Blog

June 3rd, 2016

2016June3_Hardware_ABy now, you’ve likely heard of the Google Chromebook: the sleek, sexy laptop that works primarily through an internet connection. If you’re on the verge of buying a new laptop, you may have considered one. But you may also have doubts whether or not it’ll be able to accomplish the tasks you need to complete. Here’s a quick guide to figure out if a Google Chromebook is the right choice for your next business laptop.

Buy a Chromebook if you…

Are on a budget: With a range of models available between the prices of $199-$500, Chromebooks are incredibly affordable. That is far cheaper than any Apple laptop and more competitively priced than most PC offerings. So if budget is a concern, then consider a Chromebook.

Want a high-powered laptop: Just because Chromebooks are affordable, doesn’t mean they’re of less quality. In fact many Chromebook features are better or on par with their PC and Apple counterparts. Here are a few notable ones worth mentioning.

  • Long battery life: When it comes to battery life and laptops, Chromebooks are among the best of the best. On average, a Chromebook can supply anywhere from 6-13 hours of battery life.
  • Speed: Chromebooks boot up remarkably fast. Once you press the power button, your Chromebook can be ready to go in 8-20 seconds.
  • Lightweight: While weight varies among the various Chromebooks on offer, most are incredibly lightweight and easy to pack with you when you’re on the go.
  • Security and auto-updates: Not only is malware and virus protection baked into the Chrome OS, but with a Chromebook you’ll never have to worry about updates as they’re all taken care of automatically - silently in the background.
Are mobile and heavily internet reliant - With its long battery life, light weight and internet-friendliness, the Chromebook is perfect for the mobile workforce who need an easy to carry laptop to use primarily for staying connected to their employer’s business while away. Better yet, if your business is integrated with Google Apps for Work, you and your staff can even create documents and access your business’s data with a Chromebook.

Avoid a Chromebook if you...

Rely on desktop applications - As mentioned above, Chromebooks are meant to be used with the internet. Because of this, powerful desktop applications like Photoshop and advanced video editing apps are incompatible on it.

Work mostly without an internet connection - We’ve mentioned it several times already, but it’s worth mentioning again, DO NOT buy a Chromebook if most of your work is done offline. Even if you bought an entry-level Chromebook for $200 and feel like you got a great deal, it will be a useless piece of metal if you need it to complete offline work.

Are a Microsoft junkie - If you are heavily reliant on Microsoft products you may want to look elsewhere for a laptop. Google promotes the use of its own online suite of Office-like applications. And while they are similar to Microsoft products, they do lack some of the features you may love.

For those still on the fence about whether or not a Chromebook is the right choice for their business, it’s also worth noting that just last month Google announced they’ll be adding Android apps to Chromebooks. So if you’re already an Android phone or tablet user, later this year you’ll be able to use those same apps on your Chromebook.

Want to know more about Chromebooks and other laptop options? Our experts are here to help you make an educated purchase. Call us today, and we’ll be happy to share our wealth of information.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
June 2nd, 2016

2016June2_HealthcareArticles_A“We are living in a digital world, and healthcare practices need a URL”. If Madonna could change the lyrics of her 1984 classic to speak to the healthcare industry, she may have sang something like this. A URL is just one facet of the digital strategy that hospitals and private practices alike will need to adapt if they wish to remain competitive in today’s world. Here are a few other trends worth taking note of.

Online presence

More and more practices are understanding the importance of online presence. These days you need a website, but not just any website: a responsive one is key. In fact, PEW Research noted that in 2014, 72 percent of American internet users got healthcare information online. And that number is only growing. Data from the Children’s National Health System supports this statistic, as almost half of all their site visitors came from mobile devices. What’s more, their responsive design has also led to 15% more page views and 54% more donations. Moral of the story: without a responsive website and informative content, your site visitors are likely to bounce (not to mention Google won’t rank you as high in search engines).

To go along with a responsive website, healthcare practices should also consider adding social media profiles and pages. More and more patients, especially the younger generation, are using these platforms to get medical advice. And they can provide your organization an alternative means to keep in touch with patients, while humanizing your practice.

Remote care

It’s becoming clear that telemedicine is the future of healthcare. It provides patients easier access to medical services and the ability to cut costs. Tools such as The ACT - a device which consists of a cell phone, sensor pendant and patch electrodes - can monitor a patient’s heart remotely and transmit the information to a doctor automatically via Wi-Fi. A tool like this can literally be a lifesaver as it allows a doctor to notice abnormalities immediately, at which point he can get in touch with the patient or send an ambulance. Apple is also catching on to this trend with the Apple Watch, which can also monitor heart rate.

Perhaps a more significant trend in remote care for patients is the ability to have a virtual office visit with their doctor. With advances in telemedicine enabling doctors to look into the throats and ears of patients remotely and virtually listen to their heartbeat, rural patients can save time and money by skipping the trip to the doctor’s physical office which could be dozens or even hundreds of miles away.

HIPAA

A security breach could not only cost your practice its reputation and loads of money in downtime, but it could also cost you up to a million dollars in fines. The government is not joking around about HIPAA Compliance. And with hospitals becoming an ever alluring target for hackers, security breaches are on the rise and will likely continue to be in the future. Staying compliant could literally save your practice from going out of business due to an unexpected breach.

As the digital age continues to evolve, your practice has much to take advantage of by getting onboard with these trends early. If you’re curious to learn more about HIPAA compliance and these other digital technologies, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Healthcare
June 1st, 2016

2016June1_Facebook_AWe all know you can buy ad space on Facebook. And while ads on the world’s largest social network are generally quite affordable, they still cost money - which as a small or medium sized business owner, may be in short supply. Thankfully, there are many ways to market your business for free on Facebook. Here are a few of the most popular methods.

Get your friends on board

A business is nothing without its fans...at least on social media. So after setting up your Facebook business page, your first order of duty should be to invite your friends to “Like” your company page. Bear in mind, we use the term “friends” broadly here. Really, you should be telling pretty much everyone you know about your business. This includes family members, colleagues, that random parent you chatted with at your son’s baseball game, and any acquaintances from all walks of life. The goal of this is to create a foundation of followers to build upon as you grow your business.

Create your brand identity

On Facebook, your brand needs to do more than simply sell a product or service, because no one wants to interact with a company they feel is constantly trying to sell them. This is exactly why your brand should have a persona and human characteristic. In other words, you need a brand voice. So ask yourself, how should your brand sound? Should it be funny, easy-going, serious or inspiring? Once you’ve figured it out, ensure this voice is consistent in all your posts as it will help your audience form a relationship with your brand as they get to know it better. While you can and definitely should advertise different products or services your business offers, most of your posts should aim to entertain, inspire, and encourage social interaction. As your followers get to know your brand better, they will develop shared interests with it, which will eventually lead to trust. And when your audience finally trusts you, the sales will start to come in naturally.

Exploit algorithm changes

If you thought Google was the only platform that changed their algorithms, think again! Just like Google, Facebook also uses algorithms to determine the amount of organic reach your updates get. This raises an interesting question...how do you discover what algorithm changes Facebook has on the docket? Well, they occasionally post them on Facebook’s newsroom, so regularly check there to stay updated.

So once you’re aware of an upcoming algorithm change, how can you exploit it? Let’s look at an example. Back in the Fall of 2014 Facebook announced they’d begin to favor link posts with an image attached, over photo posts with the URL in the caption. Users who were aware of this change in advance and implemented it accordingly, were reportedly getting three times as much organic traffic by February 2015. Those who missed the announcement were left scratching their heads wondering what happened to their traffic.

Check your data

Many people believe there’s a best time and day of the week to share a post. While this is true, the actual day and time that’s best may be different from what you expect. While some people are quick to proclaim Tuesday and Thursday mornings are the best time to post, the reality is the best time to post depends on your unique business. Everyone’s audience is different, and results will vary from business to business. So while some SMBs may discover they have their audience's full attention on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, others may learn their customers are most engaged on Thursday and Friday evenings. So how can you find out when your audience is watching? Check your page’s Insights tab. This will provide you a plethora of information about your customers, including the days and times when they’re on Facebook.

While all these tips to market your business on Facebook are free, bear in mind you’ll need to invest a significant amount of time if you want to see results. To really succeed with Facebook marketing, you need to regularly interact with the platform - and not just treat it as an afterthought.

To learn more about how your business can leverage Facebook and other social media platforms, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
May 31st, 2016

2016May31_BusinessValue_ANot long ago, uploading a video to the internet was still a new and novel concept, but now we have access to multiple services for live video streaming. Most of these are free and offer great opportunities for increasing your visibility with little to no investment. Let’s take a look at 6 different ways you can utilize live internet video to increase your business value.

Business Introduction/Behind the scenes

If your company is new or suffering from low visibility, one of the best things you can do is give customers direct access to your staff and your product. A great use of live video is to take viewers on an office tour, show them how a product is made or even broadcast your business’s launch event.

Make sure to invite as many viewers as you can, but remember that most live broadcasts can be saved and viewed later. This is a video you’ll likely want to keep available after it’s finished.

Ask Me Anything (AMA)

Depending on your product or service, you may be getting a lot of conceptual questions about innovative ways to use it, what direction the company is heading and so forth. There’s no better way to address these questions than to do so in a personal and unscripted AMA segment.

If there’s a good turnout make sure to keep questions and answers moving in relevant and interesting directions. There’s nothing wrong with updating everyone on what you had for breakfast, but addressing service bugs or product feature requests is going to be a lot more beneficial for wider audiences.

How-to

Whether it’s a soon-to-be-released product or simply rehashing an existing one that’s getting lots of support requests, there’s no better way to guide customers through a ‘how to’ process than step-by-step, face-to-face.

Not only does this help to show existing clients the best way to use your product or service, it also allows potential consumers to see both your product and your customer service philosophy in action. Saving these videos can be invaluable as you continue to get questions on the product or service outlined in these videos -- it’s an easy way to build a video reference library for sales and support.

Webinar

Although all of the previous uses can be categorized as ‘customer service’, there’s no reason you can’t simply open a help desk broadcast and invite viewers to join with their support questions. If you advertise this as a customer service broadcast and steer clear of any conversations that deal with non-support related questions, you may be able to tackle more than one client’s questions at a time and no one can ever complain that contacting your support line is frustrating or tedious.

Announcements

All of the live broadcast services are deeply integrated with social media. Whether it’s Twitter or Facebook, post updates about an upcoming announcement along with a scheduled time and take the chance to make your product or service announcement far more interesting and personal than a press release or faceless status update.

Text based announcements and pre-recorded videos severely limit how you address the ‘fine-print’ questions from customers. Think of this as a chance to hold your own personal press briefing and address questions after your scripted announcement.

Promotions

In the same vein as live announcements, use social media to promise a special promotion to anyone who tunes in to a live broadcast. Before it begins, create different thresholds for how big the promotion will be depending on participation. Once you begin, check how many viewers you have to decide whether to augment or reduce the scope of what you want offer. In addition to being a more dynamic method for releasing promotions, it will create motivation among your customers to interact more directly with your company.

Socialmediatoday reports that Facebook users spend three times longer watching live broadcasts than pre-recorded video. Combine that with Facebook’s announcement that live videos are more likely to be promoted to the top of news feeds and you’d be crazy not to utilize live broadcasts.

However, there are a handful of different services to use for live video broadcasting and deciding which one is the best for you can depend on a lot of different variables. Call us with any of your questions and we’ll be happy to assist you in adding value to your business with today’s best live video services.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
May 30th, 2016

2016May30_Browsers_A Do you ever find yourself cursing your web browser’s limited functionality? Well, if you’re using Google Chrome there’s a good chance someone has created an extension to make your wish come true. There are thousands of Chrome extensions just waiting to boost your productivity with the click of a button. Let’s take a look.

crxMouse Chrome Gestures

Whether you’re switching between a dozen tabs or hopping around the company website, web navigation can start to feel a bit tedious. If you’ve got two monitors, or just a large screen, moving your mouse to the top of the screen to constantly open and close tabs can really slow down your rhythm. One solution is to learn all of the keyboard shortcuts. An even better one is the “crx Mouse Gestures” extension, which allows you to assign mouse gestures to different browser actions.

Want to go back a page? Right click and drag the mouse to the left. Want to open a new tab? Right click and drag up. Gestures allows you to customize everything, including the motions themselves. In the options menu you can draw custom gestures, for example a box, and tell crx to tie that motion into opening your Gmail inbox in a new tab. It takes no time at all to incorporate the shortcuts into your browsing habits and significantly boosts your browsing efficiency.

Readability

When it’s time to slow down your browsing and read the most recent election article or a recipe you want to try, the page is often cluttered with social sharing buttons, advertisements and stock photos. With the “Readability” extension all of this gets cleared away with the press of a button, leaving you with a clean, text-only page.

In addition to allowing for customization of font, size, and color of your “reader” page, this extension also allows for you to “save for later” and “send to my Kindle”. Readability is a perfect addition for anyone doing a lot of reading who is tired of pages containing more clutter than useful content.

OneTab

After installing the last two extensions you may find yourself with a stack of tabs sandwiched along the top of your screen. Too many open tabs can cripple your available memory. A lot of us open tabs as notes, reminders, and things to check some time in the distant future, which is why you’ll love OneTab. With this extension you can condense all of your open tabs into one page that lists each of them for easy access when you’re ready to return to them.

In addition to reducing your memory usage by up to 95 percent, OneTab will let you share your condensed tab list. If you’re working on research for a client, open all the relevant tabs and with the click of a button OneTab will create a site with a shareable link so you can send them to anyone you’d like.

Black Menu for Google

This extension puts all of Google’s sites, services and apps right in your browser menu. After clicking on the icon, a customizable menu drops down with sites like Drive, YouTube, Gmail and more. But these menu items are more than just links to your inbox and videos. When your mouse hovers over the different options it actually opens a miniaturized window, allowing you to view any of your Google services without opening a new tab or window.

Instead of opening a new tab, navigating to YouTube and searching for a video, clicking on the Black Menu icon will open a miniaturized search function. You don’t even need to open a new window or tab to watch the video; just click play and when you’re finished, clicking outside of the menu will make it like it never happened. For anyone working closely with Drive, Gmail or Google Calendar, this extension can save a lot of time.

Pop-out Youtube

If you love the Black Menu extension, but need a little more functionality out of your YouTube experience, Pop-out YouTube is the next step. This extension allows you to turn any video into a new browserless window that stays on top of all of your other windows. If you need to transcribe something, one click of the extension will pop out the video and you can click a window behind it and start working away without spending 20 minutes trying to perfectly size the window so everything remains visible.

As a quick note, there are dozens of extensions that block ads and those annoying links that overlay your cat videos. Unfortunately, Pop-out Youtube does not include this feature and it’s a good idea to install one of those as well.

Taco

Most of the extensions listed above improve the ease and flow of your internet browsing, but Taco focuses on integration to boost productivity. At its core, this extension replaces your Chrome ‘new tab’ page with a customizable framework for all of your third-party services.

With various templates and layouts, you can organize and combine tasks and notes from over 40 services including Evernote, Google, Salesforce, Trello and more. Any time you’re about to start a new project, open a new tab to search for whatever you need to complete it. But before you hit that ‘Google Search’ button, drag the task item into your ‘doing’ lane and off you go. Finished your work and need to check how your home team is doing in their game? Open a new tab, move the task to your finished lane and check the score.

These are just some of our favorite extensions. If you’d like more suggestions or support for anything Google related, we’re here for you -- don’t hesitate to call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web & Cloud
May 27th, 2016

2016May27_iPad_AThe iPad Pro has been out for several months now. Over the course of this time, millions of users across the globe have had the opportunity to spend quality time with Apple’s new tablet. But for those of us who aren’t quite certain they should purchase one yet, we’re still wondering, “how has it worked out for those early adopters?” A new survey released by CIO, a website that delivers the latest news and tips for IT professionals, questioned 11 users about their experience thus far. Here are their thoughts on the good and bad of the iPad Pro.

The good

  • Great for short, focused bursts of work - The iPad Pro is lightweight, turns on quickly and features some exceptional iOS multitasking features. These qualities make it a perfect alternative to a laptop for short, focused bursts of work. One user surveyed noted that taking out his laptop for thirty minutes or less of work is tiresome and is also unfeasible at times. The iPad Pro solves this problem, allowing him to even get work done in taxis.
  • Speed - When compared to iPad Air 2, the iPad Pro has made huge improvements when it comes to speed. The iPad Air 2 is slow when opening a large file or program and when switching between apps. However, the iPad Pro performs these same tasks lightning fast thanks to Apple’s A9X 64-bit processor and 4GB of RAM.
  • Split View enhances productivity - Let’s face it, we all multi-task to some extent, and Split View has really made it easier than ever. If you’re in a meeting and need to toggle between your email and a note application or web page, Split View eliminates the now unnecessary step of hitting the home button first and then opening the other app. All you have to do is slide your finger across the display to bring up different apps you may want to use.
  • Works wonders for note taking - With the iPad Pro, taking notes is now like the good ol’ days when you sat in class and scratched down on a pad what the teacher said. While back then that pad was made of paper, today’s pad is digital. How is this possible? It’s all because of the Pencil stylus, which acts like a real pencil. Essentially, this turns your iPad Pro into a virtual notepad with the ability to keep all your notes in digital format in one easy and convenient place. What’s more, your notes are automatically accessible from all your devices.

The bad

  • Subpar keyboard - According to one user, there is still much to be desired from Apple’s smart keyboard. It lacks buttons such as the home key and keys to adjust brightness and volume. Also it doesn’t have backlit keys, which can make it difficult to type if you’re in a dark place.
  • Browser too often displays mobile website - The tablet tends to use mobile websites when browsing the web (which could be because the iPad Pro uses iOS 9 instead of a full blown desktop operating system). Obviously, this can be annoying as mobile websites are generally not as functional as the desktop version. With that said, iPad Pro can handle the desktop version perfectly fine, you just have to manually switch over to the desktop version on many occasions.
  • Limited storage - While the Microsoft Surface Pro allows users to add storage via micro SD memory cards, the iPad Pro has no option to increase storage. Of course, you can alternatively store overflow files and data on the cloud; however, keeping sensitive data there is not ideal for many business owners.
  • Fragile screen - The iPad Pro’s retina display is capable of producing beautiful images, but the screen is also incredibly fragile. One user noted that even if you drop it from less than a foot off the ground, you are still likely to break the screen, which is not an inexpensive fix.
We hope this feedback provided by early iPad Pro adapters can help you make an informed decision as to whether or not Apple’s latest tablet is suitable for your business. If you’d like to learn more about Apple products or need to service some of your own, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic apple
May 26th, 2016

2016May26_Office365_AProductivity, collaboration, freedom. These words are often touted when the benefits cloud technology are mentioned. But do all businesses that make the cloud switch achieve these? Unfortunately the answer is no. Some businesses flounder in the new technology, and some even become less productive because of it. So how can you avoid such a fate? Well, attitude plays a big role. Here are three mental shifts to make before your cloud migration.

Consider cloud value over costs

When considering the cloud, too many business owners get hung up on costs. Instead, it makes more sense to think about how the cloud impacts their business and saves them money. The old saying, “you have to spend money to make money” is ever so true here. And as a business owner, the cloud is no different than any other investment you took to grow your organization. That’s why you should remember the cloud provides you value, such as the ability to work anytime, anywhere, and easier collaboration.

And of course, you shouldn’t just think of how the cloud benefits yourself, but also your IT managers and staff. In fact, before migrating to the cloud, why not go ahead and ask your IT leaders just how the cloud will benefit your business? They’ll likely mention how it can boost the productivity levels of all your employees, while making everyone’s job easier.

Think “strategy” before migration

Once you’ve considered the value the cloud provides, you’ll likely have some ideas of what goals you’ll want it to accomplish at your business. If you haven’t, now is the time to do so - before signing up for the service. Let’s say for example, you want to gain the productivity benefits of your staff being able to work from anywhere at anytime. How can you do this? When you roll out the cloud in your company, have the specific goal of increasing mobile use or adoption among employees. Talk with your IT leaders to devise a plan they can implement.

When it comes to your other cloud goals, clearly define them beforehand and then talk with your IT staff to come up with the nuts and bolts plan to accomplish that goal. By doing this, you’ll achieve much better results with your cloud service.

Learn to love the quickly evolving nature of the cloud

As the cloud is still a new technology, it is rapidly changing. New updates, features and enhancements are rolled out regularly, and if you want to get the most out of your cloud it’s best to keep up. Of course, this is a scary idea for many business owners and IT managers alike as the old way of doing things is rolling out new features and apps over long periods of time.

Some cloud services make it easier than ever to keep up with changes. Let’s take Office 365 for example. Adding users and implementing new changes can take mere minutes. Yes, it may be scary to do so, but remember, Microsoft and your IT managers are in your corner - they are there to support you. Of course, you may still have some bad memories from updating your legacy technology. Let us assure you, updates to Office 365 are nothing like this and require a small learning curve. Most new features are intuitive by nature, making adjustment to these changes painless and problem-free.

One of the best ways to assure your cloud updates go as smoothly as possible is to have an IT leader who’s enthusiastic about the technology be responsible for managing it. A cloud enthusiast is much more likely to be up-to-date on the newest features and enhancements and can quickly share with you whether or not an update will benefit your business.

When it comes to cloud migration for your business, it’s pretty much an all or nothing decision (unless of course you go with virtualization, which is a different topic altogether). The cloud will become an integral part of your business, and you and all of your staff will interact with it on a daily basis. So be prepared for a big transition and a big payoff of higher productivity and connectivity for you and your staff.

Are you ready to embrace the cloud with a solution like Office 365? Give us a call, and talk with us about a cloud migration today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office
May 25th, 2016

2016May25_Virtualization_ASoftware licensing has been a thorn in everybody’s side for as long as we can remember. It’s no surprise that as software begins to help us to consolidate and combine pieces of hardware through virtualization, we’re confronted with this problem yet again. SMBs are often unfortunate victims of licensing models that favor individual or enterprise purchasing, without enough options in between. Why don’t we delve a little deeper to see how your business can tackle virtualization while taking this legal necessity into consideration ?

Why are licenses an issue?

Virtualization is a complex topic, so let’s have a quick review. Most people are starting to work the concept of cloud storage into their everyday lives. Think of virtualization as a cloud where your server(s) store their hardware capabilities and your network computers can pull from that cloud as needed.

In this scenario, let’s assume employee A and employee B have two identical desktop computers with barebones hardware. Employee A needs to perform some basic text editing while employee B needs an in-depth scan of your client database. With the right infrastructure management, both employees will connect to your business’ server for the necessary physical processing power and server-hosted software. That means employee A will request the appropriate amount of processing power to edit text (which is likely very little) from the server, while employee B requests a much larger chunk of RAM, processing and harddrive space for scanning the database.

Understand so far? Because it gets really tricky when we start asking how many licenses are required for the server-hosted software. Licensing models were originally based on the number of physical hard drives with installed copies. However, in a virtualized environment that’s not an accurate reflection of usage. Using the most recent platforms, administrators can divide up their CPU into as many virtual machines as the SMB requires.

What do current virtualized licensing models look like?

Sadly, the virtualization and software industries are still deciding what’s the best way to move forward. The very vendors that sell the software required to manage the creation of virtual machines and segmentation of your server disagree about which model to use.

The company behind the popular VMware software has switched to a per-virtual-machine model after a huge response from customers, while other powerhouse vendors like Oracle and Microsoft have stuck with the per-CPU-core model that is based on server hardware capacity.

In any software selection process there is almost always the option of open source software. Under the open source model there are no licenses and usage is free, and just last month, AT&T committed to virtualizing 75 percent of its office under the OpenStack cloud computing platform by 2020.

What should I do?

In the end, software license considerations and total cost of ownership calculations should be a huge factor in how you plan to virtualize your SMB. When discussing the possibility of an infrastructure migration with your IT services provider, make sure to ask about the advantages and disadvantages of different virtualization platforms compared with their licensing models. You may find that paying more for hardware-based models is worth it, or that open source platforms provide you with everything you need.

No matter which platform you choose, remember to list every piece of licensed software in your office. Find out which licenses you can keep, which ones you’ll need to update and most importantly what the license migration will cost you in the short and long run.

This might seem like too much to handle at first. The process of virtualizing your SMB alone is enough to have you reaching for the aspirin. By contacting us you can avoid the headache entirely; we’ll walk you through all of the steps necessary to guide your organization through this next step in modernizing your business model.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 24th, 2016

2016May24_GoogleApps_ASlideshow presentations are only as good as the tools used to create them. With Google’s recent update to its Slides software, that baseline just got a huge boost. One of the biggest advantages of Google’s Drive software suite are the cloud-based features, and with the newest update to the Slides program you can explore a whole new way to interact with your audience. Keep reading to find out just how great this new feature is.

What is Google Slides?

Google Slides is a free web-based presentation creator. You can create, edit, store and share slideshows via Google’s Drive client that allows for live collaboration and presenting across the internet. Although Slides is most functional when using online desktops, offline and mobile functionality have made it a formidable competitor to more expensive software from Microsoft.

With the most recent update, your mouse cursor even doubles as a presentation laser pointer!

Enabling the Q&A Feature

Earlier this month, Google added an important feature that allows presenters to interact with their audience via their mobile devices. To enable it, click the arrow directly next to the Present button in the upper left corner of the slideshow editor. Next, click the drop-down item marked “Presenter View”. After that you should have two windows open, one that displays your presentation in your original web browser and a smaller “Presenter” that displays a number of options. In the bottom of the "Presenter" screen there should be a Start New button for a Q&A session. If you’re a Google for Education or Google for Business user, you’ll have the option to restrict who can ask questions via the presenter window.

Getting the audience involved

After enabling the Q&A tool, a short and easy-to-type link will be shown at the top of every displayed slide. Audience members can navigate to this page in order to submit questions.

Audience members who open the page will see a simple screen with an “Ask a question…” dialogue on their mobile device. Loading the site will consider them an anonymous user unless they log into a Google account. If they’re logged in, their picture and name will be associated with any submitted questions. However, self-conscious members have the option to abstain from signing in, or they can check the “ask anonymously” box when submitting their question.

Answering participant questions

After a question has been submitted, it will be displayed in both the presenter window you have open, and the communal window displayed on the audience’s mobile site. This gives them the option to upvote or downvote questions submitted by other viewers. When you see a question you want to address, or has too many upvotes to ignore, you can click the Present button in your presenter window and the question will be displayed alongside the author as a new slide. Clicking Hide will take you back to the last slide to continue the rest of the presentation as normal.

If you’re running a presentation with a particularly large number of participants, ask anyone submitting a question to include their email address. The Q&A history can be reviewed under the Tools menu for following up with answers afterwards.

Keeping a presentation interesting and engaging could mean the difference between acquiring a new client and converting your conference room into a place for audience naps. Efficient use of Google Drive software can reinvigorate your collaboration and presentation workflows. Contact us for advice on all things Google in your office!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic google
May 20th, 2016

2016May20_BusinessContinuity_AJust because your IT provider has a plethora of awards and certifications under its belt doesn't mean that you can blindly hand over your business’s future to them. Often times, there are some aspects in your business continuity plan that tend to be overlooked by your provider. We have rounded up some of these issues that could appear when you enact your business continuity plans.

Over-optimistic testing

The initial testing attempt is usually the most important as it’s when IT service providers can pinpoint possible weak points in the recovery plan. However, what usually happens is a full transfer of system and accompanying operations to the backup site. This makes it difficult to look at specific points of backup with too many factors flowing in all at the same time.

Insufficient remote user licenses

A remote user license is given by service providers to businesses so that when a disaster strikes, employees can log in to a remote desktop software. However, the number of licenses a provider has may be limited. In some cases, more employees will need to have access to the remote desktop software than a provider’s license can allow.

Lost digital IDs

When a disaster strikes, employees will usually need their digital IDs so they can log in to the provider’s remote system while their own system at the office is being restored. However, digital IDs are tied to an employee’s desktop and when a desktop is being backed up, they are not automatically saved. So when an employee goes back to using their ‘ready and restored’ desktop, they are unable to access the system with their previous digital ID.

Absence of communications strategy

IT service providers will use email to notify and communicate with business owners and their employees when a disaster happens. However, this form of communication may not always be reliable in certain cases such as the Internet being cut off or with spam intrusions. There are third-party notification systems available, but they are quite expensive and some providers sell them as a pricey add-on service.

Backups that require labored validation

After a system has been restored, IT technicians and business owners need to check whether the restoration is thorough and complete. This validation becomes a waste of time and effort when the log reports come in a manner that is not easy to compare. This usually happens when IT service providers utilize backup applications that do not come with their own log modules, and have to be acquired separately.

These are just some of the many reasons why business continuity plans fail. It is important for business owners to be involved with any process that pertains to their IT infrastructure. Just because you believe something works doesn’t necessarily mean that it works correctly or effectively. If you have questions regarding your business continuity plan, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business