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September 21st, 2016

2016september21_security_aAs with all technology, trendy phrases come and go with the passing of every IT conference and newly released virus. And when dealing with cybersecurity, keeping up with them all can mean the survival -- or demise -- of a business. If you’re looking for a list of the industry’s most relevant terms, you’ve come to the right place.

Malware

For a long time, the phrase ‘computer virus’ was misappropriated as a term to define every type of attack that intended to harm or hurt your computers and networks. A virus is actually a specific type of attack, or malware. Whereas a virus is designed to replicate itself, any software created for the purpose of destroying or unfairly accessing networks and data should be referred to as a type of malware.

Ransomware

Don’t let all the other words ending in ‘ware’ confuse you; they are all just subcategories of malware. Currently, one of the most popular of these is ‘ransomware,’ which encrypts valuable data until a ransom is paid for its return.

Intrusion Protection System

There are several ways to safeguard your network from malware, but intrusion protection systems (IPSs) are quickly becoming one of the non-negotiables. IPSs sit inside of your company’s firewall and look for suspicious and malicious activity that can be halted before it can deploy an exploit or take advantage of a known vulnerability.

Social Engineering

Not all types of malware rely solely on fancy computer programming. While the exact statistics are quite difficult to pin down, experts agree that the majority of attacks require some form of what is called ‘social engineering’ to be successful. Social engineering is the act of tricking people, rather than computers, into revealing sensitive or guarded information. Complicated software is totally unnecessary if you can just convince potential victims that you’re a security professional who needs their password to secure their account.

Phishing

Despite often relying on face-to-face interactions, social engineering does occasionally employ more technical methods. Phishing is the act of creating an application or website that impersonates a trustworthy, and often well-known business in an attempt to elicit confidential information. Just because you received an email that says it’s from the IRS doesn’t mean it should be taken at face value -- always verify the source of any service requesting your sensitive data.

Anti-virus

Anti-virus software is often misunderstood as a way to comprehensively secure your computers and workstations. These applications are just one piece of the cybersecurity puzzle and can only scan the drives on which they are installed for signs of well known malware variants.

Zero-day attacks

Malware is most dangerous when it has been released but not yet discovered by cybersecurity experts. When a vulnerability is found within a piece of software, vendors will release an update to amend the gap in security. However, if cyber attackers release a piece of malware that has never been seen before, and if that malware exploits one of these holes before the vulnerability is addressed, it is called a zero-day attack.

Patch

When software developers discover a security vulnerability in their programming, they usually release a small file to update and ‘patch’ this gap. Patches are essential to keeping your network secure from the vultures lurking on the internet. By checking for and installing patches as often as possible, you keep your software protected from the latest advances in malware.

Redundant data

When anti-virus software, patches, and intrusion detection fail to keep your information secure, there’s only one thing that will: quarantined off-site storage. Duplicating your data offline and storing it somewhere other than your business’s workspace ensures that if there is a malware infection, you’re equipped with backups.

We aren’t just creating a glossary of cyber security terms; every day, we’re writing a new chapter to the history of this ever-evolving industry. And no matter what you might think, we are available to impart that knowledge on anyone who comes knocking. Get in touch with us today and find out for yourself.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
September 20th, 2016

2016september20_hardware_aAmong all the new-fangled gizmos and whatchamacallits that pop up daily, hard drives remain a vital component for all types of computers. It’s completely normal to get a new one every couple of years, but with the overwhelming amount of choices available, a simple purchase becomes a difficult ordeal. Because we don’t have a tech fairy that can conjure up what we need, we’ve compiled four things you need to know before purchasing your next hardware.

Hard Disk Drive VS. Solid State Drive

Firstly, you have to know which type of data storage you plan to use: Hard Disk Drive (HDD) or Solid State Drive (SSD).Capabilities of HDDs are on par with SSDs -- but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any pros and cons. An SSD is a type of drive that uses flash memory for storing data, as opposed to spinning metal disks found in the traditional HDD -- think of it like an extra large USB thumb drive.

On the upside, SSDs are faster at reading and writing data. They require less energy, are silent, and generally have longer lifespans. Downsides include small data capacities and a heftier price tag. It all boils down to what you're going to your needs. Go for HDDs if you have budget restrictions or are looking for a backup/external drive; go for SSDs if the drive will run frequently-accessed files and programs.

Physical size and interface

After deciding between an HDD or SSD, you now have to choose a form factor. Luckily there are only two choices: the 3.5-inch drive and the 2.5-inch drive. The right one will likely depend on your current setup. With traditional HDDS, data is stored on spinning metal disks, meaning that more disks will be needed to expand data capacity. Because of this, desktop HDDs tend to be 3.5 inches with a maximum capacity of 4 TB, whereas laptops are 2.5 inches with a maximum capacity of 2 TB. SSDs are made smaller since they don’t require any removable parts, meaning they’ll fit easily into the 2.5-inch form factor. Adapters are available if you need to use the SSD in a 3.5-inch connector.

Specifications and performance

Now that you know what kind of drive to buy, it’s time to narrow down the candidates and find the best one that suits your needs. Here are some factors you need to consider:
  • Storage capacity - HDDs come in various sizes, but due to physical limitations, they cap off at 4 TB. Whereas SSDs are much smaller and doesn’t exceed the 1 TB mark - some consumer-level SSDs rarely exceed 512GB.
  • Transfer speed - Performance of consumer-level HDDs are determined by multiple factors, and revolutions per minute (RPM) is an important one. Higher RPM means faster data transfer between drives.
  • Cache space - If a hard disk needs to transfer data from one section to another, a special area of embedded memory known as the cache is utilized. Larger cache enables data to be transferred faster (because more information can be stored at one time). Modern HDDs have cache sizes ranging from 8-12 MB.
  • Access times - HDDs have a couple of factors that impact their performance. One is the time it takes for the reader to start reading or writing data from the drive. For SSDs, you want to look for sequential read and write speeds (also known as sustained reading and writing speeds). Just as long as the speeds are within the SATA connector’s max speed, you'll be fine.
  • Failure rate - Though all things mechanical gradually wear and tear over time, not all HDDs are the same. Some models last six months where others make it past six years. You must do adequate research on a per-model basis before making a purchase.

External VS. Internal

The final step is to decide whether you want the hard drive to reside within of if it will get its own compartment outside. External drives are ideal for storage and backup purposes; they generally connect with a USB 2.0 that caps out at 480Mb/s -- newer models that support USB 3.0 boasts a max of 5.0Gb/s. Unless the model you get is USB 3.0 compatible, the speed will likely be insufficient when it comes to running an operating system.

Speed issues aside, they’re portable and can be shared with multiple computers. They can even be plugged into TVs and media centers for direct playback. If portability falls second to speed, or if your current system lacks a working data drive, internal is the best choice.

Now that you’re armed with the necessary information, buying your next hardware should be a pleasant experience, like a walk in the park. If you have further questions or would like to know more, feel free to contact us by phone or email; we’re more than happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
September 15th, 2016

2016september15_socialmedia_aHow many times have you heard the saying “It’s not about what you do but who you know”? -- probably too many to count. Regardless of whether that’s your current business mantra, it's hard to ignore the advantages of tapping into your network. From landing jobs to furthering your career, the benefits of building relationships are undeniable. If you’re thinking, “Well, that sounds easier said than done,” you’re right. But here’s a tool that can lend you a helping hand: LinkedIn Alumni.

Get started

Access the Alumni tool by going to the homepage and hovering over “My Network.” Then select “Find Alumni.” From there, you are free to perform any search for individuals who have attended your school. You can apply one or more of the following filters:
  • Where they live (geographic location)
  • Where they work (company)
  • What they do (job function)
  • What they studied (major)
  • What they’re skilled at (LinkedIn skills)
  • How you are connected (first- and second-degree connections, group members, etc.)
On top of that, you can also identify alumni by the year they attended school, or you can conduct a text search for specifics that don’t fit in any of the listed filters.

The benefits of LinkedIn Alumni

Imagine that you’re looking for work in a new city. Let’s say you're looking for a marketing job in Texas. With the Alumni tool, select “Dallas/Fort Worth” area under “Where they live” and “Marketing” under “What they do.” If you are interested in a specific area of marketing like social media, you can refine your search by selecting “Social Media Marketing” for the “What they’re skilled at” filter. The more you target your search, the more relevant your results will be. From there, you can sift through profiles and send messages to those you want to have an actual conversation with. You can dip your toes into the water first by setting up an informational interview or exchanging questions via email.

If you’re looking to change careers but don’t know anyone in your new sector, all you need is filter for your alma mater. It shouldn’t be hard to reach out to anyone who went to the same school as you, because going to that school is what you both share in common. If you want to know how others made the leap toward where you’re headed, you can use the “What they studied” and “What they’re skilled at” filters for further information. You might also be able to find an individual with a nontraditional background, but who’s nonetheless working in the industry you want. This person may have insight into how to land the job without possessing the typical required experience.

Know how to contact the candidates

After narrowing down your search by utilizing the appropriate filters, you now have a list of individuals you wish to connect with. Technically, you’re just about done with the “Alumni Tool” portion of the process, but you’re not at the finish line just yet. All that’s left is to reach out to the people in your list and make the most out of the search.

If you have a first-degree connection with certain people, message them by clicking on the envelope icon found below the job title. Without a first-degree connection, you’ll see a silhouette and plus sign below the job title. From there, look to the bottom right of the profile photo; if there’s a Venn diagram, hover over it to see the connections you share. If you have a good relationship with one of these mutual connections, you should consider reaching out to see whether he or she would be willing to make an introduction.

There are a few ways to connect even without mutual connections. One option is to leverage your school’s alumni database to find contact information. Another is to send a personalized connection request. In the message, politely and briefly explain your reasons for wanting to connect. That should do it!

When used properly, networks truly are the keys to success. Like any other untapped resource, you must proceed with caution and know how to fully utilize it. If you have questions or concerns regarding LinkedIn’s Alumni tool, don’t hesitate to call in or send us an email. Let us be a part of the success that awaits you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
September 14th, 2016

2016september14_businesscontinuity_aDelta is paying big for the IT outage that occurred last month: millions of dollars in damages, 2300 cancelled flights, and significant reputational damage. Despite the harsh cut to the airline’s bottom line, Delta will probably still survive. But the real question is this: Can your business survive after long periods of downtime? A natural disaster, power outage, or successful hack can be the downfall of many small- to medium-sized businesses. But if you learn from the lessons of Delta’s IT mishap, your organization has a good chance of staying on its feet.

Strive for 100% redundancy According to Delta’s chief information officer, a power failure caused the company’s data center to crash, grounding thousands of would-be passengers. Although power was restored six hours after the incident, critical systems and network equipment failed to switch to a secondary site, corrupting valuable data in the process. And while some systems failed over, other vital applications didn’t; this created bottlenecks, decreased revenue, and diminished customers’ confidence.

Delta’s case is a massive wakeup call not just for the airline industry but for every business -- large and small. Companies must implement disaster recovery plans for their data centers, on-site technology, and Cloud applications to continue servicing customers while fixing the main issue with their primary systems. Companies also need to get rid of the false notion that redundancy plans to assure service continuity is restricted to larger corporations. DR and business continuity solutions are extremely affordable today, and a partnership with a provider can help you in more ways than one (more on this later).

Always test your backups

So although Delta had a plan to bring its business back to normalcy, the DR plan left a lot to be desired in practice. This begs the question as to whether the airline company is actually testing, reviewing, and reinforcing its vulnerabilities to different disasters.

The point is that even though your company may have a failover protocol in place, that protocol adds no value to your business unless it has been rigorously tried and tested. In order to avoid the same fate as Delta, make sure to find out whether your disaster recovery plan is capable of running mission-critical applications like email and customer service applications before -- not after -- downtime occurs.

Account for different types of vulnerability

In an interview with the Associated Press, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said, “We did not believe, by any means, that we had this type of vulnerability.” Indeed, it’s often hard to foresee what threats and vulnerabilities a natural disaster, power outage, or hacker can produce. But it’s not impossible.

By conducting a comprehensive audit of your data center security and disaster protocols, your business will be more aware and adept at minimizing the risk of potential disasters. This also means evaluating and preparing for disasters that are likely to happen to your business depending on its geographic location. Southern US, for instance, is prone to hurricanes and flooding.

Call for help

These lessons and strategies are all crucially important, but pulling off a DR and business continuity solution on your own may be difficult. For this reason, it’s critical to have a planned partnership with a managed services provider that can assess, plan, test and install the continuity solutions your business needs in order to minimize the impact and avoid encountering a Delta IT outage of your own.

To find out more about business continuity and guaranteeing complete IT redundancy, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
September 13th, 2016

2016september13_office_aMany suffer from glossophobia, the fear of public speaking. Reasons vary, from traumatic childhood experiences to the inability to imagine your co-workers in their underwear. Enter Microsoft PowerPoint. This program helps visually depict a presentation, whether it be for a class project or a boardroom meeting, or to convince parents to buy your first car. With the nine following tips, you can maximize the efficiency of your next PowerPoint presentation.

Start slideshows instantly

The audience doesn’t want to see the speaker’s cluttered desktop or unread emails as the PowerPoint presentation is being set up. Simply name the file with a .PPS or .PPSX file extension and voilà! Bypass the editing mode and start the show with a double click and end it with the Esc key.

Pull back the focus with Blackouts and Whiteouts

Audience members have the tendency to lose focus or drift away when presentations are longer than usual. If you suspect audience members are starting to lose focus, hit the B key for a complete blackout or the W key for a total whiteout. Then hit any key or click the mouse to return to the slides - this technique helps get the eyes back on you, where they belong.

Say no to bullet points

Both Steve Jobs and Tim Cook agree that bulleted lists aren’t the ticket. A better way to create lists is to drop each item in one at a time, if possible, next to a big image that is the main focus of your presentation. Don’t forget to talk about each individual list item, but not with bullets.

Insert pictures from Flickr and OneNote

Jazz up presentations by including images or memes that’ll make the audience laugh instead of doze off. Head to the Insert tab and select Online Pictures; you’ll see Office.com Clip Art, Bing Image Search, Flickr, OneNote and even Facebook. The vast pool of online imagery is now at your disposal.

Chart animation

The challenge doesn’t lie in inserting the chart into the presentation, but in making it interesting. Enter chart animation. After inserting the chart, click the Animations tab and activate the Animations pane. From there, click Add Animation. Pick an animated effect. Then, in the Animation Pane where you see the entry for the chart's animation, right click and select Effect Options.

This lets you customize sound and animation timing. But on the final tab—Chart Animation—be sure to change Group Chart from "As One Object" to "By Category." This makes charts display on screen one element at a time as you click, with bars or pieces of pie arriving one after the other, as if each was its own slide.

Kiosk presentations

Kiosk mode simply plays your presentation on a loop without allowing any human intervention or desktop access. This is ideal for trade shows and kiosks that you’d find in malls. Simply click the Slideshow tab > setup Slideshow > and in the dialog box, click next to Browsed at kiosk. Duration, audio, animation and transitions are fully customizable.

Extend music over multiple slides

Why confine your favorite tunes to just one slide? Expand it over the duration of your presentation by clicking on the speaker icon that indicates the embedded audio. Look for the Audio Tools above the tabs on top. Now select the new Playback tab, and in the Start section make sure to check the box for “Play Across Slides.” And presto, the audio is played across the next few slides or until the music runs out.

Duplication

If you are constantly reusing the same element throughout your presentation, the good old Ctrl-C+Ctrl-V is fine, but Duplication is better. Hold Ctrl while you click and drag on the object to create an exact dupe, keep selecting and making dupes and they’ll all space themselves out evenly. You can even dupe entire sets of slides; simply select one or more slides on the left navigation pane, select Insert, click New Slide menu and select Duplicate Selected Slides.

Animate, animate, animate

Any element of a PPT slide is animatable. Choose the element, go to the Animations tab, and at the right end of the Animations Gallery, click the down arrow to get "More." You can choose from many options about how an element appears, gets emphasis, or disappears—but for animated motion, go to the fourth section. If you pick Custom Path, you can get the object to do just about any wild motions you want on the screen before it settles down. Keep in mind that you don’t want an audience with motion sickness. PowerPoint presentations are complicated -- that’s a fact. So is how effective it becomes once utilized properly. If you have any further questions regarding our tips or how to execute them, please feel free to give us a call or send us an email. We’re more than happy to answer all of your questions.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office
September 2nd, 2016

2016September2_Security_ARemember in 2012 when Dropbox’s data, which contained details of around two-thirds of its customers, were leaked? At the time, Dropbox reported that a collection of users’ email addresses had been stolen, but it wasn’t until recently that the company discovered that passwords had been stolen as well. So what does this mean for Dropbox users?

Despite the unfortunate incident, Dropbox has implemented a thorough threat-monitoring analysis and investigation, and has found no indication that user accounts were improperly accessed. However, this doesn’t mean you’re 100 percent in the clear.

What you need to do

As a precaution, Dropbox has emailed all users believed to have been affected by the security breach, and completed a password-reset for them. This ensures that even if these passwords had been cracked, they couldn’t be used to access Dropbox accounts. However, if you signed up for the platform prior to mid-2012 and haven’t updated your password since, you’ll be prompted to do so the next time you sign in. All you have to do is choose a new password that meets Dropbox's minimum security requirements, a task assisted by their “strength meter.” The company also recommends using its two-step authentication feature when you reset your password.

Apart from that, if you used your Dropbox password on other sites before mid-2012 -- whether for Facebook, YouTube or any other online platform -- you should change your password on those services as well. Since most of us reuse passwords, the first thing any hacker does after acquiring stolen passwords is try them on the most popular account-based sites.

Dropbox’s ongoing security practices

Dropbox’s security team is working to improve its monitoring process for compromises, abuses, and suspicious activities. It has also implemented a broad set of controls, including independent security audits and certifications, threat intelligence, and bug bounties for white hat hackers. Bug bounties is a program whereby Dropbox provides monetary rewards, from $216 up to $10,000, to people who report vulnerabilities before malicious hackers can exploit them. Not only that, but the company has also built open-source tools such as zxcvbn, a password strength estimator, and bcrypt, a password hashing function to ensure that a similar breach doesn’t happen again.

To learn more about keeping your online accounts secure, or about how you can protect your business from today’s increasing cyber threats, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
September 1st, 2016

2016September1_Hardware_ALove them or hate them, projectors are the modern day soapbox. They give you the platform to present your case to a wider audience without compromising your content. Like most hardware purchases, however, they’re accompanied by a list of measurements and specifications you likely have little experience with. If you’re in the market for some new projection hardware at your business, take a minute to brush up on the essentials here.

Brightness

If you haven’t had any hands-on experience with projectors yet, brightness will undoubtedly be the first thing you notice. Although no projector will ever match the brightness of an LED or LCD television, with some informed shopping you can easily mitigate this unfortunate drawback. A ‘lumen’ is a measure of brightness listed under the specifications of any new projector. Anything over 2,000 lumens should be appropriate for small-group presentations in a low-light room. For larger meetings with more ambient light, 3,000 lumens should be able to negate any added burdens. No need to go any higher than that unless you expect to host more than 100 viewers and let a little light into the room.

Resolution

While brightness may be the first thing you notice, resolution is probably the first thing you think of. Before deciding on a resolution, give some honest consideration to how essential it is for the projector’s intended use. If the plan is to set it up in the conference room for Excel budget presentations, WXGA (or 1280x800) should be plenty clear. This resolution is the most widely compatible with the dimensions of modern laptop screens and will making swapping the content source a piece of cake. However, if you have an existing projector and/or screen, you may want to stick with your existing XGA (or 1024x768) resolution. Of course, there is always the option for the gold standard. Whether it’s an overinflated budget or true necessity, HD (1920x1080) will provide you with the best possible resolution for your projections.

Portability

Behind their bolted-in conference room companions, portable projectors are some of the most popular for business professionals. In addition to brightness and resolution comparisons, make sure to examine how valuable portability is to you. Increased portability often brings a significant reduction in image quality and may not ultimately be worth it. If you’re forging ahead with a mobile option, some of which are small enough to comfortably fit inside your pocket, make sure whatever you choose has the ability to read data from a USB or SD storage device. There’s no reason to buy a model compact enough to leave the backpack at home unless you’re utilizing all its added bonuses. This means you might have the option to purchase a mini-projector with a battery integrated into the device; just remember that it's unlikely you’ll have the picture quality or features to truly enjoy video and multimedia presentations.

Extra Features

What would any piece of hardware be without a few cool extra features? Top of the line projectors have a myriad of specialized add-ons that might be just what you need to make your final decision. We’ve already talked about USB and SD storage, but what about an iPhone or Android dock incorporated directly into the unit? And if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, cut the cords entirely with wireless-enabled projectors. Regardless of whether it’s one of these options, or something like internal storage capacity, always thoroughly test any special features before letting them factor into your final choice. There’s nothing worse than basing a decision on a total misnomer.

Our customers often forget to utilize one of our most useful service options: hardware consulting. If you’re ever in the market for new equipment at your organization, or need advice on how to get the most of what you currently have, don’t hesitate to ask. We’re an office full of gadget geeks who love the opportunity to talk about the latest and greatest the industry has to offer. Contact us today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
August 29th, 2016

2016August29_SocialMedia_AFishes are known to travel together in schools. They do so as a defense mechanism against predators or as a means to find a mate. Rarely do we see a fish making its way through the ocean unaccompanied. Schools of fish are the Twitter equivalent of celebrities or public figures, whereby lone guppies are SMBs struggling to make a splash in terms of their online presence. Allow Twitter’s latest stand-alone dashboard app to lend your business a helping hand.

According to Noah Pepper, Twitter’s product and engineering manager, “For businesses, Twitter is a place to share news, tell stories, and have conversations that support, educate, and delight their customers.” On top of that, he states that “It's a place for authentic interactions – but we know that creating these kinds of connections isn't always easy for businesses that are time and resource-constrained.” Because of this, Twitter has developed a brand new application that helps lighten your social media load -- enter Twitter Dashboard.

Twitter Dashboard specifically caters toward small- to medium-sized businesses, helping them to establish a fast, efficient and affordable means to manage their online presence. It helps you easily track and engage with audiences. The free app is still in the beta phase but is available to all businesses in the United States via iOS devices. There’s also a desktop web version as well.

With the help of Twitter Dashboard, social media managers can schedule tweets and set up customized feeds with the sole purpose of tracking what’s being said about a particular business. There are tools in the app that aids in tracking keywords as well as brainstorming ideas for potential tweets.

Here are some examples from Noah Pepper:

  • Say you work at a restaurant. You can come up with something like, “Your team is as unique as your business. Tweet a surprising fact about one of your team members.” This helps remind you to share some of the recent recognition your chef has received.
  • Or if you are an interior designer, when you see the tweet “Share the love. Like and Retweet kind words from your customers,” you’re prompted you to Retweet the next customer’s reaction to one of your projects.
Twitter Dashboard may not be of much use to savvy online marketers, but for those who have just dipped their toes into social media, it might help build the confidence needed to take flight. And this is exactly what Twitter needs if it's aiming to increase overall platform engagement.

Small- and medium-sized businesses should seize every opportunity they can to grow. Leverage the power of social media and see your company spread its wings and fly, soaring amidst the chirp of the blue birds tweeting. For further questions about Twitter Dashboard, feel free to give us a call, follow us, tweet us or give us a direct message -- we’re always ready to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
August 26th, 2016

2016August26_BusinessIntelligence_AIf genie lamps were out of stock before you could place an order for one, the next best thing to manage and grow your small- and medium-sized business lies in CRM. Short for customer relationship management, a real difference is possible, with the right software of course. With the numerous options out there, finding the most suitable one is like walking into a maze without a flashlight or GPS. We spared you the trouble and rounded up the best CRM software options for 2016:

Since every business differs in terms of size, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to CRM. Thus, varying corporate sizes require unique CRM software that best addresses requirements. We’ll be taking a look at ideal CRM software options for the following categories: businesses in general, very small businesses and ones that are free.

Best CRM Software for Small Businesses: Salesforce

Salesforce has long been considered one of the top-tier CRM solutions, mainly due to its cloud-based nature coupled with full-featured capabilities that cater to businesses of every size. Typically, Salesforce is synonymous with larger enterprises, but that doesn’t mean small- and medium-sized businesses are denied the same perks. Enter Salesforce’s small business edition: with it, SMBs can utilize the robust set of CRM tools at an affordable rate.

Salesforce Small Business Solutions offer packages that are tailor-made for small businesses. With it you’ll be able to fully utilize all that Salesforce has to offer. In order for your company to really thrive, your CRM should be equipped with features such as lead generation, contact and opportunity management, sales forecasting, workflow automation as well as collaborative tools -- all of which can be found in Salesforce. Also, the software is cloud-based, meaning that you can access data and files anywhere at anytime via mobile devices.

Best CRM Software for Very Small Businesses: Insightly

Underneath its simple and navigable facade lies a CRM software that is abundant with capabilities, all of which fit the bill for microbusinesses. Aside from the fact that it has the vital components small businesses really look for in CRM software, it’s also highly scalable to accommodate the growth of your company. Furthermore, Insightly is currently one of the more affordable CRM solutions on the market; there’s even a free version if you wish to test the waters. There are also paid plans available at a fraction of the price when compared with other CRM software solutions.

Even with the free version or paid plans that start at $12, Insightly doesn’t compromise utility with affordability. It comes equipped with all the vital CRM capabilities any microbusiness would need. This includes detailed sales reports, opportunity, contact and project management as well. It’s also scalable to meet the needs of your business as it grows. To top it all off, it’s a cloud-based CRM software allowing you to access data anywhere at anytime via Internet-enabled mobile devices.

Best Free CRM Software: Zoho CRM

Not having to pay for Zoho doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t deliver the necessary capabilities required from CRM software. Zoho CRM provides your business with all the core functions it needs. Moreover, it allows you to onboard up ten users for free. Courtesy of Zoho CRM’s mobile app, you’ll be able be access data regardless of time or location. Here are some of the other features that the free version of Zoho CRM has to offer:
  • 360-view - all the vital information is stored and displayed, allowing you to make the best business decisions. This includes contacts, sale cycles, pipelines, and discover trends. It also helps you identify opportunities.
  • Automation - spend less time dealing with mundane tasks by automating tasks such as lead generation, contact management, calendars and even call logs.
  • Collaboration - Zoho CRM doubles as a social media platform integrating with Twitter and Facebook to link contacts to their social media accounts. This allows you to see their updates as well as the interactions you’ve had on social media right from your dashboard.
  • Analytics - you can track sales as well as measure both business and employee performance via a range of reporting capabilities.
  • Security - with Zoho CRM, you are given full control over who can do what with the software. Besides creating individual user profiles, you can assign roles and even restrict access.
Unlike farms, the main component to a company's growth isn’t fertilizer and sunshine. Instead, it’s competent CRM software that allows your business to reach its full potential. If you have any questions on customer relationship management software, feel free to get in touch with us. We’re more than happy to not only provide answers but also be part of your success.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
August 25th, 2016

2016August25_Office_ADid you know that Microsoft’s Office 365 platform provides updates to their online components once every quarter? This is quite impressive because as an end user, you’ll be able to enjoy a more feature-rich and intuitive experience with your cloud productivity suite without having to manually install the updates yourself. So what exactly does Office 365’s update have in store for you this quarter?

Word

This quarter, Office 365’s upgrade will focus on cloud-powered intelligent services, designed to maximize productivity while saving time. And Office 365’s upgrade wouldn’t be an upgrade if there were nothing new in Word, the business application that put Microsoft on the map. To that end, Word is getting two new features called Researcher and Editor. As you may have guessed, Researcher is designed to help you find reliable sources of information by using Bing’s Knowledge Graph to help search and then cite sources in your Word document. In the future, Researcher’s body of reference materials will also include sources such as national science and health centers, well-known encyclopedias, and more. The feature will be available on mobile devices too.

Now that you have Researcher to help you start your paper, you can count on Editor to help you finish it. This new feature builds on the existing spellchecker and thesaurus, and in addition to the wavy red line under a misspelled word and wavy blue line under bad grammar, Editor uses a gold line for suggestions on how to improve your writing.

PowerPoint

Currently, when making a presentation, you’re forced to use the 1-2-3-4 linear method of showing your slides. The problem is that you can’t change your presentation order as needed without having to exit PowerPoint’s slideshow mode, and let’s face it, sometimes you do make mistakes and need to go back or move to a different slide. But thanks to PowerPoint’s new feature, Zoom, you can now present your slides in any order you want at any time without a hiccup.

Outlook

The time has come for Office 365’s Outlook to get the Focused Inbox which has been available for iOS and Android for some time now. If you’re not familiar with Focused Inbox, the feature separates your inbox into two tabs: Focused tab which includes emails that matter most to you and the “Other” tab for everything else. This makes it easy to identify email that needs your attention so you never miss anything important.

Not only that, but as you move email in or out of the Focused tab, Outlook learns from your behavior and adjusts to your priorities. You can also flag someone by typing the @ symbol in the body of the email and pick whoever you wish to flag. This will automatically highlight that person’s email and their email address will be added to the To: line. If you are mentioned, the @ symbol will show up in Outlook so you can quickly find all email where you are mentioned.

For now, Microsoft hasn’t set a release schedule for these new features, but according to Kirk Koenigsbauer, Corporate Vice President for the Office team, you can expect to use them soon enough! And as always, if you would like to find out how you can make the most out of Office 365 or Microsoft Office, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office