Archive for the ‘The Connected “Copier”’ Category

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Advancing the sales process

October 11, 2019

Selling is a process that includes many variables. Among them the transfer of knowledge.

The primary contact during the “Sales Process” is of course the Sales Person, or Account Executive. S/He is the Quarterback of the team. But if all you have is a QB on your team you may be in trouble. That’s why I believe in Team Selling, where each member of that team excels at their job and each brings something unique to the table. A vital part of the team is the Solution Sales Analyst. What S/He brings to the table is a wealth of Knowledge and with that knowledge comes confidence. Instead of a Sales guy saying “I think we can do that” Or “The Brochure says its supported” He turns to the Pre-Sales Solutions Support person who tells the Customer about a time when they did JUST that. And well done is better than well said. I remember getting brought into a school district at the 11th hour. They were just about to make a vendor selection when a neighboring school district said “You really need to talk to NECS before you make a decision. These guys really know their stuff”! Nothing I or my sales guy could have said that would have made as much of an impact as his peer in another school district did. They will trust their Peer over anything we say. Thankfully we had taken care of our customer and they gave us a glowing review (Mouth to Mouth Selling). When we came in we talked about AirPrint, and Chromebooks, and how to reduce the cost of printing through Follow Me printing. The head of IT looked at me and said those were the questions I was going to ask you about. This knowledge transfer gave them the confidence in NECS. Because not only did we say we could we gave them examples of other places we had already done it.

This is maybe the most dramatic way we advance the sales process. But a good Pre Sales Solutions Engineer answers dozens of calls and emails a day. I think I get an average of 45 – 50 emails a day, not counting junk emails. About a third of them require a thoughtful response. These are question from a Customer or from a Sales Person who is asking about a deal or for a customer to keep the Sales Process moving forward. It may be about a feature, or function or protocol, of a device or Software. It maybe a Security question that needs to be researched to be able to give a correct answer that moves the sale forward. It’s hard to quantify the impact these responses whether verbal, phone call, or email have on the sales process other than to say it moves it forward. What does this process look like without a knowledgeable Pre Sales Solution Engineer to answer these questions and to keep the sales process moving forward. Well maybe the Sales Guy makes something up and hopes he doesn’t get caught. Or maybe he reads the brochure and says “The Brochure says it works”. How confident would you feel hearing that answer? In short a Good Pre Sales Solution Engineer is like Yeast in your bread. You most notice it when it is not there and your bread or your sales numbers go flat!

It doesn’t matter so much what you call them; Pre-sales Solutions Engineers, Solutions Analysts, or just Systems Engineer. You may not be able to see what they do every day on a Calendar, or in SalesForce. After all how do you document that you gave a technical answer to a sales guy who sits next to you that kept the sales process moving forward? So if you judge them just by their Calendar activity you may think you don’t need them. And then you wonder why did our sales numbers drop? Ricoh Business systems (RBS) dismantled their Solutions team, and predictably their Sales Numbers dropped. To their credit this branch recognized what they’ve done and hired me to reconstitute their Solutions Team. At the end of the second year the Branch hit its Triple Crown Numbers. The branch had never done that in the history of the branch and no other branch in the country did it that year. They rewarded us by again dismantling the Solutions team. I left RBS shortly there after. I get a call about 6 months later from a buddy of mine who was a Sales Manager at RBS, and he said my name came up in a conversation. I said oh really, about what? He said to the best we can calculate YOU have cost us about a Million dollars in deals since you left. I asked if I could get that in writing on Ricoh letter head, and he laughed. One Million dollars in 6 Months. Hmm? I guess you notice a good Solutions Engineer the most, when he’s not there!

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh
vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

PS: Special thanks to Greg Dalton of EFI. This blog started with a conversation about what a good SE does to “move the sales process along”.

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Who would want to hack into my printer?

July 1, 2019

I often hear from customers “Who would want to hack into my printer”?

We’ve done such a good job securing our Servers, PCs, and routers that hackers who are trying to get into your network every day and they are looking for easy ways to get a foothold. HP did a great short Video on Youtube with Christian Slater called “The Wolf”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3QXMMV-Srs

HP has really pushed the “copier industry” on Security. HP says that they have “the most secure MFD”. They even put out a $10,000.00 bounty if someone could hack into their MFD. That’s Ballsy! I love that! But we still haven’t fully answered the question Why would anyone want top hack into my printer? Here comes the answer, are you ready?
Hacking your printer isn’t about the printer! There are two things a hacker gets when they successfully take control of your Printer.

1. They get access to your documents!

2. They get a foothold in your network, behind your firewall.

I know of a town here in New England that got their MFDs hacked. And from that the Hackers were able to take down four of their Servers. Remember it’s not about the printer.

Think about the documents that pass through your printer. Are they encrypted? Probably Not. A Man in the middle attack would copy all of your print jobs to the hacker before sending them on through to your printer and you would not even notice. Maybe you’d notice that it is taking a little longer to get your prints. But not long enough for you to suspect a hacker. Hackers don’t announce themselves. They often go undetected for months.

Did you know that there is a wiki site dedicated to show hackers how to hack your printers? Or how about this web site that shows the “Default Password” of your printers or MFDs? Does your printer or MFD still use the default password? If it does you are making it too easy for a hacker to take control of your Printers and MFDs.

NECS has a Professional Services offering to Harden your Printers & MFDs. HP makes it easy with Sure Start, Inspection Detection, white listing, and runtime intrusion. These are the big four! But there is more that you can do to harden your HPs!

I know an Security Manager at a regional hospital that walks around with his phone looking for Printers that are broadcasting Wi-Fi. When he finds one, and he often finds one, he shuts off Wi-Fi! Why? Using the Funtenna software this hacker turned a Printer into a broadcast radio and listen in on a network connected phone. The Printer hacked the phone??? How did they hack the printer? By embedding the malware into a Resume that maybe an IT manager or HR person printed. Holy Cow???? As one law firm that I presented this information to, said “You have me sufficiently freeked out, now what do I do about it”?

The answer is you take Printer / MFD security as serious as you do your PCs. And why not a Modern MFD has more in common with a PC that it does with your Father’s Copier. It has a hard drive, an OS, Ram Memory, even a Keyboard and a touch screen instead of a mouse. It also has Apps, lots of Apps that can be loaded on this Smart MFD to extend and enhance its capabilities.

This is an end point, a node on your network. And as such it deserves, no demands your attention on its security. The Security Manager from that same hospital said to me. We know our printers are not secure. They fail the security audit every time we have it, BUT we have other more pressing matters that always take precedence over securing the Printers and MFDs. That’s when we can help! Farm the work out to a professional who has been trained by both HP and Canon on Security, Printer security.

Do you know that Most security Scans avoid the Printers and MFDs. Do you know why? They consider them fragile devices. Nessus or even Nmap if not set correctly can knock a printer right off the network. I have seen Nmap cause a check printer to start printing garbage on random checks until it ran out of paper. There are ways of scanning a printer \ MFD without causing a disruption (generally speaking). But even if you choose not to scan to see what ports are open \ listening you can still decide to harden your printers and MFDs.

You could set up one Canon (For Instance) and make that the Master image and clone the other Canons from it. But you better change the default password or someone else could easily turn on what you have turned off for security reasons. NECS can also set your Canon MFD to update firmware automatically. We can install HP’s Smart Device Services (SDS) and schedule the update of all your HP Printers & MFDs at off hours (1 – 4 AM).

HP also offers Jet Advantage Security Manager or JASM that can apply and enforce YOUR Secure Policy on every HP. There is even a way to set it up so new printers will reach out to HP’s JASM to get YOUR security policy as soon as they come online. Like I said HP is leading the pack in enhanced Security for Printers & MFDs, or as they like to call them A3s and A4s.

Is your copier dealer talking to you about security? Or do they just want to know what speed you want your new “copier” to be? A modern MFD needs a modern Dealer who can support you in all your endeavors, and that includes Security!

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh
Vince.mchugh@necsoffice.com

PS: You are never going to make your devices completely secure, security is a moving target. But that doesn’t mean you should do nothing to harden them. It’s like the two guys who see a bear and the one guy puts on his running shoes. The other guy says you can’t outrun a bear. He says I know, all I have to do is out run you. 😊 Security is like that. Make your devices less attractive to hackers so the go somewhere else.

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I wouldn’t buy a Fuji Xerox

July 2, 2018

FujiFilm is suing Xerox for a Billion dollars because Xerox backed out of the merger after one of the Xerox Board of Directors staged a rebellion. “Fujifilm (also)…threatened to compete against Xerox Corp …if it failed to renew its technology agreement in 2021.”

If you are unaware of the relationship between Fuji and Xerox, Fuji makes a large portion of Xerox’s line of Office equipment. Your Xerox Rep probably just calls them “Xerox” because he doesn’t want you concerned about Who makes your Xerox. But I would be concerned especially if I was about to buy a Fuji Xerox. In fact I wouldn’t buy a Fuji Xerox. I bet your Xerox sales guy says it’s not a problem. And it’s not a problem until it is a problem, but then IT’S YOUR PROBLEM! And then what? Xerox will blame Fuji, and Fuji will blame Xerox and you will be in the middle. That’s why I wouldn’t buy a Fuji Xerox, at least until this battle of the Titans has been resolved. There are plenty of good, stable MFD (digital copier) manufacturers out there that you can buy from. Don’t make Fuji & Xerox’s problem YOUR PROBLEM!

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh
vince.mchugh@yahoo.com
WWW.NECS.BIZ

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Using Shell Scripts to make Mac Printing easier

June 12, 2018

Mac printing has never been as easy as Windows printing. Some people say that is because Mac users don’t need as much support, and that may be true. But they will also say that the Printer Manufacturers don’t treat them as well as their Windows brethren. The Mac drivers are too often treated like an afterthought. They may not have all the features that the Windows Driver has for the same exact printer. The other thing that makes it harder is that Macs don’t typically print through a Print Server and if they do it is simply a pass through. The Windows Server doesn’t enhance the printing experience for the Mac user like it does for the Windows Users.

I did not set out to learn Unix Shell Scripting. I set out to be able to make configuring the defaults and options on a Mac printer easier. I have known about the CUPS Web Interface (http://127.0.0.1:631 ) for many years. I learned about CUPS from my Unix and Linux training. When the MAC OS X was released we learned it sat on top of Darwin Unix. Originally Apple used LPRng as the printing subsystem but moved to CUPS (Common Unix Printing System) when they released 10.2. This broke Mac printing for most users. But because of my familiarity with CUPS I was able to help my customers get their printers back up and printing. We knew how to get into the CUPS Web Page and modify the printer or set the defaults for that MAC, but it was just for the MAC you were on. If you have a large or even a moderate size group of Mac Users that could be a lot of work. That is what got me looking at shell scripts.

The first clue for me came from a System Engineer that I work with, Ned Bannan. He had a customer that had modified a ppd in CUPS and then compared it to the original to see what & where the changes were reflected in the ppd. He used the fc (file compare) command. I thought that was pretty cool. Then I found that I could use the lpoptions command to display all the options a ppd had, and JUST show me the options. We used to open the ppd with a text editor to find what options were available but then you get the entire ppd not just the options. It was shall we say “busy”. With the lpoptions command we got a neat and clean list of options.

Now that I can clearly see what options can be set and modified I began to test this with the lpadmin command. lpadmin, lpoptions, lpstat are all Unix commands. This is where we really begin to leverage the power of Unix to make Mac printing easier. lpstat will show me the printers that are installed on a particular Mac, lpotions show me the options and defaults that I can set in the ppd. lpadmin lets me not only set the options but also create a printer and its port on a Mac OS X. This is all great, but it is still a lot of typing on each Mac.

That is what led me to Unix Shell Scripts. Shell scripts are not that different than DOS BAT files. I remember years ago creating a BAT file for a customer that wanted to transfer files we had scanned in a remote office to a folder in their home office across a dial up connection. My BAT file worked so well that the next time I visited the customer the Company that sold them their Document Management System (DMS) had put their own Icon on my Bat file. They should have at least kissed me first, don’t you think? You could argue that Shell Scripts are more powerful than BAT files but they both do the same function on different OSes. They allow you to string together different commands to accomplish a task that otherwise would require a lot of typing. They are a godsend!

Unix Shell scripts make MAC printing easier for IT Managers.
Now I can create a Shell Script that configures an existing printer. I can create a Shell Script that can add a printer, an lpr port, and pull the ppd from an smb share. This script actually asks the End User two questions. What do you want to name your new HP Printer (or Canon, etc.) and What is the IP Address of the Printer. You could put this information along with a zip copy of the script in an email blast to your end users. It is amazing what you can do with Unix Shell Scripts!

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh
vince.mchugh@yahoo.com
http://www.necs.biz

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Vince McHugh, Of the Internet?

March 29, 2018

vm of the internet.jpg

About two weeks ago I had a heart attack. It is something that gets your full attention, at least it got mine! During my recovery one of my Post Sale SEs sent me this picture to cheer me up. It had the desired effect as it represents a funny story from my past.

We were trying to win back a long term customer that went to Ricoh. When they came into our demo room I introduced my self saying “Hi, I am Vince McHugh”. One of the visitors asked “Of the Internet”? which took me aback. I said I guess you’ve read my blog? She told me she read my blog regularly. We had a good laugh, the demo went well and a long term customer came back to NECS.

I have been off recovering for the last few weeks and I am hoping my doctor will let me get back to work soon. The time off has reminded me that I like what I do. So hopefully you will see me back in the trenches before too long. Who knows I may even get inspired to write a blog article.

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh
vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

PS: Thanks to Kevin Lumenello for putting together the picture and sending it to me!

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25+ Years at NECS (Labor Day Thoughts)

September 4, 2017

It seems rare today for someone to spend a quarter of a century at the same company. But it is the norm for people who work for NECS. NECS has been in business for over 50 years. I am by far not the most tenured person at the company. There are those who have been there for 30+ years. In the spirit of full disclosure I will say that I took a 2+ years break to work for Ricoh Business Solutions (RBS). I came back to my current position nine years ago.

This kind of longevity at a single company seems to be the exception and not the rule. My daughter had worked for a company for 4 years. When she began applying for new jobs she was twice asked “Why she had been so long at one company?” She was told that it is common for people to change companies every 2 to 3 years. I can understand that only if each change is a change upwards and not just a horizontal move. When I look at a resume and I see someone changes jobs every year or so it is a red flag. I wonder why they could not keep a job for more than a year. When you look at my daughter’s resume it shows her taking on more an more responsibility at the one company she worked for those 4 years, when I see that on a resume it tells me that this is someone I can invest in with an expectation of a return on that investment. This may explain why so many people have stayed at NECS for so long. There has always been opportunity to grow and move up to greater responsibility within NECS. We often have Service people become Sales People, or Dispatchers become Operations Managers. I started in NECS as a Trainee (in 1989), learning to work on Copiers. Then I became a certified Technician, a Troubleshooter, a Field Manager, then I moved into Systems Support, became the Manager of the Team, and then became the Color Sales Specialist. After a short stint at RBS I returned to become the Vice President of Network Solutions. I am not that unique at NECS. Our VP of Service has been in Sales, and has also run Operations and the Shop. Our Service Manager ran the Parts Department for a time.

So the lesson that comes from this is IF you want people to stay at your company for decades you need to make sure that you promote from within, not just within each department but across departments. Sometimes it will not work out, and you may want to allow that person to go back to what they were good at. But even if that happens they will be grateful for the chance, and they will have learned a little about how that other part of the company runs. A real WINN WIN!!! NECS’ example of longevity should be more the norm than the exception. How is it at your company?

That’s My $0.02

Vince McHugh

vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

WWW.NECS.BIZ

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CUI – Confidential Unclassified Information

August 22, 2017

I had one of my Sales people bring me in to see a customer who wanted to solve their Confidential Unclassified Information issue. They are a Federal Government Contractor and need to be able to demonstrate that they are in compliance with 32 CFR Part 2002, Controlled Unclassified Information. The IT Manager correctly identified that they only need to add a cover sheet to alert users to CUI documents in the printer or MFD tray. The Cover Sheet needs to have specific information on it to identify CUI and show how it is to be handled.

I told him that I could definitely modify a Banner \ Separator Page that could have all the CUI identification and instructions to print out on top of each document that prints to a particular printer or print Queue. A nice low tech solution!

But I have a passion for solving my Customer’s Business problems by combining software, hardware, and know how! So I asked him if he had any concern that someone might simply lift the cover sheet either accidentally or on purpose and see the CUI Document. He asked what else we could do and I told him if the documents get marked “CUI” anywhere in the name of the electronic file, we could use that to trigger a workflow that would re route that CUI Print Job from the Printer Queue the End User selected on the Print Server to a Secure Input Queue and then send the User an email that would tell them that their print job had been re routed and where to pick it up. It doesn’t matter what application they are printing from. If it has CUI anywhere in the name it triggers the CUI Secure Printing workflow. Using this Rules Based Routing workflow with Secure Follow Me type printing they can pick up their CUI print job at any MFD in their company by logging in and releasing the CUI job from the Secure Print Queue, A real nice high tech solution that requires no change in the printing behavior on the end users part!

Let’s take this a step futher and combine the low tech with the high tech solutions and get the best of both. By adding the CUI Separator page to the secure output printer that receives the re routed CUI print job you have the CUI print job inaccessible to anyone except the person who printed it. And even when THEY release the CUI print job it prints with an appropriate CUI Banner \ Separator Page over it. So even after the Authorized User picks it up no one else can casually look at the information in passing. I am now comfortable that we have done everything we can to help our Customer meet their Federal requirements for Controlled Unclassified Information.

That’s My $0.02

Vince McHugh

vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

WWW.NECS.BIZ