Hiring and retaining IT professionals has gotten more and more difficult as technology becomes a mainstay in all types of business. Technology unemployment dropped to 1.9 percent in 2018, making it even more difficult to be a competitive employer to IT staff members. Here, Cards Technology founder and CEO Sam Card discusses IT hiring challenges and options.
Q: What are some common challenges businesses face when looking to hire in-house IT professionals in Delmarva?
Sam Card: It’s really a buyers’ market for IT professionals today because they can pick and choose which jobs they want. Because unemployment among IT people is so low, they seek out jobs that put them on a good track for their career while providing satisfaction and opportunity.
Often, businesses looking to hire in-house IT employees don’t have a clear picture of what they need to hire for. Because of this, job roles aren’t defined by technical skills which makes it almost impossible to provide performance metrics, a training path or a career plan for tech employees.
Job descriptions lack detail when the hiring manager only knows that the computers need to work and nothing else about the aspects of the job. This actually can lead to over-hiring in IT. When you over-hire, you’re paying for skills and expertise you don’t need for your IT systems, and the employee may get discouraged quickly because of lack of challenges or boredom.
Q. What are your recommendations for business owners who want to hire in-house IT staff?
Sam Card: The first thing you need to do is define the requirements for the job. Here are some considerations for that:
As a high-performing business, you want to be sure job roles are well laid out and new hires are properly trained. A formal training process is preferred to casual, social training from coworkers.
Q. My business is small, and I don’t want to hire in-house IT staff. Is a managed IT provider a good option for me?
Sam Card: Outsourcing IT can have great cost efficiencies regardless of staff count and revenue. Most importantly, if technology is important to your business, you can’t withstand disruptions to your operations just because you can’t find an IT person to hire. A managed IT provider maintains a staff of IT professionals with the best qualifications and vast experience to keep disruptions to your business practically nonexistent.
Data breaches are common and are becoming more dangerous every day. Cards Technology founder and CEO Sam Card shares some best practices on how to protect your business from breaches and how to respond when – not if – you have a data breach.
Sam Card: One of the first impacts of a breach is to your business reputation. You owe it to your customers to let them know about the hack; unfortunately, this can mean your customers now view your business as risky and unprofessional. To help mitigate that, you may have to subscribe your clients to an identity monitoring service for a year which could cost thousands of dollars. Add credit restoration services to the mix and cost becomes another impact.
The main impact, of course, is to your data security. With access to your sensitive information and server, hackers can use your system for illegal activities like crypto mining where they mine bitcoin all day – using your computers. Or, they may even host an illegal web site using your server.
Sam Card: Develop and implement a breach response plan so you and your team know what steps to carry out. Part of this plan includes assigning people to an incident response team which typically includes an executive team member and staff from IT, legal and public relations.
Sam Card: It’s all about how you deal with the situation. I think as long as you’re truthful and honest throughout the whole process, customers are going to be understanding. It’s important to be prepared and to let customers know what steps are being taken to protect their information. If you’re caught unprepared, you’ll look silly to customers. Many businesses are not having business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) conversations with their IT providers, and this is a mistake. Regardless of the size of your business, hackers are targeting you and you need to be prepared.
Sam Card: I don’t think you can ensure that – it’s not if you suffer a breach but when. When you engage with a Managed Service Provider, a certain level of security is put into place based upon how much you are willing to risk and how much you pay to prevent cyberattacks. So, you are protected from the things your system is designed to monitor. Unfortunately, there’s always some new hacking tool or cyberthreat out there that you aren’t protected from. So, it’s possible that you will go through more than one data breach. The best practice is to talk with your cyber security provider to make sure you have the right balance of security and risk for your organization.
If your business is running Microsoft Windows 7 or Server 2008, you need to prepare for end of life. Sam Card, CEO at Cards Technology, explains what you need to know for your business.
When a product is first released, it is under mainstream support. Users receive software updates, patches and technical support. About 3 to 4 years after the product is launched, the software reaches “end of mainstream support”. At this point – what they call “extended support” – you’ll still receive updates and patches, but no additional features will be developed, and major bugs will not be addressed. Eventually, the product reaches “end of extended support” where the developer releases no updates or patches and no longer provides technical support of any kind.
Microsoft’s Windows 7 and Server 2008 reached the end of mainstream support in January 2015 and will enter the end of extended support on January 14, 2020.
While your operating system will continue to work after January 14, 2020, your security won’t be up to date. This is problematic if you need to meet regulatory requirements, like HIPAA or PCI. Without updates and security patches, you will no longer be compliant.
Ignoring the deadline by failing to upgrade your systems will increase your chance of being hacked. After January 14, 2020, viruses created for Windows 7 or Server 2008 can be more easily transmitted computer-to-computer or spread through phishing. When an operating system is reaching end of life, many 3rd party software developers will also stop supporting their software on the end of life operating system, usually even before the end date. This will affect your team’s productivity because business applications you rely on for daily tasks will eventually stop being compatible with your outdated operating system.
I’ve been having this conversation about end of life with clients since last year. Some even started buying new computers in the fall of last year. But if you don’t have a budget to purchase new hardware along with the upgrades, you can start by upgrading to a valid Windows 10 license. If your equipment is aging and can’t support the operating system upgrade, you can look into leasing options, like hardware as a service or a virtual desktop platform.
We rarely encounter problems with Windows 10 and clients who experienced frequent issues with Windows 7 have been far more satisfied with Windows 10. Overall, it is faster and more user-friendly, offers better organizational tools, includes new security features like Advanced Threat Protection, and increases your control through the start button.