2020 Printing Trends

Inkjet printers have only been a workplace mainstay for about 30 years, but each new decade brought vast advancements in printer, copier and scanner technology. The start of the ‘20s is sure to do the same.

Learn about printing trends we expect in 2020 and how they’ll affect your workplace.

Personalization

The rise in consumers’ desires for printed décor, signage and other large format printing projects are ushering in a demand for advanced multi-function printers, such as the Oce Colorado.

The desire for more personalized printed products means production printing operations need efficient and long-lasting large format printers that can keep up with demand. Equipment must also be versatile enough to handle printing on a variety of media, everything from thin wallpaper, window film and cloth to thick paper or vinyl for signs. 

Security

Cyberattacks are one of the biggest threats businesses face, and the frequency and severity of cyberattacks won’t slow in the next year or decade. Consider how many documents containing sensitive information roll off the printer, copier or scanner at your organization each day.

Because most multifunctional printers are connected to a business’ servers, they’re at risk for cyberattacks. In 2020, we’ll see even more manufacturers release machines with software and hardware offer more security, such as programs that require employees to verify credentials before printing or collecting documents.

Cloud Storage

Storing reams of documents in countless filing cabinets is so 2000. As we head into the 2020s, workplaces will demand more efficient processes. Cloud storage services, such as Infomax’s uniFLOW document management system, will allow workplaces to print faster and store documents easily. These programs also allow remote printing. System administrators can also set document permissions for specific users, increasing security for sensitive information. We’ll see more workplaces use document management systems to connect to various devices throughout the next year.

Crisp Imaging

The minimalist aesthetic that ruled the late 2010s will continue to dominate design in 2020. For printers, simple design could mean fewer headaches with clashing ink colors and complex overlaid graphic elements.

However, understated designs could bring their own set of challenges, whether printing on inkjet or laser printers. The few elements on a printed document will need to have clean lines and crisp images. 

Environmental Sustainability

Many industries champion environmental sustainability causes, and the printing industry is no exception. Customers have long chosen to print on recycled paper, but we’ll see more printer manufacturers nod to green practices a nod in 2020. It’s possible that more printers will use soy and vegetable-based inks instead of petroleum-based substances. New machines will also be more energy efficient.

To outfit your office with equipment suited for the next decade, message us online or call 1-800-727-4629.

2020 Trends in Technology and Cybersecurity

In 2010, consumers were introduced to the iPad. Facebook was rising in popular culture with Twitter hot on its heels. The BlackBerry withered on the vine while more smartphones stormed the market. Americans were just beginning to consider online privacy concerns.

A decade later, tablets and smartphones have revolutionized business. Social media is a must-have platform for businesses to connect with consumers. Cybersecurity and privacy concerns reached a fever pitch in 2019.

There’s no doubt that the rapidly changing digital world will bring new opportunities and challenges in the next year. We predict 2020’s technology trends and how they’ll shape workplaces.

IoT

The Internet of Things — interconnected devices able to transfer data over a network — will grow in 2020. The IoT is already represented in the workplace through smart locks, thermostats, cameras, printers, tablets, smartphones and wearable devices to track travel or employee activity. As automation grows and companies add or upgrade equipment, it will be increasingly important for professionals to understand their devices’ interconnectivity and how to secure them from cyberattacks.

Automation and AI

Automation programs and artificial intelligence will have an even greater impact on the workforce in the coming years.

AI — machines mimicking human behavior by basing actions on past data — is already a fixture of Americans’ personal lives. Streaming services offer algorithmically generated suggestions based on past views, and social media sites use AI facial recognition software to suggest people users can tag in photos. In business, AI is already used to filter spam emails, detect fraudulent financial transactions and for a variety of other tasks.

Simply put, AI technology can accurately perform these tasks much faster than people can, leading decision-makers to favor labor-saving tools. AI is part of a larger automation trend that which could obliterate as many as 73 million jobs in America by 2030, according to a McKinsey Global Institute report. However, experts such as Kevin Kelly, co-founder of Wired magazine, believe the growth in AI technology will also create jobs as employees are needed to create and manage the technology. Throughout the next decade, the tech industry will see a rapid expansion in the need for workers trained in automation programs.

Outside of the job market, workers can find comfort in the fact that automation will eliminate pesky daily tasks that distract them from larger projects. Automation can help generate sales leads, maintain office equipment, analyze reports, organize data, process transactions and answer questions among other tasks.

Accessibility

American workers are constantly on the go, and many workplaces have employees who work remotely. More and more workplaces will require virtual private networks — VPNs — for employees who access the company network remotely.

Hosted communications systems are another way for employees to easily work on the go and connect with customers. The system allows a group of employees to collaboratively edit a document in real time and facilitate a video or phone chat for employees working in different areas. Cell phones connected to the office communications systems allow workers to answer calls outside of the office. If the call is sent to a voicemail, the message is transferred from the individual’s cell phone to the voicemail connected to the hosted communications system.

Cybersecurity

As the IoT expands and hackers become more adept at deploying cyberattacks across devices, cybersecurity threats will be more prevalent than ever. More small and medium businesses are facing the same cyberthreats as large corporations, according to Ponemon Institute’s 2018 State of Cybersecurity in Small and Medium Size Businesses report.

For the report, researchers surveyed more than 1,000 small and medium businesses in the United States and the United Kingdom. The survey found that 67 percent of respondents — eight percent higher than in fiscal 2017 — reported facing a cyberattack in fiscal 2018. Additionally, 58 percent reported facing a data breach in fiscal 2018, an increase of four percent from 2017.

More businesses will recognize the dire need for advanced cybersecurity plans. Throughout 2020, leaders will devote more resources to security efforts. For comparison, Cyber Security Hub found that companies’ cybersecurity budgets increased 59 percent in the first half of 2019.

In 2019, 91.3 percent of the Cyber Security Hub respondents said the lack of trained talent was turning into a crisis.  As the workforce hurries to find employees skilled in cybersecurity, more organizations will turn to managed IT service providers, such as Infomax, to work with a ready-made team of cybersecurity experts.

To learn more about Infomax’s team of providers, message us or call 1-800-727-4629. We can help guide your workplace through the next decade.

Get Out of the IT Business

Employees of small or medium-sized businesses know they often have to wear many hats. Daily tasks often stray outside the bounds of their job description. That likely means that the organization’s IT staff consists of one or two inherently tech-savvy people who take the time to tackle small technological issues in addition to daily work.

Wouldn’t it be great if your employees could get back to doing their jobs and get out of the IT business?

Our Infomax’s Complete Cloud Services — powered by Avatara — are the solution. Complete Cloud services allow your company to completely hand your IT needs over to a team of experts. These services differ from managed IT services — where a third-party IT provider works alongside existing staff and equipment your business still manages.

With Complete Cloud, all servers, storage and other infrastructure are moved to the cloud, represented as multiple secure data centers across the country. All computers and technological systems are hosted in the secured cloud, taking away the clutter of hardware your organization previously stored. Your business will never again need to buy new hardware, manage device upgrades or download new programs.

Convenience and security with this IT system are unparalleled. Your business only has to consider one monthly fee to one vendor for unlimited data storage, security and the services of an entire team of IT experts. Additionally, on-the-go staff can access your company’s systems anywhere through computers, phones or tablets.

However, convenience doesn’t compromise security. Though employees can log on remotely, they do so through multiple layers of authentication, so security isn’t an issue. Data backup is also continuous with Complete Cloud services, so data recovery is easy and efficient in the event of a disaster or cyberattack. Companies who need to provide compliance reporting should look no further because Complete Cloud fulfills the highest levels of security necessary for your organization.

And while Complete Cloud services are a desirable IT solution for any company, the system is especially convenient for companies who need high-performance machines to run complicated applications, such as computer assisted design — or CAD — programs. Because the applications will run through servers in the cloud, there’s no need to buy extra hardware to store data onsite and no risk of programs overloading and shutting down.

If your organization is ready to be done patching up IT issues and get back to work, contact us today to learn more about our Complete Cloud services.

How to Spot a Phishing Attack Through Email

It’s hard to imagine doing business in the 21st Century without email. It’s provided us with an instant tool for communication and an easy system for archiving information. Email also has given hackers a portal through which they can employ a phishing attack and infect an organization’s servers with malware and gain sensitive information, virtually effortlessly.

A phishing attack is when cyber criminals make a targeted attempt through email to trick individuals into opening links, providing sensitive information or downloading attachments with malicious software.

Phishing attempts are becoming more sophisticated and ever more frequent. For instance, more than 70 percent of targeted cyberattacks in 2017 involved the use of phishing emails, according to the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report 2018. That same report found that 7,710 businesses were hit by a scam each month in 2017.

Infomax recommends employees undergo regular training on how to recognize a phishing attack and stay aware of the latest scams. We offer regular cybersecurity training through our Complete Cloud and iGuard Managed IT services. Here are our tips on how to spot an email phishing attack.

Sender asks for personal information

Hackers have become very sophisticated, and an email can arrive in your inbox that looks authentic, mirroring the email interface of yours or another company. However authentic the email looks, a mental red flag should be raised if the individual is asking you to provide or confirm personal information. Whether it’s from an alleged human resources representative asking for your personal identification or an internal or external sender asking for financial information, you can’t be sure who may see your data once you hit the send button.

Trusted sources will never require you to email sensitive personal or business information because they know how easily accessible that information is to hackers. A trusted organization will encourage you to call a number, send mail or visit a separate, secured online platform. 

Email contains unfamiliar links

Similar to mirroring an email, hackers create false webpages that mimic real sites. When you’re prompted to enter information, such as a password, into the fake site, cyber criminals gain access to your and your organization’s information. They can also create malicious links that resemble real web addresses you or other employees frequent, hoping those who open an email don’t look too closely at a URL before they click.

Instead of clicking links train yourself and your colleagues to read a link in an email, checking it against the frequented URL in a web browser. Additionally, hover over and read the web address of links concealed within the text of the email.

Email is poorly written

An easy way to spot a phishing attack is if it contains awkward phrasing, rampant misspellings and grammatical errors. Emails from legitimate companies reflect the professionalism of those who work there. Before proceeding, those on the receiving end also should check that the email address from the sender is legitimate, not containing additional words or characters that readers may not notice on first glance.

Suspicious attachments are included

Never click on or download email attachments that look suspicious or that you are not expecting. The attachment could be a malicious URL or virus that can corrupt the user’s computer and lead hackers into the company’s network. Your business should invest in antivirus software that will scan for suspicious attachments. Employees should also verify attachments with senders by emailing them on a separate thread, calling them or messaging them in another way.

Remember not to give in to pressure from an unknown sender and always take time to consider the information received in an email before reacting. To secure training for your organization, contact us today.

Disaster Recovery Plans: All Your IT Questions Answered

Your company’s time and resources are limited. When you spend time planning for the future, it likely centers around a plan for a project, expansion or improvement. The last thing you want to spend precious time and resources on is planning for everything to go wrong.

However, if you don’t plan for disaster recovery, all your hard work for future growth can disappear, leaving you rebuilding your business from scratch and losing potential revenue and precious data.

What is a disaster recovery plan?

It’s a plan to get back to business as usual. Disasters can range from damage done to hardware by a natural disaster, user error or cyberattacks. A thorough disaster recovery plan is detailed and delegates tasks to a team of information technology professionals and internal employees who can restore your business’ data as quickly as possible. It allows the organization to recover data, gain access to networking technology, reconnect power and repair software or hardware.

When should planning begin?

The good news is that cloud computing and managed IT services makes disaster recovery much less difficult. Your managed services team — a third-party team of IT professionals — can assist your organization in transitioning to a cloud computing system.

The cloud — represented as multiple, secure data centers across the country — ensures that your sensitive and important information is secure. Data is backed up continuously so loss in the event of a disaster is miniscule. Your managed services team will use the latest data backup to restore your systems.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a disaster recovery plan. Your IT provider can work with your organization to determine steps to cover everything from what happens if your data is compromised to finding temporary hardware and software that allows your team to get back to work even as recovery begins. 

What should be in a disaster recovery plan?

Businesses often believe their disaster recovery plan should focus only on the worst-case scenario. However, consider what you need from your IT services and equipment to carry out daily operations. While the ultimate disaster could occur, daily mishaps are more likely, such as a corrupted software program or finnicky phone systems. 

Additionally, it’s important to not only have the guidelines for restoration, your IT team must have comprehensive access to your applications so they can get to work as soon as a disaster strikes. Both IT professionals and internal employees should understand the tasks they may need to carry out if IT systems go awry.

How do I create a disaster recovery plan?

As your organization and its processes evolve, your IT plan should be updated. To create a plan with your IT provider, consider these steps:

  • Establish the scope of the organization’s daily work
  • Gather network infrastructure and access documents
  • Identify threats
  • Review past actions during outages or disasters
  • Build an emergency response team
  • Review the plan with IT professionals and management
  • Test disaster recovery plan
  • Update the plan

Infomax can help create a disaster recovery plan for your team. For more information, call 515-244-5203. 

What to Look For in a New Office Printer

Your business is as unique as the market and clients you serve. When it comes to office equipment, you need a printer individualized for your exact needs. There are many printers on the market, so determining which one is the right fit for your office can be difficult. We’re here to help you clear through the clutter.

It’s important to understand the role your printer needs to play and the frequency at which your business will use it. Businesses that print thousands of documents per month may value a machine with high printing speed and durability. A printer with high image quality and four ink wells may be more important for companies printing more colorful documents and images. 

Consider these factors before purchasing your next office printer.

Functionality

Most businesses opt for multifunction printers, or systems that can print, copy, scan and fax. Why? Small and medium-sized businesses need a printing solution that reflects themselves: efficient, versatile and reliable.

Budget

Size, imaging, speed and additional features affecting the price of a printer. When determining your budget for a new printer, it’s important to understand that the upfront costs could be compounded by the price of replacing ink. It’s common for inexpensive printers to have costly ink replacement fees. The reason: manufacturers make their money that way.

Leasing printers has become a popular option for businesses. Monthly leasing costs are easier to factor into a budget than the one-time cost of purchasing a multifunction printer. Leasing also allows companies to update their equipment as printer technology advances.

Quality

Your office printer will likely use an inkjet or laser printer. Inkjet printers use ink and are best for low-volume printing, while laser printers use toner and are suited for high-volume printing. Whichever you use, you want professional print quality. Both are measured in dots per inch — or DPI. Laser printers usually have between 600 to 1,200 DPI, while inkjet printer resolutions usually begin at 1,200 DPI.

It’s also worth checking if you can use third-party ink cartridges for your printer and if refilling cartridges is an option. Be aware that using unapproved ink cartridges might void your warranty.

Speed

If your office frequently prints reports or documents with multiple pages, you’ll want to pay attention to the printing speed on your new machine, measured in pages per minute — or PPM. Though printers will have slight variance in PPM for images and text, the measurement will allow you to determine what best fits your business’ needs.

Wireless Access

Most offices have on-the-go employees who want to print from laptops or cellphones. Printers with wireless or Bluetooth access provide more functionality. The feature also allows the machine to access a document management system. Users can use the printer to access electronically stored files without having to send the files through a computer.

 To learn more about print and technology solutions that best fit your organization’s needs, contact us here.

Infomax Honored as Iowa Top Workplaces for Eighth Consecutive Year

For the eighth consecutive year, Infomax is honored to announce that we have been named one of the best workplaces in the state by the Des Moines Register’s Iowa Top Workplaces.

When my grandfather, Frank Jacobs, founded our company in 1958, he knew that our business could be successful only if we support the people who comprise our company. Without a doubt, we must care for our clients and continue to innovate when it comes to providing the best technology solutions possible, but we know that our employees and communities are just as important.

My father and grandfather taught me about the responsibility our business has to our employees and communities. We’re a family-owned business, and that family extends to our employees, many of whom have worked at Infomax for decades — and some whose families have been with us for generations.

We’re honored that Infomax continues to be recognized with Top Workplaces awards, surpassing thousands of other Iowa companies who enter nominations. Workplace culture is incredibly important to us. We’ve worked diligently to define our company’s core values throughout the years, making sure employees have a voice in the process. We even created a culture committee to identify Infomax’s values, what those values mean to employees and clients and how the company can better share our principles.

We believe we have developed an environment in which our employees feel they can grow in their careers, celebrate success, voice concerns, create lasting friendships and have a little fun through our regular cookouts and employee outings.

Because we have such a strong community within Infomax, we feel we have a duty to help build strong communities where are Infomax facilities are located. In Des Moines and Ottumwa, we participate in local efforts through donations and volunteering. My passion is continuing to develop Infomax’s legacy.

Thank you for supporting our business and employees. Your success is our success.

— Greg Jacobs, president of Infomax Office Systems

What is A Cloud Server?

In the past decade, cloud computing transformed from an information technology buzzword to a part of our everyday language. However, most associate the cloud as the omniscient and vast virtual space that holds old pictures and long-deleted phone applications. Using cloud servers in the professional world offers businesses security and stability, especially for small and medium-sized businesses who don’t have the space or knowledge to implement a cloud server for their company.

Cloud servers are servers that run in a cloud, defined as multiple secure data centers that run via internet access. They can’t be reached physically. Cloud servers operate independently as software units. This system differs from the traditional server, which is a computer with the hardware to manage connections to other devices and store data.

Managed IT providers — or third-party IT organizations such as Infomax— can help secure a cloud server for your business. Let’s look at some of the benefits of using a cloud server.

Security: Consider all the sensitive data your business must have on file: company financial information, client records, data from past or current projects, confidential employee files and much more. It’s important to keep this data safe and secure from cyberattacks, natural disasters and accidental program or user corruption. 

Cloud servers provide more security than traditional servers because your data is represented in multiple secure data centers that are heavily protected to prevent breaches. If a natural disaster or cyberattack hits one data center, your data can still be recovered. Additionally, all data is encrypted.

Scalability: Because cloud servers are virtual, device connections can be added or removed from the server to fit the needs of your business. Most IT service providers charge your business for the amount of server traffic you use instead of paying in advance for the amount you think you might use, allowing you to scale costs based on your needs.

Efficiency: This model is more cost effective than traditional servers with hardware because you’re likely not paying for the cost of physical equipment and the energy needed to power it. Additionally, connection to cloud servers is typically faster because you use the virtual services of many servers.

Compatibility: Cloud servers can be used with nearly every operating system, allowing your business flexibility and peace of mind.

Think your business could benefit from a cloud server? Contact Infomax today at 1-800-727-4629.

IT Solutions for Remote Workers

More workers than ever — about 50 percent of Americans— are working remotely. Employers and employees see the benefits of the arrangement. Among other perks, the arrangement allows employees more schedule flexibility, less time commuting and the ability to connect with a team even while travelling for work. Employers have access to a larger pool of candidates and fewer hard costs in providing a work space.

However, remote working arrangements can create a whole host of cybersecurity vulnerabilities and technological snafus. Working with a third-party business that provides fully managed information technology services can keep your business secure no matter where your team is working.

Here are some IT issues employers and remote workers may encounter.

Problem: Unsecured hardware

As hackers become more advanced and cyberattacks more frequent, securing only the computers in your office building does not suffice. Ensuring your business’ networks are secure should be one of your highest priorities. Even if your company has just one fulltime remote worker, employees likely have business data through their email apps on cell phones, on laptop or desktop computers, tablets, smart watches and other devices.

Solution: Virtual private networks — VPNs — provide security by requiring employees to sign in when accessing the network remotely.

Problem: Data destruction, ransomware

A remote working arrangement means an employee’s office can be among coworkers in the employer’s workspace one day and a home office the next day. Productivity can continue at the airport, across the country, at a conference or in the neighborhood coffee shop. But spotty Wi-Fi connections can mess with a work schedule, prevent files from being saved on a server and wreak havoc on your company’s data security efforts. Hackers can steal data and use ransomware to block access to data until a debt is paid.

Solution: Managed IT services allow employees to connect to the business’ server through the cloud, data centers in multiple locations throughout the country. Through the cloud, connections to the servers remain constant and data is backed up consistently. If a natural disaster or hacker strikes, businesses have the upper hand by having recent data stored in the cloud. Managed IT service providers can implement the data recovery process.

Problem: Lack of training

The majority of cyberattacks occur through human error. Employees could fall prey to a phishing attack by clicking a suspicious link in an email or website, downloading files containing malware or not securing hardware. Remote workers may not get proper training on how to recognize phishing attacks or follow the most recent cybersecurity protocols.

Solution: Managed IT service providers, such as Infomax, deliver periodic training and send out information on the latest scams, alerting employees before attacks can occur.

Contact Infomax at 1-800-727-4629 to learn more about how to keep your business’ data safe in any environment.

Business Yearbook: IT Support Superlatives

How is your business addressing information technology services and security? Will your colleagues and employees remember your company as a cybersecurity success or a burnout that thought they had their information technology services figured out only to have the business endure a quarter-life crisis.   

Call Infomax for an evaluation, and let’s work to get iGuard Evolved IT in your business, bringing you a competitive advantage rather than just an irritating expense! First, let’s take a look at how the service models stack up to a complete managed services model, or working with a third party that offers comprehensive IT services.

The Tech Savvy Guy/Gal — Most Likely to be Overwhelmed

This IT support environment is most often seen in small businesses. Management has likely been focused on growth and finding employees with diverse skills. The IT support is likely one outsourced IT professional or an internal employee with a fulltime set of tasks and limited IT know-how who is able to spare a few occasional moments to help reset a password or assemble equipment.

Because errant IT questions, necessary software renewals and security issues occur regularly in most businesses, this staffer has an overwhelming amount of work to do in addition to their primary responsibilities. Not only is your employee overwhelmed, but the person’s productivity also plummets, and your IT support environment is left vulnerable. Your business’ network has no proactive monitoring or updating of firewalls. Data is not secured or stored for backup. No disaster recovery policy exists in the event of a fire, damage from a natural disaster or ransomware attack.

What happens to your business if that employee becomes so overwhelmed they need a long vacation — or worse — they leave the company?

No Managed Services — Most Likely to Have Uncoordinated Services

This service model really has no model at all. Some businesses have different vendors for many of their IT services: one vendor to work on their firewall, another to secure the network, one for wireless internet and phone systems, and yet another for their data backup and disaster recovery plans. While your business is outsourcing services to seemingly save time and money, the lack of management services could be more of a drain on resources. An internal worker has to coordinate services and payment between various vendors. Your IT support is also at the mercy of multiple companies’ operating procedures, leaving your business without a strategic, proactive plan.

Hybrid Break and Fix Services — Most Likely to Be Reactive

A hybrid managed IT services model may seem like a good option for smaller businesses that are still leery of a fully managed services model. However, this support environment is no better than having just the one tech savvy guy or gal taking care of IT. Companies with this model pay a base monthly fee for server updates and small security patches to a third party. However, all other necessary services are billable.

Typically, firewall updates and monitoring are done on request and not covered in your base costs. Similarly, help desk calls longer than 15 minutes also accrue additional costs. While a business may be paying a base monthly fee, services are often not covered and IT professionals are working only to fix problems when they should stop problems before they occur.

Managed IT Services — Likely to Be Proactive

Managed IT services offer more comprehensive and proactive support than other models in which your services kick in only after a problem occurs. Typically, the company providing your support offers a help desk for employees to call. Having one vendor allows your business to consolidate billing, and it allows the managed IT provider to take a look at all of the IT services that will best meet your needs.

But the biggest wild card could be narrowing down which IT services are covered in your monthly payment. Hardware, onsite work, security updates and security awareness training for employees may not be covered in base payments. Small businesses must be assured that your IT provider won’t give precedence to a larger company’s IT support. Your business must also consider future growth. Will the quality and quantity of technical talent keep pace with your business’ expansion?

Complete Managed Services with Co-Located Data Centers — Best Proactive, Comprehensive Services

This model is the cream of the crop, the class valedictorian. It allows you to get out of the IT business and back into your business! The cost is similar to that of managed services, but complete managed services offer a serious upgrade in security and unlimited data storage. The price is about cost of an IT professional, but the services are delivered by 30 or more IT experts instead of one or two IT workers who lack specific expertise.

The cost-per-service guesswork also disappears. All hardware costs — managed firewall, network servers, data backup and storage, monitors and more — are covered under one monthly payment. There’s no guesswork. Most importantly, services are proactive and managed by one vendor who is an expert on your business’ needs. That vendor provides a help desk for your employees’ small or significant IT issues.

In a technological world with rising cybercrime, this model provides the level of security all businesses require. Disaster and ransomware recovery are included in your monthly payments. Recovery is a breeze because your company’s sensitive data is continuously backed up in multiple data centers in various locations. Employees are able to work remotely through multiple devices — all through the secured cloud.

Contact Infomax today at 515-244-5203 to learn how we can set your business up with our iGuard Evolved IT, proactively securing and managing your company’s IT needs.