Do you run your own business and try to handle all your IT yourself, or do you allocate responsibility to a single member of staff?
Many employers hit brick walls when it comes to introducing new technology within their business and this usually comes in the form of staff, often the IT department themselves, who have a resistance to change.
Employees are often swayed by the many myths about new and rapidly changing technologies and as an employer you often have the difficult task of changing their perceptions. From experience, Office 365 often has negative “perceptions” attached to it.
As a Microsoft Cloud Partner PearceIT we thought we would help you to bust a few of these myths so you can then use the information to break down any barriers your staff may have!
Myth #1: Office 365 is only available online.
the platform is conceptually web-based, but it is able to be used offline, depending on the plan adopted. Office Desktopclient, OneDrive for Business and Office for iPad or Androidallow users to access their corporate data whilst offline.
Myth #2: Data in the Cloud is not secure
Cybercrime is headline news but keeping information in the Cloud is no more insecure than leaving it floating around the office! In actual fact Microsoft invests enormous amount of expert personnel, time and money into ensuring that Cloud security is un-breached.
Office 365 has multi-layer security and a dedicated threat management taken to a level that no private company could replicate. All data stored in Office 365 is encrypted both in transit and at rest. Enhanced protection is achieved through multi-factor authentication, rights management and mobile device management technologies.
Also Office 365 has a 99.9% service level agreement (SLA) / guarantee and Microsoft’s data centres meet the latest privacy standards, such as HIPAA, FISMA and ISO 27001. Note: details can be found at the Office 365 Trust Centre.
Myth #3: Everything has to be moved to the Cloud
Not true! It is unlikely that any business would want to move all of their data at the same time – this would put a lot of pressure on all employees not just the IT department!
Most implementation starts with a hybrid approach, moving one application (for example, email) at a time and expanding form there. The Cloud is a consistent platform allowing an organisation to control the ebb and flow and respond to its own business demands.
Myth #4: Moving to the Cloud is too big a task for my business
Yes it’s a daunting prospect but PearceIT provides support and suggested routes for all businesses – regardless of size and complexity. We can advise on everything from firewall configurations, to reverse proxy requirements, to identity options and to the use of existing tools and processes!
Myth #5: It’s expensive!
Actually, Office 365 is reasonably priced with the average cost-per-user falling between £3.33 and £15.00 per month (depending on the plan option). For example, considering elements such as data storage, access and licenses for all products included in a plan, moving in the Cloud can offer high percentage savings over a similar on-premises solution. Many IT departments assume that hosting everything internally and paying for software upfront will prevent recurring fees, however because Office 365 offers pricing structures it means solutions can be more cost-effective and scalable. For example, savings can immediately be realised due to the lack of software upgrade fees and daily maintenance!
PearceIT understands that many businesses are often over-awed by the technical jargon, are influenced by the naysayers and put off by the seemingly complex processes involved in adopting a new IT strategy. To this end PearceIT can confidently recommend the structure and capability offered by the pre-packaged, instantly available and eminently scalable Cloud. Also, with no capital investment it is an option that is friendly to accountants and partners alike.
PearceIT is a Microsoft Cloud Partner and can provide the full migration of business IT to the Cloud – from design to implementation, as well as offering remote support and hosted application services.
Want to know more? Give us a call on 01452 222 000
As you may have seen in the press recently, Cyber Crime has been at the forefront of focus for many businesses. Not only are the large enterprises being affected by cyber-crime, there are thousands of small and medium businesses being affected just like yours.
With the recent outbreak, you may have seen how whole networks can become infected with an unwanted application.
At Pearce IT, we pride ourselves in keeping abreast of the latest technology and making sure this is correct for your business. With that in mind, every product or solution we advise on always has Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity at its forefront. With our partnership with both Microsoft and ESET, we have a zero % infection rate to date of customers being contaminated by these exploits.
So, should the unexpected happen we are always available to make sure we can get your business back up and running with the minimum downtime.
Here are some basic steps you can take to reduce your risk.
- Make sure your windows updates are enabled – by default we enable this setting on everything we supply.
- Make sure you are using a brand leading antivirus – by default, we recommend and install ESET Antivirus. They are a many award winning antivirus provider with software which will cover Mac’s, PC’s, and Android Tablets, including cross-contamination of these. Home use or free antiviruses are available however we have found these do not offer the cover required nor are free versions to be used in a commercial environment.
- Secure Online Backup – This needs to be UK based for compliance both for GDPR and speed of recovery. – We offer full UK hosted backup which can be quickly and easily restored. Backup and cost as little as £5 a month.
- Be cautious of emails you receive. – Just because you recognise the name of the user doesn’t mean it necessarily from them. If in doubt with websites, hold your mouse over the link to check whether the link name is the same as the address disclosed. If different, this is usually the case of a fraudulent email.
Want to make sure you have everything covered?
Please give us a call on 01452 222000, to speak to myself or a member of the team where we can talk through your concerns and make sure everything is covered to reduce your risk from attack and data loss as much as possible.
Pearce IT are also a member of the Cyber Club helping businesses like your stay safe online and helping to reduce the likely hood to be at risk from the exploits of others.
For information, direct from the National Cyber Security Centre please visit https://www.ncsc.gov.uk
Whether you are a home-based business, a one-man/woman band or you employ a team of people there is a telephone system that can revolutionise your business – that system is VOIP.
VOIP (Voice over IP) uses the Internet rather than traditional, labour intensive telephone lines to transmit phone calls and brings many benefits to business owners.
I am being asked a lot about the benefits of VOIP and I thought I would share some of the ways I believe it can revolutionise YOUR business.
Cost is just one of the benefits of VOIP. VOIP is cheaper than traditional land-lines and utilises the technology that you are undoubtedly already using and paying for – the Internet. No new connections need to be installed and there are no high call costs.
#2 Flexible Working
Do your colleagues work in different offices or different locations? With a VOIP phone system you can put calls through to any destination and have your phones ring on multiple phones, all setup through a simple web browser.
#3 Call Screening
Increase productivity by only taking the calls that you need to. Imagine how satisfying it will feel to ignore and disconnect those annoying ‘can’t take no for an answer’ sales calls. Prioritise calls and choose which go through to your well-crafted answer phone message. This ensures you are not distracted from what you are working on and taken off on an unnecessary tangent – remember your time is very valuable too.
#4 You Decide Who Is Connected With You and When
This is a must-have feature for those of us who aren’t in front of our desks all of the time. Call twining lets you create a list of people and numbers that get redirected to another number (i.e. your mobile) before your business number voice-mail kicks in. You can set the number of ring times before the call divert is implemented and the number of different numbers the call is diverted to before voice-mail eventually is received. Make it easy for those important clients to reach you wherever you are.
#5 Voice-mail to Email
It is not always easy to discreetly check your voice-mail using your mobile, however with the rise of the SMART phone and accessibility to email wherever we are you can have flexible and easy access to all of your messages. VOIP will send your voice-mail messages straight through to your inbox allowing you to listen to them anywhere you are.
#6 Make It Easy For Your Callers To Speak To EXACTLY Who They Need To
VOIP’s auto attendant feature is one of the most useful for larger companies. I call it the electronic receptionist! Callers are able to interact with a selected menu of extensions appropriate to your business. Again you set the extensions and messages so you get a completely unique service that represents your business exactly how you want it to. And if that isn’t enough you can create a call plan to set the times of day that calls are routed to who and where you wish.
#7 Do Not Disturb
This feature does exactly what it says on the tin…set it when you are in meetings, focusing on an important piece of work or just having a five-minute breather to recharge. You can programme the Do Not Disturb Feature so your callers do not feel unloved and ignored and direct them to another destination or your voice mail.
#8 Business Continuity
You will remember last month we focused on the importance of being open for business and business continuity. VOIP is an essential risk management tool that will enable you to transfer your telephone services instantly should the worse ever happen – you just plug your handset into another network socket in any location and you are good to go. This will not only keep you accessible to your customers and allow you to maintain a service for them but will also enable you to make all those calls that will be needed to get your business back up and running. As well as this any amendments can be made to your call plan by simply logging into your online portal and making those changes live.
Call me on 01452 222000 for a no obligation quote and find out how VOIP can benefit your business from only £13.49 including unlimited 01/02 numbers.
Investing in IT services and solutions can be a daunting task. Every business, whether large or small, needs to keep abreast of the fast-changing world of technology but that obviously costs money.
So how can you ensure you get a great return on your IT investment? Just as a lot of businesses need IT support, there are also a lot of IT companies out there to choose from!
So how do you ensure you choose the right one? To help, we thought we would share our list of ten top things to consider when engaging an IT Company.
1. Try them out first! Make sure you benefit from an initial “no obligation” appointment during which you can discuss your ideas, concerns and business goals within the context of IT support and strategy.
2. Make sure they communicate well. The need for “good communication skills” seems to be a pre-requisite for any job application and it’s the same when investing in IT support and solutions. Make sure the company uses plain, down-to-earth language and avoids ‘tech-speak’ as much as possible.
3. Find out how they will keep you informed. Will they readily answer all of your questions? Will they keep you informed every step of the way? Poor communication can lead to misunderstandings, possibly a finished job you may not be happy with and even unwelcome surprises on the final bill. Discover what the company does to avoid this scenario!
4. How quick will they respond? What do their service level agreements say about response times? Does the company provide remote and on-site support? How can you contact the company – by telephone, by email, through online ‘chat’ or social media? You want to know that you have back up should something go wrong or help is needed and that you can contact the company in a variety of different ways.
5. Find out about their team. A company is only as good as the people it employs – do they have a great team of hard-working, dedicated and enthusiastic people who are all friendly, warm and personable?
6. What accreditation do they hold? Are all the staff fully trained and do they have the right knowledge and skills? What accreditation do they have that verifies their level of service and support?
7. Find out who’s talking about them. Can they provide genuine customer testimonials and case studies? Can they give you details of existing clients who you can contact yourself for references?
8. How long have they been established? Is their reputation well founded? Do they have a proven track record of supplying business solutions in your area?
9. Do they have the necessary clearance? If your business is an educational establishment or a care-home, does the company have the necessary DBS/ CRB clearance? In addition, your chosen IT company may have access to your company records, files and financial information – are they compliant with specific industry regulations such as data protection. And whilst you’re at it, find out what level of insurance they hold.
10. Do they offer an iron-clad guarantee? Are they confident enough in their services to offer a written guarantee? If they do, does this apply not only to the normal product [hardware/software] warranty but also to the installation and on-going service level agreements?
Next time you’re looking for IT solutions or support, go armed with these ten tips in mind. And if you want to make it a really easy search then why not give us a call because PearceIT already score 10/10 in all these areas!
PearceIT is justifiably proud of its long-standing and good reputation for doing IT really, really well. We are very proud of our track-record of solving complex issues and providing continuous improvements and business solutions for all of our clients.
Top 5 Technology Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Tips
At PearceIT we are passionate about technology and this month we are sharing with you our Top 5 Technology Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Tips to make sure you are always open for business.
#1 Reliance on Data – How long can your business survive without any access to your data? Minutes, hour, days? Depending on your requirements there are a variety of solutions which can help you to get back to work with the minimum of downtime (if any).
#2 Security – Do you know how safe is your data is? If you are still using External Hard Drives or USB sticks you may be at risk and need to consider your options seriously. Data on these devices is easily accessible after theft as well as being a single point of failure. Do you send un-encrypted e-mails to your customers or store personal data on your PC’s? The Data Protection Act insists that all personal data is held in a secure form and many institutions insist on this data being held in an EU or UK only datacentre.
How secure is your WIFI? Do you have a secure password to enter to log onto your Wi-Fi and do you give these details out to any contractors or staff for their personal devices? Corporate Wi-Fi should be kept for corporate use only. If personal devices are to be used then we would always recommend a separate guest Wi-Fi is used.
#3 Business Continuity – There is a common misconception that this is the same as disaster recovery but there are key differences. Business continuity is essential to those customers who can’t afford downtime for a single point of failure in any system. If your data is held on a single PC on a single site what would happen if there was a fire/data/breech/hardware failure? Can you access the same data on another device? Is this automatically replicated? Can you continue to provide the same service to your clients without the data or information being available to you? We would like to share an important case study with you that shows business continuity in action. You can read it here.
#4 Telecommunications – The big what if… Whether it’s the man with the JCB who cuts through your cables or your building suddenly becomes inhabitable would you still be able answer your clients calls and be open for business? Do you have the facility to have your calls diverted to another device? Do they automatically failover to mobiles? Can they be remotely diverted in the event of failure. Do your critical answerphone messages come through on e—mail to your smart phone? VOIP phones (Voice Over Internet Protocol) enable this to happen and is one of our recommended solutions to ensure your business can still function should the worst happen.
#5 Printing – If your printer broke down would you have a business break down? For many of our clients such as GP Surgeries, School and Garages the ability to print information for clients and customers is essential. If you are printing more than 2 reams of paper per month not only can we save you on your printing costs but should your printer break down we can ensure that it can be replaced or fixed the next day.
Act Now: Call us today if you have any concerns that your data is not as secure or regulated as you would like it or it needs to be.. We can arrange a FREE no-obligation consultation to assess your requirements to make sure everything your business needs is available to you.
As Bill Gates said “Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don’t think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without the talking about the other” … and he should know!
There is no argument that whatever the size of business and whatever sector it is in, it will rely on some aspect of information technology. From computers, telephones and messaging services to networks and servers, from point-of-sale tills and security systems to websites, emails and social media, all businesses will rely on some of these if not all.
Technology is essential to every business as part of its infrastructure and many are becoming even more reliant upon it with the growing influence and importance of social media and online merchandising.
It is therefore very important for businesses to recognise the need to keep their IT up to date. Of course, a business has its own specialisation and focus and cannot necessarily be an expert in all-things-technological too. It’s not possible to know everything, but it is possible to stay up to date in your own particular niche and that’s where PearceIT comes in!
As an IT company with authority and knowledge across a broad spectrum, PearceIT is able to provide expert advice on a number of technological areas – from IT strategy and solutions to integrated internet and email systems to disaster recovery and business continuity and IT support (on-site and remotely).
PearceIT recommends that you consider the following reasons for keeping abreast of technological advances and recognise that it is an on-going job which will, ultimately, prove its initial worth and investment:
• Technology empowers companies to grow faster, produce better products and serve customers more effectively.
• IT connects a workforce and its customer
• IT analyses data and allows products to be manufactured precisely.
• Faster and newer IT contributes to giving a business a competitive edge.
PearceIT recommends that every business:
1. Develops an IT Strategy that defines the role that technology performs within the organisation. An IT budget should be allocated as once the strategic role that IT plays within an organisation is defined then the search for solutions is easier to identify and manage.
2. Centralises its IT hardware and software capability as much as possible so that all departments (eg sales, accounts and logistics) are ‘singing from the same song-sheet’. This will improve communications and customer service across the board. PearceIT is able to advise on technologies that benefit the entire company, not simply ones that assist in day-to-day opportunities.
3. Limits some IT expenditure by using their own tech-savvy employees! For example, when a new mobile device is released there are likely to be a number of employees willing to test the device and to give honest feedback.
The same can be said for new versions of existing software and computer hardware. This approach may appear to be ad hoc but will usually provide a good sense of the functionality and perils of new IT technologies – and will also engender a feeling of involvement and loyalty from the employee too. Alternatively, PearceIT will already have road-tested new technologies so can provide impartial advice as a matter-of-course!
4. Considers testing a new IT product within a singular department for a period of time before ‘rolling it out’ across the whole organisation. PearceIT can oversee this process, highlighting and analysing any problems or issues and enabling a smoother transition that will be easier to manage in the long-term.
5. Recognises the importance of keeping all their IT functions secure – which includes up-to-date anti-virus programming. However diligent an organisation thinks it is, invariably employees will install other applications (sometimes unwittingly!) and these can be linked to media players, games, web-browsers and can ‘infect’ the hardware. Sometimes ‘bugs’ or viruses can be inherent within ‘normal’ software and it is necessary for the application creators to release new versions – which need to be downloaded and installed to rectify any anomalies. PearceIT can assist as keeping your applications up-to-date is just as important as updating your operating system.
6. Gets its money’s worth! PearceIT is confident that by providing expert IT advice, in a timely and efficient manner, with approachable and friendly staff, all its customers can be sure of making the most of the IT investments made.
If you have any questions about how PearceIT can help you to ensure your IT is up to date then just give Liam and the team a call on 01452 222000.