If you consider technology a necessary evil instead of a tool that can propel your business forward, this information from Cards Technology founder and CEO Sam Card will give you the information you need to break through growth barriers.
Q: What are some of the ways technology helps small- and medium-sized businesses grow?
Sam Card: At some point, every business hits a ceiling with the number of customers they can serve, the revenue they can earn or the number of employees they can bring on board. Technology can help businesses burst through that ceiling.
You can increase productivity with cloud technology like Office 365 and by automating certain functions within your business. Also, new software can provide you with specific metrics and other information so you can make better-informed decisions.
Q. Can technology give businesses a competitive advantage?
Sam Card: Yes! Different software has different capabilities businesses can leverage to increase their competitiveness. Also, making sure your technology is supported by a responsive IT team provides a consistent level of uptime, so you definitely have an advantage over competitors who might experience frequent downtime because of poorly maintained technology. Many companies with properly designed and maintained IT systems can easily achieve true 99.9% uptime.
Sam Card: We frequently sit down with our clients to listen to them describe their business plan and goals are for the next couple of years. We also want to hear what they plan to accomplish in the short-term – 90 and 30 days - so that we can prioritize based on their needs and make technology recommendations to help them achieve their business goals.
Q. What advice do you have for business owners who aren’t sure how to incorporate technology into their business processes?
Sam Card: Our proven process is to start with your business goals and identify what you want to do. Then, it’s time to gather information so you can make the best decisions – technology is never going to solve all your problems but you want to make sure it isn’t going to create more. Talk to a good IT consultant; get opinions from people you know and trust. Go to an industry tradeshow and talk with the vendors, sit through their sales presentations.
The more information you have, the better your chances are of getting the right technology solutions for your business’s unique needs.
Finding and hiring technology employees for your IT department can be difficult here in Delmarva especially if you’re really not sure exactly what your IT requirements are. Sam Card, CEO at Cards Technology, offers his insight into hiring technology staff members.
Q: What are some common challenges businesses face when looking to hire in-house IT professionals in Delmarva?
Sam Card: The most common challenges I see are that IT job roles aren’t defined by technical skills because many business managers really don’t understand their IT needs. As long as the computers are working, they’re happy. Unfortunately, this lack of knowledge about the role often means there aren’t clear-cut performance metrics, a training path or a career plan for the IT professional. So, a good IT candidate would rather have a growth-oriented job where they can advance in their career.
On top of that, the unemployment rate for IT professionals was only 1.9 percent in 2018, so there aren’t many candidates available.
Q. What advice do you have for Delmarva businesses seeking to hire technology employees?
Sam Card: Don’t hire ad hoc IT staff members just to solve an immediate need. Lay out a plan that will not only keep your computers running but also will align IT with your business goals. This may mean hiring an IT leader with financial, operations and general business skills in addition to technology expertise. If you have a good idea of what expertise and functions you actually need in IT, then you won’t hire someone who is under- or overqualified. Over hiring can be as much of a problem as not hiring someone with enough experience.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s important to outline the specific technical skills wanted as well as spelling out what the opportunity has to offer to the job candidate. Include specific requirements like, will you depend on them to write IT strategy or will someone else do that? Will this person be responsible for cost management or are they simply there to keep the email running? These are all decisions you have to make when hiring an IT professional. The more you know about your IT infrastructure and its functions, the better equipped you are to define job roles for your technology staff.
And, of course, best business practices call for you to provide well-documented training for job-specific responsibilities as well as operational processes. If employees are only learning socially on the job, their chances for success are much lower.
Whether your co-workers are down the hall, across the country or on the sand at Bethany Beach, Microsoft Office 365 has the capabilities to bring them together for meetings, training and work sessions. Geographic boundaries and varying time zones slip away as team members converse, collaborate and convene to move businesses forward with an environment laced with ease, flexibility and security.
Two Office 365 applications stand out when it comes to increasing group collaboration – SharePoint and Teams. In this article, we share tips on how to use SharePoint and Teams for collaboration. To learn more, contact us about our Microsoft Office Customer Immersion Experiences.
Best known for its online file storage capabilities, SharePoint allows users to access files from wherever they are via an internet browser. You are able to share files inside and outside your organization, co-authoring with colleagues or partners. Co-authoring allows multiple people to work on a Word document, Excel spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation at the same time.
To begin co-authoring in Word, one person sends the other an email which has a link that opens the document in your web browser.
Select Edit Document > Edit in BrowserWhen one of your teammates or partners is also working on the document, you can see their presence as well as the edits they are making.
Whereas SharePoint has collaboration space on team sites created for each project a group is working on, Teams provides a single area for a group to communication and organization information. Within this single Teams area, you can set up Tabs so group members can easily navigate to the resources they use throughout the day – and it’s all in one place.
Communicating in the workplace isn’t always simple. It can be hard to know who to ask what or the status of a report or presentation. With Microsoft Office
365 SharePoint and Teams, your work groups will be sailing along with effective collaboration and co-authoring. For a personal, hands-on experience
where you can explore Office 365 apps at your own pace, focus on the tools and solutions you want, and work with Cards Technology experts in person,
contact us at 410-208-3933 or online.
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.
Decide what goes to the cloud – and what may need to stay in the office
You don't want to jump into cloud computing just because it's popular. Here at Cards, we are huge fans of the cloud, but we only recommend it when it is the right way to go for our clients. We take the time to talk with you to determine what is the best blend of efficiency, security and cost savings for your business. Often, a hybrid approach with some functions in the cloud and some on premise is the best.
Map out the plan
Once it's determined that the cloud is the best route for you, mapping out the plan is next. You can phase in your cloud migration or implement everything at once. Your business's future needs also need to be considered.
Find the right cloud provider
Determine which cloud service provider you want to work with based upon your specific business needs and reasons. There are almost as many cloud providers as there are clouds! Cards Technology has the expertise to guide you to the best choice. Do you need to facilitate a mobile workforce? Increase security of your data? Microsoft Azure and the accompanying apps in Office 365 are industry leaders and also prioritize security at the tune of $1 billion a year.
Get your apps and data ready for the move
Survey how much data you have and what you want to store in the cloud. You also need to figure out which processes and apps go to the cloud. Some businesses have line-of-business software that isn't compatible with the cloud. An animal hospital we worked with uses a veterinary app that isn't cloud-ready so that app remains on local computers. A newspaper client has huge graphic files that are too large to store and readily access in the cloud. Move what makes sense: email is a logical first step, for example.
Train your staff
Teach your employees the company strategy on what files go where in the cloud and why and how to navigate the cloud to easily find the information they need to do their jobs. Don't forget to budget time and money to maximize your seamless cloud transition.
Review your security situation
Before migrating to the cloud, make sure security risks are addressed and discussed. Your security concerns should be the same in the cloud, but you have more depth to your protection with the cloud provider's security in place.
Write cloud policies
Your company can accommodate anytime, anywhere access on the cloud under the guidance of a remote access policy. This outlines who has access to what information and apps based upon their job roles.
Address internet connectivity
To run your IT systems on the cloud, you must have a reliable, fast internet connection – or two. A fiber optic connection is more reliable than cable. It's also a good idea to have a redundant secondary internet connection so if one system goes down, it fails over to the other.
Schedule your migration window
To reduce downtime during cloud migrations, stage the moves on weekends or evenings to keep employee productivity high.
Call Cards Technology which is right here on Delmarva to help you with your decisions about moving to the cloud. Call 410-208-3933 or online by clicking here.
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.