know your needs better than anyone. Technology plays a part of personal preparedness. Ensure that your local computer is backed up and that your family photos and important documents are saved somewhere safe. Again, we have various options to sort this out for you.


Our Services

We offer a cost effective Managed Online Backup solution.


Contact

Click here to contact us and make a time to discuss this with us, or call us on 03-443-5499.


Other Resources and Considerations

For more information on the AF8 fault line, there is a great video in this link and modelling was completed in 2017 in this article.

The Otago CDEM (Civil Defence Emergency Management) have put together useful resources specific to the Otago region, follow the links below for more information

If you need to pack a grab-and-go bag, here’s a handy list on what to include

Civil Defence New Zealand has put together a handy resource website to make sure you and your family are prepared for a natural disaster.

Don’t forget that pets will factor into whatever your personal preparedness plans will require. Make sure you are prepared to look after your furry friends in an emergency.

FREE – IT Disaster Recovery Audit

One of the most significant, and yet common gaps in New Zealand organisations is the management of IT disaster recovery.

If a catastrophic event, such as a natural disaster (earthquake etc.), office fire, or even a more minor event such as file deletion or corruption, were to happen would your business be able to recover and continue operating? Or like many other companies that are badly unprepared, could such an event see you lose everything you have worked so hard to build?

An IT Disaster Recovery Plan can be a relatively simple, fast and inexpensive safeguard to implement, which means there is no excuse not to have one in place for your organisation.

Be Ready!

Call or email IT Centre today to book a time for your FREE Disaster Recovery Audit

 

How Does it Work

  1. We will come to your office and lead you through our DR Audit Framework so we can assess the criticality and recovery objectives of all your IT assets. We won’t ask you any tricky IT propeller head type questions but it would be useful for you to know what precautions you already have in place. This process will take around 1 hour depending on the size of your organisation.
  2. We then take this information away and compile our report and recommendations.
  3. Lastly we will come back to present and explain the report and recommendations to you.

What we won’t do

  1. Talk to you in complicated IT terminology
  2. Insist you buy anything
  3. Fix anything

 

 

When global car brands head south to test their latest models in sub-zero temperatures, Southern Hemisphere Proving Ground knows it can rely on its network to stay in control and up to speed – no matter what the cars are doing.

Skiers and snowboarders aren’t the only international guests to flock to Wanaka in winter. Between June and September each year, Southern Hemisphere Proving Ground (SHPG) hosts global car
manufacturers who come to trial their newest models in the icy conditions.

SHPG has 16 testing workshops scattered throughout its site, in the alpine landscape between Queenstown and Wanaka. Not only is it a seasonal operation (the testing workshops run only during winter) but the competing car brands need to be certain their new features, as well as test data, are completely secure and confidential.

Rock-solid system needed

 

steve“Our season is busy and demanding. When we open the testing sites we’ve got to know our network and system are rock-solid and ready to go.

“Our clients from the research and development side of the automotive industry are cutting edge – we need to make sure we’ve got support in place to match their expectations.”

Steve Gould,

Southern Hemisphere Proving Ground.

For more than eight years, IT Centre has been looking after SHPG’s IT needs. This involves trekking up to the ice every year to get the 16 test workshops networked and operational. It’s no run-of-the mill job. Each of the 16 workshops has to be completely secret, yet networked to the central system.

Services provided

• Network design, implementation and support
• Computer systems set-up, implementation and support
• Cloud-based services including online back-up and file sharing
• Microsoft Office 365 hosted email
• On-going monitoring and maintenance
• Priority response service

 

Global clients, large data requirements

Through provider Spark, SHPG has a 100MB fibre link and guaranteed connectivity for international traffic. IT Centre worked locally to ensure all technical requirements were met when this was installed. Any new upgrades or software are introduced seamlessly. For example, IT Centre successfully integrated a weather station function that gives crucial real-time updates on weather conditions to all workshops – along with a user-friendly web-based interface. More recently, SHPG moved from standard email to Microsoft Office 365 hosted email – a cloud-based solution that gives greater flexibility and security. And over the 2016 winter, IT Centre is helping manage the implementation of a new management system.

As with any IT system it’s important to be prepared for contingencies – and SHPG uses the priority response service from IT Centre to make sure issues can be resolved promptly.

According to IT Centre’s Rob Facer, SHPG is one of their more ‘fun clients’, and has needed some creative solutions at times. But fundamentally, the need for security, flexibility and reliability is a constant across any business.

 

“We’ve had a long-standing relationship with IT Centre – they understand our business and how we operate. They’re on hand to sort out any issues that come up, and can deliver a creative solution when needed. It enables us to give our international clients the service they require.”

Steve Gould,

Southern Hemisphere Proving Ground.

IT Centre, the new identity of Wanaka Computers, officially launches today, heralding a new era of growth for the home-grown company.

But while it’s losing the town’s name from its brand, IT Centre Managing Director Rob Facer is clear about crediting Wanaka’s go-getting spirit for the company’s growth.

“Wanaka is incredibly entrepreneurial and outward-facing for a town of its size,” he says. “As Wanaka has grown and expanded, so have we – so the time has come for a name and brand that better reflects the broad scope of what we do.”

Rob set up Wanaka Computers 14 years ago with wife Linda Montgomery. Back then it was just the two of them, and a few dozen clients. They’ve seen a period of immense growth: the company now has six staff, and last year had 600 active clients.

 

“Although we’re proudly Wanaka-based, our clients cover the whole of the lower South Island – even as far afield as Auckland,” says Rob. “We felt IT Centre better sums up who we are, and also conveys the idea that IT is central to business because it’s about how we all connect and communicate.”

The company is also planning a move to the Three Parks commercial development next year, ensuring it’s well positioned for future expansion.

According to Rob, the sophistication and diversity of Wanaka’s IT requirements are a world away from where they were 14 years ago. Back then the majority of his business clients were in tourism. Today IT Centre’s clientele cover diverse sectors from management consultancy to helicopter maintenance – with many connecting to global customers, suppliers and partners.

“I don’t believe there’s another town in New Zealand that could give technology experts like us such a fascinating and growing mix of clients, coupled with the lifestyle we have here in Wanaka,” he says.

 

“I think we’re possibly the luckiest tech geeks in New Zealand.”