Blog

August 17th, 2015

164_SM_BThe coveted email list: it can be the difference between a growing business and one that sputters out before it gets off the ground. So what can you do to grow yours? Although it’s often less talked about, social media can be an instrumental tool to gain subscribers. Here are three tips on how you can use it to grow your email list.

Post and share your emails publicly

If you create great content for your email list and no one sees it except your subscribers, how are your non-subscribers going to know what they’re missing out on? They won’t, which is exactly why you should give your social media fans and followers a taste of the valuable content that awaits them after sign up.

Now let’s be clear. This doesn’t mean you should share every single email you send out to your list. If you did, there would be less of a need to subscribe. Instead, try sharing or posting an email once every few weeks or once a month.

Make it easy to sign up

Let’s face it. Many of us will take the easier, simpler path whenever possible. This is just as true in marketing as it is in other more primal aspects of human nature. Take eating, for example: if you’re short on time and have a choice between two restaurants for lunch, and one delivers and the other doesn’t, which one are you going to take? Likely the delivery. Even if you prefer the one that doesn’t deliver slightly better, you’d probably still take the delivery for the simple fact that they’ve made it easier for you.

In the online marketing world, the same concept works for gaining subscribers. This is why you need to make it as easy as possible for people to sign up after they’ve read your publicly shared email. To do this, simply add a sign-up link to the emails you share.

Create valuable content

You’ve probably heard the phrase “content is king”. However, whoever came up with this catchphrase left out a very important keyword. It should instead read “valuable content is king.” If you’re shelling out dozens of blog posts, emails, podcasts or videos a month but the content is useless to the reader, you’re not going to make any traction with your email list.

When trying to gain subscribers, always ask yourself, “what’s in it for them if they sign up?” If you simply have a signup box on your website or social media page, but no valuable content to go along with it, why would someone sign up? Would you sign up? The point is that there needs to be a reason for someone to subscribe to your email list. And valuable content is a very good reason.

Lastly, don’t forget to demonstrate why it’s more valuable for your future audience to subscribe rather than simply follow you on social media. To do this, give them an incentive to sign up. This could be in the form of an exclusive offer or a free ebook, course, report, or something similar.

Want more tips on leveraging social media to grow your business? Send us a message today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
August 12th, 2015

164_Virt_BData centers can be expensive, and they can suck up large amounts of energy fast. With that said, do you know how much yours is costing you every month? You may be afraid to find out the answer. Not to fear though, there are specific steps you can take to get your data center costs under control. Here are a few to get you started.

Perform an energy audit

There’s a good chance your IT staff has never once thought about how much energy your server room and data center are consuming. So, the first step to rectifying this problem is to identify just how much power is being sucked up.

To get you started, here are a few questions to ask:

  • How much of the data center’s power budget goes to support systems?
  • How much goes to IT systems?
  • How much IT output do you get for every kilowatt/hour of power sucked up by your data center IT systems?
Answering these questions will help you determine just how efficient, or inefficient, your data center actually is.

Decrease the IT workload

When you save a single watt of energy at the server level, it can result in a total saving of nearly three watts in your data center costs.

So how do you decrease the IT workload? Virtualization is a common and effective tactic. Instead of wasting money on cooling your own servers in your data center, with virtualization you can have them hosted by your IT provider and then their technology delivered to you through the Internet. This allows you to eliminate some of your servers from your office and therefore reduce cooling costs.

For alternate ways to decrease server workload, you can also:

  • Eliminate unused servers
  • Consolidate servers
  • Purchase more energy-efficient technology

Mind your humidity and temperature levels

Because many non-IT personnel are terrified of the data center and simply don’t understand it, often they falsely believe that the room must be kept as cold as the North Pole in order to protect sensitive data. This is simply not true. While it is true that excessively high temperatures, humidity or dry conditions can harm your data, most modern-day data center equipment is incredibly durable and can tolerate a much wider range of humidity and temperatures than in decades past. Because of this, it is highly likely you can get away with a lot less cooling and dehumidification than you thought possible. That said, it’s wise to consult with an IT professional before doing this to ensure you don’t damage your data.

Another innovation that can help you cool down your data center more economically is utilizing an economizer system. This technology uses cool air from the outside to provide “free” cooling cycles for your data center.

Want more tips on reducing your overall IT bill? Curious to learn more about virtualization? Call us today to learn from one of our experts.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 11th, 2015

Office_Aug11_BMicrosoft has released Office Mobile apps as part of the worldwide rollout of Windows 10. Tablet users with Windows 10 can enjoy free access to the mobile versions of Microsoft’s popular Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote applications. The mobile version of these applications is designed with a “touch-first’ interface to improve functionality for tablet users while providing all the Office features you would find on your desktop computer.

One of the biggest complaints about trying to edit a Microsoft Office file from a tablet is usability, or lack thereof. That has all changed, at least for Windows 10 users, with Microsoft’s recent release of Office Mobile apps. The tablet-friendly versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote have been built from the ground up to improve touch functionality.

Even if you don’t have Windows 10, you still might be intrigued about the potential of having Office apps that are touch-friendly. Here are some of the new features you can enjoy when using Office Mobile apps.

Word

Microsoft Word Mobile has all the tools and features of the PC version including more nuanced tasks like being able to track changes and add footnotes. The Read mode, a mobile exclusive, improves the way documents appear by making them flow better on the smaller screens of a tablet while also letting you zoom in and out with a simple tap of the screen.

Excel

Recommended Charts is the prominent feature of the Excel Mobile app. It allows you to quickly show off your data using a stylish chart or graph with only a few taps. You will also find that reordering columns, adding formulae, changing chart types and the majority of Excel’s other core functions are easier than ever before.

PowerPoint

Of course Office wouldn’t be Office without PowerPoint. The mobile version of the app allows you to edit slides with new touch gestures. This makes it easy to insert and edit pictures, tables, shapes and SmartArt. But the real star here, and of the entire Office Mobile setup, is the Presenter View. This mode gives you full control over what your audience sees on the big screen during a presentation while still letting you view your speaker notes on the tablet.

OneNote

Windows 10 comes installed with OneNote, so you’re probably already using it. Tablet users will notice that changes made by anyone working in the notebook are automatically saved and synchronized for everyone to see.

The release of Office Mobile apps is just one of three big launches to come from Microsoft in 2015. Both Microsoft Office 2016 and Office Mobile for phones are slated for release this fall. Yet, while these tablet applications represent marked improvements for Windows 10 tablet users, they are probably not quite enough to warrant the switch from other operating systems just yet. In fact, even if you’re in love with the idea of having user-friendly, mobile versions of Office, you might want to hang on in there - it’s likely Microsoft will release them for iOS and Android in the near future, too.

Want to know what hardware and software is best for your company? Want to increase productivity in your office? Get in touch with us and we’ll show you how to do it.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 10th, 2015

BusinessContinuity_Aug10_BEnsuring the implementation of effective business continuity planning (BCP) is an essential requirement for organizations today. Disasters strike at the most unexpected times and, when they do, you need to be prepared for the worst. While most organizations recognize the importance of BCP, their ability to execute a successful implementation is limited by certain challenges. With that said, we’ve listed some issues you need to be aware of, and what you can do about them.

Challenge #1: Prohibitive costs

Business continuity planning has become exponentially expensive as availability requirements increase. Many solutions require substantial investments on the installation and maintenance of additional hardware, software, and data center infrastructure. These requirements drive up the cost of business continuity, and many company owners are reluctant to invest in protective measures.

The solution Instead of relying on costly physical servers to accommodate your backups, consider using efficient and affordable cloud computing solutions. You can transfer your important business files to the cloud and eliminate the expense of having to install and manage hardware infrastructure and software licenses.

Challenge #2: High complexity

Traditional business continuity planning is complex to implement, manage and execute. From managing the recovery infrastructure to updating disaster recovery documentation and testing the BCP to find and close potential loopholes, the prospect of embarking on a BCP project can be daunting, and the whole experience can prove time consuming. Combine with the pressure of your ordinary day-to-day duties, it can seem almost impossible to focus your attention on initiating a BCP.

The solution With all this in mind, it makes more sense to hire a professional IT service provider to plan, implement, and execute your business continuity plan. This way you can leverage their experience and expertise to ensure that, in the event of a disaster, your company will be able to get back on its feet and resume business operations as quickly as possible.

Challenge #3: Lack of staff involvement

There are so many requirements to be considered in a business continuity plan. And the more employees your organization has, the more difficult it is to relay the essence of the plan for everyone to understand. Staff involvement isn’t an option - it’s an absolute necessity if you wish for a successful BCP implementation!

The solution Depending on the size of your organization, you can either hold a company meeting to announce the essentials of your BCP, or schedule a meeting with key staff members who take an active role in the planning process. To create a long-lasting BCP program, you need to get everyone on the same page by emphasizing the importance of the plan in an easy-to-understand way.

Business continuity planning is one of the most important things you need to have in place. You never know when, or in what form, a disaster will strike - all the more reason to take a preventative approach to securing your company and all you’ve worked for.

Need a reliable partner to take care of all your business continuity planning needs? Get in touch with us today - we have exactly what you need to prepare and protect your company.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 6th, 2015

MobileGeneral_Aug04_BSiri, Google Now and Cortana are just three examples of the growth in the use of artificial intelligence that has come about in recent years. They are powered by one element of artificial intelligence, known as Natural Language Processing (NLP). NLP involves a computer turning verbatim human language into useful analysis, and its role in the various devices we now use is increasing all the time. Here’s what you need to know about NLP.

There’s more to Natural Language Processing than voice recognition

Voice recognition might be among the most well-known practical uses of NLP in the technology we encounter in everyday life - but that likely has more to do with the popularity of the services that employ it, like Siri, Google Now and Cortana, than the merits of voice recognition in comparison to other NLP functions that tend to stay out of the limelight.

Truth be told, there’s a whole lot more to artificial intelligence than NLP. In fact, NLP is more effective in analyzing text data than it is sounds, which is precisely why digital assistant apps first use voice recognition to turn your commands into text data, and then use other NLP capabilities to search online for related information.

Natural Language Processing has already moved beyond its infancy

It’s tempting to believe that elements of artificial intelligence like NLP are still in the realm of the sci-fi movies, and that they are a long way from being useful to the technology we use in our everyday personal and business lives. It’s tempting, but further from reality than you might realize. That said, it’s true that to date there has been no commercial use of NLP that has truly exploited its full capabilities; even its deployment in a recently launched project to automate customer service only really scratches the surface.

What is clear is the shape that future uses of NLP will need to take. We already know that NLP alone doesn’t always judge context well, since it needs to learn about its environment first - without turning to other sources, for example, one app employing NLP would struggle to differentiate between providing traffic information and diagnosing a health complaint. The key, at least for now, is to restrict the scope in which NLP operates - by limiting its use to a travel app, for instance, NLP could learn about the various travel arrangements you make and then devise itineraries for you.

It works with more than just large-scale data

While it’s undeniable that NLP can be put to great use in analyzing vast swathes of aggregated information, for example taking masses of social media data and being able to assess the feelings of users towards the subject in question, that’s not the limit of its capabilities. Contrary to popular belief, NLP can also be used to interpret much smaller-scale data in real time. This is where its true value comes into play in terms of being able to take natural-language user input, in an app setting for example, and make decisions that add value to our mobile experience.

Whether for automated customer service or comprehensive sales applications, it’s clear that Natural Language Processing - and other aspects of artificial intelligence - hold the potential to be of value-adding benefit to the business world in the near future. It’s an area that’s very much still in development - and so even more exciting, and important to watch - but now is the time to discover how best to implement NLP technologies into your company. By getting ahead now, you can offer a customer experience that truly sets you apart from the competition. To find out how we can help you achieve just that, and at the same time maximize the value you drive from mobile technologies more generally, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 6th, 2015

AndroidTablet_Aug6_BIt’s been nearly five years since the very first Nexus was released; and now Google rolls out its latest tablet, the Nexus 9. With a much anticipated new Android OS, the Android 5.0 Lollipop, many are wondering if our first taste of it will be as sweet as it sounds, and if features in the Nexus 9 are worth the excitement. Let’s take a look at what it has to offer.

Hardware

Google has partnered with HTC to manufacture the Nexus 9. And while the tablet isn’t the slimmest available, it is incredibly light. A more streamlined and subtle look is achieved through a well-constructed body and edges that are mostly free of flaps, ports and slots. The quad-core Qualcomm silicon that powered the Nexus 7 is replaced with NVIDIA’s new 64-bit, dual core Tegra K1 chipset with 2GB of RAM, allowing for more powerful graphic performance and speed. Note that the Nexus 9 is available in 16GB and 32GB with no microSD expansion slot.

Display and Camera

The LCD screen runs at 2,048 x 1,536, which isn’t as sumptuous as the AMOLED screens offered by other brands in the market but is still portable, lightweight and powerful. There’s a noticeable change in material design with new colors, layers and motion, including lots of vivid hues and drop shadows to keep everything distinct. The 1.6 megapixel front camera is unsatisfying, but the 8-megapixel main camera around the back is crisp and well saturated. The Nexus can shoot 1080p video footage, offering great quality unless there is interference from ambient sounds, in which case you’ll be left with some messy audio.

Software

The Nexus 9 comes loaded with the new Android 5.0 Lollipop, and the new OS is the best we’ve seen from Google yet. The first plus is the bump in speed and responsiveness when swiping through multiple home screens and sifting through opened apps. Impressively, there is no hint of lag. App previews show up nearly instantaneously and run with fewer hiccups than on other similarly specced devices. Google’s Android Runtime (better known as ART) offers noticeable app performance gains. Because key pieces of code are converted into native machine code, the device can interpret these at the time the app is installed - rather than every time the app is launched - and so reduce slowdown.

When the tablet is resting, there’s no need to press the power button. A quick double-tap on the screen will rouse it from its sleep. Priority alerts can be toggled from the notification shade, allowing you to work better without being distracted by Facebook updates and messages. You can also add new users, restrict profiles, and pin certain apps into place so that guests can’t root through your personal stuff.

While the new Nexus 9 itself doesn’t come packed with overhauled features, the Android 5.0 Lollipop is the real highlight and is set to please users with enhanced performance and functionality. Looking to learn how Android tablet devices can benefit your business? Give us a call and we’ll be happy to advise.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 30th, 2015

164_Prod_ BHave you heard of Managed Services, but are still unsure of how they can help your business? Do you often hear IT providers trying to sell them with words and phrases like “productivity” and “more profits”? If you’re looking for a clearer description of just how Managed Services can increase your productivity, today is your day. Here’s the truth about how this common IT service can take your productivity levels to heights you’ve never seen.

Managed Services essentially amounts to preventative IT maintenance. What this means for your business is that little IT problems are nipped in the bud as soon as they bubble up, and before they have a chance to compound into much bigger, more costly ones. But before we delve deeper into how this increases your business’s productivity levels, it makes sense to look at the history of this service and the role of “preventative maintenance” in our culture.

Why preventative maintenance matters

Managed Services have been around for decades. But despite this, many businesses have been slow to catch on. And really, is it all that surprising? Preventative maintenance is not exactly a priority in mass culture. Whether you hire a mechanic to replace a catalytic converter, a plumber to repair a leaky pipe or doctor to correct your coronary heart disease, many of these oftentimes preventable problems have been culturally accepted as commonplace. Yet people are so used to the mindset of thinking “everything is okay until it’s not”, which is really where the true problem lies.

Additionally, when preventable problems are ignored long enough to the point they explode into emergency repairs, your wallet almost always suffers. This is just as true for a network crash to your business’s IT infrastructure as it is for a trip to the emergency room for a neglected health problem.

Because Managed Services prevent catastrophic IT repairs that surprise you out of nowhere, your bottom line will enjoy long-term savings. Along with this, you’ll also get a significant bump in your productivity levels.

How does Managed Services boost productivity?

To answer this question, it makes sense to look at a fundamental principle of productivity - focus. Imagine if you’re trying to complete a new marketing strategy for the next quarter. You’re doing some research, compiling a list upcoming networking events and trade shows to attend, when suddenly you’re disrupted by an urgent phone call. After you’re off the phone, you return to your research, and then your secretary bursts in with an handful of vendor invoices you need to sign off on. As these disruptions continue to pile up, what happens if your IT breaks down and you’re unable to use your computer? Basically, you don’t get anything done during the day. You become stuck.

When it comes to IT, Managed Services take preventative measures to ensure your IT is always running at its optimal level, so that you don’t suffer technology breakdowns or distractions that blow your focus - preventing you and your staff from getting any work done. Smooth running IT won’t resolve all your productivity problems, such as your staff focusing more on Facebook or their phone rather than their work, but it will resolve all of those that relate directly to technology. No longer will your business be held down by daily computer disruptions and associated repairs, and instead you and your staff can move forward and focus on growing your business. That is the beauty of Managed Services. More productivity, focus and growth for your entire organization.

Have more questions about Managed Services? Give us a call today. We’re happy to provide you the information you need.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
July 28th, 2015

BusinessValue_July28_BWhen it comes to increasing your employees’ efficiency and productivity, technology can provide countless opportunities to streamline workflows, eliminate redundant processes and reduce costs within your organization. If you’re looking to stay ahead of the competition, you need to ditch the traditional ways of working and implement technology to your practices to encourage more employee productivity - here’s how.

Change office communication

In order to increase efficiency, set up instant messaging software such as Skype on your employees’ workstations. This allows them to send instant messages to correspondents instead of having to get up from their desks to see whether the person is available. Of course, if you need to discuss big projects or issues, face-to-face communication is likely the best choice. But you can simply send a quick message for more trivial conversations, saving precious minutes and allowing you to get more work done.

Install video conferencing

Traveling to offsite meetings and training sessions takes time and, all too often, time spent on the road is time lost. Rather than commuting for hours outside your office, opt for a networked phone solution that offers video calls and conferencing. This way you can hold a video conference to discuss business matters from the comfort and convenience of your office. You can also take things up a notch and equip the conference room with tools to pull up documents and have them displayed on a big screen, so that everyone in the meeting can follow the conversation with ease.

Upgrade workstations

Outdated technologies and workstations limit your business’s progress, and are a hindrance to developing clued-up, efficient employees. Aging phone systems and slow networks can frustrate your team and bring productivity to a standstill. So it’s important to take the time to assess your current workstations, applications, hardware, and tools. This doesn’t mean that you have to buy a set of entirely new workstations. But you should replace obsolete equipment with more up-to-date machines. In addition, make sure all software and applications are up-to-date to ensure maximum efficiency and employee satisfaction.

Implement ERP software

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is business process management software that allows organizations to automate processes and centralize data in order for employees to collaborate more efficiently. ERP software provides employees with up-to-date business information that they can easily access and make use of. What’s more, ERP also eliminates redundant data entry and reduces the number of spreadsheets that are used to record critical business data, by storing information in a centralized database.

To get the maximum return on your technology investment, it’s also important to partner with a knowledgeable and reliable service provider. Get in touch with our tech experts today to find out how we can implement technology to help your employees become more efficient and productive.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 27th, 2015

AndroidPhone_Jul27_BAndroid phone users can expect a new OS coming soon with Google’s announcement at this year’s Google I/O, its annual software developer conference. While they did not announce which dessert it will be named after yet, the Android M as they are calling it at the moment comes with many improvements worth mentioning. To that end, let’s take a look at the new features you can expect to see in the next Android OS.

Custom Chrome Tabs

If you’re annoyed by having to switch to the Chrome browser while you’re in a particular app, you’ll be glad that those days are over. Android M delivers a better web experience with Chrome Custom Tabs that allow you to include Chrome web view within an app making it easy to multitask. The Chrome browser will run atop your app in case you click on any link within the app, and features automatic sign-in, saved passwords and autofill.

Android Pay

Android Pay is Google’s new mobile payments system designed to make the checkout process easier and faster. Set to be available at 700,000 stores across the United States, Android Pay will work at any payment terminal equipped with NFC. Using it is simple; just unlock your phone and place it in front of an NFC-compatible POS terminal.

Fingerprint Support

Google aims to standardize support for fingerprint scanners on all phones running on Android M. This new function will allow fingerprint scanners to be used to unlock phones as well as for making purchases using Android Pay.

Google Now on Tap

With Android M, Google Now will become smarter than ever before. You’ll be able to get contextual information on anything you have running on your phone’s screen. For instance, if you’re watching a video on YouTube, holding down the home button will provide you with more information about someone in that video.

Doze Mode

This feature uses your device’s motion sensors, be it your phone or tablet, to detect when a device has no activity for a period of time, and to then automatically shut down certain processes in order to help save battery life. While in the Doze state, the system can still be activated by alarms and high-priority notifications. According to Google, Doze helped increase the standby time on the Nexus 9 by almost double when compared to the Android 5.0 Lollipop.

App Permissions

Currently, you have to accept all permissions when you install an app, which could lead to a security breach. With Android M, you can decide which permissions you want to allow or revoke, based on when those particular functions are used. For example, you can give WhatsApp access to your camera but not your microphone.

App Links

With Android M, it will be easier than ever to link from one app to another without having to land on a web page in-between. How? A special verification method ensures that app-specific links go to the right place; for instance, clicking a Facebook link in an email will take you directly to the Facebook app instead of a redirected Facebook web page that you’ll likely have to sign in to.

Direct Share

This new feature lets you share content with your most frequent contacts or apps with a single click. Android M will learn which app you share content with the most and place it at the top of a list, as well as letting you also share content with the people you contact more often. Everything will be placed directly in the share sheet for your convenience.

Simplified Volume Control

This new simplified volume control will let you independently change ringtones, media or alarm volume directly from the volume rocker instead of having to go into different settings.

Auto App Backups

Accidentally deleted an app? Not to worry; auto app backups allow you to download it again and set it up like it was before. For now, Google is limiting the backup size to 25MB per app, though this space is not counted towards the free 15GB storage space offered in Google Drive.

Android M is expected to be released later this year but you can download the Developer Preview here now if you have a Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9 or Nexus Player. Interested in learning more about how an Android Phone could benefit you? Just give us a call; we’re sure we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 24th, 2015

164_iPhone_BIt’s Friday night, and you’re getting ready to go out for the evening. You’ve got your wallet, keys, and extra cash - you’re good to go. You quickly glance at your iPhone to check the time, and that’s when you notice the problem all iOS users dread. You have 20% battery! While you do have access to the power supply in your car for the next 15 minutes or so, after that you’re on your own. So what can you do to get the most out of your charge in a limited amount of time? Here are four steps below that can help.

Put your iPhone in Airplane mode

The key ingredient to supercharging your iPhone in the shortest amount of time is to switch it to Airplane mode. By doing this, you essentially shut your phone off from the outside world so it’s unable to receive calls, texts, push notifications or other information. Additionally, your iPhone will be unable to search for a wireless network or better signal while in this mode. And because it’s not wasting power with any of these processes, that electricity is instead directed to your iPhone’s battery which in turn allows it to charge faster.

Take off your iPhone case

Funny as it may sound, your iPhone case may actually be slowing down the speed of your battery charge. Apple’s consumer website notes that their products don’t do well in the heat. And when it comes to iPhone, certain cases can create excess heat - which can have an effect on your battery capacity. What does this mean for you? If you have a case on your iPhone, take it off when you’re charging it.

Use an iPad adaptor

An iPad adaptor, which is about twice the size of the small adaptor that’s included with your iPhone, reportedly charges an iPhone 40% faster than its native counterpart. Therefore, if you have an iPad charger, use it.

Turn off your display, and don’t use your iPhone

As already mentioned with Airplane mode, the more your iPhone is in use the less power it will have leftover to store in your battery. While Airplane mode prevents outside forces from sucking up power, you too can also not use your phone during this time to maximize the rate at which the battery charges. To do this, make sure you turn off your display, and then simply set your iPhone aside and leave it alone.

Want more tips to get the most out of your iPhone? Curious to learn about the latest iPhone news and updates? Get in touch now.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPhone