Is the iPad Useful as a Mobile Computing Device for Businesses?

Some businesses have jumped on the iPad wagon and are finding creative ways to use the iPad as a mobile computing device. For example, the Global Mundo Tapas restaurant in Sydney, Australia uses the iPad as an interactive menu. There’s a budget airline, Jetstar Airways, using the iPad for in-flight entertainment, rented for $10 a flight. A luxury sedan by Hyundai comes with an iPad instead of a user manual. Other than these extreme cases, how can an iPad be used to increase productivity or convenience by the average business owner?

Conventions and Workshops

Do you travel to conventions and workshops for your business? Many people bring their laptop to these events. While laptops are of course very convenient compared to a desktop pc for traveling, the iPad weighs less and could be even more convenient if you’re traveling from room to room at a convention or workshop. These events are also often designed for networking – so you’re not just sitting at the table all day, glued to your laptop. The smaller, 2 pound iPad could be slipped into your purse or a small bag while you walk around the room, or even carried in your hand for easy access as needed, but without being cumbersome.

Flights and Traveling

It’s true a laptop can go on a flight with you, but even the smaller netbooks and laptops add to the weight of your carry on bags and can be frustrating when in the small seats of the plane. If you’re sitting in coach, you know every time the person next to you has to get up to use the bathroom you’re trying to balance the laptop and whatever else you happened to have out in your hands with turbulence knocking you around the aisle. The iPad could be slid into the pocket of the seat in front of you if you have to get out of the way for the passenger next to you – it’s about the size of a magazine.

The same holds true on trains, in taxi cabs, or as a passenger in someone else’s car. Just don’t try to use your iPad while driving, yourself.

Presentations & Sales

Do you travel to client offices to give presentations? How sleek would it be to whip out your iPad and give a sales presentation or demonstration? Apple reports that iPads can connect to the majority of projectors, so you could even broadcast that presentation over a large screen for a larger audience if necessary.

Replace Your Briefcase

Sure, the iPad has a word processor and spreadsheet. Those are always useful for business people. It would be much more convenient to read and edit documents on an iPad over your iPhone while on the road.

But what about the stack of magazines and newspapers you lug around with you in your briefcase? You could have all of your reading materials ready for you on the iPad and skip the briefcase. Use it as an ebook reader, newspaper subscription, and file storage and you’ve literally got everything at your fingertips. With the use of third party Apps, there’s little you can’t do with the iPad for as a mobile computing device for your business.

Click here to learn how [contentblock id=company] can help you get the most out of your iPads, Smartphones and other mobile devices with our Mobile Computing Services for your business in [contentblock id=location].

Maintaining HIPAA Compliance with Online Data Storage

Keeping patient records secure and private is the concern of every hospital and health care provider, but they are often overwhelmed with years and years of patient information and the lack of adequate storage space. Destroying these health records in order to make room for more storage is often not an option. Patients want access to all of their health care records, and physicians need them in order to better diagnose patients. Online data storage is a way to satisfy all of these issues.

Using online data storage for these records allows easier access for patients, and offers easier sharing of patient information from hospital to physician, as well as from physician to physician. Storing health records online isn’t, however, without security concerns. Patients, hospitals, and physicians want assurance that these confidential records will remain safe, private, and secure, and will only be accessed by those authorized to do so.

What is HIPAA?

HIPAA or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 was created in order to protect health information and give patients certain rights regarding their private health information. It also allows for disclosure of health information necessary for patient care. This act specifies safeguards necessary for administrative, and physical and technical handling of patient health information.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS.gov) HIPAA has many requirements and restrictions. It requires safeguards for:

  • Access Control
  • Audit Controls
  • Person or Entity Authentication

Access control is defined in the HIPAA Privacy Rule as “the ability or the means necessary to read, write, modify, or communicate data/information or otherwise use any system resource.” It should allow authorized users to only access the minimum amount of information necessary to complete job functions. The Access Control specification also requires the implementation of an exclusive user identification or user ID, and immediate access in case of an emergency.

What Type of Security is Necessary?

When dealing with patient records in an office, maintaining privacy and security usually involves storing patient files in locked cabinets where the files can be physically secured and visibly monitored at all times. When you are storing patient information online, certain precautions must be met in order to maintain the same security and privacy guaranteed each patient.

While HIPAA permits patient records to be transmitted over the Internet, businesses will want a service that offers file encryption, authentication and password protection in order to secure the information. Although HIPAA does not require online data storage services to have encryption, it does require that patient information be adequately protected and accessible only to authorized persons. Encryption is the best way to protect that information and ensure authorized access to those records. It is also important to offer backup services in case of a virus attack, flood, or fire. Finally, the service must offer a method of tracking any security breach, as well as the ability to lock out former employees after they have left or been terminated.

When storing patient information, it is important to stay HIPAA compliant, as the fines for not doing so are expensive. While online data storage for health care businesses guarantee less worry, work, and expense for health care providers, the service is only as good as the security offered. Remaining HIPAA compliant is vital in order to continue a good business relationship with the health care industry.

Click here to learn how [contentblock id=company] can help you maintain HIPAA compliance with our Remote Online Data Storage Services for your practice in [contentblock id=location].

Be Realistic About Cross-Referrals And Your CRM

As you build your business, you naturally explore different avenues of networking for new opportunities. One such source is the cross-referral. A powerful formula for success in lead generation outcomes and accelerating sales velocity is the proper use of cross-referrals and your CRM solution.

Cross-referrals are strategic agreements, whether formal or informal, between companies serving like markets to trade their clients’ contact information to the other for marketing their complimentary products or services. For instance, web designers may build referral resources from freelance writers, marketing and branding companies or web developers and other businesses that do things that the designers don’t, but offer complimentary services to their end-customers.

Cross-referrals are a great way to use free, word of mouth advertising though referral agreements may not always be free. There will be some arrangements where a commission can be earned based on a prearranged percentage or a flat-rate referral fee; but many startups are happy to give free referrals in return for the same courtesy. While these referral arrangements may seem like promotional gold, you cannot always rely on other companies to sell you to their customers. There may never be more than a passing comment made to the occasional client. If you are relying heavily on referrals from others, you need to make a change in your approach. While paid referral agreements may offer more of an incentive, it is your responsibility to provide your referral sources with adequate materials to help them promote your business.

Some ideas include:

Professional-looking brochures and business cards that contain your website, contact information, and a blurb about your services or products. If the situation warrants, you can regularly provide referral sources with discount offers and coupons they can pass along to their own clients that are exclusive to referral clients or customers

Promotional items such as pens and magnets that can be passed along to others.

Say Thanks

When the referrals do begin to come in, make sure your cross-referring business partners know how much you appreciate them. Courtesy thank you notes are crucial after referrals made bring you business. Keep a stack of personalized thank you cards to drop in the mail after a referral pans out. You may consider a small gift basket of cookies or snacks to say thanks from time to time. A nice lunch meeting can also help reinforce your gratitude for the referral assistance. This is a great opportunity to leverage reciprocating for your cross-referrals and your CRM‘s power to manage the entire process.

Referrals Aren’t For Everyone

Don’t expect everyone to be open to engaging in free referrals. You can quickly become tiresome to others if you are constantly asking for help in getting business. You should have a strong marketing system in place, so that you aren’t relying exclusively on referrals for new business, making any referral that comes in icing on the cake. It is good practice to touch base with your cross-referring sources to keep them up to date on what is new with your business.

Remember – it’s a two way street, and you should be working as hard to make referrals to your cross-referring business partners as you expect them to in exchange. The more often you make referrals, the more likely the favor will be returned.

Don’t Forget Your Clients

One of your biggest resources for referrals may not be from other businesses. In fact, it is your clients’ praise that will warrant consistent word of mouth advertising for you. This is one of the reasons that excellent customer service is vital to your referral success. Clients who have consistently had a good experience with your company will be more than willing to spread the word to others who are in need of your product or service. While there is no obligation to reward these acts, you might provide something in return for their advertising on your behalf. The better you take care of the clients you already have, the more likely you are to expand your client base. For those clients who are particularly good to you, a token of appreciation like a gift basked of cookies or treats sometimes goes a longer way than a discount on a service or a referral commission, and it humanizes the relationship between you beyond a business one.

Referrals can be a great source of business for you, especially when you are just getting started. You cannot expect everyone to cooperate, but you certainly cannot be a wallflower when approaching the situation. Be direct but flexible – and always offer to return the favor.

Click here to learn how [contentblock id=company] can help you maximize cross-referrals and your CRM with our effective CRM Solutions for your business in [contentblock id=location].

What To Look For When Choosing An Online Data Storage Service

The days of keeping confidential business information locked in a metal filing cabinet are gone. Most businesses have most everything, from personnel files to client information and financial information, stored on their personal computers or computer network. What happens when your company runs out of storage space? Or, worse yet, what if your computer information is attacked by a virus, stolen, or damaged by a flood? Would you be able to quickly recover all of your important information and keep your company running smoothly? Online Data Storage Services are the answer.

Many companies find that keeping their own network running and up-to-date is expensive. In this economy, most companies are looking for ways to cut expenses in order to survive. There are many online data storage companies currently available, so if your business is looking for an online storage company, here are some questions that you need to ask:

What Features Do Online Data Storage Services Offer?

Look at what features the company offers in its basic package. Most online data storage services offer online file storage, backup services, remote access that allows you to access your data from anywhere in the world, the ability to file share with other employees in your office, and the ability to upload and download files.

How Secure are Online Data Storage Services?

Does the online data storage service offer any type of security? Businesses will want a service that offers file encryption, authentication, and password protection in order to keep your information secure. You may also want to know if they offer any type of tracking in the event of a security breach, as well as the ability to lock out former employees after they have left or been terminated. Also, businesses should inquire as to what type of backup plan the service offers in case of any unforeseen disasters such as a virus attack or fire.

Are Online Data Storage Services User-Friendly?

The service should be easy to learn and use, easy to access for the average employee, and not require a computer science degree. If the service is too difficult or complicated to use, look for another service.

How Much Do Online Data Storage Services Cost?

Is the service reasonably priced and does it fit into your company’s budget? Find out how much storage you get for the price.

Do Online Data Storage Services Offer Technical Support?

Even with the easiest to use service, you may one day have a question or a problem that you may not be able to resolve on your own. Does the service offer a customer service hotline, or chat support? Is it available 24/7, if needed?

Additionally, it is important to look for a well-established online storage service that has a stellar reputation. Online storage has many benefits for your company. A good service can be cost effective, offer better security, up-to-date software, and unlimited storage space.

Click here to learn how [contentblock id=company] can help you reduce your data security risk and bring you peace of mind with our Remote Online Data Storage Services for your business in [contentblock id=location].

Managed IT Services Providers Help You With Network Monitoring

Many small businesses rely on the networks within their organization. Can you imagine your business without the network which connects you to each of your team? Network monitoring is necessary for ensuring your network remains operational and functioning as it should in order for your business to carry out its daily activities.

What is Network Monitoring?

Network monitoring is a process which alerts business owners and key people to any problems that might occur over the network. It can also be used to keep track of supplies for printers, how much hard drive space is remaining and notify you when you’re running out of space, as well as software installations or uninstalls.

Network monitoring solutions can alert you when changes to the network require action, and assist you with the actions to ensure the problem is resolved quickly. Most problems with networks can be handled pro-actively, which means there is no need for the network to go “down”, or become unusable when the network is being monitored effectively.

You can also use quality network monitoring services to know when your software licenses are going to expire or contracts need renewing, as well as when to update various software programs with bug fixes to ensure everything is up to date and running as it should. Your antivirus software depends on your network to operate effectively.

Additionally, since your network only allows a limited amount of internet bandwidth for your entire staff to use, if one employee is hogging too much of that bandwidth, a traffic jam will form. Everyone trying to use the same network will experience decreased speed and a decrease in productivity but a network monitoring service can help you find bottlenecks as they happen and help to distribute the resources evenly across all users of the network.

Network Monitoring Outsourcing

For the majority of small or medium sized businesses, outsourcing the monitoring of your computer networks makes the most financial sense. If the network is not working, your business loses revenue and can’t operate. Training in-house staff to handle the network isn’t the best use of our time or resources.

Using Managed IT Services providers to handle network monitoring will save you time and money. Your network will have minimal to no down time, and no maintenance required on the part of yourself or staff members. This means you can focus your time on your daily business activities without worrying about the network that’s making it all possible.

Network Monitoring Services

Most small businesses require the following monitoring activities:

  • Monitoring Local Area Network data
  • Ping and trace route
  • Alerts to problems with the network

A Managed IT Services Provider will handle all aspects of monitoring your network, preventing most problems from occurring and providing solutions for any that do happen. For one monthly fee, a business can get all the information and alerts necessary, without having to train anyone in-house to know what to do in the event of every possible situation that can arise involving the network.

Click here to learn how [contentblock id=company] can help you reduce downtime with our 24x7x365 Network Monitoring Services for your business in [contentblock id=location].

Save Time and Money with Managed IT Services

If there is one thing most small businesses can agree on is that time equals money. Small business owners are in a position where they have to be a jack-of-all-trades, often spending most of their day wearing different hats. This is the nature of the small business and while expected is not always the best use of time. In order for a small business to be successful and remain competitive in an industry, there must be designated time for the owner to focus on growing and building the business. In many cases small businesses fail as a result of being unable to handle emergencies or other situations that are simply beyond the control and expertise of the owner. Leveraging Managed IT Services can help.

Any business that relies on technology, which covers almost every business operating today, can benefit from managed services. Managed services providers understand that not every business has the ability to pay for an internal IT department which can be very expensive yet necessary to ensure all aspects of technology are supported. Without this backup, many small businesses find themselves in a position where they have to foot a very expensive bill to recover from a disaster or emergency. In other situations, using out-of-date or ineffective technology is simply a waste of both time and money on the part of the small business.

Here we look at how small businesses can make the most of their time and money by hiring a managed services provider.

  • Focus on running the business- One of the major benefits of outsourcing your technology needs is that the owner and employees of the company can focus 100% on their individual duties to keep the business moving in the right direction. This is the most valuable use of time for all parties involved, instead of hours or even days lost when trying to deal with technological issues that in house employees are not trained to handle.
  • Offer expert advise – There are many small businesses that simply do not know what they need to improve the functionality of their business. The old adage, “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” does not apply in all cases. By consulting with a managed services provider you may discover areas of your business which can be improved that you previously thought were working “just fine”. Expert advice may be able to help you improve the efficiency of your business while positioning you better within the industry.
  • Support when you need it – Managed IT Services Providers are not only there in the event of an emergency or recovery, but also provide monitoring which can invaluable in preventing problems before they can impact the business.

It is important for every small business to carefully examine their technical needs in order to see what services will be most beneficial to the company. Managed IT Services Providers can offer services that not only reduce technology costs over time but also improves functionality which in turn saves time. When this balance is achieved a small business is in the perfect position to thrive and grow.

Click here to learn how [contentblock id=company] can help you save time and money with our Managed IT Services for your business in [contentblock id=location].

 

Can Small Businesses Afford Managed IT Services Providers?

When determining the affordability and ROI of engaging with Managed IT Services Providers, small business owners often find themselves in a position of trying to balance a limited budget while making sure they have the proper tools to grow their business. It is a challenge many business owners face, in that they recognize the need for additional products or services that will allow their business to continue to thrive. However. funds may be in short supply to achieve these goals. This is especially true today, when small business owners find financial institutions less willing to extend credit in the current economy.

Faced with this challenge, many small business owners are forced to make difficult decisions as to where they can afford to spend money to improve their business. One of the areas in which business owners are on the fence is whether or not hiring a managed services provider is something they can afford. In some cases the cost is not worth the benefits, however there are many situations where cutting costs will end up costing you more money in the long run. Here are a few reasons why managed service providers may be more affordable than the alternative.

Technology – In order to be competitive in this day, small businesses must remain up-to-speed with current technology. The amount of money invested in this area can be quite large, making it necessary to ensure you have someone in your corner who can help manage and support the technology used in your business. While the average person is becoming increasingly well versed in the use of basic technology, there remains a need for experts in the industry to ensure your business can stay up and running on a daily basis as well as in the event of a natural or man made emergency.

Internal IT – Larger corporations have the budget necessary to support an internal IT department that provides expertise and support of the technology used by the company. Small businesses do not have the same resources and often find themselves either without backup or paying a high price when they have to bring in an outside expert.

Services provided by MSP’s- When a small business enlists the help of a managed service provider, they will agree to a contract which covers specific services at a specific price. This allows the the small business owner to see upfront what they are paying for and how it will work in the budget. Some of the services provided by msp’s include; computer and server support, data backup and disaster recovery, network security, custom software solutions, remote network monitoring and technology evaluation and planning. Depending on the business these services can be customized to meet the specific needs of the client, making it possible to reduce costs in certain areas.

There are many reasons why a small business owner might feel managed services providers are not something they can afford. Unfortunately the services provided are often not realized until there is an emergency, where small business owners quickly discover the amount of money spent to “fix” a problem or recover from a disaster is much more expensive than planning for it in the first place. In this case it is not a matter of if you can afford manages services, rather if you can afford NOT to have them.

Click here to learn how [contentblock id=company] can help you save on IT costs with our Managed IT Services for your business in [contentblock id=location].

 

 

When Is Your Business Ready For Managed IT Services?

If you are a small business owner and considering whether or not Managed IT Services will benefit your company, the answer is almost always- yes. There is little doubt that most small businesses can benefit from Managed IT Services, yet that in itself does not always justify the cost of bringing on a third party provider. Accepting that Managed IT Services Providers can offer solutions to common problems found in small business operation, the real question is: when does it make sense to switch from in house IT solutions to the next level which includes Managed IT Services?

There is a good chance if you are already considering Managed IT Services the time might be near when you are ready to make the switch. Small business owners do not have the luxury of a never ending IT budget, therefore it is very important to recognize when your current IT management is no longer cost effective. For most small businesses this occurs when the business grows to the point of needing either a contract with a local service provider who is “on call” for IT needs or hiring a full time IT person to remain on staff. There is of course another option for small business owners to consider and that is hiring a Managed IT Services Provider to oversee their IT needs.

If you are still unsure that your business is ready for the switch, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you find IT costs are continually increasing?
  • Is it difficult to find and retain quality IT staff?
  • Is your network and workstation performance and speed decreasing?
  • Are your employees spending more time dealing with IT issues than focusing on job they have been hired to perform?
  • Do you have problems with viruses, spyware and other security issues that could threaten the confidentiality of proprietary information?
  • In the event of a natural or man-made disaster, would your network be at risk? Would recovery be a concern?
  • Do you find network downtime is increasing?

If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, then your business is ready for Managed IT Services.

Now that you have determined Managed IT Services are right for your business, the next challenge is finding the right provider of these services. This is a decision that should not be made lightly or rushed as the wrong provider can end up costing your company more money than your current situation. Before you begin the search for a Managed IT Services Provider you should first consider your IT budget as well as issues or problems you want to be addressed. It is important to remember that Managed IT Services are not a one-size-fits-all type of solution to business problems. Each business and industry has their own issues to contend with and a qualified Managed IT Services Provider will work with you to find the solutions that will benefit your company the most. If a potential provider is more intent on selling you services and not listening to the needs of your business, move on to another provider who is willing to listen to your concerns and offer customized solutions that address these needs. The point of outsourcing your IT management is to save money while freeing up time to focus on other business operations. For this reason it pays to put forth the effort to find the best Managed IT Services Provider to oversee your technology needs.

Click here to learn how [contentblock id=company] can help you benefit from Managed IT Services for your business in [contentblock id=location].

Do Managed Printing Services Save Money for Small Businesses?

In a struggling economy, business owners look for new ways to reduce their expenses to save money and resources in order to remain competitive. Could managed printing services offer financial and time savings for a small business?

Small business owners are in a good position to save money and benefit most through managed printing services, since they have a lower profit margin compared to their overhead expenses than larger businesses do. When a printer isn’t working effectively in a small business environment, one of the owners, managers or employees must spend time on the phone with an IT specialist trying to troubleshoot the cause of the printer or copier malfunction; as well as find a solution to get it up and running again. When this person is tied up for a long period of time, the business loses the money that would have been made during that time period.

What are Managed Printing Services?

Managed Print Service providers (MPS) monitor your printers and copiers actively from a remote location. They can predict where problems may occur and often prevent it from happening. They work with small businesses to implement plans to identify excessive spending in printers, copiers, and supplies, and to increase productivity by setting up a plan for which type of documents go to which printers in your organization.

Managed printing service providers will also make sure you always have the right amount of ink and paper supplies on hand, which means you will no longer have a closet full of supplies that are never used or run out of the paper you need in the middle of a printing project.

Advantages of Managed Printing Services

In addition to the financial savings gained by small business owners utilizing managed printing services, there are additional advantages of convenience and control. As a small business owner, your time is spent operating and managing the daily activities of your business – there is a good chance that you are unaware how much time and money is wasted on printer or copier related activities. Activities like troubleshooting printers that aren’t working properly; using double the amount of paper necessary because you haven’t learned to use the “print on both sides” option of the printers; and the time spent ordering and processing purchase orders and invoices for toner and paper supplies.

If you upgrade to more efficient and productive printers and copiers, you can also factor in energy efficiency costs of the newer equipment compared to your current, older equipment, and see the cost savings skyrocket.

When you have an MPS provider handling your printing and copying needs, you won’t lose one of your key employees (or yourself!) hours on the phone trying to troubleshoot problems – this is most likely your biggest area of savings in both financial resources and time.

The convenience associated with having an expert handling your business printer and copier needs also means no one on your staff needs to worry about ordering supplies. If there are equipment problems or malfunctions, an expert will fix them for you because it is the responsibility of a managed print services provider.

Cost will be inevitably cut with all of those changes listed above when you let the experts handle these things for you. The end result will be an efficient office when you cut expenses on paper, ink or toner, lower your electricity use and improve employee productivity.

You can reduce your overhead expenses with a managed printing services provider, as well as take back some of your time resources and increase productivity.

Click here to learn how [contentblock id=company] can help you save on printing costs with our Managed Printing Services for your business in [contentblock id=location].

5 Reasons to Implement a Managed IT Services Solution

Information Technology services are essential to the success of every organization, large or small. With increasingly competitive business environments, CEOs and small business owners are under great pressure to maintain a highly qualified staff and to make sure their technology is obtaining a better ROI than their competitors’.

These goals are not easily achieved, particularly for young or small businesses with less financial resources and time available. Having your own successful information technology department can eat up too much of the company’s budget and time resources, and eventually cause a loss of its competitive edge. These disadvantages of maintaining an in-house IT department are why companies of all sizes have turned to using managed service providers to either assist their existing IT department or become their virtual IT department, handling all of the technology involved in keeping their businesses running at optimal levels.

The benefits of using a managed IT services solution are numerous, but the top 5 benefits of managed services for business include:

  1. Benefit from the expertise of a specialist, without having to spend time and financial resources training your staff to become experts
  2. Decrease your technology risks with Managed IT Services. Your company doesn’t have to worry about losing and trying to replace trained staff members, or about repairing, implementing or replacing complex technology solutions with Managed IT Services
  3. Enjoy access to the most up-to-date, sophisticated technology solutions without having to invest in expensive equipment.
  4. Experience ultimate control over your business technology without having to manage an information technology department. This gives you the time you need to focus on what you do best: your business functions.
  5. Reduce stress and improve efficiency of your staff. When you make good use of Managed IT Services resources, your staff isn’t tied up with IT concerns and they have more time to focus on tasks that are productive for the business.

Click here to learn how [contentblock id=2 img=gcb.png] can help you benefit from managed IT services in [contentblock id=1 img=gcb.png].