This Is Why Your Business Needs To Digitally Transform

Digital Transformation focuses on the use of digital infrastructure and technologies to redesign the process with which we work to improve efficiency and effectiveness in all areas within a business. It is more than just changing the way you do business for the better – Digital Transformation is a way of survival in the ever-changing world of technology and innovation. It becomes an ongoing process that demands continually working your way from the first step to the last and back again to ensure your businesses successful transformation, changing the way you operate and deliver value to your customers.

With the rapid pace that technology is changing, Digital Transformation is becoming an imperative in today’s market. Thousands of companies across the world are launching programs to successfully drive them towards digital transformation; however, that is not enough. Successfully achieving digital transformation means leveraging more than just transformation programs – it means changing people’s work ethos and mindsets as well. This human element creates a side of change that is most difficult to achieve as it speaks to people’s persistent needs for stability and creates an almost instinctive resistance to change. 

What Drives Digital Transformation?

It is imperative that businesses who want to evolve with the rapid change in the world of today understand the role that employee mindsets, working to increase efficiency using technology wherever deemed possible, and the ability to overcome change and quickly adjust to new business practices play in accelerating their digital transformation efforts. 

Of course, not all organizations are at the same places in their digital transformation journey but commitment towards the speed at which adopting agile business principles across the business happens becomes the most imperative driving force towards a successful transformation program. 

Barriers To A Successful Journey

As digital technology advances and changes faster than ever, it becomes vital for companies to adopt to transformational tools at a pace that does not leave them behind. In these organizations, it becomes both a blessing and a curse to have employees who love working at a successful company and feel strongly driven by it. It’s a blessing because these employees understand the true DNA of the company which becomes a pivotal point towards success during any digital transformation program – However, the same commitment can prove to be a challenge when the employee commitment that digital transformation calls for, more often than not, calls for employees to continuously question their daily way of working thus confusing it with the reflection of the true DNA of their company.  

Around the world, company culture was and remains the biggest barrier to digital transformation in the workplace. Leaders are now required to consider more than just planning the roadmap to success and implementing the technology to get it done when driving towards digital transformation. Contemplating the human elements in digital transformation becomes the most integral part in every leaders thought process now. Change management programs need to focus on tackling the real-life human barriers to change to work hand in hand with any digital transformation program. Organizations that successfully change both their technology and employees’ mindsets benefit the most from the productivity and innovation that digital transformation provides. 

Authentic digital transformation is a state of mind that a company needs to use to constantly drive, evolve and adopt new digital solutions both internally and externally to be able to successfully break down internal silos and create a more seamless experience internally.  

Key Principles To Help You On The Way

Digital Transformation is an ongoing process

To ensure that digital transformation is adopted properly and continues to transform your business, it is vital that core team members understand that digital transformation is never-ending. It’s about taking an innovative approach to every strategy planned, and in every step of each business process implemented to continuously improve the way you do business. The world of technology is so ever-changing, it develops and modifies with each hour that passes and that’s why you need to constantly be as on par with these changes as possible in order to keep up with digital transformation and all it can do to scale your business to new heights. 

Culture of innovation 

Whilst we have no true power in controlling the fast pace that technology in business changes, we can always control the environment in which we work to be prepared for the challenges and changes that come from modern technologies. Keeping the quote “Your comfort zone will kill you” in mind, digital transformation urges you to adopt a ‘culture of innovation’ within your workspace that allows employees to overcome their “we’re always done it this way” attitude towards technology and improvements. Core members need to create a culture and environment that views change as opportunities, rather than threats in the workplace. Although this transformation takes time and effort, it’s unlikely going to happen without people stepping out of their working norm.

Maintaining the mindset

True digital transformation is a state of mind. A mindset that continuously evolves and adopts to new digital solutions and technologies both internally and externally. Every area of a company has a role to play in digital transformation, and they each come together to impact the way you do business in unique ways. Whilst digital transformation isn’t something to check off a task list, it’s important that it’s a mindset that becomes part of your organizational culture and experience. It has been found that those organizations who approach digital transformation with the correct, constant mindset and perspective, are able to create a much more manageable and successful transformation.  

Coach smaller teams for better adoption 

To maximum adoption and success, digital transformation needs to be embedded across the entirety of your business. By integrating it into the overall business processes and making it part of your marketing strategy, you can achieve better results, faster. The ideal solution for any SMB is to break up the various technologies that come in to play in every business process within the company into smaller teams to focus better. In a 2017 Deloitte report, it had been identified that smaller, cross-functional teams tend to deliver better results than bigger, dedicated IT departments with a strong hierarchy structure. Breaking down your departments into teams may just be your winning hand at quicker adoption and better transformation. 

In conclusion, digital transformation does not have to be a cumbersome journey that overwhelms employees and key players. It’s not something to check off your to-do list and move on from it but it’s a mindset that stays and becomes part of the organization’s culture and managed experience. Companies who approach transformation keeping that in mind can create a more manageable, and much more successful transformation. 

Connectivity Is Key – The Importance Of A Business Grade Internet Connection

There has never been a greater need for seamless connectivity than right now among South African businesses. In a world that is ever-changing with modern technologies and automated business processes, high-speed and reliable Internet access is necessary, wherever we are, whenever. A good grade Internet connectivity is the very foundation upon which technological advancements and transition to the connected world that every business builds on. With the Internet updating and technology being modified on a constant basis, the Telecommunication industry, together with Internet Service Providers (ISP) work tirelessly to fully uncover the true potential that the Digital Age has to offer.

In support of this change, adapting, innovating, and closely cooperating becomes second nature. More than all, working with the “right” service provider who has the proper infrastructure in place allows businesses smooth scalability, and integrity to be consistent unlocks a wider spectrum of benefits for any business looking for Good Grade Internet Connectivity to upscale their performanceFor those businesses moving towards digital transformation, a good internet connection becomes a natural requirement for accessing their Microsoft 365, Google Apps, Amazon Web Services, Azure subscriptions and other Software as A Service (SaaS) that business consume daily.

Users need to be able to work across multiple devices, have all time access to data, documents, and be able to collaborate from wherever they are. It allows users to have reliable and efficient connectivity that helps facilitate quick business processes and leads them to a host of added benefits. When deployed by the “right” provider, with the hardware, software, and network infrastructure in place to facilitate a reliable enterprise connectivity, could enable mobility, flexibility and agility that makes for a successful organization. 

Users need to be able to work across multiple devices, have all time access to data, documents, and be able to collaborate from wherever they are. It allows users to have reliable and efficient connectivity that helps facilitate quick business processes and leads them to a host of added benefits. When deployed by the “right” provider, with the hardware, software, and network infrastructure in place to facilitate a reliable enterprise connectivity, could enable mobility, flexibility and agility that makes for a successful organization. 

The Factors To Consider

To get the best out of your Business Grade Internet plan, you must take into consideration a few of the most frequent questions. The limitations to these would determine the performance and success it would deliver once deployed within your business. 

The importance of good grade business connectivity is most vital in allowing a good upload speed that can be critical if your business often sends and receives important documents and files to existing or prospect clients, colleagues, and suppliers. Hence ensuring that you have a connection with excellent speed becomes the first factor to look out for when choosing the right fit in connectivity for your business. If your business is sharing regular information on the Internet, a poor network provider and limited bandwidth could make what can be a simple task, exceedingly difficult.

To put things into perspective, we would like to compare the nature of a good grade Internet connection, to that of a running water tap. By there being more than one individual in a home, all trying to fill their cups with water, each person would only receive a limited flow of water into their cups. Hence, the smaller amount of people that use a line, results in a higher bandwidth for your business. Therefore, having a connectivity with good speed and little to no lags that fits your businesses need to connect many users who are regularly uploading information, downloading, and sending files with efficiency is important.  

Then comes the amount of water available and the time it takes to flow through each tap being opened. With business grade connectivity, businesses need to consider an Internet connection with a cap that suits them best. We have identified that although most businesses have an unlimited cap for their business Internet usage, users experience a slower Internet connection once the Internet threshold has been crossed. Businesses need to be aware of the increased expense, inconvenience and time wasted that running out of data, Wi-Fi or merely working with a slow Internet connection can cause.   

Business connectivity together with having a good server can mean that online meetings, webinars, and research can be consumed with ease allowing your company to take advantage of the Internet and the better performance it offers for network companies to share information no matter what time it is.   

Lastly, any Internet connection comes with hinderance and network faults from time-to-time. These problems can cost the business time and money, and could ultimately slowdown work processes, leaving workers at their desks, but unable to complete any of their tasks. It could also cause loss of important business information due to the inability to update files or data stored on the network. All of which can be mitigated with a good service provider with secure and reliable servers, who believe in restoration time being a priority.  

Why Choose A Reseller?

Anyone can have a good Internet connection but having a good managed service to enhance your managed connectivity experience can be most beneficial too. With a connectivity vendor that provides a full range of connectivity solutions that links you to your services, and your clients – It becomes best when joined together with managing your networks and connections.

Whether you need wireline, wireless, broadband, or otherwise, we ensure that you receive connectivity at excellent service levels that surpass all your connectivity expectations.   

We deliver and manage your Internet and network needs so you can focus more on growing your business.  

Our ability to ensure high service levels in the deliverance and assurance of your Connectivity services based on our unparalleled experience in networks and services giving you a complete Managed Connectivity Experience.  

An important additional service that works hand-in-hand with good grade connectivity is an experienced partner equipped with the capabilities to provide an all round Secure Internet Gateway together with a Managed Security Service within your business.

Sns Technologies offers various Connectivity options that include SD-WAN, Business Grade VoIP Lines and Direct Connections to Microsoft’s Data Centers, i.e.: Azure Express Route Solutions providing you with all your connectivity requirements from one partner. For more information on our plans and options available, you can contact us at info@snstech.co.za

VoIP Lines and SD-WAN giving you an all-round best experience from one vendor. You can contact us for all your Connectivity, Voice Over IP (VOIP) and SD-WAN requirements at info@snstech.co.za

Microsoft Lists & All You Need To Know About It

The introduction of the new Microsoft Lists App is here to change the way you manage your businesses information and workload organization by being your own smart tracking information app in Microsoft 365. With a simple to navigate, smart and flexible app, your teams can easily focus on what matters most.

  • Track issues
  • Track assets
  • Manage routines, contacts & inventory
  • Use Lists within Microsoft Teams

With the ability to customize views, enable smart rules and alerts, everyone in sync with business processes. Choose from a range of ready-made templates to manage tasks quickly and easily and if those don’t cut it – Create your own customized templates to work from!

It all begins with Lists Home. A single interface where you can see and manage all of your lists within one platform. By clicking on the Lists icon displayed in the Microsoft 365 App Launcher, you can jump right into creating your very first List. Use existing lists by importing Excel table data to jumpstart your creation, or choose from a variety of pre-designed templates to work from. Beyond creation, you can view your favorite and the recent lists that you have or those that have been shared with you. Each user has the ability to work within two work spaces, your personal lists that you create, own and can share, and team lists owned by members within your team for easy collaboration.

Millions of SharePoint users have becme accustomed to the benefits that SharePoint Lists has given them over the years. Microsoft Lists builds on SharePoints previous offering to now bring new suer experiences ad capabilities that innovate the foundation of SharePoint Lists to give users a best of both worlds experience. The value of existing integrations with the Power Platform continues to come in to play when you need to further customize your list forms with Power Apps required to design robust workflows with Power Automate.

Hand in hand with being able to consume the best features in SharePoint and Lists combined – Are these features:

  • Lists home brings all of your lists together at your fingertips, with the ability’s to consume the app on the web and on the go via the Lists mobile app. Create new lists, share them with team members and access recently worked on and favorited lists in one location no matter where you’re working from.
  • Use Microsoft Lists within Microsoft Teams by creating a new list or imbedding an existing list directly into a Teams channel for enhanced collaboration and increased transparency. Enjoy combined lists with a side-by-side conversation for excellent collaboration with one integrated experience.
  • Customize and build your ideal Lists from scratch with the Lists custom features and functionalities. And, if that takes too long – Kickstart the time it takes to create lists by choosing one of the ready-made templates designed by Microsoft to help you get started quickly. Based on common scenarios with preconfigured forms, views and formats – creating lists from scratch for intricate processes becomes a thing of the past.
  • Use the Power Platforms to customize views, create smart rules to automate certain steps in a process and sharing capabilities within Microsoft Lists to keep everyone in sync. Easily be able to visualize your information, build rules and share your lists and information with confidence.

FAQ’s

1. How does Lists differ from Microsoft To Do and Planner?

Microsoft Lists is an information tracking app that enables teams to manage process or workflows with ease. Whilst Planner To Do and Planner are purpose-built apps that are aimed at helping individuals and teams to manage their workloads using tasks, and once those tasks are completed, are hidden from view – Microsoft Lists focuses on enabling users to collect, view, filter, collaborate and share structured information across a team or organization. Lists is integrated with the Power Platform to design, build and customize lists to extend productivity apps alongside Power Apps and Power Automate all within one application.

2. What happens to SharePoint Lists once the roll out of Microsoft Lists?

All investments to date in SharePoint lists will carry forward as Microsoft is building off the 20+ years of innovation within SharePoint and is taking steps to make them even more accessible within other apps. The millions of people using Lists will see new capabilities like updated user experiences, creation in Teams, improved Quick edit and more.

3. What subscriptions do I need to use Microsoft Lists?

Lists is available through Microsoft 365 or Office 365 subscription plans where SharePoint is already included.

4. When can we expect to see the Lists app and Lists within Teams?

The Lists app in Microsoft Teams will begin roll out by the end of August 2020; however, all are expected to be complete in production worldwide by the end of October 2020.

5. Will Microsoft Lists app in Microsoft 365 and Teams be the only way of getting all the features or will all the same features be available from SharePoint itself since Lists will be based on SharePoint?

Lists, no matter where you access them from, will have the same set of capabilities, design look and feel and options for customization. This includes lists you already use and any new ones you create going forward. There is only one lists product in the service and it now has a number of new entry points.

Business Success Post COVID-19 Is Closer Than You Think.

Many Businesses across the country would have foreseen that the lockdown will be over one day and the time to “reopen” will come. Given the nature of the pandemic everything about business is about to change. It seems that we are slowly moving towards a gradual removal of the lockdown for some sectors and parts of the economy. The large majority are in the same consensus that the government doesn’t have any other alternative, other than focus on lives and livelihoods. However, the biggest challenge businesses will face will be restarting their operations. Even while a larger part of the enabling economy continues to be in lockdown, an exit out of the lockdown is being planned step by step and it will come to a time where businesses across sectors will eventually be allowed to resume.

In days, weeks and months, technology has come to the rescue of many businesses, but many predict believe this is a role that has just began. Many of the organizations coping best or even thriving in the current crisis share a common attribute, they were already building a digital transformation journey for the future. The global pandemic has been a proving ground where the most agile and dynamic businesses have reacted fastest to the ‘new normal’ of the lockdown economy; restrictions on travel, the shutdown of physical stores or factories, and a huge rise in remote working. Against this backdrop, the question is no longer should organizations digitize, but rather, how can they deliver a transformation that best prepares them to handle uncertain times and create opportunity from crisis.

For those looking to undertake any kind of digital transformation project you need speed of action to get what needs to be done now – fast – whilst always thinking about and working towards the long term vision. Business are encouraged to be brave and take risks but be conscious of where you will want to be in the near future. You need a zero-tolerance approach to legacy systems and always question everything. Be ruthless. And choose a technology partner who is invested in the project as much as you are. When you begin your operations physically again, make a budget and invest in digital transformation. Let go of the traditional way of doing things and equip your office with all the necessary equipment and mindset that would drive a digital transformation. 

The world has been already forced into digital transformation and when your customers step out again, they will have new digital expectations. While some physical essential service stores are thriving without being digital, it is important each business find their place in this digitally required era. Post lockdown, you must think- “What can I provide digitally” and align your business automatically. In order to transform your products or services, businesses must start with their environment – focusing on communication, people, working habits, productivity, efficiency and information security. Finding the right partner to help you create a road map and execute to achieve success is the 1st steps of this journey.

Sns Technologies has been assisting businesses transform digitally for the better half of the past decade. Whilst we understand that businesses are usually excited about this journey there is always a consciousness of nervousness in the initial stages. We can only imagine in these unprecedented times nervous spirits can easily turn to uncertainty. Our experience has enabled us to focus on the attention to detail to enable a successful transformation. We also understand that a significant proportion of success and rate of transformation is understanding how to equip and empower the entire work force on this journey of digital transformation. Now is the time to be creating adoption programs for employees for such situations so they don’t feel lost and being very precise about what the post lock down vision is for your organisation. Focusing on new ways of communicating, managing clients through different platforms, information flow throughout the organisation and reaching new demographics to extend your products or services too.

The only reality of today’s world is staying current to survive. You cannot run a business around what has been working for you over the past few years. You have to identify what is changing and bend your business around it to still be relevant to your customers. Change is the only constant and businesses need to be prepared. If your business needs assistance, advice or looking for a partner for this era for digital transformation we are always ready to collaborate.

Flexible, fast, and effective cloud-delivered security

Secure your workforce fast

The most valuable asset in any business is its information and recipe for success in today’s times. Globally, Data has been ranked as the most valued commodity surpassing the likes of gold and oil. However, it is becoming harder and harder for organisations to protect their intellectual property as the world moves into a more connected era.

Digital business transformation is moving security to the cloud, which drives a need for converged services to reduce complexity, improve speed and agility, and secure the new network architecture of tomorrow. With more users, devices, applications, services and data located outside of the enterprise rather than inside, the existing security models are failing to meet today’s business needs. Sns Technologies understands this and thus we pride ourselves in our ability to keep our customers data and information – safe and secured. 

Seeing as businesses and their employees focus solely on how to stay in touch with co-workers and colleagues using chat applications, shared documents, and moving all planned meetings online during the COVID-19 pandemic – Remote working has left many not thinking about the threat of cyberattacks. Being a managed service provider of Cisco Umbrella solutions, Sns Technologies ensures that your business can work remotely, with a flexible, cloud-delivered security solution when and how your business needs it. By combining multiple security functions into one solution, businesses can easily extend protection to various devices, remote users and with distributions everywhere within minutes, no matter where they are working.

Waste Less Time Fighting Ransomware Attacks With A Managed Security Service That Helps!

As your business strives towards digital transformation, it becomes imperative for networking and security teams to work together to reduce and mitigate cyberattacks. Employees who have access to company files, data, information and your companies network become an increasingly vulnerable target to bad actors. Sns Technologies’ managed security service, powered by Cisco Umbrella, helps to deliver an end-to-end cloud based solution that secures the internet gateway that protects your users wherever they go – both on and off your companies network. Be safeguarded from malware, phishing and ransomware attacks without needing more than one solution to do it.

Get protection both on and off the network by achieving great value with our managed security services that allows you overall advanced security with simplified business environments.

Our vendors solutions are built with resiliency in mind, and many businesses find it easy to resume business as usual for their cloud systems whilst working remotely or roaming. Being your first line of defence against Internet cyberthreats, you are able to gain immediate time-to-value with our managed security service.

Let Sns Technologies secure your workforce quickly & easily with a cloud security solution that:

  • Reduces alerts and prevents threats even before they happen.
  • Eliminates gaps in coverage that security teams lack in visibility to all internet activities.
  • Enforces consistent policies for when products are too complex and do not easily integrate with other security investments.

This is how we can help overcome challenges that customers frequently experience as a result of these major trends:

Secure SD-WAN and Direct Internet Access (DIA)

  • Security within the SD-WAN plan becomes vulnerable when moving to Direct Internet Access (DIA) and security requirements need to be planned concurrently with SD-WAN requirements to reduce the risk of attack
  • Internal barriers tend to get in the way and can be mitigated with constant collaboration between networking and security teams within the organization
  • SD-WAN vendors not being traditional security vendors  add complexities when provided by many different vendors. Cisco is the largest networking and enterprise security worldwide and commits to bringing together networking and security products to help you secure your DIA transformation

Protects endpoints both on and off the network

  • Easily stop connections to malicious destinations by stopping threats at the earliest point, even before a connection has been made.
  • Analyses and blocks unknown bad files at initial inspection by monitoring all activities on the endpoint.
  • Continuously analyses activity to detect malicious behavior by setting alerts on them for Cisco’s security team to take action.
  • Action is taken by quarantining infected endpoints and remediating completely.

Respond and Defend against breaches much faster

  • Saves time and energy on security investigations without having to worry about SOC’s lacking expertise or being understaffed with Cisco’s simple process that detects, investigates ad remediates across multiple integrated security technologies.
  • Avoid being overwhelmed with alerts from security products that don’t work with effective aggregate threat intelligence that turns into immediate action.
  • Keep up with current threats and reduce time spent on security operations functions up to 85%.

Working from any geographical location should not compromise your teams ability to communicate and collaborate. We can assure that your teams can still be social, communicate with ease and still keep your work loads productive whilst being completely secure – no matter where they work. Which means they need to be protected everywhere. Let us help you with cyber protection in and out of the office.

Working From Home, Securely

With the recent introduction of the free Office 365 six month trial being available for businesses to use Microsoft Teams and other Office apps to make working from home an easy and enjoyable experience – Many may not be thinking about cyberattacks and the risks they bring.

Right now, COVID-19 is making it mandatory for businesses in South Africa and around the world to work from home. Whilst this puts a major strain on IT and security teams who need to cater support for many remote workers – it has also brought life to the bigger question surrounding compromised security with working remotely.

Sns Technologies has a solution! We are assisting businesses adopting Work From Home mindsets by making some of our security systems powered by Cisco Umbrella free for users for 90 days. Experience 3 months of protection to help you kick start your journey towards creating your Virtual Office anywhere!

This form of advanced protection protects users from malicious Internet destination attacks whether they are on the network, or not. The processes are easy to deploy and Umbrella is suited for any business regardless of it’s size. The way that Umbrella is managed within the Cloud makes it easy to manage and protect users everywhere within a matter of minutes.

The advanced security policies also enables organisations to verify user identities before granting application access to users working remotely or otherwise. Cisco is known to employ a zero-trust model and their advanced protection systems reduce risks and decrease attack surfaces.

This level of security protects your organisations systems and data beyond just your firewall. Your users will be protected even when they are working remotely and are outside your corporate firewall.

Remote working can make your users vulnerable to many ransomware and other attacks whilst you have minimum visibility and protection. Users will have access to first line defence mechanisms against threats on the Internet wherever they go.

We can help you mitigate these risks and:

  • Easily stop malware and phishing attacks
  • Reduce the time taken to detect and contain threats
  • Mitigate remediation costs and breach damage
  • Automatically uncover attacker infrastructure and block requests to malicious destinations proactively even before a connection is established.

It is important to ensure that all employees have a basic understanding of access policies so that they will be able to easily identify if access on their personal devices are blocked, and how to go about getting the support they need.

Working from home does not compromise your teams ability to collaborate. Reassure employees that they can still be social, communicate with ease and still keep their work loads secure and productive by turning any work space into their very own Virtual Office during these volatile times.

COVID-19 – Work Remotely, Without Feeling Remote

Office 365: 6 Months Free Trial To Gear Businesses For Remote Working

As the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic continues to develop, the performance of our service delivery to our customers remains our primary concern. You may have heard word of the current “Work From Home” trend that many businesses are adopting to stay on top. Whilst we understand that moving your entire teams workload towards working remotely overnight can be very difficult, Sns Technologies has a solution. We have spent many hours on end formulating the best strategies to help you make this migration. We encourage that you use Microsoft Teams to bring your team together with working remotely. Teams gives you the ability to turn any focus-area within your home into your very own Virtual Office.

Here are some Tips to help make this migration easier for you and your team:

Communicate, communicate, communicate ! While some of us may work from home, at least part of the time, we still rely on rhythms and core hours that are built around our physical presence at the office. When working from home, your daily rhythm may change. This is especially true for those of us balancing work and family. Clearly communicate your working hours with your teammates and collaborators so that they know when to reach you. You can also set a status message in Teams to share this information proactively. Also, make it a habit to offer frequent progress reports to your teammates. Fully remote companies tend to emphasize documentation, since it’s a key way to stay connected when you work apart. We recommend posting updates, insights, and helpful resources you’ve discovered in Teams channels, so your teammates can stay connected with what you’re up to even without the benefit of a chance hallway conversation. Later, they can search within the channel for ideas or content when they need them.

Maintain healthy boundaries  Without the usual workday signals—a walk to grab lunch, for instance, or a commute—unplugging can be a challenge. Remote workers sometimes find themselves working for long stretches without breaks for exercise, socializing, or a proper meal. This will quickly lead to stress and burnout. Remember: Your health comes first. Make time for meals, drink plenty of water, and remind yourself to mentally “clock out” from remote work at the end of the day. These behaviours won’t just keep you healthy, but will also help you be more productive in the long run.

Embrace online meetings In the absence of a physical conference room, bringing everyone together can feel like the biggest remote-work challenge of all. As you move meetings to Teams, make sure all meetings have a virtual “join” option to create an online conference room. Also, we suggest that all participants turn on video, if they are comfortable doing so. The face-to-face interaction goes a long way to help everyone feel connected. You really don’t need to worry if your workspace gets a little messy throughout the day, you can always use background blur during video meetings so that your teammates can focus only on you.

Be mindful and inclusive Moving to online meetings may remove some of the visual cues we rely on to see if a colleague has something to say in a meeting. And, overcrowded conference calls can make it difficult for people to share their opinions. Meeting organizers should pause frequently to invite questions and remind attendees that they can also use the meeting chat window to share their thoughts.

Record your meetings To compensate for lack of face time, some remote workers schedule extra meetings in order to stay connected with customers, partners, and co-workers. Double-bookings can be hard to avoid. If your organization allows it, record meetings in Teams so co-workers can catch up later. If you can’t attend yourself, remind the organizer to record the meeting in your absence. The automatically generated transcript is also super-useful when you’re trying to remember information covered in a meeting you attended.

Make up for missing hallway talk A lot of remote workers find the thing they miss the most about the office is casual conversations. Chats at the watercooler or snack shelf not only keep us connected, they often surface important information or insights we wouldn’t have guessed. Be deliberate about reaching out and connecting with your co-workers. Think of chat messages as your virtual watercooler and set yourself a reminder to check in with people regularly. Emojis, GIFs, and stickers are a fun way to keep the chatter fun and light.

Bring the team together Working remotely can feel isolating. As a leader, it’s important to create opportunities for the whole team to get together virtually. Maintain your regular team meeting cadence or team lunches, just make them online. Use the “General” channel in Teams for discussions that might be of interest to everyone. For large brainstorms you can use the Microsoft Whiteboard app, which provides an infinite digital canvas for meeting participants to ideate and collaborate directly in Teams. We also suggest team leaders download the Crisis Communication Power App. You can use this customizable app to inform yourself and your team on everything they need to know throughout this outbreak.

Have fun! With all the changes that come with moving to remote work, it’s important to foster and maintain team morale. There are many things you can do within Teams to keep people feeling positive and engaged. Share news and stories in your team chat, or hold a photo contest. You can easily share news and stories in your team chat, or celebrate work anniversaries that mark relationship milestones between an employee and a company. With the use of the “General Tab”, companies can create opportunities to have some fun with employees, like a company potluck whereby employees take a few hours to bond and swap recipes, and such.

We understand that every individual and team works differently. However, we want you to stay productive and connected as you adjust to a new way of working. In conjunction with Microsoft, SNS Technologies is allowing businesses to achieve this with a 6 months free trial of Office 365 including teams, for your business. This free access to Office 365 is an initiative that has specifically been extended to business due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Be ready, remote-work ready!

Windows Virtual Desktop has now reached General Availability.

Windows Virtual Desktop is a virtual Windows environment running in Azure that allows users to have access to complete windows desktop or specific published Apps.  Previously available only on preview, Virtual Desktop for Windows is now generally available worldwide. It’s also the only service that delivers management in a simplified way with a multi-session Windows 10 experience, optimizations for Office 365 ProPlus, as well as support for Windows Server Remote Desktop Services (RDS) Apps and desktops. With Windows Virtual Desktop, you can easily deploy and scale your Windows apps and desktops on Azure.

With Windows Virtual Desktop now available in all geographies, clients will be able to deploy scalable Azure-based virtualization solutions with a number of operating systems that include Windows 10 multi-session, Windows Server and an extended 3 years of Extended Security Updates for Windows 7 desktop users, who are still making their move to Windows 10. 

It’s the only multi-user Windows 10 platform, giving multiple users the ability to use the same virtual machine whilst saving you money and resources.  Windows Virtual Support successfully supports Windows 7 and is what gives users extended support and security even passed its End-Of-Support. The Windows 7 support will be extended for free until Jan, 2023. 

Why make the move?

  • You can easily retire your old VPN solution and only allow external access to LAN from a secure and managed Windows Virtual Desktop. 
  • Windows Virtual Desktop is available so easily, that all you are required to do in order to deploy and manage your virtualization environment, is to set up an Azure subscription. 
  • You can then choose the type of VM and storage you want to suit your environment. 
  • You can easily optimize costs by taking advantage of Reserved Instances that allow for up to 72% discounts, and by using multi-session Windows 10. 
  • For those users accessing the Windows 10 and Windows 7 desktops and apps, there are no additional costs if you are an existing Microsoft 365 F1/E3/E5, Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5 or Windows VDA customer. 
  • For those Windows Server desktops and apps, there are no additional costs if you are an existing Microsoft RDS Client Access License (CAL) client. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQFtI3JLtaU&t=3s

Azure Multi-factor Authentication at Work

We often hear of confidential information being compromised, because of password and login breaches.  Every 2 in 5 people, in the past year, have either had the much dreaded notification, had an account hacked, or a password stolen. For most organizations attacked, breaches caused by opportunist attacks were due to a weakness an attacker knew of and knew how to easily exploit. The most common being, weak password and stolen credentials that lack character variety and originality.

That is where Multi-factor Authentication steps in. MFA, for short, had been made available for Office 365 admin roles since 2013, and has since been introduced with an extended capability to any Office 365 user. Identity protection became a norm amongst users who have been exposed to phishing attacks, or know the consequences of compromised credentials. Businesses around South Africa have been quick to adopt towards a Password less Strategy and play their part in cyber security as a whole.

Identity Protection?

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a two-fold method of verification that’s made up of multiple authentication factors that ultimately present a challenge for attackers who try to break into secure networks. MFA is one of the most efficient and effective ways to increase your organizations security. With one time codes being a requirement in order to access Microsoft 365 – hackers find it significantly difficult to take over, even if they know your password.

Is Multi-factor enough?

MFA increases the security of users logins for Cloud services with additional verification by means of acknowledgement via a phone call, text message with a One Time Pin (OTP) or an application notification on their Smartphone. Once the correct code is entered successfully, the user can sign-in with ease.
Sns Technologies recommends End user Baseline Policies that are put into place to protect all Office 365 users and requires users to register with MFA within a 14-day period. Once a user is registered, they are required to turn on Baseline Policies to activate MFA. Thereafter, MFA is required for administrative access for all users.

Second Factor Authentication can be facilitated in any of the following ways:

Call my mobile phone: Whereby the user receives a phone call that asks them to press a specific key on their phone. Once said key is pressed, the user can successfully be logged in.
Text a code to my mobile phone: The user receives a text message with a six-digit code that they may then enter into the portal as a One Time Pin (OTP).
Call my office phone: Serves the same purpose as “call my mobile”, however, enables the user to select an alternate phone in the event that they do not have their mobile phone with them.
Notify me through an App: The user configures a Smartphone App and receives a notification that they then need to confirm login. These Smartphone Apps are available for Windows Phone, iPhone and Android devices.
Show One-Time code in App: Using the Smartphone App mentioned above, the user starts up the App, enters the six-digit OTP provided by the App into the portal thus gaining access.

Why use Multi-factor Authentication?

Simplified login processes: The most significant benefit of MFA is the secured convenience that it allows with single sign-in processes. With the completion of the authentication process, you can easily gain access to everyday applications without needing to enter your extra credentials every time. Boosts your security efforts by requiring MFA for all users accessing Cloud based resources, including Office 365 services.

Increased flexibility and productivity: MFA helps to remove the burden of updating passwords and adding alternatives, thus boosting productivity.
It enables a secure and convenient access route for remote users who access confidential client information.

Strengthens security: MFA strengthens overall security by mitigating the risks of social engineering attacks or phishing attacks by implementing the use of biometric and other verification elements.

It helps your customers IT department ensure a higher level of security for IT pro’s and administrators by adding a second layer of authentication when they log in.

Achieve compliance: By using MFA, you ensure that you take steps towards compliance that would support the constant protection of sensitive and critical data like your personal, financial and or business information.

These are security offerings available with easy adopting strategies and are part of the Office 365 managed experience at Sns Technologies.

Are you prepped for the Windows Server 2008 End-of-Support?

What is End-of-Support (EOS)?  

Microsoft is making progress with ensuring that user’s move to the Cloud is an easy one with flexibility and business continuity. As Server 2008 moves to End of Support on 14th January 2020, SNS Technologies endeavours to facilitate customers move through modern transformation in an easier and more profitable way.  

Having already begun, with SQL Server and Mainstream Windows Server 2008 end-of-support already having ended as of July 2019, this version of Server will face compliance risks and security breaches once support ends completely. Companies currently running on Server 2008, without the regular security support and updates, are more vulnerable to cyberattacks and such that could completely expose customer and company data to theft and much less confidence in the company’s transparency as a whole. 

With cyberattacks becoming ultra-modern and a lot more frequent, continuing to run data and applications on unsupported versions can give rise to many security and compliance risks. 

Risks with running Windows Server 2008 beyond the support lifecycle 

If you delay action to move to Azure or an in-support version, you not only miss out on added improved security and efficiency features that could make your move to the Cloud a lot easier, but it would then be imperative that you take the time to assess your options and base your decisions that will benefit and secure your organization above all else. With the correct understanding of the risks this would expose your business to, you can make sure your organization is protected and your infrastructure is safe with the correct strategies. 

  • Barrier with digital transformation: Continuing to run old systems has been identified as a key contributing factor towards why CIOs are not moving forward faster to adapt transformative technology like Cloud hosted products, artificial intelligence (AI), automation and Internet of Things (IoT). 
  • Software incompatibility: Having the latest Servers allow you access to usability, efficiency and security benefits. To continue using an unsupported product, you risk missing out on these core benefits, as well as their side benefits. 
  • Highway for Hackers: Due to the end of security support, businesses will now receive no security fixes, or critical bug resolution making their data sensitive to any hacker. Running an end-of-life product represents a significant risk to your security and data.  

The upcoming end of support turning point brings about the greater opportunity to transform your business applications and infrastructure by taking utmost advantage of all that Cloud computing and the latest versions of SQL Server & Windows Server has to offer. Moving to Azure would ensure better performance, efficiency and regular security updates. 

So, how do you avoid letting your applications and infrastructure go unprotected? 

The Cloud Has You Covered! 

Microsoft has made available two easy and cost effective options to help you upgrade and adapt to the innovative and transformational technologies you need to carry your organisation steadily. 

Migrate Your Workload To Azure 

Migrate to Azure and pay only for the resources that you consume. Enjoy an OpEx pricing strategy that allows you to pay on a monthly basis with a pay-as-you-go nature that easily saves you money. 

3 Reasons to Move Your Server 2008 Workload To Azure 

  • Innovation: Embrace the many tools that Azure has to modernise your applications with Cloud innovation that lets you migrate with agility, increased performance and on a global scale. Maximise productivity with fully-managed Azure services that lets you focus company energies in pushing the business forward with implementing managed services, like Azure SQL Database, Azure Application Services and Azure IaaS. 
  • Paying Less: Azure is the most cost-effective for Windows 10 and SQL Server. You are able to reduce your infrastructure costs with free extended security updates, Azure Hybrid Benefits, and achieve optimized infrastructure. 
  • Security & Compliance: Azure carries the most trust with enterprises and allows you to counter cyberthreats with Azure’s secure Cloud foundation. Minimize business risks by strengthening your advanced security and compliance posture and receive Azure allowances to easily meet compliance requirements with the most comprehensive Cloud certifications, as compared to any other Cloud provider. 

Not quite ready to move away from Windows Server 2008? 

We can help! 

For environments that need to run Server 2008, due to your current workloads being incompatible with the latest in-support Windows Server version and SQL Server 2016, SNS Technologies can assist you with the option to bring your Server 2008 workload to Azure and receiving 3 years of extended support as part of the Azure Hybrid Benefit. This not only gives you 3 additional years of support, on both Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008, but grants you a longer period of time to ready your business for a later and greater version of Windows Server. By using your existing license, you easily save on additional costs when you choose to move or migrate your Windows Server workload to Azure at the end of the extended support period. Customers who do not move their workloads to Azure have the option to purchase extended support, whereas those who do, enjoy the 3 years of extended support for free.