Information Technology

Technology is constantly changing, so how can you be sure your systems are up-to-date?  We can help you learn how to manage and use the technological tools you need to operate efficiently.  You'll also find easy and affordable ways to outsource your information technology needs, ensuring the security and optimal effectiveness of your systems.  Because let's face it ... unless you are in the IT business, you probably need some help.

Cyber Security Resources

cyber threatsThe threat of a cyber attack on your small business is very real.

SBAM has put together a variety of resources to help you become informed. Click here for details.

Managed IT Services

NUWAVEAre your IT systems operating efficiently?

With the proper technology and implementation team, your company can realize dramatic productivity and profitability gains. NuWave Technology Partners' unique approach provides clients with a single point-of-contact for all their telephone and data needs, and covers the spectrum from servicing existing phone systems to complete new installations.

Related News

What vacation? Will you be working during your vacation?

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

By George Brown

As you have sent out your emails in the past few weeks, chances are you have gotten a good number of  kickbacks stating, “I will be out of the office on vacation the week of . . . and will have limited ability to respond to email and voicemail.” A recent survey by TeamViewer® strongly suggests that “limited ability to respond” may have been their intention, but it probably was not the reality.

According to the findings of this online survey of more than 2,700 adults, 83 percent of respondents agreed that having to work during vacation is becoming more common in America. Sixty-one percent of employed vacationers say they will succumb to the trend and work.  

The findings, released July 17, were part of TeamViewer’s annual Work/Life Balance Index, which is aimed at determining American attitudes and behavior towards working during their summer vacations.

What tasks did the 61 percent -- which is up from 52 percent last year -- expect to manage during their vacations?
  • Reading work-related emails – 38 percent
  • Wanting work-related access to a document on their work or home computer – 32 percent
  • Receiving work-related calls – 30 percent
  • Receiving work-related text messages – 24 percent
  • Being asked to do work by a boss, client or colleague – 20 percent
Sixty-seven percent of the respondents claim they actually expect to use a device for work-related purposes, with the smart phone (40 percent) as the most popular device to use, followed by laptop (39 percent), desktop computer (24 percent) and a tablet (18 percent). Sixty percent expect to bring up to three work-capable devices with them on vacation.

It is interesting that among those surveyed, Millenial-aged respondents were the ones who most expected to work during their vacations (73 percent), who most expected to bring work-capable devices with them (82 percent) and most expected to need to use them (79 percent). Keep in mind that the preponderance of existing research on Millenial workers pegs them to be the least trusting of management and the most likely to view their employment as impermanent to begin with. From that, one might surmise that Millenials would be the most likely group to avoid doing work while on vacation. And yet the opposite seems to be true.

This may shed a new light on Millenial workers in some people’s minds, suggesting that Millenials cannot be typecast. Keep in mind that this generation aspires to use technology to do everything in the most effective manner possible. All future generations after them will do the same. There are more and more work-capable devices available, and they have them all. So work can impede their vacations to some extent but they can, and do, handle many business to-dos very efficiently.

The survey suggests that while people are willing to work during vacation, very few do it happily. And in fact many of them will resort to familiar dodges to avoid it. If asked to work during vacation by their boss, here are their responses:
  • Do the work, but not happily – 34 percent
  • Feel that my boss doesn’t respect my time – 29 percent
  • Worry about the boundaries of my personal life – 24 percent
  • Say No – 22 percent
  • Be happy to do the work – 14 percent
  • Turn off my devices and ignore it altogether – 13 percent
  • Pretend I didn’t see the incoming message, text, etc. – 11 percent
  • Use the vacation to update my resume to look for a new job – 6 percent
  • Maybe quit my job – two percent
As everyone knows, what separates the 21st-century workplace from the 20th-century workplace is today’s nearly complete absence of a clear line that separates being “at work” from being “not at

Is your business PCI compliant?

By Anne Heraghty, Midwest Transaction Group

Technology in the payments industry continues to evolve at break-neck speed. As advances are made, so are ways to attack data bases that can cause serious breaches, wreaking havoc for credit card holders and the businesses they frequent. And while large corporations have upped their security measures with vast resources, small and mid-sized businesses that either underestimate their vulnerability to attack or the value of maintaining basic safety measures such as PCI, have become fraudsters’ newest targets.

Increasing the level of awareness for merchants on security issues is one important step toward reducing vulnerability. But in order to truly protect a business from potential fraud, the importance of maintaining yearly PCI compliance is fundamental. Not only that, it is required by card brands in order for a business to accept payments with their cards.

What is PCI?

The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) was founded in 2006 by five global payment brands -- American Express, Discover Financial Services, JCB International, MasterCard Worldwide, and Visa Inc. It framed a set of guidelines to ensure credit card transactions are handled safely and securely, protecting cardholder data at every step in the transaction process. PCI Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) must be met yearly by every merchant who processes credit/debit card transactions. Regardless of the method of payment acceptance at your business - in person, over the phone, e-commerce or via a virtual point of sale solution – businesses processing credit/debit card payments must be PCI compliant. There can even be penalties assessed to your business for non-compliance.

The percentages of businesses that operate without maintaining PCI is alarming. It is like operating your PC without malware; even though a computer brand has done its best to protect us from system vulnerabilities, every year we update Norton, McAfee or other programs to help protect us against viruses or breaches. It should be the same with processing systems; credit card information must be protected at the highest possible levels and PCI is an integral part of that.

There are ways a processing partner can and should help a merchant become and stay compliant:
  • Educate, explain and clarify the PCI DSS requirements
  • Ensure each merchant understands PCI DSS and their responsibilities 
  • Prompt the merchant to move along the path to compliance 
  • Provide step by step assistance with the Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) 
  • Ensure merchants have properly achieved PCI Validation/Compliancy 
  • Assist merchants in maintaining compliance at all times  
During this era of advanced technology, where data breach attempts are common, do all you can to protect your business and be sure that your processor has the same goal. Check with your processor to ensure that your business is PCI compliant. MTG/Veracity works with one of the best security companies in the trade as a partner in this endeavor: Sysnet Global Solutions. We can be your expert resource. Call us with any questions you might have regarding PCI: 1.888.599.2209.

MTG does not charge SBAM members for PCI compliance - find out how else MTG can help your business save money on credit card processing.

How to get your employees to protect company data on their mobile devices. Advice today on Business Next!

Tune in at 10am (repeats at 3pm and 8pm) on the Michigan Business Network!

Michael Rogers talks with Steve Barone, President and CEO of Troy, Mich.-based Creative Breakthroughs, Inc. (CBI), an industry leader in IT advisory services and network security. CBI has worked with numerous companies to implement bring-your-own-device strategies that ensure the security of confidential data on mobile devices.

Also today, Adrienne Brown, PR and Events Manager for the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum on the need to create play in the workplace; an interview with Glen Simula, owner of GS Engineering Inc., winner of a prestigious 2013 Tibbett Award from the SBIR program; and Aileen Huang-Saad, UM Center of Entrepreneurship at the College of Engineering.

The final stage of emergency and disaster planning: recovery

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

By Michael J. Burns

Disasters come in many forms. The only thing they have in common is their surprise nature. Last month’s bombings in Boston and explosion in West, Texas gave way to this month’s terrible tornadoes. But in all of these cases, once the immediate danger and emergency response is past, you have to bring about recovery. Recovery and Business Continuity is the next stage of disaster planning. What is Recovery comprised of?

As suggested by the state of Virginia’s Business Emergency Survival Toolkit, first it is workplace safety.

Disasters can cause toxic and/or explosive materials to spill and contaminate water, soil and property. There are hazards that go along with cleaning up the seemingly innocuous debris in and around your business—fallen trees, building materials, personal property and sediment can present their own dangers.

The following are safety tips for your workplace cleanup:
  • Avoid skin contact with contaminated surfaces.
  • Do not walk through flowing water.
  • Do not drive through a flooded area.
  • Stay away from power lines and electrical wires.
  • Turn off your electricity when you return to your business.
  • Keep listening to your battery-powered radio for news.
  • Work safely and smartly.
  • Be alert for gas leaks.
  • Use alternate heat sources safely.
  • Damp, porous materials might be a hazard.   
Second, consider the impact of a disaster or crisis on your employees’ mental health and well being. Depending on the nature and severity of the disaster, it may be wise to enlist the services of crisis counselors for your employees. Individuals respond differently to disasters. A crisis can lead to stress, and employees might not know how to respond to it. Mental health experts say that stress might not surface for weeks or months after the disaster, and can take many different forms:
  • Anger
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increase in alcohol or drug use
  • Inability to manage daily activities
  • A dazed or disoriented appearance
Last but not least in the recovery stage of an emergency or crisis, keep in mind that employees can quickly fall into financial crises of their own if there is any interruption in the company’s ability to make payroll. Business considerations regarding payroll include the following:
  • How will the company pay staff if operations have been affected by the disaster?
  • Will staff wages and salaries continue to be paid if employees cannot immediately return to work following a disaster?
  • Will the business pay for personal time off to recover from a disaster?
  • How soon should employees be required to return to work following an emergency?
  • Will a program or relief fund be available to assist employees who are affected by a disaster?
HR departments should have these elements of emergency planning in place to ensure that the company and its employees are ready to get the business going again in as short a time as possible.

For more information on Emergency Planning, contact ASE.