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Xcentric Recognized on CRN Next-Gen 250 List Once Again

The Channel Company has released the 2015 CRN Next-Gen 250 list, and we’re on it.

CRN-2015-Next-Gen-250

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Top-20-Cybersecurity-Checklist

Top 20 Cybersecurity Checklist

The AICPA’s IMTA Section recently announced the 2015 Top Technology Initiatives list and not surprisingly, “Securing the IT Environment” was again awarded the number one position.  Included in the Top Ten list were three other security-related items (#3: Managing IT Risks and Compliance, #4: Ensuring Privacy, and #7: Preventing and Responding to Computer Fraud), which further points out that security needs to be taken seriously and remain a priority for all firms.  While no firm or individual can be 100% protected from cybersecurity threats, they can implement a number of security best practices which significantly reduces the risk of them becoming a victim of hackers.  Below we list our “Pareto Principal” top twenty checklist of what firms can do to protect themselves from the vast majority of cyber threats:

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Collaboration-Technology-to-Improve-Your-Firm

Collaboration Technology to Improve Your Firm

Communications is a critical component within every business and can either enhance or detract from overall productivity within a firm.  Core communication skills are developed as people grow and most are comfortable with the communication tools they were introduced to and utilize during their career, especially those they use most often on a day to day basis with their peer groups.  The more senior firm members of today’s firms most likely can recall “pink” phone message slips and playing phone tag with voicemail, and the majority have evolved to appreciate the benefits of email for communicating with clients and digital calendars for setting appointments.  At the other end of the spectrum are the next generation of firm personnel that have recently entered into the profession and view those technologies as “old school” and somewhat archaic when compared to the real time communication capabilities of today’s social media and collaboration tools.  Millennials are used to tools such as Skype, Yammer, SocialCast, and FaceTime which provide instant communication (and satisfaction) with minuscule bits of information.  The reality today

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IT-basics.-Are-you-helping-yourself

IT basics. Are you helping yourself?

First, a disclaimer – I will be the first to say I am not the most technically savvy person out there and possibly the least savvy person at Xcentric. So rather than offending you, I am challenging myself, and perhaps it’s applicable to you.

Are you too good (or smart, billable, busy, high-up, etc.) for IT? …We’ll come back to this question.

“The use of non-life to enhance life.”

This is the proper definition of technology and frames up any conversation around technology as it can be any number of things that increases efficiency or well-being. It’s not simply blinky lights and binary flowing over the inter-web but can be anything with or without a circuit in it.

With that in mind – imagine with me – you are stuck in the wilderness far away from civilization. You are going to have to survive with what you have on you…and that happens to be a really nice, decently sized knife. Will you take care of the knife? Protect it, clean it, and learn how to use it? My guess is you

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Windows-10

What to Expect From Windows 10

Microsoft plans to roll out Windows 10 at the end of summer 2015, and from our experience with the Technical Preview over the past month, it has a lot of accountant-friendly features that will make us more productive and secure in the office or on the road. Traditionally, accountants have not upgraded PCs from the existing operating system that came with their computer unless the support was dropped (Windows XP), or the workstation crashed and it was an opportunity to upgrade when it was time to rebuild (Vista to Windows 7). Microsoft has not always made it easy to upgrade Windows and created a lot of confusion around licensing and special deals, but they are making this next operating system upgrade one of the easiest for accountants to adopt.

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that existing Windows 7 and 8.1 computers (that have adequate specifications to run this operating system) can upgrade to Windows 10 for free if they do so during the first year of the release, and Microsoft will then provide updates for the supported life of that device (with the caveat that

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Kepczyk-Escpaes-from-Alcatraz

Kepczyk Escapes From Alcatraz

Sunday, June 7, 2015 was a fairly mild morning by San Francisco standards as we boarded the San Francisco Belle to head out on a 30-minute one-way trip to Alcatraz Island.  At 7:30 in the morning, the starter’s gun went off and 2,000 triathletes cleared the deck within nine minutes.  The first recollection was the frigid shock of plunging into 60 degree water, followed by the carnage of being clawed, kicked and pushed as each swimmer began the frantic swim across “the river” that runs between Alcatraz and the mainland (dumping 5 million gallons of water per second through the Golden Gate).  After 42 minutes an enormous smile broke out across my face as I climbed out of the bay and peeled off my wetsuit, knowing that it was possible for three convicts to make it to shore (and more concisely to acknowledge I had made it!).

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2015-Communications-Findings-from-Paperless-Benchmark-Survey

2015 Communications Findings from Paperless Benchmark Survey

The AAA’s 2015 Paperless Benchmark Survey is targeted towards identifying digital best practices and, in that light, includes questions on technology trends supporting paperless technologies.  This year’s survey pointed to some surprising findings under the communications topic which administrators should be aware of as they could impact decisions in the year ahead.  Below we discuss the five communications questions from the survey:

Unified Messaging on the Decline?

Unified messaging entails delivering all communications including voicemail, faxes, and email into one application (primarily Outlook) so that we as end users only have to go to one resource to access them and IT can backup everything in one “communication bucket.”  The 2013 survey found that 66% of responding firms had implemented unified messaging whereas the number declined to 62% of respondents for 2015. This is most likely due to different firms responding between the two surveys as our consulting with firms has found that as they upgrade their phone systems to digital means, there is actually more opportunity to integrate voice messaging with Outlook.  We also see

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Staying-Secure-on-the-Road

Staying Secure on the Road

Keep in mind that this article was written for the average business traveler, not specifically for someone in the Xcentric Cloud.

Author: Steve Armstrong, Technical Director of CyberCPR at Logically Secure

Pre-check

While your network at home or at work may be secure, you should always assume that any network you
connect to when you travel is untrustworthy. You never know who else is on it and what threats they may pose. Some simple pre-travel measures can go a long way towards protecting your data while you travel. Take these precautions one or two weeks before your trip:

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Ten-Lean-Six-Sigma-Audit-Considerations

Ten Lean Six Sigma Audit Considerations

The application of Lean Six Sigma principals has helped countless organizations objectively re-evaluate and streamline their production processes.  Lean Six Sigma is a consulting methodology gaining favor in the accounting profession for its focus not only on fostering operational efficiency, but also improving audit quality and the client’s interactions with the firm, which in the end helps grow the audit practice.  Traditional audit practices can take advantage of the lessons learned from firms that have implemented “Lean” processes and below we point out ten opportunities for firm consideration:

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