What Northeast Ohio Companies Should Know About GDPR Regulations

The EU's GDPR regulations go into effect this month. Here's what you need to know.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into full effect on May 25. While the law is intended to protect the data and privacy of individuals within the European Union (EU), it could also impact some companies here in Northeast Ohio that come in contact with EU citizens or businesses.

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    Why might your business take note of the GDPR?  Because it matters to organizations outside of the EU that store or process data of people who live in the EU. 

    Here are the eight, brief fundamental privacy rights dictated by the GDPR and how businesses are expected to comply.

    Right to be informed

    An overarching theme of the GDPR is that of transparency. Two things to think about: Does your business have a clearly worded and easy-to-find privacy policy? Is your business able to respond to customer inquiries in a timely manner?

    Right of access

    If a customer reaches out, companies must provide for free a digital copy of their customer information. This must be distributed within one month of the request.

    Right to rectification

    If there is an error in the customer record, companies must rectify that error in a timely manner.

    Right to be forgotten

    If a customer requests it, companies must be able to completely erase that customer’s records from their systems.

    Right to restrict processing

    Customers have the right to restrict the use of their personal data.

    Right to data portability

    Any customer who opts in to provide their personal data may request that this data be shared with another organization.

    Right to object

    Customers can take back their consent to the use of their information and can object to their data being used for a particular function.

    Rights in relation to automated decision-making and profiling

    Customers are protected from potentially harmful decisions being made about their data without their knowledge that do not involve human intervention.

    Want to know more? Click here to read the official GDPR Regulation Language issued by the EU.


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    Next up: What to Know about Cleveland's Blockchain Evolution
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  • What to Know about Cleveland's Blockchain Evolution

    Cleveland's Blockland effort is advancing. Read on below for the latest update.

    Cleveland leaders are organizing around a new initiative to transform and enhance our regional economy through blockchain.  Blockchain technologies work as a linked list of digitized information in blocks, with each block recording transactions and linked in a chronological chain like a 20th century ledger.  The local effort, referred to as BlockLand, is focused on how to reposition Cleveland on the cutting edge of technological advancement and is being led by Bernie Moreno, of the Bernie Moreno Companies.

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    Joe Roman (GCP) and Dr. Akram Boutros (MetroHealth System) co-chair BlockLand’s political environment node.  And, an event that was held last Monday at GCP headquarters was used to heighten public sector leaders’ understanding of blockchain and its potential to enhance our economy.  BlockLand’s political environment node is charged with:

    • Advocating for blockchain application adoption with city, county, and state policymakers, with the goal of modernizing government.
    • Educating policy makers on the importance of developing laws and updating current statutes that make Cleveland, and Ohio, the leader in forward thinking blockchain legislation, allowing blockchain to succeed and thrive here.

    Local business leader Bernie Moreno shed more light on the topic this past Thursday during a presentation at GCP’s 3Q Middle Market Forum.  During his standing-room-only presentation at the Huntington Convention Center, Moreno said it is imperative that Cleveland begin laying the groundwork now to be a leader in this burgeoning technology.

    “We are three to five years away from mainstream adoption,” Moreno said of blockchain technologies at GCP’s recent Middle Market Forum.  “Technology today is in every company” and “a city that is not in the tech business is a city that is not going to survive,” he added.

    That’s why Cleveland is building a blockchain technology ecosystem today.  In fact, BlockLand also announced last week, a first-of-its-kind partnership between Cleveland-based JumpStart Inc. and the Toronto-based Blockchain Research Institute (BRI).  With significant financial support from GCP and the Unify Project, JumpStart joined BRI on behalf of the entire region.  The membership allows JumpStart to provide Greater Cleveland entrepreneurs and existing businesses valued under $1 billion with access at no charge to BRI’s 80 groundbreaking research projects. These projects examine the strategic implications of blockchain technology in the financial services, manufacturing, retail, energy/resources, technology/media, healthcare and government sectors, as well as how this nascent technology changes the way companies are managed.

    Why blockchain?

    While blockchain may not be widely known by many today, it’s clear it will soon become a household term.  Blockchain has been identified as a standout opportunity for Northeast Ohio for several reasons:

    Cryptocurrency relevant: Blockchain is a data backbone in the emerging field of cryptocurrencies.

    Economic disrupter: Blockchain is a key technology disrupter in a wide variety of industries.

    Data consistency: There is no data conflict within the database.

    Immutable data: The data cannot be edited, copied or deleted.

    Decentralized form: No one party owns or governs the data.

    Blockchain availability: The data is replicable and available to all.

    BlockLand exists, in part, to establish Cleveland as a strong technology center by becoming a blockchain solutions leader, with the goal of growing employment to benefit all Cleveland communities.  And, our region has an opportunity to get in on the ground floor.

    Blockchain benefits

    The establishment of blockchain technologies in Cleveland will yield several benefits for the city and the local economy, including:

    • the establishment of an annual BlockLand Solutions Conference which will take place at the Huntington Convention Center in Cleveland from December 1-4, 2018; registration will open on Sept. 6 on the newly launched conference website;
    • attracting companies and people to the region (including via, venture, angel and private equity groups), which will make Cleveland a global thought leader;
    • bringing together local companies to create a blockchain network;
    • the creation of industry applications to develop, pilot and commercialize blockchain;
    • engaging institutions of learning in blockchain research, learning and curriculum;
    • producing a degreed, accredited, or trained workforce of blockchain coders and nurture “next generation” workforce pathways from within Cleveland’s disadvantaged communities;
    • exploring opportunities and partnerships with foreign cities to establish branches;
    • convening the legal community to create an incubator that would educate and provide cutting edge blockchain research;
    • starting a philanthropic fund to advance blockchain solutions;
    • laying the groundwork for an operational think tank, including an industrial advisory board; and
    • creating a physical location/tech hub for Blockland.

    GCP will continue to provide updates to our members on the BlockLand transformation as the process moves forward.

    Want to learn even more?  Click here to watch an interview with Brian Ray, professor of law and director of the Center for Cybersecurity and Privacy Protection at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.


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    Next up: Wherefore art thou NEOSA?
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  • Wherefore art thou NEOSA?

    We’re pleased to associate it with our own name and this news: we’ve changed our name to OHTech!

    What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet! – William Shakespeare

    That quote can be interpreted a couple of ways: that names don’t matter or that the essence of the object is what’s important. Similar interpretations to be sure.

    But we like the quote and we’re pleased to associate it with our own name and this news: we’ve changed our name to OHTech!

    The details behind the change are probably tedious, but suffice it to say that it was a long, detailed process begun last year and culminating in December.

    We’ve been working on a lot of changes here, at the former NEOSA, changes that include new talent services, business development, statewide connections and more. So as part of that whole process, it made a lot of sense to re-evaluate the brand image and make changes as necessary. Hence: OHTech.

    We issued a press release last week on the change and our friends at Crain's were kind enough to note the story today, online and in print.

    We also announced the new name at our Tech Thursday event on January 29, and as our board chair, Gabe Torok shared in toasting the change: “NEOSA has served us well for the past 16 years, onward OHTech!”

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    Next up: Why Good Design Is Good Business
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  • Why Good Design Is Good Business

    It takes less than a second for someone to form an opinion of you based on what they see. This means your website, marketing campaigns and marketing collateral are a huge determinant in whether you land the account, customer or investor you’ve been vying for. I am fortunate to carry the title of Creative Marketing Manager, a.k.a Graphic Designer at Outreach Promotional Solutions so I spend a lot of time educating my clients on the importance of good design. While a design investment for your business might not signal a clear ROI, it is crucial for gaining traction with almost any campaign.

    It takes less than a second for someone to form an opinion of you based on what they see. This means your website, marketing campaigns and marketing collateral are a huge determinant in whether you land the account, customer or investor you’ve been vying for.

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    I am fortunate to carry the title of Creative Marketing Manager, a.k.a Graphic Designer at Outreach Promotional Solutions so I spend a lot of time educating my clients on the importance of good design. While a design investment for your business might not signal a clear ROI, it is crucial for gaining traction with almost any campaign. 

    I get it. As a business owner or marketing leader, you have hundreds of concerns to deal with on a day-to-day basis. It’s tempting to ignore the need for clean, aesthetically pleasing designs; however, recognizing the value can be an integral step in establishing and growing your brand. Learn more from us in these four points about good design below. 

    Good Design Tells Your Brand’s Story

    Your brand should tell the story of your business, i.e., who you are and why you are passionate about what you do. This goes beyond a logo and a website. Tell your clients why they should purchase a product or service from you. Each individual has a story that makes them unique, just as each business has a story that speaks to their integrity, passion and credibility. Your story should make someone have an emotional reaction and can create an experience. Let your design do the talking. Words can only say so much.

    Good Design Promotes Team Unity

    Establishing your brand with your customers cannot happen until your employees become brand ambassadors. Your creative space, website and stationery should all serve as a reminder to your employees of what you do and why you are doing it. These are the people who are communicating your values and story to your customers through phone calls, emails and meetings. Get your team on board with a firm understanding of who you are through good design, and the rest will begin to fall into place.

    Good Design Gives you Street Cred

    Okay, so maybe it doesn’t give you street cred, but it does establish a sense of credibility among your customers. Consider how many times you’ve looked at bad design and instantly decided the company didn’t quite have it all together. Your goal should be to look professional and effortless. Your customers and clients want to feel like they can tell you exactly what they want and you will have the know-how to tackle it correctly the first time, ultimately saving them time and money.

    Good Design is Memorable

    Good design strategically uses colors, typefaces, imagery and mood across all communication platforms to reiterate a message. The more they hear from you, the more your prospects and customers will remember you and think to recommend your product or service to others. Consistency will ensure a clear message is shared every time, without fail.

    Clean, attractive design shouldn’t be placed on the back burner when it comes to your business. Former CEO of IBM, Thomas Watson Jr. is known (among other successes) for his statement, “good design is good business.” We couldn’t agree more, Mr. Watson.

    Sean Miller is Creative Marketing Manager at Outreach Promotional Solutions

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    Next up: Win the Security War
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  • Win the Security War

    Data security is a big buzzword today. How secure is your network? Get the knowledge you need to keep the bad guys at bay.

    Data security is a big buzzword today. How secure is your network? Get the knowledge you need to keep the bad guys at bay.


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    Next up: Windows 10 from Microsoft is Here
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  • Windows 10 from Microsoft is Here

    Windows 10 from Microsoft is here.  It’s getting a fair amount of positive buzz (add or subtract the obligatory Microsoft love/hate, of course). Oddly enough much of the buzz has been generated by the nature of the upgrade as much as the OS itself.  And that information has led to as much confusion as the product itself.

    Windows 10 from Microsoft is here.  It’s getting a fair amount of positive buzz (add or subtract the obligatory Microsoft love/hate, of course).

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    Oddly enough much of the buzz has been generated by the nature of the upgrade as much as the OS itself.  And that information has led to as much confusion as the product itself.

    First of all, a disclaimer.  We’re a Microsoft Silver Partner.  I have enough Microsoft Credential initials after my name to choke a horse.  We first started using Windows 10 back in October ’14 when it was first available as a Beta (whoops, “Preview”) edition.

    And it’s pretty good.  Gone (unless you want it) was the touch-biased menu structure, with a great compromise menu that combines both touch and mouse strengths and sensibilities.

    Add Cortana, better integration with Office 365 and speed improvements, it looks even better.  The new “Edge” browser?  So far…meh.  Some sites are great, others not so much (so I keep using IE on some sites, Chrome on others, and Edge on yet others).  Some of the security improvements (like ones that will enable cute kids to log on for the rest of their lives) are forthcoming.

    But there are a lot of sites that will talk about that.  I want to talk about…upgrading.

    Yup, the free upgrade.  That you should absolutely take advantage of.

    Unless you shouldn’t.

    If you can.

    Microsoft announced that a free upgrade for users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.  The offer is free until July 29th, 2016.

    Is it free for everybody?  Ahhhh….no:

    • If you have Windows 7, you need to be updated to Service Pack 1.  If you patch your computer, you should be ok.
    • If you have Windows 8, you need to be updated to Windows 8.1. If you patch your computer, you should be ok.
    • Your version of Windows needs to be a registered copy.  Got a pirated copy of Windows?  Microsoft isn’t going to upgrade you for free.
    • Windows 7 and 8 Enterprise are NOT eligible for the free upgrade.  This one is interesting.  When companies purchase a license agreement with Microsoft, they have the ability to include free upgrading (aka “Software Assurance,” or “SA”) as part of the agreement.  If they did include SA and it’s still active, then the company can upgrade to Windows 10 without cost.  If they didn’t purchase SA or the SA has expired, then they’re out of luck.
    • Windows RT is not eligible for the free upgrade.  Windows RT is for all purposes “Windows Lite,” and not really Windows.  It’s kinda like the “Star Wars Holiday Special”.  Yeah, Chewbacca was in it.  But it’s not really Star Wars.

    Bottom line, the free upgrade is aimed at consumers who got Windows 7 or 8 when they bought their computer.  For companies that purchased their desktops and laptops that way (also called Original Equipment Manufacturer, or OEM), you’ll be ok if you control upgrades through your network (through services such as WSUS).

    So…should you upgrade?  Want to see a video presentation on the topic?  Click here.

    Honestly, the answer (as always) is…it depends.  By and large I’ve heard mostly good stories about people doing the upgrade (we’ll get to how in a minute).  Absolutely there are exceptions.  For the most part it’s about the drivers (isn’t it always?).  Drivers are small programs that help Windows use the components (such as the monitor or network card).  Usually (not always) they are fairly easy to fix.

    My rule of thumb for upgrading a computer is “the older it is, the closer it is to the grave.”  That’s especially true for applications on the computer.  If you’ve got an application that was originally created for Windows 2000, the odds are pretty good that it won’t work on Windows 10.

    Some folks think that’s horrible, and make claims of built-in obsolescence, lazy coding, or just plain meanness on the part of Microsoft.

    But it actually makes sense.  Back in 2000, computers were big boxes with (compared to today) tiny brains, not much ram, and very slow disk drives.  And security?  That meant that you only told your best friends about the password on the post-it note under the keyboard.

    So I have this perfectly landing wheel that came from a Sopwith Camel flown back in 1917 or so.  For some reason it won’t fit onto my (relatively) new F-15 Eagle fighter jet.

    No wonder.

    So do you have old applications?  Printing to an old printer?  Have an old brain (like me) that doesn’t really want to learn anything new?

    Then maybe Windows 10 isn’t for you.

    Actually, by most measures Windows 10 should be faster than its predecessors.  Well, kinda.  It’s faster on a lot of things if you don’t have the minimum hardware requirements.

    Also, keep in mind that Microsoft is changing the way that they’re going to patch systems.

    Gone are the days when users could ignore patches.  Microsoft is pretty much going to apply patches to your system automatically.  You can choose to get them immediately or draw it out for a time, but ultimately you’re going to get them.

    Why is this?  The first is to help you.  Patches are actually there for a reason.  They either fix something that was broken, close a security hole, or add a new feature.

    (Unless, of course, the patch actually breaks something or creates a security hole that a hacker might see as a “new feature.”  But what are the odds of that<g>?)

    Actually patches on desktops that actually break things seriously are fairly rare.  There were a couple that Microsoft released within the past year that did conditionally cause problems with certain installations of Office and One Drive.  But otherwise it’s actually been fairly stable.

    Here’s the other issue.  Think about Microsoft (poor old Microsoft).  Think about the people who develop programs that run on Microsoft (poor old people who…you get the idea).  And finally, think of us, the people who support the people who use the computer (people like you!) that lived in the house that Jack built.

    Not only could we be dealing with a computer that was manufactured with a zillion different components from a zillion different manufacturers, but we have (for now) 3 different supported operating systems (7, 8.1, 10).  Each of them have a full history of patches, and computers today can have some, all or none of the patches installed.

    And yet we’re all expected to support all of these workstations and keep them running.

    What if for each operating system we knew that they were relatively up to date in terms of patching?  Supporting and maintaining the system would become much easier.  And security would be much tighter.

    A nice concept.



    To hear more from Bob, attend his workshop at the Small Business Convention, "Business Software Trends - What Tools will Help my Business Grow?" on October 22 at 10:30 a.m.

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