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A Message from the President
Technology can be a two-edged sword…

An obvious benefit of technology is that it enables us to be more productive and more responsive to customer needs. But this sword cuts another way - technology is not only becoming harder to manage, but more difficult to defend from the bad guys.

This month, TCI addresses both sides of the technology sword…

1. How to prepare for the emerging Coronavirus/Covid-19 threat. When it comes to your remote work arrangements, TCI can help your business stay connected 

2. How the right Cloud implementation can cut costs, simplify management, and still meet your unique needs

3. How to ensure your remote workers feel included in virtual meetings and can contribute in a meaningful way 

4. How Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) can simplify your life by eliminating the complexity of buying and managing your own IT and network infrastructure

5. How innovative cyber criminals are trying to breach your businesses every day

6. How Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Services can protect your business data

Contact me today to discuss how we help you sharpen the technology sword to meet any challenge. 

Tom Cornbrooks, President
703-321-3030 |  cornbrookst@tcicomm.com .

Remote Work Considerations as the DC Region prepares for Coronavirus/Covid-19 Impact

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst… The Covid-19 outbreak is moving fast and you’ll need to be flexible in the coming weeks to minimize disruptions to your business. 

TCI is Ready

At TCI, our staff’s welfare and your need for support are top of mind. Rest assured that our customer and tech support staff are equipped to work remotely as necessary and will be able to continue to support you without interruption.  

Preparing Your Business
 
You’re likely thinking about how your business will stay connected to continue operations and serve customers. If your employees need to work at home, there are several teleworking options available. Depending on the licensing and system levels of your phone system or service, TCI experts can help you coordinate…

  • Softphones – implemented via an app installed either on your desktop/laptop or smartphone

  • Twinning – having desk phone and cell phone ring simultaneously

  • Teleworker Phone – a physical phone that can be used at home and programmed with the same features and apps as the business phone at the office

  • Conferencing Services – enables virtual face-to-face meetings to complete projects and make decisions

  • Mass Notification Solutions – broadcasts information to teams, groups or the entire organization via text messages, phone calls, and email.

Arranging Call Forwarding 

In many cases, you may want to forward your main business telephone number to a primary point-of-contact’s extension. As a full-service provider, TCI can get this done quickly. 

You can also Call Forward your desktop extension to your teleworker phone prior to leaving the office or set call forward to your smartphone. Make sure you have a way to cover any incoming faxes.
 
Let’s talk more about safeguarding your business

News about Coronavirus/Covid-19 is developing fast, so now is the time to arrange your contingency plans and test your solutions in case your main office has to close to protect your employees and customers. 

Let's talk more about safeguarding your business. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com .

Hybrid, Public or Private Cloud Deployments… 
5 Questions that Lead to the Right Choice  
The cloud is a proven platform for deploying and managing all-in-one Voice, UC and collaboration capabilities across every location in your enterprise. 
Of course, every business has its own needs. As you consider which cloud environment makes sense for your company – public, private or hybrid – asking the following questions can help you choose the best path for you…

1. What level of privacy and security do you need?

If you’re in a highly regulated industry, like financial services, government or healthcare, consider which data should be kept on-site versus a private cloud. 
A hybrid solution enables you to keep control of some parts of your communications infrastructure while still reaping cloud benefits like scalability, resiliency and cost management. If privacy and control are essential to your business, this route may provide the flexibility you need.

2. How important is reliability?

If your workforce needs immediate and reliable access to complex data like large multimedia files, consider either a private cloud or storing the data on site.
If you operate a contact center, consider a hybrid solution: a private cloud combined with on-site back-up. Such redundancy protects you from costly downtime; if you lose your on-site system, the cloud is there. Likewise, if a network failure hits your cloud provider, your in-house infrastructure becomes your safety net.
 
3. Will the communications system grow and flex with you?

For organizations with fewer than 500 users, the public cloud environment is the most cost-effective. For one thing, your business can pay on a user-per-month basis. In addition, even though you still use a public Internet connection, it can be combined with private network solutions. A hybrid solution using the public cloud via a secure private network gives you room to scale up when necessary and allows you to maintain reliability and control.

4. How can you connect to the cloud?

  • SD-WAN (software-defined wide area networking) uses one or multiple network connections to prioritize applications, using a mixture of Internet and/or Internet with MPLS services to review and evaluate all network traffic. To ensure data and call quality are optimized, it can switch circuits quickly.

  • MPLS (Multiprotocol label switching) uses high‐speed networks to efficiently transport packets over virtual links. It also provides high call quality and a secure connection.

  • Public Internet Access Services like business-grade broadband connections are used for voice and video services. This is an economical choice for small and growing organizations.

5. What goes in the cloud? What stays?

Start by identifying the applications that really matter and checking for redundant functionality across applications; then focus on the key business and technical reasons for moving to the cloud. Use those decisions to shape the specific criteria for determining which applications should move to the cloud. Start with an overall digital strategy and work backwards, evaluating each offering against your value proposition.

TCI can help you refine your cloud deployment strategy and implement a solution tailored to your specific needs. 

Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com .

8 Ways to Ensure Your Remote Workers Feel Like they’re in the Conference Room
Because remote employees are not physically at the conference table, they miss the non-verbal cues and side conversations, while those attending in person often forget who’s on the other end of the speaker phone.

To make your remote colleagues feel connected and valued, here are 8 ways you can help them feel like they’re in the conference room along with everyone else.

1. Make it mobile-first.
The first step toward changing this dynamic is to provide remote employees with the right tools. They need the ability to join meetings from any device with a single click – mobile, tablet, desktop – and any operating system. 

2. Set a clear agenda.
A UC solution with a built-in agenda capability enables you to send the meeting plan with the invite. This way, remote employees aren’t at a disadvantage. Everyone is on the same page from the get-go.

3. Establish meeting ground rules.
For instance, one person speaks at a time with no interruptions. Have everyone say their name before speaking to help remote colleagues who are not in the room. This also serves to remind everyone that remote colleagues are on the call.

4. Start with introductions.
Have everyone say “hello,” give their name and role, and explain why they’re on the call. Small talk can help make everyone feel included, especially remote colleagues. If it's a video call, make sure everyone is on video - not just audio. If someone can’t be on video, ask them to post a photo of themselves.

5. Invite participation.
Since it’s easy to forget who’s calling in, it’s the job of the facilitator to make sure everyone contributes. Keep track of who has spoken – and who has not. Ask direct questions to those who haven’t contributed.

6. Speak clearly.
It is important that the facilitator speak clearly and slowly, with more pauses to make sure everyone is following.

7. Make it visual.
Use collaborative conference software that allows anyone on the call to share their screen. Use visuals to keep everyone engaged. Ask different participants to share documents.

8. Break it up.
When planning the meeting, be conscious of keeping it interactive. For instance, stop after three slides to ask questions. Assign different items on the agenda to each participant. In this way, the remote worker feels like an important contributor to the meeting.

Conference calls have always been challenging, but with more team members working remotely, it’s essential for businesses to make sure they contribute and feel included. 

Let TCI help you choose a cloud business communications solution that gives you the tools to create an inclusive, collaborative workspace. Contact us today: (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com .

Managed Infrastructure Solutions… We Make Connecting Your Business Easy
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is an IT environment that is provisioned and managed by TCI. With IaaS, you simplify your life and avoid the complexity of buying and managing your own IT and network infrastructure. Rather than paying a big upfront capital expense, your affordable monthly subscription covers everything you need.  

TCI’s experienced experts handle all of the details. We design, build, test, certify and support…  

  • Structured Cabling – Inside & Outside Plant
  • Managed Wi-Fi
  • LAN/WAN
  • Mobile Devices
  • Endpoints
  • Server Rooms
  • Data Centers
  • UPS
  • Security

We’re flexible… You can own any aspect of your IT environment and subscribe to IaaS for the elements you’d like us to manage. IaaS offers… 

  • End-to end setup, implementation, and testing

  • Ongoing monitoring and support, including a 24x7 help desk

  • Upgrades that include new equipment as technology evolves/improves

With over 40 years of certified networking experience, TCI’s trademark craftsmanship offers the expertise and project management you need for today’s technology infrastructure. Contact us today: (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com .

5 Network Security Threats You Need to Defend Against
Let’s face it, while we know security is important, we tend to gloss over things we don’t fully understand… especially if they involve fast-moving technology. TCI wants to make it easier to keep up. Here are some of the more common techniques bad guys are using to breach your businesses every day: 

1. Phishing - Often posing as a request for data from a trusted source, this attack is launched via email and asks users to click on a link. Over time, phishing has evolved to include Spear Phishing (targeted attempts highly personalized for a specific target) and Whaling (phishing scams that target high-profile users and decision makers).

2. Spoofing - Email spoofing is when the sender address is forged to make it appear that their email comes from a trusted source, such as your bank. The email can send you to a bogus website where your account details can be stolen. Or it appears to come from inside your own organization, asking you to change your password or confirm your details.

3. Malware Insertion - This refers to a variety of cyber threats including Trojans, viruses and worms which typically steal data or destroy key computer functions; usually introduced through email attachments, website visits, software downloads, or operating system vulnerabilities.

4. Ransomware - This is a specific type of malware that requires some sort of ransom payment to either remove it or to retrieve files that had been encrypted. To avoid being caught, these cyber criminals usually request payment in a crypto currency like Bitcoin.

5. Hijacking - A hijacking attack changes a computer’s settings to either ignore DNS or use a DNS server that is controlled by malicious hackers. The attackers then redirect communication to fraudulent sites. Website hijacking is commonly used to redirect users to fake login pages for banks and other online services in order to steal their login credentials. It can also be used to redirect security sites to non-existent servers to prevent affected users from updating their security software.

IT security is a big challenge. TCI experts can help. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com .

Safeguarding Business Data with Disaster Recovery & Continuity Services
What happens if you lose access to your business data - for an hour, for a day, for a week, or forever? Depending on your business, the answer may vary, but it’s not something you want to experience to find out - especially if it can be avoided. 

Prevent the unthinkable… 

We’re here to ensure that your data - and your ability to use it - remains safe, no matter what happens. Lightning, fire, theft, flooding, sabotage, equipment failures, natural disasters and other threats can all jeopardize the stability of any business. Companies that fail to guard against them can experience catastrophic consequences. 

Critical elements of disaster planning include:

  • Identifying risks, threats and exposure before it’s too late

  • Determining appropriate risk reduction remedies and alternatives for systems and networks

  • Assessing the need for data protection measures, off-grid power sourcing, and secure off-site storage

  • Checking the feasibility of implementing telework programs to keep your business open during an emergency

Get started by engaging TCI experts to perform a thorough audit. Our specialists find the gaps and map out better ways to protect your business. We then work with you to implement action plans that can help you get through a crisis without causing disruption to your business.  

Safeguard what counts. Contact us today at (703) 321-3030 or info@tcicomm.com .

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