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December 6th, 2016

2016december6_business_bSmall business marketing has often been a difficult endeavor for small business owners. Marketing involves a great deal of time, effort, and can require significant financial investment. For a long time, marketing automation was something only enterprise-level businesses and corporations could afford, but with new technology, that’s no longer the case. Read up on the five most profitable benefits of this new IT innovation right here.

Instant responses to email requests

If a customer or prospect sends your business an email via your website or a "Contact Us" form, any delay in response could ultimately cost you a client. But if you have a marketing automation plan in place, you can customize automatic email responses to respond to these leads as soon as an email is received. This lets potential customers know either the information they requested or that you will be responding in more detail soon.

Stop leaving voicemails and start closing deals

There’s a reason most people prefer to communicate via email: Keeping in touch over phone can be tough if both parties are always busy. An automated system solves this by logging when you’ve contacted leads and automatically emailing them about follow-up times. The call, email, and its response are all logged in your CRM and calendar without a single minute wasted entering mundane information.

Inbound lead assignment

When you have phone calls, emails, and meetings piling up, it’s hard to keep track of which customer goes where and who is working with them. With marketing automation software and tracking, customer service representatives are automatically assigned to inbound leads based on specialities and demographics so they can begin working on building profitable rapport right away.

Give and you shall receive

Potential clients and leads get dozens, sometimes hundreds of business emails every day. You need something to set your business apart from the rest. By offering valuable content such as “How to” guides and “Total Cost of Ownership” tools in exchange for contact information, you can provide prospects with content they actually want.

All it takes is a web form and some creative writing that ultimately leads visitors back to your products and/or services. Your automation software delivers content to anyone who provides contact information, and it downloads metrics that can be tracked and analyzed by your solution.

Never type another phone number again

Networking events mean new contacts and new leads. Although that used to mean thick stacks of business cards, cutting-edge marketing tools make it possible to take a picture of contact information and automatically convert it into a cloud database. Call-ins, scanned business cards, and received emails all get organized into a single digital rolodex with recommendations for whom to contact, and when is best to do so -- without one minute of tedious data entry.

Every business owner knows that automating mindless tasks is a worthwhile investment. But not everyone knows just what sort of tools are available to help you cut down on wasted work. Our team specializes in using technology to add value to your business, and we believe that if you’re not utilizing any of the solutions above -- that’s the best place to start. Get in touch with us today to make your marketing technology work for you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
December 2nd, 2016

2016december2_apple_bAlthough iPhone bugs and malware are typically unheard of, there’s one circulating the web that you should be aware of right now. The bug, which was discovered in Reddit, is a brief, five-second video that when played causes your iPhone to freeze and ultimately crash. So far the malicious video’s intentions are still unknown, but this trap can be easily avoided.

What is the video? As mentioned, the MP4 video initially seems innocuous enough. It portrays a man standing by a bed with the word "honey" across the screen. After one or two minutes of viewing the video, the affected iPhone becomes sluggish. It then freezes and becomes unresponsive, ultimately requiring a reset.

It appears that the bug takes advantage of a flaw within iOS memory management. The corrupted video generates a loop that causes the affected Apple device to use more memory, leading to a temporary crash.

Reports have shown that the MP4 is hosted on a video-sharing site, Miaopai. Since then, the video has been distributed in other social media platforms, online forums, and, more commonly, as a link via iMessage.

Tests have also found that the video effects the latest iOS version (iOS 10.1 and 10.2) all the way to iOS 5. So far, the bug doesn’t seem to affect other non iOS products. But regardless, all users should be careful of the video.

Although this video’s effects may seem worrying, there is a fix to the problems caused by the corrupt clip.

How to perform a hard restart The only way to recover from the crash is to do perform a hard restart. To do this, you simply have to hold down the power button and home button for a few seconds.

As for the iPhone 7, all you need to do is hold the power button and volume decrease buttons simultaneously to force a reset. In both cases, just hold the buttons until the Apple logo appears, and your device should restart normally.

Always be careful Even though it’s easy enough to fix, it’s probably best to avoid the crash bug altogether. Soon, Apple will introduce a new security patch for this vulnerability, but until the update is released, you should avoid clicking on suspicious MP4 video links no matter what platform you use.

And this is the same for other videos, URLs, photos, emails, and websites you encounter on the web. When it comes to traversing online worlds, it’s imperative to develop a critical mindset for everything you see in the internet. While this particular bug only slows down your Apple device, you might not be so lucky the next time you unwittingly click on an unknown iMessage link or email attachment.

If there’s any lesson we can learn here, it’s that you can’t be complacent no matter how secure Apple platforms may be. Want to protect your Apple device from future security incidents like these? Contact us today, and we’ll provide you with sound advice and security solutions to nip these problems in the bud.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple
December 1st, 2016

2016december_virtualization_bVMWorld 2016 just wrapped up and developers are rolling out the new version of vSphere 6.5, complete with plenty of upgraded features to make your business life easier. The updated version includes new security and installation features as well as a simplified user experience. Find out about the new updates and how they can help you.

More simplified experience A program that is easier for the non-technical business owner to use is a definite plus. Developers changed the user interface to highlight options in a more logical way. Workspaces are wider and allow instant feedback options for teams working on important projects. It is also easier to install and run programs, since the majority of vSphere 6.5 versions use HTML5 instead of the cumbersome Flash-run interface.

Built-in security Security is a high-ticket concern for any virtual collaboration, and vSphere 6.5 offers a number of safety-conscious features to keep your business safe. First is the Secure Boot, which allows you to keep unauthorized programs from being loaded into your virtual space. It is particularly helpful because it keeps guest users from loading harmful programs that could affect your business. In addition to the secure booting capabilities, the vSphere 6.5 also ensures that virtual machines are encrypted at rest and as data travels between systems.

Universal app platform The new vSphere 6.5 features a universality that many older versions just couldn't handle. Not only can you use this program with the major operating systems (Linux, Mac, Windows), you can back up and update your system on the same server instead of moving it to a third-party server that may or may not be trustworthy. You can also create a workload and deploy it across one platform so it is easy to access and modify if necessary.

The new features contained within vSphere 6.5 will change the way you see the virtualization experience all around. As long as the program continues to be updated for easier use by "common" employees and business owners, vSphere's popularity and that of other hypervisor programs will continue to climb. Call us to learn more about how you can use vSphere 6.5 within your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

November 30th, 2016

2016november30_office_bWhen you subscribe to Office 365 as an Insider, you now have access to a new Get Office App known as Hub, a management program that allows subscribers to try out the new management application for 365 users on Windows 10. Here’s the rundown on the new feature and what it can do for your business.

What does Office Hub Do? Office 365 Hub is a dashboard management program that makes it easier for you to integrate all your Office 365 apps in one location and manage the different programs without the need to get on a browser.

Users can:

  • Manage their payment and subscription information
  • Optimize Office apps for mobile devices
  • Access files, programs and apps on the cloud drive from any device
  • Switch between a personal and business account
Office Hub, like other dashboard management programs, allows you to access multiple apps and programs in one place. Clicking on the Home tab displays a summary of recent documents accessed as well as your commonly used Office apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

For the business owner, this ease of access increases efficiency company-wide. Business owners can install new apps on the desktop without visiting an online browser, while administrators will have no problem moving between the different office applications.

What’s more, Office 365 Hub provides a Help and Training tab with links to online resources, tutorials and support forums to help new Office 365 users to quickly acclimate to the cloud. All in all, Office 365 Hub promises a stress-free and easily manageable cloud experience.

Reaching the Office 365 Hub App Unfortunately, the Office 365 Hub is not yet visible to everyone who signs on to the Get Office App on Windows 10. It is only open to those who are Office 365 subscribers and members of their Insider program. They also have to be set as Fast Ring subscribers, members who receive builds before they have been completely debugged and updated. Otherwise, you can expect the general release of Office 365 Hub and its benefits in the first half of 2017.

If you want the latest updates on Office 365 Hub or any new Microsoft features, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office
November 29th, 2016

2016november29_android_bAn issue has recently been identified with Android devices that may put users at risk of being exposed to a massive data security breach. A backdoor in Android devices and operating software makes it possible for personal data to be transmitted and viewed by people in China. So what created this vulnerability?

Android devices are made with various software and firmware from a variety of companies. One company that creates firmware and software for numerous companies around the world is known as Adups, a Chinese company based in Shanghai. One of the features of the offerings is that the firmware or software automatically sends data back to Adups every 72 hours. The data sent includes information like contact lists, phone call lists, and text messages.

A company known as Kryptowire, a security firm that specializes in detecting potential risks and breaches, found that the firmware developed by Adups may have been installed on a wide array of Android devices, unbeknownst to consumers that purchased the products. Adups, for its part, claims that the software was developed for a specific client that needed to track such information to determine customer service and satisfaction.

Even if the software was designed only for one specific client, Kryptowire found it on the product of at least one other Adups client and has concerns that other companies and devices that work with Adups may also be affected. The leaking of data to Adups or other companies and persons in China (or anywhere in the world) represents a huge security risk for both business and individual Android product users. The backdoor access to the device does not just let data get transmitted to Adups but makes it possible for someone to access and take control of the device without the Android device owner knowing or allowing the access.

As of yet, Google is attempting to catch up with Kryptowire's findings and the known affected clients to try to close this backdoor access and keep user data as safe and secure as possible. Contact us for further information or to find out whether your device is one of those known to be affected by this significant and worrisome data breach.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic android
November 28th, 2016

2016november28_windows_bUpdates to the Microsoft Paint program have been a long time coming, and finally, Microsoft has delivered. Recently, the company announced major innovations to this longstanding entry-level image editing program, and it renamed the application to Microsoft Paint 3D. If you find yourself wondering how the new Microsoft Paint 3D can benefit your business computing and IT work, here are some changes to Microsoft Paint that you might find useful.

With the new Microsoft Paint 3D, users will have the opportunity to create both 2D and 3D graphics and images. It is just as easy as it always was to use pen and paintbrush features to draw a 2D image, but now these images can be converted into 3D. There is also a stamp feature that allows a user to add stickers to their 2D creations to make them 3D.

Additionally, just like in the world outside of the computer, the 3D objects in Microsoft Paint 3D can be written on with pencils, pens, or paintbrushes, adding 2D imagery to 3D creations. One of the additional benefits of Microsoft Paint 3D is that the creations that users make on the app can easily be shared on social media. This makes it easier than ever before to put Microsoft Paint creations to use.

With Microsoft Paint 3D, users are also able to take images from their smart phone and transform them to 3D images in Microsoft Paint 3D. Even further, if you have a 3D printer, you can actually bring the 3D creations from your app to life.

All these new innovations make Microsoft Paint 3D an exciting development in the Microsoft product offerings. This new version of Microsoft Paint will be made available with the latest updated version of Windows 10 Creator's Studio and should be released early in 2017. If you are ready to get started with this program or want more information about what else the Microsoft Creator’s update has in store for you, contact us as soon as possible.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic windows
November 25th, 2016

2016november25_security_bAs long as businesses host valuable data, cyber criminals will continue to bypass the security protocols meant to protect this data. The causes of security breaches range from device theft or loss, weak and stolen credentials, malware, and outdated systems that use ineffective security measures. And with these five tips, you can take the first step toward making sure a security breach never strikes at your precious business data.

Limitation of lateral data transfers

Employees not being educated on data sharing and security is one of the biggest reasons for internal data breaches. It’s a good idea to limit access to important data and information by restricting access privileges to only a small number of individuals. Also, you can decide to use network segmentation to cut unnecessary communication from your own network to others.

Keeping your machines and devices updated

Internal breaches might also occur when employees work with unguarded or unprotected machines. They might unknowingly download malware, which normally wouldn’t be a problem if machines were properly managed. Updating your operating systems, antivirus software, business software, and firewalls as often as possible will go a long way toward solidifying your defense systems.

Use monitoring and machine learning to sniff out abnormalities

It’s not all on your employees, however. Network administrators should employ monitoring software to prevent breaches by analyzing what is “normal” behavior and comparing that to what appears to be suspicious behavior. Cyber criminals often hide in networks to exploit them over a long period of time. Even if you miss them the first time, you should monitor suspicious activity so you can recognize impropriety and amend security policies before it goes any further.

Creating strong security passwords and credentials

No matter how often we say it, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to your passwords and login procedures. In addition to text-based credentials, you should require other methods whenever possible. Great for fortifying your network, fingerprints and smart cards, for example, are much harder for cyber criminals to fake. Regardless of which factors are used, they must be frequently updated to prevent breaches, accidental or otherwise.

Security Insurance

In the end, no system is perfect. Zero-day attacks exploit unknown gaps in security, and human error, accidental or otherwise, can never be totally prevented. And for this reason, small businesses need to start embracing cyber insurance policies. These policies help cover the damages that might occur even under a top-of-the-line security infrastructure. Considerations for selecting a policy include legal fees, first and third-party coverage, and coverage for reputation rehabilitation.

The field of cyber security is overwhelming -- even for seasoned IT professionals. But not for us. We spend our days researching and experimenting to craft the best security solutions on the market. If you're interested in one of our cutting-edge cyber-security plans, call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
November 24th, 2016

2016november24_voip_bOne of the latest innovations from Microsoft involves various popular Insider Programs. The newest of these is a Skype Insider Program. Available for all desktop and mobile operating systems, this program will grant business owners and individuals access to more frequent updates and new, special features to one of the most important voice over internet protocol (VoIP) applications on the market. Find out more about the Skype Insider Program here.

At its core, the new Skype Insider Program is a way to allow Skype users to beta test cutting-edge features and software fixes. In addition to granting users access to the latest features before they become public, this program also gives Microsoft a major advantage because more beta testers means it can roll out full updates and upgrades more quickly. After joining, users can test out a wide array of improvements for any Skype platform, including Android, iOS, OS X, or Windows.

Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into before joining this Insider Program, or any betas for that matter. It exists to test out how well new features work “in the wild,” and there is potential for bugs. The catch 22 is that with so many users beta-testing the software, those problems and bugs will be fixed far more quickly than before, and participants will have a head start on using those features when they officially roll out.

VoIP has been around for years now, and most vendor offerings are similar to one another. In our opinion, getting access to new VoIP technology is definitely worth it. You’ll be able to get a head start on the competition, and Microsoft will reward your contributions with a faster, more secure Skype connection.

An open and well-populated beta program almost always means great things for users and the software they’re using. If you are interested in becoming part of Skype's Insider Program, or if you have any VoIP-related questions, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
November 23rd, 2016

2016november23_hardware_bThe owner of a small business has enough to worry about without adding online security to the mix. But with the proliferation of smart devices that come in everything from Fit Bits to smoke alarms, hackers are now able to access sensitive information. Read on to find out about the “Internet of Things” (IoT) scanner that can keep your business away from the hacker's radar.

The Dangers of IoT

The "Internet of Things" is a relatively new phrase that basically refers to a network of connected devices. The network might include your computer and smartphone, but could also include apps that you have downloaded, your Fitbit, a remotely monitored home security system, routers, printers and any other wireless device that needs an internet connection. Although all these devices are but convenience items, they can also be potentially dangerous considering how much personal and business information is stored on your personal computer, which is connected to the same network.

How can I protect my IoT devices?

Every device that connects to the internet must connect through your network. If you are technologically challenged and have only a laptop in your office and a couple of desktop computers scattered throughout the building, chances are you don't worry too much about the security of your connection. It's easy to install a firewall and antivirus program that will keep your network connection secure. But internet security isn't that simple for the business owner anymore.

The internet security vendor Bullguard has released a new tool that business owners can use to locate any vulnerabilities that might be found on their network. The program uses on online directory to double-check whether your device uses an "open" or unsecure port to connect to your network. If it determines that your network or any of your devices are connected with an open line, it gives you the location of the detected vulnerability.

What can the IoT Scanner Do?

While the scanner only points to places of invulnerability and does not attempt to fix anything, it provides the information you need to take that next step. Many times the real danger of a smart device is that it connects to your network without your knowledge, allowing hackers an "open door" to wreak havoc. Knowing where the hackers might enter can keep you vigilant to fix that breach.

Scanners like this are exactly what we hope to accomplish with our blog. We want you to provide you with useful tools that help educate you about your network and your IT, while also showcasing what we can do for you as an outsourced IT consultant. Bullguard’s IoT scanner will help you get one step closer to enterprise-level security, but we’re the partner you need to cross the finish line. Get in touch with us to start making improvements today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
November 22nd, 2016

2016november22_webandcloud_bOne of the hottest topics in tech and in business is artificial intelligence (more accurately “machine learning” or AI). Many business owners are currently looking to this technology for its potential to improve customer communications, and it is predicted that by the year 2020, 85 percent of all interactions will originate from machine learning “bots.” If you’re an e-commerce business owner who’s wondering how you can benefit from these advancements, you’re in luck. We’ve compiled a few of the most important reasons to adopt machine learning services right here in this article.

Predicting what your customers want

There are numerous ways for AI to be used in e-commerce to the benefit of both businesses and the consumer. Machine learning algorithms can, for example, identify customer habits and their interests based on search histories (both inside and outside of a specific business's site).

With the proper configuration, this service can analyze shopping behaviors to customize and tailor the online shopping experience to that specific user. Product recommendations, pairings, and promotions can target individuals, improving the customer experience, and in turn, your bottom line.

“I’m looking for something a little more…”

Machine learning is also great for cataloging products. In the past, businesses would send out dense and cumbersome product catalogs that made it difficult for customers to find what they were looking for. In the near future, customers will be able to upload photographs of an article of clothing that’s similar to what they want to purchase or pair with another. Through AI, a website will be able to analyze the photographs and create a catalog of suggestions based on data from the image for a true machine-learning solution.

Customers can still talk to a “representative”

With advances in “plain language” systems, more and more users will rely on e-commerce over face-to-face sales interactions. Machine learning is getting better at interpreting conversations, and answering with natural-sounding responses.

If the choice is either searching “Blue summer dress,” or “I’m looking for something relaxed and in a warm blue color,” which do you think would make customers’ shopping experience better?

By replicating the in-person shopping experience over the internet, businesses can shift away from brick and mortar overheads to an e-commerce-centered structure. Significant savings can be realized in the areas of capital expenditures and human resources, all while reducing the opportunity for costly human error as well.

Given all of these factors, you can see how AI could improve your e-commerce business’s potential. Believe it or not, if you’re ready to begin integrating more “machine learning” into your business model, we already have the means to make that happen. Contact us as soon as you’re ready to transform your e-commerce business into a money-making powerhouse!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web & Cloud