Windows XP Support is Ending April 8, 2014

Time

Time is running out. Microsoft support for Windows XP officially ends on April 8th. After that, there will be no new security updates, hot-fixes, or Microsoft tech-support options available for XP.

For 12 years, Windows XP has been implemented by both businesses and home users. XP users have had opportunities to upgrade to Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8, but the experts estimate that 1/3 of all Windows users are still using XP. This leaves a large group of XP computers that are at a significantly higher risk for new attacks.

Users may find the transition to a new operating system a bit overwhelming. The truth is that many organizations have not migrated because of the learning curve, costs, and the difficulty in migrating other legacy applications. Here are some highlights to help you understand this transition and keep your data safe.

What are the risks?

Leaving XP on any computer opens up your business to a higher risk of new attacks. Your computers are not protected by the latest updates that are continually enhanced and re-designed to keep your systems clear of evolving cyber-attacks and data compromises. Many devices in your organization can be influenced by a single XP machine. We recommend that your IT professionals conduct an IT review to evaluate where these XP computers are located. Threats can come into your business and gain access to your infrastructure through a single device if precautions are not taken to protect your business data. So make sure to check all machines, including that computer in a corner office, the one connected to your conference room projector, etc.

When should I plan my migration?

Immediately! In fact, in many cases it may be too late to complete a migration in large organizations before the end of life cycle. Experts migrating large organizations have experienced migration projects with timelines of 9 to 12 months.

Protecting your data is all about Network Management. In the event that a machine is compromised, an employee’s iPhone is stolen, or an unprotected remote worker’s “home” computer is hacked, the criminal may have direct access to your data. Threats are everywhere and the businesses of tomorrow understand the necessity to invest in the security of their network.

How can I mitigate my risk now?

If you cannot migrate fast enough, we recommend that you focus on minimizing the risk by isolating your XP machines. Heighten your security through use of network security and firewalls to minimize the risk of spreading any threats to the rest of your network. Monitor traffic on any XP machines carefully, as randomly surfing the net on an unprotected machine could be devastating to your business. Criminals will use any access point to get into a business’ network and from there, just as Target recently experienced, they can steal your data and take your business down.

Questions?  We can help! Call us at (443) 795-5142

Talk to a Light Industries expert today. We can provide a project plan to migrate your old XP computers to the latest platform.

 

By Jessica Tinordi, Jessica.Tinordi@lightindustries.com

“Gamification” within Salesforce

ribbonI recently read an inspirational story about a real estate firm owner who grew her business exponentially through a simple challenge that she posed to her sales team.  The company was on a tight budget and the reward for highest monthly sales was a red ribbon. Though this may not seem like a great incentive, for one young realtor, this was an instant challenge and she stepped up to the plate. She won month after month and ultimately, the competition grew among her fellow realtors. The game was a success for the realty firm and the team closed larger and more sales.

A couple weeks later I came across a new app that automates “Gamification” within Salesforce.

So what is Gamification?
Gamification is the use of techniques technology to encourage participation among your employees, your clients or partners.  Gamification is grounded in the basic concepts that humans are encouraged and driven by competition and want to feel rewarded for their participation and “success.” Basically we are driven to play games and want red ribbons. Every business could take advantage of these concepts to increase participation, and as a salesperson, I love a good challenge.

winnerWith Gamification the game has evolved, and now – there is an app for that!
Bunchball, the leader in Gamification has automated and packaged Nitro for Salesforce, a Gamification app and it is AWESOME.  They even won Best New App for Salesforce.com AppQuest in 2011.

Your sales team works in your database all day long, and now they can see their game right within the Salesforce.

The app automatically calculates the score taking out the administration and legwork to determine the winners.  It includes dashboards for players that include: Leaderboards, Point accumulation and Prizes that can be redeemed, Reminders for Time remaining, and even Teaming where groups can combine their efforts compete against other groups.

The best part is the tool keeps your team engaged in the database.
As a Sales rep, you have to enter your activities to earn points. As you enter new opportunities, your points go up, your name and picture gets added to the leader board, and boom! you won a trip to Tahiti.

Check it out at http://www.bunchball.com/products/nitroforsalesforce

Give me a call if you would like more information about setting up Nitro for Salesforce.

By Jessica Tinordi, Jessica.Tinordi@lightindustries.com

Using Salesforce.com Dataloader for simple data integrations

Setting up data integrations in Salesforce shouldn’t be hard to do…

sfdataloaderHere’s a winning trio that solves the challenge:  Salesforce.com, the Apex Data Loader and CLIq!

Salesforce administrators often need to import information from other sources or systems. If it is a simple import, you could get away with the Import wizard in Salesforce or you could use the Apex DataLoader wizard interface. But if you want to implement a repeating migration (aka an integration) you will need a more sophisticated method. There are tools in the AppExchange that cost money, but you can also use what is called the Command Line Interface of the free Apex DataLoader.

In stark contrast to the ease of using the Data Loader wizard, the command line interface is much more difficult to setup. Unless you are a fairly technical person you will likely need someone in your IT department to help you with it. Of course they are not always available on your schedule. This is where the free CLIq comes in to help. This tool creates a wizard like approach to setting up the files needed for the Data Loader Command Line interface to work. You simply install the Apex Data Loader on you PC. Then you download and unzip the CLIq tool. After a little bit of reading (or watching the video) you will be creating automatic integrations from CS files as well as SQL and ORACLE databases.

As you will see here, the ratings for this add-on are very good. When you are ready to get started, just visit the Google Code share page for the CLIq tool here.

What’s Your Preference? Google Apps or Microsoft Office 365?

GvMHave you compared the advantages of MS Office 365 vs. Google Apps?  If choosing Cloud productivity tools has been on your agenda for a while, you’re not alone. It’s often a toss up between pros and cons. Google and Microsoft online productivity experiences vary by user, device and situation.  Reviewers all over the world have compared Google Apps for Business to Microsoft Office 365 trying to find the winner.  Here’s my quick summary as an onlooker:

If your business thrives and collaborates online, has little need for advanced Excel and Word capabilities and integrations, and it leans heavily on the latest tablets and smartphones, Google Apps has an edge and a cost advantage.

If hybrid deployment scenarios, unified IT management, offline operation, integration with Word and Excel documents, and user familiarity with interfaces and workflows are important, Office 365 has an attractive combination of capabilities that will keep most existing customers in the Microsoft camp.

The true test for both services over the coming months may not be as much a cost factor, but ongoing execution and how you do business… Will uptime, ease of management, and support keep users and IT satisfied?

Could You Live Without Email?

emailCould you give up internal email for good? That’s exactly what Atos is hoping to do (read about it here). Atos has set itself the goal of eliminating all internal email by 2013. As the amount of information we generate grows, email has quickly become one of the largest IT challenges for organizations.  This growth issue isn’t just from the traditional issues of cost, storage, and management. Bloated email systems also increase the amount of time taken to find information and also remove it once it’s reached the end of its lifecycle.

Email archives are virtual warehouses that contain large volumes of unstructured information, which is essentially information that can’t be easily understood or efficiently categorized. To give you an example, email messages are typically categorized by Sender and Date of Receipt which really doesn’t give you any indication of its content. How would you comply with a request to provide all emails and documents on a particular project or a particular topic, or remove all copies of contracts from your email system because they had now expired? How quickly could you go into the ‘warehouse’ (inboxes, personal archives, backup tapes, etc.) and pull out all of the information that you need?

Most internal emails are brief requests, or responses to requests, that used to be conducted through sticky notes or telephone calls. We also use email to coordinate meetings and pass documents around, usually for review or to provide someone with a reference copy.

Personally, I think the elimination of internal email is not just a great idea but a very achievable goal that can bring extraordinary efficiency increases and cost savings to an organization. There are so many tools available that allow you to manage this information without email but within its correct context by promoting social sharing, centralized repositories for document access and collaboration, and simple chat-based communication for those one-line messages, brief requests, and file transfers.

A life without email may not be that far behind.

The hazards of document hoarding

I recently caught a couple of episodes of Hoarders on A&E TV. If you’ve never seen the show before each episode documents the story of someone who has trouble parting with their belongings to the point where it has a significant negative impact on their lives often resulting in personal health risks.

 

As I watched the show I started to recognize parallels with the problems we see with the way that organizations handle documents, and while these organizational problems may not pose a personal health risk, a tendency to hoard documents can represent a significant risk to the health of the organization.

Take a moment to stop and think about all of the places where documents exist in your organization. You’re probably thinking of filing cabinets, desk drawers, and shared network drives. You may have even thought about public email folders, but what about personal email inboxes and email archives, backup tapes, and other business systems such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), asset management, cloud solutions, and intranets? Many organizations choose to keep all of their documents indefinitely in lieu of knowing how long they need to be legally retained, which means that the number of documents in your organization continues to grow, along with the associated storage and retrieval costs that come with increasingly larger document libraries.  Another significant yet largely ignored risk is from discovery requests as a result of litigation. Discovery activities are time consuming and expensive processes that often require you to search all your document archives for documents that match a certain criteria or that are pertinent to a specific issue. The larger the document archives the larger the effort and cost!

In order to limit your organization’s exposure during such an activity and generally maintain healthy document archives look at implementing a document retention plan that establishes the retention period for each document that your organization handles and stores. Once you have a plan you can implement this plan using technologies such as SharePoint that allow you to implement structured document libraries built for managing your documents within the framework of your retention plan. This will not only allow your organization to respond more effectively in the event of a disclosure but will allow you to reduce storage costs and search times associated with finding documents by eliminating documents that have reached the end of their lifecycle.

Here at Light Industries we’re increasingly implementing document management and archiving solutions where retention and compliance are key solution drivers. We’ve found that SharePoint provides our customers with the tools they need to implement such systems by giving them the flexible control of how they manage their documents with the tools to successfully implement their retention plan. AIIM (Association for Image and Information Management) provides a good starting point here by listing 8 things that you should consider when developing an information retention policy for your own organization.