An Intro to Artificial Intelligence

An Intro to Artificial Intelligence

 

LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS

 

an intro to artificial intelligence

The market for artificial intelligence (AI) technologies is flourishing. Beyond the hype and the heightened media attention, the numerous startups and the internet giant’s racing to acquire them, there is a significant increase in investment and adoption by enterprises. Scott Kroeger leads this seminar, offering an introduction to Artificial Intelligence. The presentation provides a practical understanding of AI core concepts.

 

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Two-Factor Authentication: The New Standard in Online Security

Two-Factor Authentication: The New Standard in Online Security

 

LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS

 

two-factor authentication: The new standard in online security

Steven brabec, it account manager

 

In an age in which cyber threats are more vast and detrimental than ever, finding ways to keep your network secure is a vital component to every business. Given the prevalence of massive security breaches, as well as the costs associated with the fallout after a major attack, stepping up your cybersecurity is necessary for every organization.

Of the various methods of making your system, employees, and customers more secure, two-factor authentication is quickly becoming the new standard in online security. That said, the following is a closer look at the benefits of using this method.

Strengthens Security

Two-factor authentication is becoming the standard for many businesses because it helps strengthen the security of your network overall. By simply requiring an additional form of authentication, for example sending a text to your phone with a special code to verify your login, helps to drastically reduce the probability that cyber attackers will be able to penetrate your system.

In other words, although a potential attacker may be able to uncover your password, they will still not be able to gain access to your account without the information to complete the second form of authentication. This is why two-step authentication is now being widely used by businesses of all kinds.

Reduce Theft of Data

The theft of data has officially become big business. In the wake of some of the most massive cyberattacks (for example, the Experian and Yahoo data breaches, which served to compromise the personal information of over 1 billion people), every company should be doing it’s absolute best to boost their level of cybersecurity.

Not only do data breaches cause mistrust from your customers and employees, but it can also be highly costly depending on the data that was accessed or stolen. Fortunately, two-factor authentication is an easy, inexpensive method of adding another layer of protection against your sensitive data.

Reduces Calls to Help Desk

Yet another benefit of adding two-factor authentication is that it reduces the amount of calls being made to the help desk. The secured simplicity of the two-factor process causes less password resets and can often save users from having to reset the password altogether. Overall, this means less breaches to investigate for help desk members, which is a great thing for all parties involved.

In all, two-step authentication is hardly a new method of protecting your network. What is new is its seemingly sudden and widespread implementation by businesses and organizations of all kinds.

 

The ever-present threat of a cybersecurity breach has caused the world to discover the true value of this invention. Although there are no foolproof methods for protecting your network, taking the time to implement processes such as two-factor authentication is a great way to add another protective layer of security to your network.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

402.778.7960

sbrabec@lutz.us

LINKEDIN

STEVEN BRABEC + IT ACCOUNT MANAGER

Steven Brabec is an IT Account Manager at Lutz Tech with over eight years of information technology experience. He is responsible for working with clients to develop IT solutions that help them reach their business goals. Additionally, he will be providing account management support and IT consulting services. 

AREAS OF FOCUS
  • IT Consulting
  • Account Management
  • IT Security

 

EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND
  • BS in Information Technology, Wayne State College, Wayne, NE
COMMUNITY SERVICE
  • Pinnacle Bank Championship, Volunteer

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Avoid the Profitability Leak + Software Solutions Your Business Needs

Avoid the Profitability Leak + Software Solutions Your Business Needs

 

LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS

 

Avoid The profitability leak + software solutions your business needs

ryan wade, software solutions manager

 

We’ve all felt the pain of software outages, which can virtually paralyze a business. Imagine people sitting around, waiting for someone to “fix” the issue so they can go back to work.  Management and IT jumps into action, doing whatever it takes to bring the system back online.

However, this same sense of urgency does not happen with the day-to-day inefficiencies of antiquated legacy software.  In the end, this issue could have a greater impact on your bottom line.

For example, every spreadsheet that is used to “merge” data between systems or redundant data entry creates a chance for errors.  These errors can result in lost revenue, inefficiency, or incomplete data that impact management decisions.  With that being said, how do you know when it’s time to consider making changes to your processes and systems?

COMMON SIGNS THAT YOUR SOFTWARE SYSTEMS NEED IMPROVEMENT

Identifying the signs that your current systems are candidates for improvement is one of the first steps. 

  • Staff are inputting the same data in several systems
  • Data entry is not consistent
  • Key reports need to be manual manipulated
  • Critical systems and processes are not well documented and maintained by few key employees
  • Management does not have key data to make informed decisions
  • Critical systems developed in-house are built with antiquated technology such as Microsoft Access or Silverlight
  • Competitors that are easily outpacing your present technology capabilities

Quantify the impact of the problems and make a change

Software systems are an asset to the business which means they require maintenance, support and sometimes replacements.  Just like any other asset, you need to determine if there will be a return on investment if you change.  Making a change is costly and painful, so you need to make sure it’s worth it.

The following are areas to consider in determining the cost and return of making a change.

  • Can you generate new revenue or capture more existing revenue?
  • Can you reduce overhead or limit dependency on key employees by automating processes?
  • Can you create a competitive advantage?
  • Will better and timely data allow you to manage the business smarter?

Create a clear business objective

Once you’ve quantified the impact that the new software or a change will make, identity the business objective for the project.  Examples of outcome driven objectives:

  • Create confidence we are billing our clients for all services provided
  • Collect information from our clients faster to increase efficiency
  • Automate work order processing to limit manual entries and errors
  • Replace our legacy system to limit the risk of lost data

Outlining clear objectives will help keep your team focused on the results over processes and systems.  This is critical to the success of any project. 

Identify your options

Once you have set your objectives, you need to determine your options.  In most cases, you will have multiple options including:

  • Maintaining status quo
  • Implementing off-the-shelf solutions
  • Customizing platforms such as Microsoft Dynamics, Microsoft PowerAps, or SalesForce
  • Integrating systems or databases
  • Building a custom software solution

Most small businesses do not have a fulltime CTO to help them determine the best option.  For those who may need assistance navigating their way through the options, it is best to hire a professional. For instance, Lutz Tech. We work hard to guide our clients through the digital transformation process with ease.

No matter how major or minor your software issues may be, we have experts that are willing and able to assist you. Helping clients on each phase of the journey, through strategy, implementation and support, Lutz Tech will make sure the process is efficient from beginning to end. Learn more today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

402.778.7958

rwade@lutz.us

LINKEDIN

RYAN WADE + SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS MANAGER

Ryan Wade is a Software Solutions Manager with Lutz Tech and has over five years of relevant experience. His primary responsibility is to manage the software solutions team and client relationships.  He also maintains standards and procedures for the department, both internally and externally.

AREAS OF FOCUS
  • Software Consulting
  • Client Relationships
  • Professional Services Industry
  • Real-Estate Industry
  • Banking Industry
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND
  • BSBA, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
  • MBA, Creighton University, Omaha, NE
COMMUNITY SERVICE
  • Business Ethics Alliance, Committee Member
  • Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Audit Chair

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OMAHA

13616 California Street, Suite 300

Omaha, NE 68154

P: 402.496.8800

HASTINGS

747 N Burlington Avenue, Suite 401

Hastings, NE 68901

P: 402.462.4154

LINCOLN 

601 P Street, Suite 103

Lincoln, NE 68508

P: 531.500.2000

GRAND ISLAND

3320 James Road, Suite 100

Grand Island, NE 68803

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Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence

 

LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS

 

Artificial Intelligence

SCOTT KROEGER, LUTZ TECH SHAREHOLDER

 

There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding artificial intelligence (AI). You’ve probably heard about AI or IBM’s Watson on the news. AI is a new technology with quite a bit to offer, especially with assistance in the workplace. Its uses are endless. So, what exactly is it and how is it useful to businesses?

 

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is “the development of computer systems able to perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”

AI can help simplify everyday processes but, which type of AI is best suited for your business’s needs?

 

3 Categories of Artificial Intelligence

There are three major categories of artificial intelligence:

Artificial Narrow Intelligence: This is sometimes referred to as weak AI, and is described as a type of artificial intelligence that specializes in one area. For example, there is AI that can beat the world champion in chess, but that’s the only thing it does.

Artificial General Intelligence: This is sometimes referred to as strong AI or Human-Level AI and refers to a computer that is as smart as a human across the board.

Artificial Superintelligence: This refers to an intellect that is much smarter than even the best human brains in practically every field, including scientific creativity, general wisdom, and social skills.

 

What is AI being used for in business?

Artificial intelligence is being used in business for a variety of purposes, a few of which include computational improvements/processing power, extremely large data sets, and to improve algorithms and implementations. While you might not realize it, AI can also help maximize workflows and increase overall productivity.

Just a few ways AI is used in business activities today include:

  • Marketing automation
  • Customer support chatbots
  • Analytics
  • Search optimization
  • Social media

For example, when a business uses search optimization to help their company site rank high in customer searches; they are using artificial intelligence through algorithms.

In addition, when a firm uses a program designed to make data-driven decisions and predictions based off of available information, they are using artificial intelligence from machine learning.

 

Is AI primarily of interest to large businesses, or small businesses, too?

AI ranges from the calculator on your phone to self-driving cars. We use it all the time in our daily lives but don’t always realize it. That being said, artificial intelligence is of interest to all company sizes, depending on what you are using it for.

Artificial intelligence is continually changing the business landscape. Everyday processes will not only be affected by but be transformed through artificial intelligence as it continues to evolve throughout the future. Businesses that are willing and able to implement these changes will be able to gain a competitive advantage going forward.

 

Is AI for daily activities?

The goal with AI is to build a system that thinks like humans. So, AI can support your daily working habits. For example, humans are prone to make errors. AI can greatly reduce the chances of human error to improve your business’s efficiency and accuracy. In addition, humans perform many repetitive tasks that take up a lot of valuable work time. AI can help here too. AI can work on these tasks in a matter of seconds while also finding ways to make improvements.

 

Why Now?

There’s been a big resurgence in the demand for AI. With advanced computational improvements and processing power, AI is even used in cloud services. Furthermore, AI processes extremely large datasets, which allows for faster deployment of new technologies.

IBM’s Watson and Google’s driverless cars have shown huge technological advances and organizations are seeing significant improvements in algorithms that use machine learning.

Big Data is also driving the demand for AI now. Companies are using the cloud instead of physical servers. They’re looking for advanced security to deal with huge cyber threats.

AI, machine learning, and blockchains show promise for advanced storage and security. That’s driving the demand for AI to help businesses access information faster – and protect it.

 

Artificial intelligence can automate everything from customer support to social media and is helping with data entry and analytics, cybersecurity, and improved efficiency. AI can free up time to help you can work on value-rich projects so you can give your attention to your client and customers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

402.827.2304

skroeger@lutz.us

SCOTT KROEGER + LUTZ TECH SHAREHOLDER

Scott Kroeger is a Lutz Tech Shareholder with over 15 years of technology related experience. His primary responsibilities include overseeing the areas of managed technology services, custom software development, and creative services. In addition, he provides CIO level consulting to clients.

AREAS OF FOCUS
  • Sales and Operations
  • CIO Level Consulting
  • Managed Technology Services
  • Custom Software Development
  • Creative Services
  • Interface Design
  • Web Technologies
  • Systems Infrastructure
  • Databases
  • Programming
  • Application Integration
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND
  • BA in Computer Science, DePauw University, Greencastle, IN
  • Institute of European Studies, Freiburg, Germany
COMMUNITY SERVICE
  • Omaha Children’s Museum, Past Board Member

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OMAHA

13616 California Street, Suite 300

Omaha, NE 68154

P: 402.496.8800

HASTINGS

747 N Burlington Avenue, Suite 401

Hastings, NE 68901

P: 402.462.4154

LINCOLN 

601 P Street, Suite 103

Lincoln, NE 68508

P: 531.500.2000

GRAND ISLAND

3320 James Road, Suite 100

Grand Island, NE 68803

P: 308.382.7850

6 Helpful Steps to Transition to Outsourced IT

6 Helpful Steps to Transition to Outsourced IT

 

LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS

 

6 Helpful Steps to Transition to Outsourced IT

NEIL WARDYN, VIRTUAL CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER

 

Do you find your growing business suffering from a lack of support in the technology department? Your company may benefit from outsourcing IT. Some businesses struggle to find room in the budget to add support staff, while others continually add staff only to realize they still can’t keep up with demand. An alternative to this issue is to outsource your IT.

 

Here are a few key steps to help you make the transition from in-house to outsourced IT:

 

1. Outline your onboarding process and schedules with your new client.

Onboarding times vary from a week to several weeks. Depending on your IT services, integrations, and products, you might need more or less time.

Tip: It’s crucial to set up schedules and communicate your needs with your outsourced client. This ensures a smooth transition and prevents “bumps” in the road.

 

Verify dates work for the client and vendor

A good vendor-client relationship is a win-win for both parties. But, all new relationships take time. To start, establish metric dates and outline what you expect. Then, open the lines of communication by offering a feedback channel. This outlines your expectations.

Monitor the vendor’s performance and observe how they respond to feedback. You want to build trust and good dialog exchanges.

 

Explain processes and expected down times

Over-communication is better with initial vendor relationships. Walk your vendors through your IT processes and outline expected down times for your business.

Tip: By discussing the seasonal ebbs and flows of your business, you won’t have to micromanage your vendor. Set up weekly meetings and obtain status reports to keep everyone’s performance accountable.

 

2. Secure your buy-in from within the organization

Your “buy-in” is when people are onboard with your specific concepts and courses of action. The strategic initiatives of your business need to be followed. Or, you’ll risk your relationship with your stakeholders and clients. To secure your buy-in, your existing staff need to work with your vendors and advocate for your business.

To do this:

  • Outline your organization’s values.
  • Stress the importance of business growth, continuity, and cost-effectiveness.
  • Reinforce your business strategies, job assignments, and stakeholder interests.
  • Outline how your organization works to reduce errors and client complaints.

By having your vendor mirror your existing staff, they can better serve your stakeholders and clients.

 

Explain the benefits of outsourcing your IT

There are several benefits to outsourcing your IT. These include:

  • Saving time: Your vendors are experienced and don’t require training. That means they are cost efficient.
  • Cutting costs: By using vendors, you are hiring them on an as-needed basis. You don’t have to allocate resources for employee benefits and training.
  • Reducing downtime: Your outsourced IT can help you scale for future growth. Your outsourced staff is efficient and can increase productivity.
  • Data security: Your vendors offer advanced security features to protect your data and assets.
  • Larger talent pools for IT professionals: You have access to diverse IT talent. Utilize their skill sets for specific assignments.

 

You have access to knowledgeable and reliable IT professionals

Maybe your business offers 24-hour services. Or, you’re thinking about it. With IT that’s knowledgeable, you’ll have experienced staff at your disposal. You’ll also have IT in different time-zones that can help with disaster preparedness. Offsite vendors can help in the event of emergencies, disasters, acts of war, or imminent threats.

 

Duties for in-house IT and any outsourced IT

Thinking about in-house and outsourced IT? Some companies keep a mix of both. It’s a good idea to outline the duties and reporting schedules for vendors to work with your existing staff. Stress the need for customer service, marketing, and other ways vendors can help operations.

 

3. Establish a clear plan for reporting issues

When you set up a relationship with vendors, you need to establish how to report various issues and any problems that arise.

 

Explain hours of operation

Outline your hours. Decide if you will extend them because you now have access to a wider talent pool of IT professionals.

 

Explain expectations of response time to calls or emails

Stress the response times you would like your vendors to have. They should readily respond to every call and query. This should be monitored consistently for transparency.

 

Reassure them to call when issues arise

Your vendors need to know they can reach you at any time. Let them know you’re available and offer key support staff in your absence.

 

4. Once onboarded, review services provided

Regularly review your vendor relationships. And, address areas that need correcting or more training.

 

Establish routine meetings between clients and vendors to discuss performance

Weekly meetings are important. Treat your vendors like your staff. Help them understand your processes. You want them in alignment with your vision. Express future expectations and any problems that need to be addressed.

 

Evaluate service calls for opportunities to reduce calls

Is there a language barrier? A reason for a delay in a call? Troubleshoot the problems you find. And, set up scenarios and scripts to help your vendors manage the time better with clients.

 

5. Budgeting and planning

Having a budget set in advance can help you explore growth opportunities as you scale up. Some organizations avoid outsourcing their IT because they think they can’t afford it. What many don’t realize is that outsourcing is often the more cost-effective option.

 

Client and vendor should have routine meetings to discuss the future

Talk to your vendors about adding staff or removing them. Your budget is important and your vendors are there to help your organization grow.

 

Clearly layout future IT plans, upgrades, or expenses

Discuss how you want to scale. Talk about the new technologies you would like to introduce and discuss upgrades, updates, and expenses. By keeping the lines of communication open, you won’t be hit with unexpected charges.

 

6. Clear explanation of costs

Having a clear outline of all costs can help your business plan for the future. Talk to your vendors about your budget and all costs.

 

Explain what is covered under service contract

Discuss your budget requirements and ask questions if you’re unsure of the contract terms. You want to have the best relationship with your vendors.

 

Clearly explain reoccurring and onetime costs

Some organizations use a flat rate for their vendor services, while others use an “all of the above” approach. This can vary based on your budget and scaling needs.

 

Ultimately, you are committed to your organization, stakeholders, and clients. Lutz Tech can supply you with a team of professional consultants that will help you scale, lower costs, and increase your productivity for better ROI. If you are considering outsourcing your IT, please contact us for more information.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

308.382.7850

nwardyn@lutz.us

LINKEDIN

3320 JAMES ROAD

SUITE 100

GRAND ISLAND, NE 68803

NEIL WARDYN + VIRTUAL CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER

Neil Wardyn is a Virtual Chief Technology Officer at Lutz Tech with over 17 years of IT experience. He is responsible for architecting short-term and long-term technology plans and strategies for potential clients. In addition, he will provide support in resolving technology-related issues.

AREAS OF FOCUS
  • Technology Plan Construction
  • Outsourced IT
  • Technical Support
  • Technology
AFFILIATIONS AND CREDENTIALS
  • Oracle Certified Associate
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND
  • BA in Computer Science, Hastings College, Hastings, NE
COMMUNITY SERVICE
  • Grand Island Leadership Tomorrow, Board of Directors
  • Central Community College,  IT Advisory Committee
  • IT Pathway, Advisory Committee
  • Skills USA, Contest Coordinator
  • Youth Sports Coach

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Toll-Free: 866.577.0780  |  Privacy Policy

All content © Lutz & Company, PC

OMAHA

13616 California Street, Suite 300

Omaha, NE 68154

P: 402.496.8800

HASTINGS

747 N Burlington Avenue, Suite 401

Hastings, NE 68901

P: 402.462.4154

LINCOLN 

601 P Street, Suite 103

Lincoln, NE 68508

P: 531.500.2000

GRAND ISLAND

3320 James Road, Suite 100

Grand Island, NE 68803

P: 308.382.7850

Lutz Tech adds Steven Brabec

Lutz Tech adds Steven Brabec

 

LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS

 

Lutz Tech adds Steven Brabec

Lutz, a Nebraska-based business solutions firm, welcomes Steven Brabec to the Lutz Tech division in the Omaha office.

Steven joins Lutz Tech as an IT Account Manager with over eight years of IT experience. Steven will be working with clients to develop IT solutions that help them reach their business goals. Additionally, he will be providing account management support and IT consulting services. Brabec graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor’s degree in information technology.

 

RECENT POSTS

What is a Family Office?

Modern family offices have been in existence since the late 19th century when John D. Rockefeller decided he needed a professional team to manage his wealth. The complexity of the financial landscape, coupled with…

read more

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTERS!

We tap into the vast knowledge and experience within our organization to provide you with monthly content on topics and ideas that drive and challenge your company every day.

Toll-Free: 866.577.0780  |  Privacy Policy

All content © Lutz & Company, PC

OMAHA

13616 California Street, Suite 300

Omaha, NE 68154

P: 402.496.8800

HASTINGS

747 N Burlington Avenue, Suite 401

Hastings, NE 68901

P: 402.462.4154

LINCOLN 

601 P Street, Suite 103

Lincoln, NE 68508

P: 531.500.2000

GRAND ISLAND

3320 James Road, Suite 100

Grand Island, NE 68803

P: 308.382.7850