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June 10th, 2014

hardware_June10_AIt’s undeniable that Macs and PCs have been locked in a battle for many years. PCs were once the go-to computer, mainly due to users wanting to use Windows and the fact that many essential programs only worked on Windows. But over the past fews years, an increasing number of programs have also been released for Mac. Because of this, many people are starting to wonder what exactly the difference is between the two systems.

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_AFor Apple fans, the most eagerly looked forward to days of the year are when Apple holds their World Wide Developers Conference. During this yearly conference, the company has taken to announcing a number of new products and platforms including an update to their mobile platform iOS. This year, the company didn't disappoint and announced 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_ARegardless of your location, the months of June, July, and August are usually prime for natural disasters. From Spring runoff in the mountains in the US in June to hurricane and typhoon seasons in the West and Asia, your business could be faced with a challenge. The best thing you can do to see your business through a disaster is to be prepare and one great way is through the use of 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 5th, 2014

WindowsPhone_June02_AMicrosoft, well known developer of some of the most popular business software, has for the past couple of years been trying to break into the hardware market with their own tablet - Surface. While the first two versions of Surface were met with largely mixed reviews, Microsoft is determined to make this platform work and has recently released a new version - Surface Pro 3.

About the Surface Pro 3 tablet

Officially announced on May 20, this newest version of Surface brings about a number of changes to the platform. First and foremost, there is a change in the device's positioning. While previous versions were designed to be direct competitors to the Apple iPad, the new version of Surface Pro 3 is being marketed as a highly mobile device that is meant to replace your laptop.

In fact, Microsoft has noted that they are targeting users, especially business owners, who have both a tablet and a laptop. The company is billing Surface Pro 3 as the device that will allow users to ditch the two, and instead replace it with one.

In pursuit of this goal, Surface Pro 3 has a larger screen and some advanced tech specs that provide it with laptop-level power, while keeping the overall portability of the modern tablet.

Technical specs business owners will find useful

Surface Pro 3 comes in five different versions, with the models being separated by which 4th generation Intel processor is included and the amount of storage space they have:
  • 64GB Intel i3
  • 128GB Intel i5
  • 256GB Intel i5
  • 256GB Intel i7
  • 512GB Intel i7
Aside from the processor, RAM and storage space, all versions share the following specs:
  • Size - The Surface Pro 3 is 11.5 inches wide by 7.93 inches high and weighs 1.76lbs.
  • Memory - The 64GB and 128GB models have 4GB of RAM, while the 256GB and 512GB models have 8GB of RAM.
  • Screen - There is a 12 inch screen with all models and a resolution of 2160 x 1440. This equates to a high resolution screen that should be more than enough for every user.
  • Connectivity - All models can connect to Wi-Fi, support Bluetooth 4.0, and have a full-size USB 3.0 port, along with a microSD card reader, and Mini display port.
  • Operating system - Surface Pro 3 runs a full version of Windows 8.1, which comes pre-installed on the device.
  • Accessories - There are a number of cases you can buy including the Surface Pro Type Cover which includes a full keyboard and trackpad built into the case. Combine this with the built-in multi-function hinge and you can use the device almost anywhere.
  • Battery life - Previous versions of the Surface had average, or slightly below average battery life. Because this device isn't out yet, we can't give an accurate number as to how long the battery should last. That being said, this is a powerful device so battery life will likely be closer to most laptops rather than tablets - anywhere from four to eight hours.

Should my business invest in this technology?

From the specs alone, the Surface Pro 3 looks to be a good investment for users who are looking to merge their tablet and laptop. Also, because this is a Microsoft tablet, users of the company's other systems and software, especially Office 365 and Windows 8, will be at home with this device.

If you or your employees are looking to be productive while on the go, and use Microsoft or cloud systems, this device could be the perfect business tool. The major downside to Surface Pro 3, as with previous versions, is the price, which starts at USD$799 just for the device, so you are looking at almost USD$940 per unit. The most powerful version - the 512 GB/ Intel i7 starts at USD$1,949.

Should you be about to replace your tablet and laptop, this could be a viable solution as the cost of replacing both could be more than, or at least similar to, the cost of a Surface Pro 3. That being said, this is still a new device so it may be worthwhile waiting a few months to see how people who purchase the unit like it, and how it can be integrated into your business better.

Where can I find one?

Because this tablet was just announced the other week, it actually isn't available to purchase just yet. You can go to the Surface website and pre order one now and as of the writing of this article, the i3 and i7 devices will be shipped August 31, 2014 while the i5 devices are scheduled to ship June 20, 2014.

If you can wait until the release, you should be also able to pick up the device from most major retailers and Microsoft partners who carry hardware. And, if you would like to learn more about this device and how it can integrate with your business contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 4th, 2014

AndroidTablet_June02_AMany of the best Android tablets and phablets these days have a wide variety of functions for optimal mobile productivity. In order to be mobile and productive, most users prefer it if they can connect via mobile data networks. The problem with connecting to these networks is that they often limit the amount of data you can use which means you can quickly exceed your limit, facing steep bills.

Here are three things you can do in order to minimize and track the amount of data you are using on your tablet.

1. Turn off your data when you aren't using it

All modern tablets have the ability to connect to a Wi-Fi network, and many of us have these in the office and at home. While many tablets have the ability to switch between connection types automatically, there is always the chance that you may loose connection and switch to a data network without knowing.

If this happens, you could see your data allowance quickly drained. Therefore, it's worthwhile turning off your data when you aren't using it. On most devices, you can do this by:

  1. Going to your device's home screen.
  2. Swiping down from the top and either selecting Settings or tapping on the profile image (usually a person icon) and tapping Settings.
Under Wireless & Networks tap on Data usage. Next, slide the tab Mobile data from On to Off. On some devices you may see Mobile Data right on the Settings menu, and sliding it to Off will turn off your device's data connection.

If you are going on vacation or out of your data provider's service area this is useful thing otherwise you may incur roaming charges which are usually costly. Note, that when you do turn your data off you will still be able to connect to the Internet over Wi-Fi.

2. Set a limit on the amount of data used

On Android devices using newer versions of Android there is actually a built in data tracker that allows you to see how much data you have used in a given period. You can access it by:
  1. Going to your device's home screen.
  2. Swiping down from the top and either selecting Settings or tapping on the profile image (usually a person icon) and tapping Settings.
  3. Selecting Data usage.
Note, this may be in a different location on your phone, it depends on the manufacturer. It can be found in the device's settings menu, just take a look at the options related to mobile and data.

With Data usage open, you should see a graph that displays the amount of data you have used during the current month. If you tick Set mobile data limit you can manually set a limit for your data. If you go over that limit, your device will automatically disable mobile data. We suggest setting it for around 10-20MB below the limit on your contract. You can also set a warning limit that will let you know when you are approaching a certain amount of data.

If your billing cycle doesn't begin at the start of each month, press Data usage cycle and select Change cycle… to set the dates to fit with the monthly charge cycle.

3. Audit the amount of data your apps are using

If you open the data usage part of Settings and look under the chart that displays the amount of data you have used you should see a list of apps that have used data, ranked by the amount each app has used.

You can see which app is using how much data and from here you can adjust how you use an app. For example, if you see that YouTube has been using a high amount of mobile data, it may be a good idea to restrict viewing videos to when you are on Wi-Fi.

If you see that apps are using data despite the fact that you aren't actually using the apps you can restrict the app from using data in the background. Many apps use data to keep their content up-to-date or available for the next time you open them. Try tapping on the app names in the list below the graph and a new window will open.

Take a look at the pie graph and you will see two sections: Foreground and Background. Foreground indicates how much data the app is using when it's open while Background shows how much is used while the app is closed.

If you tick Restrict background data at the bottom of the window, the app will not be allowed to use data while it isn't open.

Looking to learn more about your Android tablet? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 3rd, 2014

SocialMedia_June02_AAs social media becomes increasingly integrated with day-to-day business operations, we are seeing more businesses turn to these platforms for marketing purposes. If approached in the right way you could see some great returns from social media marketing campaigns. While there are many elements you can integrate in each potential plan, social PPC (Pay-per-Click) is really starting to take off. But, what exactly is this?

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
June 3rd, 2014

androidphone_June2_AIt’s undeniable that the number of Android users has grown tremendously over the past few years. With more customized features and increased apps, many people are turning to the Android operating system. As with most mobile device owners, they find it essential to maximize storage space on their smartphones and tablets. The question is: "How can I boost storage space on my Android device?"

MicroSD card:

The best way to get more storage on your Android device is to buy a microSD card. A decent 64GB card can be bought for as little as USD$40 and inserted straight into your smartphone or tablet. Go to Settings and Storage and assign what you want to be saved to your microSD card in the future, as well as moving existing files to maximize storage space.

It's important to note that not all devices have microSD storage slots. The Nexus 5, for example, does not support a microSD card, so make sure your device can support expanded storage in this way first.

Cloud storage:

While a fair number of Android devices do have a microSD card slot, an alternative option for freeing up space is to use cloud storage. Those that haven’t embraced the changes the cloud have brought may find it a little tricky at first, but it soon becomes second nature. We recommend using cloud storage apps to store images, important files, and any files which are either too big or too small to make accessing them via a data connection worthwhile.

One of the best ways to access cloud storage is to download an app to your Android device. The perk here is that with most cloud storage apps, you can set these to automatically back up selected files. Make sure to check that your files are saved on the cloud app and then you can delete the files from your smartphone or tablet to create more space. The only downside to this is that you’ll need Internet or data connection to view photos on your Android device.

Delete unused apps:

If you have a new Android device and you’re already running out of space, you can free some by deleting any bloatware that might have come preinstalled on your device. Some bloatware apps can’t be deleted, but most of them can be removed. Simply go to Settings then tap Apps and then tap the app you want to delete and press the Uninstall button.

If you’ve had your Android device for some time, chances are that you have downloaded many apps including those that are rarely used now. Uninstalling these apps is a great way to free up some space. Simply open your app drawer, tap, and hold on an app to uninstall. When your home screen pops up drag the app to the top of the device and drop it over Uninstall to delete.

Wireless hard drive:

A wireless hard drive is a final option for gaining access to more storage space on your Android device. It is exactly the same as a portable hard drive, except that you connect to it via Wi-Fi.

One of the best wireless hard drives available right now is the Kingston Digital Wi-Drive 32GB which can be bought for as low as USD$50. These wireless hard drives are usually available from 32GB to 1TB, so make sure you choose one that will cover your future usage as well.

Having more storage space on your mobile device will not only enhance your work security but also give you some room to breathe. Looking to learn more about Android phones and what each one has to offer? Call us today for a chat.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 30th, 2014

voip_May26_ABusiness trends like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and remote work sites require many companies to expand their communication capabilities. Many companies aim to increase productivity and customer service by turning to a VoIP solution. And there are several factors which can help make your VoIP more mobile, while ensuring both your customers and employees remain satisfied and can communicate with you hassle-free.

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_AThe office is meant to be a place of productivity, but it can easily become a place of constant struggle against distractions. This makes efficiency an elusive goal and it's not just those working in the office space who can't get on with the task at hand and suffer, but potentially the bottom line of the business too. If this sounds like your office at times then you need a strategy to help negate a drop in 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_ASince the wide adoption of social media, and even before, companies with an online presence have been taking steps to develop their own content that 'fans', customers and even friends can interact with. By creating content that users share, you can increase the reach of your company, which could ultimately increase sales, turnover and profits. The question is, how exactly you get your content, especially articles, 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.