The relationship between technology and running a business has rapidly evolved over the last few years, making it even more important to have a professional IT staff by your side.
Whether it’s increasing your team’s efficiency or keeping your business safe from hackers, technology has the ability to make or break your business. But with so many IT guys popping around the block, how do you know which one is right for your business?
The truth is, there’s a huge problem in the IT industry today. So many IT companies pride themselves on what the industry considers “Permissions to Play,” to the point where they’re all starting to sound the same. I’m talking about things like:
– Fixing computers
– Having a fast response time
– Great customer service
– Having smart people…
I mean which IT company CAN’T do all of those things fairly well?
When looking into partnering with an IT company, you need to look for a company that will take a more in-depth role in your technology, as it relates to running and growing your business. It’s not about hiring some techy guys to fix your computers. It’s about having a professional CIO by your side, every step of the way.
So what services should you really be looking for?
Building your competitive edge calls for hard work, some serious talent, and a whole lot of perseverance. But, do you know what else it takes? Technology.
You create strategies for every aspect of your business, and the same must be done for technology. Thinking of opening up a second office? Concerned about the efficiency and security of your remote staff and devices? Are your employees wasting time on sites like Facebook and Monster.com on your dime?
IT consulting is what you’re looking for. The good IT Company will hold regular meetings with you and your team to discuss any concerns, upcoming projects and growth plans. Together, you will create a technology roadmap to ensure everything happens on time and on budget.
Compliance as a Service
Compliance challenges are common in the workplace, especially as the laws change and develop. Protection of the customer’s privacy is a hotbed issue, and if you operate any kind of business that deals with health records or credit cards, you must be compliant or face fines and penalties.
But being fully compliant is easier said than done. Managing and maintaining your compliance and levels of security can be daunting, time-consuming, and will more than likely require specialized IT expertise.
Make sure to look for an IT provider that will assist you in meeting compliance laws, whether it’s HIPAA, PCI, or whatever other compliance law you need to meet. This service typically includes a comprehensive risk assessment, regular audits, tracking and documentation of all changes made to the database, and ongoing issue detection.
IT companies are directly responsible for managing the majority of your on-site and off-site technology. They resolve issues you may be having with your computers, network connectivity, and hardware, just to name a few.
But what if your printer breaks? What if you’re frustrated with the speed of your internet? What if you’re having to spend hours trying to get a hold of customer support to get your main business applications running properly?
An IT company that truly takes an in-depth role in your company will not only manage the technology they install but will also manage your other technology vendors. So when that copier breaks, you can rest assure that your IT Company will work to get it resolved in a timely manner. This allows you to focus on your business- not your vendors.
Flat-Rate IT Services
Another big problem in the IT industry today: IT companies are notorious for luring you in with a low monthly rate, only to nickel and dime you to death by the end of the month. They’ll charge you for things like onsite support, 24/7 helpdesk, project management, they’ll even charge you for parts! Now how the heck do you budget for any of that?
A respectable IT company will charge you one flat-monthly rate that never changes for the duration of the agreement, unless you add something new, of course. Things break and go wrong all the time and when it’s least expected. By having a flat-rate service, you’ll never have to worry about going over budget, no matter how often these issues occur.
There are many other services to consider in addition to ones listed above. Project management, proof of Concept lab testing, internal security training, mobile phone support, the list could go on for pages.
Every company is unique, so make sure the IT provider you’re speaking to does a full network assessment before coming onboard. Only then will they truly be able to provide you the solution that makes the most sense for your business.
As you can see, it’s not about just fixing computers anymore. When you hire an IT provider, you’re hiring a fully-staffed technology staff to become an extension of your business.
Because mobility and accessibility are crucial to your competitive edge, you don’t have the option to eliminate all those connected devices accessing your company database and sensitive client information. BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, is a major security concern for businesses of all types. (more…)
As you probably already know, Dropbox has achieved its reputation by providing a simple solution: as long as you have an internet connection, you can get almost instant access to your files on any device, anytime, anywhere.
However, even today, some people are still unaccustomed to storing their personal data in the cloud. Your precious documents and photos may seem like they’re safe on your computer, until it’s stolen or your hard drive crashes. By then, it’s probably too late. Sorry.
Having your files backed up in the event of an emergency is an obvious Dropbox advantage, but the service has evolved into much more than a digital storage box in the cloud. Here are a few tips on how to master your Dropbox service:
Make the most of the free space Dropbox provides
Every Dropbox account gets 2GB of free space, but there are several things you can do to earn more free storage without paying a monthly subscription. You can get up to 16GB of free space by inviting friends who haven’t yet signed up for Dropbox. Each successful referral gets you 500MB. To receive an additional 3GB of free space, download Dropbox’s free photo management app: Carousel. And if you link your Dropbox account with its email app (Mailbox) you’ll get an additional 1GB of space.
Enable two-step verification to protect your account
If you want to protect your files from being hacked, make sure to enable two-step verification. This means whenever you try to log into Dropbox on a new device, a secondary code will be sent to your phone number. You’ll have to enter that code along with your main password in order to log in. Two-step verification can be a bit of a hassle, but it’s a great way to increase the security of your account and rest easy knowing your data is protected.
Use Selective Sync to control which folders sync across devices
Dropbox has a feature called Selective Sync that lets you manually choose which folders to sync. This can be helpful if you have a particular folder on your desktop that you don’t want showing up on your smart phone, or vice versa. We all need our privacy at some point, right?
Work on Microsoft Office documents
Dropbox is integrated with Microsoft Office, meaning any Word, PowerPoint, or Excel file stored in Dropbox can be edited directly in your web browser using Office Online. To begin editing, click the “Open” button while previewing a document on the web in Dropbox, and any changes that are made will be synced back to your Dropbox.
Anyone can upload files to your Dropbox (even if they don’t have an account)
Thanks to a feature called “file requests,” someone doesn’t have to be a Dropbox user to upload files to your account. This is useful if you’re someone like a teacher who initiates homework requests from students, or maybe you just need a document from a co-worker. Files can be up to 2GB in size, which makes it a more effective delivery method than email for larger files.
Many people see smartphone apps as the end-all be-all of their productivity challenges.
If I download this app and that app, maybe I’ll finally get my to-do list sorted out. Maybe I’ll even look at it after I create it. Wouldn’t that be something?
But, unfortunately, most of us go about this the wrong way: downloading the wrong apps and organizing them the wrong way. So to help you be more productive, let’s address the elephant in the room.
Finding an efficient way to organize your apps is almost as important as downloading the apps themselves. For this reason, organizing your apps should be the very first thing you consider, well before you get lost in the black hole that is the app store.
If you install a new calendar, file-sharing app, or project management tool, you need to keep these items in plain view, making you more prone to actually use them. Widgets can be effective but these slow down your phone and clog up valuable real estate on your home screen. Instead, organize your apps into folders, separating them by type—money, projects, tools, coupons, games, social, etc.
If you want your home screen free of clutter, then situate these folders on the screen immediately to the left or right of your home screen. Organizing your apps into folders will ultimately help you maneuver through apps quickly and with little effort. No more wasting time scrolling through an unorganized mess of four pages of apps.
There are other ways to separate your apps as well. For example, Yahoo offers a customizable home screen layout called Yahoo Aviate Launcher. In one swipe, your apps are auto-categorized, and with another swipe, they’re alphabetized. Swipe up to see your “Quick Contacts” and swipe left to view customizable cards and information.
When downloading apps, you need to keep three factors in mind: usable, reasonable, and exclusive. These three factors are not meant to control your app experience but to manage it, because when we digitally walk into an app store, we’re too easily swayed by the “Ooh shiny” syndrome. This syndrome causes us to download one app after the other after the other for no other reason than just to download it. While this pattern may appear harmless, all it will really do is clog up your phone and make it harder for you to find and use the apps that can actually keep you productive and focused.
Usable: Will you use this app? For what purpose? Is this a legitimate purpose? Did you read the entire description, reviews included? Did you browse alternatives before stumbling upon this app?
Reasonable: Is it reasonable to conclude that you will actually use this app for the intended purpose? Is the app laid out in a fashion that is easy to use and aesthetically pleasing?
Exclusive: Do you already have an app that serves this same purpose? If yes, why do you need this app in particular? Is it better than the app you already have installed? Will you delete the other app if you download this one?
Keep these three factors in mind at all times when browsing and installing new apps, and your overall experience with smartphone applications should be one that is much more productive, efficient, and realistic. Just don’t forget to organize them! You don’t want all that hard work of ‘tapping to install’ to go to waste, do you?