Server virtualization for your business

June 18th, 2014

virtualization_June17_BIn some cases, the value proposition that server virtualization offers business owners is a no-brainer. But for others, it might not be advisable. The real question is how do I identify if server virtualization will save my business money? To make sure that you are fit to reap all the benefits of a virtual server, you must first make sure that server virtualization is right for your business.

10 ways to identify if server virtualization will save you money:

  1. Expert IT personnel: Some small businesses don’t have an IT person on the payroll, or if they do, that person deals with tasks such as security or desktop management which often means they are ill-equipped to deal with the technological sophistication that virtualization demands. If you don’t have an IT expert, virtualizing might not be right for you.
  2. Technology as core competence: If your company’s core competence is technology, or if you have lots of servers which require abundant storage and skilled IT veterans, server virtualization is sure to help save your company money. Not only will you improve on storage efficiency, but you won’t have a payroll replete with lots of IT personnels.
  3. Busy servers: If your servers are taking up floor, rack or shelf space, or if they are dedicated to particular applications; your business is likely to save money through server virtualization. Moreover, if your server equipment is aging, server virtualization might help with significant server consolidation, meaning fewer servers, lower power bills and more floor space, too.
  4. Sensitive applications: Note that not all applications do well in virtual environments. Some critical or sensitive applications require a lot of processor or memory resources and you don’t want them sharing those resources with other virtual servers. Find out about your applications performance needs, if they’re not sensitive they may be ripe for a virtual server.
  5. Shared storage: Some people will tell you that virtual servers must have a virtual storage, however those themes usually come from vendors whose livelihoods are tied to virtual storage. If your business focuses on having a centralized storage that is shared between users, virtualization can be very beneficial.
  6. Speed of deployment: Some businesses need to be able to provision servers rapidly since failure to do so is a distinct competitive disadvantage. If thats the case in your business, virtualization is a must. Ordering a physical server and deploying it can take days if not weeks; unlike a virtual framework which once in place deployment can be done in no time.
  7. Server virtualization test drive: Why not try virtualization on a small scale before deciding if you should go all virtual? You can buy inexpensive tool such as VMware Workstation which costs around USD$199 for your IT staff to try out and see the potential value of server virtualization.
  8. Do research: Even if you think you know all the basics about server virtualization, be safe than sorry by doing more research before implementing anything. A good place to start is Virtualization for Dummies. It provides a thorough basic understanding of the idea as well as what it can do for your business.
  9. Ignore server virtualization hype: With so much hype around virtualization these days it would be easy for some businesses to rush into. Don’t do that! Instead, do some research and analyze your business’ components and needs before deciding to go all virtual.
  10. Get help: Server virtualization can be quite complicated, the good news is that vendors are making it much easier to deploy. If you decide to virtualize your servers, getting help from a reputable vendor can pay off in the long run. Most vendors offer solution bundles which include servers and storage pre-installed virtual servers for turnkey operation.
While server virtualization proves to be an efficient and cost-effective solution for many businesses, the most important thing here is to not rush into a virtual server. Take a little time and go through a checklist to see if your business is right for the idea because if not, you’re likely to be losing both time and money. Looking to learn more about server virtualization? Call us today for a chat.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 13th, 2014

security_June13_BThanks to rapid technological advancement over the past decade, businesses have been able to flourish with great tech tools at their disposal. But the widespread adoption of new, smarter technologies has also given rise to security issues and the ability to infiltrate networks. These threats, if not taken care of appropriately and at the right time, can have an adverse impact on the success of your company. Having a basic security system in place is no longer enough. Businesses need to act quickly to protect themselves and deploy the best security practices to ensure smooth business operations.

10 Security practice guidelines for businesses

  1. Encrypt your data: Encryption of stored data, filesystems, and across-the-wire transfers is essential to protect sensitive data as well as to help prevent data loss due to equipment loss or theft.
  2. Use digital certificates to sign all of your sites: You should obtain your certificates from a trusted Certificate Authority, and instead of saving your certificates on the Web server, save them to hardware devices like routers or load balancers.
  3. Implement a removable media policy: Devices like USB drives, external hard disks, external DVD writers or any writeable media facilitate security breaches coming into or leaving your network. Restricting the use of those devices is an effective way to minimize security threats.
  4. Implement DLP and auditing: Be sure to use data loss prevention and file auditing to monitor, alert, identify, and block the flow of data into and out of your network.
  5. Use a spam filter on your email servers: Using a time-tested spam filter such as SpamAssassin will remove unwanted email from entering your inbox and junk folders. It is important that you identify junk mail even if it’s from a trusted source.
  6. Secure websites against MITM and malware infections: Start using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) which creates a secure connection between a user and server, over which any amount of data can be sent securely. Through SSL, you’ll be able to scan your website daily for malware, set the Secure flag for all session cookies, as well as use SSL certificates with Extended Validation.
  7. Use a comprehensive endpoint security solution: Using an antivirus software alone is not enough to provide defense against today’s security threats. Go for a multi-layered product to prevent malware infections on your devices.
  8. Network-based security hardware and software: Start using firewalls, gateway antivirus, intrusion detection devices, and monitoring to screen for DoS attacks, virus signatures, unauthorized intrusion, and other over-the-network attacks.
  9. Maintain security patches: Make sure that your software and hardware defenses stay up-to-date with new anti-malware signatures and the latest patches. If your antivirus program doesn’t update on a daily basis, be sure to set up a regular scan and a remediation plan for your systems.
  10. Educate your employees: As simple as it sounds, this might be the most important non-hardware, non-software solution available. An informed user will more likely behave more responsibly and take fewer risks with valuable company data resulting in fewer threats to your organization.
Businesses cannot afford to take chances with security. Why? Because doing so can trigger a domino effect, causing a cascade of problems that can lead to operational outages, data loss, security breaches, and the subsequent negative impact to your company's bottom line. Looking to learn more about security for your business? Call us today for a chat.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
June 10th, 2014

hardware_June10_BGo Mac or go PC? That has been an increasingly divisive question over the past decade with users from either side insisting their choice is the better one. While both have their positives and negatives, many people are still unsure of the real differences between the two. However, understanding what sets them apart can help ensure that you opt for the right platform for your business.

Design

Apple prides itself on its iconic design while PC design depends on which company is making them. Even with the first Macintosh, introduced in 1984, the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and monitor were housed in one single unit thus reducing the number of cables necessary and creating a sleeker look. This design forward view has carried throughout the company's history and modern Macs are sleek, light, and designed to look cool.

PCs on the other hand, don’t come from one single manufacturer like Mac so there are countless designs available on the market. If you don’t like the design from one manufacturer you can simply look to others. With Mac, if you’re not keen on their design, you’re out of luck.

Specifications

While both Mac and PC have similar internal parts like RAM, hard drives, and graphics cards, their speed and capacity varies. Macs generally outperform PCs because of better hardware optimization, but tend to skimp slightly when it comes to RAM, hard disk space, and USB ports. PCs offer a wider range of customization, and you can add almost any parts you want.

Connections and optical drives found on Macs and PCs are different too. Mac offers standard selection of features including a Superdrive, audio in and audio out, USB, FireWire, Thunderbolt, and Ethernet. PCs on the other hand offer comparable features but with added bonuses like Blu-Ray players, TV tuners, touch screens, and HDMI ports.

The main difference here is that with Macs you have generally limited customization options, while PCs usually allow for a much wider range whilst supporting different kinds of hardware.

Operating System

Most PCs today come preinstalled with Windows 8.1 while Mac runs OS X Mavericks with users having the option to upgrade to the new OS X - Yosemite - this fall. OS X is generally thought to be more user-friendly, while Windows PCs generally see a more comfortable user base and a higher number of programs that work with the OS.

However, with the increasing adoption of virtual desktops and cloud systems, the idea of a separate OS being better is quickly falling to the wayside. This is especially true if you use a virtualized desktop solution where you connect to a server which delivers your desktop.

Software

One of the biggest reasons as to why Mac hasn’t captured a larger share of the market is due to the lack of software for its OS. This is most obvious in business computing where many applications are standardized for Windows but are not available on Mac. That being said, the major programs businesses use on a daily basis are all available for Mac too, so it's more the customized software you will need to look into.

User interface (UI)

While many computer users will proclaim one or the other superior when it comes to user interface, or UI, this is ultimately a matter of personal preference. Highlights of the UI in Mac include Launchpad which is a screen full of app icons for easy access, hot corners that can be customized for various types of views, a dock featuring your favorite apps, full screen mode for apps, and spaces that create as many desktops as you like to help minimize clutter.

With PCs UI, highlights include a touch-friendly interface which contains live tiles or rectangular boxes on the screen that represent an app and which is refreshed with the latest app content. Above all, Windows has the familiar desktop which almost every computer user is comfortable with using, and may even prefer.

There are more components that set Mac and PC apart. Find out more next month where we will dig into security, selections and customer satisfaction between the two.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
June 10th, 2014

ipad_June10_BApple's yearly WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference) is one of the most eagerly anticipated moments of the year for fans of the company's products and systems. This year, as with others before, has proven to be an interesting one. Perhaps most attention-grabbing of all is the announcement of a new version of iOS.

The new iOS

At 2013's WWDC, Apple introduced a new and completely overhauled version of iOS - iOS 7. Now, one year on, the platform has proven to be a hit with users. This year the company has announced iOS 8, which is being set up as rhwfsfcssxasaqaan improvement over the previous version.

In fact, Apple has taken the success of last year's version of iOS and added a number of new features and updates that aim to improve on the platform while making mobile devices even easier to integrate into your daily routine.

6 Features business users will benefit from

During Apple's announcement on June 2, there were a number of great new features and updates introduced, all of which will be available when iOS 8 is released. Here are six features business users will enjoy:
  1. Enterprise features - The iPhone and iPad are devices commonly used by businesses and it can be difficult for IT departments to manage these devices or for users to easily share files using company centric clouds. Apple noted that iOS 8 will come with enhanced management tools to make it easier for IT to manage devices and will also make it easier to share information and files through company clouds.
  2. Better Mail app - Many Apple users simply stick with the standard Mail app for all of their email needs - linking various accounts to one platform. Mail will receive new features and updates with iOS 8, with one of the most useful being the introduction of gestures. For example, you will be able to swipe gently to the left on a message to reply, or swipe hard to delete it.
  3. Improved Notifications Center - The biggest update to this feature is that you can now reply to a notification right from the screen, even if the device is locked. So instead of merely seeing that you have an email, you can reply. The bigger update is that the Notifications Center will support widgets from third party apps.
  4. Continuity - One of Apple's main goals is to have a seamless user experience between their devices. With iOS 8, Apple will introduce Continuity which is a feature that will allow you to start doing something on your phone and then, at the click of a button, pick it up on your laptop and carry on without a disruption. For example, if you are on your laptop and your iPhone rings, you will be able to answer it from your computer. You will also be able to call from your Mac using your iPhone.
  5. QuickType - Possibly one of the biggest complaints about the iOS centers around the keyboard. To begin with, you could only use the native keyboard and installing third-party offerings was complicated or just plain impossible. With iOS 8 you will get a new keyboard that is context sensitive, meaning it will suggest the next word based on what is already typed and the person you are texting. You will also be able to install third party keyboards like Swype.
  6. Improved messaging with iMessages - In order to make messaging easier iOS 8's version of iMessages will allow you to edit a group chat's information, name, and participants. You will also be able to share audio messages and set messages to self destruct or delete after a certain amount of time.

Will I be able to get it? If so, when?

iOS 8 was officially announced on June 2, and as of the writing of this article is heading into a beta trial period. This means that it is technically available to some iPhone users who sign up to test the new version. However, we would recommend against this, especially if you use your phone for business, as there are likely bugs that could expose information on your phone.

Apple has noted that iOS 8 will be made available in the fall. If the past few years are any indication, this should be in early to mid September. Once iOS 8 is available not every mobile device will be supported. For example, the iPhone 4 will not receive the update. The same goes for the original iPad.

If you are looking to learn more about Apple's products, or iOS, and how the systems can be used in your business contact us for a chat today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPad
June 9th, 2014

businesscontinuity_June9_BHistorically the months of June, July, and August are when the vast majority of natural disasters strike. Regardless of your location, there is a chance that your business could be facing a real challenge if something bad happens. In order to limit the potential damage a disaster can create, it helps to be proactive and introduce a disaster strategy. One essential element that you might find useful is utilizing your mobile device, and looking at the benefit of disaster apps.

Both Android and Apple mobile devices offer a wide variety of apps that users rely on daily. Because of this, these devices have become an integral part of our lives and would no doubt be on hand if disaster struck. The upside to this is that there are apps that can help you and your employees whatever the disaster. Here are four of the best types of disaster related apps you and your colleagues should download in order to prepare.

Weather apps

It is always a good idea to know what the weather forecast is for your local area. This can help you predict what could happen and even prepare your business should say a big storm be rolling in. There are a wide variety of weather apps out there and it can be difficult to actually pick which is the best to use. We recommend:
  1. The NOAA Weather Radio - Available on iTunes for iPhone and iPad users, this app is the official app for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. When installed, you can receive local weather forecasts based on your location and storm or severe weather warnings pushed directly to your device. The app can be found on iTunes and costs USD$3.99
  2. Weather Underground - This app is among the most powerful weather apps out there. Using a wide variety of weather stations and user submitted weather it is up to date and able to offer accurate forecasts. With a Weather Radio feature, and push notifications of weather alerts, you can easily track potential storms. There is also the WunderMap which has radar, reports and IR Sat views as well. The app is available for free on Google Play and iTunes, and is rumored to be coming soon for Windows Phone.
  3. Local weather apps - Many TV stations and weather organizations have localized weather apps that focus on just local conditions. If you live in a disaster prone area, it would be a good idea to see if your local TV station has a weather app, as this could be the quickest way to receive updates.

American Red Cross apps

The Red Cross has a number of excellent survival oriented apps that could really come in handy for when a disaster strikes. These apps provide tips on how to prepare yourself and your family, as well as buildings for disaster, and what to do during and after a disaster strikes.

The best part is that most of the information is available offline, so you will have access to it even if cell networks are down. Some of the apps even provide weather alerts that will sound even if the app isn't open, alerting you about any impending danger.

These apps are all available for free on Google Play and iTunes. The best thing to do is to visit the Red Cross website and look for the apps that are relevant to your local area e.g., if you are in the mountains the Forest Fire and First Aid apps may help. The apps are all free and can be downloaded by clicking the links for your device's app store on the Red Cross site.

Social media apps

Social media services could prove to be a good way to connect and communicate during a disaster. Try setting up a group for your employees to communicate and encourage them to use it when a disaster strikes to share information and enact plans. One of the biggest added advantages to using social networks is that the servers that host the service are located around the world, so the chances of the service being down is fairly slim. If you have Internet access, you will be able to access the service.

It would be a good idea to define which social network you want to use and establish your pages and connections ahead of time. Have each employee sign up for and join the group you have created and also download the app onto their mobile devices.

Google Public Alerts

Google Public Alerts is the company's alert platform that allows for the distribution of emergency messages and notices like evacuation notices, public alerts, and storm warnings. For users in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Colombia, Japan, Taiwan, and Indonesia alerts will appear in Google Searches, Maps and if you are an Android or iOS user, from Google Now.

Mobile users who have Google Now installed should see relevant alerts pop up when something happens. While you won't see alerts for absolutely everything, Google does a pretty good job at broadcasting useful information. On mobile devices, these alerts will usually pop up in your Notifications Center where they are easy to see.

To get these notifications on your Android device, you will need to download the Google Search app and activate it on your device. You can find it for free on the Google Play Store, and on iTunes. Android users can also download the Google Now Launcher which will add Google Now to your device's home screen, and can be accessed by swiping to the right from your Home Screen.

Tips for using your mobile during an emergency

Here are six tips to help you leverage your mobile device during a disaster.
  1. Install relevant apps - In order to be prepared, you should install the apps necessary to communicate during a disaster, along with a weather app and if necessary a survival app.
  2. Ensure your contacts are up to date - To be sure, you should periodically update your contacts. Should anything happen you will know how to contact people and have a higher chance of being able to get in touch.
  3. Ensure your employees have devices that work - Even if you don't allow mobile devices in the office, or employees to use their own devices, it would be a great idea to ensure that your employees have devices that are in working order so should they need to contact you, or vice versa, you will have a better chance of being able to.
  4. Establish procedures to follow during a disaster - This is arguably the most important preparation you can do. Take the time to establish procedures you and your employees should follow during an emergency. Include where people should meet, backup plans, contact suggestions and the roles you expect your employees to take.
  5. Keep your batteries topped up - Mobile devices rely on batteries to operate, and during a disaster you may be without a power source for an extended amount of time. Therefore, Minimize use during a disaster. Ensure your batteries are full, or charges as often and has high as possible.
  6. Invest in a good power bank - Power banks are useful tools that are essentially big batteries. You can charge them up then use them to charge your devices. Take a look for one that is at least 9000 MHZ, or higher. The higher the number the bigger the charge.
If you are looking to learn more about using mobile devices during a disaster, or how your company can prepare, contact us today. Learn about our services and how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 4th, 2014

Windows_June02_BDid you know that computer performance can be hampered if you keep your hard disk packed with unnecessary files? One way to prevent this from happening is to use the Disk Cleanup tool. which removes old files that have been sitting in the hard disk drive for too long. These unused programs and files stop your computers from performing to its full potential. Disk Cleanup enables you to determine which files can be removed without threatening specific computer functions.

How to operate the Disk Cleanup tool

Disk Cleanup can easily be accessed through the start menu or by searching Disk Cleanup. Once it has been opened, this tool will automatically select Drive C, although you can switch to other drives, and will show a list of file locations containing files that can be removed. Adjacent to each file location is data about the size it is taking up from your hard disk.

Each file location has a corresponding checkbox that needs to be selected in order to delete the unnecessary files it contains. Upon highlighting or selecting certain files, the description of the files will appear at the bottom of the window so that you know exactly which files you are removing.

When Disk Cleanup completes you need to restart your system to remove the unnecessary Windows Update files. Remember, the Disk Cleanup tool only removes those files that it thinks are no longer needed, hence usually very few are deleted.

The benefits of Disk Cleanup

  • Saves time and increases your efficiency - The traditional way of opening folders to find old files to delete may suffice for some, but not for those who prioritize productivity. Although files can be deleted manually, you may not know how, and the Disk Cleanup is faster too.
  • Makes your computer more reliable - Some programs are automatically downloaded through the Internet and are often virus-infected, therefore infecting other files as well. The Disk Cleanup tool can clean unwanted programs and virus-infected files which are decreasing your computer's reliability.
  • Maximizes your drive’s memory - The ultimate advantage of cleaning up your disk is the maximization of your computer’s storage space, increased speed, and improvement of functionality. Upon clearing the disk drive, the computer can perform at greater speed enabling you to use your device to run at peak performance levels.
The Disk Cleanup tool is as handy to launch and operate as any basic program, so there is no hassle of installing new software and tools to clean your computer. Not only does this allow you to use your disk space for necessary files but also improves your productivity. If you are looking to improve the speed of your systems, contact us today to learn more about our services and how they can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 3rd, 2014

SocialMedia_June02_BWhile many of us have a profile on at least one social media site and likely have for a handful of years now, we are seeing businesses joining these platforms in an ever increasing number. Many business owners create a corporate profile in order to interact with customers and conduct marketing. One of the more popular ways to market your business through social media is through social PPC.

Define social PPC

Businesses who advertise through social media have a number of ways they can get their ads and content seen on this platform. The most popular is based on one of the Internet's oldest marketing schemes: Pay-per-Click, or PPC.

In a broad sense, PPC is the act of paying an advertiser or website to place ads at strategic locations. Placing these ads is usually free, or comes with a nominal fee, but when a user clicks on the ad and goes to the destination site, the owner of the ad pays the advertiser or site a small fee.

In relation to social media, social PPC is simply ads which are placed on the social networks. For example, you can pay Facebook to place an ad on the right-hand bar of certain user's News Feeds. If they click on the ad, Facebook will then charge you a set amount for that click.

Where social PPC differs from other types of PPC, more specifically search PPC - paying search engines to display your ads - is that it is more display oriented. With search PPC, you pay the engine to show your ad when specific search keywords are entered. With social PPC, you pay the site to display your ad regardless of what the user is looking at.

3 Common misconceptions about social PPC

While this process is becoming more popular with businesses, especially those who have integrated social media into their marketing plans, there are some common misconceptions that seem to be floating around.

1. Starting small is the way to go

As with most strategies in business, when starting something new you often want to test the waters before jumping in full scale. Many companies who are trying social PPC for the first time will often start with one or two campaigns running at the same time. While this may work for small businesses with an unproven profile, those with an established profile and marketing strategy may want to try running 3-5 campaigns at the same time.

The reason for this strategy is that it can help spread out the overall views, along with enhancing the quality of information and results. For example, you can easily compare and establish what is working when you have more than two alternatives to compare.

2. You need to be active on the services you target

Despite what some people in charge of marketing believe, you don't need to be active on a social network in order to be able to use social PPC features. Many networks, like Twitter, simply require that you have an account in order to be able to use the ad features.

If you do want to use the ad features of different social networks, you should be sure to at least have a fully completed profile. This includes address, name, location, and business info. Of course, if you want to enhance the success of your initiative, an active profile will help but it is not necessary.

The best example of this is if you want to use the promoted post feature in Facebook. You will need to have content in order to actually use this feature successfully and the more content and followers you have, the higher the chances of what you promote being seen.

3. You MUST be using Facebook Ads

Facebook is the most popular social media platform, and many businesses already have a Facebook Page. But many feel that in order to maximize the potential of their Page, they need to be advertising using Facebook Ads.

Sure, it can help to use this service, but it isn't the only one out there. You do have other options, including different platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. To really get the most out of a social PPC campaign you should try different platforms anyway. For example, if you want to target other business customers try using LinkedIn, which is where this target group may be more likely to be found than through Facebook.

Looking to learn more about social PPC or using social media in your company? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
May 30th, 2014

voip_May26_BVoIP solutions are a great way to save costs and increase productivity, especially when it comes to remote and mobile workers. With business trends like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), companies have been forced to expand their remote communication capabilities in order to hold their own against competitors. While many companies have VoIP solutions in the office, they may be struggling to extend this to offsite or mobile employees.

To benefit from the positives that VoIP can bring to businesses it is necessary that VoIP works with the reality of your business needs. When it comes to catering for out-of-office workers, there are a variety of ways you can help expand the mobility of your VoIP services.

1. Look into Unified Communications

If your employees are able to bring their own personal mobile device to work, your IT administrators likely rely heavily on users complying with your company’s policies. It is up to you to establish good security and compliance measures in order to meet the needs of both your customers and employees.

A solid solution is to look into Unified Communications (UC), which integrates real-time communication services such as instant messaging, telephony, data sharing, and video conferencing. In other words, UC helps bridge the gap between VoIP and other computer-related communication technologies, as well as help control presence, a status indicator that conveys willingness to communicate and single number reach.

2. Employ easy to use apps

Believe it or not, most top-rated business apps began as user-focused tools to help people find data more independently. Some of these apps have transformed into more customized tools to keep focus on specific business needs. The one problem with this is that satisfying these needs often sacrifices overall usability. If your employees are struggling to use the mobile version of your VoIP solution, then they likely won't.

What this can lead to, especially when a mobile solution is required, is use of unauthorized apps. The problem then is that this can lead to an increased security risk. To avoid this, try implementing an app or tool that is easy to use, easy to navigate and easy to manage.

3. Work with an experienced solution manager

When looking to expand existing VoIP solutions, or implement new ones, it can be tough to actually manage the solution and ensure that it works when you need it to. One of the best ways to achieve this is to work with an IT partner like us. The perk to outsourcing management of a solution to us is that you can have us get your apps and solution set up and then take over administration of your mobile services once his is established.

4. Cloud support

Having on-premise equipment and support for your VoIP solution is a good idea. However, the problem here is your existing IT team may not be ready for the challenge of providing cloud-based mobile app or voice support. We recommend you go for a hosted VoIP solution, which delivers the same cost-effective, network-based service but where the equipment is based at a provider’s site rather than in your data center. This eliminates the cost of on-premise gear, maintenance costs, and overall management, while increasing the overall effectiveness of your mobile solution.

Expanding VoIP mobile capabilities can enhance business productivity by effectively keeping both your customers and employees in contact with your business more easily. If you’re interested in learning more about VoIP solutions, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP General
May 29th, 2014

Productivity_May26_BIn today's offices there are an ever increasing number of distractions and competing demands that tasks always seem to take our attention away from the task at hand. As a result, overall productivity can decrease. This is obviously not the best strategy for successful business, especially when the pressure is on to get work completed. If this is happening in your office, there are a number of strategies you can employ to bolster productivity.

When it comes to problems with productivity, it can sometimes be difficult to spot what the main issues are. Productivity can suffer over time as challenges and work habits have an effect on what is achieved and how. Even if you're not aware of any productivity concerns, it is worthwhile checking from time to time where you can boost efficiency.

Prepare for the day ahead

Nothing is as important as knowing which of your tasks matter the most. Collect your thoughts the night before and create a to-do list for the next day. Determine which demand needs immediate attention and which can be done later that day.

A priority list will enable you to focus on those business needs that require immediate attention, allowing you to complete more tasks. By allocating a specific order and time to each individual job you will be able to more clearly achieve and evaluate your progress at the end of the day.

Shut personal connections out

The worst distraction in the office is employee connectivity to the outside world. Social networking sites, emails, and personal calls divert the focus from significant and pressing work concerns to personal matters.

The key here is to look at how you can contain the social aspects which make work enjoyable and employees happy, and balance this personal freedom with the demands of your business. You may find that restrictions are needed, such as limiting personal phone calls. Some companies impose a ban on social media sites and keep a tighter reign on personal communications. Other companies keep a more open policy but instead instill in employees a personal responsibility to impose limits on their own behavior.

Get in the working zone By showing your colleagues that you are busy and concentrating on your work you put up a barrier to them distracting you. By being polite and friendly but putting your work game face on you can show your determination and produce results to show at the end of the day. It's easy for time to drift by with idle chat and unnecessary interruptions which could wait until break time.

Set personal deadlines

You may have a deadline set by the demands of a job you are focusing on, or set by someone working with you, but personal deadlines are also necessary. By giving yourself a set time to furnish reports and deliver outcomes, for example, you keep yourself focused and produce results. Keep your desk free from piled-up paperwork and tasks so you do not have to cram to meet deadlines.

Determine your distractions

Know which, from among the office clamor, distracts you the most and create a way to eliminate, minimize or extract yourself from this problem. Is it noise from other people that is bothering you or perhaps as simple as the pop-up notifications on your computer screen? Do yourself a favor and deal with it.

Focus is at the core of these guidelines. Start asking yourself what is preventing you from concentrating. Look at how you work and what the situation is when you're in the flow and getting what you need to achieve done.

Productivity is essential in the corporate world as it is about fulfilling goals, ambitions and commitments, which can have a spillover effect on your life outside of work too. Determine which from among your tasks need to be fulfilled first, focus and boost your productivity.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
May 29th, 2014

BusinessValue_May26_BAs a business owner, or manager, you probably have a social media profile and create content for it. One of the most common types of content is blog articles, and yet some companies have problems actually getting their content shared. If you post articles to bring in new customers and interact with existing ones, then you need to know how you can enhance the chances that your articles are shared.

The key to getting your content shared

There are countless blog posts on how to create content that is shareable. And to create content that will be shared by users on social media and other platforms you need to know why content gets shared in the first place.

In order to help, we scoured the Internet and found a great article over at OK Dork, which was written by the content masters at BuzzSumo. This article listed things you can do to increase the shareability of the content you produce. While it is quite a long article, we found there were some great tips worth talking about here. In order to make things a little easier, we have split this article into two parts. Here are the first five tips you can leverage to increase the reach of your content, and more specifically the blog articles you create:

Create longer content

Take a look at what people share on their social media profiles and there is little doubt that the vast majority of content is short, and can range from often photos and videos of funny cats to memes. But look at the articles that are shared and you will often find that the most popular ones are actually longer, or long-form as they are referred to by content experts.

The main reason for this is because there are fewer long-form article creators out there, and there is a demand for higher quality, well researched and well-written articles. Sharing this type of content generally adds some depth to a posting which can create a more involved and sustained dialogue.

You might want to mix it up to increase shareability by creating some articles which follow this longer style approach. You could try writing shorter articles on a regular basis, for example, with a 2000 word article say once a month.

People like images

Think about the last time you read an article in the newspaper without an image, or even saw a link on social media without an image. Did you remember the content, or did you even click on the link? Many people wouldn't. So, if you want your content to be shared on social media add some visuals.

With longer content visuals not only serve to draw the eyes of the reader and break up content to keep the reader engaged. For shorter pieces, an image can attract initial attention and give the reader some an idea about what the subject of the content is.

The key here is to include visuals with every piece of content. Make sure that the image relates to the content and is interesting enough to capture attention, enough that users will want to share what they see and read.

Even Twitter users like images

Although Twitter is largely based on text posts visual content tends to be shared more by users of this platform.

As per the point above, try to have a visual with every piece of content. If you are an avid Twitter user, try coming up with titles or overviews that are 100 characters or less. This will leave room for a link on Twitter to the content. If social media users likes the content, and there is an image too, chances are higher that they will share it via Twitter.

Using certain emotions really helps

If you want people to share your content, you need to write articles that evoke emotion. The three most successful, when it comes to sharing, are:
  • Awe
  • Laughter
  • Amusement
If your article inspires one of these three emotions, you have a drastically higher chance of the content being shared. Generally speaking, if content makes someone laugh or think about an issue then are more likely to share what resonates with them.

The other emotion to capitalize on is selfishness. Take a look at your Facebook News Feed and we guarantee that you will see a ton of quizzes shared by people. These quizzes are usually something like "What TV character would you be?, or "What's your dream job?", etc. While entertaining, these quizzes appeal to our more narcissistic sides. They provide little to no value to your followers, but they can be fun and help social media users establish an identity which they can compare with others trying out the same 'test'.

You can also try to create articles that challenge normal assumptions or are opinion pieces on relevant hot-button issues. The spark of debate that the content ignites is sure to attract interaction with comments and sharing, and you can also keep interest going via social media.

Users love infographics and lists

When writing your articles, you have a wide variety of ways you can format your content. Most people will agree that your articles, regardless of length, need to be broken down into easy to read sections, especially if you want to keep mobile users reading. There are a number of ways you can do this, but the two most popular are through infographics and lists.

What this tells us is that readers generally prefer content that can:

  • Display a large amount of information in a clean, easy to read, and visual format i.e., infographics.
  • Are scannable.Take for example list articles. You can format these to be highly scannable, yet still include all the essential information.
  • Tell us what to expect. We like to know what an article is about before we read it.
If you are writing longer articles that contain a large amount of information try creating an infographic, and summarizing the most important parts in a list.

Next month we will reveal five more tips to enhance content sharing. In the mean time, if you have any questions about creating effective content or on social media, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.