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4 Benefits of adopting new business technology

Business technology is constantly changing — and if you don’t keep up with innovations in business IT, you could end up being left behind by your competitors. And gaining a competitive edge is just one of the many reasons why you should upgrade your business IT now — here are four others.

Better efficiency

Implementing new technologies introduces more efficient, flexible ways to carry out tasks, thus streamlining business processes. For instance, Voice over Internet Protocol phone systems and instant messaging apps enable your team to get in touch with one another, as well as with clients and business partners, whenever, wherever, on any internet-connected device. This makes relaying critical information much quicker and easier.

Similarly, business process management solutions automate repetitive tasks, like those involved in accounts payable processes. With automation, your staff saves time and effort and can focus on other, more important tasks.

Ability to address remote and hybrid work challenges

Many businesses are still struggling to cope with the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, including how to manage remote and hybrid workforces. These issues can be addressed by implementing modern communications and collaboration solutions. Such tools allow entire organizations to stay connected and on the same page. Managers can check in on employees, and coworkers can call or message one another regarding projects they’re working on together. Teams can also share documents and edit these at the same time, if needed. Additionally, they can use collaboration tools to set and track task progress so everyone’s always kept in the loop.

Increased employee engagement and retention

Issues with technology, especially if these happen frequently, hamper employee productivity. They also lead to poor employee engagement and experience. Over time, minor inconveniences like computers that constantly freeze or web browsers that take ages to load can add up and create discontent among your staff.

Equipping your team with the latest hardware and software enables them to perform tasks smoothly and efficiently, without having to worry about the headaches associated with outdated technology. This also shows that you are invested in their comfort and employee experience, which increases their morale as well as their loyalty to your company.

Reduced costs

New technology pays off in the long run. The savings you will make from not having to constantly have your tech fixed or suffer productivity-draining downtime will far outweigh the costs associated with implementing new equipment and solutions.

If you invest in the cloud, you can enjoy even more savings, as doing so eliminates costs related to managing your own hardware such as maintenance and utilities. Such expenses will all be shouldered by your cloud service provider, so you no longer have to worry about budgeting for them.

Regardless of your business’s size and industry, there’s no doubt that new technology is critical for its growth. However, you need to ensure that any new hardware or software you decide to adopt is aligned with your company’s needs and goals. You must also make sure that it’s properly implemented so that you can make the most out of it. Our experts can help you do just that — drop us a line today to find out how.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Ignore these outdated disaster recovery myths

Disaster recovery (DR) used to be an expensive solution that relied predominantly on tape backups. Today, cloud computing has dramatically changed the DR landscape, affording even small- and medium-sized businesses cheaper and more reliable DR solutions. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of misconceptions about DR. Here are three myths that no longer apply.

Myth 1: Tape backups are the best DR solution

Tape backups are physical objects that deteriorate over time. Try listening to a cassette tape from the ’90s. Its sound may be distorted already, or it probably doesn’t work at all. Similarly, your tape backups will start to fail over time. At first, only a few files may be affected, but you will gradually lose all your data.

It is also a common practice to store another set of tape backups outside your premises to secure them in case a natural disaster befalls your office. However, if your storage spaces themselves are unsafe from natural disasters, this could pose a problem.

Unlike tape backups, cloud-based backups are safe from deterioration. They are also stored in multiple secured locations that are protected from natural disasters, so your data backups are as safe as they can be.

What’s more, cloud-based backups save you time in many ways. Data is automatically backed up online, so you don’t need to manually copy information onto your tapes. You also won’t need to manage boxes of tapes, freeing you to focus on more valuable tasks.

Myth 2: The RTOs you want are too expensive

Essential to any DR plan is its recovery time objective (RTO), which is the ideal period when everything must be up and running again to avoid serious losses. Before the cloud, a “swift” recovery time would take days and cost up to six figures.

Cloud and virtualization solutions have made this much faster and affordable than ever before. Most DR providers can back up your critical data in an hour or two. And if you ever need to recover data, most services can do so in less than a day.

Myth 3: Disaster recovery is for big businesses, not SMBs

Due to the astronomical costs previously associated with DR, only big businesses could afford backup and recovery solutions. Thanks to the cloud, however, these have become more affordable for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). From dental offices to small retail operations, SMBs can now take advantage of the best DR solutions in the market. Advances in IT and the cloud have also eliminated the obstacles of complexity, costs, and insufficient IT resources.

We hope that by dispelling these myths, you’d be convinced to implement a disaster recovery plan (DRP) for your business. Thanks to improvements in data storage technologies, it is now more affordable and efficient to implement a DRP, in turn making it easier to ensure BC. If you’d like to learn how our DR solutions can safeguard your business, send us a message and we’ll fill you in.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Here are the basics of different VoIP systems

Many businesses still rely heavily on landlines, which remain as one of the first points of contact businesses have with their customers. With the marriage of traditional telephony and digital connectivity comes a more affordable and reliable option: internet phones. Is this the best option for your business? Read on to find out.

Different phone systems

Today’s businesses still use landlines to connect with various stakeholders, such as customers, investors, and suppliers, to service their needs. However, telephony has come a long way from when it first came about in 1876. For instance, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones have virtually unlimited reach, are automated, and are cheaper than ever to acquire.

VoIP is a telephony solution that uses the internet instead of wired circuits to transmit data. VoIP does more than just transmit audio — it can also send a variety of data (video, multimedia, SMS, etc.) and perform other tasks as well.

A VoIP system’s hardware (phone units, cables, CPUs, etc.) and software (one or more applications that run the system) can be either on-premises or hosted:

  • On-premises – Hardware and software are physically housed within the premises of the company.
  • Hosted – Some of the hardware, like phone units and other equipment, can be found within the premises. But most, if not all, of the software is hosted online. Service providers look after hosted systems for their clients.

Life cycles: On-premises vs. hosted

With hardware, it doesn’t matter whether it’s on-premises or hosted. Hardware is affected by the wear and tear stemming from daily use. Barring any accidents or physical damage, VoIP hardware should last several years.

On the other hand, software requires regular updates. It’s worth noting that it’s faster and cheaper to update software that’s hosted in the cloud versus one that’s on premises. However, there’s not much difference in how much either one can last — software for both types of VoIP systems can last upwards of 10 years, depending on how dependable your IT support is.

Technology today vs. before

In the past, hardware and software were built to last. Today, they’re built to adapt and change, thanks to cloud technology.

The effect of this shift on hardware and software is dramatic:

Most hardware components are very similar, with replacements and upgrades coming every 5–8 years on average.

Cloud software is faster, easier, and cheaper to upgrade than software for on-premises systems. Critical cloud updates can be released almost constantly, and a cloud system may be completely overhauled in as short as 2–3 years’ time.

Whichever phone system you choose, it should integrate smoothly with the other systems in your business, such as email or customer relationship management software. And as your business expands, your chosen phone system should easily scale with it, too.

Be a step ahead

Downtime results in loss of potential sales and, essentially, wasted money. If your phone service is spotty and constantly unreliable, perhaps it’s time to switch to VoIP phones.

Nowadays, it’s not the longevity of a tech solution that’s important, but rather staying ahead of the curve to trump the competition. Call our experts today so you can always leverage the best VoIP and other IT solutions available today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

How ready is your business for hurricanes?

As hurricanes are a common event in many areas of the United States, business owners must take steps to secure their data. In this blog, we provide steps that will help you quickly recover your data and get back to business following a hurricane.

Determine recovery hierarchy

Certain parts of your IT system are more mission-critical than others. Ask yourself which systems and/or data must be recovered in minutes, hours, or days so your business can resume operations quickly

For example, you may find that recovering sensitive customer information and eCommerce systems take priority over recovering your email server. Whatever the case may be, prioritizing your systems ensures that the right ones are recovered quickly after a disaster.

Pay attention to location

First and foremost, your backup site should be in a hurricane-free zone. Ideally, your off-site facility should be located at least 100 miles away from your main location. If this isn’t possible, make sure it is built to withstand wind speeds of 160 miles per hour (as fast as Category 5 storms) and is supported by backup generators and uninterruptible power supplies.

You should also request an upper floor installation or, at the very least, keep critical IT equipment 18 inches off the ground to prevent water damage in case of floods.

Use image-based backups

Unlike fragile tape backups, image-based backups take “snapshots” of your systems, creating a copy of the OS, software, and data stored in them. From there, you can easily boot the virtual image on any device, allowing you to back up and restore critical business systems in seconds.

Take advantage of the cloud

The cloud enables you to host applications and store data in high-availability, geo-redundant servers. This means your backups can be accessed via the internet, allowing authorized users to access critical files from any device. Expert technicians will also watch over and secure your backups, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of enterprise-level backup facilities and IT support.

Back up your data frequently

Back up your data as often as possible, especially during disaster season. If your latest backups were created on September 15th and a storm makes landfall in your area on the 28th, you could lose nearly two weeks of data.

Test your disaster recovery (DR) plan

After setting up your backups, check whether they are restoring your files accurately and on time. Your employees should be drilled on the recovery procedures and their responsibilities during and after a disaster. Your DR team should also be trained on how to failover to the backup site before the storm hits. Finally, providers, contractors, and customers need to be notified about how the hurricane will affect your operations.

As cell towers and internet connections may be affected during a hurricane, make sure your company forums are online and have your employees register with the Red Cross Safe and Well website so you can check their statuses.

It’s nearly impossible to experience disruptions during disasters like Harvey or Irma, but with the right support, you can minimize downtime. If you’re concerned about any natural disasters putting you out of business, call us today. We offer comprehensive business continuity services that every company should have.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Human cloud: The workforce of the future

Companies are increasingly tapping into a virtual, on-demand workforce. The human cloud offers a competitive advantage for startups and small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) by letting them outsource specialized skills and expertise globally. Let’s take a look at what the human cloud is and how it enhances remote team collaboration.

What is the human cloud?

The human cloud is a working platform where staff perform white-collar tasks from any location and on any device. Collaboration, file sharing, or discussions on projects are done in a flexible and productive manner, rewarding team members solely for their output.

Benefits of hiring on the human cloud

Companies looking to take advantage of the human cloud are entitled to the following benefits:

  1. Low cost
    The human cloud helps save time and money spent on traditional employment processes. Hiring is fast and easy, and you pay for the skills you need on a transactional basis.
  2. No overhead
    Hiring through the human cloud requires no overhead for office space, thereby enabling firms to stay lean and profit-focused. By becoming virtual, teams can work independently from anywhere. Remote collaboration via the human cloud is a game-changer that benefits companies, such as startups, that are inclined to spend fewer resources to build their business infrastructure.
  3. Get skills on demand
    Employers can contract for micro-tasks, such as copying text from business cards, to larger tasks, like selling products for a fee, to even more complex projects such as software design and programming.
  4. Global talent pool
    Even startups can be multinational today, so they are no longer limited by geography in finding key talent with specialized skills. Business can leverage overseas creative, administrative, engineering, and other high-level talent to build a well-rounded team. A good idea can come and be executed from just about anywhere.For instance, Foundr Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Nathan Chan started a passion project that enabled him to interview some of the most influential entrepreneurs around the world, which he shared through his monthly digital publication.

    For Chan, the launch of this successful project would not have been possible if it wasn’t for human cloud service and freelancing platform Elance. Elance allowed him to leverage overseas talent and build a solid team of graphic designers, audio/video editors, and writers. All tasks and projects for each issue of his magazine run through the platform, which also conveniently processes payments for his contractors.

  5. Easy collaboration
    Using an online platform gives SMBs the ability to manage projects through virtual workrooms. Collaboration software can be extremely important and even mission-critical for remote teams to work efficiently.

As more startups and SMBs become familiar (and comfortable) with the advantages of the human cloud, the future of work means that location is not the most important factor in determining who will contribute to your business’s success. A worldwide network of online contractors is now ready to serve you with the qualifications, skill sets, and shared enthusiasm you seek to turn ideas into valuable products or services.

For more information on how to leverage cloud technologies or collaboration software, get in touch with any of our cloud specialists.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Staying competitive using VoIP phone systems

VoIP is no longer the mysterious phone tech it was 20 years ago, and yet many businesses still fail to realize its full potential. This in part due to a lack of understanding of what internet phones can do. Read on to learn more about the benefits of VoIP.

Different phone systems

Phones have come a long way from analog landlines. Nowadays, many digital phone systems don’t even have conventional telephony hardware anymore. Modern businesses need a phone system that can service all of their needs, and in most cases, VoIP phones are the answer.

VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a system of hardware and software that uses the cloud instead of analog circuits to transmit data. VoIP does more than just transmit audio — it can also send a variety of data (videos, documents, etc.) and perform other tasks as well.

A VoIP system’s hardware (phone units, cables, CPUs, etc.) and software (one or more applications that run the system) can be either on-premises or hosted.

On-premises – The hardware and software are physically located within the premises of the company.
Hosted – Some of the hardware, like phone units and other equipment, can be found within the premises. But most, if not all, of the software is hosted online. Service providers look after hosted systems for their clients.

Life cycles: On-premises vs. hosted

The useful life of hardware remains the same whether it’s on-premises or hosted. Hardware is affected by the wear and tear of daily use. Barring any accidents or physical damage, VoIP hardware should last as long as analog handsets, usually several years.

Software, on the other hand, needs constant updating. It’s faster and cheaper to update software that’s hosted in the cloud versus one that’s on-premises. The differences in longevity between the two should be negligible; both can last upwards of 10 years, depending on your IT support.

Future-friendly technology

Cloud technology has fundamentally changed the way IT solutions are produced. In the past, hardware and software were built to last. Today, they’re built to adapt and change. The effect of this shift on telecommunications technology is dramatic.

Most hardware components are very similar, with replacements and upgrades coming every 5–8 years on average. So even new ones aren’t necessarily cutting-edge, and yet they tend to be costly. Cloud software, on the other hand, is faster, more powerful, and costs less to upgrade. Critical updates can be released almost constantly, with complete overhauls taking no longer than 2–3 years.

As your business grows, your phone system should be able to adapt to rapid growth, the need for more speed, and integration with the other systems in your business, like email or management software.

Be a step ahead

Your business cannot afford dropped or missed calls. Imagine what one day of phone downtime would do to your company. The time to replace your phone system is not after it fails. The best time is before that, when you can plan and budget properly.

Nowadays, it’s not longevity that’s important; it’s staying ahead of the curve. Call our experts today so you can always be a step ahead.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Disaster recovery during hurricane season

There’s no telling when natural disasters will occur. When they do, certain regions in the country often bear the brunt of their impact, like when Hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit certain states in 2017. With a well-designed disaster recovery (DR) plan, your business can be spared from total devastation.

Determine recovery hierarchy

Certain parts of your IT are more mission-critical than others. Ask yourself which systems or data must be recovered in minutes, hours, or days to get your business back to running efficiently.

For example, you may find that recovering sensitive customer information and eCommerce systems take priority over recovering your email server. Whatever the case may be, prioritizing your systems ensures that the right ones are recovered quickly after a disaster.

Pay attention to location

First and foremost, your backup site should be in a hurricane-free zone. Ideally, your off-site facility should be located at least 100 miles away from your main location. If this isn’t possible, make sure it is built to withstand wind speeds of 160 mph (as fast as Category 5 storms), and is supported by backup generators and uninterruptible power supplies.

You should also request an upper floor installation or, at the very least, keep critical IT equipment 18 inches off the ground to prevent water damage.

Use image-based backups

Unlike fragile tape backups, image-based backups take “snapshots” of your systems, creating a copy of the OS, software, and data stored in it. From there, you can easily boot the virtual image on any device, allowing you to back up and restore critical business systems in seconds.

Take advantage of the cloud

The cloud allows you to host applications and store data in high-availability, geo-redundant servers. This means your backups can be accessed via the internet, allowing authorized users to access critical files from any device. Expert technicians will also watch over and secure your backups, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of enterprise-level backup facilities and IT support.

Back up your data frequently

Back up your data often, especially during disaster season. If your latest backups were created on the 15th of September and the next storm makes landfall on the 28th, you could lose nearly two weeks of data.

Get in the habit of replicating your files at the end of each day, which should be easy if you’ve opted for image-based backups.

Test your DR plan

After setting up your backups, check whether they are restoring your files accurately and on time. Your employees should be drilled on the recovery procedures and their responsibilities during and after disaster strikes. Your DR team should also be trained on how to failover to the backup site before the storm hits. Finally, providers, contractors, and customers need to be notified about how the hurricane will affect your operations.

As cell towers and internet connections may be affected during this time, make sure your company forums are online and have your employees register with the Red Cross Safe and Well website so you can check their statuses.

It’s nearly impossible to experience little-to-no disruptions during disasters like Harvey or Irma, but with the right support, you can minimize downtime. If you’re concerned about any natural disasters putting you out of business, call us today. We offer comprehensive business continuity services that every company should have.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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