Norfolk IT Expert Jarod Dendinger

Applied Connective employee selected for Norfolk CONNECT group

Applied Connective employee selected for Norfolk CONNECT group
Jarod Dendinger secures appointment to local business task force

 

Norfolk IT Expert Jarod Dendinger

 

(NORFOLK, Neb) – Feb 2021 — Applied Connective business development manager, Jarod Dendinger, was chosen to be part of the executive team for the Norfolk CONNECT group, assembled by the Norfolk Area Chamber of Commerce.

Jarod joins nine other business professionals on the committee, which meets monthly to discuss local interests and projects, participate in initiatives to help create a better community, plan social opportunities that showcase Norfolk and create meaningful ways to engage and empower young professionals. Billed as the “next generation of leaders who impact the future of the Norfolk area,” CONNECT seeks to foster community pride, growth and success.

“Through both virtual and in-person meetings as well as regular events, guest speakers and the Young Professionals Summit, CONNECT helps local professionals network and continue to grow their businesses,” says Dendinger. “I had the privilege of attending my first meeting this past Tuesday and am looking forward to having an impact on the committee. I’m excited, especially as a Norfolk native, about the enthusiasm and vested interest this group has in seeing our community continue to grow and thrive.”

Nebraska IT experts

How business owners can better prepare for 2021

Nebraska IT experts

 

Evaluating Policies, Procedures and Systems to Be Better Prepared in 2021
Applied Connective offers business owners recommendations, predictions for the coming year

Albion, Neb. – (FEB 2021)   The events of 2020 forced business owners to make significant changes rapidly, particularly when it came to supporting employees working remotely. This put many businesses into reactive mode, making decisions just to get by rather than thinking long term. In an effort to pivot into proactive mode and position themselves for a smoother year in 2021, business owners need to evaluate their internal policies, procedures and technology systems.

Applied Connective Technologies, headquartered in Albion, Neb., with offices in Norfolk and Columbus, has a unique vantage point into their partners’ business operations as a managed technology service provider. They met with a number of Nebraska-based businesses in recent months for lunch planning sessions to discuss pain points, evaluate current technology systems and provide recommendations accordingly.

“Monitoring and managing the inner workings of our partners’ business operations provides us unique insight into what works best,” says Ed Knott, owner of Applied Connective. “After working with hundreds of businesses, SMBs, hospitals, schools and county governments, we’ve developed a pretty keen understanding of what solutions are vital for businesses in this, as they say, ‘new normal.’

He continues, “It was a difficult year for everyone. We hated to see otherwise successful businesses struggling because they didn’t have the right tools. So we wanted to meet with our own partners to see how we could help. We discussed what they’re currently doing, how to adapt if needed and what to anticipate in the year ahead and then offered recommendations based on our insights as well as trends in 2021.”

In these virtual and in-person meetings, the framework of the conversation was based around these pillars:

  • Evaluate and develop policies and procedures related to supporting a remote work force; then set up a clear communication plan to employees.
  • Set expectations on how remote workforce effectiveness will be evaluated.
  • Discuss and address the business’s cyber security posture and identify practices to mitigate risk.
  • Ensure the business has the right systems, processes and technologies to successfully support its remote workers.
  • Determine a transition plan to ensure the business is set up for the long term.

“We took Applied Connective up on their offer to sit down and discuss 2021,” says Genoa Community Bank IT Officer Julie Connelly. “We discussed a few of the hurdles we faced (and lingering problems we continue to face) as a team due to Covid. Ed, Will and Jarod noted some areas of vulnerability, identified a few redundant tools we could consolidate to save money and walked us through a few tweaks to help us get more out of our technologies. They also offered some ideas on how to shore up our cyber security, especially while this pandemic has increased the number of scams.”

 

For business owners looking for guidance on technology platforms that offer great value and resolve many common pain points, Applied Connective experts outline a few top options along with some additional security tips.

Struggling with security?
“When businesses have employees accessing company resources, such as servers, from personal computers and unknown networks, it can present real security risks,” says Applied Connective IT expert Jarod Dendinger. “Cyber threats such as malware, ransomware and data breaches are running rampant and on the rise, impacting numerous businesses in our area and resulting in downtime and lost profits. Every environment is unique and may require a non-traditional approach to ensure it is secure, but typically best practices will still apply no matter your size or needs. For our needs, we leverage Microsoft Azure, partner with a Security Operations Center (SOC), and use a Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) agent at Applied Connective, but there are different options available to meet your unique needs.

“Regardless of a business’s size, it can be said across the board that business owners absolutely must focus on gateway security and endpoint protection,” Dendinger stresses. “In today’s environment it is extremely important that your team has at least some degree of cyber security awareness training.

“We always want to be sure we’re reinforcing the basics: Make sure every one of your team members understands how to use multi-factor authentication (MFA), a virtual private network (VPN) and a reputable password manager. Do not neglect software updates, do not conduct business on public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks and do not click or engage with suspicious emails. These are simple but critical standards for your team to uphold in order to protect your business from cyber threats.”

Struggling with communication?
ACT Voice Manager Will Zoucha says, “Mobile phones are great, but get the most out of them by integrating a solution that allows for greater accountability and transparency.” Working with phones for 10+ years, Will knows what works for connecting a mobile workforce and is impressed with a few front-runners for such a scenario. “We recommend finding a cloud-based platform that’s robust, user friendly, and mobile, like Zultys. It’s great because of its per-user pricing and simple mobile integration that ensures your entire team is reachable any time from anywhere. With the mobile app, the whole team can stay connected, chat, file share, and see who’s online, and the ability to leverage status updates leaves no excuse to miss one another.”

Struggling to stay connected with the team and collaborate securely?
Knott weighs in, “This is the big one. Every business has had to navigate this problem.” He punctuates the point adding, “On top of feeling disconnected due to distance, radio silence from the team can really make productivity plummet. We highly recommend a team collaboration platform like Microsoft Teams. In fact, we’ve used it ourselves every single day for years to connect our workforce, since we have employees working on various job sites and from different offices daily.

“Teams has allowed us to communicate (instant message within channels, divide into smaller group chats, jump on a quick video call), collaborate on projects without skipping a beat (secure file sharing, real-time document editing) and calendar share (create meetings, join conference calls, and share schedules). It’s the central hub of communication for our organization.”

Struggling to stay on the same page?
Applied Connective Operations Manager Brigitte Burbach offers her expertise. “When your team is unclear on expectations or a plan hasn’t been laid out, your business experiences needless (and costly) downtime while ill-equipped employees attempt to get back online. Establish clear but comprehensive policies and procedures, accounting for all possible scenarios, and walk through them with the team. At bare minimum, you should identify your essential personnel and ensure they have the equipment they need, e.g., PC or laptop, docking station and monitors, cloud-based phone solution, a VPN. If you’d like some assistance in developing your policies and procedures to set your team up for success, we’re just a phone call away.

Applied Connective launches cloud-based file storage program to enhance business collaboration, security and simplicity

COLUMBUS, NE – Applied Connective, a leader in unified communications, has launched  a cloud-based file syncing and storage program in order to enhance business productivity for their small to medium-sized customers. This program’s overarching goal is to streamline daily operations for their customers and enable businesses to collaborate, share, and securely backup business critical files. In recent years, businesses have witnessed the profound flexibility of cloud-based technology and nearly every application has become cloud-friendly. Data storage is a natural fit for this environment and today, Applied Connective is proud to announce their new development.

In essence, this program is about ease of collaboration. As businesses grow from small teams to larger organizations, there is a growing need to communicate and collaborate effectively. The problem that central data storage solves is that it gives everyone on the team the ability to immediately retrieve, backup and share mission-critical files in realtime. Salespeople no longer need to wait around for support staff to send them follow-up files for customer contact. Managers can instantly access subordinate data in order to make sure that work is getting accomplished. In sum, everyone can get what they need, when they need it, wherever they are, without having to wait on other people. 

When evaluating cloud-based data storage services, two primary concerns for businesses are security and ease-of-use. One of the pioneers of cloud-based data storage, Dropbox.com, is clearly a simple-to-use solution, yet they lack in security. According to Business Insider, “Nearly 7 million Dropbox usernames and passwords have been hacked, apparently via third-party services that hackers were able to strip the login information from.” This security breach has huge implications for other off-the-shelf data solutions in that they lack the foundational feature of data storage technology; it must keep your company data safe. This is exactly why Applied Connective is actively educating their customers on this type of technology and why they feel compelled to stress the importance of encryption for data to reside safely behind.

The second key factor is to examine a solution’s simplicity and ease-of-use. With many providers data storage can be set up at a secure physical location and a central file repository can work well within the confines of an office. Unfortunately, this falls short for the “71 percent of businesses who require technology that enables their staff to work anywhere, at any time.” Solutions that are cloud-based and work independently of employee location are clearly superior. “It’s become quite clear to us how valuable collaboration is to the health of a business in today’s marketplace,” stated Ed Knott, president of Applied Connective. “Today’s businesses cannot afford to have staff waiting around, in order to get access to the tools they need, so they can do the job. And that’s what we’re focused on. We’re thrilled to finally have a secure, unifying collaboration tool that we can put in the hands of our customers. We’re very excited to release this solution.”

Applied Connective helps companies transition from old phone systems that hindered remote worker performance

Leading MTSP’s cloud voice solution maximizes communication and productivity of remote workers

ALBION, NEBR — Aug 4, 2020 — Applied Connective Technologies announced today that the company is helping small- to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) transition from outdated phone systems that hindered remote worker performance to cloud voice. Many companies that went remote during the pandemic experienced significant issues in communication because of the lack of flexibility and technology of their old phone systems causing communication challenges between employees and customers.

Applied Connective has come to the rescue of many businesses with their cloud voice solution and the immediate result was higher remote worker productivity and increased customer satisfaction.

Antiquated business phones lack most of today’s technology and going remote was very challenging. Cloud voice systems offer advanced security and telephony features such as mobility, presence management, instant messaging, video calling and unified communications. With more people staying home permanently and more hybrid workers (remote/on-premises), the demand for Applied Connective’s cloud voice has skyrocketed.

In order for organizations to communicate effectively, business owners need to update their technology within their organizations to facilitate a hybrid remote working environment for the foreseeable future. Many businesses are investing in cloud voice as an essential technology to keep their teams collaborating effectively. Cloud voice gives visibility to all employees as to what everyone is doing at all times and the many modes of communication at their fingertips like IM, video, and find me follow me. All features that benefits permanent remote employees as well as those that are hybrid.

“There are a couple key reasons why we’re seeing so much interest in cloud voice,” stated Alex Herstedt, Applied Connective voice technician. “Presence, scalability and seamless integration are all vital for where we’re headed. Business owners and managers need to be able to know where everyone is located, since now more than ever, you have some people rotating through the office while others are remote, at any moment”

Cloud voice’s scalability and seamless integration is critical. While many businesses are unsure how they will need to adjust staffing in the coming months, cloud voice presents an ideal solution because since it’s hosted in the cloud, it can be scaled up or down based on the month-to-month needs of the business.

Perhaps, the last key factor that explains the technology’s recent growth is its ease of integration. For example, many cloud voice solutions also come with a “simultaneous ring” feature that simultaneously rings an employee’s cell phone, office phone and if desired, home phone, as well. This reduces customer wait time and increases their satisfaction because they can connect more immediately with customer service or other personnel.

As this new workplace continues to unfold, SMBs must continue positioning themselves for success by integrating the proper technology into their business. “The pandemic is highlighting existing communication problems within any office. They’ve always been there but now they’re finally visible, which is a good thing because companies can adjust and with our assistance rapidly deploy it,” commented Herstedt.

Applied Connective offers innovative data backup solutions to protect their customers’ critical information

ALBION, NEBR — April 12, 2020 — Applied Connective, an industry leader in unified communications, announced today that the company is offering innovative, off-site data backup solutions to protect their customers’ critical information. In an effort to enhance business continuity planning among the region’s small- to mid-sized companies, Applied Connective provides owners with the peace of mind knowing that their valuable information is continually backed up in the event of a natural disaster, power outage or virus attack.

More than ever before, today’s market is pressing owners to reexamine the threats that could cause business interruption. According to an information security breaches survey conducted by DTI/PriceWaterhouse, 70% of businesses that suffer a serious data loss are out of business in 2 years. Many risks are unavoidable, but technological advances have created a way for businesses to continue to run smoothly, even in the midst of uncertainty.

Organizations of all sizes are generating and depending on larger amounts of dat that must be readily available and easily accessible. Consequently, companies have to effectively manage more infrastructure resources, including servers, networks and storage, to ensure data is protected in a timely manner while at the same time providing adequate performance and capacity and securing data for access when needed. Unfortunately, the archaic data backup method for most companies is to back up vital information on a data tape and let an employee, such as an IT manager, take it home for safe keeping. Today’s latest technology enables the backup of information to take place on the “cloud” instead of servers on-site. Therefore, if an event or incident should occur, the business can keep running as if nothing happened.

“As a business owner, operating without a backup solution in place is like driving 100mph without wearing a seatbelt,” Ed Knott, Applied Connective company president says. “It’s incredibly risky. The pace of today’s business environment is faster than it has ever been, and business owners cannot afford to lose their valuable data.”

All businesses face a certain degree of risk, but most intelligent business owners are looking to eliminate unnecessary risks as well as uncertainty. Disaster recovery solutions provide business owners with a safety net that enables organizations to get back up and running before anyone notices that there was a slip-up. Whether a natural disaster, virus attack or power outage, remote data backup provides businesses with the assurance that they will be able to thrive.

Ed Knott at work.

Boone County News: Area Native Brings Big-Time Technology To Local Businesses

A local business with an office in Albion is working hard to bring technology to other businesses.

Taylor, Nebr., native Ed Knott and his team of technical experts at Applied Connective are bringing state-of-the-art technology to area businesses. Locally owned and operated in rural Nebraska, Knott established Applied Connective in 2004 as a small two-person operation offering commercial phone systems and IT services to local businesses.

Since that time, the company has evolved tremendously and has flourished into a full-service technology group, with additional locations in Fullerton and Columbus. Due to necessity and demand, Applied Connective has built upon its initial offerings to provide a wide range of technology solutions, including Internet, managed IT, phone systems, access control, surveillance and professional audio/video.

After earning his degree in Information Systems and Business Management from Doane College in 2002, Applied Connective co-founder and current president Ed Knott began working at Lincoln-based Fiserv, installing and supporting Internet banking and ATM products throughout the nation.

Though the education and experience he acquired would’ve allowed him to be competitive in the densely saturated Omaha and Lincoln markets, Knott felt pulled to return to his roots in small-town Nebraska to focus on the largely ignored and under-served rural markets; thus, beginning Applied Connective Technologies, LLC.

“I discovered early on that many of our clients felt undervalued and under-serviced by their previous IT providers because of their rural location or company size,” says Knott. “I’ve always had entrepreneurial inclinations, and so I became very interested in returning to rural Nebraska to work with local business owners I felt I could relate to, with the goal of bringing the wide range of service and skill you’d typically find in a large city back to business owners in and around where I grew up.”

Though Applied Connective serves businesses in a wide range of industries throughout Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and South Dakota, they remain devoted to focusing on rural markets outside of the Omaha and Lincoln metro areas.

“Increasingly, we’re committing more time and resources to remote counties, like Cherry, Valley, Custer, Holt and Brown. The IT needs of businesses striving to remain competitive in rural Nebraska are no different from the IT needs of businesses in more populated areas. We’re excited to get more involved with these communities and introduce them to technologies that will benefit their businesses and allow them to operate more efficiently.”

Commenting on the success their company has enjoyed thus far, Knott added, “I think the appeal of our company has been that we are also a small company with rural roots, so our clients know that we appreciate the importance of small business. We understand that any business, no matter the size, needs to be able to depend on current and functioning IT systems, and we’ve made it our mission to supply our clients with solutions that are not only state-of-the-art and cost-effective but also easy to maintain.”

While Applied Connective has enjoyed explosive growth in recent years, it seems they have no intention of slowing down any time soon.

“It’s a testament to the dedication of our staff that we’ve been able to expand to cover such a large territory,” continued Knott. “I feel extremely fortunate to be able to raise my family and make a living alongside honest, hardworking Nebraskans.”