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Air Date: 07/28/2020

Creating a Culture of Digital Transformation


Creating a Culture of Digital Transformation


Dan Diamond: Yes it is, and it's 8:30. I'm Dan Diamond. On the phone with me, I do have a couple of wonderful people from Bit Wizards. We're going to the tip of the wand this morning. I've got Sam and Jennifer. Good morning to the two of you.

Jennifer: Good morning, Dan. How are ya?

Dan Diamond: I'm going to say it. I'm ducky.

Sam: Ducky.

Jennifer: I'm going to start using that.

Sam: We too are water-based foul. I don't know which kind, but we're right there with you.

Dan Diamond: Okay. I know you are because you'll send me your bill, right? Okay.

Sam: Oh, that's good. Oh, man. You must have kids because that was a dad joke right there. That was awesome.

Dan Diamond: 100% dad joke right there. You got that, Sam. Haven't talked to you in a couple of weeks. How you been?

Sam: Very well. Things are going great over here. We're growing. Our team has grown this week. We added another IT professional to our team, former military like yourself as well, from Air Force. And so our team has grown, which is always good news for us.

Dan Diamond: Well, yeah, that's good. I'm glad to see you guys growing, and probably a lot of need for your services during this challenging time, too.

Sam: Yeah, absolutely. We've seen a pretty significant uptake. Of course, when everybody started working from home, there was a big uptick for us of us being able to help people transfer their workload to their home computer or figure out a way for them to be able to remote into their work as needed. But what's great is our customer base right now is a good spread and mix of different vertical, different companies. Some people working in office, some people at home. It's been very unique and very challenging, but it has been an exciting challenge to step up to for us. That's for sure.

Dan Diamond: Gosh, I'll bet. People working from their apartments, in their basements, out of their cars and their trunks. Everywhere they can possibly get, to get away from the coronavirus.

Sam: That's right.

Dan Diamond: And by the way, since there are so many different viruses around, is there a bit of an uptick in the viruses in the computers too?

Sam: Yes. In fact, what we're seeing more of is targeted attacks of people trying to take advantage, it's heinous, but taking advantage of the pandemic, taking advantage of the panic that's coming with the pandemic and trying to prey on people's fears and trick them into giving up their information. We are seeing quite a bit of that happening, those phishing attacks, with a pH. Yeah. They, you know, we talk about this area being the luckiest phishing village and I'm speaking of the phishing capital. Unfortunately, small businesses are discovering how much phishing is happening in the area as well, but the wrong kind, where they're fishing for information to try to take your company down.

Dan Diamond: Don't take the bite.

Sam: That's right.

Dan Diamond: And as a matter of fact, that reminds me, let's get right into that.

Announcer: Bit wizards, bits and bytes.

Sam: Okay. So I thought this was an interesting piece of news. Typically, in our bits and bytes portion, we talk about something we saw in the news this week that may or may not be significant, that you may have missed for our local business owners. So on July 22nd, Slack Technologies, you may have heard of Slack, announced that it had filed a complaint against Microsoft in the European union, claiming that Microsoft is abusing its market dominance to extinguish the competition. If you've been around as long as Dan and I have you remember when this happened, hmm, I don't know, about 20 years ago. That's something very, very similar to this where Microsoft were sued for anti competitive behavior when they bundled internet Explorer with Windows. And so Netscape, for all of you out there who remember Netscape.

Dan Diamond: Oh, yes.

Sam: They ended up suing Microsoft for basically cutting the legs out of their market by giving away the browser for free. Well, now Slack is doing the same thing. They are suing Microsoft. They're saying that Microsoft has illegally tied its team's product into its market dominance of office productivity suite, forced installing it for millions and blocking its removal and hiding the true cost to enterprise customers. So I was going to ask Jennifer, if she could explain to us what Slack is and what Teams is and why would Slack be suing Microsoft?

Jennifer: So Slack is software for communication within an organization. So if people are in different offices or in different departments and they still need to communicate without hopping on the phone or waiting for an email, Slack is really good for that. And we actually used Slack for quite a long time. I've been with the company for three years and we just stopped using Slack. And essentially, Teams is also the method of communication, but it also can incorporate phone calling and it can bring in apps, SharePoint, One Drive, your email, like everything that you do in Office 365, Teams can bring that in. And so we're using it as communication method, but also for productivity as well and Slack is not happy.

Sam: Yeah.

Dan Diamond: So I take it Slack was a paid program, but Teams is a free program?

Sam: Yes. Well, actually they're both free and they both have a paid tier.

Dan Diamond: Oh, okay.

Sam: And so they, you know, for a long time, all communication in business either happened when you picked up the phone or when you send someone an email or if you put your shoes on and walk over to somebody's office and actually talk to them. And so Slack kind of got into this market of saying we could do some sort of internal type text messaging type stuff and so Microsoft got, went along and also released a very similar product. Where Slack had been very popular in the marketplace, Microsoft decided they wanted to get into the space as well. And in fact, Microsoft back in November, 2016, announced that they were going to release Teams as a part of Office 365. And when they did actually something quite humorous happened, now, when we look back on it. Go ahead, Jennifer.

Jennifer: Yeah. You know, it's interesting because Slack took out a full page ad in the New York Times and they were essentially welcoming Microsoft to the field and the message was wow, big news, congratulations to Microsoft on the announcement of Teams. We're genuinely excited to have some competition. And it's funny because they did not know what was going to happen and now they're ...

Sam: Yeah.

Dan Diamond: Yeah. Now, they're winking about it. I gotcha.

Sam: Yeah. So they took out a full page ad in the New York Times. That's not a cheap endeavor to basically say, yeah, good try Microsoft, good luck. We've already dominated this space. And now they're suing Microsoft to say this isn't fair because you are a much bigger organization, so you can afford to give this away for free. Well, the truth is that Microsoft said there are 75 million daily active users using Teams now. And of course, a lot of that is because of COVID people have jumped on board and needing to communicate even while they work remotely. But as of late March, Slack said had only 12 and a half million simultaneous connected users. So Microsoft has nearly 260 million paid Office 365 seats. So even then, it's less than a third of their users are actually using Teams on a day to day basis, which is crazy, cause it's already paid for in their office 365. And so now, of course, they're a little heart and they're coming back and they're attacking Microsoft and I guess they've changed their tune a little bit about making fun of Microsoft for trying to jump into this space. Because in actuality, Microsoft had a good response to this. They said we created Teams to combine the ability to collaborate, with the ability to connect via video, because that's what people want. And with COVID-19, the market has embraced Teams in record numbers while Slack has suffered from his absence of video conferencing. And we're committed to offering customers not only the best of new innovation, but a wide variety of choices in how they purchase and use the product. So what Microsoft is basically saying here is look, Slack, you may have been first to the market on some of these things and you definitely have a great customer base. Go ahead on here. However, there's definitely some features missing that we've gotten and so you can't really be too hurt in a competitive market when somebody else shows up with a great product. So I'll say this for Bit Wizards, that we really are leading experts on all things Microsoft 365 and all things cloud technology. And so, for us, we've been using Teams since when it was really in its beta stages because we are a Microsoft gold partner. We get early access to a lot of this stuff and we've been helping our clients get set up on Teams even before COVID happened. And some of our clients are on Slack. And as Jennifer said, we've used Slack quite a bit ourselves in the past. And having some kind of a communication tool is really a necessity at this point. You can't really just rely on email anymore. But for us, for Bit Wizards, with our managed IT services, we've been helping organizations in the area and even nationwide transition into this newer, modern digital workplace environment. We're going to talk a little bit about that here in just a few minutes, but helping companies transition to that so that they can stay connected and stay collaborative even in this crazy time of people working from all over the place. For all intents and purposes, using Teams and Outlook and Office 365, it really has not had to affect the way people work or communicate internally within the business, whether they're still in the office or whether they're working from home.

Dan Diamond: Okay. Now, just educate people like me who are not that familiar with Teams or the other ones, so is this more of a video platform?

Sam: Yes. So, well, it's actually an entire communication platform where you could message each other like a text message style. You can do like group chats. You can actually use it for making audio phone calls. You can even pay Microsoft a little extra on top of that subscription and have a proper phone number tied to those and it can become your company's phone system. And then, of course, on top of that, there's a whole other level of video conferencing where many schools are turning to this now. In fact, we've been working with some schools because Zoom has become the buzzword. We're seeing Zoom everywhere. It's almost become synonymous with an online meeting. Like I'll send you a Zoom invite, even if it's not actually happening on Zoom. Well, Microsoft in their Teams have that same product and a lot of companies, and like I said, schools are transitioning to Teams rather than Zoom because Zoom has been plagued with all kinds of vulnerabilities and security issues since COVID started and they realized they weren't really quite ready to scale up as quickly as was necessary. And so, there have been instances of what they're calling Zoom bombing, where someone is able to hack into an existing Zoom call that's happening, which is not good if it's a bunch of students involved and then playing inappropriate media from shady parts of the internet into the Zoom call and kind of blasting it out for everybody to see and hijacking those meetings. And so, because they've been plagued with that, Microsoft has really gained their market share in these, essentially, we call them Zoom meetings, but they're happening in their Teams platform. And that can be one-to-one video calls, or it can be a group conference video call, and you get to see everybody in there. You can share your screen. You can present. Jennifer uses Teams, wouldn't you say, just all day, every day, Jennifer.

Jennifer: I live in Teams all day every day, but we also have ways to communicate with our clients who are in Office 365 and also using Teams. We can invite them to some shared Teams environments and collaborate.

Dan Diamond: That's interesting. So trust you guys, at Bit Wizards, to have one step better above Zoom and everything else. And then it's also Microsoft connected because you're experts in Microsoft. And so here comes along a new program. Well, not new, but probably improved over the old one. So here we are, back at the tip of the wand. You're protecting people from getting hacked into, from the other program, going into Teams. And you're all on top of that so you can hook your customers up with that and they have less of a chance of getting hacked into or having their information stolen. That's perfect.

Sam: Absolutely. Yep. And really that's part of this culture of transformation that we wanted to talk about today for what's up our sleeve.

Dan Diamond: Okay.

Announcer: Bit Wizards. What's up our sleeve?

Jennifer: So you may have been hearing another buzz word popping up all over the news and that word is pivot. So as an example, from the Boston Globe, you might've heard schools may need to pivot this fall. Or from Forbes, if you're in the wrong career, consider planning a pivot now. And for all of our basketball fans out there, you know that pivoting, planting on one foot to keep from traveling is also pivoting. And so that's really one of the big buzz words that everybody's talking about right now and it's also related to technology.

Sam: That's right. The word pivot, we've talked about it on this show quite a bit. And in fact, what we want to talk about today actually came from some communication that Vince, our fearless leader, our CEO who's usually on the show with us was, was basically crafting a communicate to the local businesses in the Fort Walton beach area and he really used this word pivot as a good key word to understand what's happening right now. Because that word pivot is utilized in lots of different contexts as a metaphor for turning on a point or lever, but it's also synonymous with turning your business in a different direction. And in business pivoting, we do that to solve a problem, where you might change your market focus or move from a product or a service, or even change your business model. And unlike in basketball, pivoting can be defensive or an offensive tactic, and it's really a fundamental tool to keeping your company healthy and viable. And so since this is a, the radio show is going out here, all over our local community. I know a lot of people are tuned in and listening in their drive time to work on Tuesday mornings. And we hear from, you know, get feedback from people who hear the show and they get a lot out of it. Well, we really have been focusing a lot because many local businesses have been faced with having to pivot right now because of the recent governmental shut down the economy and forcing restrictions on business operations. I think almost every single business has had some sort of restriction enforced on it in just the last few months. So many of our clients, many of the businesses in this area that listen to this radio show, have been forced to pivot and rethink their business strategy and their business model. And despite this crisis, we're seeing that many companies were already positioned to work remotely and had already established alternate revenue streams and alternate ways of operating. Jennifer, there's even, just in our community, some examples of some of the local companies we've seen that have been pivoting during this time and adapting to these changes.

Jennifer: Yeah, for sure. Props Brewery is an example. They are serving more takeout, take out orders. And Tijuana Flats, as an example, we've had to order takeout from them multiple times. And a lot of these local businesses are doing curbside pickup and even delivery, which they've never done before, but they have to pivot and they have to make changes and adjust or else they're going to be left behind.

Sam: That's right. Even like we've seen local nonprofits have canceled like golf tournaments and instead envisioned surprising ways of fundraising using video and picture competitions online and the innovation and that can do spirit that we've seen displayed by our local businesses and our country as a whole, it's really been awe inspiring for us. We've enjoyed watching this.

Dan Diamond: Oh, yeah.

Jennifer: Yeah.

Dan Diamond: And even the Chamber of Commerce has been doing that with their breakfast. You remember? Since Vince is now the president, oh. No, he's the chairman of the board for the the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce. Their breakfast's have all been virtual, been video as well.

Jennifer: Yeah, for sure. And if you've noticed, pretty much every business that you go into at this point, everybody has to spritz a little bit of a hand sanitizer before you do your shopping or get your takeout.

Dan Diamond: Yeah. That's right.

Sam: Yeah. So that's everybody really, really pivoting. Like you said, yeah, the chamber moving to an online video. If we had talked about this even just, I don't know, nine months ago and we had approached the chamber and said, Hey, we think you'd be able to do an alternative first Friday breakfast by doing it online. Nobody would have thought that would be a viable solution or feasible at all. And yet, I'm so proud of our community, that this is actually the way things have been pivoting and they're able to adapt and keep going and in some cases, companies have grown. Because fundamentally, there are some companies that seem to have been prepared and others are forced to innovate just in time. And yet, there are others, who are still, who are unable to pivot, and we've seen businesses in the area going out of business. And it really comes down to having that culture of continual transformation as an integral part of business. And we've discussed this on the show before, but digital transformation. So digital transformation, simply put, is it's the process of using any digital technology to create new or to modify existing business processes, culture, and customer experience to meet changing business and market requirements. So we talk about this a lot on the show, right, is how can you use technology you already have available to you to do a better job of reaching your clients where they are and with the restrictions and the limitations that happen to be in place, at least for right now. And we're re-imagining a business in this digital age, of digital transformation. And in fact, you're pivoting your business to make your business better, and the best companies are the ones that are in an agile state of continuous incremental change and improvement.

Dan Diamond: Sure. And I would imagine that the businesses that already established that through social media or whatever advertising online are already one step ahead of the game. Those that weren't involved, probably had to develop that.

Sam: Yes. On the fly. And then there were some who weren't even prepared for that at all and haven't been able to keep up, because they weren't even in a place to be able to pivot and to change.

Dan Diamond: Right. That makes sense.

Jennifer: Yeah. And even with the speed of marketing changes, today, Dan, our customers still demand that you cater to their needs. It's always going to be about the customer, right, and not necessarily about you as the business owner and they have access to almost an infinite amount of information. The customer is well-informed these days and they know where they want to spend their money and they have a lot of options. And so even if a customer chooses a local business or chooses us, we must continually earn the right to keep their business. And the number one rule, really, and this is a rule that we live by, it's part of our core values, is you take care of the customer or somebody else will.

Sam: Yeah, that's right. That is always true. And so whether there's COVID-19 or not, Vince talks about this quite a lot, are you going to let the circumstances affect you or are you going to take this as an opportunity to find new ways to connect with your customers or even to find a new customer base or to be able to pivot. And I know for a lot of people that may sound a little pie in the sky, like sure, use technology, well, I've got a computer and I've got an iPad. What am I supposed to do with that? And that's really where Bit Wizards comes in because we can help you with the technology you already have, or we can help introduce you and get you migrated into technologies that are what we call cloud based technologies or hybrid environments where it's a little bit of what you're doing is still in your business and on computers and some of it is shifted into the cloud to help de-centralize a lot of that. And for a lot of people, knowing where to even start with that, is like staring at a blank piece of paper with writer's block and not even knowing like a good starting point, just to be like how am I supposed to use technology? And that's where Bit Wizards really comes in handy because we've been doing managed IT services for a long time. We've been doing it internally for Bit Wizards. And then from that, we grew into saying, well, if we can do this for Bit Wizards, why couldn't we do this for other businesses in the area locally and even nationwide, it's to take this expertise that we have and to harness all of this technology power and to use the economy of scale. The deal here is we can spread out that cost by having high end enterprise grade services for small and medium sized businesses in the area at the cost that would be appropriate for a small and medium sized business, but still bringing in that big, big enterprise level security and productivity tools to your organization. So that's what we do, is we come in and we help your company pivot and move into this digital transformation so that we can find ways to help you grow your business and to reach your customer base or to reach new customer bases completely just by using this technology. You know, Vince was recently recounting how he ended up, just in the last few months, he has fired two local companies that he's worked with because they refuse to provide an online means for him to just pay his bill. And so he was saying that these two companies, both of them require their customers to physically come into the store and sign some actual paper copy of the credit card and the recurring agreement. And then even worse, all that paperwork with all his credit card information is getting stored in a filing cabinet in the back of the office. And so then when Vince questioned them on these policies and said, what are you guys doing? He said, they just gave him some ridiculous excuses about, Oh, credit card processes require it and there's fraud. And Oh, the cost of having an online system is too high. And we say this, that kind of thinking is just dated and it is obtuse. Dan, you've talked about this. When you do your online banking, right, you can do all of that online. You can self serve. You can set up auto payment through a web portal. You don't need to go in physically and give them your signature. And if I ever need to change any of that information, you can do it on a website and they're storing your credit card safely and securely using encryption. And I may be a little crazy here, but I think that's more secure than an unlocked file cabinet in the back of someone's office in Shalimar or something like that. So.

Dan Diamond: Well, sure. Because who knows who's coming and going and has access to that. Yours is secure when it's online like this.

Sam: Yes, it is way more secure. So a lot of this, without getting into the technical nitty gritty of this, the encryption that we use to store this stuff is borderline impossible to ever crack, for in any meaningful or cost effective manner. The 2048 bit encryption, which is an unbelievably long number, essentially, that has been randomized, that you would have to be able to crack. And so, because of that, it is way more secure than anything we could secure locally. So, what says more about your company? Is it continuously transforming with the market, or is it stagnating into a dated model? If you really want to thrive in today's market or better yet, survive the next pandemic or recession, then you have to adopt this transformation culture. And then re-imagining your business in the digital age is vital to the health and stability of your business. But continually, yeah.

Dan Diamond: And you can do all that.

Sam: We can. That's actually where we step in. That's why we're here, is to help. We understand you can't sit on your past success. You have to continuously evolve and lead companies adopt this culture of change. That's what we have at Bit Wizards. And so, we help our customers, we have all of our clients, to find the right digital solution for them to be able to grow.

Dan Diamond: Well, don't you think, honestly, though, Sam, that if you don't advance, pivot or adapt that you're going to be left behind, period. You're done.

Sam: Absolutely. I think one of the worst fallacies is, Oh, that's the future and we'll get there one day. And quite honestly, digital transformation, moving to the cloud, that's not set in the future somewhere. This is the present and it's already in the past. Digital cloud technologies are already changing rapidly. And so if you're already not on board already, it's time to get on now.

Dan Diamond: Okay. My head is now spinning. Let's change. How about a this?

Announcer: Bit Wizards, from the spell book.

Sam: Okay. Well, we don't have a whole lot of time left, but I will say we like to define some of these technology terms and these are some you may not have heard of before and that is zero day and bug bounty, and they're kind of related to each other. A zero day vulnerability is any security bug in software that is unknown to, or maybe even just unaddressed by, the software developer. And we call it zero day because it's a reference to how many days the software company has known about this vulnerability before releasing an update to patch the issue. So a zero day means the company probably doesn't even know that there's a flaw in their software and somebody is exploiting it already and is using it to attack your system. So there's not a whole lot of defense against that, but there is one tool that they have as a defense and that's called a bug bounty.

Jennifer: Yeah. And bug bounties are a reward. It's kind of a reward system for finding security bugs in software and alerting the software developer before that bug becomes public knowledge. And then once it's public, then it's typically exploited in the wild and ...

Dan Diamond: Oh oh.

Jennifer: Implemented. Yeah, by some big organizations. Mozilla Firefox, and Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Reddit, Square, all of the big names. And of course, Microsoft. And so, just as an example, Google has a vulnerability rewards program that includes vulnerabilities found in Google search, cloud, Android, Chrome products. And they offer a reward from around $500 to up to maybe even over $30, 000 for these bugs.

Sam: That's right. Yeah. If you can find a flaw in one of their systems, in Gmail or in Google Chrome, and you let them know about it and they didn't know about it, they could give you 30 grand or United Airlines will give you a million air miles if you can find a problem with their software that could be exploited. Even Domino's, just in the last few weeks, released their own bug bounty program, where they will reward you if you can find any issues or any vulnerabilities so that they can address it before it becomes a publicly known issue. So this is people looking for those zero day exploits, people that are finding bugs in the software that could expose customer information. And the reason it's important is because it can compromise the confidentiality, the integrity and availability of resources belonging to an organization and other parties involved like your customer information or your suppliers. And if you are aware of it, typically this is seen as misconduct in most legislations, if you know of a vulnerability and don't take care of it. So it's a big deal. We say on top of the security news specifically for this reason.

Dan Diamond: Perfect. Okay. How about it's time for you to say thank you to one of your clients.

Jennifer: Yes. We want to give a big Bit Wizards thank you and shout out to Kitchen and Bath Center. Butch Meyer and Hannah, and the rest of their team, they're located on 415 Page Bacon Road in Mary Esther, and they've got locations and Fort Walton, South Walton, Mobile, Fairhope, Alabama. And they've been a long time client of ours and both for our managed IT and digital marketing and really their focus is providing countertops, cabinetry, flooring, remodeling for kitchens and bathrooms with award winning service. So Butch and Hannah, we appreciate you guys and thank you for being a part of our team.

Sam: Absolutely.

Dan Diamond: Yeah. I would bet you if they could talk right now, because they're not on the air with us, they would probably say thank you Bit Wizards for taking care of our business. Because that is the one thing that I will say over and over again, Bit Wizards, all you professionals at Bit Wizards have knowledge about business as well. So when they hire you not just for the IT service, you can look at their business and you can marry up the IT services they need for their business to maybe help their business move forward with the information they might not even know that they can use. And so, that's great.

Sam: Right. That's absolutely right. I guarantee you, if you have technology in your business, you have stuff that you're not utilizing right now that you could be, that would be helping you, and that's where we come in. We help to identify those areas and see how we can help you transform your organization.

Dan Diamond: Well, thank you, Sam, and thank you, Jennifer, for giving us all this great information this morning. And I am sure I'll be talking with one or both or somebody from Bit Wizards next Tuesday. You guys have a great week.

Sam: You too.

Jennifer: Thank you.

Sam: Thanks very much.

Dan Diamond: Take care.