MEET GI’s PRESIDENT
Don has been involved in Information Technology since the early 90’s having served as the CEO and President of Vista Information Systems from 93-2008, At TekLinks from 2008 to 2017 serving as the President the last two years, before being Acquired by CSpire. While at TekLinks he also ran the Cyber-Security practice. Don began serving as President of General Informatics in 2020, one of the fastest growing Managed Service Providers in the Southeast.
Q: What are some strategies my company can use to make sure it keeps up with constantly changing technology?
Don Monistere (President, General Informatics): While this might sound self-serving, contracting with a reputable IT provider in your area is extremely important to ensure that you stay on top of the ever-changing technology landscape. Your current IT staff may be experts in the technology you have today, but they are primarily focused on stability and uptime of the network. They rarely have the bandwidth to seek ways to innovate business processes through new technology. Companies like General Informatics, whose sole purpose is to help businesses succeed through technology, are constantly seeking the latest technology innovations available. From our highly skilled engineering staff to our customer success managers, our staff is consistently attending training sessions and conferences all over the country to stay on top of the latest trends. This allows us to take a more strategic approach to information technology, as opposed to merely reacting to a customer’s network problems or aging infrastructure.
Q: What types of technology-related products and services are musts for any small business?
Monistere: Cloud computing is all the rage. You can’t watch television without hearing something about the cloud. But what does this really mean? In a nutshell, this means utilizing remote computing services that can be consumed in a pay-as-you-go model. This is essential for small and medium-sized businesses, because you can gain access to the latest technology without enormous outlays of precious capital. It also allows companies to scale as they grow, so you only pay for what you need, when you need it. As soon as a company can begin consuming in a managed cloud service model, they should.
Q: How can technology help my company be more effective, save money and improve revenue?
Monistere: As mentioned earlier, the pay-as-you-go model works well for companies that could experience slow growth or, more importantly, hyper-growth. In the past, you had to guess at what you thought demand for technology might be and then over-buy to account for potential growth. Utilizing a managed and cloud services consumption model allows you to grow as fast or as slow as your company is growing or contracting. Data is king in today’s world, and the quicker you input that data, the faster it can be monetized. Allowing your users to connect from anywhere on any device utilizing Server 365 enables small and medium-sized businesses to securely input and access data quickly and conveniently.
Q: What are some of the key components of an overall IT strategy?
Monistere: There are 3 main areas that an IT strategy should include:
- Application and Application management. What applications are you using? Which ones need investments to improve? What applications will be retired? The applications that we interface with everyday must be strategically planned to ensure efficiency within your workforce.
- Access. Who and from where will your users be able to access the corporate assets? What rights will each user have? It is vital to know which employees have access to what information at all times. Companies can use a tool like Server 365 to provide secure device management and connectivity to ensure that company information is protected.
- Security and Data Protection. To what degree should we replicate and protect our data? Backups, firewalls, intrusion detection, and disaster recovery must all be addressed here. The corporate data is an asset and must be protected appropriately.
Q: What are some roles technology can play at a company that some businesses don’t often consider?
Monistere: Information technology is often an afterthought once the strategic plan is devised as opposed to alongside it. The Information Technology department or outsourced IT provider should be a part of the strategic planning sessions as you discuss how innovation happens within your organization. Rarely, if ever, are product or service improvements successfully achieved without changes or planning in IT. At General Informatics, we offer our highly trained Customer Success Managers as strategists to guide you through the planning phases to make sure that there is alignment between the innovation you wish to usher in to your products and services and the IT infrastructure needed to accomplish it.
Q: What are some key steps companies should take to protect their technology, particularly in terms of cybersecurity?
Monistere: This is an extremely hot topic, and very few companies have a great strategy in place to handle cybersecurity threats. Here are a few areas companies should focus on:
First, asses the current state of your technology. Deep scans of server and workstation data are crucial to verify that no malware or exploits of any sort exist currently in your network. If someone has already compromised your system, beefing up security is ineffective until the problem is dealt with. Then mitigate any exploits or vulnerabilities found in the assessment phase.
Protect the system by using strategies that include policies around user names and passwords. Two-factor authentications, utilization of a firewall appliance or software, and use of virus and malware scanners.
Monitor and Threat Detection. Ongoing threat detection is vital in today’s connected network of environments. Assuring that those who are trying to gain access to your network are only users who have been granted permission is key.
Finally, educating your staff on phishing attempts and how to avoid malware infection is a crucial step that is often overlooked.
Q: My company doesn’t have a huge budget for technology spending. Are there any cost-effective strategies that can make sure my company remains competitive in terms of IT?
Monistere: There are numerous ways that a company can remain extremely cost conscious. Hardware has become very affordable today. Costs generally increase when labor and software licensing enters the conversation. Not all companies have massive IT budgets and should consider low or no cost software applications to run their operation. These applications can migrate to a more enterprise class software as the company’s IT budget grows. Another way to both manage and predict your IT cost is to utilize an IT company that charges a flat rate for all-in IT Services, where hardware and software licensing is bundled into the price. Learn more about General Informatics IT Management & Support.
Q: Aside from cybersecurity threats, what are some other caution areas for companies when it comes to technology?
Monistere: The main caution area outside of security would be backup and disaster recovery. Having a solid strategy for backing up your data that includes offsite cloud backup as well as onsite physical backup is a must. This will assure that there are multiple copies of your data that can be readily obtained in the event of data loss or an unplanned outage. Add a plan around recovery in the event of a disaster, and you will have the main concerns for IT covered.