Blog

October 16th, 2014

BusinessValue_Oct13_CBusiness has become a much more mobile affair, thanks largely in part to the various mobile devices and operating systems currently available. These systems all rely on apps to operate and there are a near limitless number of apps, that business users can benefit from. To help, here are five of the most common types of apps business users install on their devices.

1. File creation, management, and collaboration

Many small to medium businesses are implementing cloud-based document systems. These systems enable easy file creation, storage, and collaboration between users in the office, coincidentally they also have mobile apps.

If you have cloud-based document systems like Google Apps or Office 365 in your office, it would be beneficial to install the mobile apps for the system that you use. The reason for this is because the mobile apps have the same functionality as their Web-based versions. From your device you can access files, create new ones, share them, and even edit files which means you can be productive on the go.

2. Lists

A good lists app can go a long way in helping to keep you organized. From creating a daily to-do-list to creating a list of long-term tasks or goals, you can create lists when you think of them and easily sync them with other devices and even colleagues.

Lists apps also help because we often come up with things we need to do while away from the office. Because our mobile device is always with us, we can simply add it to an existing list, or create a new one. No having to track down paper that may be lost, or trying to remember things.

While there are many list apps out there, one of the most useful is any.do which allows users to create both work and personal lists and share them with other users. Wunderlist is also great, as it allows users to create lists with sublists and even assign tasks to other people.

3. Notes

Like a list app, a good note app is essential. If you come up with an idea outside of the office, you can jot it down and have the note sync with other devices for action when you are back in the office. Apps of this type are also useful in meetings outside of the office because many of them allow users to record conversations and even add notes quickly. So, if an important idea comes up or is talked about it is recorded and not missed.

Some of the best Notes apps include Google Keep which syncs with your Google account and allows you to quickly create notes. If your office uses Microsoft Office, or Office 365, the best choice would be OneNote which can sync with your Microsoft account, bringing notes to any system. For those who want a powerful notes suite, the best option is Evernote, which works on almost every system and Web browser.

4. CRM

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools have become one of the most essential ways for business owners and managers to manage their relationships with their customers. Companies that have integrated a CRM solution have found that overall satisfaction and customer retention has improved.

Because these solutions allow you to quickly view customer data (e.g., contact information, sales history, etc.) it makes sense for mobile apps to be created for anyone working out in the field. In fact, most CRM solutions now have mobile apps that allow you to access customer databases from any mobile device. If you have a CRM solution, especially a cloud-based one, it is worthwhile checking with your provider if there is a mobile app too.

5. Communication

When out of the office, you need a way of keeping in touch with those back at base, or other employees who may also be out of the office. While email is usually enough to cover most communication needs, there are times when you need something more immediate. That's where apps like Google Hangouts, iOS Messages, Microsoft Lync, and even Facebook Messages can help. These chat-oriented apps enable communication wherever you have a data, or Internet, connection.

Beyond this, there are a wide number of VoIP solutions that offer mobile apps. When you install these on your device, you can turn your mobile into your office phone which will function exactly like your desk-based phone. This makes it easier to keep in touch with the office, so be sure to ask your VoIP provider if there is a mobile app you can install on your device.

If you have a favorite business app, let us know. And, if you are looking for a way to increase the value your business can provide customers, contact us to learn how a mobile solution can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 13th, 2014

Office365_Aug11_CThe iPad has become one of the most popular business tools, and earlier this year it became even more useful when Microsoft released iPad optimized versions of their popular Office apps. Office 365 subscribers can now access, edit, create, and share PowerPoint, Excel, and Word docs from their device. In an effort to improve the apps even further, Microsoft has updated them.

Excel updates

There are three major updates that have been introduced to the iPad version of Excel:
  • Increased pivot table interaction - These tables are among the most useful for business users working with data. With the new update you can now filter, sort, collapse, and expand details. You can now also refresh pivot tables whereby data is pulled from the workbook. Beyond this, you can also change the visual style and layout of the tables.
  • Flick to select large amounts of data - Working with large amounts of data, or spreadsheets with a large number of rows and columns can be tough on the touch screen. So, to make things easier, you can now select large amounts of data by flicking. For example, if you want to select all the rows in one column, you can simply tap on the selection handle of the top row and flick down to select the whole column.
  • Easier manipulation of data - While touch screens are great, and useful, there are times when working with spreadsheets using a keyboard is much better. In the latest update, Microsoft has added increased support for keyboards. This includes support of many familiar keyboard shortcuts, like CTRL+2 which allows users to switch between cell entry modes.

PowerPoint updates

As with Excel, there are three updates that have been introduced to the iPad version of PowerPoint:
  • Presenter View - Many people had taken to using their iPad to run presentations while connected to a projector. In the previous version, your iPad would just show what was actually on the screen, but now you can enable Presenter View. This view shows your slide notes on your iPad's screen, as well as the slides that are coming up next while your presentation runs via the projector.
  • Easier inclusion of visuals - With the new update, all embedded videos and sound recordings now play natively over your iPad; meaning they will play directly from a presentation. You can also add media directly to a presentation from your iPad's Camera Roll, which means you can record and add content all from your iPad.
  • Better annotation tools - There are a number of new annotation tools, including an improved pen and eraser which are designed to make annotations on the iPad's touch screen show up on presentations more easily.

Updates across all apps

Microsoft has been listening to the feedback from Pad app users, and has introduced the three most requested features that apply to all three main apps: Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.
  • Send the file as a PDF - PDFs are one of the most versatile document formats for businesses. Because most systems have software to open these document, it's great for users who don't use Office. Now, you can send the document you are working on as a PDF directly from your iPad. You can find this option under the Share menu.
  • Better image editing - With the update, you can now tap on an image in any Office app to either crop or resize it. If you make any edits, and find they aren't to your liking, there is also the ability to revert to the original image by pressing Reset.
  • Support for third-party fonts - Some businesses prefer to use fonts that aren't included in Office. Up until now, only Office supported fonts could be used on the iPad, but the recent update implements support for third-party fonts (fonts not made by Microsoft) installed on your iPad.
If you are looking to learn more about Office 365 and iPad apps, contact us today to see how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 30th, 2014

Office365_July28_CYammer has become an increasingly popular Web app among businesses today. With integration and updates from Office 365, Yammer allows organizations to enhance workflow and productivity through seamless communication. To that end, Office 365 has introduced its latest Yammer-based update, simplifying the login process for Yammer. Let’s take a look at what Yammer really is and see how this simplified login works.

What is Yammer?

Yammer is Microsoft’s social network platform, focusing on your business and your organization’s clientele. In order to join, you must have a working email address from your company’s domain, which will also enable you to create external networks to allow non-employees like suppliers and customers to communicate with your company effectively and easily.

What is simplified login and how do I turn it on?

Simplified login integrates Yammer and Office 365 through user mapping to save you time when signing into Yammer via Office 365. Here’s how to turn on the simplified login feature:
  1. Administrators must sign into Office 365 using the global administrator account.
  2. Select Admin, Sharepoint; and once in Sharepoint admin center, select Settings.
  3. On the Settings page, under Enterprise Social Collaboration, select Use Yammer.com service.
  4. Click on Yammer from Office 365 to check that you won’t have to log in again and can start connecting with people right away.
If you previously made Yammer the primary social experience for your organization, you can enable this for your Office 365 users by following these steps:
  1. Access Sharepoint admin center and select Settings.
  2. Under Enterprise Social Collaboration, click the Use Sharepoint Newsfeed button to clear previous settings
  3. Select Use Yammer.com service and click Ok to apply changes. Each of these two updates might take up to 30 minutes to complete
  4. Once you’re done, Yammer will replace Newsfeed in the Office 365 navigation.
Keep in mind that users without existing Yammer accounts are taken to a streamlined signup and verification process. And although user mapping saves time, it’s not a complete single sign-on solution, meaning when you go to Yammer.com directly or use Yammer mobile apps, you still need to log in with your Yammer.com credentials. Looking to learn more about Office 365 and its functions? Call us today and see how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 24th, 2014

iPhone_July21_CMessaging apps have become an increasingly popular application that most business operators rely on. Not only do they help with getting information and visuals across, but messaging apps these days allow for voice recording and video integration too. Paired with the number of iPhone users, it’s safe to say that many people are dependent on the iPhone’s messaging capabilities. With that in mind, isn’t it time you had a comprehensive view of some iPhone messaging tips to help ease your communication process?

1. Create Shortcuts

Have you ever typed phrases that you often use on the iPhone messaging app only to correct the typos that often come from typing on the touchscreen? To do away with this annoyance, you can create shortcuts for phrases by going to Settings>General>Keyboard>Shortcut and clicking on Add new shortcut. Now, whenever you type in a particular word that matches the shortcut you’ve entered, you won’t have to type out that entire phrase again.

2. Voice Messages

While voice messages have been ignored by many people, they’re actually a fast and effective way to communicate in the iOS messaging app. Simply record any message through the Voice Memo that is available in the Utility folder and tap on the arrow symbol in your recording page to share them on your messaging app. Now you won’t have to worry about typing your message or there being any sort of miscommunication again.

3. Share Contacts

Sharing contacts is handy for business operators. And while you’d usually go into your contact page and type in a contact’s phone number, there is a quicker way to get the job done. Simply tap into contact information and then scroll down and hit the Share Contact option. Not only will you eliminate having to type that contact’s phone number, but other information from that contact such as their email or work address will also be shared without you having to copy and paste it.

4. Share Messages

Sharing of information is a basic task in any business, and if you want to share a message but don’t want to type it out or even copy and paste it, the iPhone messaging app features another alternative. All you have to do is tap and hold down the message, tap on More and then on the blue arrow on the bottom right corner of the prompt command. By doing this, your message will be placed in a new message screen and you can simply choose your recipient.

5. Hide Message

We all need some privacy, especially where work is concerned, and the messaging app on the iPhone allows you to keep your messages to yourself by stopping the message preview from showing in the Notification Center. Go to Settings>Notification Center >Messages, then tap Show Preview to turn the message preview off. Now, when you receive a message, your iPhone will only display who sent that message without compromising its content.

Familiarizing yourself with iPhone’s messaging capabilities will save you time and frustration - and in chaotic business environments that can be a huge advantage. Looking to learn more about iPhone and its capabilities? Contact us today and see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPhone
July 18th, 2014

iPad_July14_CWith the adoption of social media platforms like Facebook and mobile devices like the iPad, we have seen the way we communicate change drastically in a few short years. Facebook realized this a while ago and introduced a stand-alone messenger app. The only thing is: the app was only optimized for the iPhone, until now that is.

Facebook Messenger on the iPad

Over the past few months, Facebook has been set on separating the two main functions of their platform - at least for mobile users. What this had led to is two separate Facebook apps, with the main Facebook app being just for social media functions, and a stand-alone app for its popular messenger service.

Up until now, there has been one version of the Facebook Messenger app for iOS, and it was optimized to smaller iPhone screens, meaning if you used it on iPad, it looked a little weird. In early July 2014, Facebook set about fixing this by releasing a new update to the app, which brought full support for the iPad's bigger screen.

When you download this app onto your iPad, you will have the same functionality as the other versions, including the ability to call people, send group chats, share photos, and best of all message people.

Where to get the app

It may seem a bit odd to have a separate app just for messaging on Facebook, but it can be useful for businesses who use this form of communication. Essentially, the app makes it easier to use just the messaging features without having to deal with the full social media aspect of the platform.

If this sounds like a useful app, you can download it from the iTunes Store for free.

Using the app

If you have not used the app before, it may take a bit of time to get used to it and to set it up. When you first download and open the app you should be asked to log in using your Facebook account. You should then see your contacts pop up with recent messages at the top.

Tapping on a chat will open the window with your message history and standard messaging abilities. You can scroll through your different chats on the left and view these by tapping on them.

At the bottom of the main chat history window you should see a number of buttons:

  • Recent - The default view, showing recent chats or messages in chronological order with the newest being at the top.
  • Group - Shows only your Group chats, again with the most recent messages at the top.
  • People - Brings up your contacts so you can start new messages. Simply search for a contact and tap on their name to start chatting.
  • Settings - Opens the Settings panel, allowing you to change various features including the alerts that are shown when you have a new message.
One potentially useful feature the app offers is the ability to call people directly from the chat window. If you open a chat, you should see a phone icon at the top-right of the screen. Tapping this will allow you to call the person you are chatting with, and if they also have the Messenger app installed, the call will be free. If the other person doesn't have the app installed then you will get a message saying that carrier rates may apply.

Looking to learn more about using Facebook on the iPad? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPad
July 16th, 2014

Office365_July14_CEarlier this year, Microsoft announced an enhanced document collaboration experience with the Outlook Web App for Office 365 users. With collaboration becoming a vital aspect in most businesses, it’s for a comprehensive view of the added features of Outlook Web App that help simplify your email tasks and boost collaboration.

Side-by-side view of documents and email

When your colleague sends you a document to review, you’ll see the document attached in an email in your Inbox. When you open the attachment, you can now see the contents of that document within the email itself. No more flipping back and forth between windows to get the information you need.

Files supported for viewing in this new feature include Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint files, most types of image files and PDF files. You can perform all of the standard messaging actions right from within this unified view making it easy to review information in the email alongside the attachment itself.

Easy document editing and reply

What do you do when you want to edit the attachment in your email? You download the attachment, make your changes, re-attach the file and send your reply. Now you can say goodbye to all that hassle. With the new side-by-side view, all you have to do is simply click Edit a Copy right above the attachment and message.

When you do this, a draft reply-all message is created for you to store this new edited version of the attachment. Then, a new editable copy of the attachment you received is created and renamed with your name at the end of the filename. This way you can differentiate the new copy of the file from the original one. The new copy of the attachment is live, meaning any changes made are automatically saved. Once you're done editing, simply type a response in the email and click Send. Types of files supported for editing include Word, Excel and PowerPoint files created in Microsoft Office 2007 and above.

Additional enhancements

In addition to the side-by-side view and edit-and-reply enhancements, the attachment user interface has also been updated. Now when you attach files, the overview is bigger and better looking. You can also now download multiple attachments at once in the form of a single zip file, making life a tad easier.

While Outlook Web App's added features might not be a total game changer, you can be sure that the next time you’re looking to collaborate, you’re able to do so faster and easier. Want to learn more about Office 365 and its apps? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 12th, 2014

Hardware_July07_CNow that we’ve looked into the differences between Mac and PC in terms of operating system, software and specifications, let's continue to dig deeper in determining the differences between the two rivals. It is vital that you look into all aspects before deciding which one you want to go for since you’ll likely be using it for many years. This includes models, availability, security, customer satisfaction, and of course price.

Models

Apple offers five computer lines comprising of the Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, Mac Mini, iMac and Mac Pro. This limited selection is not a sign of weakness but a part of the company’s 'less is more' approach to marketing.

PCs have a larger variety to choose from, with industry giants such as Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo, who offer numerous configurations of both desktop and laptop models. This can be beneficial in helping you find a specific computer that meets your needs.

Availability

When it comes to third party retail stores, Apple is more selective than PC manufacturers about where it sell its products. As of April 2014, Apple has 424 retail stores in 16 countries and an online store available in 39 countries. However, Macs are still not available at many stores that sell PCs.

PCs are the most numerous and popular computers out there, and can be found at every store that sells computers, except for Apple stores. This makes it easier to find PCs, especially if you don't live near an Apple store.

Security

With the vast majority of computers running on Windows, most attacks focus on PCs. Malware like Trojans, which trick users into installing the software by pretending to be a useful program, or botnets, are common to PCs, but rarely harm Macs.

This doesn’t mean that Macs are 100% secure. As Macs become more popular, threats are increasing. Nonetheless, a Mac user is still less likely to be a victim of successful attack than a PC user.

Customer satisfaction

Recent surveys conducted by PCWorld and PCMag revealed that personal users choose Mac over every single brand of PC available. Businesses on the other hand still prefer to stick with PCs.

While Apple does score high on many surveys, especially because of the value placed on face-to-face service, there are a number of PC manufacturers that offer a comparable service. Also, there are more smaller repair shops that offer unrivalled customer service.

Price

One of the most cited differences between a Mac and a PC is price. Generally speaking, Macs are more expensive than PCs due to their preference of building products around higher-end computers with more costly components. The cheapest Mac computer is the Macbook Air which starts from USD$899, while various models of PCs can be found at a much lower price.

Mac and PC both have strong and weak points. It’s best to try both and see which is the better tool for you and which will cover your business needs. If you are looking for a new system, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
July 3rd, 2014

Windows_June30_CWhile computers and laptops are useful tools in helping you get your work done, waiting for them to boot-up or having to rush and save your work before your battery runs out can be a pain. If this sounds familiar then you might want to familiarize yourself with the hibernate mode on Windows 8, and learn how you can benefit from this handy operating system (OS) power function.

What is Hibernation mode?

Hibernation allows you to power down your computer while retaining its current operating state e.g., leaving programs open. In other words, with hibernation, your computer saves the contents of its Random Access Memory (RAM) to your hard disk or other non-volatile storage, so that when you want to resume your work you can start where you last left off. Available on every Windows OS, hibernation can usually be set in your power settings manually or even automatically so that it activates when your laptop's battery is low.

How to enable hibernation on your laptop or computer running Windows 8:

  1. In your system tray, click the battery icon and select More power options from the panel that pops up.
  2. In the Power Options window, select either Choose what closing lid does or Choose what the power button does from the left panel.
  3. In the power options window, click on the blue text that says Change settings that are currently unavailable.
  4. At the bottom of the window, a new set of options will become available. Check the box next to Hibernate and click Save changes. Voila, the hibernate feature will now show up in the power options window that is displayed when you press the power button on your computer or laptop.
This feature allows you to resume work from where you left off within seconds, since you don’t have to boot up your computer nor re-open programs you were using. Not only that, but hibernation saves more battery power than sleep mode and uses no power while hibernated, a feature most laptops can really benefit from.

Hibernation is also useful if hardware maintenance has to be performed which requires powering down the hardware. For servers which need to be started up as quickly as possible after maintenance, hibernating and getting going again can be much quicker than shutting down and restarting the server applications.

Despite the benefits of hibernation, it is important to note that your computer does need to be shut down every once in a while to avoid performance degradation. Moreover, you should avoid hibernating your computer when you know you won’t be using it for a long period of time.

Hibernation mode can help boost productivity, decrease boot-up time, as well as help save your computer’s battery time. Interested in learning more about Windows 8/8.1 and its features? Contact us today for a chat.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 4th, 2014

Office365_June02_CReports to be finalized hold you captive in your office; business meetings keep you in the conference room all day; and the ritual of exchanging ideas with your business partners keeps you locked up in your workplace. Break free and boost productivity outside of your office with Microsoft Lync, a messaging tool that allows you to escape your office and still perform all your duties just as effectively.

Get immediate response with instant messaging

Sending emails is a fast and standard way to communicate in business. However, there are times when you have to convey or get hold of some important information in the soonest time possible. Stashing your message in a pile of emails might not cut it and this is when you can switch to Lync’s instant messaging feature. Your message will be sent immediately, with a pop-up also appearing on the recipient's device to flag the message so you know it will most likely have been seen. It’s fast, efficient, and by cutting to the chase, a real time saver.

Hold meetings with HD video conferencing

Reporting can be done with ease through Lync’s HD video conferencing capabilities. This enables you to gather your associates from anywhere in the world, whether to present specific data or deliberate a decision. Not only does this allow communication with several people at the same time but also transmits clear videos to the other end of the line with its 1080p HD quality.

Brainstorm with your team through application sharing

Online meetings sometimes prohibit the sharing of files. With Lync’s application-sharing capabilities, you can easily exchange ideas with your team. You can share PowerPoint presentations, documents, images, Web pages or your desktop with your team to stimulate conversation based on your input and what you have to report. Lync supports all animations and features of Microsoft PowerPoint, letting you create an engaging presentation without the restriction of your location. If you choose to share your desktop instead, you can select which part of your screen you’d like to show your clients, eliminating the unimportant clutter flashed on your monitors. You can also share a virtual whiteboard that allows you to collaborate with your team as if you were stood in the same room. Online communication has become today’s trend for conducting business meetings. However, the choice of which application to use to accomplish tasks requires knowledge of the key features of specific programs. Through Lync’s online communication system, companies have minimized expenses allotted for reserving third-party conference areas, business trips, and in purchasing expensive communication systems. Lync supports Windows, iOS and Android systems. What could it support, enhance, and boost in your business?
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 24th, 2014

iPad_May19_CSafari is the default browser on all Apple systems. Many business users who have iPads tend to stick with this browser, largely because it offers all of the same plus points as other browsers and tends to work well on the Apple system. Safari has some great features but some, such as the Favorites Bar can remain hidden unless you activate them. The benefit of this is that this will allow you to do more with your browser.

While loading pages using Safari may happen in a blink of an eye, typing and retyping url addresses can be a hassle. Safari’s bookmarking toolbar, known as Favorites Bar, is one way to save your favorite Web addresses for future browsing. However, this is often hidden with the default setting.

By enabling the Favorites Bar on your device, you can create a handy tool to hold all your saved Web pages for future reference. You can access these files in a single click and make browsing frequently visited sites quicker and easier. Here are some steps and guidelines to assist you in using iPad’s Favorites Bar.

Show the Favorites Bar in your browser

To show your favorite pages on your Web browser, go to your device’s Settings menu and look for Safari. You’ll then see a number of options at the right side of your display. In the General Options, tap the Show Favorites Bar so that the switch turns green, indicating its activation.

Once this is enabled, you can then head back to Safari and browse as you save and edit the most important pages on your browser. These pages will be lined up below your address bar for easy access.

Add a bookmark

Add a page to your list of favorites by clicking the Share button at the left side of the address bar for that page. The dialog box will show several options, so tap Bookmark and input specific details before you hit Save.

Edit and delete saved pages

Your saved sites might be good for a long time to come or just in the short-term. When a site becomes redundant or you want to demote it, you can delete this from your bookmarks folder or place it at the bottom of your list, below more important and more frequently used sites.

To be able to do this, go to the Bookmarks button at the right of your address bar and tap on Favorites from the dropdown list. The sites you have saved will be shown. Tap Edit at the bottom right of the dialog box. You will then see a circular red button at the left side of your list while on the right side will be an arrow and a set of multiple horizontal lines at the far right.

You can delete the pages by tapping the red minus button at the left side or rearrange them by pressing the horizontal lines and dragging the pages where you prefer them to be. Tap the arrow to edit site information such as title, link, and location.

The Safari Favorites Bar can help you navigate and get to your most visited sites more easily and efficiently and being so easy to set up there really is no reason not to utilize this feature. For businesses, getting quickly to sites that are used all the time increases productivity and efficiency.

If you are looking to learn more about the iPad and how you can use it in your business, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPad