Why You Need an Open Source Monitoring Solution

Why You Need an Open Source Monitoring Solution

Open source monitoring solutions can help you maintain your IT network while saving money and providing peace of mind.

Monitoring the network of your business is crucial for many different reasons, and you want to make sure that you are always able to check in on what is most important to you. For example, what devices are accessing your network? What does your uptime looking like? What are your bandwidth utilization rates?

However, utilizing proprietary software may have limited you to picking and choosing which issues from your network you’re allowed to monitor, due to lack of available features or cost. Open source solutions, on the other hand, are some of the most cost-effective, powerful, and customizable tools of your business.

What Is a Monitoring Solution?

Before explaining why you need an open source monitoring solution, it helps to define what we mean by a monitoring solution. As Cisco explains:

Network monitoring provides the information that network administrators need to determine, in real time, whether a network is running optimally

Below, we discuss 3 main reasons why you need to have an open source monitoring solution.

Reason #1 You Need an Open Source Monitoring Solution: More Features, at a Lower-Cost

One of the biggest benefits of open source software is being able to build the solution that is appropriate for your business at a fraction of the price of your typical proprietary software solutions. If you ever felt restricted by what proprietary software tools were out there–maybe you saw tools that offered certain features you wanted but lacked others, or the price was out of your budget–open source is your best bet.

Building a monitoring solution that is tailored to your business needs and is cost-effective also helps you put that extra budget towards other matters you need to attend to.

Reason #2 You Need an Open Source Monitoring Solution: Security and Peace of Mind

When you see the benefits of being able to add custom features that you enjoy using at a cost-friendly price, you may think that there has to be catch: maybe open source solutions are not as secure as my proprietary tool I’m using?

Actually, open source solutions are incredibly secure, however. As Nahla from toolbox.com states,“There is much less open-source malware, any flaws are usually found and patched right away, and most developers [in the open-source community] actively collaborate on making programs and apps more secure by default.”

Additionally, you want to feel comfortable with the solution you’re using and the future of the solution within your business. Sometimes there are features that are working incredibly well with your current proprietary software, and before you know it your provider tells you that if you want to continue using that feature, you’re going to have to pay for a new “premium” membership to have full access.

With an open source monitoring solution, you’ll always have access to every feature that you want or need, as long as you want or need it. Because the open source solution was developed for you, you will always be in charge of what features get to stay, which ones can be phased out, and which new features you’d like to add.

Reason #3 You Need an Open Source Monitoring Solution: Scalability for Your Business

Finally, we understand that for many businesses, the goal is set on growing, expanding, and trending upwards in your ability to serve more customers and clients.

The great news is that open-source solutions are prepared for such growth!

If you started out with only a few devices accessing your business’ network, or only interacting with a few clients through your website–open-source solutions can be great for a small company to get started. The added benefit is that as your business grows, and you need to monitor a larger network of devices and access points, you don’t have to worry about needing to purchase the next level of a proprietary software program, or needing to switch to a bigger company’s product to meet your newly expanded needs. With open source, you can use the same tools you have been using, and can work with a qualified developer to add new features as you need them, or even features that don’t exist anywhere else.

Whether you’re getting tired of paying too much for your current proprietary monitoring solution, or you’re thinking of features that you wish you had access to, consider going open source for your future monitoring solution.

3 Reasons Why You Need a Monitoring Solution for Your IT Network

3 Reasons Why You Need a Monitoring Solution for Your IT Network

You may not think you need a monitoring solution for IT network, but you’d be wrong.

As a company, you are always looking to do your best for your clients and for your own employees, especially when it comes to working online. Clients may be trying to access your website or their own tools virtually, and your employees may be utilizing the company’s network to perform their tasks throughout the workday. One of the biggest issues that can bring all of that work to a grinding halt is an issue with your IT network.

No matter how big or small your business is, being able to monitor your IT network at all times to ensure a high-functioning and quality experience for all who are connecting to it is paramount. But, before diving into the reasons why you need a monitoring solution for your IT network, it helps to define what we mean by a monitoring solution.

For our definition, we take Cisco’s concise explanation that:

Network monitoring provides the information that network administrators need to determine, in real-time, whether a network is running optimally.

Here are our top 3 reasons why you need a monitoring solution for your IT network.

Reason #1: Improve Your Network Uptime

As we mentioned above, if your IT network were to have an issue or fail, it can bring all of your business to a grinding halt — something that no business wants to have to worry about.

A network monitoring solution can help put some of that stressful thinking to rest. Your monitoring solution can allow you to stay updated on the status of your network every minute of every day without you having to manually go in and check things yourself. You can set up notifications to be sent to your phone or email when your monitoring solution notices an irregularity or any kind of network failure.

Being able to get an immediate update on any issues allows you to act quickly to get things back up and running before a client notices or before a business begins grinding to a halt.

Reason #2: Diagnosing Issues Swiftly

Building off of the fact that your monitoring solution will be able to inform you about any issues as they occur, it also allows you to diagnose what the issue is and what caused it quickly. Without a monitoring solution, if you were to be informed about a network issue on your own, you would have to work through multiple troubleshooting sessions manually to diagnose and determine where the error is occurring.

This could lead to more downtime for your network as you meticulously do your best to find the cause of your issues, what clients it’s affecting, and how to remedy the situation.

Reason #3: Improve Network Security

Unfortunately, as more business is done online, there are more opportunities for hackers to steal your data, and the last thing that you want to happen to your business is a large data breach.

As helpsystems mentions:

By regularly monitoring traffic on critical devices, it’s easy to spot suspicious changes in inbound and outbound traffic. Having in-depth visibility into network activity helps you proactively identify malicious network activity and find holes to patch that could turn into larger security issues in the future.

Having a monitoring solution allows some more peace of mind as you will know all there is to know about your network at any given time.

Whether you are thinking about adding a monitoring solution to your IT network for the first time, or you are thinking about transitioning to a new network monitoring solution partner, this is a critical investment that you absolutely need for your business.

4 Reasons Your Business Needs Customer Personas

4 Reasons Your Business Needs Customer Personas

If you’re not familiar with customer personas, you may be unaware of all the reasons your business needs customer personas. Customer personas are useful to many aspects of the business process, including selling, marketing, user experience, and customer experience. Below are four reasons why you should develop customer personas for your business if you haven’t done so already.

What Are Customer Personas?

Customer personas are profiles of individual customers that represent a key demographic of your customer base. They often include such information as:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Brief Story
  • Needs
  • Frustrations

An Example Persona

Here’s an example persona for a route-planning app:

An example persona named Robbie, published to 4 Reasons Your Business Needs Customer Personas

Reasons Your Business Needs Customer Personas: #1 Selling

The first reason you need customer personas for your business is selling. Not all customers are alike. Each different type of customer you’re trying to attract has different needs, wants, and frustrations you can help solve. In order to understand how to sell your product or service to each individual you encounter, you need to be able to quickly analyze who they are and what makes them tick.

Consider asking your sales leads questions like the following:

  1. What is your biggest frustration as a [specific type of person]?
  2. What is your greatest need right now as a [specific type of person]?
  3. What solutions have you tried in the past to solve your [specific problem]?
  4. Tell me a story about your average day when you are doing [a specific task].

Questions like these can help you understand how to cater your product or service to different customers so that you learn how to serve each individual that comes your way. Once you get enough answers to these questions, you can then group the answers into different categories and develop unique personas.

Reasons Your Business Needs Customer Personas: #2 Marketing

Of course, in order to sell your product or service to a customer, you must first reach them. Similar to the selling process, marketing is all about reaching specific groups of individuals. Whether you’re marketing over Facebook or on a local radio station, you need to make sure that you’re reaching the types of people who match your customer personas.

This is where digital marketing really shines, of course, because on platforms like social media you can target ads directly to key demographics and behaviors. With traditional advertising, you get put in a single channel with a large audience, but there’s no guarantee potential customers will ever really engage with your ad.

Regardless: knowing the four or five specific types of people you’re trying to reach can mean the difference between a successful marketing campaign and a big waste of money.

Reasons Your Business Needs Customer Personas: #3 User Experience

Another reason to develop customer persons is user experience, or how easy it is for customers to engage with your key touchpoints as a business. Rather than having a website, mobile presence, social media presence, etc. that is designed for everybody, in other words, you should design these touchpoints for specific people: your customers!

Developing personas can help you design each touchpoint to appeal to the specific types of people you’re trying to reach. This process should start at the level of search engine optimization and should extend throughout the look, feel, and features of each touchpoint. The more you know about your customers and their wants, needs, and frustrations, the more you will be able to tailor your touchpoints to engage them.

Of course, nothing beats usability testing with live users for optimizing your touchpoints for specific types of customers!

Reasons Your Business Needs Customer Personas: #4 Customer Experience

Finally, customer personas can help you refine the entire customer experience. If you think your customer experience–meaning the entire process a customer goes through from the moment they first engage with your business to the moment you earn their loyalty as a repeat customer–should work the same for every person, you’re wrong! The modern customer experience is all about personalization, about making every individual feel like your customer experience was built just for them.

How do you achieve this? By tailoring all the touchpoints of your customer experience to each individual persona. Sometimes, yes, this means having different campaigns for different types of customers, but many times it means making sure that the landing page you just developed doesn’t alienate your main customer types!

Regardless: you should be considering every touchpoint in your customers’ journey from their perspective. Understanding what motivates a specific type of person to engage with your business is key to understanding how to earn their business, and hopefully their loyalty, for life.

Should I Usability Test My Website? 3 Reasons Why You Should

Should I Usability Test My Website? 3 Reasons Why You Should

Should I usability test my website? This is a question many business owners ask themselves at various points. If you offer products or services to customers through your website, the answer is a definite: “yes.” Below we’ll explain how usability testing all the technologies your company uses, including your website, can hugely benefit your customers, and ultimately your bottom line.

What Is Usability Testing?

In short, usability.gov defines usability testing as:

evaluating a product or service by testing it with representative users.

So, usability testing is a way of exploring how useful a product or service is to your customers, in other words. Why do this?

When conducting usability testing, your goal is to assess usability, which Jakob Nielsen defines as:

Usability is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use.

Your business has a lot of touchpoints that customers use to purchase your product or service. These may include:

Usability testing can help you assess how easy all these touchpoints are to use. Can customers quickly and easily access and use each one in order to learn about your company, learn about your products and services, and make a purchase?

If you haven’t tested your company’s technologies, you can’t be sure what the answer to this question is. And if you aren’t sure how easy your technologies are to use, can you be sure they’re as easy to use as those of your competition?

And above all: your website is often the first thing that a potential client, customer, or user sees that represents your organization, who you are, and what you have to offer. Your website is also a gateway to help those people access the other technologies that your company offers, such as mobile apps, software, and other solutions.

Reason #1 Why You Should Usability Test Your Website: Your Company’s Credibility

One of the primary reasons that you should consider usability testing your company’s technologies is the impact that poor usability can have on your company’s credibility.

In a recent survey that asked, “Would you buy from a company that has a poorly designed, hard to navigate, or outdated website?” a staggering 85.8% of respondents said no.

If an overwhelming number of prospective customers find your website off-putting and immediately leave your website for a competitor’s, the hope that those customers will ever purchase from you greatly diminishes. Doing a usability test of your company’s website can help you figure out what problems your current design layout or content poses, and where improvements can be made. Fixing these issues means more people will want to stay on your site and browse through the other products and services that you offer.

You not only improve the design and experience of people on your website, but improve your company’s credibility as well.

Reason #2 Why You Should Usability Test Your Website: You Don’t Need That Many Test Users

One of the common misconceptions that stops a lot of companies from doing usability testing is the belief that you need to test with hundreds or thousands of people.

That is simply not the case!

In fact, in order to find a vast majority of the errors that your website may have, you only need to test with about 5 users, especially if you plan on conducting multiple tests. 5 users can help you find approximately 85% of usability problems facing your website, and if there are major problems that exist, fixing that 85% can drastically improve the usability of your website and the perception of potential clients and customers. If your company offers a wide range of products and services and thus has a very wide-ranging customer base, however, you may want to test about with 3-4 users per customer group.

Our only caution with testing is that in order for it to truly be successful you need to test with people outside of your company. As Craig Tomlin cautions, you want to avoid any bias you have in testing your own website. People that work for your company may already know where things are, how things work, and may give you “false positives” that things are working well on your website. If you test with people external to your site, with those people who are truly coming to your company in search of a product or service, you’ll get a much better understanding of what is working or not working.

Reason #3 Why You Should Usability Test Your Website: Usability Testing Can Be Cost-Effective

Another misconception about usability testing is that it can be expensive to complete, even if you’re only testing 5 people. However, this is another misconception.

One of our favorite techniques in usability testing is what is referred to as Lean UX, a process meant for quick and efficient usability testing. Lean UX focuses on 3 main goals or stages:

  • Design
  • Test
  • Refine

If we focus on testing with small groups of users, and doing multiple tests, we can more quickly and efficiently gain insight into what is working or not working on our website. We take our design, get our test users, and test it, and then take what we learn and refine our design. Then we keep going through that process until we’re satisfied we’ve solved the problems with our design.

Going through this Lean UX cycle throughout the process of building or redesigning your website rather than at the end when it’s finished can help you spot a lot of problems or issues early on and can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in billable hours or potential lost revenue.

3 Ways to Get Started With Multichannel E-commerce

3 Ways to Get Started With Multichannel E-commerce

Looking for ways to get started with multichannel e-commerce? Maybe you’ve heard this term online and are wondering what it refers to. Maybe you’ve done some e-commerce over a few channels and want to leverage additional ones.

And, of course, it is without a doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way we do business. The real secret, though, is that most businesses should be using e-commerce to improve their customer retention.

If you haven’t explored it, multichannel e-commerce may be anxiety-provoking. However, business owners can follow some simple practices that will lead them down the right path toward making e-commerce a core part of how they do business. If you’re looking to integrate multichannel e-commerce into your core business plan, or just trying to learn more about it before taking the leap, take note of our 3 ways to get started with multichannel e-commerce, below.

Way #1 to Get Started With Multichannel E-commerce: Establish a Third-Party Storefront

Large online retailers like Amazon.com, Ebay, Walmart, and Etsy welcome business owners (from solo entrepreneurs to leaders of international corporations) to sell products and services on their websites. For business owners who are new to e-commerce, there are numerous advantages to setting up shops on these platforms. The most obvious advantage is that these third-party websites are established in e-commerce and draw a lot of traffic. Also, these companies rely on business owners setting up storefronts on their websites as part of their core business models; they each have relatively easy ways to onboard businesses into their e-commerce structure.

Of course, setting up a storefront on any of these third-party websites is not free. Business owners who use third-party websites must pay these websites as part of doing business, whether it be subscription fees, referral fees, listing fees, closing fees, or the like.

Additionally, there is no guarantee that a business will make a profit from being on a third-party website. With an increasing number of businesses selling on third-party websites, some businesses prosper while others fail to gain traction. For business owners, it is worth evaluating the benefits and costs of having a storefront on a third-party website, as well as having a sound strategy for optimizing their ecommerce storefront.

Way #2 to Get Started With Multichannel E-commerce: Build Your Own Storefront

It is increasingly common for businesses to have their own website. However, business websites often serve as online billboards that advertise physical locations. Relatively few business websites have built-in ecommerce. For some, the prospect of managing online transactions on their own can seem daunting. Fortunately, there are a number of solutions for websites that business owners can take advantage of when creating ecommerce on their websites.

For example, business owners who have a WordPress website can easily integrate WooCommerce, an open-source e-commerce platform, into their website. Although WooCommerce (when using premium features) can cost more than other e-commerce platforms that integrate into templated websites (like Shopify and Wix), it is much more customizable.

Business owners can also take a more traditional approach to e-commerce by listing products and services on their own website (allowing for a shop cart feature) and redirecting final checkout to a third-party payment website (such as Paypal). Although Paypal is a trusted vendor, there are fees (transaction and flat) per cost of the transaction. Additionally, customers must also be comfortable with two different business vendors having access to their personal information when they use Paypal to pay a third-party business. Though there are costs to integrating e-commerce into custom websites, business owners build their online appeal by taking more control over their e-commerce.

Way #3 to Get Started With Multichannel E-commerce: Drive Leads With Social Media

Business owners should not overlook using social media for e-commerce. However, businesses should be strategic in choosing social media platforms: different social media platforms attract different consumer groups. For example, Snapchat is currently a great platform for engaging teens and young adults. If targeting middle-aged adults and seniors, business owners are better off creating an online presence on Facebook. When considering selling to other businesses, LinkedIn should be a top choice. These varied platforms also often require platform-specific means of advertising. Especially if business owners are invested in DIY advertising on these platforms to decrease costs, they need to be well-versed in how to create effective advertising on these platforms to generate interest, cultivate leads, and drive traffic to their e-commerce websites.

Or Give Our All-in-One Solution a Try

Do you need help in crafting a multichannel e-commerce strategy for your business? Do you lack the time or human resources to make multichannel e-commerce a reality for your business? Are you simply bewildered by all the requirements?

Contact us through the link below to talk about our all-in-one multichannel e-commerce solution.

The NegozYO logo, published to 3 Ways to Get Started With Multichannel E-commerce

3 Reasons You Might Need Help Documenting Business Processes

3 Reasons You Might Need Help Documenting Business Processes

If you haven’t done it before, you might find documenting business processes to be very tedious. This task, however, is also very necessary, especially as your business grows.

Just think about all the business processes that have to occur every day to keep your company running. They might include, according to Simplicable:

The specific ways you carry out the day-to-day operations of your business will depend on your goals, of course, but the point is: there are a lot of things you need to do to keep your business running, not to mention flourishing!

At this point you might be thinking: okay, sure, but I know how to do all those things. I know how to run my company. I’ve been doing it for X number of years!

The question, though, is: do other people you work with know your company as well as you do? Remember, running a company is a team effort. The real reason to document your business process is so that others can help you achieve your goals: partners, stakeholders, employees, etc. Below are three reasons why you should be documenting your business processes and some potential consequences of not doing so.

Reason #1 For Documenting Business Processes: Avoiding Confusion

The first reason to document your business processes is to avoid confusion. No matter how your company is structured, whether it’s a small group of five people or a large corporation with multiple departments: your team will spend at least some of their time confused if you don’t have key processes written down.

This is never more true than when onboarding a new team member, which is an essential activity if you want to grow. Whether they’re your new IT manager or a customer service rep, if they start out without documentation of their responsibilities, key workflows, and other important information, they’ll have to learn all of this on their own!

From the employee side, this typically feels like a lack of training, which is one of the #1 reasons for employee turnover. And you can only cram so much information into that 2-day or 5-day orientation. They’re going to need a reference guide to fulfill their duties! And if they don’t have it, they will be confused until they figure out how to operate, which will cost you time, productivity, and money.

The opposite of confusion, of course, is clarity. When team members are crystal clear on the goals they need to achieve and the best way to achieve them, then they perform better! They also need to learn to operate on their own, however, which means they need documentation they can reference in their day-to-day.

Reason #2 For Documenting Business Processes: Avoiding Waste

Another important reason to document all your business processes is to avoid waste. Waste happens in a business when people put forth efforts that don’t result in positive outcomes. Imagine if individual salespeople in your company use a sub-optimal method of getting sales from customers. Now magnify that by your entire sales team. Will your sales increase or decrease?

You don’t want individual team members wasting their time, which is one of your most valuable resources. Highly-trained professionals don’t come cheap. If you’re paying them to waste time, then you’re also wasting money.

The opposite of waste, is, of course, efficiency. If your IT manager understands how to maintain all your business technologies in the most efficient way possible, that frees him or her up to focus on the important thing: business growth. The human brain can only retain so much information, however, which is why documentation was invented: to hold the information we need to reference to perform a task better.

Reason #3 For Documenting Business Processes: Avoiding Redundancy

One final reason for documenting business processes is avoiding redundancy. Redundancy happens a lot in many different types of businesses when individual team members replicate the efforts of other team members. This can happen especially in the realm of customer service. Whatever kind of product or service your business delivers, this product or service has to go through many hands before it reaches the customer. And even after the customer purchases it, you probably have a separate support team in case the customer experiences problems.

But how do you know that all these people are working harmoniously to produce the best experience for the customer? Documentation can help with this process by informing individual team members as to their part in the greater whole. If individual team members understand not only their specific duties, but how these duties contribute to the overall customer experience, they are much more likely to meet and exceed your expectations.

We’ve been continually surprised over the years by how many of our clients “wing it,” using meetings, emails, and other temporary forms of communication to keep their team members in the loop. If you talk to anyone who has grown a business to a large scale, however, they understand the power of documentation.

Unless you want to spend significant time orienting confused employees, ensuring individual team members are on-task, and trying to figure out if different parts of your company are working at cross-purposes, you need quality documentation that can provide a crystal clear understanding of all your core business processes to every member of your team.

Why You Need a UX Strategy for Business Growth

Why You Need a UX Strategy for Business Growth

If you own a company that offers products and services using technology, whether that is via an e-commerce website, a mobile app, an enterprise application, or all three, you need a UX strategy for business growth. Why you might ask?

Let’s start by defining what a UX strategy is. According to Foolproof:

UX strategy is a long-term plan to align every customer touchpoint with your vision for user experience.

So, let’s break that down a bit: what are customer touchpoints? This refers to every way in which customers engage with your business. When a customer retweets you on Twitter, that is a touchpoint. When a customer requests a quote for a service via your company’s website, that is also a touchpoint.

This begs the question: what is a “vision for user experience?” According to Nielsen Norman Group:

“User experience” encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.

So, a UX strategy is essentially a plan for ensuring that all your customers have good experiences every time they engage with your company. And below are three reasons why you need a UX strategy for business growth.

Reason #1 Why You Need a UX Strategy for Business Growth: A Bad Experience Turns Customers Off

First off, a UX strategy can help improve the experiences customers have with your business’s touchpoints. The inverse is also true, however: when customers have a bad experience with a touchpoint, they will probably be less than thrilled. Think about it: what happens when a customer tries to get in touch with your company? Do they fill out a form on your website? Do they call you on the phone? Do they email you? If you’re like most companies, they probably do all three and more.

And then think: what happens after they contact you? Do they immediately get a response? Or do they have to wait for some amount of time? And what are they doing while they’re waiting? Are they doing nothing? Or are they shopping around with your competitors?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, then you don’t know what your customer’s experience of these touchpoints is. And these are just three touchpoints! You need to ensure that your customers are having a positive, engaging experience with every touchpoint. Otherwise, they might not engage again.

Reason #2 Why You Need a UX Strategy for Business Growth: As You Grow, You Will Have More Customer Touchpoints

Another reason you need a UX strategy is: if you’re a large company, you might have dozens of touchpoints. Many business owners can relate to starting out with only a few touchpoints, or even one. Many of us remember cold calling potential customers for days, weeks, or even months in order to build a customer base. Or emailing them. Or messaging them on LinkedIn.

But as your company grows, so will your touchpoints. If you’re a company with over fifty employees, you probably have many touchpoints. If you’re a company with five hundred employees or more you may have hundreds of them.

And as your touchpoints grow, the experiences customers have with each one will likely vary unless you have a strategy for ensuring each experience is a quality one. Using the above example, the touchpoints customers use to contact you: do you have a plan for ensuring that each and every touchpoint results in a positive experience for each and every customer?

Let’s drill down even further to one channel: contact forms on websites. Do you have one or do you have several? What experience does a customer have when filling out each contact form? Does it make sense, given what they’re asking about? Do you have a separate form for each product or service you offer or a large, general-purpose one? The experience a customer has at a touchpoint as simple as this can mean the difference between a customer hitting submit or not on that form.

On the other side, you may have much more complex touchpoints like email newsletters that send automatic responses based on customer behavior on your website. Existing customers may get very different types of information than prospective customers. And: what happens at each point in this chain? If you don’t know the exact answer to that question, if you don’t have data to back up your assumptions, then you can’t be sure that each and every touchpoint is working for each and every customer.

Reason #3 Why You Need a UX Strategy for Business Growth: Many of Us Are Building Technologies to Support Our Business Bottom-Line

The third reason you need a UX strategy is that, like it or not, many of us are building technologies to support our business, whether we are in a technology-related field or not. Organizations in industries from education to sports to manufacturing are requiring more and more technologies to support their business operations. These technologies may include:

  • IT infrastructure: servers, cloud technologies, computers, networks, hardware, software
  • Customer-facing business applications: websites, mobile apps, enterprise applications, social media channels, email marketing channels, support forums
  • E-commerce: online sales, revenue tracking, multichannel e-commerce across existing channels
  • IT monitoring: systems that track your other tools to ensure they’re in constant operation
  • Email and collaboration tools: email accounts that work across your business operation, tools and resources that your employees use for all form of collaboration

Not all of these technologies are customer-facing, but many are. And many are very complex and bundle a lot of customer touchpoints into one place, like your company website. Your company website may be viewed on hundreds of different types of devices, from large desktop displays to small smartphone displays that are several years behind the current technology. Are you certain that customers on every type of device can navigate, use, and find information on your website?

Add e-commerce to this mix and you have even more touchpoints from adding items to a cart to checking out to follow-up communications after an order is placed. Are you sure that every one of these interactions leads to a seamless, positive experience for your customers? Have you asked them? Have you tested each touchpoint?

If this article is causing you anxiety, then you might want to engage someone with experience in UX strategy to ensure all your touchpoints are serving your business. This is the purpose of UX strategy, after all: to fuel business growth through effective planning.

DevOps Benefits for Business: What It Is and What It Can Do for Your Company

DevOps Benefits for Business: What It Is and What It Can Do for Your Company

If you’re here to learn about DevOps benefits for business, you’ve come to the right place. As a company or organization that is continuously evolving, adding content and services, or implementing new technologies, it’s important to have an understanding of DevOps and what it can do for your company. However, before you get started in understanding exactly what you need to be doing, or what you expect from DevOps, it’s important to know what DevOps really means. Not only that, but we also discuss some of the major benefits of adopting a DevOps philosophy at your company.

What is DevOps?

The term DevOps actually comes from two different sides or focal points of a company: Development and Operations. But aside from being a simple combination of two different words, DevOps is so much more than that. 

As Gartner defines DevOps:

DevOps represents a change in IT culture, focusing on rapid IT service delivery through the adoption of agile, lean practices in the context of a system-oriented approach. DevOps emphasizes people (and culture), and seeks to improve collaboration between operations and development teams. DevOps implementations utilize technology— especially automation tools that can leverage an increasingly programmable and dynamic infrastructure from a life cycle perspective.

DevOps has increasingly become a philosophy that a company should implement in order to improve communication and collaboration across teams that may have otherwise been siloed or have been working mostly independently of one another. 

How Can DevOps Benefit your Company?

Many large tech companies such as Amazon and Atlassian have started to promote the power of DevOps philosophies in their work structure and how it has helped them create better products and services. So, how can DevOps benefit your company? Below are just some of the important benefits DevOps can create.

DevOps Benefit for Business #1: Increased Communication and Collaboration

The first major benefit of implementing DevOps is increased communication and collaboration in your company. What makes this improvement so important is how it changes the mindset of the various departments in your company. Communicating more often across department lines and focusing more on working together can help your teams focus less on department-specific goals, and spend more time focusing on company goals and how they can contribute to them. The more that employees work together across departments, the more likely they are to see the value in each other’s skill sets and how they impact the final product or service. Increased communication and collaboration also fosters innovation and ideation across the company as more opinions and thoughts are shared with more people.

DevOps Benefit for Business #2: Speed and Efficiency

The second major benefit of a DevOps philosophy is increased efficiency and speed in the work that your employees do. Due to the collaborative nature of DevOps, development cycles can be shortened, which means quicker deployment of systems, services, and products to the customer. DevOps can also help you do continuous service delivery for everything that your company has to offer, which is becoming essential in almost every industry. People want products and services that provide instantaneous support, updates, and upgrades.

DevOps Benefit for Business #3: Better Customer Experience

If your teams are communicating better, working together better, and the products you offer are getting delivered faster, you are also delivering a better customer experience. The customer experience no longer ends at the time of purchase. Consumers want support. They want help utilizing products and services. They want to make sure they’re buying the best product or service to meet their needs. And if they begin to doubt any of these things, they will look elsewhere the next time they decide to buy.

It is easy to lose sight of one or more elements of the customer experience. With multiple departments in the same company (production, marketing, sales, logistics, support, etc.) it is easy for wires to get crossed. It is easy for individual customers to fall through the cracks.

By increasing communication, collaboration, and development, DevOps can help your company ensure that every customer gets their needs met. It can improve customer satisfaction and customer retention. 

If all of this piques your interest or you’re looking to implement a DevOps philosophy in your company, reach out to us at YetOpen and we can help you get started!

The 3 Cybersecurity Threats Every Large Business Should Be Worried About

The 3 Cybersecurity Threats Every Large Business Should Be Worried About

Large businesses often suffer from cybersecurity threats they might not even be aware of. Even if your business has not been impacted by a data breach, there’s always a lingering threat of cybersecurity attacks on your business that can cost time, money, peace-of-mind, and client trust. But the good news is that there are measures that you can take to prevent your business from falling prey to the most common types of cybersecurity threats.

Cybersecurity Threat #1: Brute Force (Password) Attacks

Simply having a password in place is not enough to keep an account secure. Users often create passwords that are fairly easy to guess or recycle their credentials across multiple platforms. The result? Hackers and those who want to break into your business’ accounts can do so easily.

Hackers often create software programmed with algorithms designed to guess passwords. Your business can make it more difficult for hackers to carry out brute force attacks by:

  • Increasing the length of your password
  • Using a strong, random password generator to create passwords
  • Mandating that passwords in your company are changed every 90 days
  • Limiting the number of password attempts and locking accounts after the number has been reached
  • Mandating CAPCHA or verification code use with login attempts
  • Blocking IP addresses after a specified number of attempts

With these measures in place, it is less likely that a hacker’s brute force attacks will be successful.

Cybersecurity Threat #2: Cloud Attacks

Many businesses now use cloud-based software to store data and carry out important functions (such as marketing, file storage, document management, bookkeeping, and internal communications). While the cloud does offer powerful opportunities at reduced cost (as compared to more expensive desktop software), it does come with additional risks.

Cloud attacks have emerged as an important cybersecurity threat to businesses. Cloud attacks on a business can be executed by installing malware in a multitude of ways: on a business’ computer, uploading an infected file to an account on the cloud, using email to phish for login credentials to unsuspecting users, etc.

To avoid cloud attacks, make sure that your business takes the following measures:

  • Install security software on all devices that employees use
  • Make regular software updates to electronic devices
  • Teach employees to avoid accessing suspicious websites, downloading files that are flagged as insecure, or opening scam emails

Cybersecurity Threat #3: Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware does just what the name suggests: it is software that a hacker uses to lock down access to your files so they can demand a fee to restore access to those files. Hackers are able to deliver ransomware to your device through malicious software that encrypts your files.

Through preventative actions, you can decrease the likelihood that your business will be the victim of a ransomware attack:

  • Use and update security software. Security software has been programmed with the ability to detect, isolate and destroy malware. When activated, they can warn you that a website or a file seems untrustworthy.
  • Be wary of emails from unknown senders. Scammers can easily get a hold of your business’ email address and create fake identities that can convince you to click on a link or download an attachment. Before you even open an email from an unknown sender, put it in your spam folder to look at when you have the time to analyze the email. If an email subject or name of a sender is in all caps or has misspellings and grammar mistakes, chances are it is from a scammer.
  • Update your software and hardware. If you’re not using the latest version of software or are using hardware that is outdated, you make it more likely that scammers can exploit your system.
  • Archive your computer desktop on a regular basis. Invest in backup system that backs up in real time so you never lose files, even if they become corrupted.

If you do end up as the victim of a ransomware attack, do not pay the ransom. There is no guarantee your access to your files will be restored if you pay the ransom.

Even if your business does take all these preventative measures, there is no guarantee that your business won’t be the victim of a cybersecurity attack. Hackers are persistent and continually develop new ways of penetrating security defenses. But with a good defensive game, your business can drastically decrease the likelihood of falling prey to common cybersecurity attacks. And of course, calling in IT experts to do a security check on your system can point out weaknesses, if there are any.

Open Source vs Proprietary: Which Technologies Are Right for Your Business?

Open Source vs Proprietary: Which Technologies Are Right for Your Business?

Trying to choose between open source vs proprietary software? You’re not alone. When looking to increase the productivity of your company through the integration of technology, you may have come to a crossroads where you are comparing a lot of very similar services. Some of these services advertise themselves as “open source,” but what does that really mean?

Below we explain what open source technology is and why you should consider it for your business.

What is open source technology?

As opensource.com explains, open source technology “is software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance.” Additionally, it’s designed to be publicly accessible. This means that open source technology can’t lock your data, information, or code away in a place you can’t access it.

What are the benefits of open source technology?

So, why would your company want to utilize open source technology? When looking at the many benefits of open source technology, its hard to beat its price. Many open-source options are free, or nearly free in comparison to the cost of proprietary technologies. Being able to save money on open source software allows you to put that extra money into something else that your company needs.

One of the main benefits of open source technology, however, is that it’s highly customizable. Because there are so many open source libraries of free code you can access, you can always add the features that you need. If you don’t have a particular feature that you need to be successful on a future project, you can simply add it to what you are currently using.

Finally, open source provides your company with scalability: you can expand what you currently do quickly. If your company gets bigger and offers more services, open source technology can grow with your company as needed — and without a giant price tag.

Open source vs proprietary technology

The other side of the coin is proprietary technology. Proprietary technology is “commercial software that can be bought, leased or licensed from its vendor/developer.” Essentially, if a piece of software doesn’t say it’s open source, then it isn’t. A company owns all its code, content, data, and possibly a good chunk of any of your information you’re storing on it. It all depends on the license you agree to when using it.

Remember all those user agreements you clicked on when signing up for the apps you use on a daily basis? All those agreements granted companies various types access to your personal information, including for the purposes of personalized marketing and other invasive forms of data mining.

The Lure of Proprietary Software

You might be asking yourself: if open source is so great, why are most products proprietary? In a word: money. The top open source companies in the world (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, Zimbra, Zabbix, etc.) make plenty of money, but nothing compared to a giant like Google or Microsoft. That’s really the only reason to make a product proprietary: to make more money off of it!

And because of this, the vast majority of software available to businesses is proprietary. And we’re so use to this fact, that we don’t question it. We just pay our licensing fee and go on with our lives.

Free Doesn’t Mean Without Expertise

At the same time, just because open source technology itself is free or low cost, doesn’t mean you don’t need help getting it installed, configured, or developed. Just like any tool, it needs to be customized to your needs. You need a partner who is skilled at adapting open source technologies to your business needs.

The Choice Is Yours

Ultimately, the decision of which technologies your business decides to utilize is completely up to you. There are definitely good reasons for going with proprietary technology. If you want lower cost and greater customization, however, the choice is clear.