What is Business Technology Support?

Business technology support can generally be described as a range of services that deliver assistance to users of technology products such as computers, software and mobile devices within an office setting.

  • CloudHelp! Most of us are familiar with the type of technical support that assists users via e-mail, a help desk, online chat or a call center. This type of help covers technical assistance with equipment problems or software issues. Technology support also comes in the form of remote computer repair. This type of support enables a technician to access the user’s desktop via the internet and transfer diagnostic and repair applications. The technician does not come to your location. This can be an effective process for computer optimization or the removal of computer viruses and spyware.  This type of technical support is very popular with business clients with home offices who can’t drop everything to the take their equipment into a shop for repairs.
  • Managed Services Providers can manage all of your businesses technology or just a few specific pieces on an on-going basis. Typically, this is set up as a contracted monthly fixed fee. This service can include monitoring of servers, network security, back-up services, cloud services and vendor management. Some Managed Services Providers also offer dedicated help desk support and on-site visits by technicians. Managed Services Providers have become an increasingly common strategy for small businesses that do not have their own in-house tech support staff. It’s an extremely effective way for small businesses to manage costs with a monthly contract while gaining access to new technology and skilled technicians.
  • IT Consultants and Technical Advisors also offer business technology support at a higher level. The IT professional can work closely with a client to understand the long term plans and goals of the business. This type of working relationship allows the IT professional to make strategic recommendations and develop a technology plan for the business. This involves keeping the client informed about new technology solutions that will enable the business to grow and become more competitive. The advantage of this type of technical support is that the business gains access to an IT professional who keeps an eye on the future and “big picture” thinking when it comes to new technology services, products and solutions.

Yes, business technology support covers a lot of service options. Now you just need to decide what level of technology support your business needs!

7 Reasons why your small business must have a backup solution !

It is 2015, and we all know that every business should have a backup (and a recovery plan) for their most critical data.  The reality is that over 40% of Small and Medium Sized Business do not back up their data at all, and that 60% of backups fail when tested!

It is time for businesses to get serious about backing up their most critical data including client information, accounting files, and company information.  Here are reasons why you need to make sure your data is backed up and you can quickly recover from a data loss disaster.

  1. Backup systemPeople Make Mistakes: Humans account for 30% of all data loss; this includes accidental deletion, disgruntled employees, and spilled beverages.  While human error is going to be difficult to combat, you can at least be sure you are able to revert back to an error-free version.  Many times people unknowingly miss steps in a process or delete files, so having a plan in place to restore the lost information is critical to being able to run your business.
  2. Technology Equipment Fails: The equipment it takes to run your business has come a long way, but nothing is perfect and all equipment is bound to have issues or fail completely. It can be expensive and nearly impossible for your company to eliminate every single point of failure in your IT infrastructure, so the best option is to back up your data regularly and have a plan in place to get the failed equipment replaced or repaired quickly.  This will help to minimize the amount of downtime and revenue loss your business incurs.
  3. Mother Nature is Crazy!: Over the last few years, Mother Nature has wreaked havoc on technology systems all over the world, due to the deep freezes, extreme heats, and mass  flooding that has taken place.  Businesses that do not have a backup and recovery plan in place will have an uphill battle trying to resume operations in the event of a natural disaster.  In fact, an estimated 80% of all companies that experience a business interruption of greater than five days, without recovery plans, go out of business.
  4. Competitive Advantage: It is a weird thought, but having a backup and recovery plan in place can actually give you an edge over your competition.  In the event of a disaster, the first business to become operational again is in a unique situation to acquire all the business of those that are still recovering and not able to meet the needs of demanding customers.
  5. Theft: Theft can impact a data loss in a multitude of way including hackers scraping client information or an employee’s company laptop or mobile device being stolen.  Educating employees on Internet safe practice will help safe guard your business against viruses and hackers, but if a device is physically stolen it becomes more difficult.  Having a backup will help get the employee back to work quickly, and with the growing number of Mobile Device Management solutions you may have the ability to virtual erase all of the most confidential data from the stolen device remotely.
  6. Compliance Regulations: Many Professions and businesses are required by law to have a backup and recovery plan in place, if you are unsure what is required by your industry you need to investigate right aware.  Many times if you are audited and out of compliance it can lead to hefty fines and penalties, that cost much more than just establishing a backup and recovery plan in the first place.
  7. Cold Hard Facts: If none of these above reasons have convinced you to call your local Computer Troubleshooters office to find out how our experts can make sure you have a reliable and tested back up solution in place maybe these eye-brow raising statistics will:

    • 60% of companies that lose their data will shut down within 6 months of the disaster.
    • Every week 140,000 hard drives crash in the United States. (Mozy Online Backup)
    • 93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster. 50% of businesses that found themselves without data management for this same time period filed for bankruptcy immediately. (National Archives & Records Administration in Washington)
    • 34% of companies fail to test their tape backups, and of those that do, 77% have found tape backup failures.
    • 2,000 laptops are stolen or lost every day
    • 46% said each hour of downtime would cost their companies up to $50k

We understand that it is human nature to believe that you will never be impacted by one these statistics, unless you have been through a data loss or had your device stolen.  Data loss comes in all shapes and sizes, and without a backup and recovery plan in place your business will face problems at some point!

So we challenge you to think about how much money you are losing every time a server or desktops fails and your employees cannot work, or you clients cannot complete purchases.  Putting a proactive backup and recovery plan in place today will save you time and money later when disaster does strikes!

Yammer – What is it?

Microsoft have announced that all Microsoft Office 365 tenants with less than 150 users will have Yammer automatically turned on in their Office 365 tenant. So along with your standard suite of Microsoft Office products (Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, & Excel) you will increasingly see Yammer icons appearing on your screens. So what is Yammer and how can it be used?

Yammer is an enterprise grade Social Networking platform for businesses, and works similarly to Facebook in allowing online conversations between single users and groups.  Yammer can be setup so everyone across your business can access from multiple devices (PC, Mac, iPhone, Smartphones & Tablets) and communicate instantly with groups or other users, this leverages the increasingly integrative cloud capabilities within the core Office 365 product range, cloud applications such as Yammer are fully included in most subscriptions.

Why use Yammer?

Yammer is an integrated communications tool with instant messaging, message posting, group discussions & collaboration that allows security, permissions, & licences. It is controlled by the central admin panel for Office 365, which means you determine who in your organization can use the platform and which groups they can be a member. Unlike Facebook which is a public domain application, Yammer is run as an enterprise grade platform covered by the Office 365 Trust Center with significant privacy & security advantages over public applications.

Yammer is following the huge social shift in communication to online, particularly in the younger generation who have become digital natives with social networking as their preferred method of sharing & nonverbal communication. Many see the Yammer social network for businesses as a way to get work done smarter and faster designed for a generation addicted to social networking. Microsoft say it is a way of “bringing teams together” in a single communication hub reducing email trails, encouraging real time collaboration & feedback.

Users with a license that includes Yammer can start accessing Yammer from Office 365 via the Yammer tile in the Office 365 app launcher or start a Yammer conversation from other Office 365 apps. Existing Yammer users, who are also Office 365 users, can start signing in with their Office 365 credentials, unifying their sign-in experiences

How does Yammer work?

Assuming you have Office 365 you, or your administrator should be able to setup Yammer for your business reasonably easily.

  • User Profiles – The Profile is the starting point for each user with settings for basic personal details, contact information, organisational information, password management, and notification settings.
  • Groups – Groups can be set up internally for employees to share information, set by the group administrator this could be by department, by project, or all company. Users can be invited to join multiple groups & new groups can set setup reasonably easily
  • Internal Networks – Yammer can be set up for both internal & external network communication. The internal (or Verified) network is the main domain that each email is setup against, if all employees have the same domain they can access the full range of Yammer services between internal users.
  • External Networks -Yammer allows you to also join external networks that have members outside your organisation (different domain names), they  can either be public or privately invited (you request to join), there is a great search function that allows you find external networks which you may like to join (e.g. industry groups or subject support groups)
  • Notifications – in settings you can change the notification settings for each group or network, so for an internal group you may wish to see every contribution as it is made and get an daily email summary, while for an external industry network you may wish to get a daily summary as the end of each day. These can be changed by the individual user and generally depends on the traffic & importance  the group or network to the user.

Once your User Profiles, Networks, and Groups have been setup it is time to use the application for communication;

  • Inbox – just like email or on Facebook the inbox shows all activity or posts to have occurred in your internal groups or networks in a conversational flow with images and comments.
  • External Networks – you need to change into an external network to check activity or make a post.
  • Online Now – Yammer has a presence function to identify when other people on your internal network are online and able to chat (each profile online shows a green dot).
  • Update, Poll or Praise – these are types of comments anyone can make to the group to engage members or participate in conversations.
  • Files – Yammer allows files to be uploaded and shared across groups, versions maintained, and stored.
  • Search – The search function in Yammer is powerful using both #hashtags and conversational search it allows users to search group history of conversations, files, & topics, ultimately building a knowledge base within each group.
  • Icons – once you have Yammer working you will have Yammer icon on your PC Taskbar that shows when you have a message in your group.
  • Apps – there are number of Apps that facilitate Yammer on smartphones, iPhone, & Tablets – they all provide notification & user access for contributing on the go. There is an App store for other apps to facilitate specific areas such as awards, suggestion boxes, and milestone reminders for projects.

Do you want to know more about Yammer?

Yammer maybe a great addition for your business & with no additional licence cost as part of many Office 365 subscriptions. Office 365 is increasing the preferred IT platform option for most businesses, we can help with the user setup, data migration, & ongoing administration of the your Office 365 environment, as well as making sure you get the most from the other value added Office 365 services such as OneDrive, Skype for Business, & SharePoint.

Computer Troubleshooters can help you setup Yammer as part of your Office 365 solution and ensure you understand the limitations and recommendations we have around the implementation of these services. Call Computer Troubleshooters today to see how we can get you started with Office 365 and at the same time get you started with Yammer.

How to reduce your business costs?

Reducing business costs is a “no brainer” win for most businesses, you get the upside directly into your net profit without investing more capital & the gains are ongoing. So in your business, where are the best areas to look for cost savings?

The hierarchy of costs in most business are;

  • Cost of Goods – cost of goods sold, distribution costs, inventory holdings and losses.
  • Payroll – staff wages, superannuation, annual leave, long service leave, workers compensation,
  • Overheads – rent on premises, travel, insurance, car, utilities, telecoms, broadband, & IT systems.
  • Marketing – advertising & promotion, printing, postage, web marketing, agency & creative costs.
  • Transactional Costs – banks charges, credit card charges, freight.
  • Outsource – accountant, lawyer, cleaning, specialist support services.

How to finding cost savings in your business?

While every business is different, as a business owner you can employ the same strategies as large corporates or cost analysis teams use to find cost savings:

  • Request Quotes – from existing & alternative suppliers.
  • Reduce Investment – seek alternatives to investing in new infrastructure or assets.
  • Operations – is there a better or new way to operate to achieve your operations goals?
  • Review Business Practices – does your current staff structure match your current requirement?
  • Support – internal staff versus external outsourcing.

When performing this task to finding cost reductions, quite often the answers are not available internally. Often external suppliers & outsourcing companies can tell you about alternatives and what competitors have done that might deliver savings to your business.

In our business we call this an “IT assessment”, where we go into a company and look at their current IT setups, review their business practices, assess their operational goals, and then give recommendations.

How to find ICT cost savings in your business?

We recommend the same approach as the generic saving strategies above: here are some examples of how these types of saving can be achieved;

Telephones & mobiles

  • Ask you existing supplier for a current contract, approach alternative telco for quotes on mobiles, landlines & broadband; this should be done every 2 years as plans change often, particularly with data allowances growing. Remember to approach the SMB focused channels as they generally have cheaper plans to retail shops.
  • Introducing a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy for your business, providing only calls and data to employees this saves contracting phones and tracking devices while the employee get to use their favourite device (iPhone or Android) without you footing the bill.
  • VOIP (Voice over broadband) developments have meant that roaming between office, home, travelling, or even overseas can be seamless to the caller – this means your phone number can follow you around and have integrated messaging with email & SMS.
  • Businesses can reduce investment by not investing in a physical PABX, but using a hosted PABX which is VoIP enabled. Charges are typically by the seat by the month but with cheaper calls and full PABX capabilities.
  • Office 365 includes features such as Skype for Business & Yammer (an internal social media platform) that allows teleconferencing, cheap external calls, internal messaging, and profile tracking that could reduce your external communication & travel costs.

 

IT Systems

  • If you have an external supplier for IT support ask them for a new contract and at the same time seek an IT assessment from another supplier. The key is to compare similar service levels and requirements, at the very least you can be assured you are getting value.
  • If you have internal staff managing your IT then you need to compare costs against the outsourced alternatives. Requesting an IT assessment from an external IT support supplier will be enable you to compare costs, remembering internal staff carry at least a 30% overhead component above their wage cost. Internal staff are often not aware of alternatives or may have a vested interest in not recommending substantial changes to IT support & systems.
  • The development of Cloud Computing has meant that many SMB’s can change business practices & IT structures by shedding internal IT staff, reducing internal IT infrastructure, and outsourcing the remaining support requirements with savings of up to 50% of costs.
  • Switching from internal infrastructure to hosted infrastructure, such as Office 365, can save you on the substantial initial capital investment for hardware & licences. It can also provide flexibility for future growth/decline, plus you save on running costs for rent, air conditioning, electricity, and on premise support that is a necessary part of having an on-premise infrastructure.
  • Cloud hosted systems such as Microsoft Office 365 offer great flexibility & save time for staff to access email and data while not in the office (in fact it can be accessed from anywhere around the world), & from multiple devices. This can only be delivered securely by the centralised Office 365 portal developed for remote management & administration of business accounts.
  • We often find that some companies just use their main business application vendors support desk for general IT support. This can be a very expensive approach to IT support – we recommend splitting applications vendor support from the general IT on premise & user support, this can again save up to 50% of the general IT support costs.

Reducing business costs is great way to improve your businesses bottom line, but it does require a focus on seeking alternatives to current operations and structures.

Call us for an IT Assessment to help find cost savings & reduce your IT costs?

So there are few ways you can drive more savings from your ICT. Ultimately for business we recommend giving us call so we can make a time to discuss your needs and put together recommendations on how we could help your business save ICT costs.

Let the experts at Computer Troubleshooters work with you to assess your IT needs and develop a customized plan for your business to reduce your costs. Give your local Computer Troubleshooters office a call and one of our computer professionals will be happy to help you

Microsoft OneDrive – What is it?

Microsoft Office 365 is increasingly integrating cloud capabilities within it’s core Office range (Outlook, Word, Powerpoint, & Excel), cloud applications such as Microsoft OneDrive are fully included in most subscriptions.

Microsoft OneDrive is an external storage resource located in the Microsoft Data Centre in Australia, available as part of your Office 365 subscription package. OneDrive will simply appear as drive in your computer when you migrate to Office 365, much like any other external directory such as your C: drive, USB or portable hard drive. So when you go to save a file you have choice to save to your own hard drive or the OneDrive drive which is located in the Cloud.

Why use Microsoft OneDrive?

OneDrive is great place to store & share files, as simple as if you would like to hold a duplicate external copy of your file for protection, or you wish to access the file from a remote location from a different device.

OneDrive however is much more, it allows syncing between your devices and sharing with external parties with a permissions. OneDrive for Business is particularly useful for small businesses who may share files on a continual basis and provides a similar advantage to a server in centralizing access and versions with permissions for access. Office 365 business subscriptions include a 1TB data allowance of storage per user, this is a very large amount of data stored in secure & external data centre operated by Microsoft, The three main benefits of OneDrive:

Store – Offsite Storage for up to 1TB of files per user

Sync – OneDrive syncs files changes from any device  or location back to the central version so you always get the most recent version

Share – OneDrive allow files to be shared and accessed with permissions both internally within your organization & externally.

Small business in particular may be able to get most of the benefits of a file server by using OneDrive with little additional cost – so why not use it?

What are the limitation of Microsoft OneDrive?

OneDrive is wonderful cloud enabled extra in the Office 365 package, but it does have limitations and you need to consider warnings when you choose to move any of your storage to the Cloud.

Data Transfer – like all cloud based service the transfer of data from your premises to the data centre can come with a costs either in additional data usage costs, or in data traffic congestion of your network. The effect on your business will depend on your broadband connection method, ISP, and rate plan, but if you slow down your core business IT infrastructure, it can spell disaster.

Sync – OneDrive is driven by a syncing mode that means newer versions of files can be overlaid over older versions, this is a great feature when you have multiple users using the same file and ensures you always access the latest version, however if you are using OneDrive for backup purposes, the backed up original version may automatically be overwritten by the sync mode.

Off Site but Connected – While the OneDrive storage is physically located remotely from your premises, it still is connected as drive to your system and network. As it appears a dive on your machine (much like your C: drive), should you catch a virus or worse a malware Trojan, such as Crytolocker, it can easy be encrypted or corrupted like any other data on your system. If you are using OneDrive for backup we still recommend a rotation of media or specific backup facilities to fully protect you.

Are you Ready for Microsoft OneDrive?

OneDrive for Business is a place where you can store, sync, and share your work files. As part of Office 365, OneDrive for Business lets you update and share your files from anywhere and work on Office documents with others at the same time. It can be a great way to great the benefits of a server network without the upfront cost.

Office 365 is increasing the preferred IT platform option for most businesses, we can help with the user setup, data migration, & ongoing administration of the your Office 365 environment, as well as making sure you get the most from the other value added Office 365 services such as OneDrive, Skype for Business, Sharepoint & Yammer.

Computer Troubleshooters can help you understand how your business can benefit by using OneDrive as part of your Office 365 solution and ensure you understand the limitations and recommendations we have around the implementation of these services. Call Computer Troubleshooters today to see how we can get you started with Office 365 and at the same time get you started with OneDrive for Business.