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July 18th, 2014

Virtualization_July14_AVirtualization - the act of moving something physical to a digital environment, normally delivered over a network connection - is one of the most beneficial tech concepts, especially for small businesses. For many business owners and managers however, this is a vastly complex concept, that carries with it some confusing terminology. To help, we have come up with a glossary of 10 virtualization terms every owner, manager, and employee should be aware of.

1. Virtual Machine (VM)

You will often hear virtualization experts bandy about the term VM. What they are talking about when they say this is the Virtual Machine. The VM is essentially a virtual representation of the computer on your desk. It can do everything a physical machine does, only everything is virtual and usually delivered over a network connection.

Because VMs are software based, you can often run more than one VM on the same physical machine. This could equate to having say two separate versions of Windows running at the same time, or even running a different operating system, say Windows on your MacBook.

2. Virtual server

A specific type of VM, in this case a server, that is running in a virtual environment. A common setup many offices employ is to have one physical server on premise. This server then hosts separate virtual servers that in turn host different services like email, networking, storage, etc.

Other businesses choose to rely completely on virtual servers. This is where another company hosts the servers which are delivered to you over the Internet. To the computers and users it appears the servers are there on your network, and can be interacted with normally when in truth, the servers are actually virtual.

3. Virtual desktop

Much like the virtual server, the virtual desktop is a specific type of VM. In this case, it is a virtually delivered version of an operating system like Windows, Linux or even OS X.

Since the advent of virtual desktops, the idea that companies have to stick with one type of operating system has started to become irrelevant. For example, if you own a Mac and need to access a Windows only program, one solution is to use a virtual version of Windows. If you have access to one, you will be able to run Windows from your Mac without having to physically install it on your computer.

4. Hypervisor

The hypervisor is essentially a small operating system that enables virtualization. Its job is to take physical hardware resources and combine them into a platform that is then delivered virtually to one, or many different users.

5. Host system

The host system, also referred to as the parent, is where the physical hardware and software is installed. These physical components are then copied by the hypervisor and delivered in a virtual state to the user. If you are creating a virtual desktop environment, then the host system will have the desktop's OS installed on it, along with the necessary software.

6. Guest system

The guest system, also referred to as the child, is where the VM is accessed. To carry the example on from above, the OS that is installed on the host machine is replicated by the hypervisor and the copy is then delivered to the user.

The user can interact with the OS just as they would with the physical host machine, because the guest system is an exact copy of the host. The only difference is, the guest machine is virtual instead of physical.

7. Virtual Infrastructure

When you combine a bunch of different types of VMs together into one solution, including hardware, storage, desktops, and servers you create a virtual infrastructure.

This can then be deployed to businesses who are looking for a completely virtualized solution. The easiest way to think of this is that your whole IT infrastructure is combined into one solution and virtualized. Many companies look for a solution like this because it reduces the need for on-premise hardware, while making it easier for an IT partner to manage.

8. P2V

P2V, or Physical to Virtual, is a term used by IT experts to refer to the act of migrating a physical system to a virtual one. The most common example of P2V is the merging of physical servers into a virtual environment that is hosted on one server.

9. Snapshot

A snapshot is an image of the state of the virtual machine at a specific point of time. This includes all of the data, configurations, and even windows or programs open at that time. Snapshots are used kind of like the Save button on video games - it saves your progress. When you next load up the VM, you will get all of your data, programs, and configurations back.

Snapshots are also kept in case something goes wrong with the VM. You can easily revert back to an older snapshot, one that was taken before the problem.

10. Clone

The action of taking one VM and creating an exact copy that can then be used by another computer or user.

If you are looking to learn more about virtualization, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 17th, 2014

BCP_July14_AWhen it comes to ensuring that your business will not only recover from the next disaster, but also be able to continue to operate, it is essential that you implement a business continuity plan (BCP). When developing and fine-tuning these plans there are a number of key metrics you should be aware of, with the two most important being RTO and RPO.

While both RTO and RPO are important elements of continuity plans, and they both sound fairly similar, they are actually quite different. In this article we define RTO and RPO and take a look at what the difference is between the two concepts.

RTO defined

RTO, or Recovery Time Objective, is the target time you set for the recovery of your IT and business activities after a disaster has struck. The goal here is to calculate how quickly you need to recover, which can then dictate the type or preparations you need to implement and the overall budget you should assign to business continuity.

If, for example, you find that your RTO is five hours, meaning your business can survive with systems down for this amount of time, then you will need to ensure a high level of preparation and a higher budget to ensure that systems can be recovered quickly. On the other hand, if the RTO is two weeks, then you can probably budget less and invest in less advanced solutions.

RPO defined

RPO, or Recovery Point Objective, is focused on data and your company's loss tolerance in relation to your data. RPO is determined by looking at the time between data backups and the amount of data that could be lost in between backups.

As part of business continuity planning, you need to figure out how long you can afford to operate without that data before the business suffers. A good example of setting an RPO is to imaging that you are writing an important, yet lengthy, report. Think to yourself that eventually your computer will crash and the content written after your last save will be lost. How much time can you tolerate having to try to recover, or rewrite that missing content?

That time becomes your RPO, and should become the indicator of how often you back your data up, or in this case save your work. If you find that your business can survive three to four days in between backups, then the RPO would be three days (the shortest time between backups).

What's the main difference between RTO and RPO?

The major difference between these two metrics is their purpose. The RTO is usually large scale, and looks at your whole business and systems involved. RPO focuses just on data and your company's overall resilience to the loss of it.

While they may be different, you should consider both metrics when looking to develop an effective BCP. If you are looking to improve or even set your RTO and RPO, contact us today to see how our business continuity systems and solutions can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 17th, 2014

iPad_July14_AThe way we communicate is forever changing, and with the younger generations now in the workforce, the main form of communication has become online chat or SMS. Because of its popularity, Facebook is one of the main platforms people have come to rely on to message one another, especially on mobile devices like the iPad. In an effort to make messaging easier, Facebook has released a stand-alone messenger app for the iPad.

Facebook Messenger on the iPad

Over the past few months, Facebook has been set on separating the two main functions of their platform - at least for mobile users. What this had led to is two separate Facebook apps, with the main Facebook app being just for social media functions, and a stand-alone app for its popular messenger service.

Up until now, there has been one version of the Facebook Messenger app for iOS, and it was optimized to smaller iPhone screens, meaning if you used it on iPad, it looked a little weird. In early July 2014, Facebook set about fixing this by releasing a new update to the app, which brought full support for the iPad's bigger screen.

When you download this app onto your iPad, you will have the same functionality as the other versions, including the ability to call people, send group chats, share photos, and best of all message people.

Where to get the app

It may seem a bit odd to have a separate app just for messaging on Facebook, but it can be useful for businesses who use this form of communication. Essentially, the app makes it easier to use just the messaging features without having to deal with the full social media aspect of the platform.

If this sounds like a useful app, you can download it from the iTunes Store for free.

Using the app

If you have not used the app before, it may take a bit of time to get used to it and to set it up. When you first download and open the app you should be asked to log in using your Facebook account. You should then see your contacts pop up with recent messages at the top.

Tapping on a chat will open the window with your message history and standard messaging abilities. You can scroll through your different chats on the left and view these by tapping on them.

At the bottom of the main chat history window you should see a number of buttons:

  • Recent - The default view, showing recent chats or messages in chronological order with the newest being at the top.
  • Group - Shows only your Group chats, again with the most recent messages at the top.
  • People - Brings up your contacts so you can start new messages. Simply search for a contact and tap on their name to start chatting.
  • Settings - Opens the Settings panel, allowing you to change various features including the alerts that are shown when you have a new message.
One potentially useful feature the app offers is the ability to call people directly from the chat window. If you open a chat, you should see a phone icon at the top-right of the screen. Tapping this will allow you to call the person you are chatting with, and if they also have the Messenger app installed, the call will be free. If the other person doesn't have the app installed then you will get a message saying that carrier rates may apply.

Looking to learn more about using Facebook on the iPad? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPad
July 16th, 2014

AndroidTablet_July14_AAndroid devices, especially tablets, are gaining traction in many businesses, especially those with staff who are mobile or away from the office. While these devices are seeing increased adoption, they are still new and many business owners and managers are still at a loss as to how to use them for work. So, to help, we have created a brief guide on the dos and don'ts of using your Android tablet at the office.

Do:

  • Use separate profiles - Tablets that use newer versions of Android (4.3 and newer) have a unique feature that is incredibly useful for business users: You can set up more than one account on the device. This means you can have a personal account and a work account on the same device without the two crossing over. Each account has their own apps and layout, which makes it perfect for the BYOD crowd.
  • Pick responsibly - Android tablets come in all shapes and sizes, and with different versions of the operating system. It is therefore a good idea to do some research before you buy one for your business. Take the time to try and identify what you will be using the device for, what features you would like, and most importantly, if the device is compatible with your existing systems. We strongly recommend going with one of the big name brands like Samsung, LG or Acer, or the Nexus line.
  • Develop a usage and management plan - Before you implement the device into your office, be sure to develop a plan on how the device is to be used and managed. Will each employee be in charge of managing their own device, or will your IT partner manage them for you? Be sure to also develop a list of approved apps, including important ones like email and messaging; and that users are familiar with how to use them.
  • Look into accessories - One common factor many businesses forget to look into when implementing Android devices is the numerous accessories available for tablets. In order to extend the life of the devices it is a good idea to get protective cases and screen covers. Also, look and see if the device you have chosen has a removable battery or SD card. If it does, you may want to invest in extra batteries and cards.

Don't

  • Skimp on security - As Android tablets become more popular, the devices are seeing an increase in malicious attacks. It would therefore a good idea to implement mandatory security measures on all devices. This includes an antivirus scanner and daily check for app updates. Also be sure to educate the staff who will be using the device on common security issues, such as how to spot fake apps, use an antivirus scanner, and how to enable secure browsing on the Web.
  • Allow third party app stores - Because of the openness of Android, you can install apps from almost any location. This has resulted in many third-party app stores (stores not run by Google) popping up. Some of these stores host any kind of app, including ones that contain malware. So, it is a good idea to just outright ban these stores; only allowing apps from Google Play to be installed on devices.
  • Force the tablet on users - Some employees won't want a tablet, preferring instead to stick with their laptop or desktop. Don't force your employees to adopt the device if you know they won't use it. This will just lead to you wasting your tech budget and to unused devices.
  • Worry about fragmentation - Yes, Android is very fragmented - devices are running different versions of Android. While this may seem like a big deal, it doesn't have to be. We recommend that when selecting tablets, pick a newer version of Android and purchase tablets using the same version. Once you get used to the tablet, the issue of fragmentation will usually disappear, especially if everyone is on the same version.
If you are looking for help selecting and managing an Android device for your office, contact us today to learn about how our services can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 16th, 2014

Office_July14_AWhen it comes to being a spy, nothing is more important than a good alias. From Archer's Chet Manley to James Bond's James St. John Smythe, no secret agent is ever without one. When it comes to business however, it may seem like an alias is not so important, and at first glance it isn't. That being said, there is a great alias feature available to Outlook.com users that you may be interested to find out about.

Outlook.com's alias management feature

If you are using Outlook.com, chances are high that you aren't a spy or superhero and in need of a top-secret alias. There is a good chance however that you may have need for more than one email address.

Maybe you attend a lot of conferences or events and would like a way to keep your main email inbox from being flooded with the usual "nice to meet you" emails and follow ups; or perhaps you are launching a new product associated with your name and would like a way to easily track communication directly related to this one product.

If this sounds like your situation then Outlook.com has a great feature that allows you to create up to 10 new email addresses, or aliases, and manage them from your main account's inbox. The main idea of an alias email is that you get a different email address that is tied to your main account. Your aliases share the same contacts, calendar and even account settings with your primary account.

What's more is you can actually sign into your account using any alias, because the same password is used for every address you create. When sending an email, you also get to pick which alias the message will come from, which is undoubtedly a really useful feature.

How to create an Outlook.com alias

To create an alias email address:
  1. Log into Outlook.com with the account you would like to set as your main or primary account.
  2. Press the Settings icon which is the cog located at the top-right of the screen.
  3. Select Options followed by Create an Outlook.com alias in the window that opens.
  4. Type in the email address that you want.
  5. Click Create an alias.
  6. Untick the box in the pop-up. If you don't, the alias you set up will be set as the primary email address.
  7. Click Done.
When you are sending an email, you should now be able to click your name at the top of the email window which will drop down a menu with your aliases. Click on the alias you would like to send the email from, and you should see the name change. Any responses to that message will be made to the alias email address as well.

If you are looking to learn more about Outlook.com or any other Office program contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 15th, 2014

Office365_July14_AEver wonder how we managed without email? Having been a vital part of businesses for over a decade, email not only simplifies communication processes but has evolved into a versatile platform for collaboration too. One such service is the Outlook Web App for Office 365, which has just made document collaboration easier through its added features, ensuring your daily email routine is a little less painful. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what it has to offer and how it can help with collaboration.

Side-by-side view of documents and email

When your colleague sends you a document to review, you’ll see the document attached in an email in your Inbox. When you open the attachment, you can now see the contents of that document within the email itself. No more flipping back and forth between windows to get the information you need.

Files supported for viewing in this new feature include Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint files, most types of image files and PDF files. You can perform all of the standard messaging actions right from within this unified view making it easy to review information in the email alongside the attachment itself.

Easy document editing and reply

What do you do when you want to edit the attachment in your email? You download the attachment, make your changes, re-attach the file and send your reply. Now you can say goodbye to all that hassle. With the new side-by-side view, all you have to do is simply click Edit a Copy right above the attachment and message.

When you do this, a draft reply-all message is created for you to store this new edited version of the attachment. Then, a new editable copy of the attachment you received is created and renamed with your name at the end of the filename. This way you can differentiate the new copy of the file from the original one. The new copy of the attachment is live, meaning any changes made are automatically saved. Once you're done editing, simply type a response in the email and click Send. Types of files supported for editing include Word, Excel and PowerPoint files created in Microsoft Office 2007 and above.

Additional enhancements

In addition to the side-by-side view and edit-and-reply enhancements, the attachment user interface has also been updated. Now when you attach files, the overview is bigger and better looking. You can also now download multiple attachments at once in the form of a single zip file, making life a tad easier.

While Outlook Web App's added features might not be a total game changer, you can be sure that the next time you’re looking to collaborate, you’re able to do so faster and easier. Want to learn more about Office 365 and its apps? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 15th, 2014

GoogleApps_July14_AIn late June, Google announced a number of new products and features at their annual I/O conference. While many of the announcements at I/O centered around mobile products, new features for Drive were also talked about. Some of the most useful being new advanced editing features for productivity apps like Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Here is an overview of these new editing features.

A big leap forward in editing

Before the introduction of Drive's new document editing features users simply edited on the same document. Changes they made were automatically made to the document regardless of whether the main author wanted them or not. For the majority of users, this works fine, but it did kind of feel like the apps were missing more advanced editing features like those found in other productivity programs.

Also, while the collaboration aspect of Drive's apps is second to none, there are times when an editor or document owner would prefer to limit the power collaborators have in terms of editing and controlling the overall quality of the file. To make things easier, Google has introduced new editing features to the Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps.

Now, when you open a new file you should see a pencil icon in the toolbar at the top-right, this is the new editing function. Clicking on it will bring down a menu with three options:

  • Editing - Allows you to edit a document with changes being made directly in the document.
  • Suggesting - Allows you to make suggested edits that the document owner can approve or deny.
  • Viewing - Allows you to view the document as it will look when printed or finalized.
While Editing and Viewing are both useful, it's the Suggesting - or Suggested Edits as the feature is also called - that could prove the most valuable to writers and teams who collaborate on the same file.

Utilizing Suggested Edits

If you are managing a Doc, Sheet, or Slide and want to ensure that all collaborators are working together towards the same idea, without stepping on each other's toes, try using this feature. You can turn it on by:
  1. Pressing the pencil icon located above the document field, to the right of the page.
  2. Selecting Suggesting.
  3. Making edits.
You will know Suggested Edits is on when the pencil icon changes to lines with an eye, and a different color.

When you enable, this feature, you can make edits in the doc, which will show up on the screen as comments. The changes will appear to other users in different colors and as comments on the side. If you agree with the changes, you can press the checkmark to implement these on the final version of the file, or you can press X to delete the suggested changes.

You can also see the final version before you accept changes, by clicking the pencil or Suggested Edits icon at the top and select Final from the drop-down menu. This will show the document with all of the Suggested Edits implemented. Going back to the Suggested Edits will allow you to approve or reject them again.

Looking to learn more about using Google Drive and the included apps? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 11th, 2014

Hardware_July07_AIn the last article, we looked at how Mac and PC differ in terms of specifications, operating systems and software; and here we continue to explore other differences between the two rivals. When it comes to buying a computer, it’s not just about design and specs, but also about models, availability, security, customer satisfaction, and of course price.

Models

Apple offers five computer lines comprising of the Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, Mac Mini, iMac and Mac Pro. This limited selection is not a sign of weakness but a part of the company’s 'less is more' approach to marketing.

PCs have a larger variety to choose from, with industry giants such as Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo, who offer numerous configurations of both desktop and laptop models. This can be beneficial in helping you find a specific computer that meets your needs.

Availability

When it comes to third party retail stores, Apple is more selective than PC manufacturers about where it sell its products. As of April 2014, Apple has 424 retail stores in 16 countries and an online store available in 39 countries. However, Macs are still not available at many stores that sell PCs.

PCs are the most numerous and popular computers out there, and can be found at every store that sells computers, except for Apple stores. This makes it easier to find PCs, especially if you don't live near an Apple store.

Security

With the vast majority of computers running on Windows, most attacks focus on PCs. Malware like Trojans, which trick users into installing the software by pretending to be a useful program, or botnets, are common to PCs, but rarely harm Macs.

This doesn’t mean that Macs are 100% secure. As Macs become more popular, threats are increasing. Nonetheless, a Mac user is still less likely to be a victim of successful attack than a PC user.

Customer satisfaction

Recent surveys conducted by PCWorld and PCMag revealed that personal users choose Mac over every single brand of PC available. Businesses on the other hand still prefer to stick with PCs.

While Apple does score high on many surveys, especially because of the value placed on face-to-face service, there are a number of PC manufacturers that offer a comparable service. Also, there are more smaller repair shops that offer unrivalled customer service.

Price

One of the most cited differences between a Mac and a PC is price. Generally speaking, Macs are more expensive than PCs due to their preference of building products around higher-end computers with more costly components. The cheapest Mac computer is the Macbook Air which starts from USD$899, while various models of PCs can be found at a much lower price.

Mac and PC both have strong and weak points. It’s best to try both and see which is the better tool for you and which will cover your business needs. If you are looking for a new system, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
July 10th, 2014

Security_July07_ABYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, is one of the most common business trends of the past couple of years. To many, the idea of bringing their own phone, tablet, laptop, or even computer to the office is ideal because it is a system they are undoubtedly familiar with. They may also view personal devices as better than the office models. Even if you don't allow your employees to bring their own devices to work, there is a good chance they do anyways. However, this could pose a security risk that needs to be dealt with.

What should I do about BYOD?

The first reaction of many office managers and business owners, worried about security threats that could stem from BYOD, is to impose an outright ban of devices. While telling your staff they are not to use their devices for work may seem like a quick and easy solution, you can be 100% sure that there will be employees who ignore this policy and use their personal devices for work regardless.

This could put your business at a higher security risk if the rule is ignored, especially if you don't implement any security measures to protect your networks and data. In order to minimize the potential threats BYOD can expose your business to, we suggest you do the following:

1. Consider embracing BYOD

Instead of simply banning personal devices in the workplace take a step back and look to see if there are any benefits BYOD can offer. For example, if you operate on razor thin margins and have not replaced hardware in years, there is a good chance your employees will have better systems at hand. This could help you reduce your overall tech costs.

The same goes for phones for your employees. Why not offer to pay for the plan and allow employees to use their own devices? Of course, you are going to want to implement security measures and usage rules, but if this is easily achieved then it may help reduce your overall operating costs. Before you do implement a system like this however, we strongly recommend you read the rest of this article and follow the steps below.

2. Set up separate networks for employee devices

Oftentimes, the main reason employees bring their devices to the office and use them for work purposes, especially when it comes to mobile phones, is because they can happily connect to Wi-Fi for free without using their data plans throughout the day.

Chances are high that because they use the work Wi-Fi on their device for non-work tasks, they simply keep using the device when they are doing work related activities. This could pose a security risk, especially if you run business-critical operations on the same network. You could nip this potential problem in the bud and simply install another Wi-Fi network for mobile devices and non-critical business processes.

It is usually quite affordable to simply purchase another line and the networking equipment to support this, not to mention the fact that it will keep business-critical processes secure from errant malware. As an added bonus, you will likely see increased productivity because the bandwidth demand will be limited, so important data will move quicker.

3. Educate your staff about security

In our experience, the vast majority of BYOD related security risks are exposed by mistake. An employee may have a virus on a personal phone and be unaware of it. When they connect to the network it can then be unintentionally spread to other computers resulting in a potentially massive security breach.

One of the simplest ways to prevent this is to educate your employees about proper mobile safety. This includes how to spot apps that could contain malware, sharing security threat updates, and teaching your employees how to secure their devices. You really need to stress just how important security is to them.

On top of this, contact an IT expert like us for a recommended anti-virus and spyware scanner for mobile devices that users can easily install. Encourage employees to not just install this but to keep it up to date too. Many of these mobile specific scanners are free and just as powerful as desktop versions.

4. Work with an IT partner to establish a solution that works for you

Beyond education and simple network establishment, it is a great idea to work with an IT partner like us. As experts, we keep tabs on the trends and solutions related to BYOD and will work with you to establish a program that works for your company.

It may be that you don't actually need to integrate BYOD but to update hardware or software to newer versions instead. It could be that there is a simple solution to employees feeling frustrated with slow performance of existing systems at work.

If you do implement BYOD, we can help establish security measures and policies that will ensure your networks and employee devices are secure. The best advice we can give however, is to do this before you start allowing BYOD, as it can be far more challenging to implement and enforce changes when employees are already using their devices at work.

Looking to learn more? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
July 10th, 2014

BI_July07_AAs businesses of all sizes continue to integrate more technology, the amount of data available to companies will grow exponentially. However, not all of that available data will be important or even useful. And, as you collect more and more data, it will be harder to process and analyze it without becoming overwhelmed. In order to avoid this, you should ensure you have a well defined data collection system in place.

What is well defined data collection?

Everyone collects data, even people who don't use computers. The key to being able to successfully leverage the data you have available to your business lies in a strong foundation - in this case, how you collect your data. With an appropriate system in pace you will know what data to collect and measure, and just how important it is. From here, you can more effectively analyze and interpret it, allowing you to make more informed decisions.

If you are looking to implement a new data collection system, or improve on how you currently collect it, here are six tips that can help:

1. Think about what customer interactions are important

Often the most important data you need is in relation to your customers. Your first step should be to define important customer interactions. For example, if you own an online store, you will likely want to know where your customers come from, the items they click on, items they add to their cart, and items they ultimately buy.

By first identifying important interactions to track, you can then look for metrics and data collection methods related to these interactions. This makes it easier for you to track the most important data.

2. Think about what behavior-related data is important

Don't just focus on those customers who have completed a purchase or followed through the whole business chain. Think about what behavior could produce data that is important to your organization.

To continue the online store example from above, this information could include how far down the page people scroll, how many pages deep they go when looking at product categories, how long they spend on a site, and where those who don't convert leave from.

Collecting and analyzing data like this can be a great determinant of what is working well and what needs to be improved upon.

3. Look at important metrics you use

Sometimes the way you collect your data will depend on how you plan to measure it. This includes the different metrics you use to define the success or failure of marketing plans, sales initiatives, and even how you track visitors.

Be sure to identify which ones your business currently uses, as these will often point you towards the relevant data you will need to collect.

4. Identify the data sources you are going to use

In many businesses there are redundancies with data collected. For example, a CMS (content management system) will often have some of the same data points as Web analytics, or a POS (Point of Sale) will have some of the same data points as an inventory system. Due to this, you are going to have to identify what systems will provide what data.

On the other hand, many businesses use data from multiple systems for one key metric. In order to ensure that you are collecting the right data, you will need to identify these sources and ensure that they are compatible with your data collecting system. If they aren't, you could face potential problems and even make wrong decisions based off of incomplete data, which could cost your business.

5. Keep in mind who will be viewing the reports

When implementing data collection systems and subsequent data analysis systems, you will likely start generating reports related to this data. It is therefore a good idea to identify who will be reading these reports and what the most important information they will need is.

This information will be different for each audience, so be sure to identify what data they judge to be important. For optimal results, you should think about who will be reading the data reports and what relevant data needs to be collected in order to generate them.

6. Set a reasonable frequency for collection and analysis

This can be a tough one to get right, especially if you work in an industry with high fluctuation or your business is in a constant state of change. Your best bet is to look at when you think you will be needing data. For example, if you are responsible to submit a monthly sales report it might be a good idea to collect data on at least a bi-weekly basis in order to have enough to develop a report at the end of the month.

You should also look at who will be getting the reports and how long different campaigns or business deals will be in place. The frequency will vary for each business, so pick one that works best for your systems and business.

If you are looking to implement a data collection system, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.