Blog

July 20th, 2010

Work no longer has to be a place your employees go at a certain time. Learn what technologies can enable your employees to get more done from any location, any time.

Lately there has been a trend among companies, no matter what size and maturity, toward the use of so-called “virtual” teams. Driven perhaps by rising office and energy costs, maturity of computing and network technologies, talent scarcity, or simply the opportunity to realize increased efficiency,  this has resulted in the adoption of flexible work arrangements for some employees including flexible time and working from home – or even from remote locations in different time zones.

Along with this trend has come the need to support this new way of working. A wealth of options exists—from virtual team spaces and online collaborative tools to more advanced communication devices such as smartphones and tablets. Here are a few examples.

For teams working at the same time but from different locations:

  • Conferencing applications—via telephone or video
  • Shared workspaces and whiteboards
  • Instant messaging
  • Wireless communication devices

For teams working at different times but in the same place:

  • Team rooms
  • Intranets

For teams working at different times and from different places:

  • Extranets
  • Virtual Private Networks
  • E-mail/Groupware
  • Message boards
  • Blogs and knowledgebase tools

With the right tools, work can happen any time and from any place. Interested? Get in touch with us and find out more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
July 16th, 2010

Client-server networks can help employees perform 20 percent more revenue-producing tasks. For small to medium businesses that may not be able to afford a dedicated IT staff, outsourcing may be the most cost-effective means of installing and maintaining such a network.

You’re probably aware of the benefits of a client-server network—but are you prepared to handle the maintenance? If not, you may want to consider Managed Services.

According to a Forbes study, client-server networks help small businesses extend their geographic reach, find new customers, and increase revenues while maintaining or decreasing costs—and as a result, employees at small businesses using client-server networks perform 20 percent more revenue-producing tasks.

However, installing and maintaining such a network isn’t easy. It requires you to stay on top of the latest technology, monitor backups, and troubleshoot problems.

The traditional method of installing and maintaining a client-server network is to hire a staff of IT professionals to do the work, but this may not be realistic for small or even mid-sized businesses not be able to afford a dedicated IT staff.

Outsourcing may be a cost-effective way to solve this problem. If you want to outsource, you could hire an IT company to set up your client-server network, then wait for the network to break down before calling the IT company to perform the repair.

Or, you could consider Managed Services. With Managed Services, an IT company monitors your network to ensure performance and troubleshoot problems before they get out of hand. And in the unlikely event that something goes wrong, you’ll have qualified professionals on call to come to the rescue. Moreover, your support costs should be approximately the same as if you were paying for reactive support—but your network’s performance and reliability will be significantly higher.

So why spend time and money running a network when both can be better spent running your business? Consider Managed Services for you client-server network maintenance.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
June 18th, 2010

Business impact analysis is an often misunderstood component of your business continuity plan—but it doesn’t have to be.

First, let’s review business continuity planning, which is simply the creation and validation of a plan for how your business will recover critical activities after an extended disruption, such as a disaster.

Business impact analysis is one of the first steps in creating a business continuity plan in that it simply seeks to identify your business’s exposure to a sudden disruption of critical activities.

How do you conduct a business impact analysis? Many resources, including templates, are available. Let’s review the basic steps.

First, when looking at your firm’s activities and the cost of their loss during a business disruption, you’ll want to be sure you consider both financial costs and non-financial costs (such as customer service, supplier confidence, and market perception). Be sure to consider a number of possible scenarios. For example, what if your building is completely destroyed? What if some key personnel are not available? What if the disruption occurs during a peak period for your business?

Second, you’ll decide what’s critical and what’s not. An activity is probably critical if (a) its functionality is required by law, or (b) you consider its disruption unacceptable.

Third, for each critical activity, you’ll then assign two values: a recovery point objective, which is the acceptable amount of data that will be recovered, and a recovery time objective, which is the acceptable amount of time to restore the activity.

You may want to perform a business impact analysis before you create a business continuity plan—and your IT infrastructure will play a big role in both. Is your data backed up? How often? Give us a call and let us help guide you through answering these questions and developing a plan for your critical business needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
May 22nd, 2010

manage serviceIndustry analyst IDC predicts that the global economic recession will have a dramatic impact on small and mid-sized companies. But that doesn’t means these companies will stop spending on information technology (IT).

“Small and mid-sized businesses…will be increasingly interested in the productivity gains made possible by advanced technology,” said Raymond Boggs, vice president of SMB research at IDC. “New mobile communications solutions, videoconferencing, and online resources will be especially attractive, as will alternative approaches to technology acquisition and deployment.”

The reason, says IDC, is that these advanced technologies can help reduce costs and provide growing businesses with an important competitive edge.

One way to gain access to these advanced IT technologies is through Managed Services, which offers smaller companies access to and quick deployment of affordable best-of-breed technologies. Managed Services is cost-effective because it offers companies a way to make use of precious capital by fulfilling their IT needs on a pay-per-use basis.

Who can benefit from Managed Services?

  • Smaller companies that don’t employ dedicated IT staff but want to take advantage of the latest developments in security, backups, messaging, and business communications.
  • Mid-size companies with some in-house IT staff that want to see productivity gains among by eliminating problems and downtime.

Contact us for more information about how our Managed Services can increase your productivity while saving your money.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
May 21st, 2010

It seems that even the most innocuous machines in the workplace can serve as a security threat to companies. According to this report from CBS News, many office copiers save the images they copy on a dedicated hard disk installed inside them. This means that everything from mundane memos to your most sensitive information such as financial statements and contracts are stored – and could potentially extracted.

So the next time you dispose of a copy machine, if you’re not sure what’s stored on it and how to get it off – give us a call to help out.

To see the news report, watch this video.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic News
April 23rd, 2010

blogMoney is tight and hard to come by, and a lot of companies are looking to cut costs and sacrifice the non-essentials. For many, taking off a chunk out of the IT budget is one of the ways to try to save money.

However, when it comes to IT services, chances are a bit more investment may actually save money in the long run, since many technologies make operations more efficient and increase of productivity.

An article from Inc. Technology shares 10 very helpful tips on how investing in certain technologies can help your business better weather the recession. The article lists specific technology investments worth forking out money for, including Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), Web conferencing, and Virtualization Software among others. There are also many practical tips on making IT work more cost effectively.

To find out more, read the article here:

http://technology.inc.com/managing/articles/200803/moneysaving.html

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
April 23rd, 2010

tabletAnticipation for Apple’s iPad, the company’s entry into the nascent “tablet PC” market, has been building especially since it hits retail stores this April. While early adopters such as Apple fans, tech mavens, and fashionistas are widely expected to become the first customers for the device, it seems that business users are not that far behind. A recent business survey conducted by Information Technology Intelligence Corp. (ITIC) found that 42 percent of participants plan to purchase an iPad within the first six to nine months. Only 14 percent said “no,” leaving the remaining 44 percent as “possibly” or “undecided.” When asked how they’ll use the iPad, 64 percent of respondents said for business, 31 percent for personal use, and 86 percent for both.

The idea behind Tablet PCs is not new. The concept of carrying keyboard-less and mouse-free PCs using a stylus or touchscreen has been around since the early 90s. What the iPad has done, however, is bring back interest in the device – so much so that other manufacturers such as HP, Dell and Asus are introducing their own versions. More importantly, the iPad has increased interest in using tablets for business. Here are some reasons why:

  1. Versatility and ease of use. The nice thing about tablets is their size, which is smaller than laptops, but supposedly more intuitive and easier to use than netbooks. They can be used for data entry, as a communication device, remote data access device, or presentation tool – as well as an ebook reader or a device to access documents from cloud services such as Google Apps.
  2. Power and portability. Devices on the market today or coming soon also feature longer battery life, and are designed for mobility. For people in the field such as sales or support personnel, the device makes a viable alternative for all-day computing on the go.
  3. Apps designed for mobility. While it’s too early to tell, the iPad could usher in new types of applications specifically designed for the tablet’s form and mobility. As an example, Apple promised to release a new set of apps specifically designed for the iPad, such as Keynote and Numbers. Even IBM is getting into the game with an announcement that it will develop apps for the platform soon. Microsoft of course has its Windows for TabletPCs.

Are you interested in tablet devices? Will you use it for your business? Want advice? Contact us – we can provide insight and advice.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
March 23rd, 2010

backupYou can’t have a disaster recovery plan until you first have a good backup solution. Is your backup solution good—or just good enough?

The traditional backup process is done to tape – which has a number of limitations including high cost (particularly as capacity increases), difficult upgrades, degradation over time, and slow backup and restoration.
Over the past three to five years, there has been a transition to hard-disk-based backup solutions that generally offer the ability to easily increase capacity as well as backup and restore much faster.

Whichever solution you use, there are many risks to your data.

Traditional backup processes capture only one snapshot of your information per day. So if your backup is scheduled to take place at 12 a.m., you risk losing the entire following day’s work in the case of a disaster.

The backup process traditionally involves significant manual labor. Someone has to ensure that the correct media is in the drive. Someone has to look at the results of the backup to ensure that it is complete (and ideally perform periodic data restorations). Then, when the backup is complete, someone has to take it offsite for safekeeping.

While some businesses have the capabilities to perform all of these backup-related tasks, many others don’t—and therefore have no idea if their backups will be there when needed.

How can you make your backup system better?

  • First, you should be absolutely sure that every bit of your data is backed up multiple times per day.
  • Second, the human element should be completely eliminated from the equation.
  • Third, restoration should be quick and flexible, so you can bring back any part of your data or all of it, depending on your needs.
  • Finally, the impact on your business should be minimal. In fact, you should be unaware that a backup is even in progress.

We can help you set up and maintain a backup solution perfect for your needs. Contact us for more information.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
March 22nd, 2010

MSIn today’s tough market environment, many small and medium businesses are turning to Managed Services. But is the up-front cost worth it? We say yes—and think you’ll agree when we explain why.

With Managed Services, an IT consultant constantly manages your network, typically from afar. In other words, someone will prevent many IT problems—and fix those that do occur before they disrupt your operations.

Despite this benefit, many companies still consider Managed Services an unnecessary expense because it typically involves a monthly or yearly fee. But there are many ways that such a model can actually lower your IT costs.

  • Lower overhead. It can be expensive to hire and train IT staff. In fact, staffing is often the largest portion of a company’s IT budget. You can eliminate much of that expense with Managed Services, which provide you with high-quality IT staff at a fraction of the cost.
  • Increased cost predictability. The cost of responding to an IT problem is usually an unplanned expense—and often a significant one. With Managed Services, you prevent problems, so you can better predict (and therefore manage) IT costs.
  • A better business model. Additionally, Managed Services provide an efficient business model. There’s less IT down time, which means employees are less frustrated and customers are always served. That increases employee retention and helps you create long-term business relationships—which in turn can increase your revenue.

Contact us today for more information about our Managed Services.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
February 23rd, 2010

formspringFor businesses of all types and size, managing data online is critical to the smooth operation of a website. However, incorporating data collection programs can be time consuming, especially if any of your data is “time bound” – meaning it’s only valid and useful during a specific period of time.

Here’s a solution. FormSpring provides free and paid website data collection services that eliminate the need for additional programming or the purchase of additional software.

If your website includes contact or event registration forms, surveys, and the like, FormSpring provides services ranging from a basic free option to more feature-intensive offerings with custom made forms based on your unique requirements. There’s no long-term registration contract, and you may cancel at any time. FormSpring also offers a 30-day money back guarantee.

It’s worth noting that the data is stored on FormSpring’s servers, so if you have special compliance requirements for privacy or security you might want to check to ensure you remain compliant.

Overall, FormSpring is a very useful website for companies or groups that need a hassle-free way to collect data through their website. Check out their free version of the plan or use the 30-day money back guarantee to explore whether FormSpring meets your data collection needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles