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January 24th, 2015

Office365_Jan21_CWhile what the cloud is about may seem a little foggy to many business users, a great many are already taking advantage of the collaborative power of such cloud platforms as Office 365. There is a big amount of trust and belief that data is safe in the cloud, however, there are security issues to consider and some of these relate to problems with data protection from the user end. Spanning is set to offer an extra layer of protection for Office 365 in 2015.

Data backup provider Spanning is widening its ambit to include Office 365 this coming year. With an increasing amount of data located in cloud applications, this expansion will likely be welcomed by business bosses all over the world.

Isn't my data protected in the cloud? Well, yes it is, but not 100%, and it is this gap that users need to be wary of. A 2014 report by IT hardware storage providers, EMC, who recently acquired Spanning, points to a 400% rise in data loss since 2012. With platforms such as Office 365, each end-user represents an opportunity for data to be compromised. In other words, it is not the solid core of the cloud and its backup and recovery services that is the issue, but this increase in cloud-based collaboration and file sharing.

How can data be lost? Each cloud provider offers certain protections and terms which it is vital you understand first and foremost. On top of this, an awareness of how data is at risk from user influence is essential too. Some data loss issues include:

  • Accidentally deleting files.
  • Intentionally deleting files with malicious intent.
  • File corruption and data wipes due to tech glitches.
  • Retrieving files deleted over 30 days previously or locating a previous file version due to errors in current documents.
What will Spanning offer Office 365 users? Spanning allows for automated and manual daily backups of mail, calendar and contacts, whilst ensuring there is a copy of data from applications and cloud files. Other benefits include:
  • Ability to find previous backups and restore these.
  • Ability for data restoration, from one Office 365 account to another to allow for smoother and security-conscious recruitment and end-of-employment changes.
  • Protection through 256 bit encryption with intrusion detection.
  • Data control with compartmentalized access.
When it comes to data loss there is clear and present danger that could spell financial ruin for your business. There is always need for a copy of your data so that recovery is possible. To ignore cloud security and not consider data protection for Office 365 could be costly and for many businesses even deliver a fatal blow.

According to some recent statistics from IDG Research, 58% of businesses surveyed had suffered some hosted software data loss in the last year and 31% were debating whether to invest in backup and recovery for this data. Cloud data storage protection does not cover human error or problems with system configurations, nor IT service management process errors.

Find out how to protect your Office 365 data by getting in touch today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office 365
January 14th, 2015

office365_jan12_CData loss prevention is being expanded to encompass the growing use of collaborative tools with Office 365 users. Important and often sensitive data is shared via SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, Windows File Share and Office apps and this information needs a strong layer of security protection. Plans are ready to roll out to improve control over this shared data in real-time.

Beyond email security

There has long been an awareness of security when it comes to email content and Office 365 incorporated data loss prevention in Exchange and Outlook, as well as Outlook Web App. It is understandable that when you write an email you don't want the information within it to be seen by anyone else, and whilst Google maintains its email scanning policies, data loss prevention tools can help stop hackers from getting a glimpse of your private data. This is all well and good but sharing critical data via email is not the only way to exchange information and Microsoft's latest data loss prevention strategy recognizes these changes.

Collaboration needs to be safe

Microsoft has enhanced collaboration capabilities with Office 365 but along with these new ways of sharing data, there needs to be solid security measures in place too. Documents in Word and spreadsheets in Excel are created using applications and then shared via various collaboration tools. To ensure this data is safe, access restrictions and permissions need to be activated.

Data loss prevention in SharePoint and OneDrive for Business

Recently eDiscovery has allowed users of SharePoint and OneDrive for Business to identify sensitive information within collaborative content. This security is set to expand to policies on restricting and blocking access, user education and to include email notifications.

Data loss prevention in Windows File Share

Windows File Server already has file classification infrastructure in place, whereby the server scans files to identify sensitive data. This data is then tagged and classified according to the definitions users set, with an ability to initiate action on these identified or classified files. The latest security, or data loss prevention, measures involve this content classification being extended to Office files in Exchange, SharePoint and OneDrive for Business. In time, this will continue to grow to include centrally managed policies and allow for greater user education within companies.

Data loss prevention in Office applications

This protection is being expanded to Microsoft applications so that when content is created users will be able to set up policies with regard to sharing permissions at the same time. Tips connected to the policies that have been established will then be offered as well. Initially, Excel will benefit from this expansion, with Word and PowerPoint being included later in the year.

The importance of data loss prevention

With so many different ways to create and share content, it is essential that business leaders can take advantage of a stable strategy for preventing data loss. If sensitive and crucial information is allowed to leak out this could potentially be incredibly damaging to a business and put productivity and profitability in jeopardy. With greater collaborative tools comes greater risk and the latest plans for Office 365 data loss prevention are a welcome layer of security to protect against data dangers.

Find out more about how Office 365 can benefit your business. Get in touch today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office 365
May 24th, 2014

Office365_May19_CThere are a number of analytical tools businesses can use and using trendlines can present a clear picture of trends in your business by connecting a number of points on a graph. What is revealed is a possible downturn or upturn in the direction of the group of values identified in the data. Understanding how to use trendlines can help reveal what might happen in the future.

Predicting the future

Trendlines allow businesses to see the difference in various points over a period of time. This helps foretell the possible path the values will take in the future. This can help reveal performance, value, and competitiveness of specific products and services, along with the relevant business departments, such as sales.

By knowing how to add a trendline to your presentation, you can create a graphical representation of the values you have computed. This will enable the user to easily comprehend and analyze the message you are trying to imply.

Add a trendline to your Excel chart

If you use Office 2013, you can create a trendline to complement your reports by right clicking the data series (e.g., the information that has been graphed to charted) in the chart you created. This will show a drop down menu where you can find the option to Add a Trendline. This will open another window where trendline types are available. You can choose the one which suits the chart you created.

Another option is to click your chart and look at your Excel menu bar. Head on to the added tab, Chart Tools, and in the Design tab, click Add Chart Element where another drop down list will appear. At the bottom part of this, you will see Trendline, click this for a list of options that will best fit your data.

  • Exponential trendlines: This creates an uneven arc that is more curved at one side than the other on charts with values that fluctuate. It cannot be used when you have a zero or a negative value in your chart.
  • Linear trendlines: Most common when the values in your chart create a straight line. This shows a continuous rise or fall trend that indicates a path it will steadily continue in the future.
  • Logarithmic trendlines: Where there is a sudden increase or decrease in the chart, which then continues on to become level.
  • Polynomial trendlines: Used for larger set of data with fluctuating values. If the direction of your values continuously changes, then this option could suit you best.
  • Power trendlines: Almost the same as exponential, only in this, the arc is more symmetrical.
  • Moving average trendlines: Used when your points seem to have too many ups and downs. This levels out the extreme fluctuations for easier trend analysis. Depending on the number of periods set, this option gathers the values together and computes its average which is then used as the trend point.
Whatever your reports, it is easier to spot the direction of values when you use graphical tools to show data. This ensures that reports are easily understood, along with the trend at which your values are headed as a result of the lines appearing in the chart. The ability to fully grasp the value and use of trendlines and other Excel functions will allow you to use your computer programs to unlimited use. Want to know more? Get in touch!
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office 365
May 8th, 2014

Office365_May06_CIt is an established fact that Office 365 can immensely help your business run smoothly but choosing the best plan to fit your business needs and goals can become a mental tug-of-war. This article aims to identify a clear winner for your business goals by arming you with the features of each plan. You can then decide which one would best fit your business needs.

The world can’t seem to get enough of the options that Office 365 offers. However, the variety of subscription plans can challenge your decision-making skills. Arming yourself with good research and knowledge allows you to gain more confidence in making wise business choices. You are off to a good start by reading about this article's comparison of the different Office 365 subscription plans.

Choosing the right subscription should start by identifying your business size. Whether you are running a small enterprise or a business empire, Office 365 has the subscription plan to fit every business need. In Microsoft standard definition, a business with 1-10 employees is considered small-sized. A medium-sized business has between 25-300 employees. Anything beyond is deemed to be a large-scale enterprise.

Office 365 for small businesses

If you anticipate having more than 25 employees in the near future, it is highly recommended to skip to the medium-scale subscription. If you are certain about your business size and you don’t have plans to expand, you can choose from two small business subscription plans.The Office 365 Small Business has all the standard features as follows: hosted email, Web conferencing and hosting, spam protection, 24/7 phone support, guaranteed uninterrupted service, SharePoint and file management via Web browser. The other subscription plan is The Office 365 Small Business Premium which comes with three additional functions on top of the standard features, namely the ability to download desktop versions of office applications, site mailbox access and mobile functionality.

Office 365 for midsize businesses

For medium-size businesses with up to 300 users there is a plan that has all the inclusions of the Small Business Premium Plan but provides reinforcement for your business IT infrastructure through better management of user permission credentials. If your business uses a huge chunk of Excel spreadsheets, this plan is for you as it has the Excel add-ons, with Power Query, Powerpivot, Power View and Power Map from multiple sources. In addition, this plan also includes a desktop version of Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2013.

Office 365 for large businesses

The high rollers in the business realm can choose from three plans, namely E1, E3 and E4. E1 has more or less the standard features of the Office 365 Small Business Plan and can support an unlimited number of users, plus it has the feature of user credential management, Yammer integration and access to a site mailbox. With E3 and E4 you can install the desktop version of the office applications. The only difference is that E4 has call capabilities via Lync Online calling, which is ideal for companies in countries where there are no VoIP prohibitions.

There are a lot of productivity tools in the market today and it can be a challenge to choose between the sea of options. In the realm of business, critical thinking should be observed, whether for small or big decisions, as any one of these choices could impact the success and productivity of your business. These decisions can range from low-impact, such as deciding which productivity tool to use for your day-to-day business functions, to high-impact, such as your long-term business plans.

Choosing the right productivity tool to use in your business needs to be taken seriously as this can take create a lot of difference. A good productivity tool makes a better organized work style and this can only mean a business that is easier to manage.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office 365
August 1st, 2012

Microsoft Office Live Small Business was a useful extension of the popular Microsoft Office suite. One of the biggest features was that it was one of the first office suites to integrate the cloud into the software. Earlier this year, Microsoft discontinued the service to focus on its replacement - Office 365. Many companies have moved over, but the migration hasn’t been easy.

With the release of Microsoft Office 365 last year, Microsoft said that they would not be supporting Office Live Small Business (OLSB) and users would have to migrate over to Office 365. If your company used OLSB, you already know that your website was taken offline and all data was inaccessible as of April 30.

Microsoft hasn’t left businesses without a solution, they offer OLSB users a six-month free trial to Office 365. The major problem with many cloud services emerged at this point however, businesses had to get their data off OLSB and onto Office 365, not an easy feat, especially for small business owners lacking the required technical know-how.

If a small business owner chose to do the migration themselves, Microsoft had a 21 page help walkthrough for the migration process. Any migration is a daunting when you also have to focus on running a business, one with a 21 page document can be downright dreadful.

We’re not saying you shouldn’t use Office 365, it’s a great office suite for small businesses that offers many improvements over OLSB and many businesses have been happy they switched over. The issue is that when it comes to your business and its documents, the migration needs to be done right the first time, no mistakes. How do you ensure this? By contacting us, we will be able to help with your migration, and have you up and running an a newer and better system in no time.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office 365
July 3rd, 2012

Small business owners are always looking for ways to improve their efficiency, be it dealing with customer inquiries or developing reports. One tool that’s helped improve efficiency is the office suite, more specifically Microsoft Office 365. The word processor, Word, is an invaluable tool with many timesaving features including custom templates.

Believe it or not, everytime you start a new blank document, you’re actually using a template. Word offers a number of pre made templates to choose from, but they’re not really designed for business users. Instead, you can create your own custom templates. Here’s how.

How to create a template based off a current document If you’ve created a document and would like all other similar documents to have the same layout and styling, you can turn the document into a template by:

  1. Opening the document in a new window. Be sure that you’ve saved the changes to the final document.
  2. Making changes to the document so that in the future, you can easily add missing information. Note: don’t save the document, as any changes will be made to the original version.
  3. Clicking File followed by Save As. Be sure to save the document in the Documents subfolder of the Libraries directory. This can be found on the left side of the Save As window.
  4. Naming the document as you like. It’s a good idea, but not necessary, to put template in the title.
  5. Selecting Word Template from the Save as type field.
Your template will show up as a selectable template when you start a new Word document. Click on My templates to access it. Be aware that whatever you have in the document when you create the template will be in every new document you open using the template.

If you realize you’ve made a mistake, open the template, make the changes and select Save As. Instead of entering a new file name, locate the original template, and click on it. Word will automatically apply the name of what you’ve clicked. Press Save and confirm the overwrite. You can use this method to any template, including the premade ones. If you do make changes to a premade template, the updated version will be located in the My templates section.

There are many ways you can tweak Word to meet your needs, and templates are a great way to ensure similar documents will look the same, while saving you time. If you’d like to learn more ways you can customize Word, or any other program in the Office 365 suite, please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office 365
June 20th, 2012

My heading might appear to be a strange statement to make considering I run an IT company.  But I stand by it.  Let me explain:  Many small businesses I come across are initially hesitant to meet with me or my staff.  “But we already have an IT guy”, they declare.  And indeed they do;  It’s the owner’s son-in-law, or the guy from the computer shop across the road, or an employee’s brother who is studying IT at university, or the guy they called once from the yellow-pages.

In any case, they’re making the assumption that my company wants to become their “IT guy” when in fact that’s not our intention at all.  We aren’t the “IT guy”.  The IT guy is the guy they call when a computer breaks, or when email isn’t working, or when they want to know how to stop those damn pop-ups.   But I’m here to tell you that the IT Guy is a dying breed.

As technology becomes more and more ubiquitous and it penetrates deeper within core and critical systems and processes throughout small businesses, you don’t want to be relying on your IT guy.  He’s usually a whiz on computers, but he’s not necessarily full bottle when it comes to business consulting.

You see, the line between technology consulting and management consulting is becoming increasingly blurred.  Technology underpins and provides the tools for so many critical business functions that companies like mine employ business experts to provide true ongoing business solutions and services that fundamentally improve our customer’s businesses.   And small businesses really must engage in a long term partnership with a technology company that understands their business , first and foremost, if they truly want to maintain a competitive edge and be innovative.

If you don’t have a partnership with a technology company that understands business you’re likely to be left behind in the wake of your competitors.   IT companies are changing their business models to a more consultative partnering approach, and most are dropping the old fashioned adhoc break/fix type support altogether.  So if you rely on your IT guy there will inevitably be one day soon he’s not available to assist you when you need urgent support, and you might just find yourself up a familiar creek with-out a paddle because you don’t have a strong partnership with an IT company.  I believe the number of IT companies willing to answer your call to provide adhoc support will reduce as their business models shift to managed services with long term clients who look to them for business improvement, not just IT support.

So if you only have an IT Guy, do yourself a favour and make a committment to have a meeting with an IT company and be sure to talk to them with an open mind about how they can help you be a better business.

You want your PC fixed ‘cause it’s broken? – call the IT guy.  You want to make an ongoing and long term improvement to the way you do business?  – call your technology partner :)

June 19th, 2012

Microsoft 365, the cloud version of its popular office suite has some great features that help small business owners boost their communication effectiveness. This is especially true for Outlook. One useful feature is the ability to conduct polls via email. Want to know what day of the week is best to have a meeting? Add a poll.

Here’s how you can create polls and votes in your emails using Microsoft 365’s Outlook.

  1. Open Outlook, and click New Message. If you have an email you’d like to attach a poll to, and forward it to others, open the email and click Forward.
  2. Click on Options, located at the top of the window you compose the email in. From the drop-down menu, select Tracking.
  3. Click Use Voting Buttons.
  4. Choose from the options.
If you choose Custom, you’ll be able to customize the names of the buttons. This is done by:
  1. Follow steps 1-4 above, and select Custom.
  2. A window called Message Options will open, under Voting and Tracking Options select Use voting buttons.
  3. Delete the default names and enter the name of the buttons you’d like to use. Be sure to separate them with a semicolon, with no spaces e.g., Choice One;Choice Two;Choice Three.
  4. If you want a read and delivery receipt sent to you, press the two respective boxes below Use voting buttons.
  5. Click Close. You’ll notice the buttons show up in the area where you compose your email. Compose the rest of your email, and click Send.
You can review the results by opening the email you sent, usually found in the Sent Items folder on the left-hand side of the Outlook window. In the open email, press the Message tab followed by Show and Tracking. If there haven’t been any responses the Tracking option will be grayed out, and you’ll be unable to click on it.

Being able to include a poll in your emails is a great feature of Office 365 that can be used for many situations. If you’d like to learn how to use other features of Office 365 please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office 365
June 6th, 2012

In order for a company to stay open they need to adapt to, and change with business environments. This includes updating their computer systems to at least stay somewhat current. As it’s expensive to update systems, many companies have been turning to cloud solutions to be able to do more with what they currently have. Microsoft’s Office 365 is one such solution and there are some positive benefits that go along with adopting it.

There are four main benefits to using a cloud based office suite like Office 365.

Prevent save disasters. One thing every employee has done is get caught up in their work and forget to save, only to have the program or computer crash resulting in the loss of their work. By using Office 365, changes are automatically saved and synced with the cloud, so if something does happen, you probably won’t lose any of your work.

Access from more devices. As Office 365 is browser based, you can access it on a tablet or smartphone. This means you don’t have to be on your computer to access and edit documents. If you give lots of presentations and have a tablet with a data connection, you could ditch the laptop all together.

Eliminate forgotten documents. It can be embarrassing to show up to an important meeting only to realize that you’ve forgotten an essential document back at the office. If this happens, you can just log into Office 365 and access the document.

More storage. With computers, there’s generally a fixed amount of storage available, when it’s used up, you have to free up space by deleting old files. This can be a problem, especially if you have to keep files and information due to legal requirements. Office 365 has plans that allow your company to have as much storage as you need.

These are just four of the benefits to using Office 365 in your business. If you’re looking to move your office suite into the cloud, or would like to learn more about Office 365, please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office 365
May 24th, 2012
Topic Office 365