7 Critical Cybercrime Security Protections for Your Business

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

What are you doing to protect your business?

Cybercrime is at an all-time high, and hackers are setting their sights on small and medium-sized businesses. As more businesses utilize cloud computing and mobile devices and store more information online, the more businesses are putting themselves at risk.

Consider how many times a day you enter usernames and passwords to log into accounts on your computer, laptop, cell phone, tablet – the list goes on. Do you ever think about the security of keeping these accounts safe? What are you doing to keep yourself and your business safe from hacker attacks?

If you are a small to mid-sized company, you are being targeted by hackers from all around the world. What can you do today to begin making your online security a priority for your organization?

To help you get started in protecting your business, your employees, and your customers from cybercrime, we’ve outlined 7 IT and network security measures to consider.

 

Here are 7 cyber security measures to practice as you continue to grow your business:

1. Educate Yourself and Your Employees

Almost all security breaches in business are due to an employee clicking, downloading or opening a file that’s infected, either on a website or in an email; once a hacker gains entry, they use that person’s email and/or access to infect all the other PCs on the network.

Phishing emails (emails cleverly designed to look like legitimate messages from a website or vendor you trust) is still a very common occurrence – and spam filtering and anti-virus cannot protect your network if an employee is clicking on and downloading the virus.

 

2. Require Strong Passwords

Keep your network and data safe with a secure password. Passwords should be at least 8 characters and contain lowercase and uppercase letters, symbols and at least one number. On a cell phone, requiring a passcode to be entered will go a long way toward preventing a stolen device from being compromised.

 

3. Keep Your Network and Devices Up-to-Date

New vulnerabilities are frequently found in common software programs you are using, such as Adobe, Flash or QuickTime; therefore it’s critical you update your systems and applications when one becomes available. If you’re under a managed IT plan, this can all be automated for you so you don’t have to worry about missing an important update.

 

4. Have an In-Place Backup

A good, automated, and monitored backup will protect you against an employee deleting or overwriting files, natural disasters, fire, water damage, hardware failures and a host of other data-erasing disasters. Prepare your network for an unexpected disaster with this disaster recovery checklist.

 

5. Monitor Personal Devices

The use of personal and mobile devices in the workplace is increasingly popular, and, thanks to the convenience of cloud computing, you and your employees can gain access to pretty much any type of company data remotely; all it takes is a known username and password.

Your biggest danger with cloud computing is that one of your employees accesses a critical cloud application via a personal device that is infected, thereby giving a hacker access to your data and cloud application. To help protect against hackers, encourage using company-owned and monitored devices, and never allow employees to access work-related files, cloud applications and e-mail on personal devices or public WiFi.

 

6. Invest in a Good Firewall

A firewall acts as the front line defense against hackers, blocking everything you haven’t specifically allowed to enter (or leave) your computer network. All firewalls need regular monitoring and maintenance, just like all devices on your network or they are completely useless. This too should be done by your IT person or company as part of their regular, routine maintenance.

 

7. Protect your Bank Account

Your company’s bank account doesn’t enjoy the same protections as a personal bank account – meaning you are more liable for the protection of it. If a hacker takes money from your business account, the bank is not responsible for getting your money back. Make sure you are regularly monitoring your accounts and have a trustworthy source of protection.

 

Interested in learning more, or need help implementing these 7 security protections? Contact us.

Seminar Planning Guide: 5 Steps to Achieve a Successful Seminar

In today’s fast-paced world, the need for quick learning has grown tremendously.

People seek short yet substantial pieces of information delivered in a timely manner, and rather than digging through hundreds of pages of research material or sitting through a full-semester class, an easy way to gain valuable information is to join industry experts as they discuss topics of interest in a seminar.

Seminars are a cost-efficient and effective way for companies to reach out to their target customers and/or industry partners, and when done right, can be a great lead-generating mechanism.

 

Here are 5 steps to achieving a successful and smooth-running seminar:

√ Determine the Who, What, When, Where and Why
√ Prepare a Registration Process
√ Develop an Outreach Strategy
√ Prepare for the Presentation
√ Develop a Follow-Up Strategy

 

Step 1: Determine the Who, What, When, Where and Why of Your Seminar

Planning a seminar requires time, attention, and strategy. By determining the who, what, where, when, and why of your seminar, you will take the appropriate steps to develop out and clarify the objectives and strategy of the seminar.

1a.) The WHY – Clarify the Objective
Why are you holding this seminar? What is the objective? Is it to educate current clients? Is it to generate new clients? Is it to establish your business as thought leaders? Is it to reinforce your image as subject matter experts? The answers to these questions should impact the steps you make to put on and perform an effective and successful seminar.

1b.) The WHAT – Choose a Topic
With an objective in mind, now you can choose a topic. For example, if the objective is to establish your business as a thought leader, your topic should be innovative, educational, and presented with research and well-rounded perspectives on topics that pertain to your field of business. Whereas if the objective is to educate current customers, your topic should be one that answers many of the questions your customers may have now, or how your field of business may impact them.

1c.) The WHO – Identify the Target Audience and Presenter(s)
Identifying your target audience is important in order to properly identify personas and the voice you use to present your seminar. Is your seminar geared towards CEOs, CFOs, HR Directors, small business, large business, manufacturing facilities, educators, municipalities, etc.? Be as specific as possible when identifying your audience. This will determine how you reach your audience and your seminar presentation.

Once you have the topic and target audience, you must choose your presenter(s). Make sure your presenter is well-educated on the seminar topic, comfortable speaking to the identified target audience, well-respected in the industry, and able to provide general information on all areas of the field.

1d.) The WHEN – Pin Down a Time Slot
Once you have the topic and presenter(s) identified, the next step is to identify a time period that will allocate enough time to cover your topic and objective and appeal to your target audience. Make sure to allocate enough time at the end for Q&A and meet-and-greets.

1e.) The WHERE – Secure a Location
Keeping the objective and audience in mind, you need to find a location for your seminar. If this seminar’s primary purpose is to educate current clients, choosing a location that will be centrally located to your client base is imperative. If the objective is to generate new clients, choosing a location that would appeal to the geographic area in which you are targeting would be better.

 

Step 2: Prepare a Registration Process to Drive Attendees to Your Seminar

After you identify the objectives and tactics of the seminar, the next step is to prepare a clear registration process, setting the stage to drive attendees to your seminar.

2a.) Create a Registration Landing Page
To prepare for online registration, create an online registration page with a memorable URL to send your audience to (for example, www.yourwebsite.com/seminar).

On the landing page, include:

  • A compelling description of the seminar
  • The date, time, and location of the seminar
  • A brief introduction of the presenter(s) and presenter(s) credentials
  • A registration form with predetermined fields (including Name, Company, Email, and Phone Number)

2b.) Set Up a Registration Confirmation Email
Set up a registration confirmation email to be triggered and sent right after the attendee registers for the seminar. The confirmation email should include the seminar location, time, and date of the event. Include an “add to calendar” link to make sure registrants don’t forget about your event.

2c.) Prepare a Reminder Follow-Up Process
To increase your registration-to-attendance ratios, create a process to stay in front of your registrants and remind them of their commitment in the days leading up to the event. This process could include sending a reminder email and/or giving registrants a phone call to check in and make sure they are set to attend, and all pre-seminar questions have been answered.

 

Step 3: Develop an Outreach Strategy to Drive Attendees to Your Seminar

To drive people to attend your seminar, you need to perform certain efforts to get the seminar information in front of possible attendees. This strategy will be heavily influenced by your objective. For example, if the seminar is targeted at current clients, reaching that audience should be simple because you have their contact information. However, if your objective is to reach out to prospects, creating a strategy to get an invitation in front of that audience will be critical to your seminar’s success.

Based on your target audience, the channels you use to reach them will vary. Set realistic expectations, or invest in the resources needed to accomplish the task.

3a.) Determine and Use Specific Channels to Reach a Predetermined List or Current Connections
In order to get your message in front of a determined list or current connections, the following channels are great outlets to promote your seminar:

Email Marketing – Create an email marketing campaign to get in front of your target audience and promote your seminar with seminar details. Email the invitation on its own, sending registrants to the registration page. Also include a snippet and link to the registration page in all other monthly emails (i.e. Newsletter, etc.).

Social Media – Post the link to your seminar registration page to your company’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages along with a catchy caption to drive traffic to the page.

Direct Mail Campaigns – Depending on your budget, list, target audience, and objectives, a direct mail campaign with promotional literature could be in order. Include your seminar registration URL in all marketing material.

Telemarketing – If you can invest in the resources to launch a telemarketing campaign, this can be effective in helping to reach out to prospects when you have only the company phone number and name of the person you are targeting.

3b.) Determine and Use Specific Channels to Reach a Larger Audience
To get your seminar registration page in front of a larger audience who are not on your email or telemarketing lists or connected with your brand on social media, the following channels are great outlets to promote your seminar:

Press Release – Digital distribution channels can be effective mediums for distributing your Press Release on your upcoming seminar and can help increase website search traffic.

Promoted Social Media Advertisements – To maximize the post reach and promote your seminar to people who may not directly like your company page, promoting posts through social advertising and boosted posts will help you reach a larger percentage of your target market’s social feeds. Encouraging other team members to share the post to their personal pages and invite their personal network to the seminar will do the same.

Partners or Co-Sponsors – Do you have a current partner or center of influence that could help with their distribution list? For example, if you’re targeting CEOs with your message, considering partnering with a bank, accounting firm, law firm, etc. that will co-sponsor the event and either give you access to their client list or send out the invitation via their own distribution method.

Utilize Associations – Gather a list of all local associations whose members would likely fall into your target market. For example, if your audience is attorneys, your local Bar Association has members that fall into this category. Determine how to utilize the associations to distribute your seminar information. Can you place an ad on their website? Can they add your seminar to their next permission email marketing? Work with all applicable associations to distribute your message.

 

Step 4: Prepare for the Seminar Presentation

As you are driving attendees to register for your seminar, you should be finalizing details on your presentation and how you will run your seminar.

4a.) Prepare an Agenda – and Stick with It
To stay organized and keep your audience focused, develop and share an agenda that outlines the seminar objectives and key points.

4b.) Create a Visual and Audience-Appropriate Presentation
Depending on who your target audience is, the theme of your presentation may vary. As your presentation is crafted, make sure it is clear, visible, and easy to follow. It is important to speak to the voice of your target audience’s persona throughout the presentation to relate back to them and make them feel comfortable.

4c.) Test the Presentation with Multiple Run-Throughs
Once the presentation is set, schedule time for run-throughs with the presenter(s). Practice makes perfect, so schedule as many run-throughs as needed until the presentation runs smooth and all technology devices are working properly.

4d.) Provide Printed Hand-Outs and Materials
Provide a printed hard-copy of your presentation along with any other marketing materials to enhance the takeaway of your seminar. Providing your audience with pieces they can leave the seminar with creates one more touch point to stay in front of them.

 

Step 5: Develop a Strong Post-Seminar Follow-Up Strategy

Seminars take a lot of strategic planning and execution, so when your event is over, it’s important to follow up with all who attended. You can use this time to deepen the relationship with everyone who signed up.

5a.) Provide a Post-Seminar Survey
Preparing a post-seminar survey questionnaire is a good way to gather feedback on your seminar and how you can better your seminar for next time. Putting the survey on the tables of the seminar location provides easy access for the audience to take the survey and turn it in at the time of the seminar.

5b.) Schedule a Follow-Up Thank You Email
The attendees of your seminar took the time out of their busy schedules to come and learn from you – so make sure you reach out to them to thank them for attending. Doing so in a relative amount of time after the seminar is another touch-point to stay in front of attendees, and is an outlet to provide a call-to-action if you are looking to take next steps with certain attendees.

 

For more information on how World Synergy can assist your organization with a successful seminar, contact us.

Magento 2: Start Planning Now

World Synergy Senior Applications Engineer, Ross Ritchey, Discusses Key Information on the Migration from Magento 1 to Magento 2.

Magento, the World’s leading open source platform for building ecommerce websites, announced back in late 2015 the arrival of Magento 2 – the successor to the original platform in the Magento ecosystem.

After several years of development and alpha, beta, and release candidate phases, Magento 2 was released to move the ecommerce community forward and meet the demands of a shifting marketplace.

Our Senior Applications Engineer, Ross Ritchey, recently spoke on the topic of the popular Magento ecommerce CMS to further clarify what this migration to Magento 2 means for the Magento community.

 

 

“Seven years ago, World Synergy decided to start using Magento 1 as an application for our ecommerce customers. When Magento 2 was released in November 2015, we evaluated it as a company knowing that we have a lot of ecommerce customers, and we wanted to make sure they are not moving to something that’s not ready for their needs.”

As with any new platform build, it takes time to troubleshoot issues that arise  which is why our team of Applications engineers chose to hold off on jumping in and recommending this platform to clients; in order to make sure a good amount of extensions were ported over or built new, and the core code itself hit a point of general stability.

“At release, we reviewed the software and determined that it was not ready for general use with our customers. Much of the functionality that our users have come to depend on was not available yet, and the software itself needed some more time to become truly stable.

The team has been keeping track of the progress of Magento 2 and the community that is building around it over the past 18 months. We had to do our due diligence before recommending the platform for our clients. With the upcoming release of Magento 2.2, I am now comfortable starting to recommend that new Magento builds are in Magento 2.”

That said, Ritchey believes the time to start planning for the migration from Magento 1 to Magento 2 is now.

“I think the time to start planning is now. There are a lot of reasons to move to Magento 2 – first and foremost is performance improvements; the security of the platform itself, and also the technology the platform is built on. Because Magento 2 is a complete rebuild, they were able to use more current technologies, so with that, they’re also going to get gigantic performance benefits.”

So, what exactly do we need to know about the migration to Magento 2? Our team of Applications engineers have broken down a few key issues in regards to the newest Magento platform.

 

Lifetime of Magento 1 Support

According to an official statement on their blog, Magento recently announced that they will be supporting Magento 1 for “the foreseeable future.”

Magento has also committed to announcing any changes in support plans at least 18 months in advance of making the change. At this point, users can continue working in Magento 1, as Magento will support software and security patching until they announce otherwise.

 

What Exactly is Magento 2?

Magento 2 is the latest incarnation of Magento software. It’s important to note that Magento 2 is a complete rebuild of Magento 1 – meaning it is not just an update to the software that can be installed.

When the Magento community started building Magento 2, they went back to the basics and re-imagined the entire application from the ground-up. Everything about the code is completely different from the original platform, and there is no reliable way to automatically port extensions or themes over to the new system (besides some tools that can get you part of the way).

That said, one of the benefits of rebuilding from the ground-up is that users can implement very drastic changes very easily. Because of this, the Magento team implemented some significant performance improvements for an out-of-the-box site.

 

The Benefits of Magento 2

In all reported testing, Magento 2 out-performs Magento 1 at every level – regardless of caching or performance tuning. These benefits include:

Open Flexible Architecture. With Magento 2, users can readily manage a site from anywhere. The administrative areas of the application are now responsive and touch-friendly, allowing users to work from phones or tablets instead of laptops or desktops. Magento 2 is also cross-platform, cross-browser compatible, and mobile friendly.

Engaging Shopping Experiences. Magento 2 is estimated to give 20% speed/performance compared to Magento 1. Continuous updates to Magento 2 add new features and enhancements that help the shopper and merchant, which creates faster and more profitable commerce through new payment functionality and performance and feature improvements.

Enhanced Business Agility and Productivity. Magento 2 can optimize web pages for faster delivery, accelerate server response times for all site activities, increase efficiency for backend operations, and boost database flexibility and scalability to handle peak loads.

Enterprise-Grade Scalability and Performance. Magento 2 allows users to drive sales and improve productivity, includes PayPal enhancements, simplifies PCI Compliance through Braintree, includes Elasticsearch as the new search engine, improves admin experience, and introduces a new Enterprise Cloud Edition. The cloud allows the flexibility to deploy a site without worrying about infrastructure.

Secure Payments. Magento 1 does not support the most current server technology – meaning that even if Magento itself is patched for security, users should be worried about patches on the server software itself.

 

What Magento 2 Means for Different Users

Depending on what end of the spectrum you are on, there are different perspectives from different users of the Magento 2 product that give reason to move from Magento 1 to Magento 2.

From an End-User’s Perspective, Magento 2 helps with personalization, advanced search, and a streamlined checkout.

Magento 2 has the technology behind it that allows the user to offer personalized products, services, and marketing incentives. The advanced search has many different types of search options to help the customers find what they need. The checkout process is more efficient than previous versions.

From a Store-Owner’s Perspective, Magento 2 is good for usability, optimization capability, internationalization, and responsive design.

The powerful tools at backend make it easier to use, automate, and manage the order of sales, shipping, inventory, and reporting. Magento 2 allows the business owner to use drag-and-drop visual merchandising for product optimization in a cross-platform, cross-browser compatible, and mobile friendly system. Internationalization supports various languages and currencies from around the world.

From a Developer’s Perspective, Magneto 2 has the benefits of open source, easy integration, compatibility, speed and rapid development, smoothness, security, and flexibility.

The platform lets developers build user-centric storefronts, and makes it easy to integrate data, third-party tools, and services. It is compatible with the latest version of PHP and its frameworks including Zend and major databases such as MySQL, Oracle, and Hadoop. It also has JavaScript library as default jQuery Library for hassle-free programming. Magento 2 also has a concept view called “View in Module” which removes complexity and reduces development time, offering a component based structure of modules that enhance flexibility and performance.

 

A Recap: Magento 1 vs. Magento 2 Key Differences

With its improvements to native functionality and the availability of over 350+ extensions, Magento 2 has a lot to give in comparison to Magento 1. Here’s a recap:

Download: Magento 2 Feature List

 

What You Can Do Next

To learn more about Magento 2, there are a variety of resources available for you to learn more about the platform or next steps you should take for your business.

Training. The main training website offered by Magento is Magento U. Magento offers a wide variety of Magento 2 training videos to help new customers understand and use Magento 2. Other courses and training are offered for Developers, Merchants/Marketers, Front-End Developers, System Administrators, and Business Analysts.

Certifications. For those that want to distinguish themselves from others in areas of Magento, there is an online certification process through the training as well.

Contact Us. Our Applications team is always watching the trends in the industry and making informed recommendations on which platform to use to build your website. Stay tuned for additional updates on the Magento platform, both for any support updates regarding Magento 1 and also for updates on the growth of Magento 2.

 

For any direct questions regarding Magento, or if our team can help your organization grow with Magento, please contact us by filling out the form below:

5 Tips to Enhance Your Video Marketing Efforts

Video marketing is a hot ticket item right now.

In today’s fast-paced world, consumers are looking to attain information that is relevant, valuable, and fast – and video is an increasingly popular source that caters to the on-the-go lifestyle that consumers crave.

As users scroll through feeds and jump from website to website, videos are effective. They are what users seek, and when done correctly, can provide great value as an outlet to promote your brand and drive sales.

In fact, according to Forbes:

  • 59% of company decision makers would rather watch a video than read an article or blog post
  • 64% of customers are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video about it
  • 90% of customers report that product videos help them make purchasing decisions

Shooting video is easier than ever before, and is one of the fastest-growing and most in-demand forms of marketing out there.

To help with the impact of your video marketing efforts, here are some quick tips to consider:

 

1. Title and describe your video appropriately.

This is an important step, because a video’s title is typically what catches a user’s attention. Develop a video title that is relevant and descriptive, and use keywords that align with the purpose of your video to help catch search engines as they crawl.

 

2. Upload your video to popular video sharing sites, and encourage sharing.

Where can your videos be found? Upload your video to the most popular video sharing sites, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and, of course, your website. Share your video to your audience by linking through your social channels and email blasts, and encourage your followers to share your video in your calls to action. When uploading, choose the option to allow others to embed your video and to share it – doing so will help to build your video fan base.

 

3. Keep it short and to-the-point.

Don’t bore your audience with a long video. The average person’s attention span isn’t long enough for a 5 or 6 minute video, so your video shouldn’t be any more than a couple of minutes. According to HubSpot, user’s aren’t willing to spend more than 2 minutes on a video, but it depends on the platform. Check out HubSpot’s breakdown of the ideal video lengths for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube here.

 

4. Utilize video branding.

Since people may not make it to the end of your video, you want to make sure your branding is throughout the video, as well as the beginning and end. If you decide to put your contact information only at the end of the video, your audience may never see it!

 

5. Don’t forget the content.

Relevant content is good for SEO, so use the script of your video as a page of html content. When you upload the video to your website, make sure it is on a landing page with relevant content to support it’s message, and optimize the video with appropriate keywords.

 

For more information on how World Synergy can help grow your business with Video Marketing, contact Alexzandra Weber at 440-349-4940 x692.

World Synergy Developers Volunteer at Cleveland GiveCamp 2017

In what has become a World Synergy tradition in recent years, members of our Applications team joined the more than 200 volunteers that come together the weekend of July 21-23, 2017 to build and develop applications and websites at Cleveland GiveCamp.

Cleveland GiveCamp is a weekend-long event where software developers, designers, database administrators, project managers and creative professionals donate their time to create software and web-based applications for non-profit organizations in the NE Ohio area. This year, two of our developers participated and committed to helping with the 20 projects that were attempted and completed to help grow 20 non-profits in Cleveland.

 

Learn more about our experience at Cleveland GiveCamp 2017:

Ross Ritchey – Senior Application Engineer

Ross’ fourth GiveCamp started a bit earlier than normal. Always looking for ways to help more – he volunteered to join “Team Y” – also known as the team that floats around from group to group to put out fires as needed.

As a part of Team Y, Ross’ journey started a few weeks prior to the actual GiveCamp weekend, as he worked with four team Project Managers during the preparations for the event in order to understand where various pain points might be arising.

During the GiveCamp weekend, Ross helped at least six teams get through fires, both small and large. Using his extensive experience to help with complicated form and payment processing setups, as well as work through sticky styling issues that some groups came up with, Ross helped to make sure teams had the resources they needed and became that resource when there wasn’t one available.

Team Y. (Ross: back, third from left)

Sean Shea – Junior Web Developer

For his third year at Cleveland GiveCamp, Sean worked on a website for Family Connections.

The mission of Family Connections is to “to strengthen families with young children.” To achieve this mission, they offer year-round, free, and low cost programs and services for families and children to learn and play together.

Family Connections overall goal was to simplify the information displayed on their website, while making it more kid-friendly and accessible. They also needed a way to more easily update their website – which was a static website that they updated with Dreamweaver. To this end, the team reworked their navigation, eliminated duplicate content, and condensed the content that was remaining. They also moved Family Connections to a new RWD WordPress template, which helps with making the site more manageable to update.

“Family Connections is pleased to announce the launch of our new website. With the new website, we hope to build up our mission to strengthen families with young children. This site is not only more usable, it provides our families valuable information on our family programs, how to get involved with Family Connections, and a new news section for regular updates.” – Family Connections (New Website brought to you by GiveCamp)

Team for Family Connections. (Sean: back, left)

Thank you to Cleveland GiveCamp and all volunteers for another successful year! World Synergy is proud to be Silver Sponsors for such a great cause.

 

Contact Us to learn more about how our team of developers and applications engineers can build a custom website or application built for your business needs.

Solution Gap Analysis: Your Solution to the Software Selection Process

Over the years, our team has found that nearly 90% of our customers ask for software selection help when choosing an ERP software.

Our customers know their business – but they don’t necessarily know how to pick the best software for their business. Nor should they be expected to.

The software selection process can be as overwhelming as the actual implementation of the software itself; and with all of the software options available and advertised, it’s not uncommon for us to hear from clients who are looking for advice.

Too often we meet with clients who share that they had software companies come in to meet with them, only to try and dazzle them with their shiny, supposedly-ground-breaking software, yet never fully address how the software fits the organization’s true needs.

Which is why our team of software selection experts use the approach of “Solution Gap Analysis” to help clients choose a software fit for their business.

Our approach to software selection digs into the core of what a business truly needs, and uses fact-based evidence to choose the appropriate solutions for individual businesses. We take the time to get to know our clients business from top to bottom so no information is missed, and by using a custom need-want matrix, we work to ensure the right software is chosen and implemented correctly the first time around.

 

The Solution Gap Analysis Process:

 

1. Identification of Current Business Processes.

Every process begins with a business process review. During this review, our team goes on-site to meet with stakeholders and department leaders to interview and shadow key users and roles of a client. This approach to “show me rather than tell me” of where a business stands allow us to learn the critical internal processes, operations, and future goals of the organization to fully understand how we can help. As we shadow, we record the sessions and screens used to allow for visual representations of before and after a software is implemented.

 

2. Determination of Need to Have, Nice to Have, and Wishlist.

As we gain a better understanding of the processes and roles of the business we are working with, we work with our clients to determine all that they are looking for in a software solution. We help them to discover three separate lists: what they need to have, what would be nice to have, and a wishlist of additional features that they could benefit from in a software solution. Building and defining these lists are a critical step in the software selection process, as they set the benchmark for what we then look for in a potential vendor.

 

3. Vendor Discovery and Matrix Comparison.

Upon outlining the need to have, nice to have, and wishlist lists, we identify a selection of relevant software vendors that we know and trust, and send the lists out for discovery. The selected vendors compare their software capabilities and provide feedback for how they can help meet the wants and needs outlined on our client’s list. 

When the vendors return their results on how they can meet our client’s lists of wants and needs, we then take the insight and combine the vendor’s capabilities and our client’s needs into a matrix and sample graph – outlining what the client needs vs. what the vendor can do. We outline a matrix and graph for each vendor, and then choose the first round of eligible vendors based on which ones come the closest to meeting our client’s needs.

Once the top vendors are identified, we sit down with our client and share the fact-based recommendations for who should be considered as a software vendor, based on their needs and vendor capabilities.

 

4. Vendor Demos.

From here, we schedule up to 5 demos with the chosen individual software vendors. Demos allow us to walk through each platform and ensure that the vendor proves they can do what they have claimed to meet the needs of our client, and the client can see how the software will work with their business processes. After the demos are completed, we work with our client to narrow down the vendor list based on how they can provide unique value and meet business needs compared to the other vendor contenders.

 

5. Software Selection.

The final step in the software selection process is to choose a software platform. Using the fact-based client need vs. vendor capability matrix along with software demos, our clients can make an educated and well-informed decision to choose the right software for their business.

Partnering with a team of software selection experts helps to make sure the Solution Gap Analysis Process runs successfully, and a strong ERP software is chosen. This entails the identification of current business processes, software wants and needs, research around vendors that fit business needs, the understanding of where vendors play in the market and how they scale, and proof that certain vendors can meet specific needs.

 

For more information on how our team of software selection experts can help your organization choose the best ERP software for your business, contact Steve Krisfalusy at 440.349.4940 x691.

4 Tips to Keep Your Passwords Strong and Your Information Safe

Keep Your Network and Data Safe with a Secure Password

Passwords play a large part in our everyday life. They keep our valuable information protected from outside wandering eyes and threats, and they allow us to safely trust using our technology devices. That is, if they are done right.

As the world continues to become more digital, our connected lifestyles make it so that we all have more online accounts than ever before. Creating a username and password for an account has become the norm, which also means more passwords to keep up with in order to access the accounts that drive our day to day lives.

With so many passwords to remember, it’s easy enough for consumers to take the easy route and use the same basic password for each account. However, with this comes the large risk of hacking, breaches, and stolen information.

We hear all the time to keep our devices and accounts secure with a strong password, but it doesn’t need to be difficult to do so.

To celebrate World Password Day, we’ve broken down 4 key tips to keep your gatekeepers effective, and your information secure.

 

1. Use a strong password.

Meaning, avoid using the #1 most used password ever: 123456. Not every password needs to be over the top and impossible to remember, but a solid password includes numbers, symbols, capital letters and lowercase letters, is at least 12 characters long, and is not a word derived straight from the dictionary. (Check out the world’s most popular passwords of 2016 here. Tip: avoid these!).

 

2. Use a different password on every site.

If you use the same password for every account you create, you are opening the door for hackers to access all of your accounts through just one. Don’t make their job so easy. Switch up your passwords for each account, and update them frequently.

 

3. Get a password manager.

With the amount of passwords to remember, a password manager will help keep you organized and will remove the hassle of remembering numerous passwords. Such programs log you into your favorite websites automatically using multi-factor authentication, and save you the headache of trying to log into a site when you can’t remember your password.

 

4. Utilize multi-factor authentication.

MFA’s are easy to set up and increasingly effective to keep your information protected. Common practices of using MFA’s include a fingerprint scan on your mobile device, or a code sent to your mobile phone. Such practices make accessing your account or device nearly impossible for outside threats – and the more factors you combine, the safer your accounts will be.

Password security needs to be top of mind for consumers who entrust their personal information with their online accounts and devices. Whether you’re creating a new account online, or trying to remember your password on a site, keep these password security tips in mind to ensure your personal data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

 

To learn more about how World Synergy can help keep you and your business protected from outside threats and hacks, contact Steve Krisfalusy at 440.349.4940 x691.

Cut Through the Noise: 7 Steps to an Effective Email Campaign

By 2019, there is expected to be a total of 246 billion emails sent and received per day.

The average business person sends and receives approximately 120 emails per day, and for any business executive, finding the time to keep up with emails can be challenging – and while important, a huge time suck.

The noise of email marketing is overwhelming in today’s marketplace. A one-time email effort is no longer effective, and if your email manages to avoid the recipients clutter or spam folder, the headline needs to be catchy and relevant in order to even consider being opened. So, what can be done to cut through all of the email marketing noise, in order to stand out in your recipient’s inbox?

 

Here are 7 things to keep in mind while creating your next email campaign:

 

1. Email Campaign Planning.

Having a well thought out plan will aid in the execution and follow up of any email marketing campaign.

  1. Identify your target audience. Who is your campaign targeting? Understanding your audience and their needs will help you create and deliver a relevant campaign that will likely engage your audience.
  2. Identify your objectives and goals. What is the purpose of these email efforts? Create awareness, drive more traffic, generate leads or sales, or improve customer relations? Defining and understanding your objectives and goals will help you in tailoring a campaign that is attractive to your target audience.

 

2. Personalization and Relevancy.

Use the information you gathered from your target audience to create a personalized and relevant campaign. Develop special offers for certain audiences, write compelling text for other audiences, or focus on certain areas of interests at the right time to drive success with your campaigns.

 

3. Catch the Subject Line.

The email subject is the first impression the recipient has to want to engage with your email. If they are not interested in the subject line – chances are they won’t take the time to open the email. The subject line should be catchy, relevant to the content, and give recipients a reason to want to open the email in the first place. Using the keywords ‘Free’ can trigger spam filters and deliver your message to the black hole of ‘Spam’ or ‘Junk Mail’ folders where they may never see the light of day.

 

4. Include Call to Actions.

What are they? Where are they? Make sure your calls to action are prominent, and if possible, try to have more than one. These calls to action should include a contact email or phone number, or drive to a landing page that is relevant to the text in the email. When creating a landing page keep in mind your objectives and goals that were determined when creating this email campaign in the first place.

 

5. Test, Test, TEST!

As the saying goes, you only have on first impression. Make sure your email campaign is tested for. Test the email yourself as well as other people to ensure the email works, there are no typos, and all links click through to the correct landing pages.

 

6. Monitor and Measure Results.

Understanding your results for a specific campaign can only help shape your next campaigns. By studying and analyzing your email campaign performance, you can use the insight to better improve for the next email.

 

7. Maintain a Clean and Relevant List.

Keep your list accurate and up to date by making sure you have a scrubbed list. Having a list that has accurate names and email adresses will only ensure the effectiveness and success of a campaign.

 

For more information on how World Synergy can help your business grow with email campaigns, contact Craig Boyd at 440-349-4940 x690.

5 Quick Online Safety and Privacy Tips

February 7th, 2017 marks National Safer Internet Day.

What better way to support the safe and positive use of digital technology than by brushing up on some online safety and privacy tips?

 

We have 5 easy things you can do to keep yourself, and your organization, safer on the internet:

1. Store your data offsite by considering cloud computing.

The cloud will keep your data safe against all threats and costs that come with the risk of in-house storage, such as server meltdown or building damage.

 

2. Update your passwords frequently.

Use a strong mix of letters, symbols, and numbers, and don’t use the same password across multiple platforms.

 

3. Never click on questionable links.

If you come across a link or attachment in an unsolicited email or SMS, delete it immediately.

 

4. When on a mobile device, make sure your connection is secured.

You can check to make sure your browsing securely by looking at the beginning of the URL; if “https://” is included – your connected to a secure network.

 

5. Add Firewall & Security Scanning to your hosted website.

Keep up with security protection and website scanning with proactive protection to detect Layer 7 DDoS attacks, malicious attempts for access, and malware removal.

For company owners, another tip to keep your organization safe is to make sure your employees understand your Internet Policy. The more your employees are educated on the sensitivity of company information on laptops, phones and other devices, the more you’ll have a way of controlling and safeguarding that information.

 

For more information on how World Synergy can help keep you and your organization safe, contact us or give us a call at 440.349.4940.

Cost of IT Operation in a Small to Mid-Sized Business

Is your organization in a crunch for time, money, or resources?

Chances are, you are not paying close enough attention to supporting your IT systems. Maintaining a proactive and healthy IT support and services program helps your business leverage technology to run more efficiently and gives you the time to focus on what is important to growing your business – your customers, products, and well-being of employees.

What are the benefits of outsourcing your IT support in a small to mid-sized business?

We have a breakdown: Download our infographic here

 

For more information on how World Synergy can provide outsourced IT support for your small to mid-sized business, contact Steve Krisfalusy.