Like it or not, you business relies on technology

Like it or not, your business relies on technology

Technology isn’t just something used by Silicon valley firms and large corporations. Even the smallest start-up is now reliant on technology and the virtual marketplace. A business cannot function without operating in the digital world. At the very least, it means having a website, a social media presence and an online database of customers and prospects. Most likely it means conducting business online, which means you’re responsible for the security of client data: names, credit cards, addresses, and probably more information. Much of that information may be personal Information that you have an obligation to keep secure. That duty brings along many challenges because cyber criminals and even benign human error could mean that data is compromised. Data breaches can bring litigation, possible regulatory sanctions, and very importantly, damage to your brand and reputation. Because so much rides on the stability and security of your digital infrastructure, serious attention has to be paid to data security protocols. The problem is, tech is a complex and specialized field that most small businesses owners have little time to focus on. And spending time trying to understand and maintain an IT infrastructure means siphoning off attention to the operation of your business. That is why a Managed Service provider can be a lifesaver for a small business.

A Managed Service provider is an IT consultant that can provide some or all of the support you need for your IT infrastructure. They can provide help with specific issues–migrating data to the cloud, setting up new software and hardware, designing data security protocol, etc,. They can also become a strategic partner. That means they team with you and learn your business goals and plans and help you understand how new and existing technology can help your business expand. They can use their expertise to guide you to new technologies and digital applications you might not be aware of.

Also, you can sign a service contract with an MSP. At the most basic level, a service contract will mean that if you need emergency tech support, you have priority. Otherwise, you will be at the bottom of the list if something goes wrong.

Finally, let’s consider strategic planning. Your business isn’t static, It will grow in volume, it will expand its product and service lines, and it will move into entirely new, unfamiliar markets. There may be new technologies and applications out there that you are unaware of. If you overlook them and your competitors don’t, you can begin to lag behind. You need long-term strategic planning in terms of the technology you will deploy to remain competitive. New technology will offer new opportunities. An MSP who has experience in your industry can become a partner. FInd an MSP who will partner with your business and learn your operations and your future plans. In that way they don’t just support the IT you have now, they become a key voice in strategic planning for future growth.

How Can an MSP Keep Your Business Safe?

How Can an MSP Keep Your Business Safe?

Are you a small- or medium-sized business that is in need of a more complete, dependable IT solution to support your business than you presently have? When your main focus is running your business, everything else becomes an afterthought. Other support operations tend to take a backseat. However, your business depends upon a reliable, stable “always running” IT infrastructure and you probably find that isn’t always the case. Even if you have an in-house staff, it isn’t large enough to put out fires and handle strategic planning and provide 24/7 support when something goes wrong. That is why many businesses large and small rely fully or partially on the support of a Managed Service Provider (MSP).

So what are the typical services available from an MSP? There are many different types of support that can be provided to clients. In this e-guide we will break them down.

Managed IT Services

This is the overarching set of services that define the purpose of an MSP. Generally, a business will sign a service level contract with an MSP for a set of defined IT services for a period of time. One advantage typically derived from such an agreement is that the contract provides that you get 24/7 emergency support with priority. Typically, if you have a crisis and call a provider, the non-contract clients take a lower priority. This can mean longer down times and those mean revenue losses. Also, your contract with an MSP means that you can do a better job predicting your IT expenses into the future, and predictability is always a benefit for any enterprise.

Cyber Security Services

One specific area of expertise that everyone needs, no matter how small the business, is up-to-date, ongoing protection against data theft and cyber crimes. An MSP can bring a depth of knowledge that is difficult to create in-house. Ransomware and data theft are rampant. Cyber criminals attack businesses of any size ( in fact, small ones can be more vulnerable. And smaller businesses often don’t have the deep pockets to recover from the revenue losses of a cyber attack). This is a very specialized sector of IT management where businesses frequently choose to use the services of an MSP because of its complexity. Also, keeping up-to-date with the latest malware, and handling 24/7 monitoring can be very labor intensive if done in-house.

Compliance Management

  • There are a number of data protection laws (HIPAA, FERPA, CA Privacy Act, GDPR, FTC Safeguards Rule) out there that not only provide penalties if a data breach occurs, many of them mandate specific protocols to better ensure your data is protected. Avoiding a data breach isn’t enough. Some of these protocols can be quite demanding and some require periodic testing and are subject to audits. Samples of the types of requirements mandated by some of these laws may include.
  • Designating one individual to oversee data protection and security
  • Conducting a risk assessment – This means analyzing what data you possess, where it is stored, and in what ways it is vulnerable.
  • Creating safeguards to address all potential areas of vulnerability
  • Designing and documenting tools to secure your data and tracking access
  • Tracing the location and security of all data whether it is at rest or in transit.

An MSP can be a critical resource in designing these safety measures and ensuring your company is in compliance and remains so. Handling compliance issues and audits can be a big distraction when you are trying to run your business and drive revenues.

Can a small business use AI?

Can a small business use AI?

One area where AI tools can help even the smallest business is in sales and marketing. Every business is marketing and selling in the online digital world. Marketing on social media is a given for every business, and can be a game-changer for a small startup. However, a lot of the tasks of marketing on social media and through your website can involve tedious, time consuming tasks. Marketing tools that use AI can help with drip email campaigns, website visitor tracking, and understanding where each customer exists in the sales funnel at any given moment. Other digital tools that increase customer engagement and drive sales are available and are an excellent introduction to AI as a marketing tool. Using these tools, you can focus your limited sales resources on other, more critical tasks such as closing a sale with a customer that is now ready to buy and not simply exploring vague options. These AI tools are readily available and your MSP can guide you in the adoption and use of them

AI and that data you collect. An MSP or MSSP can also be a resource for data protection. As you begin using such tools, you amass enormous amounts of data about prospects as well as customers. How you hold, use, transmit and store this data is subject to some data regulations, either by your state, a federal agency, or even the European Union. Regulation is growing because of the increasing concern about an individual’s online privacy. Because so much personal data is being collected about each of us, there is increasing concern about misuse of that data, protecting it from bad actors, and other privacy rights issues. While you may not be physically located in a state that has data privacy regulations, if you conduct business in a state or country that regulates data privacy, you are likely subject to their rules. An MSP or MSSP is an important resource to determine where you are subject to those laws. More importantly, if you are subject to those laws, (e.g. HIPAA, The FTC Safeguard Rules, the CA Privacy act or the General Data Protection Regulation of the EU), you may also be required to prove that you have developed protocols for the protection of data as defined under those regulations. It isn’t enough to say “everything is safe.” You may have to provide evidence you have created the specific data protection protocols specified under the regulation.

In short, AI can be a helpful tool to grow your business, but it comes with responsibilities and concerns that may not have concerned you before. An MSP is an important resource as you wade into the world of marketing, sales, and other operational areas.

AI: Can you avoid the risks it carries?

AI: Can you avoid the risks it carries?

Are there risks to AI? Absolutely. There are end-of-the-world predictions about the use of IA. For a business, many of the risks are a bit less extreme, but they are also very real. For example, in the area of content creation. There are a variety of risks that you open yourself up to. One of the key ones is the trustworthiness of the content created. You rely on generative AI to create an accurate explanation or description of a topic, event, thing, or idea, However, can you, in fact, completely rely on that? The answer is probably a qualified no. The level of “qualified” depends on a variety of factors. Your AI generated content is only as good as its sources, and that can create real questions for readers. Also, an organization using AI to create any type of video, text, image, or audio content needs to be concerned that it may include proprietary information that you need permission to use. Could material created by generative AI suddenly veer off into copyright infringement?

AI is also being used in areas such as recruitment. However, there has been research suggesting that bias can sneak into AI decisions as a result of the source data the tools are using. Bias is a concern not limited to the one example of recruitment. It can have consequences in areas where AI is making marketing decisions, and can taint medical and legal recommendations AI might provide. As a result AI cannot go “unmonitored.” Review by humans and other tools is a best practice that is needed to improve accuracy and trustworthiness. This, in turn, may cut into the efficiencies that are perceived to be created by AI. Also, a lot of AI–Chat GPT to just take one example–isn’t going to necessarily incorporate consideration of regulation and compliance requirements. Many countries, individual States in the US, and US federal agencies are implementing data security regulations that are designed to protect the Personal Information of individuals. In many cases violations include civil penalties. In the case of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, fines are significant.

If you are considering stepping into AI, your MSP can provide guidance. Our recent list bears repeating: Eight ways an MSP can help you approach an AI solution.

Step one: Assess potential uses of AI. Your MSP should have a solid understanding of your entire business and how AI might contribute. They can help you start with small steps and move from there.

Step two: Understand your KPIs and organizational goals, from the top down. Before jumping off and adopting AI just because it is there, evaluate your KPI’s. Where do you perceive you need a boost?

Step three: Propose a possible range of AI solutions. An MSP will be knowledgeable about the variety of applications out there and lead you to select those most appropriate for your goals. Remember, they should be directed toward assisting KPI improvement.

Step four: Estimate the solution’s ROI. Remember, measurement is important. And you can not do everything. So identify each potential AI solution’s ROI. As mentioned above, AI isn’t just a trendy tool to adopt just “because.”

Step five: Ensure compliance: For example HIPAA, PCI. HITRUST. ISO27001, SOC1, SOC2. AI is a powerful and potentially intrusive tool. Compliance is critical.

Step six: Implement the solution. An MSP can implement the solution for you. Most business owners do not have the resources available for what can be a time-intensive project.

Step seven : Manage tool-related risks. As noted, there are best practices. Monitor to ensure your outcomes with AI are accurate, trustworthy, defensible, transparent and meet regulations.

AI Is All Around Us

AI Is All Around Us

IT seems it is virtually impossible to avoid hearing about Artificial Intelligence (AI). Ever since ChatGPT hit the market, AI has become a never ending source of news, articles, advertisements, and lots of gloom. Artificial intelligence isn’t exactly new–the term goes back to the mid-1950s. Artificial Intelligence is a broad term and encompasses a few different subsets of processes. Generally, it refers to machines or computers doing things that we consider a skill limited to human intelligence. What has caught the public eye is what is labeled “generative AI”. Generative AI (e.g ChatGPT) refers to the AI tools that can create content, music, images, code and voice. One of the reasons generative AI is so widespread in its applications is that it doesn’t require coding skills for a layperson to use it, instead the user can instruct the tool to create content by using natural language.

Questions about generative AI – The media has certainly been filled with concern about AI and has raised many questions about areas where we potentially interact with it. How do we know the content we are reading is accurate and can be trusted to have come from reliable sources that have been vetted for accuracy? Can it be used to create misleading information that could misdirect our understanding of social, political, cultural, legal and other issues that affect the well-being of society? Others worry it could displace whole sectors of human labor. These are heavy questions best left to another venue of discussion.

Where is the average person interacting with AI?

We interact with artificial intelligence everyday in places we probably never give much thought. Those recommendations for purchases that you see on every shopping website you visit? That is done by a form of AI known as machine learning. Your thermostat that turns the heat up and down by learning when you usually leave the house? The refrigerator that makes your shopping list? Those are both examples of machine learning as well.

If you use a Managed Service Provider or a Managed Security Services Provider, AI is a new line of higher quality defense against cybercrime that they may be using to protect you. One of the greatest risks a business faces is a breach of its data by cybercriminals: malware, ransomware, et.al. and the tricks being used keep increasing in sophistication. Ransomware is particularly insidious. It can seize your data and hold it hostage for a ransom of currency, crypto or traditional. Once attacked there are very few alternatives to submitting to the ransom request. AI can help MSPs respond faster to specific threats and concerns, and assist in diagnosis and troubleshooting. Also, as every SMB knows, 24/7 monitoring and support is a critical service that an MSP can provide far more efficiently than a company can do in-house. (This has to do with the benefits of economies of scale.) AI can improve 24/7 monitoring because AI can evaluate an enormous amount of data, far faster than humans, and likely identify problems before they affect your business.

AI: Of any value to an SMB?

AI: Of any value to an SMB?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been all the media rage in the past year. Specifically, it isn’t AI in general, but a specific category of AI known as generative AI. This AI is capable of creating content, such as text, images, audio and similar data. Examples of generative AI tools can create content, music, image code, and voice. What this can include are documents that are used for marketing and other content on websites, as well as images, video, and audio. What made generative AI more widespread are the tools that use natural language to utilize them. It doesn;t necessarily require expertise in coding anymore. The generative AI tool that hit the news and has everyone curious about this development is ChatGPT. This allows any user to create conversations, answer text, and similar “written responses.” ChatGPT and similar tools are available to almost anyone.

Of course if you follow the news, there is much excitement about the potential of generative AI. It may be used to facilitate faster customer service, help attorneys evaluate large quantities of legal documents and propose new approaches to cases, medical professionals diagnose, and on and on. It also raises lots of concerns. How does one know that the content created by generative AI is accurate and can be trusted? Can it be used to create misleading information, such as deceptive statements that could alter someone’s understanding of a political, cultural or medical issue. And there are others who worry it could displace whole categories of human workers, but that question isn’t our worry here.

One place where you may benefit from the use of AI is via your Managed Service Provider. Many industries can benefit from the judicious use of AI; legal, medical, architects, etc. and the MSP world is no exception. In particular, AI may be another line of defense in cyber security. Clearly, one of the greatest risks any business faces is cybercrime. Malware, data breaches, ransomware–they all are a business-owner’s nightmare. Ransomware can hold your data hostage. Once attacked, there are very few alternatives to submitting to the ransom request unless you have solid, uncorrupted backups.

AI can help MSPs respond faster to specific threats and concerns, and assist in diagnosis and troubleshooting. Also, as every SMB knows, 24/7 monitoring and support is a critical service that an MSP can provide far more efficiently than a company can do in-house. (This has to do with the benefits of economies of scale.) AI can improve 24/7 monitoring because AI can evaluate an enormous amount of data, far faster than humans, and likely identify problems before they become business effecting.

One way a small business can utilize AI? Marketing and sales. A lot of an SMB’s digital marketing tasks can be time-consuming and easily automated. Drip email campaigns, website visitor tracking, understanding where each customer exists in the sales funnel at any given moment, and other digital tools that increase customer engagement and drive sales are an excellent introduction to AI as a marketing tool. These tools both free up sales and marketing staff for other more complex tasks and improve customer engagement. These tools that can be easily deployed by SMBs are an excellent introduction to AI. Talk to a trusted MSP for guidance. You don’t have to go it alone.

Demystifying Ransomware: Understanding its Impact on Businesses

Demystifying Ransomware: Understanding its Impact on Businesses

In today’s interconnected digital landscape, cyber threats continue to evolve and pose significant risks to businesses of all sizes. Ransomware, in particular, has emerged as one of the most notorious and destructive forms of cyberattacks. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of ransomware, exploring what it is, how it works, and the profound impact it can have on businesses.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a malicious software designed to encrypt files on a victim’s computer or network, rendering them inaccessible until a ransom is paid. It infiltrates systems through various means, such as malicious email attachments, infected websites, or vulnerabilities in software. Once executed, ransomware quickly spreads throughout the network, encrypting files and displaying ransom notes that demand payment in exchange for the decryption key.

The Impact on Businesses:

  1. Financial Losses: Ransomware attacks can inflict significant financial damage on businesses. The ransom demands can range from a few hundred to millions of dollars, and even if the ransom is paid, there is no guarantee that the attackers will honor their end of the deal. Moreover, businesses often face additional costs, including incident response, system restoration, legal fees, and potential regulatory fines.
  2. Operational Disruption: Ransomware attacks can bring business operations to a grinding halt. When critical systems and data are encrypted, employees are unable to access vital information or perform their duties, leading to productivity losses and disruption of customer services. The downtime can have a cascading effect on revenue, customer satisfaction, and business reputation.
  3. Data Loss and Breach: In some cases, ransomware attacks involve exfiltrating sensitive data before encrypting it. Attackers may threaten to publish or sell the stolen data if the ransom is not paid, exposing businesses to the risk of data breaches. Data breaches can result in severe legal and reputational consequences, including lawsuits, regulatory penalties, and loss of customer trust.
  4. Reputational Damage: The impact of a ransomware attack extends beyond financial and operational consequences. News of a successful attack can tarnish a company’s reputation, erode customer confidence, and deter potential business partners. Rebuilding trust and restoring the company’s image can be a long and arduous process.
  5. Legal and Regulatory Ramifications: Depending on the industry and geographical location, businesses affected by ransomware attacks may face legal and regulatory implications. Data protection laws, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), mandate organizations to protect personal data adequately. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in substantial fines and legal repercussions.

Mitigating the Impact:

While the threat of ransomware is persistent, businesses can take proactive steps to mitigate its impact:

  1. Regular Data Backups: Maintain secure and up-to-date backups of critical data. Ensure backups are stored separately from the main network and regularly test restoration processes to verify their effectiveness.
  2. Robust Cybersecurity Measures: Implement a multi-layered approach to cybersecurity, including firewalls, intrusion detection systems, antivirus software, and regular patch management. Utilize email filters, spam detection, and employee education to minimize the risk of infection.
  3. Employee Awareness and Training: Educate employees about the dangers of phishing emails, suspicious attachments, and malicious links. Promote cybersecurity best practices, such as strong password hygiene, two-factor authentication, and reporting any potential security threats promptly.
  4. Incident Response Planning: Develop an incident response plan that outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a ransomware attack. Define roles and responsibilities, establish communication channels, and conduct regular drills to ensure readiness.
  5. Regular Security Audits: Conduct comprehensive security audits and penetration

What an MSP does that you can’t to protect yourself from Ransomware

What an MSP can do that you can’t to protect yourself from Ransomware

Managed Service Providers are experts in protecting against cybercrime, just as you are an expert in producing and selling a product or service. Focus your energies where they are put to the best use. Your MSP will work to protect your business from ransomware attacks. Here are several ways they will work to keep your business safe.

Proactive Monitoring and Threat Detection

MSPs employ advanced monitoring tools and technologies to actively monitor your systems and networks for any signs of ransomware activity. Many MSPs offer 24-7 remote monitoring that includes checking for real-time threats. This proactive approach enables early detection of potential ransomware attacks, allowing fast action to be taken to mitigate the risk before the “datanapping” occurs.

Endpoint Security

Your MSP can implement endpoint protection solutions, a fancy term for tools that include firewalls, antivirus software, and intrusion detection applications. These tools are crucial in preventing ransomware from infiltrating your network in the first place. MSPs also work to be sure that these security measures are up to date and properly configured. (Remember: data security isn’t a one-time project. Criminals are always changing their methods, so what protected you last week, may not work today. An MSP has the resources to keep your security up to date.

Backup and Disaster Recovery

One of the most effective defenses against ransomware is a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery plan. MSPs can design and coordinate backup procedures that ensure regular, automated backups of your critical data. These backups are stored securely and can be easily restored in the event of a ransomware attack. MSPs can also coordinate testing the backup restoration process to minimize downtime.

Security evaluations: How safe is your data?

One key way to protect yourself against any crime is to evaluate where you are most vulnerable. Where is the door with the broken lock? MSPs conduct thorough security assessments to identify weaknesses in your infrastructure. They perform regular vulnerability scans to identify potential entry points for ransomware attacks. By identifying and patching vulnerabilities promptly, MSPs significantly reduce the risk of a successful ransomware attack.

Disaster Recovery: Keeping things going

In the event of a successful ransomware attack, MSPs play a critical role in incident response and remediation. They have dedicated teams of cybersecurity experts who are skilled in handling such incidents. MSPs are able to respond swiftly to contain the attack, isolate infected systems, and get you operational as quickly as possible. Their expertise ensures a coordinated and effective response, minimizing the impact of the attack and expediting the restoration of normal operations.

Employee Training

MSPs recognize the importance of every employee in preventing ransomware attacks. As mentioned above, the crude but simple phishing email remains a very effective way to infiltrate an organization’s technology. MSP’s offer training to employees, enabling them to identify and respond to potential threats. By promoting a culture of cybersecurity awareness, MSPs help businesses create a human firewall that can actively prevent ransomware attacks. MSPs have the time to focus on creating and maintaining these training programs so that you don’t have to.

24/7 Monitoring and Support

MSPs offer round-the-clock monitoring and support to ensure constant watch against ransomware attacks. They provide timely response to alerts, address security incidents promptly, and offer ongoing support and guidance to businesses. This continuous monitoring and support significantly enhances the overall security level of your organization.

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) play a pivotal role in safeguarding businesses against the growing threat of ransomware. Through proactive monitoring, endpoint protection, backup and disaster recovery planning, security evaluations, incident response, user education, and 24/7 support, MSPs provide comprehensive defense strategies. Engaging the services of an MSP allows businesses to focus on their core operations with the confidence that their data and systems are protected from ransomware attacks

Ransomware attacks pose a significant threat to businesses with the potential for severe financial and brand damage. By understanding the nature of ransomware, adopting preventive measures, and partnering with a managed service provider, you have the greatest possible chance to avoid falling victim to a ransomware attack.

Protecting Your Business: Safeguarding Against Ransomware Attacks

Protecting Your Business: Safeguarding Against Ransomware Attacks

In today’s digital age, businesses face an ever-increasing threat from cybercriminals, and one of the most prevalent and damaging forms of cyberattack is ransomware. Ransomware attacks can cripple an organization, leading to data breaches, financial losses, and reputational damage. However, by implementing robust cybersecurity measures and adopting best practices, businesses can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to ransomware attacks. In this blog post, we will explore effective strategies to safeguard your business against ransomware and ensure business continuity.

  • Employee Education and Awareness:
  • A well-informed and security-conscious workforce is the first line of defense against ransomware attacks. Regularly educate your employees about cybersecurity best practices, such as recognizing phishing emails, avoiding suspicious downloads, and practicing strong password hygiene. Conduct training sessions, share informative resources, and encourage employees to report any potential security threats promptly.
  • Implement a Multi-Layered Security Approach:
  • Having a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy is crucial to protect your business against ransomware. Adopt a multi-layered security approach that includes the following elements:
    1. Endpoint Protection: Install reliable and up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware software on all devices within your network. Enable real-time scanning and automatic updates to detect and block potential threats.
    2. Firewall and Intrusion Detection Systems: Deploy robust firewalls and intrusion detection systems (IDS) to monitor network traffic and prevent unauthorized access. Regularly update and patch these systems to address any vulnerabilities.
    3. Secure Backup and Disaster Recovery: Regularly back up your critical data and ensure backups are stored securely, preferably offline or in a separate, isolated network. Test data restoration processes periodically to ensure backups are viable.
    4. Network Segmentation: Divide your network into smaller segments to limit the spread of ransomware. Implement strict access controls and ensure sensitive data is only accessible to authorized individuals.
  • Keep Software and Systems Updated:
  • Outdated software and operating systems are common entry points for ransomware attacks. Regularly update all software applications, including web browsers, email clients, and operating systems. Enable automatic updates whenever possible to ensure prompt installation of security patches and bug fixes.

  • Email Security Measures:
  • Email remains one of the primary vectors for ransomware distribution. Implement robust email security measures, including:
    1. Spam Filters: Utilize advanced spam filters to block suspicious emails and prevent phishing attempts from reaching employee inboxes.
    2. Email Authentication: Implement email authentication protocols like Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), and Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) to prevent email spoofing.
    3. User Awareness: Educate employees about email security best practices, including verifying sender addresses, avoiding clicking on suspicious links or downloading attachments from unknown sources, and reporting any suspicious emails promptly.
  • Regular Data Backups and Testing:
  • Frequent data backups are essential to mitigate the impact of a ransomware attack. Implement a robust backup strategy that includes automated backups and periodic testing of data restoration processes. Ensure backups are stored securely and kept separate from the main network to prevent ransomware from infecting them.
  • Incident Response and Business Continuity Plan:
  • Develop a comprehensive incident response plan that outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a ransomware attack. The plan should include procedures for isolating affected systems, notifying stakeholders, engaging law enforcement, and restoring operations. Regularly review and update the plan to reflect changes in technology and emerging threats.
  • Regular Security Audits and Penetration Testing:
  • Periodically conduct security audits and penetration testing to identify vulnerabilities in your network infrastructure and applications. Engage with ethical hackers to simulate real-world attack scenarios and identify potential weaknesses.

8 Ways an MSP can help implement an AI solution

8 Ways an MSP can help implement an AI solution

AI has some real attractions, and now that it has become so advanced, it has gained the attention of the public and the media. However, just because something is a fad, doesn’t mean that it is either new or something everyone needs. Before an organization, especially a small- to medium-sized business, initiates the use of AI in its business processes, it needs to understand that because the tool is so powerful, it also comes with some real risks. Although its predictive capabilities can be transformative for business, they can also be wrong or present legal and ethical issues. As a result, businesses should utilize the experience and skills of experts with a deep knowledge of AI and how it may be applied to your specific organizational goals.

Eight ways an MSP can help with an AI solution

AI, on its own, is a complex tool. It is also a tool that can be misapplied. Remember, the term artificial is key. To be used effectively and wisely, AI needs to be applied by someone with experience using it in your particular business. An MSP can offer the following to help you begin to integrate an AI solution into any aspect of your business.

Step one: Are there potential places where you might use AI? This is where your MSP can be of help. They understand your business and can help identify where it might assist your operations or marketing, for example.

Step two: Understand your KPIs and organizational goals, from the top down. It is obvious, but too often forgotten. What are your goals? What are the measures of success? What do you identify as the key strategies? AI needs to fit into that framework.

Step three: Narrow down a range of possible AI solutions. An MSP is going to have enough depth of knowledge of AI applications to steer you to the most appropriate ones. goals.

Step four: Estimate the solution’s ROI. Measurement matters. You need to understand the costs and ROI of each possible collusion. Just because it is trendy doesn’t mean AI makes sense in all cases. This will guide you to make the most effective use of your resources.

Step five: Ensure compliance: For example HIPAA, PCI. HITRUST. ISO27001, SOC1, SOC2. AI is a powerful and potentially intrusive tool. Compliance is critical.

Step six: Get it up and running. An MSP can implement the solution for you. Most business owners do not have the resources available for what can be a very time-intensive project.

Step seven: Manage risks. Post-implementation: AI is a sophisticated tool, and things can go wrong and need ongoing monitoring, an issue that most businesses do not have the in-house resources to address. Examples of ongoing tasks include password management, security patches, and updates, as well as monitoring response

Step eight: Ongoing evaluation for effectiveness and reliability. Remember, nothing is stagnant in business. Technologies change, the competitive environment changes. Your organization moves forward. Make sure you commit to ongoing reviews of the effectiveness of your chosen solution.

In the end, AI can be useful. But, as with any powerful tool, it can cause a lot of trouble if used by an organization without experience. Small-to-medium-sized businesses lack the in-house IT resources and depth of knowledge to implement and maintain an AI infrastructure. An MSP can bring that to the table.