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August 17th, 2015

164_SM_AOne of the most valuable tools available to the modern-day marketer is the email list. A large one can make you millions, and a small or nonexistent one can prevent your business from properly taking off. So how do you grow yours? Using social media is one way that is often less talked about. Here are three tips on how you can leverage it to grow your email list.

Post and share your emails publicly

If you create great content for your email list and no one sees it except your subscribers, how are your non-subscribers going to know what they’re missing out on? They won’t, which is exactly why you should give your social media fans and followers a taste of the valuable content that awaits them after sign up.

Now let’s be clear. This doesn’t mean you should share every single email you send out to your list. If you did, there would be less of a need to subscribe. Instead, try sharing or posting an email once every few weeks or once a month.

Make it easy to sign up

Let’s face it. Many of us will take the easier, simpler path whenever possible. This is just as true in marketing as it is in other more primal aspects of human nature. Take eating, for example: if you’re short on time and have a choice between two restaurants for lunch, and one delivers and the other doesn’t, which one are you going to take? Likely the delivery. Even if you prefer the one that doesn’t deliver slightly better, you’d probably still take the delivery for the simple fact that they’ve made it easier for you.

In the online marketing world, the same concept works for gaining subscribers. This is why you need to make it as easy as possible for people to sign up after they’ve read your publicly shared email. To do this, simply add a sign-up link to the emails you share.

Create valuable content

You’ve probably heard the phrase “content is king”. However, whoever came up with this catchphrase left out a very important keyword. It should instead read “valuable content is king.” If you’re shelling out dozens of blog posts, emails, podcasts or videos a month but the content is useless to the reader, you’re not going to make any traction with your email list.

When trying to gain subscribers, always ask yourself, “what’s in it for them if they sign up?” If you simply have a signup box on your website or social media page, but no valuable content to go along with it, why would someone sign up? Would you sign up? The point is that there needs to be a reason for someone to subscribe to your email list. And valuable content is a very good reason.

Lastly, don’t forget to demonstrate why it’s more valuable for your future audience to subscribe rather than simply follow you on social media. To do this, give them an incentive to sign up. This could be in the form of an exclusive offer or a free ebook, course, report, or something similar.

Want more tips on leveraging social media to grow your business? Send us a message today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
August 14th, 2015

As the healthcare industry continues to embrace significant technological changes, healthcare providers need to keep up with the latest trends to deliver better patient care. That’s why more and more healthcare organizations are turning to managed services providers to lower costs and improve productivity. While this concept is on the rise, the services and level of support offered by managed services providers remain all over the place. However, there are certain managed services providers that work specifically within the healthcare verticals.

Here are some things to look for in a managed services provider before you consider partnering with one.

They guarantee response times

When it comes to providing healthcare services, talking about fast response times is not the only thing that matters. You should always make sure that your provider guarantees response times, and that you’re able to contact them 24/7. Consider this: in a scenario where something breaks or you come across technical issues in the dead of the night, your best bet would be to contact your service provider, not to try fixing things on your own. Therefore you need a provider who is able to provide assistance whenever you need it most.

They support a business continuity plan

You risk putting your organization in jeopardy if your managed services provider can’t assist in your recovery from major outages or natural disasters. A business continuity plan is an absolute necessity in your healthcare organization - you simply can’t afford to lose all your valuable medical data in the event of a disaster. You need all the help you can get from your managed services provider to maintain redundant systems, as well as help manage automatic failovers.

They provide proactive security

In the world of healthcare data security, aligning your practice with HIPAA compliance mandates is essential. Failing to meet regulations may result in huge fines, serious penalties, and even the withdrawal of your license to operate. The ideal managed services provider should offer core security services that include identity-based security and encryption, authorized privileges and access control, and data accountability and integrity.

They offer staffing services

Healthcare staffing shouldn’t be a hassle but, thanks to the changing dynamics of healthcare IT requiring a sophisticated workforce, that’s exactly what it can become. You need a managed services provider that assumes full responsibility for your clinical labor while providing you with a single point of contact for all your staffing operations, including account management, customer support, order placement, and more.

Choosing the right managed services provider can be a time-consuming task but, when you do make the switch, they can streamline your operations, reduce operational costs, and enhance workforce transparency.

If you want to learn how great technology and support can benefit your healthcare practice, get in touch with us today - we provide the perfect set of IT solutions and outstanding support to drive your organization forward.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 13th, 2015

GoogleApps_Aug13_AInbox zero is what we all dream of - a serenely empty screen, clear of clutter and immediate demands on our time. It involves cleaning out your inbox of absolutely everything, including filing away messages that need action but which you can’t do anything about right away. But for most of us, inbox zero is nothing but a faraway, whimsical fantasy, right? Wrong. The Streak plugin for Gmail, with its snooze feature, could be your ticket to truly living the dream and breaking free from those email shackles. Here’s why it should be on your download list.

Streak is a full-on customer relationship management tool that allows you to track emails and carry out plenty more tricks to streamline your client engagement workflow - but it’s the snooze feature that has the real potential to get you to that inbox-zero nirvana.

The premise is simple. When you receive an email that you can’t instantly file away forever - as you ought to with the likes of updates and notifications from colleagues and clients, which don’t require a reply - but which you can’t take action on right now, with one click of a button you can snooze it for as long as you need to. The email is stored away in a specially created Gmail folder, and resurfaces at the top of your inbox when the snooze time elapses. You can opt for the snooze period of your choice and even enter it in plain, human-speak text (like “in 30 minutes” or “tomorrow at 11am”), which the ever-intelligent Streak understands.

Additional options include the ability to only activate the snooze alarm if nobody replies to the email thread - making it perfect for getting sales enquiries out of your inbox, by prompting you to follow up if the client doesn’t get back in touch (and if they do, their reply will force the email back into your inbox, and onto your radar, anyway). Any time you need to, you can review a list of the emails you’re holding in snooze mode, and pull back to your inbox any that you’re ready to work on sooner than you had initially expected.

Snooze, along with the rest of the Streak plugin, is simple to understand and easy to use, and has the potential to help you better manage your email - and stop it from managing you instead. If it feels like you’re constantly waging war with a never-ending barrage of messages, this is one more tool you might want to consider adding to your productivity arsenal.

If you’re ready to take on the inbox-zero challenge and regain control of your workday, contact us to find out how Google Apps and other innovative tools could help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 12th, 2015

164_Virt_AIs your data center sucking up energy? Are the costs of maintaining your server rooms out of control? For many business owners, the server room and data center are foreign lands they’d like to pretend don’t exist. But whether you acknowledge it or not, they could be costing you hundreds of extra dollars every month. Here’s what you can do to reduce costs.

Perform an energy audit

There’s a good chance your IT staff has never once thought about how much energy your server room and data center are consuming. So, the first step to rectifying this problem is to identify just how much power is being sucked up.

To get you started, here are a few questions to ask:

  • How much of the data center’s power budget goes to support systems?
  • How much goes to IT systems?
  • How much IT output do you get for every kilowatt/hour of power sucked up by your data center IT systems?
Answering these questions will help you determine just how efficient, or inefficient, your data center actually is.

Decrease the IT workload

When you save a single watt of energy at the server level, it can result in a total saving of nearly three watts in your data center costs.

So how do you decrease the IT workload? Virtualization is a common and effective tactic. Instead of wasting money on cooling your own servers in your data center, with virtualization you can have them hosted by your IT provider and then their technology delivered to you through the Internet. This allows you to eliminate some of your servers from your office and therefore reduce cooling costs.

For alternate ways to decrease server workload, you can also:

  • Eliminate unused servers
  • Consolidate servers
  • Purchase more energy-efficient technology

Mind your humidity and temperature levels

Because many non-IT personnel are terrified of the data center and simply don’t understand it, often they falsely believe that the room must be kept as cold as the North Pole in order to protect sensitive data. This is simply not true. While it is true that excessively high temperatures, humidity or dry conditions can harm your data, most modern-day data center equipment is incredibly durable and can tolerate a much wider range of humidity and temperatures than in decades past. Because of this, it is highly likely you can get away with a lot less cooling and dehumidification than you thought possible. That said, it’s wise to consult with an IT professional before doing this to ensure you don’t damage your data.

Another innovation that can help you cool down your data center more economically is utilizing an economizer system. This technology uses cool air from the outside to provide “free” cooling cycles for your data center.

Want more tips on reducing your overall IT bill? Curious to learn more about virtualization? Call us today to learn from one of our experts.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 11th, 2015

Office_Aug11_ATablets with Windows 10 installed received a boost recently with the unveiling of the new Office Mobile applications. The mobile versions of the iconic Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote applications are specifically designed for use on tablets. The "touch-first" interface allows users to easily edit documents while on the go. The best news of all is the fact that Office Mobile apps are free for users of Windows 10.

One of the biggest complaints about trying to edit a Microsoft Office file from a tablet is usability, or lack thereof. That has all changed, at least for Windows 10 users, with Microsoft’s recent release of Office Mobile apps. The tablet-friendly versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote have been built from the ground up to improve touch functionality.

Even if you don’t have Windows 10, you still might be intrigued about the potential of having Office apps that are touch-friendly. Here are some of the new features you can enjoy when using Office Mobile apps.

Word

Microsoft Word Mobile has all the tools and features of the PC version including more nuanced tasks like being able to track changes and add footnotes. The Read mode, a mobile exclusive, improves the way documents appear by making them flow better on the smaller screens of a tablet while also letting you zoom in and out with a simple tap of the screen.

Excel

Recommended Charts is the prominent feature of the Excel Mobile app. It allows you to quickly show off your data using a stylish chart or graph with only a few taps. You will also find that reordering columns, adding formulae, changing chart types and the majority of Excel’s other core functions are easier than ever before.

PowerPoint

Of course Office wouldn’t be Office without PowerPoint. The mobile version of the app allows you to edit slides with new touch gestures. This makes it easy to insert and edit pictures, tables, shapes and SmartArt. But the real star here, and of the entire Office Mobile setup, is the Presenter View. This mode gives you full control over what your audience sees on the big screen during a presentation while still letting you view your speaker notes on the tablet.

OneNote

Windows 10 comes installed with OneNote, so you’re probably already using it. Tablet users will notice that changes made by anyone working in the notebook are automatically saved and synchronized for everyone to see.

The release of Office Mobile apps is just one of three big launches to come from Microsoft in 2015. Both Microsoft Office 2016 and Office Mobile for phones are slated for release this fall. Yet, while these tablet applications represent marked improvements for Windows 10 tablet users, they are probably not quite enough to warrant the switch from other operating systems just yet. In fact, even if you’re in love with the idea of having user-friendly, mobile versions of Office, you might want to hang on in there - it’s likely Microsoft will release them for iOS and Android in the near future, too.

Want to know what hardware and software is best for your company? Want to increase productivity in your office? Get in touch with us and we’ll show you how to do it.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 10th, 2015

BusinessContinuity_Aug10_AIn the current world, business continuity planning (BCP) is imperative to the sustainability of your business. Without a well-thought-out plan in place, it is highly unlikely that your company will be able to survive and recover from disasters. However, there are several major roadblocks to the successful implementation of a business continuity plan. If you’re struggling with BCP, check out our list of some common challenges organizations face, and learn how to address them properly.

Challenge #1: Prohibitive costs

Business continuity planning has become exponentially expensive as availability requirements increase. Many solutions require substantial investments on the installation and maintenance of additional hardware, software, and data center infrastructure. These requirements drive up the cost of business continuity, and many company owners are reluctant to invest in protective measures.

The solution Instead of relying on costly physical servers to accommodate your backups, consider using efficient and affordable cloud computing solutions. You can transfer your important business files to the cloud and eliminate the expense of having to install and manage hardware infrastructure and software licenses.

Challenge #2: High complexity

Traditional business continuity planning is complex to implement, manage and execute. From managing the recovery infrastructure to updating disaster recovery documentation and testing the BCP to find and close potential loopholes, the prospect of embarking on a BCP project can be daunting, and the whole experience can prove time consuming. Combine with the pressure of your ordinary day-to-day duties, it can seem almost impossible to focus your attention on initiating a BCP.

The solution With all this in mind, it makes more sense to hire a professional IT service provider to plan, implement, and execute your business continuity plan. This way you can leverage their experience and expertise to ensure that, in the event of a disaster, your company will be able to get back on its feet and resume business operations as quickly as possible.

Challenge #3: Lack of staff involvement

There are so many requirements to be considered in a business continuity plan. And the more employees your organization has, the more difficult it is to relay the essence of the plan for everyone to understand. Staff involvement isn’t an option - it’s an absolute necessity if you wish for a successful BCP implementation!

The solution Depending on the size of your organization, you can either hold a company meeting to announce the essentials of your BCP, or schedule a meeting with key staff members who take an active role in the planning process. To create a long-lasting BCP program, you need to get everyone on the same page by emphasizing the importance of the plan in an easy-to-understand way.

Business continuity planning is one of the most important things you need to have in place. You never know when, or in what form, a disaster will strike - all the more reason to take a preventative approach to securing your company and all you’ve worked for.

Need a reliable partner to take care of all your business continuity planning needs? Get in touch with us today - we have exactly what you need to prepare and protect your company.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 7th, 2015

HealthcareGeneral_Aug7_AThe healthcare industry is undertaking a transition from paper-based to paperless medical records, resulting in an expansion of electronic medical records (EMR) market worldwide. According to a new market report published by Transparency Market Research (TMR), a global market intelligence company, the trend for virtualization in the healthcare industry will continue to rise until 2020.

The rising trend of EMR

EMR is a digital version of a wide range of health-related information, such as patients’ medical history, medications, laboratory test results, and diagnostic images. The system grants physicians and staff access to this data from virtually anywhere, allowing them to collaborate and work more efficiently, as well as being able to provide better patient care.

The adoption of EMR systems is increasing across healthcare facilities worldwide. In the past, EMR remained more prevalent among medium to large-sized hospitals than smaller ones, primarily because of budget differences. However, with the development of modern EMR systems, even smaller medical institutions are now able to benefit from the latest healthcare technology, and the market for EMR systems is expected to grow at a significant rate.

Causes for EMR growth

Some of the major factors contributing to the growth of the market are the significant advantages of EMR systems and financial incentives from governments. The benefits of implementing an EMR system include more accurate and up-to-date patient information, reduced operational costs in the long term, reduced medical errors from poor handwriting and coordination, quick access to patient data, increased patient participation, and the improved efficiency of healthcare providers. These advantages encourage healthcare providers to switch from traditional paper-based systems to a more advanced EMR system.

Another cause for EMR market growth is the financial incentive programs initiated by governments of various countries. For instance, the U.S. federal government allocated $27 billion in an attempt to encourage EMR adoption across the nation. As a result of this incentive program, more and more healthcare providers are implementing EMR, and the numbers are on the rise.

EMR market segmentation

According to TMR, about 42 percent of the total EMR market was held by North America in 2013. The second largest market was Europe, followed by Asia Pacific. These rankings are unlikely to change within the next few years, but the EMR market is seeing a steady growth in some Asian countries.

EMR is here to stay, and it’s important that healthcare organizations implement it properly. Get in touch with one of our experts today and learn more about how EMR can benefit your healthcare practice.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 6th, 2015

MobileGeneral_Aug04_AIt might all seem a bit too much like something out of a sci-fi movie, but artificial intelligence is quickly becoming a big part of the IT landscape. One segment of artificial intelligence in particular, Natural Language Processing (NLP) - essentially a computer’s ability to take unscripted human words and turn them into something useful - is playing an increasing role in the way we use our devices. Here are three things you probably didn’t know about NLP.

There’s more to Natural Language Processing than voice recognition

Voice recognition might be among the most well-known practical uses of NLP in the technology we encounter in everyday life - but that likely has more to do with the popularity of the services that employ it, like Siri, Google Now and Cortana, than the merits of voice recognition in comparison to other NLP functions that tend to stay out of the limelight.

Truth be told, there’s a whole lot more to artificial intelligence than NLP. In fact, NLP is more effective in analyzing text data than it is sounds, which is precisely why digital assistant apps first use voice recognition to turn your commands into text data, and then use other NLP capabilities to search online for related information.

Natural Language Processing has already moved beyond its infancy

It’s tempting to believe that elements of artificial intelligence like NLP are still in the realm of the sci-fi movies, and that they are a long way from being useful to the technology we use in our everyday personal and business lives. It’s tempting, but further from reality than you might realize. That said, it’s true that to date there has been no commercial use of NLP that has truly exploited its full capabilities; even its deployment in a recently launched project to automate customer service only really scratches the surface.

What is clear is the shape that future uses of NLP will need to take. We already know that NLP alone doesn’t always judge context well, since it needs to learn about its environment first - without turning to other sources, for example, one app employing NLP would struggle to differentiate between providing traffic information and diagnosing a health complaint. The key, at least for now, is to restrict the scope in which NLP operates - by limiting its use to a travel app, for instance, NLP could learn about the various travel arrangements you make and then devise itineraries for you.

It works with more than just large-scale data

While it’s undeniable that NLP can be put to great use in analyzing vast swathes of aggregated information, for example taking masses of social media data and being able to assess the feelings of users towards the subject in question, that’s not the limit of its capabilities. Contrary to popular belief, NLP can also be used to interpret much smaller-scale data in real time. This is where its true value comes into play in terms of being able to take natural-language user input, in an app setting for example, and make decisions that add value to our mobile experience.

Whether for automated customer service or comprehensive sales applications, it’s clear that Natural Language Processing - and other aspects of artificial intelligence - hold the potential to be of value-adding benefit to the business world in the near future. It’s an area that’s very much still in development - and so even more exciting, and important to watch - but now is the time to discover how best to implement NLP technologies into your company. By getting ahead now, you can offer a customer experience that truly sets you apart from the competition. To find out how we can help you achieve just that, and at the same time maximize the value you drive from mobile technologies more generally, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 6th, 2015

AndroidTablet_Aug6_AAndroid tablets have increasingly gained popularity among users looking for features of a laptop with enhanced portability and a justifiable price tag. The latest addition to the family, the Nexus 9 features the much anticipated Android 5.0 Lollipop OS. But what are the specs of the Nexus 9 and is the new OS worth getting excited about? We’ll explore precisely that.

Hardware

Google has partnered with HTC to manufacture the Nexus 9. And while the tablet isn’t the slimmest available, it is incredibly light. A more streamlined and subtle look is achieved through a well-constructed body and edges that are mostly free of flaps, ports and slots. The quad-core Qualcomm silicon that powered the Nexus 7 is replaced with NVIDIA’s new 64-bit, dual core Tegra K1 chipset with 2GB of RAM, allowing for more powerful graphic performance and speed. Note that the Nexus 9 is available in 16GB and 32GB with no microSD expansion slot.

Display and Camera

The LCD screen runs at 2,048 x 1,536, which isn’t as sumptuous as the AMOLED screens offered by other brands in the market but is still portable, lightweight and powerful. There’s a noticeable change in material design with new colors, layers and motion, including lots of vivid hues and drop shadows to keep everything distinct. The 1.6 megapixel front camera is unsatisfying, but the 8-megapixel main camera around the back is crisp and well saturated. The Nexus can shoot 1080p video footage, offering great quality unless there is interference from ambient sounds, in which case you’ll be left with some messy audio.

Software

The Nexus 9 comes loaded with the new Android 5.0 Lollipop, and the new OS is the best we’ve seen from Google yet. The first plus is the bump in speed and responsiveness when swiping through multiple home screens and sifting through opened apps. Impressively, there is no hint of lag. App previews show up nearly instantaneously and run with fewer hiccups than on other similarly specced devices. Google’s Android Runtime (better known as ART) offers noticeable app performance gains. Because key pieces of code are converted into native machine code, the device can interpret these at the time the app is installed - rather than every time the app is launched - and so reduce slowdown.

When the tablet is resting, there’s no need to press the power button. A quick double-tap on the screen will rouse it from its sleep. Priority alerts can be toggled from the notification shade, allowing you to work better without being distracted by Facebook updates and messages. You can also add new users, restrict profiles, and pin certain apps into place so that guests can’t root through your personal stuff.

While the new Nexus 9 itself doesn’t come packed with overhauled features, the Android 5.0 Lollipop is the real highlight and is set to please users with enhanced performance and functionality. Looking to learn how Android tablet devices can benefit your business? Give us a call and we’ll be happy to advise.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 5th, 2015

164_HW_AWith cyber attacks becoming a seemingly monthly occurrence, more and more these days it seems like simple passwords just aren’t cutting it when it comes to online security. Because of this, a lot of online services use two-factor authentication. But for anyone who has used the technology, they know how much of an annoyance this can be. The extra 30 seconds to a minute it takes to login adds up - especially when you’re signing in to dozens of websites a day. But now there’s a new piece of hardware that hopes to make this process easier than ever, and it’s called Yubikey.

What is two-factor authentication?

Even if you have no idea what two-factor authentication is, you’ve likely been using it already for well over a decade. Two-factor authentication is a security measure that is essentially what it sounds like: you use two different types of identification to verify who you are.

Two common accounts where you’ve likely already used two-factor authentication are email and online banking. Ordinarily when you normally logon to either of these services, you only use a single password - your first method of authentication. However, if you are logging on from a different computer than your usual one, you’re likely asked to go through an additional step to check that you are who you say you are. This happens when you’re prompted for a one-time password - sent to you via text message, email or via some other method. That is your second method of verification, which adds up to two-factor authentication.

Oh, and how have you been using this process for over a decade? Well, another common means of two-factor authentication that’s been in widespread use for over a half century is the ATM. Your physical ATM card is the first form of authentication and your PIN is the second.

Introducing Yubikey - the easy solution for two-factor authentication

Yubikey is a small hardware device that looks similar to a USB drive and is designed to make two-factor authentication on the web easy. In addition to your normal username and password for a given website, it acts as your second form of authentication. Once you’ve registered it, you can use this device with a variety of websites or services that support two-factor authentication. Additionally, you can use Yubikey as a second method of authentication for your computer login, disk encryption for a hard drive, or password manager.

How does it work?

Once you’ve registered your Yubikey with a website or service that supports two-factor authentication, you simply insert the key into the computer, and then tap or touch it to provide your second method of authentication. Bear in mind that the Yubikey is not a biometric device. Similar to an ATM card, its identity protection power lies in the fact that is a physical hardware token. This prevents phishing, malware and other attacks that would need your physical key (in addition to your password) to breach your account.

However, since the Yubikey is a physical piece of hardware, some may wonder, “won’t it be easy to lose?” Well, when was the last time you permanently lost your keys? if the answer is never, then you’re in luck. Yubikey simply attaches to your keychain.

Curious to learn more about the latest hardware developments? Need a new hardware solution for your business? Call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware