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It’s Kind of a BIg Deal

The importance of Business Intelligence (BI) to companies of all sizes


We all want to know where our business is going, what we can expect for the future and, better yet, the margins of success we will see in the upcoming months. But in order to see the future, we need to know “the now” of said business. Business Intelligence (
BI) provides us with that knowledge whether your business is small, medium, or large—BI is a one-size-fits-all tool.

At amshot, we focus strongly on being able to customize software to meet the individual needs of our clients—and that includes BI. Keep reading for a crash course in all things BI and why it’s worthwhile.

BREAK IT DOWN NOW

The formal definition of Business Intelligence refers to tools, technologies, applications and practices used to collect, integrate, analyze, and present an organization’s raw data in order to create insightful and actionable business information. Basically, Business Intelligence is a system for turning your business data into info that can help you make informed business decisions. BI allows us to pinpoint areas of weakness and strength in real time to gain further insights and tackle any opportunity to enhance business output.

That was a lot of loaded words, so think of it as an update. Updates to a cellphone let users see what Apple or Samsung or Google have been working on to make their experience better. Each upgrade has new benefits such as new gadgets, faster loading speeds, increased battery life, etc. All of those changes were made by looking and analyzing the current, ongoing issues within the software. Business Intelligence is like a non-stop, ongoing update to your business that leads to more overall success.

HELP YOURSELF

There are numerous benefits of using BI. As we mentioned, it provides real-time feedback that allows businesses to identify and achieve efficiencies in their organization, but that’s not all. Our team looked at the ways BI helps businesses, and here are just a few that stood out to us:

  • More accuracy when reporting, analyzing and planning – No matter how much you do something, it won’t matter unless you are accurate on every account. BI allows you to organize data without the potential for manual error and make decisions in real time.
  • Faster analysis, planning, and reporting – Efficiency plays a big role in business profitability. BI allows companies to make business decisions in a more timely matter, especially under pressure. It consolidates a lot of data and gives us a single perspective.
  • Improved data quality – You know the saying “quality over quantity”? With BI, businesses have access to both. It gathers the entire quantity of big data and transforms that into accessible figures in a high quality way.
  • Increased competitive advantage – It is important to understand that Business Intelligence is not the same as competitive intelligence. BI scans internal data within your business, which leads to a competitive advantage, while competitive intelligence looks at other people’s business. Knowing everything about your current state of business and tackling the issues that arise puts you ahead of competitors on its own, even if you don’t know the ins-and-outs of your competitors’ business.
  • Reduced costs and increased revenues – Of course, this is the ultimate goal for any business. BI lets you determine who your customers are by collecting data at high speed, which allows businesses to know them inside and out. Understanding their consumer behavior can result in a faster point of sale in a more accurate way.

USE IT OR LOSE IT

The ability to focus on the current state of your business becomes increasingly easier when utilizing everything BI has to offer. Every company want to be aware of where they stand as an individual part of the larger market, and BI helps companies analyze their systems, employees, and functionality. While this type of technological support may be new to some industries, the opportunities for growth and profitability that BI provides should be considered by any business looking to upgrade.

No two businesses are alike—we know that. BI helps us make your business more successful by blending this cloud of big data with the individual needs our software can provide. BI is the overhead macho-man of business analytics that can help companies grow and succeed, and amshot can help implement it. Contact us for a free consultation.

Buy It or Customize It

Evaluating your company’s current software and the advantages of using custom software/applications

 

Off-the-shelf or tailor-made? The choice seems easy when it comes to clothes—Why would I wear something that just fits when I could wear something custom made for me?—but what about in terms of business software?

Originally, software allowed businesses to transition from manual to digital. Now in the digital age, most businesses couldn’t function without their applications. The business world uses a lot of software, but how many of those applications interact with one another? And when is it time to ditch the off-the-shelf software in favor of tailor-made software?

At amshot, we like to say we use technology as a tool to improve business results. Our software development services specifically focus on achieving efficiencies that promote profitability and business growth. Is custom software the right choice for your business? Read on below.

WELL-OILED MACHINES

Efficient business is good business. Software applications have streamlined many aspects of business and numerous options are available to be purchased off-the-shelf, but these generic versions of software aren’t a cure-all. In fact, they are often limited in their functions and rarely interact with other applications. This is where custom software comes in handy—it can bridge the gap between two applications or between what your software does and what you need it to do.

Custom software can help your business in many ways, but our team has determined that these are the biggest advantages of tailor-made applications:

  • Most efficient system possible: Custom software provides functions specific to the business that generic software simply isn’t capable of doing. Instead of using several off-the-shelf applications, custom software can do it all more efficiently.
  • Custom software grows with your business: Often times, generic software cannot keep up with a growing business because it isn’t flexible or scalable. Custom software is made to fit your business and is constantly maintained and adjusted as needed. Furthermore, businesses with multiple locations can be interconnected with software that communicates and shares data instead of stuck jumping through hoops with off-the-shelf products.
  • Say goodbye to repetitive tasks and manual entry: Humans aren’t perfect, and it may only take one typo to bring payroll to a screeching halt. Utilizing custom software allows applications to be created that replace monotonous tasks and are specific to the business, industry, and/or functions needed.
  • Up-to-date and secure: Outdated software might seem harmless, but it can actually leave your systems vulnerable to hackers. Custom software is ever-evolving and minimizes cybersecurity threats.

EENIE-MEENIE-MINIE-MO

While there are many advantages to utilizing software tailor-made to your business, it’s not always the right choice. Several factors can determine whether or not a company would benefit from custom software, so we have outlined how to evaluate your current software to see if customization would be a good fit for your business.

  • What does your company do, and how is it accomplished? There’s no need to reinvent the wheel if off-the-shelf software fits your business needs. For example, restaurants don’t need a complex custom application, but companies in the oil & gas industry might. Consider how many steps or applications are involved in daily tasks, how long it takes to finish them, and if there are any holes that off-the-shelf software can’t fill.
  • What size is your business? How many employees do you have? How much do you currently spend on software? Does your company operate locally or internationally? Is your business growing? These are all important questions to consider when deciding if custom software is right for you. Smaller businesses might not have the budget or need for custom applications, but if it’s in the cards for your business, they can seriously improve profitability.
  • Who will be using the software? Ask employees about your current software’s performance. Ask them if it makes jobs more efficient. Ask them how easy it is to use. The answers to these questions can help identify what your business is lacking and possible options for new or custom software.
  • What are your competitors using? If all of your top competitors are utilizing custom software and are out-performing your business, then it might be time to leave the generic software behind. However, if custom software wouldn’t improve the quality of your service or profitability, then it’s probably best to stick with off-the-shelf.

GOT SUPPORT?

Already using custom software, but need support + maintenance?
Your program doesn’t have to be amshot-built to be amshot-supported. Our development team has experience providing support and maintenance for existing applications.

Our software development services specialize in identifying opportunities for efficiencies and creating applications specific to your business needs. We can modify applications your business already uses, build your dream program from scratch, or keep your existing solution up and running. If you still aren’t sure which option is right for you, our software development team would love to schedule a free consultation and give you our professional opinion.

The Internet of (all) Things?

IoT leaks top the list of cyber threats to small- and medium-sized businesses in 2018

 

Technology is more accessible than ever and can control everything from your business transactions to the lighting in your home, but all of this interconnectivity comes with a risk. Hackers are becoming bolder by the day, and they don’t discriminate who they are attacking based on the size, industry, or location. The only thing they care about is the Internet of Things (IoT)—a term that encompasses all devices and objects that are connected to the internet—and the plethora of digital intelligence it contains.

As a managed IT service provider, amshot takes pride in protecting our clients from hackers. In the past, we have blogged about the necessity of cybersecurity and some steps that can be taken to protect your business data, but today we’re breaking down the single largest threat to small- and medium-sized businesses in 2018.

CONNECTING THE DEVICES

We mentioned that the Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the billions of devices worldwide that are connected to the   internet,but let’s explore the scope of this definition and what an IoT leak could mean for a business.

There is no limit to what could be considered a part of the IoT because any object that can be connected to the internet is considered an IoT device. Here are a few examples of commonly used personal IoT devices: GPS, pacemakers, web cameras, Amazon’s Echo, and home security systems. With wireless networks and cheap processors readily available, the digital and physical worlds continue to mesh. The IoT is already huge, and getting bigger, but why should you care?

An IoT leak could be disastrous for any business. Since these devices, especially in businesses, are interconnected and share data amongst themselves, access to one would mean easy access to any affiliated devices. Furthermore, once inside an IoT device, hackers can easily install malware and take control of the entire system.

No matter the type of breach, the financial costs are high and reputation impacts are long-lasting to any business. The best way to stay ahead of these cyber threats is to be aware of how they can occur and take steps to protect your business. Don’t worry, we will walk you through both.

WORLDWIDE WEB OF HACKERS

The internet has provided us with live updates, real-time data collection, immediate international communication, instant access to a multitude of information, and hackers. Many small- to medium-sized businesses have trouble seeing themselves as a target to these cyber criminals, thinking, what could they possibly want from me?—but that’s precisely what makes them easy targets.

While the Internet of Things was initially most appealing to business and manufacturing with its machine-to-machine (M2M) applications, nowadays, IoT devices are being used in almost every industry. However, these devices lack built-in security and can leave a digital backdoor open. Hackers prey on IoT devices because they can locate them through automated programs and can usually gain access by using default admin credentials.

To deter these types of cyber attacks, we recommend a few things.

  1. Change the password(s) on any new devices immediately after setup.
  2. Make sure all admin and user settings are updated and that no default credentials can be used.
  3. Finally, if you would like a second opinion on your cybersecurity, contact us to arrange a free consultation.

Bytes Over Barrels: Cybersecurity in Oil and Gas

Cybersecurity in the Oil & Gas Industry

 

With hackers becoming bolder and more destructive, many industries have taken steps to better secure their business information. However, the oil and gas industry remains arguably the most vulnerable to cyber attacks—or at least one of the most heavily targeted. Granted, this industry has not experienced a crippling data breach yet, but that does not mean they are not at risk. As the industry becomes increasingly digital and interconnected, the need for strong cybersecurity also grows.

amshot has a specialized focus on managed IT services and software development for the oil and gas industry. Our extensive knowledge of this industry has led to the development of a unique and effective approach. In this week’s blog, we’ll share our breakdown of cybersecurity in the oil and gas industry and why it’s crucial for businesses to be prepared.

THE RIPPLE EFFECT

In the past, the remote operations and intricate data structures provided a natural defense against cyber attacks. When cyberterrorism was the ultimate goal, there was a general consensus that hackers weren’t targeting oil and gas data. However, hackers are constantly evolving, and so are their strategies. Today, many hackers are profit-focused with strategies like disrupting operations, espionage, and stealing sensitive field data.

The oil and gas industry can be slow to adopt technological advancement. In fact, many companies are utilizing outdated software and systems leaving them vulnerable to attack— even though one of the unique aspects of the oil and gas industry is the potential magnitude of a data breach. Imagine a hacker was able to access operational technology for wells. With that data, an entire company could be shut down, and a breach of operational technology would have a ripple effect throughout the industry. The scariest part? A study was conducted to evaluate how the industry is addressing security risks to operational technology and an average of 46 percent of cyber attacks went undetected.

MISSION IMPENETRABLE

It’s no longer a question of if a data breach will occur in oil and gas, it’s simply a matter of when. Significant technology developments have been made to increase efficiency in operations, data collection, and exploration. Now, these advancements provide companies with the time to focus on protecting their assets. Cybersecurity has been put on a backburner for the oil and gas industry, but it’s time to make it a priority—and amshot can help.

A comprehensive cybersecurity plan begins with assessing the risks and vulnerabilities of your company. Then, potential risks can be prioritized and crisis management plans created. While these initial steps allow you to prepare responses for a data breach, consulting with IT professionals is a necessity in this industry. The interconnectedness of industry practices requires network security, data encryption, and vigilant monitoring. By establishing a data breach response plan and secure IT practices, the risk of cyber attacks is significantly reduced.

If your company does not utilize managed IT services, schedule a free consultation with amshot and discover how our specialized approach to oil and gas cybersecurity can help you.

 

The Supported Ascent: Cybersecurity and Data Management For The Growing Business

A small business seeking growth has a lot to consider. Obtaining and managing data now can affect decades of market presence, and swift management can mean meeting goals in months instead of years, but as with any organism, a business is at its most vulnerable when it is in its earliest stages. Security breaches are only becoming more common, and it is easy for a single software vulnerability or user error to compromise entire systems. That’s why reliable IT support, secure data management, and strong IT training for staff are essentials for directing growth and protecting company data regardless of company size or structure.  

 

The Techno-Interpreter 

What are your hardware and software needs? What software packages work best for your budget and goals? What specially designed applications could increase productivity and enrich user experiences? How do you gather and apply user and market data to direct company growth? Where are your vulnerabilities within your desktop ecosystem and IoT (Internet of Things) devices? How do you ensure that essential company data isn’t lost? These can be daunting questions that are relatively simple ones to experienced IT personnel, and lead us into our next point: 

 

Knowing Yourself Through Client Data 

This one is no secret: In many ways, applying gathered consumer data is the only real way to keep your feet planted in a chaotic, competitive environment. But what information matters? How do you gather only the important pieces in a sea of endless data? Specialized software allows you to identify trends, demographics, and observable curves in the market and apply them to your goals. Predictive analysis is an art that, when finely honed, can make an estimated guess into a confident statement that ensures success.  

 

A Watchful Eye 

Software vulnerabilities are always a concern, but user error is almost a certainty at one point or another. While you may trust your employees, nobody is exempt from making mistakes 100% of the time. Because everything is connected, one click on a phishing e-mail or the use of a less-than-savory external application can compromise your entire infrastructure. That’s where attentive administration and software procurement is key. Augment this with IT training for staff and you significantly lower your risk of technological catastrophe.   

 

Back It Up 

So let’s say the worst case scenario happens and your data is lost. This can happen either by cyber attacks or physical destruction of on-site storage systems by something such as natural disaster. This is where data backup services such as Datto save the day. Keeping your data in the cloud allows it to flow efficiently and securely throughout your company. 

Succinctly, the companies of tomorrow are being built today, and without harnessing new standards and technologies they will likely be overshadowed by their peers who have, and also are at increasing risk of digital breaches from outdated hardware, software, and practices. At amshot, we work with businesses who are ready to grow – that means providing technology training, developing software and applications, managing IT services, and more. Questions, concerns, or big dreams for your company’s data? Schedule a free consultation by emailing consult@amshot.com or calling us at (405) 418-6282.