Blog

January 25th, 2016

2016Jan20_Security_BWhen it comes to the online security of their business, many SMB owners consider it an afterthought. They think their business is too small to be of any concern to cyber criminals, and there’s good reason for this mentality. How often are security breaches to SMBs listed in the news? Rarely. In fact, you may not be able to think of a single one. But today, that’s about to change. A recent NY Times article documented the story a small business that was lucky to survive a ransomware attack.

Last holiday season, Rokenbok Education, a small, California-based toy company of seven employees realized its worse nightmare. During the busiest time of the sales year, the files in their database had become unusable, infected with malware. The hackers used ransomware, a malware designed to hold a business’s data hostage, to encrypt their files and demanded a payment to make them usable again. However, instead of paying the ransom, Rokenbok restructured their key system. To do this it took four days. That’s four days of downtime, lost sales, and confused customers who likely lost confidence in the integrity of their company. Luckily this did not put Rokenbok Education out of business. But many SMBs aren’t so fortunate, and are forced to close after such a security debacle.

So why do security breaches like this happen to SMBs?

There are many reasons, but a common one is that small and medium-sized businesses often focus on profits over security. And really, it’s hard to blame them. When you’re small, you want to grow your organization as quickly as possible. And you likely think that because you’re small, no one is going to attack you. However, nowadays hackers are on to this way of thinking. They know that SMBs don’t focus as much on security, which make them a perfect target. In fact, according to Timothy C. Francis, the enterprise lead for Cyber Insurance at Travelers, 60 percent of all online attacks in 2014 targeted SMBs.

So what can your business do to protect itself against online attacks? There are a range of options, but it’s best to start off with an audit of your current security system to see where the holes are. This audit should check areas of risk which include customer data, employee access, and assets such as servers, computers and all Internet-enable devices.

After that, an obvious thing to do is to strengthen your passwords. While this has been said thousands of times over, many SMB owners do not take heed. Clay Calvert, the director of security at the Virginia-based firm MetroStar Systems, notes that hackers analyze how we create passwords and use big data analytics to crack them. “They have databases of passwords,” Calvert said. The best way to create a strong password is to make it long with a mix of characters. Password managers that encrypt your passwords can also help.

Aside from passwords, there are many other ways to boost your business’s security that include installing a firewall, keeping your antivirus up-to-date, and moving data over to the cloud (instead of storing it on company servers). Also, since many security attacks occur because an employee clicked on a malicious website or link, training your employees is a smart move. A good way to start this training is to create an employee manual that includes security guidelines they must follow. For ongoing training, you can keep them up-to-date on the latest security threats through email updates and regular meetings. Once you feel confident that your employees are up-to-speed and your security practices are updated, you can try hiring ethical hackers to test your systems and try to break through your security. This will let you know if there are any security holes you missed.

Calling in a security specialist

However, if all of this sounds far too much to bother with, consider outsourcing your security to a service provider that specializes in digital security. This can oftentimes save valuable time and money in the long run. Best of all, this can provide peace of mind, knowing that you have a security specialist watching over your business.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure where to start with your business’s security, we’re happy to help perform a thorough audit and provide you the digital security solution you need to keep your business protected. Security worries don’t have to keep you up at night, and we can help you implement the measures that will protect your business from disastrous security problems.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
January 21st, 2016

2016Jan21_BusinessValue_BAre you confused on just how to measure the value of your company’s social media? Don’t worry about it because you are not alone. While there is a lot of information out there in regards to the subject, it is something that experts still don’t necessarily agree on. This has made it difficult for businesses, especially smaller ones, to gauge just what kind of value social media offers them. Here are a few pointers to help your SMB get a better idea of your social media’s value.

ocial media is important for your business and it can have a great deal of value for your company if utilized correctly. Of course measuring this value is an imperfect science. While we don’t have a magic formula to help you figure it out, we do have a few things for you to consider when it comes to estimating it for yourself.

Followers matter but…

...they are not the end all be all when it comes to your social media efforts. When social media first started, it was all about how many followers you had. In the eyes of consumers, more followers equaled more credibility. However, that sentiment is no longer a prevailing thought among consumers and the number of followers you have won’t make or break your organization.

However, having a lot of followers does still reflect well on your business and it also gives you an easy way to reach your target audience directly. This is where it becomes important to monitor things like average clicks, the number of clicks the page you shared got, and conversion rate - the number of people who clicked on your share that turned into a sale or lead. If you have 100,000 followers but don’t get clicks, then your social media doesn’t hold a whole lot of value. The next point comes in handy if you’re having trouble monitoring all of these.

Simplify the way you monitor social media

A lot of businesses make a simple mistake that convolutes the way they estimate the value of social media. That mistake is failing to create unique campaigns and contact points for each social media channel. Doing this can make it difficult to determine just what leads and sales are coming from which media. Here’s an example for you. Your business shares a link on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to a page on your website where people can download a free report. You get 150 people to download which is good but it can be hard to determine just where everyone came from to download the report unless you have advanced tools like Google Analytics at your disposal.

That’s why for every promotion or pitch page on your website that you share via social media, you should create a distinct URL for each one so you can easily monitor where people are coming from. This will help you understand what kind of value each of your social media channels has. You might also want to consider creating a separate phone number for each social media channel so that way when a person does call, you will know where they came from. This option is especially easy and cost effective to implement if you have a VoIP phone system in place.

Set social media goals

Without goals in place, it’s pretty hard to figure out the value of anything including social media. If you already have social media goals established, then these are probably the place to start in determining the value of your company’s social media. If goals have not been set up, you are going to want to create some and see if your company is able to reach these. That’s because the easiest way to determine if something has business value is to establish if it can help your company reach its goals. If you see that social media isn’t doing this, then you’ll need to reconfigure your strategy accordingly. If social media is adding value, then you will want to dig deeper using different tools to get a better idea of just what that value is.

If you aren’t using social media to add value to your business, then you are losing out. And if you aren’t utilising technology to assist in these efforts then you are really falling behind. Talk to our experts today to see how you can get started.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 19th, 2016

Productivity_Jan19_BWorking from home may sound like a faraway dream, but with the inception of the Internet, it has become a reality. Today, more and more organizations are allowing their staff to work remotely instead of coming into the office every day. The results have been positive - employers notice an increase in productivity, work quality, and staff loyalty. However, telecommuting does present some challenges of its own. We’ve compiled a few tips to help you become more productive at home.

One of the major concerns that business owners have when allowing people to work from home is the limited amount of control they have over their staff. Companies fear that most employees might become unproductive if they become their own boss and are responsible for managing their own hours. While it is easy for remote employees to feel disconnected from work, if you make communication a top priority, telecommuting can actually work wonders.

So have you been given the privilege to work from home? Check out the following tips to ensure a productive day.

Get dressed

It’s important not to dress too casually when working at home. That’s why wearing your pajamas while working can be counterproductive. There’s no need to choose an overly formal attire - like a suit with a tie - but at least wear something comfortable yet presentable that will help you get into a work frame of mind.

Create a focused workspace

Select a workspace that’s neither too comfortable nor uptight. The best method to get into the mindset of ‘going to work’ is to create an environment that allows you to easily focus on the tasks at hand. This can be a room with a door to keep out family members, or simply a space that’s free from all sources of distractions such as your smartphone, snacks, or the television. But in the end, it all comes down to personal preference - do you enjoy working in a clear space, or a cluttered chaos? Would background music distract you or help you concentrate? Do you like working in a bright environment, or prefer a dim area? Take these into consideration before choosing your workspace.

Plan ahead

The secret to working more productively is to have an organized plan of action. Write down the plan so you can prioritize tasks properly and schedule what needs to be done and when it must be completed. Also, it’s always helpful to know your most productive hours. This is so you can schedule your most challenging tasks during those hours and set aside easier ones in your least productive periods.

Stay away from social media

Social media is considered by many as the biggest time and productivity killer. So if your duties don’t involve managing your company’s Twitter account or responding to customers’ requests via Facebook inbox, you should steer clear from these social networking sites. There are many applications out there that allow you to block social media websites and notifications, but of course you wouldn’t have to resort to such measures if you can exert some self-control and discipline.

Invest in technology

Another thing to consider about working from home is the technology to help you work easier, such as a second monitor. Sometimes you will also need certain tools to stay connected to your company, clients, and colleagues. These tools may include but are not limited to web conferencing software, document sharing applications, or screen sharing programs.

These tips will turn your home into an office that will keep your working hours productive and disciplined throughout the day. If you’re looking to implement IT solutions that will encourage a more productive work environment, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
January 18th, 2016

164_B_MWWhether it’s a child trying to convince you to buy ice cream or one of the hundreds of soda advertisements you see every year, repetition is a common tactic used to incite people to take action. Sometimes you may not even notice the repetitive messages you’re receiving, like in the case of advertisements, while sometimes this persuasion method is blatant and annoying. With their constant popup screens telling you to upgrade, Microsoft has fallen into the annoying category. But there is a way to silence this repetition for the time being, and here’s how you can do it.

If you’re like many people who are happy with their current Microsoft operating system, you may have no desire to upgrade to Windows 10. And while Microsoft seems to be doing everything they can to force your hand, like no longer offering security updates for Windows 8, upgrading is still avoidable for now. So if you’d like to get rid of the annoying prompts that are likely pestering you on a regular basis, it is possible to do so. And believe it or not, Microsoft themselves have released instructions on how to do this and they can be found their website.

How to block Windows 10 prompts

To block Windows 10 popups, you will need to dig into your PC’s registry and disable the upgrade path. However, a word of warning before you start: editing your registry incorrectly can cause serious problems to your PC. Before you make any modifications, back up your computer and registry in case anything goes wrong. In other words, at this point you're proceeding at your own risk.

If you are a Windows 7 Pro, Ultimate or Windows 8.1 Pro user and have admin permissions on the computer, follow these steps.

  1. Open up group policy editor (gpedit.msc)
  2. Browse to Computer Configuration>Administrative Templates>Windows Components>Windows Update Policy
  3. Switch on the Turn off the upgrade to the latest version of Windows through Windows Update setting
For users who are on a non-Enterprise version of Windows 7 or 8.1, you will need to input the below registry key in manually:

Subkey: HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Gwx DWORD value: DisableGwx = 1

And that’s all there is to it. Now you will no longer be bothered with popups bugging you to upgrade to Windows 10.

That being said, if you are currently running Windows 8 you need to make sure that you've upgraded to the latest “8.1 Update” version of the software so that you can enjoy continued 'Mainstream Support’ (including new features) until 9 January 2018 and ‘Extended Support’ (security patches) until 10 January 2023. If you're running the original Windows 8.0 you will no longer have support and your systems could be at risk.

If you would like additional assistance in blocking Windows notifications or help with other IT related needs, we are happy to be of service. Get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 16th, 2016

SocialMedia_Jan11_BThere’s more to social media marketing than using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. YouTube has rapidly grown from a small video sharing website for amateurs to the largest online video platform in the world. It offers an incredible opportunity for businesses to reach out to their current and potential clients through personalized, engaging videos. Are you using YouTube videos to market your business? We provide some nifty tricks to help you get better results.

Keep it short and simple

Most people have short attention spans and won’t watch videos that are longer than a couple of minutes unless they’re really interested. This means lengthy videos might not perform as well as you might hope, since viewers are likely to be turned off completely. There’s no fixed formula here, but the idea is to create videos that convey your intended message within five minutes at most. If you have the need for longer videos, simply split them into small segments - this is another great way to keep your visitors hooked and make them want to come back for more.

Use humor in your videos

Have you ever wondered why the funny videos on YouTube earn so many hits in such a short time? That’s because people love humor. We all like a good laugh. There are several YouTube channels out there that have had huge success by injecting humor into their videos. You don’t have to make your audience fall on their backs laughing - just flashing a little sense of humor will do the trick.

Consider quality over quantity

With the vast number of amateur and low-quality videos that come up on YouTube’s search results, you need to go the extra mile and make your video stand out from the competition. It’s worth investing in a high-quality video camera if you’re serious about YouTube marketing. Each of your videos should contain helpful and engaging content. And before posting it live, make sure to ask for a second or third pair of eyes to go through it again. This way you can take out the fluff and polish the videos so they’re appealing to viewers.

Set engaging titles

When it comes to YouTube marketing, this is perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind. Make sure you include relevant keywords in the title, so your viewers know what to expect to see in your video. The general rule of thumb is to keep it clear and concise, since long titles will be truncated in YouTube’s search results. Another thing is to refrain from using misleading titles that trick people into watching your video. Not only will your viewers hit the close button right away, this cheap trick will also have a negative impact on your video’s ranking.

Promote your videos

YouTube videos have a high chance of ranking well in Google, being the search engine giant’s subsidiary and following similar search algorithms. But this is no excuse to skimp on marketing. There are many ways to promote your videos to your specific target audience. Using relevant keywords and descriptions may help with organic traffic, but there’s also paid options like Google AdWords and Facebook Ads that will help you earn more exposure for your videos.

YouTube is a great tool to generate traffic and interact with your customers online. But do keep in mind that no matter how great your videos are, they won’t get seen if you don’t promote them well enough. If you want to learn how to maximize your YouTube marketing campaigns, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
January 14th, 2016

Productivity_Nov30_BWe know, we know; sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. More than ever before our busy personal lives and hectic working ones are demanding more and more of our attention and even the best laid plans and good intentions can get waylaid by a sheer lack of time. If you’re constantly under pressure to get things done and are starting to feel like you’re drowning, take a look at the following productivity tips.

When it comes to business, competition is fiercer than ever: you might have rivals undercutting your prices, you could be a bricks and mortar store pressurized by internet-based sellers, or perhaps you’re struggling to get a grip on your processes, marketing plans or even employees. By upping your efficiency stakes, working in a more agile fashion, and simply getting more work done more quickly, you could find that you’re holding the key to solving your problems.

Your issues with productivity might be personal, or they may well stem from your staff. As a small or medium-sized business owner or manager, you can’t afford to sit back and let your own inertia or disorganization, or your employees’ lack of dynamism, drag your company down. Take action and start getting to grips with your workload and help your business get 2016 off to a far more efficient start.

Take time out first thing

Okay, admittedly taking ‘time out’ sounds counterintuitive for increasing productivity, but hear us out. By taking a few minutes at the start of every morning, you’ll be getting the day off to a calm and orderly start, thereby increasing the chances of you being more productive, as opposed to running around like the proverbial headless chicken for the rest of the day.

Part mindfulness and part preparation, begin by emptying your head of any thoughts. Be in the moment and spend a minute or two breathing deeply. Next, consider the things most playing on your mind in relation to what needs to be done either today or in the near future. Jot them down on a piece of paper, followed with a short outline on how you are going to tackle them. Then set your mind to going forth and making those resolutions happen, one by one.

Quit multitasking

Some reports say that multitasking can negatively impact on your productivity by as much as 40 percent. When we’re taking on more than one task at a time, the perception is that we’re killing it productivity wise and getting loads done. The reality is that we’re spending the majority of the time jumping from one thing to the next and not fully focusing on any of them.

You need to exercise willpower to commit to ‘singletasking’ but before long it should come as second nature. Pick one thing that you are going to work on and stick to it until you have finished, or at least done everything you can for the time being. This includes not checking your email during that time – surely one of the biggest productivity sappers of all time. If the temptation is too strong, log out of your inbox on your computer, and set your phone to silent if you have audible alerts configured. If you’re worried you’re going to overlook something during this time period, use an online or physical notepad to note down spur of the moment thoughts or ideas.

Reassess your working hours

It’s no secret that the traditional 9 to 5 is on the way out. Being connected and contactable around the clock is putting paid to that, but is being constantly online actually counterproductive? How effective are you really at 11pm at night when you’re slumped in front of The Walking Dead with a beer and a spreadsheet full of data?

Take a tip from the latest round of startups that are taking a sledgehammer to the idea that we need to work around the clock, and are instead turning the working week on its head. The CEO of one rising startup has gone as far to institute a five-hour workday that runs from just 8am to 1pm, taking into account that studies show people are more productive earlier in the day. The theory goes that making people sit in an office for 8 hours a day, whilst giving them ample time to be productive, equally gives them just as many hours to waste time. A shorter working day could instill a greater sense of urgency in employees, who in turn respect the company’s consideration of their personal lives and work harder.

Depending on your business, changing your working hours may not be practical, but it could still be food for thought - and adopting a singletasking approach and planning your day ahead calmly and clearly is achievable and will never hurt.

If you’d like to find out how implementing better IT and more efficient procedures can help you beat the productivity blues, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
January 12th, 2016

Browsers_Nov25_BProtecting yourself, your employees and your business when you’re using the Internet is mandatory if you want to remain safe, productive and profitable. The current climate dictates that we all need to ramp up our online security measures thanks to the proliferation of phishing scams, hacks and fraudulent activity. The days of viruses causing your PC to run sluggishly are long gone – today there are issues that can pose a very real threat to your livelihood. Here we look at some ways to bolster security.

Keeping your data safe is crucial for any small to medium-sized business. Back in the good old days when paperwork, ring binders and print outs were the norm, you wouldn’t have dreamed of leaving classified data lying around for all and sundry to see. Imagine the furor if you left a list of employee salaries lying face up on a desk. Think of the damage an employee with a grudge could do if they were able to flip through private files whenever they pleased. Now, just because your data is stored on your computers, servers and in the cloud, that doesn’t make it impenetrable. If anything it makes it available to absolutely anyone, anywhere, who has the desire and capabilities to hack into your system.

One thing you should be doing to protect your data – and your company – is to make use of privacy-protecting browser extensions. Depending on the nature of your business, both you and your employees are likely to be online at least some, if not all, of the working day. And that makes you vulnerable to attack. But what are some of the browser extensions that are out there?

Prevent browser tracking

If you don’t like the idea of a third party (reputable or otherwise) being able to track your browsing habits, try installing a tool which offers private browsing. These programs offer protection against tracking by blocking third party cookies as well as malware. Some extensions also boast secure Wi-Fi and bandwidth optimization and can guard against tracking and data collection from social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

Blocking adverts

While online ads may seem harmless, the truth is that they can contain scripts and widgets that might send your data back to a third party. A decent ad blocking program will block banner, rollover and pop-up ads, and also prevent you from inadvertently visiting a site that is known to contain malware. Many blockers contain additional features such as the ability to disable cookies and scripts used by third-parties on a site, the option to block specific items, and even ‘clean up’ Facebook, and hide YouTube comments. The major blockers work with Google Chrome, Safari and Firefox and you’ll be able to find everything from user-friendly solutions to more advanced tools that are customizable down to the tiniest degree. Do be aware, however, that not configuring your ad blocker properly can cause websites to ‘break’, making them unusable.

Consider installing a VPN

Unfortunately browser tracking, malware and adware are not the only Internet nasties that you need to be concerned about, but the good news is that there a number of other extensions that you can download to really get a grip on your online safety. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is something else to consider. VPNs encrypt your Internet traffic, effectively shutting out anyone who may be trying to see what you’re doing. Commonly used in countries such as China where the Internet is heavily censored by the powers that be, a VPN allows for private browsing as well as enabling users to access blocked sites – in China’s case that’s anything from blogs criticizing the government to Facebook and Instagram. There are a huge number of VPNs on the market so do a little research and find one that suits you best.

Finally, it goes without saying that having anti-virus and anti-malware software installed on your PC, tablet and even your smartphone is crucial if you want to ensure your online safety.

If you’d like to know more about staying safe on the Internet or would like to schedule a security assessment for your company, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Browsers
January 12th, 2016

InternetSocialNetworkingAndReputationManagment_Jan12_BA dissatisfied customer sounding off on a ‘rant’ site about how unhappy they are can have serious ramification when it comes to your company’s online reputation. It is sometimes possible for these negative reviews to end up on the first page of your search results if you’re not careful. However, businesses are not powerless when it comes to fighting back against these websites and the poor reviews they may hold. Here are a few tips to assist you in handling these situations.

You’ve probably seen websites like Ripoff Report and Complaints Board give upset clients a sounding board to voice their frustrations. These unverified reviews are almost always negative and can damage a company’s online reputation. This is especially true if these reviews show up on the first page of an organization’s search results where it will appear to anyone who uses a search engine to look for information on a company.

Businesses are not powerless when it comes to dealing with these ‘rant’ sites and the negative content they contain. While you won’t be able to have this content completely removed from the internet, if you are smart with your online reputation management (ORM), you can push it further down the search results rankings where most people will never come across it. We compiled some useful advice to help you fight back against ‘rant’ sites that may be hurting your company’s online reputation.

Don’t engage site or users directly

When many business owners read one of these negative reviews, their first instinct is to start sending out strongly-worded emails that demand to have the content removed. A few will also try to engage with the person who posted the content in an attempt to resolve the issue. We would recommend against both when it comes to a ‘rant’ site where both users and content posted are not verified.

That’s because there have been reports of users posting fake reviews in an attempt to solicit money from businesses who they criticize. A few of these websites also claim to offer paid programs to mediate negative posts but business owners should be extremely wary of any website offering to remove or edit a review in exchange for cash.

Get on social media

If one of these negative reviews makes its way onto the first page of search results for your business, you will want to start up social media accounts to help bury it. Not only do social media accounts hold greater weight in search result rankings, they also provide your past, present and future clients with better information. Even if you already have a Facebook and Twitter, don’t be afraid to expand beyond that with an Instagram or LinkedIn account. It’s also a good idea to get on Foursquare, Google+ and any other sites where reviews are verified by real users and not nameless people who don’t have to be accountable for what they say. Just remember to update these regularly to ensure they stay at or near the top of the search result rankings.

Encourage positive reviews

While people are quick to post negative reviews, sometimes you need to cajole customers to post positive reviews on verified websites. Depending on what your business does, sites like TripAdvisor, Foursquare, Angie’s List or even Facebook can be great places to have satisfied customers leave reviews. Of course getting them to do that can be difficult.

That’s why you should consider offering a discount to customers who post a review of your business on any of these sites. It truly is a win-win situation as you get to build a positive online reputation, have more reputable sites gain traction when it comes to search result rankings and build brand loyalty with customers who will be more likely to return because of the discount offered on their next visit.

Don’t let a negative review on one of the ‘rant’ sites get you down. There are plenty of ways to get a positive message to people through online and social media channels. Let our team of experts show you how it's possible.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 11th, 2016

AndroidPhone_Jan1_BOne of the biggest problems facing new Android users relates to music. More specifically, it relates to just how in the heck does one get their beloved, and often times robust, iTunes Library onto their shiny new Android phone. Believe it or not, the process isn’t as complicated as it seems. There are a few different methods available to you and as long as you have some free time and a bit of patience, you’ll soon be using your Android phone to listen to your favorite song.

Drag and Drop

The most straightforward method of moving music involves a task you're probably already familiar with, dragging and dropping files. Alternatively, you can also copy and paste them, the choice is yours.

Start by connecting your Android phone to your laptop. From there, you will need to create a new folder on your Android phone from your laptop where you will place your music and open it up. Once that is completed, you should then open iTunes and highlight the songs you want to move. From there you can either drag and drop the files directly into the newly created folder on your Android phone, or select copy and then paste them into the folder. The results will be the same either way and your music will transfer over to your phone. Remember, if your laptop is a Mac you will need the Android File Transfer app available from Android in order to do this.

Apple Music

Apple Music recently made its way to Android and in addition to the streaming music service you are also able to access the songs you have purchased through iTunes. When you open up the Apple Music app you should be able to see your playlists from your iTunes Library show up when you go to My Music > My Playlists. There are two things you will want to take note of when considering Apple Music for Android. First, it is $10 a month to subscribe to the service and use the app. Second, the app is still new and Apple has not quite worked out all the kinks just yet according to reports.

Google Play Music

If you don’t need the physical files on your phone and are happy having access to your music via the cloud, then Google Play Music is a solution you might want to consider. For starters, it comes pre-loaded on all Android phones so the first step is already taken care of for you. You’ll need to download the Google Music Play app on your laptop (it's compatible with both Mac and PC), and then connect it to your iTunes library which will help you during the setup process. You can store up to 20,000 songs on your Google cloud at any given time which should be enough space for most people.

The downside of Google Play Music is that you’ll need to be connected to the Internet in order to have access to your music, which means this solution isn’t ideal if you’re on a plane for a long time or in another scenario where Internet access isn’t readily available.

If you’re thinking about switching from iOS to Android phones for your business then why not give our experts a call. We can help make sure your transition a smooth one.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 5th, 2016

Even a single second of downtime at your business can cause a ripple effect that sees operations become unhinged. While most Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) take into account longer power outages, short ones can be just as dangerous to your company. It is important that you and your employees be prepared should a power outage strike. We’ve prepared some information to help you do just that.

Power outages are one of the only disasters that can strike just about anywhere in the United States. If you are in Seattle chances are tropical storms are not going to be an issue and if you’re in Miami you aren’t going to fret over a blizzard, but losing power can occur anywhere, at any time and without warning.

A Department of Energy report noted that power outages cost American businesses nearly $150 billion in 2014 and added that increasing demand for energy coupled with an aging infrastructure could see the number of blackouts increase. While weather-related events are the most common cause of power outages in the U.S., it is far from the only thing that can disrupt energy service.

Since this is a problem that will continue to plague businesses, especially those ones that are unprepared, it’s important to be ready should a blackout strike. Here are a few things you should consider when it comes to power outages.

Power outages hurt in more ways than you think

The most notable issue a business faces when a power outage occurs is an inability to work. Employees often times sit around unable to do anything until the power is turned back on. Once the power does return, additional time is needed to safely turn everything back on and to check if all your files are still there.

There are also numerous indirect consequences that your business may face either during or after a power outage. These include a loss of revenue from potential sales, a decrease in customer satisfaction and a drop in your company’s reputation. The more your company is prepared for a power outage, the better continuity you will see and the less damage will be done. While it may be impossible to completely avoid issues caused by blackouts, you can minimize their impact.

Be ready in case of an outage

One of the biggest sources of frustration for employees during a blackout is losing files they had been working on. Autosave features do help prevent this but sometimes you’ll still lose that one important note or sentence you didn’t have the chance to save. Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) are one way to buy your employees a little extra time should the power go out. You're able to plug your computer into these devices and they will operate as a battery when the power goes out. The life of these power stations is anywhere from ten minutes to an hour for some models which should give you enough time to save your work and properly shutdown your computer.

If you want to stay in business during a power outage, a standby commercial generator can help. These normally run on propane or natural gas and immediately switch on as soon as your main power supply goes out. If you aren’t concerned about the lights but want to keep your employees productive, equipping them 4G enabled devices with Office 365 or Google Apps will let them continue to work on files that have been saved and stored on the cloud.

Always test your outage plans

Regardless of what your company's plans are during a power outage, you will need to test them on a regular basis to ensure everything runs smoothly when the real thing does happen. If you utilize a UPS or standby generator, you will want to test these out every six months at the very least to make sure they function properly. If your business has special plans for what employees need to do during a power outage, you should run a practice drill on a yearly basis to ensure everyone is up to speed on their duties.

They key to business continuity is preparation. Let our team of experts help prepare your business for anything thrown its way in 2016 and beyond.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.