Blog

May 27th, 2016

2016May27_iPad_BYou may still be on the fence about whether or not to purchase an iPad Pro for your business. While you can find a lot of coverage on Apple’s latest tablet online, you may wonder what actual users think. Today, you’ll discover just that. CIO, a website that delivers the latest news and tips for IT professionals, recently surveyed 11 iPad Pro users to get their feedback. Here’s their thoughts on the good and bad.

The good

  • Great for short, focused bursts of work - The iPad Pro is lightweight, turns on quickly and features some exceptional iOS multitasking features. These qualities make it a perfect alternative to a laptop for short, focused bursts of work. One user surveyed noted that taking out his laptop for thirty minutes or less of work is tiresome and is also unfeasible at times. The iPad Pro solves this problem, allowing him to even get work done in taxis.
  • Speed - When compared to iPad Air 2, the iPad Pro has made huge improvements when it comes to speed. The iPad Air 2 is slow when opening a large file or program and when switching between apps. However, the iPad Pro performs these same tasks lightning fast thanks to Apple’s A9X 64-bit processor and 4GB of RAM.
  • Split View enhances productivity - Let’s face it, we all multi-task to some extent, and Split View has really made it easier than ever. If you’re in a meeting and need to toggle between your email and a note application or web page, Split View eliminates the now unnecessary step of hitting the home button first and then opening the other app. All you have to do is slide your finger across the display to bring up different apps you may want to use.
  • Works wonders for note taking - With the iPad Pro, taking notes is now like the good ol’ days when you sat in class and scratched down on a pad what the teacher said. While back then that pad was made of paper, today’s pad is digital. How is this possible? It’s all because of the Pencil stylus, which acts like a real pencil. Essentially, this turns your iPad Pro into a virtual notepad with the ability to keep all your notes in digital format in one easy and convenient place. What’s more, your notes are automatically accessible from all your devices.

The bad

  • Subpar keyboard - According to one user, there is still much to be desired from Apple’s smart keyboard. It lacks buttons such as the home key and keys to adjust brightness and volume. Also it doesn’t have backlit keys, which can make it difficult to type if you’re in a dark place.
  • Browser too often displays mobile website - The tablet tends to use mobile websites when browsing the web (which could be because the iPad Pro uses iOS 9 instead of a full blown desktop operating system). Obviously, this can be annoying as mobile websites are generally not as functional as the desktop version. With that said, iPad Pro can handle the desktop version perfectly fine, you just have to manually switch over to the desktop version on many occasions.
  • Limited storage - While the Microsoft Surface Pro allows users to add storage via micro SD memory cards, the iPad Pro has no option to increase storage. Of course, you can alternatively store overflow files and data on the cloud; however, keeping sensitive data there is not ideal for many business owners.
  • Fragile screen - The iPad Pro’s retina display is capable of producing beautiful images, but the screen is also incredibly fragile. One user noted that even if you drop it from less than a foot off the ground, you are still likely to break the screen, which is not an inexpensive fix.
We hope this feedback provided by early iPad Pro adapters can help you make an informed decision as to whether or not Apple’s latest tablet is suitable for your business. If you’d like to learn more about Apple products or need to service some of your own, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic apple
May 26th, 2016

2016May26_Office365_BNot every business owner who migrates to the cloud achieves great results. As much as the service is touted with words like “freedom”, “productivity” and “collaboration”, realizing the full benefits of these words is not a given. So if you’re thinking about transitioning to the cloud, how can you ensure you optimize the technology for your business? Well, it all starts with your attitude before migration. Here are some mental-shifts you should make before getting started.

Consider cloud value over costs

When considering the cloud, too many business owners get hung up on costs. Instead, it makes more sense to think about how the cloud impacts their business and saves them money. The old saying, “you have to spend money to make money” is ever so true here. And as a business owner, the cloud is no different than any other investment you took to grow your organization. That’s why you should remember the cloud provides you value, such as the ability to work anytime, anywhere, and easier collaboration.

And of course, you shouldn’t just think of how the cloud benefits yourself, but also your IT managers and staff. In fact, before migrating to the cloud, why not go ahead and ask your IT leaders just how the cloud will benefit your business? They’ll likely mention how it can boost the productivity levels of all your employees, while making everyone’s job easier.

Think “strategy” before migration

Once you’ve considered the value the cloud provides, you’ll likely have some ideas of what goals you’ll want it to accomplish at your business. If you haven’t, now is the time to do so - before signing up for the service. Let’s say for example, you want to gain the productivity benefits of your staff being able to work from anywhere at anytime. How can you do this? When you roll out the cloud in your company, have the specific goal of increasing mobile use or adoption among employees. Talk with your IT leaders to devise a plan they can implement.

When it comes to your other cloud goals, clearly define them beforehand and then talk with your IT staff to come up with the nuts and bolts plan to accomplish that goal. By doing this, you’ll achieve much better results with your cloud service.

Learn to love the quickly evolving nature of the cloud

As the cloud is still a new technology, it is rapidly changing. New updates, features and enhancements are rolled out regularly, and if you want to get the most out of your cloud it’s best to keep up. Of course, this is a scary idea for many business owners and IT managers alike as the old way of doing things is rolling out new features and apps over long periods of time.

Some cloud services make it easier than ever to keep up with changes. Let’s take Office 365 for example. Adding users and implementing new changes can take mere minutes. Yes, it may be scary to do so, but remember, Microsoft and your IT managers are in your corner - they are there to support you. Of course, you may still have some bad memories from updating your legacy technology. Let us assure you, updates to Office 365 are nothing like this and require a small learning curve. Most new features are intuitive by nature, making adjustment to these changes painless and problem-free.

One of the best ways to assure your cloud updates go as smoothly as possible is to have an IT leader who’s enthusiastic about the technology be responsible for managing it. A cloud enthusiast is much more likely to be up-to-date on the newest features and enhancements and can quickly share with you whether or not an update will benefit your business.

When it comes to cloud migration for your business, it’s pretty much an all or nothing decision (unless of course you go with virtualization, which is a different topic altogether). The cloud will become an integral part of your business, and you and all of your staff will interact with it on a daily basis. So be prepared for a big transition and a big payoff of higher productivity and connectivity for you and your staff.

Are you ready to embrace the cloud with a solution like Office 365? Give us a call, and talk with us about a cloud migration today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic office
May 25th, 2016

2016May25_Virtualization_BWhether you only need a dozen, or a hundred, the process of deciding on and acquiring software licenses can be very frustrating. Many of us had hoped that cloud computing and virtualization would alleviate some of these headaches. Unfortunately, we’re not there yet, which is why it’s important to understand all of your licensing options when deciding on a virtualized environment -- let’s take a look.

Why are licenses an issue?

Virtualization is a complex topic, so let’s have a quick review. Most people are starting to work the concept of cloud storage into their everyday lives. Think of virtualization as a cloud where your server(s) store their hardware capabilities and your network computers can pull from that cloud as needed.

In this scenario, let’s assume employee A and employee B have two identical desktop computers with barebones hardware. Employee A needs to perform some basic text editing while employee B needs an in-depth scan of your client database. With the right infrastructure management, both employees will connect to your business’ server for the necessary physical processing power and server-hosted software. That means employee A will request the appropriate amount of processing power to edit text (which is likely very little) from the server, while employee B requests a much larger chunk of RAM, processing and harddrive space for scanning the database.

Understand so far? Because it gets really tricky when we start asking how many licenses are required for the server-hosted software. Licensing models were originally based on the number of physical hard drives with installed copies. However, in a virtualized environment that’s not an accurate reflection of usage. Using the most recent platforms, administrators can divide up their CPU into as many virtual machines as the SMB requires.

What do current virtualized licensing models look like?

Sadly, the virtualization and software industries are still deciding what’s the best way to move forward. The very vendors that sell the software required to manage the creation of virtual machines and segmentation of your server disagree about which model to use.

The company behind the popular VMware software has switched to a per-virtual-machine model after a huge response from customers, while other powerhouse vendors like Oracle and Microsoft have stuck with the per-CPU-core model that is based on server hardware capacity.

In any software selection process there is almost always the option of open source software. Under the open source model there are no licenses and usage is free, and just last month, AT&T committed to virtualizing 75 percent of its office under the OpenStack cloud computing platform by 2020.

What should I do?

In the end, software license considerations and total cost of ownership calculations should be a huge factor in how you plan to virtualize your SMB. When discussing the possibility of an infrastructure migration with your IT services provider, make sure to ask about the advantages and disadvantages of different virtualization platforms compared with their licensing models. You may find that paying more for hardware-based models is worth it, or that open source platforms provide you with everything you need.

No matter which platform you choose, remember to list every piece of licensed software in your office. Find out which licenses you can keep, which ones you’ll need to update and most importantly what the license migration will cost you in the short and long run.

This might seem like too much to handle at first. The process of virtualizing your SMB alone is enough to have you reaching for the aspirin. By contacting us you can avoid the headache entirely; we’ll walk you through all of the steps necessary to guide your organization through this next step in modernizing your business model.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 23rd, 2016

2016May23_VoIP_BNot that long ago, VoIP services were a new and revolutionary concept. Nowadays, internet-based voice communication is commonplace among SMBs, which means it’s time to turn our attention toward improving their security. Without a thorough understanding of what is needed to protect your VoIP systems, you could be vulnerable to cyberattacks. Let’s take a closer look at 5 important tips for protecting your web-based communication devices and services.

Types of threats

The majority of VoIP services involve live communications, which often seem far more innocuous than stored data. Unfortunately, your business has just as much valuable information moving across VoIP networks as it does hosted on company servers. Internet-based calls are far more vulnerable to fraud compared to more traditional telephony services and face threats from identity theft, eavesdropping, intentional disruption of service and even financial loss.

24/7 monitoring

A recent study by Nettitude reported that 88 percent of VoIP security breaches take place outside of normal operating hours. This could be attackers trying to make phone calls using your account or gain access to call records that contain confidential information. This can be avoided by contracting outsourced IT vendors to monitor network traffic for any abnormalities or spikes in suspicious activity.

VoIP firewalls

Every VoIP vendor should provide a firewall specially designed for IP-based telephony. These protocols will curb the types of traffic that are allowed, ensure the connection is properly terminated at the end of a session and identify suspicious calling patterns. Consult with your VoIP or IT services provider about which of these features are available and currently in use at your organization.

Encryption tools

One of the reasons that eavesdropping is so common is because a lack of encryption. Inexperienced attackers can easily download and deploy tools to intercept and listen to your calls. Although some services claim built-in encryption, be sure to investigate how effective they really are. Many of these protocols require the same VoIP client on the receiving end of the call -- something that’s much harder to control. Encryption should be compatible with as many other software clients as possible to effectively prevent anyone from undermining the privacy of your calls.

Virtual private network

Virtual private networks (VPNs) create a secure connection between two points as if they were both occupying the same, closed network. It’s like building a tunnel between you and the call receiver. In addition to adding another layer of encryption, establishing a VPN can also overcome complications involving Session Initiation Protocol trunking, a recommended VoIP feature.

Password protection

Usually password protection refers to requiring password authentication to access sensitive information. However, in this case it actually means protecting the passwords themselves. Eavesdropping is one of the easiest, and most common, cyber attacks against VoIP networks and even with all of the protocols above, employees should be instructed to never give out any compromising information during a VoIP call.

VoIP is as important as any of your other network security considerations. It requires a unique combination of protection measures, and we’d love to give you advice on implementing any of these protections or managing your VoIP services. Give us a call today to get started.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
May 20th, 2016

2016May20_BusinessContinuity_BLike all things man-made and otherwise, business continuity plans are not perfect. They too have pitfalls that can result in your business's failure if not accounted for immediately. Don’t blame it all on the IT guy, as often times the way a system is designed can also have loopholes. Here are a few of the reasons why business continuity plans fail.

Over-optimistic testing

The initial testing attempt is usually the most important as it’s when IT service providers can pinpoint possible weak points in the recovery plan. However, what usually happens is a full transfer of system and accompanying operations to the backup site. This makes it difficult to look at specific points of backup with too many factors flowing in all at the same time.

Insufficient remote user licenses

A remote user license is given by service providers to businesses so that when a disaster strikes, employees can log in to a remote desktop software. However, the number of licenses a provider has may be limited. In some cases, more employees will need to have access to the remote desktop software than a provider’s license can allow.

Lost digital IDs

When a disaster strikes, employees will usually need their digital IDs so they can log in to the provider’s remote system while their own system at the office is being restored. However, digital IDs are tied to an employee’s desktop and when a desktop is being backed up, they are not automatically saved. So when an employee goes back to using their ‘ready and restored’ desktop, they are unable to access the system with their previous digital ID.

Absence of communications strategy

IT service providers will use email to notify and communicate with business owners and their employees when a disaster happens. However, this form of communication may not always be reliable in certain cases such as the Internet being cut off or with spam intrusions. There are third-party notification systems available, but they are quite expensive and some providers sell them as a pricey add-on service.

Backups that require labored validation

After a system has been restored, IT technicians and business owners need to check whether the restoration is thorough and complete. This validation becomes a waste of time and effort when the log reports come in a manner that is not easy to compare. This usually happens when IT service providers utilize backup applications that do not come with their own log modules, and have to be acquired separately.

These are just some of the many reasons why business continuity plans fail. It is important for business owners to be involved with any process that pertains to their IT infrastructure. Just because you believe something works doesn’t necessarily mean that it works correctly or effectively. If you have questions regarding your business continuity plan, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
May 19th, 2016

2016May19_AndroidTablet_BSorry M&M fans, but the codename Android M doesn’t stand for your favorite chocolate after all. Android 6.0, or Android Marshmallow, as it’s officially called, was more than just enhancing user experience with Android Lollipop. Although it looks a bit similar to Lollipop by retaining the Material design theme, the new features that come with it are apparently smarter and well, sweeter. We have rounded up a list of new features that you can expect when your tablet finally updates to Android 6.0.

Now on Tap

Google’s digital personal assistant is being made more efficient in giving you quick answers and in figuring out what you may want to do next. Now On Tap can be activated by pressing on your tab’s home button, which works for both onscreen and the physical button. A short animation or a card will appear that will give you quick information based on the context of what is currently on your screen. For example, you are chatting with a client regarding a new restaurant, Now on Tap can give you directions to the restaurant, its contact information or Yelp review. This deep-linking technology also includes shortcuts to apps on your tablet and is also applicable to voice searches. It’s designed in a way that it appears when you need it and disappears so you can resume what you were previously doing.

Android Pay

With the increasing popularity of mobile payment, Google is trying again after the dismal performance of the Google Wallet. The latter is being changed for peer-to-peer payments only, while Google Pay allows you to pay for both in-store and in-app purchases. Google’s newest mobile payment system lets you purchase goods from 700,000 participating stores by using your tab’s NFC technology. Also, checking out in mobile shopping apps is a walk in the park using Android Pay.

Doze

Don’t you just hate it when after a few hours of taking the tablet off the charger, you’re left with just 2% battery life? With the Doze mode in Android 6.0, it promises to make your tablet last even longer. This new power-saving feature even uses a lot less power than the current Standby mode. In Doze mode, your tablet hibernates when you put it down for a lengthy period. That means your tab will not be disturbed by power hogging apps, but will still be receiving incoming messages, phone calls and important alarms.

Redesigned App Drawer

Marshmallow comes with a new design for the app drawer - that part in your tablet where all your installed apps are located. A search bar at the top makes it even easier to find an app. Google also remembers your app-opening frequency or periods and can make suggestions on what apps you might want to use. Instead of scrolling left and right, the app drawer now scrolls up or down which is reminiscent of older Android versions.

Android for Work

This may not be a very appealing addition to many but for those who bring their tablet as a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) device at work, this is definitely sexy. Android Marshmallow improves the way it handles security, notifications, VPNs, access and storage. So much so that one device can be used for both home and work purposes.

Fingerprint API

This update may not be all that apparent, but now your Android tab comes with support for a fingerprint reader. This allows you to unlock your tab and its apps, and also to easily verify payments.

App Permissions

Now you can have greater control over the security and privacy of your tablet by approving permission requests on a need-to-use basis. Previously, these apps required carte blanche permission to look at parts of your tablet you actually didn’t want them to. With Android Marshmallow, WhatsApp may not ask for permission to access your photos until you try to take and send one.

However, keep in mind that some apps may not function optimally if you restrict it to resources that it actually needs. Not sure how to proceed when it comes to app permissions? Having problems in updating your tablet’s software? Or are you finding it difficult to integrate your BYOD device with technology at work? Get in touch with one of our experts to assist with any of your technology issues.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic android
May 17th, 2016

2016May17_Security_BUnfortunately, we’re confronted with new web security threats every day, and today is no different. Experts have exposed a flaw in ImageMagick, one of the internet’s most commonly used image processors, that could put your site in harm’s way. By learning more about this vulnerability you’ll take the first step toward better protecting your content.

What is ImageMagick?

ImageMagick is a tool that allows sites to easily crop, resize, and store images uploaded by third parties. Vendors continue to improve user interfaces and experiences by consolidating functions into all-in-one packages, which means administrators are becoming increasingly unaware of what specific services they are actually utilizing. ImageMagick is deeply integrated into countless web services and many webmasters may not even be aware they are using this unsafe software.

How can an image make my site vulnerable?

Recently, it was discovered that images can be uploaded that force ImageMagick into executing commands and permitting attackers to remotely insert harmful code into vulnerable sites. Images are actually made up of complex code that is translated into photos, icons, etc. Different file extensions use what are called “Magic Numbers” to define their file types. Manipulating these numbers allows attackers to exploit a flaw in ImageMagick. The service scans the uploaded file, and attempts to decode the source information whenever it detects the file is not what it claims to be. Scanning that code and attempting to rectify the file misappropriation can then trigger whatever was hidden inside the image and result in remote command of your site.

How should I protect my site?

ImageMagick has admitted knowledge of the security flaw and promised to release a patch very soon. Until then, experts advise implementing multiple workarounds to keep your systems safe. However, if you're not well acquainted with your web server and its code, then it's wise to consult an expert instead of attempting these changes on your own.

For those who are familiar, follow these steps. The first is to temporarily incorporate lines of code that preemptively block attackers from exploiting these holes. Those lines of code, and where to insert them, can be found here.

The next step is double checking that any image files utilizing the ImageMagick service aren’t hiding any harmful information. This can be accomplished by opening an image file with a text editor, and checking for a specific set of letters and numbers at the beginning of the text that define what type it is. The list of these “Magic Numbers” can be found here, and will reveal if an image is hiding its true purpose.

Ideally, administrators will halt all image processing via ImageMagick until a patch is released from the developers.

Data security is one of the most crucial aspects of any SMB, however, keeping up with the constant flow of security exploits and patches can be overwhelming for administrators of any ability level. Why not contact us to learn more about keeping your network secure and protected from exploits like this one?

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
May 16th, 2016

2016May16_MicrosoftWindowsNewsAndTips_BSMBs see a lot of benefits to utilizing browser-based software, but generally avoid implementation for privacy and security concerns. Microsoft has finally addressed these issues by allowing businesses to host Microsoft Office locally. Popular pieces of software that usually take up a lot of space can now be securely accessed through a private cloud. Read on to learn more about this service and its viability in your office.

Released in 2013, Office Web Apps offered access to powerhouse software packages like Word, Excel and PowerPoint without cumbersome installation procedures and storage requirements. Earlier this month however, Microsoft updated and renamed Office Web Apps to Office Online Server (OOS), and allowed delivery of these services via local SharePoint servers.

The update to OOS will include a number of collaborative features, like allowing multiple users to view and edit documents simultaneously. This will allow everyone’s changes to be visible the moment they make them -- thereby eliminating the necessity for drawn-out workflows. In addition to editing, OOS can also be used to easily facilitate meetings and presentations by utilizing real-time co-authoring in programs like PowerPoint, OneNote and Word.

The announcement elaborated that, “By integrating OOS with Exchange Server, you can view and edit Office file attachments in Outlook on the web and send back a reply without ever leaving your browser.”

But most importantly, we understand that many small and medium-sized business owners still have security concerns about the public cloud -- no matter what assurances they get from software providers. Many SMBs didn’t feel safe sending their company documents outside of their network and Microsoft’s OOS update aims at addressing those concerns by allowing OOS to be hosted locally. Contact us about how to move your Microsoft Office suite to the cloud without compromising your privacy.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic windows
May 13th, 2016

2016May13_SocialMedia_BIt can be discouraging for any business to post a thoughtful tweet in the morning just to see that it barely has any retweets by the end of the day. Even after hours of compiling the best 140 characters your company can think of, are you still not getting any hits? There are many tricks to maximizing your tweet’s exposure and if your company’s Twitter account is hungry for retweets, consider using a few of these tactics to increase your chances.

Schedule your tweets

There is absolutely no point in tweeting out any content if your audience isn’t even awake for it. That’s why it’s important for you to tweet at the right time to get the most retweets. Usually people won’t be retweeting in the morning and are more likely to retweet around 2pm to 6pm EST. However, if your followers live in different time zones and countries, the time you should be tweeting may vary. Twitter tools like Tweriod track down the geographical distribution of your audience and pinpoints the optimal time you should be tweeting to get the most retweets.

Use links

The next time you tweet out something, try embedding a link in your post. Whether it’s news, sports or celebrity updates, people will put some effort in keeping up-to-date with their interests. Studies have also shown that links to instructional posts get the most amount of retweets as well. The problem is, 140 characters is not enough content for your followers. So by satisfying your audience’s curiosity, you motivate them to pay you back by sharing your tweet out to their friends.

Ask for retweets

This is perhaps the most obvious tactic to get some retweets. Using call to action phrases such as “please retweet” significantly increases your chances of a retweet. Of course, you probably aren’t the only one asking for retweets. Adding something to sweeten deal, like a prize for one lucky person who retweets you, gives people incentive to do so.

Use visuals

Intriguing images can inspire retweets. Images are a great way to convey a lot of information in a short amount of time, and social media users love that. Some have found that, using colorful images and infographics in their tweets significantly increased their engagement rates and found that more followers were retweeting their content. It’s probably because there’s just more content to engage with other than a witty 140 character thought.

Use retweetable words

Research has shown that some words are more retweetable than others. Words like you, twitter, please, retweet, post, blog, social, free, media, help are the top 10 most retweetable words. However common-use words in any conversation such as “lol, haha, work, sleep or watching” are less likely to get retweeted. Unless you’re someone incredibly famous, it’s best to avoid using conversation filler words and stick to the buzz words that encourage people to share your tweets out to everyone they know.

Use quotes

Quotes express a lot in one simple line, making it perfect for any Twitter posts. Depending on your audience, a thoughtful quote can really move their fingers to click that retweet button. The next time you’re running out of ideas for tweets, dig up some good quotes relevant to your topic to get those retweets going. However, don’t continuously plug in quotes into your tweets. The trick is to do it occasionally, so you don’t risk people tuning out of your tweets.

#Hashtag

You’ll notice that the more popular tweets tend to have at least one hashtag. Using hashtags on keywords helps categorize your tweets with similar ones, giving your posts a bit more reach and, hopefully, more retweets. Just make sure you don’t overdo it as #thiscanbequiteannoying.

We get that small business may find it tough getting their name discovered among so many social media accounts. But if you consider some or all of these Twitter tactics, you have a better chance of getting more eyes on your tweets. If you want to learn more about useful Twitter tactics to increase your exposure and engagement, give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
May 12th, 2016

2016May12_Web&Cloud_BIf the classic image of a startup was a couple of guys in a garage (think of Amazon, Apple, Disney), the emerging picture is a workforce of cloud collaborators using desired skills to deliver on your white-collar piecework. By eliminating barriers associated with traditional workspaces, the human cloud offers cost-effective solutions that may be a win-win for both employers and employees. Let’s take a look at how this platform is revolutionizing the modern workplace and what benefits are gained from having virtual workers.

Foundr Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Nathan Chan was sick and tired of hearing about how entrepreneurs were killing it in life and business. He set out with ‘a passion project’ that led him to interview some of the most influential entrepreneurs around the world, and shared his findings through a cool monthly digital publication known as Foundr Magazine. For Nathan, the launch of this successful project would not have been possible if it wasn’t for a human cloud service like Elance, which allowed him to leverage overseas talent and build a solid team of graphic designers, audio/video editors and writers. All tasks and projects for each issue of his magazine is run via the platform, which conveniently auto direct debits and pays for his contractors.

Just like Nathan Chan, business owners are beginning to shift their labor demands from local to global. According to an online survey by Wrike, a social project management platform provider, close to 44% of business owners are already predicting a rapid shift to distributed teams in their companies. For them, technology can make their virtual workers just as efficient as if they were collaborating in one office. Remote collaboration via the the human cloud is indeed a game changer that benefits companies such as startups who are inclined to spend fewer resources to build their business infrastructure. Before we get into these advantages, let’s acquaint ourselves briefly with the human cloud paradigm.

What is the “Human Cloud”?

For those who are already familiar with cloud technology and services, you may know that the modern workforce no longer has to be tied to a physical office. Gone are the days of commuting and trudging along with the herds to get to cube farms or bullpens which some employees may regard as productivity- and soul-killing places.

In the new world of the human cloud, work is a digital cloud space where staff perform white-collar tasks from any location and on any device. Collaboration, file sharing or discussions on projects are done effortlessly and efficiently in a flexible and productive manner, rewarding team members solely for their output -- regardless of their location, education, gender, or race. For employers, it’s not hard to see the promise of the human cloud as a greater and more visible assurance of on-demand worker supply. Although having a virtual workforce has a few challenges, knowing how to overcome them can yield great benefits for SMBs and particularly, startups.

Benefits of hiring on the human cloud

Low cost. The human cloud eliminates time and money wasted on traditional employment processes. Hiring is fast and easy; you pay for the skills you need on a transactional basis -- as opposed to paying a high monthly wage on physically hired talent who may have too much idle time. No overhead. Hiring on the human cloud requires no overhead for office space, thereby enabling firms to stay lean and profit-focused. By becoming “virtual”, teams can work independently from their homes or coffee shops. Get skills on-demand. Employers can contract for micro tasks such as copying text from business cards to larger tasks like selling products for a fee. Others may benefit from human cloud talent sourcing for more complex project work such as software design and programming. Global talent pool. Today, every organization or startup can be ‘multinational’, i.e., they are no longer limited by geography in finding key talent with specialized skills. A good idea can come from just about anywhere and can be performed and delivered from anywhere. Easy collaboration. Using an online platform gives SMBs the ability to manage projects through virtual workrooms. Wrike’s survey revealed that to a significant extent, collaboration software is important and even mission-critical for remote teams to work efficiently.

As more startups and SMBs become familiar (and comfortable) with the advantages of human cloud, the future of work means that location is not the most important factor in determining who will contribute to your business’s success. A worldwide network of online contractors is now ready to serve you with the qualifications, skill sets and shared enthusiasm you seek to turn ideas into valuable products or services. For more information on how to leverage cloud technologies or collaboration software, please get in touch with any of our cloud specialists.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web & Cloud