Wilson, Arkansas town center

Wilson, Arkansas: Preserving the History, People and Passion Through Agritech

Wilson, Arkansas town center

In the mid-eighteenth century, an enterprising man named Josiah Wilson began purchasing land covered with flooded timber in the Arkansas delta not far from Memphis. By 1850, Wilson had acquired nine hundred acres and cleared one hundred acres for cultivation, eventually growing his holdings to over 2000 acres. In doing so, he had sown the seed that would eventually make his family one of the largest cotton producers in the world.

Close up of cotton plantAfter Wilson’s death in 1916 and a protracted legal battle over his estate, Wilson’s holdings eventually passed to Robert E. “Lee” Wilson. Despite Lee’s limited education, he gradually transformed the original holdings into a Delta empire.

Overcoming floods and various legal battles during the first two decades of the twentieth century, as well as significant financial issues in the 1930’s, Lee grew his holdings to forty-seven thousand acres and developed the town of Wilson, a quintessential “one man” company town. Nearly every building was owned by the Wilson family. Ninety-four employees and its residents shopped at Wilson owned stores and even paid for goods with Wilson currency.

Lee died in 1933 and is buried in the center of town square, a constant monument to the man that truly put Wilson on the map. After Lee’s death in 1933, the business was shortly run by his son, who ceded control to a non-family member, Jim Crain, due to health issues. Jim served as a “placeholder” until the third generation of Wilsons came of age.   From that point forward, the family transformed the business into a portfolio agricultural business holding with twenty-three thousand acres devoted to three primary commodities: cotton, soybeans and rice.[1]

The latest chapter began in 2010 when Gaylon Lawrence purchased the family agricultural holdings, including the town. Gaylon is gradually transforming the town into a culturally significant destination via an investment in new buildings, the renovation and reopening of the Wilson Café, organic farming, art events and a new private school.  All in addition to his nation-wide portfolio of businesses, including Heitz Cellars in California.

Wilson, Arkansas signageOctober is cotton ginning season, and the ginning operation in Wilson is something to see. The outside of the gin looks like an ordinary metal building; however, inside you’ll find aa sophisticated computerized system capable of sorting, cleaning and processing tons of product. This season, the Lawrence Group will process approximately 175,000 bales of cotton and and 60,000 tons of seed for resale. Each bale is approximately 500 pounds and at a price of .80 cents per pound, that means The Lawrence Group will process approximately $70 million in cotton this season.

iConvergence is proud to be a part of the town’s renaissance and as an IT partner entrusted with making sure The Lawrence Group’s IT system functions correctly. In 2018, we sponsored the Town’s music series, which is well known for bringing national acts to Wilson. Despite having a population of fewer than nine-hundred people, Wilson is blessed with a state-of-the-art fiber optic network and public WiFi. As the primary IT and telecommunications provider for the Lawrence Group, iConvergence designs, implements and supports all of its voice, data and video services across seven locations. This includes Meraki switching, point-to-point WiFi, SD-WAN, managed security, Cisco WebEx collaboration, desktop support and remote datacenter services.

Wilson cafeiConvergence has become an integral part of the town. People come up and speak to us when we’re in the Café enjoying a piece of pie or attending town events. They wave to us and see us as “locals,” a sign that the relationship is personal and more than just business. At iConvergence, we try to never lose sight of that and always emphasize the “human” part of what we do.

Y’all come see us in Wilson.

Reach out today.

[1] Jeannie Whayne, Delta Empire, Louisiana State University Press, 2011

Artistic depiction of man using technology

IT and Data Security Should Be a Way of Life for Your Business

Artistic depiction of man using technology

You’re going to get hacked.  Just read the news any day of the week and you’ll quickly realize it’s impossible for any government, corporation, small business or resident to protect their data with 100% confidence.  IT security isn’t just something you install on a computer or connect to your network.  If you want to close the security gap as tight as possible you will have to change the way your business functions.  Security needs to be a way of life.  It has to be as important as the products or services you sell that keep you in business.  Security has to be a part of every business much like accounting. It’s something that every business, no matter the size, must be able to maintain.

Your Current IT Security May Be No Match for Today’s Hackers

Today’s hackers are entering organization’s in so many different ways it’s challenging just to keep the holes plugged.  Just check out this recent article on how “Hackers Could Read Your Hotmail, MSN, and Outlook Emails by Abusing Microsoft Support.” This is why a security stack is necessary.  It’s like layers of an onion.  Someone may get through a layer or two but there is another one waiting just under that one. Stacking your security solution provides your business with the best odds for protecting your data. Below is the stack I recommend every business implement.

  • Firewall
  • DNS Protection
  • Multi-Factor Authentication
  • OS Security Updates & Patching
  • Anti-Virus/Anti-Malware
  • Email Spam & ATP
  • Offsite Backups
  • Employee Security Training

You might be thinking this is overkill and will cost your business way too much.  How much will not having all of this cost you?  This is the world we live in now.  Data breaches leaking medical records, banking information, case files, copy right records, engineering drawings and client information.  Resulting in lawsuits, fines, revoked licenses, degraded brand recognition, loss of customers and business closure. Keep in mind, this example was only a data breach.  I won’t even go through the ransomware attacks or even worse, the guys that just want to delete all of your data because they find it amusing.

Fact is, if you don’t have all of the layers in place that I have recommended above, then you are not doing your best to protect your company’s data, your employees, your customers and frankly, the doors from closing on your company.

At iConvergence, we’re happy to chat about your current environment and see how our security experts and strategy can help ensure your company remains on a path to uninterrupted growth and success.

Let’s talk about protecting your business – contact us today!

Jeremy Roth

Director of Managed Services, iConvergence


2019 Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500 list in the Pioneer 250 category plaque

iConvergence Recognized for Excellence in Managed IT Services

2019 Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500 list in the Pioneer 250 category plaque

2019 Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500 list in the Pioneer 250 category plaqueiConvergence is proud to announce that CRN, a division of The Channel Company, has named us to its 2019 Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500 list in the Pioneer 250 category! This annual list recognizes North American Solution providers with innovative approaches to managed services. These services empower companies to implement and operate complex technologies while allowing them to keep their focus on their core business.

Why were we selected for the list? Because not all managed services providers are created equal! At iConvergence, our engineers work on your behalf to ensure critical systems and devices are fully optimized. We go beyond managed services, becoming a strategic partner in your business, anticipating and reacting to your developing needs as your business grows. As we at iConvergence like to say, “you focus on the core while we focus on the chores!”

Bob Skelley, CEO of the Channel Company, says, “capable MSPs enable companies to take their cloud computing to the next level, streamline spending, effectively allocate limited resources, and navigate the vast field of available technologies.”

We do all of that, and much more.

“The team at iConvergence is extremely grateful for the recognition, and thankful for the opportunity to continue to exceed the expectations of our partners. Managed Services continues to be a differentiator for iConvergence as well as a huge focus for us in 2019,” stated Jeremy Roth, Director of Managed Services at iConvergence.

If you’ve been exploring the idea of a Managed Service Provider, we’d love to hear more about your needs! Please get in touch with our Managed Services Team:

Managed Services Contact:
Jeremy Roth
Director of Managed Services

PR & Blog Contact:
Doug Meaux
Director of Business Operations

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5 Ways Digital Technologies Have Transformed Disaster Recovery and Response

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Aerial view of hurricane aftermathIn the last few years, Americans have witnessed an escalating number of catastrophic events. Hurricanes, mass-shootings, wildfires, waves of flash floods, and tornados, have damaged or destroyed homes and caused hardship for scores of citizens.

In each disaster, technology has played an essential role in management and relief efforts—saving countless lives. Media often covers the role social media plays in connecting catastrophe victims with help and support services. Not as widely discussed, but just as significant, is the support provided by contemporary technologies.

The cloud has transformed disaster relief and management.
The cloud and cloud-native technologies have been instrumental in transforming the preparation and management of disaster response. Disasters often render local infrastructures ineffective, making data access and communication nearly impossible. Because data is stored and accessed far from the disaster area, cloud-based technologies help circumvent what was once a significant challenge. Additionally, the scalable properties of the cloud, and its ability to meet precise requirements surrounding network traffic and volume, help secure local agencies against issues related to network downtime.

Disaster recovery plan buttonCollaboration technologies have transformed communication in times of catastrophe.
Collaboration tools enable secure communication across physical and organizational boundaries, keeping emergency managers organized in times of disaster. With WebEx Teams from Cisco, for example, managers can enact team-specific rooms where documents can be shared, voice or video meetings can be held, and communication occurs in real-time. Collaboration keeps every member of the emergency operations team prepared and informed, radically improving the speed and efficiency of relief during disasters.  This free-flow of information across organizations and groups has had a significant impact in times of catastrophe, helping to connect loved ones, move people to safety and even get clean water, food, and supplies to where it is needed most.

With today’s technology, disaster prediction has taken an enormous leap forward.
Today’s technology has given us the tools to collect, analyze and study data in ways unheard of just a decade ago. With this information, researchers can address persistent problems, create enhanced solutions, predict future catastrophes, and save more lives. As more significant volumes of data are produced and collected during a disaster, researchers are given a more substantial opportunity to examine and learn from lessons and experiences. Findings gathered from big data analytics provide emergency response teams greater ability to move proactively before the next disaster.

Drones are essential for disaster recovery and emergency response.
Drones have become a significant component of the disaster response toolkit. Drones extend the reach of teams working to restore power and accelerate the fulfillment of insurance claims to areas impacted by catastrophe. Protection and speed of recovery are two of the most significant benefits to recovery teams—issues that would have taken days or weeks to address, with drones, can be solved in hours or minutes.

Person using handheld deviceSocial networks are playing an ever more critical role in times of disaster.
Social networking applications are playing an essential role during catastrophic events. During hurricane Harvey, Texans took to social networking applications to document issues and find help. Scores of people used platforms like Facebook and Snapchat to draw attention to areas desperate for assistance, letting loved ones know they were safe. The growth of cloud-based applications has allowed civilians and emergency teams to join together, getting people the resources and assistance they need faster than ever before, thereby saving thousands of lives.

Rapid technological innovations have transformed the velocity of emergency operations and recovery before, during and after the initial event. And, as we continue to study and improve disaster response through data, response times accelerate, communications are optimized, and emergency operations become more streamlined.

Find Out If You and Your Business Are Disaster-Ready:

Book An Appointment Now

Book an appointment now to schedule time with our Disaster Recovery Advisor so we can show you how iConvergence can help your business become ready with best-in-class cloud and collaboration solutions from Cisco.

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Modern Tech With A Rich History

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How IT Managed Services Have Evolved To Become The Comprehensive Industry We Know Today

Gears labeled with Past and FutureSitting at your desk right now, surrounded by the tools you need to do your job, it’s most likely pretty hard to remember a time when your day-to-day life wasn’t directly tied to the use of various technologies. Emails, texts, presentations, excel sheets, video calls etc. etc. the list goes on and on. Tech plays an integral part in how we communicate, interact, relax, learn, and most notably here, how the world does business.

The majority of companies would be unable to function without the use of such technologies. However, it really wasn’t too long ago that all this modernization of business became the norm. If you need evidence of that, just reference this classic. Even with the surge of technology in the workplace being relatively recent, the way we manage and maintain our IT has undergone multiple evolutions over the past couple decades.

In The Beginning….
As businesses began to embrace the use of new communication platforms and technology in the early 90’s, they quickly realized that someone would have to maintain these systems. Thus, IT as we know it was born.  The typical model for IT during this period was known as the practice of “break it, fix it.” As you probably guessed, this method involved addressing problems only as they occurred. If something broke, it was time to fix it. Companies would call their IT representative, usually someone from the manufacturer that made the broken system, and the manufacturer would then send someone to fix it. This method was sporadic, unpredictable and often times very costly.

IT Enters The Managed Services RealmMan leaping from old books into tech
Throughout the course of the 90’s, break it, fix it was the status quo of the IT industry. As the new millennium dawned on the horizon, technology in the office place was quickly becoming more complex and widespread. As a result, the break it, fix it model was not only unable to keep up, but also becoming financially irresponsible for businesses. Having a large, unexpected IT bill hit your budget without foresight is enough to make any accounting department scream. Not to mention the detriments of long periods of downtime and waiting to have someone come in and fix an issue in an economy that was becoming faster paced by the second. The reactive process of break it, fix it could no longer sustain itself with a proactive world.

Here is where we begin to see a shift towards the managed services model of IT. Companies that were previously running on the break it, fix it method began to see the benefits of having flat rate fees that guaranteed a certain amount of on-going service. Regularly scheduled service days became the norm, allowing for the identification of issues before they became critical. Think of this as a hybrid approach. IT was becoming more proactive, but if a problem arose outside of your scheduled visit or pre-arranged contract, it was back to the old ways of break it, fix it. Much of the early 2000’s used this approach, but with technological advances occurring at exponential rates, this hybrid method was never going to last for long.

With wireless and eventually cloud technology becoming more prominent in the early and mid-2010’s, full 24-hour IT managed services became the solution to the bottleneck slowdowns occurring with the old ways of managing networks.

Modern Day Solution
Nowadays, through Cloud technology, large and small companies alike benefit from the use of off-site managed IT services. Whether you’re a start-up that can’t afford a full-time IT staff, or a top player in your industry that wants your tech department to focus on larger picture business initiatives, you can leave the server management and operations to a third-party expert, knowing issues will be actively identified and resolved.

Utilizing managed services instead of the antiquated method of fixing problems as they arise allows your business to plan ahead, both financially and technologically. No more one-off solutions with unexpected fees. No more patching holes while the ship is still sinking. No more downtime while you wait for help. Managed services incentivize solving underlying problems by actively searching for issues and long-term strategies for your IT. Rates are fixed, response time is instantaneous, and plans are catered to your company’s individual tech needs.

Managed Services headeriConvergence Managed Services
Managed services through iConvergence gives your company 24/7 access to a complete and experienced IT team.  Infrastructure management, help desk support, cybersecurity prevention & monitoring ensure your network is protected, backed-up and operating at full efficiency. Our Virtual CIO enables your business to strategically plan, budget and carry out smart practices across your network, so you can quickly adapt and implement the latest technologies to keep your company at peak performance. iConvergence ensures that your business’s network is efficient, productive and able to advance with the ever-changing world of technology. Reach out to iConvergence today to learn more and give your company the competitive edge in IT.

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Intent-Based Networking: What Is It, and Why Should Your Business Care?

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IBN has been a big topic of conversation in the last two years—the question is, what is it, and how will it help your business?

AI robot reading a bookIn the last few years, there has been a lot of buzz around intent-based networking. The term isn’t new, but Cisco renewed a relatively idle conversation in 2017 at Cisco Live, the annual gathering of IT professionals.

Since that time, there has been a good deal of confusion surrounding intent-based networking (IBN) and how it is different from SDN (Software Defined Networking). Adding to the confusion, vendors have started to re-brand existing solutions as ‘intent-based’ making it difficult to differentiate between marketing hype and fact.

Given the confusion, you might be wondering what IBN truly is, and how the technology can help your business.

Network engineers today are expected to manage an expanding number of connected devices, and this number is only going to grow. According to research conducted by Statista, by 2020, the installed base of Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices is expected to rise to nearly 31B worldwide. As this number grows, complexity and risk grow alongside it. Through digital transformation, businesses managing networks using traditional methods are finding it a challenge to keep up with agile competitors, and as a result, they are inching closer to full-scale disruption.

Abstract tech visualCisco’s intent-based networking solution—the Network Intuitive—provides contemporary businesses with the tools needed to deploy a network able to scale from thousands to millions of connected devices, and can learn continually, adapt and automate critical operations, keeping businesses secure in the face of an evolved threat landscape. Intent-based networking is essential for companies wishing to reach digital maturity.

The primary goal of the intuitive network is to transcend the management of individual devices, moving into a globally managed policy, controlled from a single location that runs through the network. This technology makes use of machine-learning and advanced automation to control networks, representing a significant transformation in the enterprise. It’s taken years to arrive at the point where machine-learning algorithms are mature enough to make IBN a reality—that time has come.

Cisco’s transformational Network Intuitive, built around Cisco’s Digital Network Architecture (Cisco DNA), enables the scale, complexity and security, needed in this world of connected devices.

The three essential components of the Network Intuitive:

  • Encrypted Traffic Analysis: an innovation from Cisco giving businesses the ability to leverage the network to uncover hidden threats in encrypted traffic.
  • DNA Center: Cisco DNA Center is a centralized management application, which simplifies processes enabling IT to move with velocity. DNA Center uses automation to cut costs, assurance and analytics to improve network performance, and security to eliminate risk.
  • Catalyst 9000: Cisco’s most advanced series of switches, purpose-built for full fabric control with Cisco DNA Center, delivering industry-best performance. This powers Cisco’s Network Intuitive.

Intent-based networking is an altogether new approach to managing networks. Cisco’s Network Intuitive gives your business the tools to allow you to eliminate wasted time and money operating your network and gives you the agility your business needs to reach digital maturity.

If you’d like to learn more about IBN, IT modernization, and how iConvergence can help guide your business to digital maturity, get in touch or leave a comment below.

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Converging Thoughts: Tech Insights from iConvergence

Year In Review: Our Top 5 Blogs of 2018

Converging Thoughts: Tech Insights from iConvergence

2018 was a big year at iConvergence! Let’s take a look back at some of our favorite blogs from the year.

2019 is right around the corner, but before we pop the champagne at midnight, we wanted to say goodbye to 2018 by reviewing our five favorite blogs of the year, in no particular order. Without further ado, let’s dive in:

Crossing the Digital Divide with Connected EducationKids in a library using computers
The way our children learn is changing as classrooms enter the digital realm, but there is still a long way to go in making sure all students have access to the technologies that help educate the country’s youth. Here we explore how Cisco’s Connected Classroom aims to change that.

Do your best teamwork with Webex TeamsCollaboration Tools Are Transforming the American Workplace
The American workplace is changing. Collaboration tools like Cisco’s Webex Teams are making remote work more accessible and productive than ever. In this blog, we look at why over 170 U.S. companies are choosing to operate with a completely remote workforce, and why their employees are happier for it.

cyber criminal using a laptopSaaS Tools For Work Are Awesome – How Do We Secure Them?
As utilizing SaaS tools like Google Docs, Office 365 and Salesforce become routine in the modern-day workplace, making sure they are secure and protected against hacks is more critical than ever. Here we see how Cisco Umbrella was explicitly designed to help your business protects its employees and their data from those trying to steal it.

Data center, blurredReasons to Modernize Your IT Infrastructure for the Digital Era
The world is entering the digital era, whether or not your company is ready. This blog lists five significant reasons it’s time to take IT modernization seriously. Putting together an end-to-end plan to ensure your business will thrive regardless of what the future of digital disruption holds is essential. If you’re looking to gain a competitive edge, boost your revenue or merely have the peace of mind that your business’ technology is secure and adaptable, then this blog is for you.

2 people talking at a Cisco CafeDigital Transformation Has Arrived, But Will Your Company Change?
Last but certainly not least, we have our blog that examines digital transformation, the impact it’s having on everything from banking to ordering a pizza, and whether your company will thrive by embracing this wave, or lose relevance by pushing it aside as a passing trend. We also offer helpful advice your business can use to better address the adjustment to the digital world. This is a must read for any executive wanting to stay competitive in the modern economy.

There you have it. Now we can put a ribbon on 2018 as we look forward to what 2019 has in store. We’d like to extend our warmest of thanks to the friends of iConvergence, our loyal customers, and all our colleagues that helped make this past year so enjoyable. The future is looking bright, and we can’t wait to see what exciting developments the world of technology will bring us next.

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5 Reasons to Modernize Your IT Infrastructure for the Digital Era

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As the threat of digital disruption places increasing pressure on IT systems and organizations, companies, regardless of scale or industry need to consider an end-to-end strategy for upgrading and managing technology.

Person holding glowing globeLouisiana’s businesses, now, more than ever before, are facing critical IT modernization challenges, from retailers needing to digitize the customer buying experience, to companies refreshing legacy applications and hardware, or transitioning to cloud-based technologies, virtual machines, or microservices to deliver software—businesses in the region are in the midst of transformation (or should be).

In the past, companies have implemented a progressive approach to modernizing IT environments, opting to address the most immediate pain points and subsequent issues as they happen. Today, however, the increasing threat of digital disruption is facilitating the need to modernize systems end-to-end, with the broader view in mind.

Creating a holistic plan of attack related to modernization will transform the way your company thinks about IT. Taking this approach makes IT a critical organizational component, helping to drive business outcomes and making IT leaders partners—not just service providers.

5 Reasons every business in the Gulf Coast region must Modernize IT.

Facilitate your migration to the cloud
To digitally transform and earn the competitive advantage and agility needed for success in today’s business environment, many companies have migrated critical business components and applications to the cloud—to do this your overall IT infrastructure must modernize.

Team meeting in a casual settingEarn a huge revenue boost
Senior IT decision makers see modernization as a catalyst for enhanced financial performance, with the power to boost revenue by an increasing percentage year over year. On the flipside, most senior IT leaders believe failing to modernize IT infrastructures will negatively impact the long-term growth of businesses.

Gain the competitive edge your business needs to earn success in today’s world.
Applying an end-to-end approach to IT modernization will provide your business with the agility necessary to gain a competitive edge in the digital world. Legacy systems were not built to solve the growing requirements of the digital business and taking an incremental approach to modernization is not only too slow—it is too risky.

Your business needs new techniques and technologies to facilitate a cloud approach.
To earn the benefits of using modern software engineering techniques, like DevOps, agile application development, and a cloud approach, your business needs to work with a partner skilled at building and managing a contemporary IT infrastructure. Modern software engineering techniques and tools will lead to improved overall business performance at all levels.

Abstract waves of zeros and onesEarn the peace of mind that comes with knowing your business is secure.
Every business leader knows their data and systems are under threat, and it’s not a matter of if, but when, an attack will occur. Modernizing your IT infrastructure is the first step toward improved cybersecurity. Legacy systems create massive vulnerabilities for your business. By applying an end-to-end approach to modernizing IT, and partnering with a managed services provider to oversee the strategy, implementation and maintenance of your environment, you will not only earn a competitive advantage—you’ll be able to get some sleep.

If you’re not there yet, don’t worry—you’re not alone. Less than 35% of the businesses in our region have implemented a modernized IT infrastructure or have created a strategy to modernize. At iConvergence, our expertise, knowledge and experience make us the ideal partner to build a roadmap to IT modernization, and whether you go all-in on the cloud, or opt to take a hybrid cloud approach—we can plan, build and manage your infrastructure, end-to-end.

Is your business primed for success in the digital era? Find out; take the iConvergence Digital Readiness Assessment.

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Your Business Needs to Invest in Collaboration Tools—Here are 16 Reasons Why

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Collaboration technologies have altered the workplace for employees nationwide. Here are the top 16 reasons your business needs to invest in them.

Team having a meeting in a modern workspace, blurredThe American workplace is transforming. As digital technologies make our world smaller by connecting people at the touch of a button, workplace boundaries are coming down, and the concept of what the workplace is and can be is changing. Collaboration tools are giving a competitive advantage to the businesses willing to invest in them and building a happier, more productive workforce.

Distance is one of the most significant roadblocks to collaboration and is responsible for productivity inhibiting communication silos. Fortunately, innovations in collaboration technologies and unified communications mean it’s no longer necessary to spend precious time and money on expensive work-related travel to bring busy workers or customers together in the same place. It is now possible to work—either face-to-face via video or in real-time via messaging or voice—regardless of physical location or time. We can collaborate at the moment in the way we choose across all boundaries and enjoy a range of features like whiteboarding and document sharing on any device—from your phone to your desktop, to the conference room. And that’s only a start to the vast range of benefits offered to businesses that choose collaboration tools.

Travel Costs Savings
One of the most significant benefits of investing in collaboration tools is the savings businesses can realize by eliminating unnecessary travel costs. The days of travelling to every client meeting or paying to bring team members together under the same roof are over.

Lively team meeting at conference table with several devicesSpeedy Access to Knowledge
Your employees want to learn, and you want to learn alongside them. Collaboration tools make it easy to connect with the entire knowledge base of your company quickly and efficiently. No more emails getting lost in over-crowded inboxes or desperately trying to squeeze in another 15-minute meeting on a stuffed calendar. Collaboration tech gives real-time access to every employee, with documented backups to make sure nothing gets lost.

Increased Employee Satisfaction
Employee satisfaction is key to running a successful company and avoiding costly expenses associated with high turnover and training. Employees are seeking more freedom in their work environments as the traditional 9 to 5 becomes a thing of the past. Collaboration technology makes it efficient and easy to give your employees this freedom and the options they seek. The ability to choose where and how they work results in higher engagement, a better sense of work-life balance and happier workers who want to see the company succeed and grow. Leading directly to our next point….

Increased Productivity
Happy workers are productive workers. And productive workers produce positive outcomes for your company—both cultural and financial. Employers who invest in collaboration technology report having employees utilize their abilities to their full potential, work more extended hours, log fewer sick days and ultimately work more deliberately and effectively.

Unlimited Data Archiving, Backup and Recovery
Forget server crashes and IT disasters setting your work efforts back weeks, if not months. Collaboration tools have options to integrate unlimited data archiving, backup and recovery technology through the cloud. Rest easy knowing your company’s data is securely backed up and available to your teams whenever and wherever they need it.

Remote Work Enablement
Collaboration software not only makes working remote easy, in many cases it makes remote work more efficient. Required travel, sick leave and bad weather no longer mean your team loses valuable time together. Collaboration tech makes it possible to have your full team together, in real-time, talking through video conference, chatting on messenger, sharing files, whiteboarding ideas and more from thousands of miles apart, meaning regardless of unforeseen circumstances, your team doesn’t skip a beat.

Team meeting at a table outsideQuickly Onboard New Employees
Onboarding new hires can often seem like a daunting and time-consuming task. Gathering the right files, setting up the appropriate meetings, training on specific platforms or devices and even just getting everyone introduced. Collaboration technology can remove all the headaches associated with growing your team by allowing instant communication to the full employee base, access to essential documents and hires to utilize any device with which he or she is most familiar and comfortable.

Efficient Project Management
Collaboration technology isn’t only about communication and working remotely. It can also create a smooth manner in which to manage your projects.  Sharing schedules, tasks, deadlines and essential documents with both clients and coworkers are all made more manageable. Speed is integral in the modern workplace. Missed emails and trying to get everyone in one place for 5-minutes are administrative roadblocks that slow projects down and extend timelines. With the proper cloud-based collaboration technology, these roadblocks become open highways.

In the not too distant past, access to servers and the files and documents they held required employees to be within a physical office and on a specific network. Collaboration technology allows your teams to have access to essential data regardless of location with centralized document storage. Multiple versions of files on different USB drives or saved on individual desktops complicate and slow down workflows. With centralized document storage, your team can view the latest versions of files from a single location, make edits as necessary and have access to them when and where they need it without unnecessary, and unorganized, duplication.

Breakdown of Organizational Silos
Organizational silos can make it feel like you have impenetrable walls between your departments and employees, making it difficult to share and effectively communicate with your teams. Whether they form from offices being separated by location or departments not cooperating, collaboration tech can make all the difference. Now your sales team on the east coast can be in constant communication with your accounting team out west. Collaboration tech encourages frequent contact by giving your employees choices on how they can connect, share ideas and deliver information.

Efficient Team Decision Making
With real-time interaction between full teams, including leadership, collaboration technology can help decision-making move more rapidly throughout the hierarchy of your company. By eliminating lengthy email chains and repetitive feedback, teams can work together in live environments, reviewing critiques as they happen, to efficiently provide not only approvals but suggestions and problem-solving ideas to get tasks done faster.

Work colleagues chatting and smilingReduced Operational Costs
Collaboration technology has the potential to drastically reduce your organization’s operational costs through multiple avenues. Travel costs and expenses are cut since teams can interact through voice, video, message or whiteboard interfaces. IT expenses drop with employees utilizing their personal devices more, which also increases productivity due to familiarity with their tools. Other costs such as office space rent, printing, building upkeep, hardware purchase and maintenance are also immediately reduced by adopting collaboration tech for your company, meaning you have more money to invest back into your products and employees.

Competitive Agility Leads To Competitive Advantages
Companies that can be flexible, quick and cohesive are at a huge advantage in today’s fast-paced, tech-driven economy. Being able to collaborate in real-time with your employees from any device, in any location and under any circumstance means you can make decisions quickly and confidently, knowing your team has full access to all the variables surrounding your business.

Speedier, More Transparent and Trustworthy Communication
Allowing more flexibility among your employees through the implementation of collaboration technology instills trust in your company culture. It shows you trust your hires to do the job they are supposed to do, regardless of location, which also builds confidence and pride in the work being done. Direct and fast access to leadership and coworkers encourages frequent and honest communication, which in turns reinforces this trust throughout. It’s a positive cycle that cultivates a healthy and productive work environment.

Facilitates BYOD
As we’ve mentioned already, collaboration software can be implemented across virtually any device and operating system. This lets your teams utilize their own devices, which can pay-off by not only reducing IT expenses but by allowing your employees to use products they are comfortable with, resulting in a faster, happier and more productive workforce.

Access Your Calling Platform and Contacts in the Cloud
The final item on our list of reasons to invest in collaboration technology is entirely utilitarian. Forget having to download conference software or remember a specific laptop when you need to access your contacts. With collaboration technology, everything is stored in the cloud. So whether you’re on your phone, desktop or tablet you’ll have direct lines to all your contacts, no matter if you need video conferencing, voice or messaging.

The right cloud-based collaboration technologies could be the difference that sets your company apart. Industry-leading platforms like Webex Teams, formally Cisco Spark, give your employees the ability to meet securely, message, voice or video call, whiteboard, share and access documents from anywhere with a wifi connection. The workplace is rapidly changing. Agility, flexibility and responsiveness are trends that are becoming more important than ever for viable companies to embrace. Collaboration technology was explicitly developed to adapt, improve and progress these behaviors. Are you benefiting from it?

Is it time for your business to invest in collaboration technology? We think it is. Contact Us for a no obligation consulting session with a collaboration technology expert at iConvergence and watch your business thrive.

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SaaS Tools For Work Are Awesome - How Do We Secure Them?

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Cisco Umbrella is the perfect solution to help your business embrace Mobility and the BYOD revolution.

Co-workers chatting and looking at a deviceThe average American worker uses a dizzying array of SaaS tools to complete tasks. Think about it. How many SaaS products do you make use of throughout the average workday? The number probably hovers somewhere between 5-10 products. Tools like Webex Teams, Salesforce, Google Docs, Office 365, and others, enhance productivity and collaboration among workers, resulting in increased financial performance and overall employee satisfaction.

“Because of the flexibility and efficiency that mobile devices provide, they have transformed the way we do business. Whether it’s through collaboration amongst employees, sharing information or communicating through emoji’s, the ability to access your corporate network and data—at any time and anywhere, right at the palm of your hands—is incredibly powerful.”Kalie Radsmikham, Product Marketing Manager, Cisco

These tools, however, present a significant challenge. Hackers have grown sophisticated, today, operating more like organized crime syndicates than ramshackle basement dwellers. At the same time, products for work continue to transition to the cloud, and more employees are taking advantage of flexible work and BYOD policies.

The result is a potential data security nightmare.

Ideally, communication to and from employee devices would travel over secured virtual private networks (VPNs). These networks deliver traffic to perimeter security systems to scrutinize, and, if necessary, block and isolate. The reality, however, rarely meets expectations.

Co-workers sitting at a table and talking while looking at devicesAccording to Gartner, “By 2021, 27% of corporate data traffic will bypass perimeter security (an increase from 10% today) and flow directly from mobile and portable devices to the cloud.”

“Creating and maintaining a security policy on a per-cloud-service basis is more than a chore when hundreds of cloud services are in use—it quickly becomes a high source of risk”—Craig Lawson, Research Vice President, Gartner.

Employees regularly bypass VPNs, and this trend will only grow. How then do you protect critical data? Most companies are in an awkward position. Businesses today must move to the cloud, but this move creates visibility gaps and fresh attack surfaces. Yesterday’s approach to security won’t hold up in the cloud era.

“82 percent of the corporate laptop users admitted to sometimes bypassing their organizations’ VPNs.”Gartner

Cisco Umbrella creates a new layer of defense, conceived and designed to address modern business concerns.  Umbrella provides security for your employees whether they are on—or off—the company network. In keeping with the ‘plug and play’ mentality of Cisco’s recent innovations, Umbrella is easy to deploy, supports worldwide installations, and minimizes latency. Cisco Umbrella is the solution your business needs to stay secure in the cloud era enabling you to embrace the BYOD revolution and allowing your employees to enjoy a safe remote work environment.

CISCO Umbrella logo“Think of this new category as a Secure Internet Gateway (SIG). A SIG is a secure onramp to the Internet. Wherever users go, even when they are off the VPN, this cloud-delivered Internet gateway provides safe and secure access. As Internet requests are made, a SIG acts as the first line of defense and inspection.”Brian Roddy, Engineering Executive, Cisco

At iConvergence, our goal has always been to connect people with technology. Computing in the cloud era has enabled us to achieve this goal and now, with Cisco Umbrella, not only do we have the ability to connect our customers with best-in-class technology solutions, we can help to provide security—anywhere, at any time, from every device, and on any network.

Learn for yourself how Cisco Umbrella can secure your business, on or off the corporate network. Contact iConvergence for a Cisco Umbrella free trial.