National or Local IT Support – Which Is Best For You

National or Local IT Support – Which Is Best For You

Local or National IT Support

When looking for IT support, should you consider a large National Firm or a local business? This month we tell you the compelling reasons to choose a local IT support company over a national one, particularly for businesses in Swindon, and Wiltshire.

Faster response times and on-site support: Being Swindon based, we are physically closer, allowing us to respond to urgent issues more quickly and efficiently. Whether it’s a hardware failure or a software glitch, we can get a technician onsite quickly, saving valuable downtime and minimising disruptions.

Personalized service and understanding of your specific needs: Being local we do tend to have a smaller clientele, allowing them to provide more personalised attention and develop a deeper understanding of your unique business needs, IT environment, and local regulations.

Community investment and relationship building: Choosing a local company such as ourselves keeps your money circulating within the Swindon community, supporting local jobs and businesses. (The team at Systems Integration are all residents). You are also more likely to build a long-term relationship with our technicians and will get to know the people you will be working with, fostering trust and collaboration.

Knowledge of local infrastructure and regulations: Being local means we are familiar with the specific internet service providers, telecoms, and data security regulations relevant to Swindon and Wiltshire. This local knowledge can be invaluable in troubleshooting issues and ensuring compliance.

Potential for cost-effectiveness: While national companies may offer economies of scale, as a local IT Support we have lower overhead costs, which can translate to more competitive pricing. Additionally, you will not be paying for travel costs for on-site support.

Focus on small and medium businesses: We specialise in serving small and medium businesses (SMBs), meaning we understand the unique challenges and budgets of businesses in your size range. This can lead to more tailored solutions and cost-effective options.

  • Experience, expertise and reputation: Do they have a proven track record of success with businesses like yours? If you are a SME in Swindon, then our reputation alone can give assurance that we know how to make IT partnerships last. Google reviews for local businesses such as ours are purely for us, unlike National Companies who may have tens of reviews, but are they for your local branch?
  • Pricing and transparency: We pride ourselves on our prices. We offer clear and competitive fees? And can they be tailored to your business needs? This is where System Integration differs from many other IT support. We do not have lengthy tie ins, and can provide ad hoc assistance when needed.

If you are looking for IT support, we always recommend you look at the options available, but we would always suggest you give us a call. We offer a free systems audit and are keen to help local businesses. If you need advice on how to bring your IT systems up to speed, please feel free to get in touch. 

Are you prepared for another lockdown?

Are you prepared for another lockdown?

With the current Covid crises, Lockdown in place & the threat of different tiers of restriction being enforced once this is over, you may want to look at your setup with regards to home working for your staff.

A lot of businesses may have already know what to do and may have already done this, but there are still a few out there that may not be as prepared.

A couple of months ago we did let you know how we could help you ensure your team are all set to WFH and are prepared to start remote working. But for those that didn’t catch that, and are now evaluating how they can be prepared in case there is a local lockdown in the Swindon and Wiltshire area, here is a checklist that you can use to make sure you are ready…

Room

The efficiency of personal workspaces at home. Are your employees making the most of your home workspaces by utilising laptop docks and larger screens? Do your employees have the correct chairs and desks? The last thing you want is one of your employees to come back to work with a strained neck or back due to them not sitting in the correct position.

Privacy

Are headsets and webcams needed for web calls? Does your team have this equipment? After all, you do not want them making calls to clients whilst the TV can be heard in the background and they struggle to communicate.

Is data accessible

Can your home workers access business files and data securely? And if so, do you have a secure VPN?

Security & Privacy Policy
Have you updated your business’ computer security policy for home worker computers (BYOD)? And if you have an up to date policy, are you sure that your empoyees know what is in it?

Enough IT Equipment

Do you have enough business computers and monitors available for your team to work from home? If you do not, do not worry as this is where Systems Integration can help with our IT support contracts. We can help and provide you with the latest equipment for short periods at a fraction of the price of purchasing new.

Home support

Can your tech support actually help your team remotely. Problems do not stop for your team just because they are working from home. You need to ensure that you have IT systems in place that allow full access.

Phones

Can your home users still access the work phone lines remotely? Do your home workers have good internet service at home to support their needs?

If you want to ensure that your team is ready for home working or are wanting to improve your current home working structure, please feel free to get in touch and let us see how we can ensure that your team’s transition from the office is as smooth as possible.

Are You IT Safe

Are You IT Safe

We all know that Swindon is a hub for new businesses and at Systems Integration we are fully aware of the initial issues that many of these new businesses face and are often unaware.
What with getting your brand seen, securing new clients and building a reliable and solid team, many often overlook some of the basics such as IT security and awareness.

Nearly 50% of UK businesses experienced some form of a cyberattack in 2019-2020, and more than 60% of cybersecurity experts are concerned about data loss and leakage, among a range of other vectors. Obtianing data illegally is now a big business and the criminals and hackers are upping their game daily. If you are just starting up your business, are you aware of what level of security you will need to ensure your clients’ data and your business is safe? This month we give you some tips..

Firstly, never assume it is just big corporations that are prone to cybersecurity breaches. All business that store data are, from your sole trader with his accounts and that of clients to solicitors and recruitments agencies, all store customers and clients data of some form or another.

As a new business, consider what risks you face if you suffer a cyberattack.

  • Downtime
  • Clients trust
  • Loss of future clients
  • and of couse expense.

Thats right, not just the cost of getting a IT professionals to find the breach and fix it, but you can also be sued by your clients

As they say, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, so here are some IT security tips and things your should look for when you are exploring your It security options.

Initial Assessment

In order to build your cyber defenses, you need someone to carefully evaluate your current situation. At System Integrtaion when we take you on as a IT partner, we evaluate your complete IT infrastructure for vulnerability, ranging from your users’ passwords to hardware settings and blocking legacy authentication.

We are Microsoft Partners and using industry-standard metrics like Microsoft’s Secure Score, we can compare how your business fares against industry standards, and we can let you know what steps are in hardening your security posture.

This can also include simple task such as determining how tech-savvy your team are –

  • Do they know the best practices to prevent attacks in the first place?
  • We know that email is the main point of entry, but do they?

If not we can provide training.

Implementation of Controlled measures

Once the weak points in your IT security have been identified, we look at how to remove them, such as ensuring all your data is using end-to-end encryption.

Encryption ensures that if someone intercepts your data as it is being transmitted, they still won’t be able to read it. This kind of interception commonly happens over Wi-Fi, especially when public, open networks are available. It’s perfectly fine to have an open Wi-Fi network for your customers to use, but your other business actions should take place on a separate network using encryption. See our previous blog on secure Wi-Fi.

Unfortuntely though there are some cases where encryption can’t protect you, which is why we also focus on one of the most common danger zones such as email. Did you know that over 65% of hackers and cyber criminals used phishing to invade their victims’ networks?  Phishing is the act of using email to lure people into providing sensitive information. It is not uncommon for you employeess to recieve an email that appears to be an official Microsoft account asking for your Office 365 login information. If this is obtained the hackers can then the files in your compnaies cloud storage and pilfer your data.

Phishing can be prevented by securing your email servers through your web host. Systems Integration can assist in implementing protocols such as Domain-based message authentication, report & conformance (DMARC); Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM); and Sender Policy Framework (SPF) standards. These security standards will help to identify phishing attacks and alert users before they even open the email.

Advanced software can determine who in your organisation has access to data and what data they can access. It also can connect with cloud services such as Microsoft 365 to limit an individual’s access to sensitive information.
For startups, this will actually make expansion easier as you’ll be able to add users more easily and prevent new employees from seeing too much. User access control ensures that the data is seen by the right people. Data governance and a robust secure posture need never get in the way of productivity and innovation. Then you are also in a position to further strengthen the validation of user logins by setting up two-factor authentication (where possible). This requires your users to input a second code that they receive on their phone or other device, ensuring that your computers aren’t being accessed by a hacker sat down on a pc miles or even continents away.

What yourself and your team need to understand that most of the time it is not possible for these hackers and criminals to access your data unless they are invited i.e. your biggest threat is your employees, who probably will do this with have any malicious intent at all.
If required Systems Integration can provide you with soem great tutorial and educational videos along with face to face tutition on how to prevent any of this happening. After all when you work with us, we are all one big team and we like to think that all players are premiership standard

If you are a business that is just setting up and find all this to be a bit of a minefield feel free to get in touch with us. We pride ourselves on assiting new businesses and helping them grow. From IT support Contracts or services such as Microsoft experience/training, VOIP services, Disaster recovery or dats backup, we are here to help and offer advice. We all know that Swindon is a hub for new businesses and at Systems Integration we are fully aware of the initial issues that many of these new businesses face and are often unaware.
What with getting your brand seen, securing new clients and building a reliable and solid team, many often overlook some of the basics such as IT security and awareness.

Nearly 50% of UK businesses experienced some form of a cyberattack in 2019-2020, and more than 60% of cybersecurity experts are concerned about data loss and leakage, among a range of other vectors. Obtaining data illegally is now a big business and the criminals and hackers are upping their game daily. If you are just starting up your business, are you aware of what level of security you will need to ensure your clients’ data and your business is safe? This month we give you some tips..

Zoom or Teams, which is the best?

Zoom or Teams, which is the best?

With the masses now all working distantly, organisations have settled on the choice to bring gatherings and collaboration into the cloud. Skype for Business was king of the hill and the top system for associations wanting to communicate remotely. But no more, they have lost their crown,and Microsoft is slowly but surely phasing it out, which leaves everyone now pondering which system to use. So we take a look and give you an insight into which is maybe the best cloud based system for your business. ​

Currently, there are two main contenders for crown of cloud based systems. Yes, when it comes to video conferences and team collaboration, the big players are Microsoft Teams and Zoom. With the recent Covid pandemic restricting so many employees to their homes, these tools have become popular with businesses of all sizes. But, when it comes to determining which one is best for your and your business you need to assess them both.

Microsoft teams can help you with:

  •  Chats
  • File sharing
  • Calls
  • Screen sharing

The beauty with Teams is that it is part of Microsoft’s Office 365 platform. Teams easily integrates with Microsoft apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more. Teams makes it easy to collaborate with team members, partners and clients in any location around the globe. Not only can you hold video calls, but a team can work together live in real time on documents and projects.

With Microsoft Teams, you can have up to 250 people in one meeting! There is obviously a payment involved if you want more scope, but if your company (like most) already has an Office 365 subscription, then you already have access to Microsoft Teams and will probably have access to all it’s perks

Zoom has become the leader when it comes to video communications. As with Teams, Zoom is a highly popular communication tool for large and small businesses alike, along with being a favourite for individuals, too.

The tool provides a cloud solution for:

  • Video and audio conferences
  • Team collaboration
  • Chat
  • Webinars

In recent months, Zoom has actually become more famous for the “Zoom-bombing.” that has been occurring. They do say the best form of publicity os scandal, and in Zooms case, this appears to be true.

However, the company has quickly reacted to these issues and has added additional security features. The other good thing that we like about Zoom, is it’s simplicity, and the free version is often more than suitable for a lot of smaller businesses

So which is the best and most suitable for you?

oth Teams and Zoom allow you to video call, conference call, hold online meetings, collaborate, chat, call, share files and more. The only real difference is that Teams is part of the Microsoft platform. This is great when you want to share files that are also made up in one of the Office 365 many tools, but as you can screen share on both and as you can easily email someone a file, this does not make it more a clear winner over Zoom.

When it comes to features, as mentioned Zoom is more user friendly. Plus, there’s no need to make the move from Skype for Business, Microsoft’s legacy meeting app.
Then there is the UI ( user Interface) Zoom is complimented for being user friendly, teams do not often receive this compliment.

If you already have a Microsoft account, you are probably used to how the systems work and Teams would not cause you much difficulty and as stated, if your business is already using Microsoft, it may not cost you anything as it will be part of your package.

Both Microsoft Teams and Zoom offer room environments. For instance, each tool allows you to create a meeting and then have “breakout rooms” that allow a team to be in one meeting but have separate discussions in various breakout rooms. This is proving to be highly popular with teachers and learners as it allows them to disband the students for breakout sessions and collaborate. It is slos worth noting that on the free version of Zoom, you can have up to 50 separate breakout rooms!

If you are going to be selecting your platform, purely based on expense then the pricing could be the key.
Zoom and Teams each offer free versions of their tools, and both offer additional features with their paid plans.
Zoom’s free version allows for up to 100 participants for meetings; however, the free version of the app only allows for 40 minutes on group meetings. This can be a problem if your meeting needs last longer. When the meeting’s cut after the 40-minute limit, then each participant must rejoin the meeting. Having said that, Zoom does allow for unlimited meetings between two people, and they provide online support and more.

Microsoft Team’s free version only allows for limited chats, collaboration, productivity tools, meetings, calls and security. There are also no administration tools in Teams and the tool doesn’t offer access to Microsoft support.
Actual plans are based on number of users ranging from around £10 per user on Teams and £11.99 on Zoom, neither require long term commitments though

If you want ease of use and can handle the holding calls and getting them completed within the 40 minutes, Zoom is a clear winner. But, Teams is there and easy if you already have the Microsoft package. It may take a little longer to get used to navigating but if it costs your business no more, then it is a winner.

At Systems-Integration, we have experience with all systems cloud based here to advise your business on which can help you maintain efficiency during these difficult times. please feel free to get in touch if you want any advice

Why should your SME have an IT Business Continuity plan?

Why should your SME have an IT Business Continuity plan?

If nothing else, the one thing that the COVID Epidemic has taught us is, that you can never take things for granted.
And this rule still applies to business that have not been affected by the recent pandemic.
​Multiple things can disrupt the operations of small – to medium-sized businesses (SMEs), such as, well..Epidemics that result in lack of staff, natural disasters or cyber attacks.

Any of these events can have major impact to your business, resulting in lost revenue, or in some extreme cases, business closure. This can be avoided however if you think ahead and have the foreseight to be prepared for the unthinkable.
But…having a concrete business continuity plan (BCP) in place will help your business recover quickly after a disaster.

What is a Business Continuity plan (BCP)?
A BCP is a predefined set of protocols on how your business should respond in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. It contains contingency plans for every aspect of your organisation, including but not limited too, IT systems and support, human resources, assets, and business processes.

Knowing the Key threats to your business continuity
Various types of threats can affect SMEs such as:
Natural disasters – These are natural phenomena – For those that live in more tropical climates than Swindon and Wiltshire, these can include Earthquakes & widfires, but for our audience we will stick with the more realistic such as storms, flooding and building infrastructure damage.
Man-made disasters – These include cyberattacks/malware, intentional sabotage, and human negligence.
Equipment and utility failures – These include unexpected power failure, internet downtime, and disruption of communication services.

How to build an effective BCP
If your organisation does not have a BCP in place, now is a good time to put one together. These steps will help you formulate an effective BCP that will ensure that should a disater strike your business keeps running throughout the crises..
– 1 Business impact analysis (BIA)
A BIA will help you determine how a disruption can affect your company’s current functions and processes, such as personnel, equipment, technology, and physical infrastructure. This step will help you calculate the potential financial and operational loss from each function and process affected.
– 2 Recovery options
If disaster strikes, who and what will you need to get back on your feet? This step will help you identify key resources essential to returning your business to minimum operational levels. Some recovery options you can take include letting employees work from home or operating from a secondary location.
– 3 Plan development
This step involves identifying and assembling your company’s continuity team, which will be responsible for developing and implementing your BCP. Knowing who has what responibilities before hand will pay dividends in removing stress at the time of a disaster
– 4 Testing and training
Once your BCP is in place, your continuity team needs to perform regular tests to identify gaps and make necessary changes to ensure the plan’s effectiveness. They also need to conduct regular training for your employees so everyone knows their respective roles when a disaster strikes. Do not do what many business do, do not put a team in place and never let the, practise their skills. After all, you do not put a fire alarm in place and never test it.. Think of your BCP as your business fire alarm.

Having a fool proof BCP is a great way to ensure your business can quickly bounce back after a major business disaster.
If you’re thinking about creating a BCP for your company but don’t know where to start, please get in touch with us today. We have excellent disaster recovery packages that we can provide for your IT system and we can tell you about any other potential areas of fragility that may be present within your IT infrastructure.

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