Technology is entwined within almost every business function in practically every industry and organization today. It’s imperative to consider the implications of business decisions – from changing your copier brand to firing an employee – on your IT systems. Cards Technology CEO Sam Card discusses common business transitions that impact IT.
Q: What are common changes businesses often fail to realize will impact their IT systems?
Sam Card: Two common business systems that impact your IT network are copiers and phones. Both rely upon your network to function properly but often businesses will switch their copiers out or change to a different phone system without contacting their IT provider. Your provider collaborates with vendors who have products connected to your network to ensure everything is operating correctly so they need to be in the know.
Moving your office, acquiring another business or installing new software are other areas you need to make your IT provider aware of, so you don’t experience excessive downtime during implementation and can capitalize on the benefits of the new product or facilities. It’s important to have your IT provider check out new physical spaces before you purchase or sign a lease to make sure there’s adequate internet and phone service infrastructure to support your technology functions.
Q: There shouldn’t be a problem if some of my staff start working remotely, right?
Sam Card: There are a couple of different options that allow employees to work securely from home. Setting up a VPN connection behind your corporate firewall or if you have a remote desktop gateway with SSL encryption in place, your information will be protected. But you need to inform your IT provider if you have remote employees so that they can be provided access. It’s important that security practices and policies are set up to manage the safety of your business’s data. With Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), you can set up “conditional access,” so the system will block connections from computers or users not meeting compliance requirements.
Q: I had to fire someone on my team, and they didn’t take it very well. What can my IT provider do to make sure that our company remains secure?
Sam Card: It’s important to notify your IT provider right away as they are responsible for creating user accounts and establishing the level of access each employee has to your network. Microsoft EMS offers security rules for mobile device management that can give you control over your employee’s phone to wipe company apps and data if they leave the organization. Whether you’re hiring or terminating employees, let your IT provider know so your network is protected and the billing on “per user” services and applications can be adjusted accordingly.
Sometimes the smallest IT problems can be the biggest irritations. Cards Technology CEO Sam Card talks about the need to quickly take care of small, but pesky, technology issues.
I recently purchased an upgraded mouse with a nice scroll wheel that makes it easy to scroll up and down and left to right. Shortly after buying this mouse, I discovered that the scroll wheel wasn’t “clicking.” The wheel just continually rolled without any brakes to slow it down. This quickly became very annoying. Despite being an IT company with dozens of spare mice in the office, I chose to just keep working with this tremendous annoyance.
When scrolling, I kept flying past what I was trying to read in my web browser; I flew past the email I wanted to look at in Outlook; I zoomed in and out repetitively trying to get the text the right size in my Excel sheets. It was very frustrating, but I was busy so I continued to deal with it and push through my work. Although hindered, I was still able to get my work done.
After about three weeks of this, I was at the breaking point. This mouse was only a few months old, so I emailed the manufacturer and told them what was happening. They instructed me to plug the mouse into a different port, try other applications, clean it with compressed air and test it on a different computer. None of these things worked. I told them their suggestions did not work. They said they were sending me a new mouse and asked that I discard the old, defective one. I thought that was a very nice warranty replacement process!
In passing, I told one of our techs of the problem and how easy the resolution to it was. Funny enough, he had purchased the exact same mouse at home, and he experienced the same problem out of the box! What was even funnier is that, like me, he had dealt with this problem for a long time. About 6 months! That evening he contacted the manufacturer, and they sent him a new mouse as well.
When my new mouse arrived, the tech came to install it. Our service manager’s 20-year-old son who works part-time for us in the summer came to assist. As they were preparing to install the new mouse, he asked why we were replacing the old mouse. The tech explained the situation with the scroll wheel continually spinning when rolled up or down. Our service manager’s son laughed and said, “See this little button below the scroll wheel? When you press it, it toggles between having the brake on the scroll wheel and the wheel spinning freely.”
Why didn’t the manufacturer mention this button before sending us replacement mice? Especially since they knew the model of the mouse we were troubleshooting – you would think they knew it had this button.
Then I added up what this little mouse problem cost our business – the labor costs (one CEO, a technician and an intern!) were high, not to mention how we could have been spending that time on something way more productive. We had a couple of hours of payroll among the CEO, two skilled engineers and our receiving clerk to deal with this problem – a very expensive way to spend time that did not produce any value!
The moral of the story is that you should never force yourself to tolerate simple annoyances. Get in a help desk ticket and hold your IT department accountable to getting these issues fixed. Little problems can add up to big, expensive time and money wasters – take it from someone who tolerated a silly mouse problem for weeks!
Microsoft Teams, included as part of Microsoft’s Office 365 subscription, is a group messaging app that brings together business teams in a central location
to collaborate through its own chat rooms, text and video calls. Whether you’re in the office or in the field, Teams allows you to work efficiently
without extra programs like Google Hangouts, Facebook or Slack. Teams may even replace interoffice email.
Teams will quickly become your team’s go-to communications and collaboration hub. These tips and tricks will get you on your way now.
The Teams mobile app helps you connect and collaborate wherever you are. The app is available on iOS, Android or Windows Phone. You can participate in conversations and see all of your teams, channels, files and more.
SharePoint is primarily a document management and storage system, it also serves as a web-based collaboration tool. SharePoint also features the ability to be configured uniquely for organizations for a variety of uses. SharePoint allows you, your customers and employees to share documents, access internal sites and get information from anywhere.
SharePoint News can deliver important news from all of your departments throughout your company. Everyone is up to date on the projects, announcements and high points from every other department – post best practices, share templates and other reusable assets, celebrate key customer wins!
Here’s how to create news posts:
For a personal, hands-on experience with Microsoft Office 365, join Cards Technology at a Customer Immersion Experience. Click here for more information.
Although our lifestyle here on Delmarva can go at a somewhat different pace than our counterparts on the mainland, adopting successful business standards
is not an area where we want to be lagging. Cloud computing is now mainstream among businesses and can make your life so much easier with its optimal
access, productivity and security.
Thinking of moving your business processes to the cloud? Here are the top 10 things that you need to take into consideration.
Fads and new inventions influence our way of life with fashion, music, lifestyle choices and even the way we do business. Some fads, like mullets and the macarena, thankfully have been short-lived. But, what happens when a fad goes mainstream – and you missed it?
Eastman Kodak thought digital photography was a fad in 1975 when employee Steven Sasson developed the first, self-contained digital camera. Kodak, however, didn’t believe anyone would ever want to look at pictures on a screen (is there another way?) and passed on fully developing the project.
Digital photography was not a fad though. After missing its opportunity in 1975 and struggling for almost four decades to compete in the digital world, Eastman Kodak filed for bankruptcy just five years after its patent on the digital camera expired. All because they failed to change.
When it comes to change, most of us are at least a little reluctant – especially when it comes to technology. Changing equipment, practices and apps isn’t
something we relish, and it can be risky. Switching disrupts our routine and may even slow production as employees learn new processes and software.
Although smaller businesses may be slower to make technology changes, they also have more flexibility to adapt and, therefore, take advantage of innovations.
Cloud computing falls into this category.
Cloud computing has been around for over a decade now, and Gartner survey data says over 59 percent of small businesses have already adopted it with another 22 percent reporting they plan to migrate within the next two years. Obviously, cloud computing is not a passing fad.
In fact, cloud computing is now a business standard, just like digital photography is standard. That begs the question – why aren’t you on the cloud?
Migrating to the cloud doesn’t have to be all or none. A hybrid cloud solution can produce the best blend of efficiency, security and cost savings.
One of the most popular cloud solutions available is Microsoft’s Office 365. The beauty of Office 365 is practically everyone already knows how to use the mainstay apps like Excel, Word and PowerPoint so the transition is almost invisible to end users.
As seen in The Maryland Coast Dispatch
Even though cloud solutions have benefits like flexibility, collaboration and simplified backups, some Delmarva businesses are hesitant to migrate to the cloud because of local internet concerns. Delmarva technology leader Sam Card answers questions about how connectivity works and the impact it has on your decision to migrate to the cloud.
Q: I’m thinking of moving some business applications to the cloud. Why is it important to have a reliable internet connection?
Sam Card: The cloud can be very frustrating if you have poor internet connectivity. This is especially true when you need access to your files to meet a business deadline, like a sales proposal. If you have frequent internet disconnections, or don’t have high speed internet, you may be restricted in what you can do with your data in the cloud.
However, the infrastructure on Delmarva has come a long way as many service providers have invested in their networks, bringing better connectivity to businesses. Cards Technology, along with several of our clients, have purchased fiber optic internet service. This reduces the construction costs for internet service providers and makes fiber more affordable for Delmarva businesses.
Q: I’ve been hearing fiber is the best internet connection. What is the difference between fiber optic internet and cable?
SC: Cable, DSL and prior to that, dialup service, used copper wire because it’s a good conductor of electricity. Fiber optics was born with the development of thin, flexible, glass material wrapped in bundles where data is transmitted at the speed of light.
Basically, fiber optic connectivity is dedicated to your business while cable internet is shared with all your neighbors. Imagine 10 kids streaming movies when they get home from school on the same cable line as your business. Trying to have a video skype conversation with your customer becomes a nightmare! With fiber, you are guaranteed speed because the connection is direct to your business. There is also less, if not any, downtime with fiber since the fiber infrastructure is heavy duty and more reliable than cable.
Q: Isn’t fiber going to be too expensive for my Delmarva small business?
SC: It doesn’t matter what size your business is, you want cost effective internet. If you need constant internet connectivity, and it costs you money when the internet is down, fiber is your answer. You have to analyze what downtime costs you compared to the cost of fiber. If your staff is sitting idle, or your customers can’t get answers, that’s expensive!
Your access to the cloud doesn’t have to be stalled by internet connectivity. Consider what level of internet uptime your business needs, and choose the connection that best fits your needs. There’s still room in the cloud for you.
PowerPoint is the go-to app for presentations for business professionals. One of the best practices we’re taught right away is to make slides consistent and clean for the best-looking presentations.
If you’re dealing with multiple images that you want to be the same size – and need to be resized consistently – there’s a feature for that. Let’s say you are using profile pictures for speaker bios and the images all need to be the same size, but they aren’t. Here’s the best way to handle the situation:
A picture is worth a thousand words…
If you work with multiple tabs in Excel routinely, you know the pain of searching through each tab to make the same change repeatedly. You also probably know these changes can be made with the Search/Replace function but – step away from the search key! – here’s a quicker way to make the same change across worksheets.
Bada bing bada boom – all cells changed! Let’s take a look…
OK, OK. That was a really short (although very cool) tip so here’s a bonus Excel tip…
When you want to put today’s date into a worksheet cell, just type Ctrl+; in the cell. Add the time by pressing Ctrl+Shift+;
Take your Word documents from fine to fabulous with these 3 easy steps to adding a table of contents to your reports, proposals and presentations. Printed documents with a table of contents appear more sophisticated, and onscreen documents with a table of contents feature hot-link navigation to make it easy for readers to jump immediately to specific sections. Your readers will quickly find the information they need – and you will look like a rock star!
1. Apply Heading Styles
2. Insert A Table Of Contents
3. Customize your table of contents
Between phones, tablets, and computers, most employees today have at least three devices. It’s not like the early 2000s when companies were just beginning to adopt the internet. Computer servers sat in an office closet. Everybody drove to the office to work, and nobody really cared about accessing information from anywhere else.
Today, work on Delmarva is just as likely to happen at a main or remote office, as it is at home or a coffee shop. You and your staff have higher expectations for accessing information – you want to be able to get to it instantaneously.
That’s where cloud technology helps.
To help you determine if cloud technology is right for your business, consider these five advantages.
1. Flexibility to work from anywhere.
When your company is working from the cloud, you can get to your applications and information quickly. Employees can work from home, in the field, or in the office. One of our Delmarva plumbing clients has enabled their field employees to review and update data in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet from their job sites. Now both the field and office staff have real-time access to information. No more waiting to get back to the office. Not only has productivity soared, but employees are happier because they can get their jobs done faster.
2. Improved staff collaboration.
Traditional business applications don’t allow you and your staff to collaborate easily on projects and documents. Accounting software lets you do a great job managing your company’s payables and balancing your checkbook, but it doesn’t help your staff work together on other projects. Cloud collaboration allows you to share data, and work on documents together in real time, all in one place.
3. Simplified backup and safer data.
No business owner wants to discover their server crashed and they’ve lost access to their data. With the cloud, you aren’t at risk of losing information you’ve saved on your server or device due to a hardware failure, virus, or employee error. Because your data is saved in the cloud on systems that have multiple redundancies, downtime is virtually eliminated. And if something does go wrong? The cloud allows for quick data recovery, usually without a call to the helpdesk.
4. Fluctuate with seasonal demand.
As your business changes throughout the seasons, cloud technology allows you to quickly and easily add and remove users to software applications. No longer do you have to worry about paying for perpetual software licenses that you only use during the high-season. With cloud solutions, you can accommodate the fluctuations in your staffing and sales.
5. Grow efficiently and cost effectively.
Many cloud solutions, like Microsoft Office 365, have built in tools or capabilities that most companies aren’t even aware of until they begin to grow. Other cloud solutions are similar. They include these capabilities to meet your business needs without disruptive upgrades or software switches. You may not need all the capabilities they have today, but by choosing a cloud solution, you preserve your flexibility for when you do grow. Those capabilities are there, waiting to be implemented as your business grows and evolves.
Not everything is sunny in the cloud. As you consider cloud technology, there are two considerations to keep in mind.
1. Back-ups are still necessary.
The cloud simplifies your backup strategy, but doesn’t eliminate it. You don’t have to back up your applications like you do with a server in your office because the cloud does that for you. However, you still want to back up your data. It’s the backbone of your business. At Cards Technology, our experts review your backup strategy as part of your move to the cloud to safeguard that your data will be protected.
2. Know where your data is stored in the cloud.
While the cloud can be an extremely efficient way to store your data, it’s important that the cloud provider you select has a secure, reliable environment. The security experts at Cards Technology conduct regular security audits, offer you written documentation of our security policies and show you an audit report that verifies we adhere to standard data privacy regulations.
Like the idea of the cloud, but you’re concerned about the reliability of your internet connectivity? We hear that frequently. Don’t let it rain on your cloud vision.
If you’re having problems with internet connectivity, step back and examine why it’s happening. With the internet as accessible as it is today, you really shouldn’t be experiencing problems. When we encounter it with our clients, our top two recommendations are:
1. Get a second internet connection. A second connection will give you redundancy. If one connection goes down, you have a backup.
2. Move to a fiber-optic internet service. This uses physical fiber-optic lines to your office and is typically more reliable than DSL or cable.
To ensure you’re on the right path as you move to the cloud, partner with a trusted IT provider, like Cards Technology, that understands cloud and cloud security. If you’d like to discuss how you might implement the cloud in your business, click here or call us at 410-208-3933. We’ll conduct an assessment to identify the best strategy for you.