IT Support Blog
News and info on IT Services
We know its hard to make sense of all the options available when it comes to IT. We can keep you posted on the latest trends and info with our IT Support Blog.
We know its hard to make sense of all the options available when it comes to IT. We can keep you posted on the latest trends and info with our IT Support Blog.
Your staff probably uses multiple software applications to support your company’s different departments and functions. Your finance team may use ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or an accounting system, while your sales team uses CRM (Customer Relationship Management): and chances are your operations team is using industry-specific LOB (Line of Business) applications. All of these types of software applications come with canned reports that are written for the “average” user.
The “Average” User
Canned reports allow you to specify products, date ranges, document numbers or other parameters, to generate a standard format version of the report. Data is pulled directly from the application tables that were defined after the report was designed. The format includes rows and columns that are arranged based on what “average” users need.
But what if you need more information than the “average” user; or if the canned reports don’t reflect the information you need to run your business?
Information That’s “Above Average”
A Business Intelligence (BI) Solution combines data from all the applications within your organization. It delivers “reports” and encourages users to look deeper, past high-level information, to find causes and solutions. With this in-depth information, users can look at data from every angle and make above-average decisions.
What Will a BI Solution Allow Us To Do?
Charts, views and dashboards can be easily manipulated to view any combination of data points, allowing for new insight into causes, effects and solutions. This also provides immediate responses to allow for more informed decisions.
Replacing reports with Business Intelligence Solutions allows you to tap into information and respond faster, keeping you ahead of the competition!
We encourage you to book 60 minutes with us to learn about how our tech support team can help your business. Call today to book a time.
On May 17, 2013, eight members of Congress demanded that Google address the amplitude of privacy concerns relating to Google Glass, its new wearable technology device. They wrote a letter that was addressed to Google’s Chief Executive, Larry Page that outlined eight different questions for Google. They’ve asked for a response by June 14th.
The letter stated that Congress is curious as to whether or not this new technology would invade the privacy of the average American; Google hasn’t released the device yet, and Congress is uncertain about Google’s possible plans to incorporate adequate privacy protections into their new Google Glass. Privacy concerns on issues such as unwanted recordings have already been raised.
The request came from the Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, after Google displayed their new device at its annual I/O Developers Conference in San Francisco. Google also gave software developers information on building applications for the device; and introduced seven new applications, including ones from CNN, Twitter and Facebook.
The Google glasses will connect to the Internet, allowing users to take photographs, send text messages, record and watch videos and post to social media websites. They’re not for sale to the general public as of this date.
Joe Barton, a Republican and Representative from Texas, is the co-chairman of The Caucus. They asked many questions including how Google would store and collect data from the devices; how they would protect the privacy of people who aren’t using Google Glass when they’re with people who are using it; whether or not the device would have face-recognition technology; and how they’ll ensure the device doesn’t collect private data unintentionally.
Steve Lee, Director of Product Management for Google Glass, addressed the issue of face recognition in a statement saying:
“We have consistently said that we will not be adding new face recognition features to our services until we have strong privacy protections.”
Past products from Google have resulted in privacy violation punishments for the company, including two settlements with the Federal Trade Commission. The first one was from a social networking tool, and the second was with 38 different states regarding the collection of data during Google’s “Street View” mapping project.
Mr. Lee addressed other concerns in the letter by stating that Google Glass has followed all of the data-collection and privacy policies, and that Google has built social cues into the device to help prevent certain privacy violations. To shoot or record a video, or to take a photograph users will need to press a button or speak to Google Glass, and look directly at whatever they’re attempting to capture. However, one developer stated that he’s built an application for the device that will allow users to take a photograph with a just a wink of the eye.
Google spokesman Chris Dale said they’re taking extreme caution while designing Google Glass because new issues are often raised by new technology. He also said that Google was selling early versions to anyone who signs up for them; the cost will be $1,500. This is to ensure that their users will become active participants in creating the future of this technology.
Today’s business market has become an extremely competitive place. To succeed in this environment it’s more important than ever for companies to develop and manage their operations efficiently. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution is an effective way to do this. It will strengthen your relationships with existing customers while building new ones with your latest prospects. A CRM solution helps any organization become more competitive by automating, organizing and synchronizing business processes.
Why is it Important to Choose the Right CRM Solution?
Once you’ve established the need for a CRM solution, you’re left with the matter of choosing the best one for your business. A CRM solution that works effectively for one company may not meet the needs of another.
This is why it’s important to choose the right solution that allows your business to provide your patrons with the best possible industry experience. Implementing the right CRM solution should be viewed as an investment, and chosen with great care because essentially, you’re selecting a partner to help you grow your company. Your company should stand out to your customers, and when they know you have their best interests in mind, they’ll be pleased and continuing using your services.
CRM has evolved into a versatile system that allows businesses to maintain existing customers and recognize new ones by utilizing automated functions and lead management that supports your sales and technical personnel. A CRM solution will reduce calls to your help desk and improve customer service.
When Choosing the Right CRM Solution, Consider the Following:
With the abundance of CRM solutions that are available on the market today, it can be difficult to choose the right one for your business, however this needn’t be so. Break things down into manageable steps to make things easier for you, and keep the following things in mind as you begin your CRM search.
Your current needs versus your future needs
Analyze your current needs, and remember that the scalability of the product you’re selecting is important. Think three years down the road, and consider what your needs will be then; the solution you’re selecting should meet your needs now and in the future as your company grows. Be careful, because CRM products will come with many features and items you won’t need. You don’t want to incur unnecessary expenses so be as realistic as you can be. Be in control and ready to ask the right questions. If you remember to analyze your needs first, you’ll find the best solution that will grow with your company.
Once you’ve implemented the right CRM solution into your operations it will become an important part of your business strategy, possibly even the KEY part of your strategy. So you want a product that provides historical interactive analytics. If the CRM solution provides crucial insight regarding historical trends relating to every aspect of your business, then it will provide all the answers you need.
It’s important to analyze trends over time to identify where your company has excelled versus where it’s fallen short. You need this information for your businesses success in the long run. A CRM solution that doesn’t provide this information will hinder your ability to make important business decisions required in today’s marketplace. Look elsewhere for a solution if the product doesn’t offer these tools.
Cost VS. Budget VS. Quality
It’s simple to state a dollar figure and go from there; CRM costs can run from inexpensive to extremely expensive. It’s important to keep in mind that higher cost doesn’t always equate to higher quality; and when a solution is expensive, that doesn’t mean it’s going to meet all your needs and expectations.
Keep weighing your options and stay critical while searching for the right CRM solution. Once you’ve determined your needs for the present and future, and settled upon the functionality you’ll require, it’s a matter of researching the market to get an idea of the cost range you can expect. Remember that implementing a CRM solution should be viewed as an investment.
You’ll be paying total cost of ownership (TCO) over time in addition to initial costs, so it’s important to look for a CRM solution that works for your business and also gives you the opportunity to grow and excel with time.
Hosted Solutions VS. Onsite Implementation.
Today, most software products can be used in one of two ways. Traditionally, the equipment can be purchased and installed on your businesses premises, where the CRM solution can be put into effect on locally at your site. The other option is to use a CRM solution stored on the cloud. Both of these solutions have their pros and cons.
Examine solutions from each of these two areas and choose one based on your budget and needs. Consider what an onsite implementation will offer as opposed to a hosted solution, and it’ll become obvious to you what solution will work for your company. Every case is different, implementation may be great for one business, but another might have greater success with a solution from the cloud. Only you know what will work best for your company.
Once you’ve identified your budget and business needs, you can exclude some vendors and save yourself a lot of time. Research is key, and since you’ve now eliminated many vendors and hosting companies, you can begin looking for a vendor that has a good track record and experience in helping customers achieve their business goals.
Remember to ask companies about the types of customers they’ve worked with and their long term plans; and evaluate the security offered by particular solutions because you want to ensure your business isn’t exposed to hackers. Ask for references if possible; typically if a company is proud of the work they’ve done, they’ll provide you with references you can contact.
This is usually the most difficult step in the process but it’s important to take your time because as difficult as it can be, it’ll be extremely rewarding once you’ve found the right solution.
Make sure that your team knows how to use the CRM solution you’ve decided on. Many people tend to look at training as an expense that can be dismissed, which is a mistake. If you’re staff doesn’t know how to best use the new CRM software, you’re not going to get the results you desire. Find out if the companies you’re considering offer training, and if so, ask for it to be included in the package.
It’s going to take time for you to decide on the right CRM solution. The entire process may take several months to complete.
What to Expect Once You’ve Made Your Choice
It’s been challenging but you’ve put the required effort into making the your decision. You’ve done your research and you’re completely satisfied with your choice, so what should you expect now that you’ve chosen and implemented the solution?
Assuming you’ve followed the advice in this article and done everything correctly, you should quickly begin to see the benefits of your CRM solution. Your customers will notice an improvement in how you’re doing business with them and your users should feel comfortable and confident when using the product.
Most investments take time to pay off, but the rewards should be seen in about six months. Many people don’t like change, so there might be some resistance in the beginning. However, once they see the benefits of the change, they’ll be ready and willing to comply. If they don’t, they might need to be replaced. The change will be a positive one that will affect the culture of your business. If they can’t get on board with the new culture, they may need to move on.
As time goes on, keep evaluating your solution; as your business changes, your needs will change as well. Don’t be afraid to make changes, and be flexible. Your solution will grow with you.
Those who embrace the CRM solutions available will outshine the rest, and those who choose to ignore these solutions will simply be left behind. Your business will be more competitive by raising the bar for customer relations and interactions with your employees. Your CRM solution will help your business run efficiently and smoothly.
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Do you have questions about using CRM in your business? Contact us and discuss how technology can benefit your business. Technology professionals are standing by ready to help you.
Every company is unique and your solution will need to match the uniqueness of your company. Making the right CRM choice will ensure your businesses success for the future, so be sure to take your time during the selection process to you choose the best CRM solution for you. You won’t regret it.
Anonymous Proxy is a utility service (paid/free) that will allow you to surf anonymously online, secure your connection, hide your history/IP address, and protect your online identity. It is commonly used to unblock work, school & home firewalls. This will allow you to browse the internet securely, without being blocked from any website.
The anonymous proxy utility resides on a specific proxy server. It works like this. A web browser connects to the proxy server, then the proxy server connects to the web server.
The web server will not know who the certain user is, it will only know who the proxy server is. The proxy server will not know who the user is, so a user had to choose a trusted proxy server.
A good web proxy will allow a user to setup a TLS or SSL tunnel. This will prevents packet sniffers from discreetly getting information from users while they surf anonymously.
There are some anonymous proxy servers that support FTP, while others only support HTTP. Those anonymous proxy servers that support HTTPS are better. Reminder: make sure that you choose an anonymous proxy server that supports your desired protocols.
These options should be something that a user can configure to enable an Anonymous Proxy server to work with sites that require cookies or pop-ups.
The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) phished Google Apps accounts belonging to Onion employees using three separate methods. On May 3, 2013, the SEA sent phishing emails to Onion employees from address that appeared odd. They sent these emails to just a few Onion employees. This kept the SEA from being detected.
One Onion employee fell for the phishing attack. Once the SEA had access to this employee’s account, they used it to send the same email to multiple Onion employees. Here’s what happened:
The third phishing attack was the final one; it compromised two more accounts. One of the accounts was used for Onion’s Twitter account. Once the third attack occurred, the editorial staff at Onion published articles referencing the attack. One of the articles is noted here:
Syrian Electronic Army Has A Little Fun Before Inevitable Upcoming Deaths At Hands Of Rebels | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source.
These articles made the SEA angry, and in retaliation they posted editorial emails on Onion’s Twitter account. The staff at Onion decided that none of their accounts were safe because there was no way to tell which accounts had been compromised, and which hadn’t. So all Onion employees were required to reset their passwords.
Ensure This Doesn’t Happen to You
The SEA wasn’t using complex methods of attack. This becomes clear when we examine incident, and others like this one such as the Guardian and Associated Press attacks. All of these attacks were accomplished using simple phishing strategies; possibly using dictionary attacks, that are easily preventable if you employ a few simple security measures.
Have questions about your business technology security? Give us a call and book a time with our Information Technology security experts today. We are your technology support experts, we are here to help you.
On May 14th, Microsoft confirmed that the forthcoming Windows 8 update, Windows “Blue,” will now officially be called Windows 8.1. It will be a available as a free download from the Windows Store for Windows 8 and RT users. Tami Reller, Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer and the Windows Division’s Chief Financial Officer, made these statements at the JP Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom Conference.
She also said that “Windows 8.1 will advance the bold vision that we set forward with Windows 8 to deliver great tablets and PCs with an experience allowing you to do a lot more.” For enterprise customers, she believes that Windows 8.1 will give them confidence to deploy Windows 8 devices, such as tablets and PCs. Microsoft is working on their current application designs.
Reller also mentioned that the update for Windows 8 is being accelerated, which she describes as a “continuous product-improvement cycle.” “To date, the Windows division has updated various versions of the Windows 8 operating system 739 times,” Reller said, not including updates to applications. There are now over 70,000 individual applications available in the Windows Store.
She said the company feels great about the direction Windows 8 has taken, as well as their ability to deliver continuous updates to their customers—whether it updates through the App Store, Windows 8.1 or Windows Updates. She also expressed confidence in how Microsoft is positioned in today’s mobile computing market.
However, she didn’t provide any details regarding the specific changes Windows 8.1 is going to bring, except that it will be more significant than what Windows Update typically delivers. Reller did say that Windows 8.1 will be more like a “packages set of updates.”
On June 26th, 2013, Microsoft is planning to launch a public preview of Windows 8.1 to correspond with its BUILD Developer Conference in San Francisco. Reller said the final version should be available by the end of the year.
“Since the launch of Windows 8, we’ve seen our partners deliver more innovation than ever before. That’s across tablets, laptops and convertibles,” says Reller. “Windows 8 was built to blend our work and personal lives, it was built for a world where people can expect touch-first experiences everywhere. A world that expects to be connected because we’re always on the go.”
Microsoft has sold over 100 million licenses to Windows 8. The latest available data from NetMarketShare reveals that Windows 8’s desktop market share was 3.8 percent in April 2013, trailing Windows XP, Windows 7 and even Windows Vista. The slow adoption rate of Windows 8 convinced Microsoft to discount the cost of licensing the operating system for its original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners.
The sales of traditional PCs has been declining globally, which makes the problem worse for Microsoft. Industry analysts believe the drop in PC sales is due to rising demand for smaller form factors, such as smartphones or tablets. Microsoft assured investors in its Q3 earnings call, that they’re adapting to the changes of the market, and going for Windows 8 devices that are touch-enabled which can run on smaller form factors and offer a wider range of prices. The company has plans to expand the availability of its Surface tablet as well, which is now available in 29 markets.
On Tuesday, Reller reflected on those assurances, stating that the idea with Windows 8 was to travel beyond the PC and show that they can move from PCs to mobile computing extensively. She also said that Windows 8 introduces a new experience that redefines what can be possible with mobile computing.
Do you have Windows 8 questions? Contact us today, we are your trusted Microsoft partner and ready to help you.
Francis Smith was recently on a cruise in Miami when sometime between disembarking from the cruise ship to returning home in Indiana, someone purchased cigars and other items in Miami with her credit card number.
Nowadays, hackers can scan your credit card from a distance; they don’t even have to see your credit card in order to access your information. Francis believes that the criminal must have scanned her Visa account information while she was filling up her gas tank in South Florida.
Wireless attacks that siphon your credit card number, personal information and passwords have become the latest threat against travelers. Thieves can scan anything with a radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip imbedded in it, such as your credit card or passport. If you use a smartphone, you should be aware that it’s also possible for thieves to steal valuable data from it when you’ve logged onto a Wi-Fi network.
However, there are a few simple ways you can avoid these types of wireless assaults, such as buying new, shielded luggage products and by using common-sense steps to protect your credit cards and computer devices.
The luggage industry is now offering an entire new luggage collection with protective linings that shield all of your wireless devices and identification with RFID chips. Luggage manufacturer Briggs & Riley, based in Hauppage, New York, is adding RFID blocking pockets to its new bag and briefcase collections.
The new luggage comes with two pockets with electromagnetic shielding, one for your smartphone and tablet, and another one for ID’s and passports. They’re designed to appeal to privacy-conscious business travelers, with black ballistic nylon cases being priced from $129 to $479. Briggs & Riley’s Chief Executive, Richard Krulik, says that his company is always adapting to the demands and concerns of travelers, which he refers to as “reality-engineering.” He also stated that travelers need this new RFID blocking protection for their personal data and information, because they’re constantly relying on their luggage to keep their belongings safe.
Francis Smith was extremely lucky, because as it turned out her card didn’t have an RFID chip. Francis’ bank detected the fraud because of the suspicious purchases, and disabled her account, refunding her for all the fraudulent purchases. This is a great example of one of the best possible solutions, which is to have a bank account that will stop any fraud quickly and cover all loses. Francis also decided to use a prepaid debit card that doesn’t contain any personal information when she travels.
Not everyone has been as fortunate as Francis; nearly half of all travelers access the Internet on their smartphones while traveling, according to a survey done by security firm Kaspersky Lab. The most vulnerable wireless devices are running on Android OS, however, any phone can easily be a target; one third of cellphone users store passwords to their bank accounts, social networks and online accounts on their smartphone, tablet or laptop, making them vulnerable to identity theft.
Do you have questions about your technology security? We can help ensure your business is secured from many of the threats including educating your staff on what to watch out for. Especially identity theft.
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The Adobe Company will no longer be selling or distributing boxed software; their programs will now only be available via subscription. This includes popular products like Adobe Photoshop, InDesign and Premiere.
Adobe introduced their Creative Cloud (CC) in 2012, a subscription service that offers customers the use of its programs via a monthly fee. Nearly 500,000 people are now paying a monthly fee of between $10 and $50 for access to Adobe software products.
Adobe’s Vice-President, Scott Morris, said the Creative Cloud has s been highly successful for the company. The core of what’s called Creative Suite (CS) 6 contains new editions of InDesign, Photoshop, Premiere and about 12 other Adobe flagship programs. It will be released on June 17, 2013, by subscription only and identified as Creative Cloud (CC) instead of Creative Suite (CS).
Adobe’s boxed software previously sold from between $600 and $1,100 depending on which bundle of programs was purchased. Now customers will only be paying $49.99 monthly, and owners of CS3 – CS5 products will pay $29.99 each month for the first year. Students and teachers will be offered a discount price of $29.99 per month.
The option to pay for a single piece of software such as Photoshop is also available for new customers at $20 monthly, or $10 monthly for previous customers. Users can always access the software offline, unlike most cloud programs. However, it will need to be connected to Adobe once a month for verification and updates.
Morris explains that “This business model means no upfront costs, making our software more accessible to more people; you’ll get new features right away instead of waiting two years for them.” Adobe has decided that this will be their primary focus.
Do you have questions about Adobe software? Give us a call. We can help you understand the best Adobe solutions to help your business. We are your local IT services experts and understand how business can be leverage Adobe solutions.
The new corporate mantra has become Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) that encourages employees to use their own smartphones and tablets at work. Businesses are incorporating this strategy into the workplace so staff members can use devices they’re already comfortable with, rather than having to learn how to use company-assigned devices.
Employees have welcomed this idea because it’s extremely flexible and practical; however it’s resulted in some challenges that need to be addressed. The biggest have been to ensure that proper work/life boundaries are maintained, and that these devices work securely in both work and home environments. It’s essential that work-related data remain secure and manageable by the company, while employee’s personal information remains private and safe.
Many smartphone companies have become more serious about the BYOD trend and have made it their mission to provide solutions specific to these enterprises.
While Samsung isn’t typically the first name that comes to mind when you think about the mobile market, they’ve designed the Samsung KNOX. The KNOX is specifically designed for BYOD users and provides a solution that transfers seamlessly between work and personal life. Samsung states that KNOX’s all-inclusive work and play solution for business mobility is essential because it addresses the security needs for enterprise IT without invading the privacy of employees.
The Alliance Manager for Samsung Canada’s Business Solution Group, Steve Cull, says “KNOX provides VPN (Virtual Private Networks) encryption and support for at least 300 IT policies relating to mobile device management.” Cull also mentioned that KNOX will have its own application store that provides tested products designed specifically for business usage. This will allow corporations to manage their data and lockdown any sensitive areas, while also allowing users to check for malware or viruses.
The idea is to have two ‘personas’ coexisting on the same device—a corporate one that is secure and closely managed, and a personal one that is completely controlled by the user, without interference from the company. In the event of someone leaving their job, KNOX can remove all the information in the corporate persona, leaving the user with their personal data intact and remaining on the device. KNOX will be available in the upcoming Samsung smartphones.
Blackberry has always been synonymous with government applications and secure enterprise. It’s often the main choice for business users who desire a closed and secure mobile network. The BlackBerry 10 OS was recently released with a focus on consumers and businesses. Their new BYOD solution is named BlackBerry Balance.
Companies that are considering the idea of supporting BlackBerry Z10 or Q10 smartphones will probably see BlackBerry Balance as a great choice. It’s described as: “technology to separate and secure work and personal information on BlackBerry devices; enabling users to stay connected to the important things and people in their life while their privacy is respected, and sensitive work information is protected.”
With Balance, the smartphone will detect what information is personal, and what belongs in the work ecosystem. Users are prevented from cutting text from work emails and pasting it into personal emails, and vice-versa. This means that the user can easily shift between work-related and personal apps, with the added knowledge that their device knows what belongs where. With the BlackBerry Balance, it’s simple for companies to delete or encrypt all corporate data if the employee ever leaves their position.
In conclusion, BYOD in the enterprise world is now safe, transparent and reliable for all employees and companies with solutions such as Samsung’s KNOX and the BlackBerry Balance.