Blog

November 22nd, 2016

2016november22_webandcloud_aArtificial intelligence (AI) is a buzzword that inspires business owners yet also instills in them a sense of dread. More accurately described as “machine learning,” this exciting innovation is swiftly becoming an integral part of doing business. In fact, industry experts are predicting that by 2020, 85 percent of the interactions between corporate customer service departments and customers will involve AI. If you’re an e-commerce business owner, you’re in a prime spot to get ahead of the curve early.

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
November 21st, 2016

2016november21_businesscontinuity_aThe prevalence of digital data has become an integral part of life and business in modern times. Staggering amounts of data is generated every day and businesses have grown exponentially as they’ve found ways to monetize it. In fact, most experts agree that by the year 2020, there will be 1.7 terabytes of data generated per person on the planet. But in the here and now, we’re already struggling to keep data backed up and safe.

Too much data may sound like a good thing, but depending on your organization, backing up everything à la minute may be out of your price range or just flat out impossible with the amount of information you create. The problem then becomes: How do I structure my backup plan to prioritize the critical files? We believe the answer is analytics.

In order to avoid backing up unneeded data, you’ll require a “smarter” backup solution. This is where an experienced MSP (managed services provider) really earns its keep. We’ve spent years becoming experts in backup solutions and designing systems that keep your mission-critical data healthy, and we can offer something few others can’t: a backup solution that learns.

The first step in ensuring all of your customer information is safely duplicated and quarantined is to install sophisticated analytics engines that help determine what is most essential to your business's day-to-day operations. These ever-evolving engines will prioritize data in order of importance and translate that to a backup structure that ensures the right data is safe and sound should disaster strike.

Using analytics maintains your existing data-backup solution, but provides it with a map of what to save first, and what to leave for later. What does that mean? Drastically reduced recovery times in the event of untimely outages or disruptions. And, the use of analytics also helps increase efficiency and decrease overall backup costs by providing a better picture of what is unimportant or unnecessary.

Small- and medium-sized businesses have been the drivers of innovation for decades because, as they say, “necessity is the mother of invention.” And we’re here to deliver some good news: Whether you’re interested in implementing a cutting-edge analytics engine or simply want to start with a more straightforward solution, we’re ready to create a new system that prioritizes backups, just for you. Take a second to analyze that, then give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
November 18th, 2016

2016november18_apple_aApple is known for launching its new products in September. However, some predict a new iPad launch this coming March. Although the release is long overdue, the anticipation among Apple users continues to be high.The predecessors worked well, and many recommend them, but the new iPad is being waited upon by users who are ready to give it a spin. Here are some of the speculations on the new iPad Mini 5.

Among the top rumors and speculations concerning iPad Mini 5 are:

Thinner design - There are speculations that the new iPad Mini 5 will be thinner than other models. Current iPads are already 6.1mm thin, but Apple plans to set a new record with a 5mm-thick tablet. Whether or not it will do away with the headphone jack like it did for the iPhone 7 is still unclear.

New aluminum chassis - The iPad Mini 5 will have a different chassis from the previous models. The new chassis will be made from 7000-series aluminum that has been used on iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Because the iPad will be thinner, the new chassis will ensure it is durable and will prevent the tablet from any form of bending.

Smart Connector - It is rumored that the iPad Mini 5 will use smart connectors like the iPad Pro. The tablet will have a smart keyboard and other possibilities for connecting with other accessories.

Pricing - When it comes to pricing for the tablet, Apple is expected to keep the price of the iPad Mini 5 in line with that of its predecessors. Based on the pricing of the Mini 4, the price for the Mini 5 is not expected to be the same, but there is a possibility of a slight price increase on the new product. As always, the prices are expected to be higher for larger storage capacities.

Battery - Since the new iPad Mini 5 will be slim, the battery will be small in size and capacity. The battery will be made using improved technology, ensuring it does not affect the running of the iPad.

The iPad Mini 5 is a featured product expected to be launched in 2017. Users are eagerly waiting to see whether this iteration of the iPad will change the somewhat static smart tablet market. For additional information on Apple products and other tech-related topics, go to our website, where we can answer all your questions.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple
November 17th, 2016

2016november17_office_aOffice 365 has given business owners access to online organizational programs and collaboration tools for years. In an effort to become more user-friendly, Microsoft recently added new features to Office 365, including two security upgrades and the addition of productivity tracking. Keep reading to find out more about Office 365's new Azure Information Protection, Enterprise Mobile Device Management and Productive Insight features.

Azure Information Protection Using Office 365 protection technology, also known as Azure RMS, this feature allows business leaders to mark sensitive documents and control who has access to information in various documents. The protection travels with the data, whether it is online or provided through another device. Business owners can mark a document as internal and keep it from being sent outside the company. Drop-down menus also allow users to apply trackable data protection in order to identify potential leaks and gain insight into how a business is structured.

Enterprise Mobility + Security Suite Re-branded from the Enterprise Mobility Suite, this feature adds more security potential to sensitive data while allowing business owners to manage apps on any device from one location. Users have more control over identity-driven access and also encrypts data to allow secure collaboration among employees.

Productivity Insight This feature, an addition to Delve Analytics, tracks an employee's time management at the office. MyAnalytics for Outlook allows business owners or managers to see who has read, replied, and forwarded their email while also providing them with information on the the email sender. The feature also acts as a storage receptacle for shared files and contact information so they can be accessed quickly.

As Office 365 expands its services to include security and productivity features, companies using cloud-based servers have an advantage over old-school computer users. Not only do they have access to the technology to keep their data safe and accessible to employees, but they also have the management software to see where their efforts are paying off by way of productivity programs. If you need to know more about the new features of Office 365, give our professionals a call. We can answer your questions and help you get the most out of the new Security and Productivity Insight additions.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office
November 16th, 2016

2016november16_android_aWith new technological devices released almost on a daily basis, your new Android tablet can become obsolete before you've even gotten any productive use out of it. But instead of tossing it into the drawer with your old cell phone and other electronic gadgets, recycle it into something you can use long into the future. Keep reading to find five new uses for your old Android tablet.

Security Camera As long as your Android has a workable battery and screen, you can turn it into a webcam security system. Simply download a security app like Salient Eye (easily found on Google Play) or At Home Video Streamer, set it up as per the directions and place it where you want to observe. It can even be rigged to turn on as it senses movement.

Digital Camera Photo Frame Don't spend $30 on a digital picture frame when you can use an old Android tablet. Again you will have to visit the Google Play or other app store, search for a program similar to Photo Slides, plug the Android into a wall socket, and you have pictures you can scroll through whenever you want and display on your mantel.

Portable Reference Library You have probably used your Android for book storage already, so why not turn it into a functional library? Visit Amazon Kindle or Google Play Books and download your choice of reference books and eBooks. Kwix, the offline version of Wikipedia, can provide you with encyclopedia-like entries without having to go online.

Radio or Wireless-only device You can download Pandora or I Heart Radio and use your Android to play your favorite music without interfering with other open computer programs and without using valuable memory.

Universal Remote It is so easy to lose the remote in the folds of the couch or slots in a magazine rack. It's not so easy to lose an Android tablet. By installing a universal remote app like Peel Smart Remote, AnyMote, or Irdroid, you can use your old Android as a universal remote for televisions and other electronic systems in the office.

There is no reason to throw your old Android tablet into a drawer when you upgrade -- especially not when there are so many apps available that can help you repurpose your device into something useful and unique. For more information on how to recycle your old tech devices, give us a call. We'll be glad to help you save money and find a new use for your old tablet.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic android
November 11th, 2016

2016november11_windows_aAs Microsoft outlines new updates to its latest platform, Windows 10, many people do not even realize that changes are afoot. In fact, a lot of the best new features Windows 10 has to offer have been sneakily revealed, and so many people don’t even know that’s been happening. If you are a current Windows 10 user, get to know more about some of the best new features this computing platform has to offer. Then, if you have further questions or want to know more about how to get these features working for you when they are fully available, you can contact us right away to get started.

Groove Music Maker

One of the biggest Windows 10 features that Microsoft sneakily revealed for is a new program known as Groove Music Maker. Presumably designed to compete with Apple's Garageband application, this program allows users to create computer-generated music by using the program’s own digital instruments or by recording their own voice or instrumental work and adding sound effects. Sure, that may not be particularly earth-shattering for most SMBs, but maybe you want to experiment with a new jingle for your local ads?

Windows Store

The Windows Store will also be greatly improved with the ability to make in-app purchases directly from the Windows Store homescreen. This streamlines the experience for users who wish to purchase apps, movies, or music quickly and easily. Make sure that if you have any Windows store apps, they’re optimized for this development.

Microsoft Edge Browser

The Microsoft Edge browser will also have major improvements as well. The tab viewing and browsing process will be made easier by allowing users to set browser tiles aside for later access and use. On top of this feature, Microsoft Edge users will also be able to use scrollable tab previews that let the user get a look at what page is on each tab before they toggle back to that tab. Both these features make the web browsing process easier and help to make Microsoft Edge competitive with the features of other popular web browsers.

Windows Defender

Windows Defender, the built-in security system for Windows 10, will also be improved in these new features and updates. The software will be more user-friendly and include virus protection, firewall, computer performance features, and much more.

Windows 10 Basics

The entire base of the Windows 10 platform will be enhanced as well. Users will be able to pick up where they stopped working from other devices linked to the computer. This streamlines the user experience and can prevent information and data loss. The quick actions menu will also be adjusted so that users can more easily perform necessary actions. The accent color scheme will also be made customizable, and live tiles will be introduced to the Start Menu feature, making it easier to access your latest photos, documents, and recently used apps.

Knowing these are some of the upcoming features that Microsoft plans to add to Windows 10, you can now see how these changes will benefit you and your user experience with Windows 10. For more information about Windows 10 as it is now or will be in the future, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
November 10th, 2016

2016november10_security_aThe old cold-call scam is still a popular way for fraudsters to dupe people out of their money. But now they're taking their tactics to the computer generation, and it can be surprising just who is falling for the new tech-related fraud. Read on to find out how scam artists are targeting the younger generation -- and succeeding.

Results Conclude Youth is more Gullible

Microsoft recently conducted a survey of 1000 computer users of all ages and from many of the largest countries in the world to find out how many of them had been scammed by phony "technicians" claiming to be employees of Microsoft or other major computer conglomerates. The results were startling when studied demographically. Researchers discovered that seniors, who were traditionally viewed as the major victims of such fraudulent schemes, were not the most likely group to fall for the scam.

Research indicated that although seniors were most likely to buy into a telephone scam, they still did not fall for the act as much as younger age groups. The study found, in fact, that between the ages of 18 and 24, people were 2.5 times more likely to fall for the scam than seniors. Those between the ages of 25 and 34 were three times more likely than seniors to be tricked.

The scam that the Microsoft company recently studied involved the following scenario: Either a person calls claiming to be a technical support technician, or an email or pop-up alerts you that your computer is locked or otherwise compromised. In order to fix the problem, you need to call someone and pay for a program or provide access to your computer so some purported technician can solve the problem "remotely."

If you fall for this scam, you are giving them funds for a false program or access to your computer -- which also allows them access to your personal data and the ability to install malware onto your system. The study revealed that two-thirds of those surveyed (around 660 people) had experienced the scam first-hand. One in five had listened long enough to hear the story, and 1 in 10 actually gave the scammer money.

Why the Younger Demographic Became Easy Victims

While older adults often respond more to phone calls, younger people have learned to ignore phone calls, saving them from being phone victims. However, because younger adults spend the majority of their time online and often remain acutely aware of the status of their computer and online presence, they are more prone to react to a pop-up or email claiming that their computer is in danger. Nearly 60% of the adults aged 18-24 in the study say they were exposed to the scam through pop-up ads or online correspondence.

The takeaway here is simple: Cybersecurity is about more than just firewalls and antivirus software. You need to shore up the human side of your protection protocols. The best way to start is by doing some quick research on social engineering in our previous blogs, but ultimately you’ll need something a little more thorough. Contact us today for more tips and to ask about scheduling a cybersecurity training for your employees.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
November 8th, 2016

2016november8_hardware_aRunning a small business takes an intelligent, resourceful person. From day one you must make important decisions in all areas of business, from the marketing strategy chosen for a product to the brand of printer you will use to print out flyers. One of the biggest decisions you will make in the early stages of a business involves your SMB’s computer hardware, particularly whether to invest in a desktop computer or a laptop. Read on to find out how to make this decision for your company.

Portability

Modern desktop computers aren't nearly as immobile as they used to be. In many cases the screen is thin and light, and all-in-one desktops are easy to unplug, move and plug in on the road. But there are still places the desktop cannot go. Laptops allow you to go anywhere, even places without electricity. But this ability to take your work anywhere can be counterproductive by creating more stress on employees who think they must work all the time.

Memory/Speed

Desktop computers often have more memory than laptops, and they’re faster speeds due to better processors. This is now changing as a result of advancing technology, but until the cost of high-powered laptops becomes affordable to the general public, the desktop computer is going to provide businesses with more speed. If your employees’ work is limited to word processing and emailing, laptops should be enough. However, anything more will probably require a desktop machine.

Security

An SMB’s computer hardware needs to be secure to ensure that private company information doesn't end up in the wrong hands. On a desktop computer, the hardware is easier to defend against malware and adware. It’s also more physically secure because the desktop is often kept in one location and not easy to snatch. If you do choose the laptop route, make sure to have strict policies on how to protect machines that leave the office.

Price

Traditionally, the laptop has been cheaper and available to more people. This is true particularly for smaller notebook-style laptops. But desktop computers are becoming more affordable as more people have access to them through local channels. With a capable IT service provider, cost probably won’t be a deciding factor between the two options.

Quality

Although laptop computers provide the convenience of portability, over time they’re prone to problems with the battery and charging cord. They are also easily damaged. By contrast, desktops are generally more sturdy. But when they do experience a problem, it often leads to expensive repairs.

Final Recommendation

The desktop versus laptop debate is an old one, with supporters on both sides touting the advantages of their choice to all who will listen. A growing company really needs a combination of both types of computers. However, a desktop computer will be generally more reliable for the fledgling company owner to start with. Laptops should be added as budget permits to provide that extra portability and convenience.

If you have questions regarding the best choice for your company, give us a call. We'll be happy to provide you the assistance you need to improve your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
November 7th, 2016

2016november7_socialmedia_aEvery company wants to get more business out of social media. But to most small- and medium-sized businesses, a social media strategy is limited to the most popular platforms. There are at least a dozen more options however, and we want to take some time to cover the best sites that you’re probably not using, here.

Having great content on your site is the magnet that attracts visitors. However, when there is too much competition on the most popular platforms, it's hard for your social media reputation management to deliver the results you expect. To reap nominal rewards from social media marketing, you need to devise new methods to stand out from the crowd.

Meetup

For people with similar interests, Meetup is a great site to plan face-to-face meetings. Does your company sell hiking, camping, and backpacking products? Organize a meetup for the people in your community to go on a hike. You really can’t get a better customer interaction than engaging them in the activities they love.

Eventbrite

If you’re looking for a more formal event platform, Eventbrite helps you to organize, plan, and market your event so you can ensure its success. Another way it differs from Meetup is its recruitment potential. You can easily market yourself as an expert in an industry to either attract freelancers or educate potential customers about the problems you aim to solve for them. Townscript, and Picantic, offer similar services and can go to great lengths to improve your social media reputation.

Answer Forums

How many times have you scoffed at the amatuer responses to the questions posted on sites such as Yahoo Answers, Quora, and Reddit? However, if you take a step back you’ll realize that these people are often searching for information about certain industries or products. When providing helpful answers to their questions, establish your credibility by identifying your expertise and product.

Disqus

It’s easy to get stuck in a narrow interpretation of ‘social media.’ It’s just web technology that helps us to communicate with each other, right? By embedding apps such as Disqus into your online content, you can connect with readers and external websites to boost your material as well as your reputation. What’s more social than getting people talking about about your products or industry?

Slack

Most people who use the messaging app Slack see it as a way to communicate with friends and coworkers. However, with a little creativity you can join conversations from all over the world to boost your online presence. There are countless channels devoted to industries, categories, hobbies and more. All you have to do is insert yourself and your company into the conversation to get people talking about your business!

It’s hard to deny that technology has made our lives more complicated. We still believe it has made up for this downside ten fold, but we understand it can feel a little overwhelming at times. Thankfully, the answer is simple: a managed technology provider. For a never-ending source of information on reputation and social media management, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic social media
November 4th, 2016

2016november4_webandcloud_aThe internet’s impact on people's lives keeps growing by the day. People use the web for different reasons and access it any time, and the availability of smart gadgets makes it possible for the people to enjoy the internet from any location. However, the resourcefulness of the internet can be hindered by having a slow web browser. Fortunately, a modern and highly efficient browser like Opera 41 guarantees you fast connectivity to the internet.

The newest browser in the market, Opera 41 promises to take your browsing experience to new levels. It has the following features that guarantee a pleasant experience online:

Multiple tabs Opera 41 has a wonderful start-up sequence. Upon launching the browser, it automatically opens the tab you were using the last time you were online.

Pinned tabs will then open along with any others depending on priority. This process is performed at a very high speed no matter how many tabs you have opened. It has been tested and found that the time taken to open tabs using Opera 41 has improved by 86 percent when compared to other browsers with similar features.

Longer battery life Older versions of the Opera had features that enhanced the life of the battery. The new Opera 41 does it again with features built to be less demanding on the hardware, ensuring your device doesn’t need charging any time soon.

The same function is used when on chat using WebRTC. If your device is on battery-saving mode, Opera will use video codec. This arrangement ensures the resources on your system are used efficiently, thus extending battery life.

Additional benefits:

  • The pixel count increases the usage of your CPU on the screen. Opera 41 reduces the pixel count on your screen, thereby saving the usage of your CPU when the battery-saving mode is connected.
  • The pop-out video has been in use since its introduction in May. This feature is available in Opera 41 and allows you to access content sites such as YouTube and view them in a different window.
  • Because Opera 41's browser pop-out video feature also reduces the use of CPU resources by up to 30 percent, your CPU will also last longer and run more efficiently.
Despite being relatively new, Opera 41 has features that make browsing more enjoyable. The achievements made so far show that it has the potential to change how people access the internet. For more information about how Opera 41 can positively impact your online experience, please contact us.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web & Cloud