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BMIT Technologies, a leading Hybrid IT enabler, was recently recognized by the Microsoft Greece, Cyprus & Malta subsidiary as the best performing partner for Azure for fiscal year 2020. This award is a result of BMIT Technologies’ solid performance and investment during the past year and continued focus to drive innovation through the exploitation of cloud technology.

Building on the strategic partnership that it established with Microsoft in 2018, BMIT Technologies continues to invest in both its technology infrastructure and its technical capability to ensure that it has the necessary capacity to help customers harness the power of Microsoft Azure to fulfil their strategic objectives.

BMIT Technologies also offers a secure and quick-to-set-up remote work solution which is designed to address the main pain points of anyone wishing to offer remote work to employees but is constrained by systems or software. Based on Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365, BMIT’s Remote Work Solution enables organisations to ensure that their IT systems and services are made accessible to employees anytime and anywhere, securely and reliably. This solution has proven to be a vital lifeline for many businesses during the current pandemic, enabling them to remain fully operational by allowing their employees to work from home.

Adopting a Hybrid IT approach, the company also offers regulated businesses, such as online gaming and financial services operators, a quick-to-deploy Hosting Compliance solution that enables them meet all their regulatory requirements, in a fully compliant manner. This solution allows clients to focus on optimizing their operations, CX and marketing and spend less time and resource managing and operating their IT infrastructure. A key element of this solution is BMIT Technologies’ own Microsoft Azure Stack platform, which provides the same Microsoft Azure experience but with the added benefit of being fully hosted in Malta and therefore ensuring data is maintained in Malta in line with regulatory needs.

Nick Tonna, BMIT’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: “We are thrilled to have received this prestigious recognition from Microsoft. It is a huge achievement for our team and reinforces BMIT Technologies’ leadership in Cloud services on the island. We look forward to bringing more exciting things for our clients and ensure they continue to see the benefits of working with us.”

BMIT Technologies plc, continues to implement its extensive CSR strategy and long-standing commitment to future generations through a new partnership with Sliema Aquatic Sports Academy. With all the evidence that swimming is incredibly good for your physical and mental health and wellbeing and proven to instil great habits from a young age, this is the kind of support that benefits all communities.

The two-year sponsorship agreement includes naming rights and will establish BMIT Technologies as the lead sponsor of this popular swimming academy. As of this season all water polo squads between U11s and U20s as well as the Sliema ASC swim squad will now carry Sliema ASC BMIT Technologies Academy as the official name for their teams and on their kits.

This is not the first time BMIT Technologies has invested in sports for younger people. For the fourth year running, the leading IT solutions provider remains the main supporting partner of the BMIT Otters Swimming School in Gozo which was set up with the objective of promoting swimming and water polo to children.

“We are thrilled about this latest collaboration,” said Jack Mizzi, BMIT’s Chief Marketing Officer, “Water sports and swimming are such an integral part of our national make-up, and through our ongoing commitment towards swimming activities we have seen directly just how beneficial swimming is to children. This new sponsorship is another step forward in supporting young local talent.” he added.

Kevin Saliba, Vice-President and Chairman of the Sliema ASC academy added that he was very happy to have reached a sponsorship agreement with BMIT Technologies. “I am confident that this collaboration between BMIT Technologies and one of Malta’s top water polo teams will be mutually beneficial to both parties.”

Gaming operators live in a business reality of continuous change but it is evident that the whole industry is currently undergoing through a significant shift. One area that is constantly under scrutiny and focus is the quality of customer support offered by operators and the general gaming community at large. The need to strike a balance between providing top support and maximising returns has never been as relevant as now. Add to this the need for 24/7 support, across multiple languages, and the challenge is real. This is creating a growing need for gaming companies to adopt technologies which optimise efficiency while protecting profit margins and managing costs.

Against this backdrop, BMIT Technologies has launched a new tool to offer an effective and innovative customer support to its customers, worldwide. This tool, an AI-powered intelligent virtual agent, has been developed by EBO, and offered exclusively by BMIT Technologies for gaming companies.

The primary objective of the BMIT Technologies CX Virtual Agent is to automate the very notion of customer service. In the process however, it also improves customer onboarding, KYC (know your customer) processes, responsible gaming and marketing.

In fact, whereas EBO.ai builds and operates AI technology that empowers businesses by transforming the way they connect with customers, BMIT Technologies will be channelling this technology to its customers and help them unlock the endless power of Artificial Intelligence.

“At BMIT Technologies we pride ourselves in offering the best technology solutions to our customers. Our solutions are built on a resilient infrastructure and supported by the right set-up, a highly experienced team, as well as innovative thinking that helps our customers identify opportunities to enhance their business potential. We are very proud to partner with EBO.ai. Their specialism in the world of AI, as well as commitment to excellence and innovation, is in line with our business philosophy and portfolio objectives. We’re very excited about this partnership,” said Ing. Christian Sammut, CEO of BMIT Technologies.

Dr. Gege Gatt, CEO of EBO.ai added “We are extremely excited about the partnership with BMIT Technologies which has established itself as a market-leader and a true catalyst of digital transformation. At EBO, we believe in technology innovation and most importantly, providing customers with the right AI solutions to help them scale quickly and sustainably. Our partnership with BMIT Technologies will help us offer advanced virtual agents to a much wider audience, starting from online gaming. The Virtual Agent will help platforms tackle traditional challenges in the iGaming sector.”

BMIT Technologies CX Virtual Agent is consultative in nature and once a company’s unique context and problems have been identified, discussed and understood, the product creates a rich data set built on conversations and dialogues with customers across all communication channels such as Webchat, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc.

The product offers continuous improvement every week, improving both the language model in terms of recognition as well as the dialog workflows whilst scaling up and down based on growing or diminishing demand. Supporting over 80 languages, the CX Virtual Agent can cross-sell, upsell, detect churn and act accordingly whilst retaining the capability to handover to humans at any point.

But perhaps the most important aspect of the product is its data and analytics capabilities which are set to provide businesses with the rich data they are constantly seeking to improve their products and their marketing initiatives.

For more info about the service please visit: https://bmit.tech/CX-Gaming

BMIT Technologies, together with EBO, will be organising a webinar to introduce this new service to the gaming community. Please visit https://bmit.tech/cx-va-webinar to register.

Finally, both companies are running a brief survey about customer support – and for every reply, they are donating 100 face masks to the Red Cross in Malta. Visit this link for survey: https://bmit.tech/cx-survey

The whole economy is going through a significant shift and one area that is constantly under scrutiny and focus is the quality of customer support offered by businesses. The need to strike a balance between providing top support and maximising returns has never been as relevant as now. Add to this the need for 24/7 support, across multiple languages, and the challenge is real. This is creating a growing need for companies to adopt technologies which optimise efficiency while protecting profit margins and managing costs.

Against this backdrop, BMIT Technologies and EBO.ai have entered into a strategic partnership that will allow BMIT Technologies to offer an effective and innovative customer support tool developed by EBO.ai to its customers, worldwide. The initial focus of this partnership will be online gaming customers, with both companies committed to further extend this collaboration over the next few years.

The primary objective of the BMIT Technologies CX Virtual Agent is to automate the very notion of customer service. In the process however, it also improves customer onboarding, KYC (know your customer) processes, responsible gaming and marketing.

In fact, whereas EBO.ai builds and operates AI technology that empowers businesses by transforming the way they connect with customers, BMIT Technologies will be channelling this technology to its customers and help them unlock the endless power of Artificial Intelligence.

“At BMIT Technologies we pride ourselves in offering the best technology solutions to our customers. Our solutions are built on a resilient infrastructure and supported by the right set-up, a highly experienced team, as well as innovative thinking that helps our customers identify opportunities to enhance their business potential. We are very proud to partner with EBO.ai. Their specialism in the world of AI, as well as commitment to excellence and innovation, is in line with our business philosophy and portfolio objectives. We’re very excited about this partnership,” said Ing. Christian Sammut, CEO of BMIT Technologies.

Dr. Gege Gatt, CEO of EBO.ai added “We are extremely excited about the partnership with BMIT Technologies which has established itself as a market-leader and a true catalyst of digital transformation. At EBO, we believe in technology innovation and most importantly, providing customers with the right AI solutions to help them scale quickly and sustainably. Our partnership with BMIT Technologies will help us offer advanced virtual agents to a much wider audience, starting from online gaming. The Virtual Agent will help platforms tackle traditional challenges in the iGaming sector.”

“Virtual Agents take the pressure off Customer Support agents and allows them to focus on the processes and business aspects which add value to the company’s value proposition. It’s about letting agents deal with the real problems thus reaching new heights in efficiency levels,” added Dr Gege Gatt.

BMIT Technologies CX Virtual Agent is consultative in nature and once a company’s unique context and problems have been identified, discussed and understood, the product creates a rich data set built on conversations and dialogues with customers across all communication channels such as Webchat, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc.

The product offers continuous improvement every week, improving both the language model in terms of recognition as well as the dialog workflows whilst scaling up and down based on growing or diminishing demand. Supporting over 80 languages, the CX Virtual Agent can cross-sell, upsell, detect churn and act accordingly whilst retaining the capability to handover to humans at any point.

But perhaps the most important aspect of the product is its data and analytics capabilities which are set to provide businesses with the rich data they are constantly seeking to improve their products and their marketing initiatives.

BMIT Technologies, together with EBO, will be organising a webinar to introduce this new service to the gaming community. Please visit https://bmit.tech/cx-va-webinar to register.

For more info about the service please visit: https://bmit.tech/CX-Gaming

In just two months, the coronavirus outbreak has changed the way thousands of companies operate in an unprecedented way. As business owners and employees move online to try to navigate this new normal, others are working hard to ensure that they can continue to operate amid this global pandemic.

BMIT Technologies delivers services to hundreds of customers from various industries including online gaming, financial services, ICT, manufacturing, media, transportation, retail and hospitality. The tech company powers businesses to achieve their desired outcomes through harnessing technology and it is involved in the provision of data centre services within the Maltese economy, including provision of bandwidth, connectivity and co-location services, and the sale of hardware to third parties.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting chaos it is creating, BMIT Technologies has adapted its strategies to ensure an unprecedented level of diligence in terms of CSR. While this has always been a priority, new and innovative ways of conducting business in a safe and reliable manner are being implemented to ensure the safety and well-being of all clients and employees.

As companies, organisations and schools continue to move to remote working as part of the national and global social distancing measures, demand for efficient cloud computing is at an all-time high. From the onset of the outbreak, BMIT took several initiatives aimed at providing essential and necessary services to ensure that their clienteles can continue to run their respective businesses smoothly during this challenging and hard-hitting time. Among these initiatives was a swift response to support their customers by implementing teleworking as quickly as possible, in order to protect their respective workforce, engineering and maintain their client’s key systems during the COVID-19 crisis. 

The tech company also chose to help and assist local organizations which provide vital support to vulnerable societies and which have seen a sharp rise in requests for basics such as food and rent. To that effect, BMIT recently also donated a substantial sum to two local NGOs: the Richmond Foundation and the Jesuit Refugee Service. Both organizations are specifically designed to support those who have found themselves on the fringes of society or who have slipped through the cracks, now more than ever. “From the start of this outbreak, we were determined to provide the best service in ensuring that all our services operated at highest levels of efficiencies. With our monetary donations, we simply wanted to offer some additional support to these two wonderful NGOs which are dealing with the fragile side of society.” said Karl Demicoli, Head of HR at BMIT Technologies.

Every year, at BMIT Technologies we celebrate World Autism Awareness Day - this year we are all teleworking, so we thought we would share our message on social media.

The Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon is the most recognisable symbol of the autism community in the world. But why a puzzle?

If you would like to know more how to interact with people on the spectrum, have a look at these top tips prepared by the National Autistic Society - UK

World Autism Awareness Day

While the COVID-19 worldwide situation is still unfolding and the number of cases is increasing daily, quarantine times are being extended for the foreseeable future until a cure or an effective vaccine is researched and widely available. It’s because of this that remote working has become a necessity for businesses to survive. Many small companies with limited resources are struggling to find a way to enable their workers to continue with their jobs.

A solution often adopted in such situations is to provide access to “Remote Desktop Services”. Remote Desktop provides facilitate network access to employees over the internet. But this solution might not be the most adequate and presents several risks that businesses need to evaluate and mitigate against.

What is Remote Desktop?

The “Remote Desktop Protocol” (known as RDP) allows remote access to a computers desktop by providing the right credentials (username and password). Remote Desktop comes built-in to most versions of Microsoft Windows, making it a perfect candidate for ease of deployment. When used within a private network, it is a very convenient tool, however, once open to the internet public access, it is not secure enough.

Thanks to the wide access to the computer it provides, RDP is used by cybercriminals to launch attacks. Recent statistics show that RDP is the most dominant attack vector, being used in up to 63% of disclosed targeted ransomware campaigns in Q1 2019

Cybercriminals know about you

Cybercriminals are aware of the valuable information that companies need to make available for their remote workers. To leverage this data, they have developed a wide array of tools to continuously look for remote access points on the internet. Such services are available online and designed to map assets on the internet and can also discover potentially vulnerable targets.

For example, though a quick use of such tools, we found out that in the recent days of COVID-19, RDP in Malta there were less than one hundred (100) open access points. After the lockdown came into effect the number has been steadily increasing to reach nearly four hundred (400) three weeks later.

These tools easily allow cybercriminals to gather a basic understanding of the currently exposed system, their vulnerabilities, other services and potentials usefulness of the data they can contain.

Not only can they access sensitive information should they hijack the login information, they can also deploy ransomware or use the exposed server as part of a wider botnet. There are also several vulnerabilities widely documented that allow targeted outdated systems to be remotely used to DDoS attacks, or just get the servers to be unavailable for remote access.

Buying and selling “Remote Desktop” credentials is also a common practice in criminal markets such as xDedic[2] as reported by kaspersky[3]. 

Securing remote work

Under the current exceptional circumstances, companies must provide the continuity to their remote workers without exposing their valuable data and risking their assets.

Fortunately, there are several options that can help prevent the exposed risks of an open RDP:

Virtual Private Network

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) creates a securely encrypted connection between internally protected servers and outside clients. This allows for a number of services to be available to remote workers without exposing the internal computers to the risk of being hacked.

Most enterprise level firewalls offer a decent level of VPN encryption and deployment options. Some of these devices will require additional licensing to provide the service or provide a limited number of unlicensed connections.

It’s important to note that VPN traffic puts a tax on the amount of traffic the firewall will be able to cope with; this is usually a physical limitation of the amount of processing power available to the device.

RDS Gateway

Windows Server includes the “Remote Desktop Gateway”. This service creates a secured HTTPS gateway that creates an internal tunneled connection to the Remote Desktop server.

Signed and validated certificates are recommended to deploy this solution, since they will provide the encryption and security.

This solution allows companies to easily leverage the spare processing power in their virtualised environments (creating a new VM to use just as a gateway), although it will require adequate windows licensing. It’s the quickest to deploy and easiest to provide access for remote users, as the only requirement for this to work is to have access to a web browser in order to provide the credentials.

Multifactor Authentication

Although not a mandatory option and not to be considered while the remote desktop is publicly available, Multifactor Authentication will substantially improve the security of any publicly available service.

Overlaid on top of the two previous solutions, it is strongly advised to provide multifactor authentication when available.

There are several standard technologies that can be used to gain MFA options like Azure Active Directory, Office or Microsoft 365 subscriptions can also integrate with your RDS Gateway or VPN solutions to allow MFA. RSA keys or Duo are also good options.

What to do next if you use Remote Desktop

The above may sound too complex or technical for many small and medium businesses.  At BMIT Technologies we can help you figure out if you have the right set-up in place, and if not, suggest ways how you can address it.

We provide several options to both allow your employees remote access to your servers and applications while keeping your business and data secured and reliable.

Reach out to us.

Work Anytime … Work Anywhere”, a term that might have been a bit of a buzz phrase and just something to aim for a few weeks ago is now today’s reality.

For decades we were acquainted with the idea of travelling from home to the office and back … At the worse possible hours of the day.  Covid-19 gave a whole new meaning to the phrase “ability to adapt”.  With the world at the mercy of a pandemic, business must somehow find way to keep on running, especially in countries where a lockdown, or partial one, is in force.  Within the span of a few weeks, or rather days, business had to somehow rush to roll-out a work-from-home practice.  For most organisations, the sudden change in the way they operate their day to day business not only impacted their operations but also the way their IT function delivers its services.

Let’s have a look at the telework, or remote work toolbox, and demystify the technology behind it.

For most businesses, IT services can be categorised in the following categories

Let’s start with communication services.

Email, instant messaging and telephony are the most common services under the communication services category. Undoubtedly, such services become even more important as a company moves to a teleworking set-up.   With smartphones becoming standard in everyone’s pockets, email communication has moved out of the boundaries of the traditional office location and is always-present, often to the regret of the smartphone owner or those around him or her!  On the other hand, instant messaging and telephony have always been deemed as secondary services, mostly because employees used to spend most of the business day at the office, where such tools resided on the the phone desk or not available at all, as in the case of IM.  Things took a different turn when the traditional office had to be locked down, and employees sent to work from home.  Such services instantly become the foundation for inter-company communication.  In addition, a service that is rarely used in an office set-up but become default in teleworking is video conferencing.

Moving on to file services, these have been an integral part of every organisation for decades.  While file servers gives employees a convenient and easy way to share files and data, these are generally very much restricted to the office network, and therefore to the need to be at the office.  Although a VPN can be used to extend such services while working remotely, this is generally not the best option, usually due to performance and overall control issues.  File servers are generally central to document share and access within every business and due to the dependency on them, and also the widespread of this service, IT departments often find it difficult to phase out the traditional file server set-ups in order to replace them with more modern options.

Finally, there is a category of tools, referred to as Line of Business (LOB) Applications. These  are programs/software that are critical to running the business.  Such applications include stock management systems, financial packages, Enterprise resource planning (ERP) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, as well as custom build applications.  These applications enable organisations to successfully operate their business.

Enabling a new way of working

Luckily the cloud era made it easier for businesses to move out of the boundaries of their office.   Products like Microsoft 365 incorporate all the components needed to replace most business communication and file services.  Exchange Online, OneDrive and SharePoint Online are among the most compelling components offering within the suite.  In addition, Microsoft Teams makes chat, meeting and collaboration available under a single platform.  With telcos now offering SIP services instead of the old ISDN,  the possibility of integrating telephony within tools such as Microsoft Teams or software-based PABXs has become a reality.  All an employee needs is Teams or PABX systems sych as 3CX installed on his laptop and mobile, and your PABX is now totally mobile.  

Digging in a bit more into the technology behind tools such as Microsoft365, a key aspect relates to the security features offered “be default”. Apart from the productivity tools such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Teams, Microsoft 365 includes numerous security features to ensure a smooth and secure transition from the traditional security methodology.  Historically, security focused entirely around the perimeter on one’s network.  Multi-factor Authentication, Mobile Device Management, Azure AD, Conditional Access, Advanced Threat Protection and Cloud App Security are only a handful of the included features and services available that help organisation stay on top on today’s cyber threats. Without going into the details of each, one can summarise the benefit as being end-to-end security from the device up the core infrastructure running the applications on the cloud.

Azure as a complementary platform to Microsoft 365

Microsoft Azure augments Microsoft 365 to give a truly cloud first experience to businesses.  For Line of Business applications, where migrating to a SaaS might be difficult, Microsoft Azure bridges the gap with thousands of available services that one can tap in on in no time. Migrating Line of Business applications to the cloud not only removes all dependencies on the traditional office but also improves employee productivity.  Such applications can be presented to employees using Microsoft Virtual Desktop, a fully-fledged Windows 10 user experience available from any browser on any device of the employee’s liking; it’s all transparent to the employee, while keeping security at the very centre of the solution. 

Post Covid-19

While most businesses are currently focusing on trying to continue operating under these hard times, history has showed us that no storm lasted forever.  This crisis will eventually unveil a new way of operating and doing business.  It is safe to say that business will acknowledge the benefits and flexibility that teleworking brings along.  Pollution is down, many claim there there is a better work/life balance, for sure there is less commuting and many organisations are experiencing higher productivity. These are a few of the benefits that we might be surprised to see following this storm. 

BMIT Technologies has launched a quick-to-deploy solution to enable your business to be able to telework.  It addresses issues such as access to core software, different security requirements, and specific business realities while preparing your business for tomorrows’ way of doing business.  Reach out to us to know more.

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The Government of Malta, through Malta Enterprise, has announced a series of initiatives to help businesses during this difficult moment for the economy. One such initiative seeks to help business adopt teleworking.

In brief: Malta Enterprise will pay a grant to every business, up to €4,000, for costs related to telework incurred between 15th February and 8th May 2020. There is a 45% capping against total cost, meaning that if you spend €2000, you will be given a grant of €900, wheras if you spent €10,000, you will be given the full €4,000.

The grant is given to help businesses set-up and operate teleworking, to ensure that employees can work in a secure and easy way.

Some costs that do NOT qualify for grant are:

BMIT Technologies has launched a quick-to-deploy solution to enable your business to be able to telework.  It addresses issues such as access to core software, different security requirements, and specific business realities.  Reach out to us to know more.

More info about the scheme is available on this Malta Enterprise minisite

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With the COVID-19 outbreak come several concerns for organisations in general, and CIOs in particular.

As many governments advise everyone to stay and home, and making appeals to companies to enable telework for their employees, CEOs and whole organisations are turning to their CIOs for solutions. Quickly. And available in the most secure manner.

Many companies did not wait for authorities to tell them what to do, as the financial situation worsens, it is clear that all businesses need to move swiftly to a remote work set-up..

Businesses need to shift technological capacity and invest in secure and scalable platforms in order to migrate their teams to work remotely.

What Should CIOs Look For in These Times?

Each organisation has different realities, but there are some best practice approaches that, from our experience, apply across.

The need for social distancing mandates telework, that’s a given. So the next step for CIOs is gather information as to which employees can work remotely, what resources they require, and what technologies and system should be made available to them. Exposing a CRM or an ERP solution remotely might be straightforward for some, whereas other CIOs need to jump complex hurdles of legacy apps being made available, once again securely. A second dimension relates to the standard office productivity tools to be made available. In our experience, Office 365 is a solution for practically all customer requirements in this regard, but it is strongly suggested to look beyond this, and factoring in issues such as mobility and security.

Device Security Also Plays a Role

The security of the IT infrastructure should obviously be solid, but this also extends to the end devices (laptops / tablets / desktops) the remote employees are using from home. Device security is not just securing against obvious risks, but also ensuring that the connectivity, data transfer and applications being used are secured and under control too..

CIOs therefore need to update the policies and train employees to work remotely if necessary.

These productivity, security and mobility requirements can be achieved through Microsoft 365 which provides access to Office 365 and tools such as Microsoft Teams, but also to a range of security and mobility tools to maintain security and control as a CIO.

In Conclusion

CIOs need to analyse the current state of the company and determine who can work remotely.

Once they have determined the people who can work remotely, they need to make available the required infrastructure and systems to enable this. They also need to find effective tools that can handle that kind of workload as well as provide solid security measurements so none of the data or systems get compromised.

If, for any reason, you think that your infrastructure, or systems, and not yet ready for telework, feel free to reach out to us. We have already helped a number of customers achieve this in a speedy manner, by providing a quick-to-deploy cloud solution that also allows for legacy migration, as well as the right set of productivity tools to close the circle in terms of requirements – so just let us know.

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