Are you starting a startup or thinking of starting one? If so, you may want to strongly consider the cloud. Why consider the cloud? Well, for the typical reasons: time and money. And while you are considering the cloud, you might as well consider one of the top clouds in the world: Microsoft's Office 365. Microsoft was recognized by Gartner as a leader in cloud in the Magic Quadrant since 2014 (latest blog here: http://blogs.gartner.com/merv-adrian/2016/01/31/microsoft-in-40-gartner-magic-quadrants-january-2016/) and Microsoft's cloud, Office 365, can save you both time and money.
You Don't Have All the Time in the World
You are starting a business and time has become an even more precious commodity than it already was. There are only 24 hours in a day after time to eat, sleep, rest, and take care of yourself and loved one, the time in a day is short.
Consider the time it takes to start up an business. Time with paperwork as well as possible office space planning and setup and hiring people can be a big investment of time. Setting up the company IT infrastructure can also be a time huge investment but you can get some of that time back. Imagine getting the tools on an infrastructure that you don't have to setup, only have to subscribe to. Office 365 (Not to be confused with Office. Learn the difference here) contains all of these things that most startups (as well as established organizations) need:
Keep everyone in sync with professional, enterprise-grade email and shared calendars they can access at their desk or on the go. Get business-class email, shared calendars, 50 GB of storage space per user, and the ability to use your own domain name. Also, archiving and legal hold capabilities, plus unlimited storage on the E3 plan.
Ask Yourself: Are you thinking of using Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, or the like for your organization? Doesn’t look too professional, right? You may be getting some business at first but there are a lot of people who will not take you seriously if you are using a consumer email address. How much does standalone email cost? Can you afford to give all of your staff email? What about the other tools you need?
Skype for Business (Formally Lync. Not to be confused with Skype. Learn the difference here.)–
Connect immediately or set up and host online meetings for up to 250 people with multi-party HD video conferencing, real-time note taking, and screen sharing. Connect to Skype user and hold meetings with people who don’t have Lync, Skype, or Skype for Business.
Ask Yourself: Are you thinking about paying for WebEx, GoToMeeting, or the like? If so, how much will it cost you? Are you having to share accounts? Did you know that you can get two E3 and one E1 subscription of Office 365 for the same price as one WebEx account?
Collaborate with teammates, partners, and customers with documents that are always up to date and accessible from almost anywhere. Have the ability to create separate sites for different purposes. Share documents and so much more like project management, dashboards, online forms, and automated workflow in a 1 TB shared space that can be as large as 25 TB. And it is permission based so you can invite those who need to be.
Ask Yourself: Have you wanted wanted/needed to share documents and make sure everyone can get to the latest and greatest? Planning to you use a fileserver but concerned about how it is hard can be to navigate and know which is the latest and greatest files? How about automating paper forms and slow workflow processes? Considering a product like Basecamp? How much does that cost?
OneDrive for Business (Not to be confused with OneDrive. Learn the difference here.) –
1TB of personal storage they can access from anywhere and that syncs with their PC, Mac, and mobile devices. Easily share files internally and externally and control who sees and edits them. You can also use co-authoring so that you and your team can work on a document at the same time.
Ask Yourself: Is your data backed up? What if my computer goes down tomorrow? If you are considering DropBox or the like, how much will it costing you?
Microsoft Office Professional or Professional Plus desktop applications (depending on subscription level) -
Subscription to Office Pro or Pro Plus for up to 5 PCs/Macs and 5 mobile devices per user. Office Professional Plus includes Word, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, and InfoPath.
Ask yourself: How much of a capital expense is it for you to upgrade? Wouldn't it be great to have everyone on the same version of Office.
Site mailboxes – Store and share email and documents in project-specific folders, allowing for easier team collaboration.
Office Mobile – Don’t have a Windows phone? No worries. Access, edit, and view Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents on iPhones, iPads, and Android. Depends on subscription.
Office Web Apps – Create, store, edit, and share Office docs online for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.
Website – Market your business with a website that’s easy to set up and update via Wix or GoDaddy and get 50% off the first year.
Worry-free, continuous data backup to geo-redundant servers
Access securely from anywhere on any web connected device
Speaking of security, it is secure and compliant, all without you having to lift a finger. If you go to http://trustoffice365.com, you can read all about Microsoft's compliance, security, privacy and transparency measures. Namely, the following:
Service-level security through defense-in-depth
Customer controls within the service
Security hardening and operational best practices
Privacy by design
Your data is not used for advertising
You have extensive privacy controls
You can take your data with you when you want
Proactive processes to meet your compliance needs
Customer controls for organizational compliance
Independently verified to meet evolving standards
You know where your data resides and who has access
Visibility into availability and changes to the service
Financially backed guarantee of 99.9% uptime
Leveraging the cloud as your company's infrastructure can minimize some of the time you would spend setting it all up from scratch. And speaking of time…
Time is Money
Time is money so saving time is equal to saving money. The less time you spend setting those parts up the more time you can devote to other things and the less money you have to devote at your payrate or at your IT person's payrate to do something that is already done. Why recreate the wheel? Check out this blog and this whitepaper for a more in-depth look at the return on investment (ROI) that Office 365 offers.
Images from: https://sadasystems.com/blog/microsoft-solutions/office-365/blogmicrosoft-solutionsoffice-365the-five-pillars-of-office-365-roi/
Money is Money
So how much does it cost? Check this out!
Full Enterprise plans pricing chart with features: https://products.office.com/en-us/business/compare-more-office-365-for-business-plans
Full Business plans pricing chart here: https://products.office.com/en-us/business/compare-office-365-for-business-plans
When you take those costs and compare them to how much it would cost to buy the server, the Office software, tools that enable mobility and backup recovery, tools for collaboration for each of your employees, you can easily see the cost savings. So get Microsoft's cloud, Office 365, and watch your ROI grow!
Need help calculating the ROI, the TCO (total cost of ownership), and/or a demo or Office 365? Need to talk this through more? We understand and are here to help. Reach out to us at email@example.com and we will happily answer your questions. We can also work with you to bring Microsoft Office 365, Azure, and SharePoint as well as this and other solutions to your organization. To learn more about how we help, please see our website at www.cartermcgowanservices.com.
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Being smart in business is critical to the success of your business. You are smart but what if you could be smarter? Business Intelligence is a phrase coined in 1865 by Richard Millar Devens in the ‘Cyclopædia of Commercial and Business Anecdotes’ (from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_intelligence>). Business intelligence or BI is can be defined as:
"a technology-driven process for analyzing data and presenting actionable information to help corporate executives, business managers and other end users make more informed business decisions. BI encompasses a variety of tools, applications and methodologies that enable organizations to collect data from internal systems and external sources, prepare it for analysis, develop and run queries against the data, and create reports, dashboards and data visualizations to make the analytical results available to corporate decision makers as well as operational workers" (from < http://searchdatamanagement.techtarget.com/definition/business-intelligence> ) .
Being that data is "the new currency" due to the power it can give you and your business, it literally "pays" to have business intelligence.
MICROSOFT'S POWER BI
If you know me, my company, or just read most of my blogs, you know that my company is a Microsoft partner and, as such, I will be writing this article from the angle of Microsoft's Power BI. Just so you know.
Microsoft's Power BI is a business intelligence set of tools, based on the cloud. This business analytics service gives you and your team a single view of all your business data that can be customized into rich visuals. Power BI is a powerful way to get that "one source of truth".
OH, THE POWER!
Say you have data in spreadsheet that are flat and not easy to digest quickly. You can take that spreadsheet, import it into Power BI , and create a beautiful and easily consumable report. You can also manipulate the data in different ways and display those different ways on a dashboard. You may be thinking to yourself that you can create visualizations in Excel itself and you can but sharing them easily from one place, especially as things change, can be way easier using Power BI. After you publish the dashboard, people can "go to" the data, without having the send the file around and the data can be refreshed as well.
Also, unlike sharing the Excel files around, Power BI has native apps for iPad, iPhone, and Windows devices and users can receive alerts to important changes in the data as well as have the ability to share and collaborate with colleagues and take action. Users also have the ability to query the data using Natural Query Language.
Better yet, imagine being able to connect to you data from multiple sources, manipulate/combine it, and be able to put that on a dashboard and/or create reports that are also beautifully visual and provide a compelling story of data. Well, you can with Power BI since connects to a variety of data sources across both cloud and on-premises sources!
These sources include:
Popular SaaS solutions, such as Dynamics CRM, Zendesk, Marketo, Salesforce, GitHub, and others,
Live connectivity to On-premises databases such as SQL Server Analysis Services, and using a gateway solution, other database solutions.
Azure services such as SQL Azure and Stream Analytics (more Azure services will be integrated over time)
Even better yet, there are content packs which consist of pre-built dashboards, reports, data models, embedded queries, and metadata for sources such as Zendesk, MailChimp GitHub, etc. that can be used to publish and share data AND organizations can create their own from use across the organization.
What's more, you can use the online version of Power BI and/or download the desktop version. You can also publish and import data between the two.
Data sources via the Power BI Desktop are as follows:
SQL Server Database
SQL Server Analysis Services Database
IBM DB2 Database
Microsoft Azure SQL Database
Microsoft Azure Marketplace
Microsoft Azure HDInsight
Microsoft Azure Blob Storage
Microsoft Azure Table Storage
Hadoop File (HDFS)
Dynamics CRM Online
SAP Business Objects BI Universe
THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING…
Have Office 365 for your organization? Nice! You can:
Create groups in Power BI service
Share dashboards and reports by work group
Navigate from Power BI to other Office 365 workloads
GREAT BUT HOW CAN I WIELD THIS POWER?
You can start by signing up and you can do so for FREE! Go to powerbi.com to get some power for your very own. You can also get the Power BI Desktop version for free as well. As stated in an article by Oliver Rist, Business Editor at PCMag:
" … unlike most of the other BI tools in this review roundup, there is a lot that you can do with the free version before you have to pony up any cash. The free version isn't time-limited but you are limited to 1 GB per user of data to analyze. ( From <http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2494375,00.asp>).
Need MORE power? Go to https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/ for more info and pricing.
If you have Office 365 E3 or greater, you already have the power!
SOURCES AND REFERENCES
Microsoft's Power BI Products page: https://business.microsoft.com/en-us/products/power-bi
PCMag article - http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2494375,00.asp
Power BI Ideas - https://ideas.powerbi.com/forums/265200-power-bi-ideas
Learn via Learn tab - https://powerbi.microsoft.com/ (walkthroughs, videos, blogs, and more)
Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_intelligence
Need help or a demo? Need to talk this through more? We understand and are here to help. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will happily answer your questions. We can also work with you to bring Microsoft Office 365, Azure, and SharePoint as well as this and other solutions to your organization. To learn more about how we help, please see our website at www.cartermcgowanservices.com.
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Have clients that you need to share data with… documents, schedules, reports, etc.? More than likely, the answer is YES. Even 501c3 nonprofits have clients in the communities they serve and in the sponsors that support them. Whether your organization is a for-profit or nonprofit, you may want to think about sharing in the cloud, using SharePoint Online. It can make your work a bit easier.
How you ask? Well, imagine a secure, online portal where you and your clients can:
Pick up and drop off documents for collaboration, sign off, and/or review
Track tasks completed or waiting for action and can be connect them to your Outlook
Keep track of events and/or important dates using a shared calendar that can be connected to your Outlook calendar
Generate reports and publish them to a dashboard and/or save for historical purposes
Automatically be notified via email when things change, like the upload of a document or the completion of a task
Post the contact information of key people
You can have a secure portal for each of your clients and, since the portals are permission based, you can control access to each portal, ensuring access to only those with a "need to know". You can have specialized portals for each client or have a portal template that you can use to create a new portal easily for new clients.
Are you a 501c3 nonprofit? You can use these portals to stay of track with your sponsors and the community you serve! And, do you know the best thing? If you already have Office 365, you may already have SharePoint Online. You can give access to these portal to your clients for FREE. Don't have Office 365 yet? No worries there! You can get access to this capability PLUS get access to:
Exchange – Enterprise-grade email and shared calendars that your staff can access at their desk or on the go. Each person in your organization will get a 50 GB of mailbox and the ability to use your own domain name matching your website so your organization looks professional. No more Gmail or Yahoo mail for your business email. Also, there is the ability to add archiving, eDiscovery, and legal hold capabilities, plus unlimited storage on the E3 and E5 plans.
Skype for Business – Connect immediately or set up and host online meetings with multi-party HD video conferencing, real-time note taking, and screen sharing. Connect to Skype user and hold meetings with people who don't have Skype or Lync. No more spending money on GoToMeeting or WebEx! Each person in your organization can have their own account and it costs less.
SharePoint – Team sites you can use to collaborate with teams, partners, customers, and volunteers with documents that are always up to date and accessible from almost anywhere. It can also be used for workflow, online forms, dashboards, calendars, project management, and more! Also, eDiscovery on the E3 and E5 plans. You get 25 TBs of space. No more paying separately for BaseCamp.
Website – Market your business with a website that's easy to set up and to keep update using GoDaddy or Wix. Add your custom domain and matches your email. Get 50% off.
OneDrive for Business - Each person in your organization gets 1 TB of personal storage they can access from anywhere and that syncs with their PC. Easily share files internally and externally and control who views and edits them. No more paying separately for DropBox..
Office Mobile – Access, edit, and view Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents on iPhones, Android, and Windows. Each person gets the license to use on up to 5 of each device.
Office Web Apps – Create, store, edit, and share Office docs online for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote from any browser.
Microsoft Office Professional Plus desktop applications depending on the subscription. Your people will have the most recent version of Office for up to 5 PCs/Macs per user. Office Professional Plus includes Word, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, and InfoPath.
Set up quickly with easy-to-use services
Manage users and settings from a streamlined but powerful web portal
Built-in malware protection
Worry-free, continuous data backup to geo-redundant servers
99.9% financially-backed service level agreement
24/7 critical phone support from Microsoft
Support from your Microsoft Partner and Microsoft forum for non-critical issues (and options for more support and other add-ons)
Always up to date security, features, and services
Secure access secure from anywhere on any web connected device
The most commonly subscribed to Office 365 subscriptions, Business Premium, E1, and E3 only cost $12.50, $8, and $20 a user a month, respectively. For 501c3 nonprofits, the costs are $2.50, free, and $4.50 a user a month, respectively. You get so much value on the things all organizations need such as professional, business class email, online meeting capabilities, cloud storage for each member, and team portals without paying for multiple services or paying what can be a big, upfront cost for each member of your organization.
Have SharePoint on-premises? That's cool too! You can have the same client portals there too.
Need help or a demo? Need to talk this through more? We understand and are here to help. Reach out to us at email@example.com and we will happily answer your questions. We can also work with you to bring Microsoft Office 365 and SharePoint as well as this and other solutions to your organization. To learn more about how we help, please see our website at www.cartermcgowanservices.com.
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If you don't know already, there are 2 OneDrives: OneDrive and OneDrive for Business. Don't know why but like Skype and Skype for Business and Office and Office 365, Microsoft seems to love to keep up on our toes. Previously I wrote about the difference of Skype vs Skype for Business and Office vs Office 365 (check those articles out if you are wondering) and now it is OneDrive's turn.
The Main Difference
The main difference is where you log in. OneDrive is tied to your Microsoft (previously known as Live) account and OneDrive for Business (or as I and many Microsoft people and partners call it O4B) is ties to an Office 365 Business, not Home, subscription. That Office 365 Business subscription could be one that includes email, Skype for Business, SharePoint, the Office Webapps, and, possibly, Office Pro Plus or you can get one that is only OneDrive for Business and the Office Webapps.
Main Login Screen for OneDrive for Business via Office 365 (portal.office.om)
Main login for OneDrive via MSN (msn.com)
Also, For both You Can Use onedrive.live.com
Other Differences - Seeing is Believing
Another difference you can see is the way it looks when you login. This may not be forever but this is how both look at the point in time. Microsoft loves changing stuff based on user feedback and their own hunches on what they think would be helpful (at least, until the user base starts screaming anyway).
OneDrive Look and Feel
OneDrive for Business Look and Feel
Also, the sync clients for each are 2 different colors like the Skype and Skype for Business logo "S". The blue represents OneDrive for Business and the white represents OneDrive.
Other Differences - The Difference You Can Feel
When I say, you can feel the difference, I mean in your wallet and through the amount of storage you get. The first slot of the picture shows you the OneDrive plans available as they go up in price and storage space.
In the second slot of that same picture above, you can see that you can also get OneDrive as part of an Office 365 Home or Office 365 Personal subscription as seen in the picture below.
See the whole chart here: https://products.office.com/en-US/buy/office?legRedir=true&CorrelationId=b9c63379-1310-4713-9913-7ec9e9525bbd
For OneDrive for Business, you can get it standalone…
See the whole chart here: https://products.office.com/en-US/onedrive-for-business/compare-onedrive-for-business-plans
Or part of an Office 365 Business subscription in a variety of flavors such as Small Business…
See the whole chart here: https://products.office.com/en-US/onedrive-for-business/compare-onedrive-for-business-plans?tab=omac
See the whole chart here: https://products.office.com/en-us/business/compare-more-office-365-for-business-plans
Some Differences - Not So Obvious
Since OneDrive is the consumer version, it also connects to Xbox while OneDrive for Business, being the business version, has versioning management, built in standards compliance, SSO/ADFS/Directory sync support, audit and reporting capabilities, and advanced administrative control such as the ability to add retention policies and more.
And Never the Two Shall Meet
Ok, I admit it: Never is a strong word but, currently, there is no way to login into one from the other. They are separated and I think they will always be separated. It makes sense if you really think about it. I mean, you really wouldn't your personal stuff mingling with the business stuff that your organization's leadership (if you are not the leadership) can potentially have access to. Am I right?
So how do I decide? As with other things (ready for the consultant answer?), it depends. Depends on your needs and your wallet (and what you can safely get away with). I always strongly advise, in the case of OneDrive, that is you have a business, get a business plan. If you are leadership, you will want those controls in place just in case you need to use them!
Hopefully this has helped to clear up confusion but, if you still need more help, we understand and are here to help. Reach out to us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will happily answer your questions. We can also work with you to bring other solutions like company portals, business intelligence, workflow automation, social media, and email marketing to your organization.
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Now that you understand why you need a Mobile Device Management (MDM) strategy and how to define it - you can look forward to realizing the benefits it will deliver once implemented.
After all, the point of deploying a comprehensive MDM strategy is to help your employees stay securely connected to your company business anywhere, anytime. Small to medium-sized businesses that once thought they couldn’t afford to implement such a strategy now have affordable cloud-based solutions that make it possible.
That’s why the HP Touchpoint Manager is so attractive. Including this cost-effective solution in your MDM strategy enables you to quickly secure and manage all the device types used across your organization, regardless of physical location. Now it’s possible for you to easily protect your company data and recoup valuable management time and budget. That’s something SMBs can get excited about!
So what exactly can you expect in return for investing in a MDM strategy featuring HP Touchpoint Manager? We’ve recapped the top five benefits below.
Most companies are seeing the benefits of embracing a BYOD work environment (the cost savings alone make it worthwhile) but are struggling to secure it. Leveraging HP Touchpoint Manager in your MDM strategy enables you to secure all of the smartphones, tablets and desktops in your company network, regardless of operating system or provider. Now you can quickly enforce security policies across all device types through a single access point.
Many small businesses, non-profits and government agencies struggle to meet government compliance regulations across their entire network. HP Touchpoint Manager provides a central control point to update all devices and keep them compliant with required government regulations like SOX, HIPAA, etc.
As your mobile workforce grows, so will the number of smartphones, tablets and desktops in your company network. Ensuring your company data is accessed securely on-and off-premise is a real concern. HP Touchpoint Manager allows you to safeguard your proprietary data and monitor activity across all of the devices used to access it.
This is a key benefit of the HP Touchpoint Manager. Not only does this single solution eliminate the need to manage multiple applications—saving valuable IT staff time—HP Touchpoint Manager’s affordable subscription-based pricing enables even tiny businesses to realize big financial savings.
Access to HP Touchpoint Manager’s on-demand tools allows you to quickly find, wipe and lock devices, detect and address security threats in real-time and more. Decreasing manual effort and automating process will boost productivity across your entire organization.
Want to learn more about creating a MDM strategy and HP Touchpoint Manager? I’m here to help! Contact us <email@example.com > to get started.
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Now that you know why you need a MDM strategy in place, it’s important to identify the type of solutions you need in order to develop it. To do that you will need to evaluate all of your business needs, existing systems and future plans to ensure you are considering solutions that are capable of scaling to support your business growth.
Once you’ve determined your requirements, it’s time to look to the cloud for comprehensive solutions. I’ve highlighted the effectiveness of cloud-based solutions before—but I get really excited when I find advanced applications that don’t require enterprise-sized budgets. That’s why I’m a fan of the workhorse that is HP Touchpoint Manager. This powerful solution enables SMBs to reap the benefits of a MDM strategy, without breaking the bank.
The HP Touchpoint Manager is a featured component of successful MDM strategies because it easily secures and protects all of the devices in wireless networks through a single application. It is ideal for businesses with limited budgets and resources available to support it. Your IT staff can manage and enforce security policies instantly—across all device types in your mobile environment—through one easy-to-use interface.
The HP Touchpoint Manager also solves common problems, including:
Securing and managing all devices, across multiple operating systems and providers, from virtually anywhere
Tracking device health and enforcing security policies
Detecting and responding to issues in real-time
Locating a device instantly
Locking and wiping data instantly from lost or stolen devices—on-and off-premise
Remotely accessing and controlling users devices
This one-stop solution allows you to recoup valuable IT management time previously spent managing multiple applications. On-demand access enables your team to quickly resolve issues and address security threats in real-time. Subscription-based pricing empowers you to achieve greater cost predictability and reallocate valuable IT resources to more pressing customer-facing needs.
HP Touchpoint Manager was developed using cutting-edge technology, but made affordable to SMBs because of its flexible pricing model. That’s why I think it would be ideal in your MDM plan. My comprehensive training options will ensure you experience minimum downtime while you get up to speed on the best practices needed to utilize this solution to its full potential.
If you are looking to boost productivity and gain new efficiencies by implementing a comprehensive MDM strategy, contact me <firstname.lastname@example.org>. I can help identify and solve business challenges you may not even realize you have!
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A staggering 6 billion smartphones are forecasted to be in service by 2020, according to a recent Ericsson Mobility Report. No doubt a large portion of this number represents a growing population of professionals that bring their personal devices into the office. This greater mobility is making it difficult for businesses to secure and protect their data—especially with limited resources and budget.
Organizations that once simply reimbursed employee mobile phone expenses are now scrambling to develop and enforce Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. Managing all of the device types and operating systems in their company network—amid ongoing news reports detailing massive data breaches and security threats—is enough to make today’s strained IT department employees run for the hills!
Let’s start with the fundamentals
If you have employees that are using their smart phones, tablets or desktops to conduct business—regardless of whether they are company or employee owned—you need a mobile device management (MDM) strategy. All businesses ranging from tiny non-profits to medium-sized for-profits have everything to gain by implementing a MDM plan now to scale with their business as it grows.
So what is a MDM strategy, really?
A MDM strategy details all of the devices and applications, software, policies, procedures and resources your business is willing to commit to manage and protect your company data. Documenting this strategy enables the decision-makers in your business to:
Determine what types of devices and platforms your company will support
Define the business objectives that devices will be used to address
Select scalable applications and software to protect your growing wireless environment
Outline policies and procedures needed to keep your proprietary data safe
Allocate the staff and budget needed to support it
I know creating a MDM strategy can feel overwhelming (I’m here to help!). Luckily today there are a variety of cloud-based solutions that fit within the budgets of even the smallest businesses, non-profits, government offices and educational institutions to choose from.
Cloud computing = simplified IT management
Cloud-based solutions have become increasingly popular in MDM strategies due to ease of use and budget friendly subscription-based cost models. Deploying these types of cost-effective solutions, such as HP Touchpoint Manager, will help you boost productivity and reduce IT overhead costs.
In learning about HP Touchpoint Manager I’ve discovered it is particularly effective in quickly securing and managing mobile networks. This single application protects all devices types, regardless of operating system. Coupled with a comprehensive Carter McGowan deployment, you would quickly realize the value of your MDM strategy, with minimum downtime.
Don’t put off your MDM strategy for another day. Contact me <email@example.com > to get started! I will work closely with you to evaluate your business needs so that I can design and deploy a plan tailored to your specific business requirements.
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First off, you have probably known Skype for years. Heck, you were probably using it! Then, all of the sudden… out of the clear blue… there was this thing called Skype for Business. If you were saying "Now, what the heck is this thing?", you are not alone. Believe or not , S4B (Skype for Business) didn't come out of the blue although it may seem like it. S4B was born out of the cloud and, in particular, out of a thing called Lync. What's up with the re-name? Honestly, I don't know except that it was a rebranding effort. Why rebrand Lync to the brand Skype that people already know then added "for Business" on the end? Again, don't know (haven't been able to get a straight answer) BUT let me tell you what I do know which is the differences between Skype and Skype for Business.
Skype is the consumer product that has been around since August 2003. Skype for Business is the product for the business side per the "for Business" postfix on the product name. Skype for Business was born out of Microsoft's cloud, Office 365. It start off as Lync then morphed into Skype for Business in April of 2015. Skype for the most part is free with some "for pay" premium features and S4B is "for pay" all the way.
They have similar symbols but the color is differently. S4B (Skype for Business) is white with a blue border and blue "S" in the middle. Skype is blue with no border and white "S" in the middle. Note the coloring when I search for Skype.
Confused a little? Yep.
I touched on the differences but they are more than skin deep when we get down into the weeds. So, let's go there, shall we?
IN THE WEEDS
The Interface (Just a little more skin)
Skype looks like this when you open it to login:
S4B looks like this:
When logged in Skype, it looks like this:
While S4B looks like this:
Here is a chart pointing out the features of each. Note they are mostly the same until you get into the "business" features.
Skype for Business (https://products.office.com/en-us/skype-for-business/compare-plans)
Skype to Skype calls
Call mobiles and landlines worldwide at low rates.
Get a group of people together on one call
Your friends call a number and you pick up on Skype wherever you are in the world.
Call international numbers from any phone at low calling rates.
Skype Click to Call
Same here depending on subscription
One-to-one video calls
Group video calls
Mojis and emoticons
Send texts (SMS)
All except SMS and GroupMe (although you can instant message and audio call a group)
Send files, photos and videos of any size over Skype.
Group screen sharing
Share a contact, number and Skype Name easily.
Get online at over two million public hotspots worldwide.
One tool to create accounts, allocate credit and assign features.
Make Skype calls through your existing SIP-enabled PBX..
Go from chat to video in just one click, right from your inbox.
Add a button to your website or blog and with one click anyone can call or IM you.
Get fast access to Skype features like sharing from your browser.
All except the hotspots but can also include enterprise features such as:
Advanced meeting options including Polls and Q&A
Schedule meetings in Outlook
See your contacts' online statuses, schedule meetings in Outlook, and start conversations from apps like Word and PowerPoint.
Conversations are protected by strong authentication and encryption, and you manage employee accounts and features.
Broadcast Skype for Business meetings on the Internet for to up to 10,000 people
Skype for Business Room Systems and Surface Hub
The Intended Audience
As I eluded to earlier, Skype is intended for consumer users while S4B is geared towards the business user. This is not to say that Skype can't be used by businesses and vice versa. On the contrary, I personally know of companies who use Skype to interview potential employees and of consumers users getting Office 365 which comes with S4B and using it to talk to their friends and family. The latter is not as often as the former but you get the idea.
If you want to talk to your friends or a small group of people (25 and under), you can use Skype. If you need to meet with larger groups (up to 250) or to broadcast your meeting (up to 10,000), use S4B.
If security and permissions is not a big concern and AES encryption is enough, use Skype. If you need stronger authentication and/or more control over the Skype accounts, use S4B.
If you would like to integrate Office apps into your experience (controls what people see on your screen) instead of just sharing your screen, use S4B. If not, use Skype.
If you need a conference room setup, use S4B. If not, use Skype.
What it boils down to is personal/small scale vs. business/large scale. Which works for you? BTW, if you have Office 365 then chances are you already have S4B.
Hopefully this has helped to clear up confusion but, if you still need more help, we understand and are here to help. Reach out to us and we will happily answer your questions. We can also work with you to bring other solutions like company portals, business intelligence, workflow automation, social media, and email marketing to your organization.
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With the advent of Office 365, there has been a lot of confusion surrounding the difference between Microsoft Office and Microsoft Office 365. To make matters worse, there are different Office 365s: Office 365 for Business, Office 365 Pro Plus, Office 365 Home, etc. This confusion is understandable so let me help with unraveling the mystery.
To start, Office 365 is one of Microsoft's cloud products and has only been around for a few years. Office (with no 365 on the end) has been around for way longer.
Office has a few suite levels or levels of offering. They are as follows:
Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010
Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010
Microsoft Office Standard 2010
Microsoft Office Professional 2010
Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010
Microsoft Office Professional Academic 2010
Office , at each level, includes:
Programs, products, and features
Home and Student
Home and Business
Retail with valid “@__.edu”
Microsoft Excel 2010
Microsoft OneNote 2010
Microsoft PowerPoint 2010
Microsoft Word 2010
Microsoft Outlook 2010
Microsoft Publisher 2010
Microsoft Access 2010
Microsoft Lync 2010
Microsoft InfoPath 2010
Microsoft SharePoint Workspace 2010
The above talks about Office 2010 because that is the last Office before things got really complicated with the cloud (with the exception of the addition of Lync in Office Pro Plus). Office is paid for as a one-time fee, usually from $60 to ~$400 retail. The cost is "one-time"… well, one time until the next time when you want to upgrade.
Office 365, on the other hand, comes in way more flavors than Office AND , instead of paying a one-time retail or volume price, you "rent" the software by paying a small amount each month or once a year. Office 365 can be Office by itself (somewhat), Office with a bunch of other products, or have no Office included at all.
Office 365 can be any of the following:
Office 365 Home
Office 365 Personal
Office 365 Home and Student
Office 365 Business
Office 365 Business Essentials
Office 365 Business Premium
Office 365 ProPlus
Office 365 Enterprise E1
Office 365 Enterprise E3
Office 365 Enterprise E5
These are the main ones but there are more plans than the above. Also, there are government, nonprofit, and academic plans but they are mostly the same as the Business through E3 except for the pricing and a few other details. Because there are so many, we are going to just look at a few:
Office 365 Home and Personal Plans From < https://products.office.com/en-us/compare-microsoft-office-products >
These two are basically are Office Professional with some added benefits of some cloud features like cloud storage via OneDrive, phone and tablet apps, and 60 Skype minutes. It is also always up-to-date meaning that, as long as you continue to pay for your subscription monthly or yearly, you can have the most current version or versions. For example, you can have 2013 or install the 2016 preview. The difference between Personal and Home is that with Personal, you get one license for PC or Mac for $6.99/month and, with Home, you get 5 such licenses for $9.99/month. For the Home licenses, they can be shared with 5 people or all be used for one person.
Office 365 Business Plans From < https://products.office.com/en-us/business/compare-office-365-for-business-plans >
There are 3 subscription levels on the "Business" side. Each subscription includes Active Directory integration, 99.9% uptime, IT-level web support and 24/7 phone support for critical issues, and world class data security. These subscriptions is limited to 300 users per organizational account. NOTE : None of the Business plans include a corporate intranet via SharePoint. SharePoint is now only available in the Enterprise plans.
Office 365 Business Essentials
This subscription is a bit different than the one above as the Office desktop version and Office apps for phone and tablets ARE NOT included. This plan does include 50 GBs of email space, 1 TB of cloud file storage and sharing via OneDrive for Business, corporate social network via Yammer, HD video conferencing and online presence via Skype for Business (not to be confused with Skype which I will explain the difference in another post) , Sway for digital storyboarding, and Office Online*. This subscription costs $5/user/month or is free for nonprofits***.
Office 365 Business
This subscription DOES NOT include email, corporate social network, nor HD video conferencing and online presence but it does include 1 TB file storage and sharing, digital storyboarding, desktop Office on PC/Mac, Office apps on tablets and phones, and Office Online*. Each user with this plan gets 5 licenses for PC/Mac, 5 licenses for tablets (Windows, iPad, and Android), and 5 licenses for phones****. This subscription costs $8.25/user/month.
Office 365 Business Premium
This subscription is a combination of Business Essentials and Business. This subscription costs $12.50/user/month or $2/user/month for nonprofits***.
Office 365 Enterprise Plans From < https://products.office.com/en-us/business/compare-more-office-365-for-business-plans >
There are a few subscription levels on the "Enterprise" side but the ones below are the main ones. As with the Business plans, each of these plans includes Active Directory integration, 99.9% uptime, IT-level web support and 24/7 phone support for critical issues, and world class data security. These subscriptions can have unlimited users.
Office 365 ProPlus From < https://products.office.com/en-us/business/office-365-proplus-business-software >
This enterprise level plan has a focus on Office Pro Plus** and has enterprise features such as enterprise management of apps, Compliance Center tools, and self-service business intelligence via Excel. Each user can install Office on 5 PCs or Macs, 5 tablets (Windows, iPad, and Android), and 5 phones****.
It also includes some cloud features such as Office Online*, Sway for digital storyboarding, and 1TB of cloud storage space and sharing via OneDrive for Business (not to be confused with OneDrive which I will explain the difference in another post) . This subscription costs $12/user/month.
Office 365 Enterprise E1
This subscription DOES NOT include Office on PC/Mac or Office phone and tablet apps but it does include 1 TB file storage and sharing, email with 50 GB of space, HD video conferencing and online presence, digital storyboarding, corporate intranet portal via SharePoint, and Office Online*.
Also includes enterprise features such as a corporate video portal, Compliance Center tools, and meeting broadcast to up to 10,000 people via Skype for Business. This subscription costs $8/user/month or free for nonprofits***.
Office 365 Enterprise E3
This subscription includes all from E1 and Office 365 Pro Plus AND unlimited email archiving and compliance and information protection. This subscription costs $20/user/month or $4.50/user/month for nonprofits***. There is probably no wonder that this is the most popular plan.
Office 365 Enterprise E5 *NEW*
This is a new subscription that includes all of E3 PLUS advanced security, analytics tools, PSTN conferencing for Skype for Business meetings, and Cloud PBX for cloud-based call management. This subscription costs $35/user/month.
Hopefully this has helped to clear up confusion but, if you still need more help, we understand and are here to help. Reach out to us and we will happily answer your questions. We can also work with you to bring Office 365 and SharePoint as well as other solutions to your organization.
*Web browser based Office applications for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.
**NOTE: The current version of Office is 2016. The Office Pro Plus level does not include InfoPath but you can still get the 2013 version if you need it here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=48734
***Nonprofit Plans here: https://products.office.com/en-us/nonprofit/office-365-nonprofit-plans-and-pricing.
****NOTE: Theses Office licenses are connected to the user. If one tries to share these licenses, everyone sharing the licenses will see everything being worked on using those licenses. You have been warned.
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Everyone has workflows that they work through on a daily basis. Workflows are a part of life and especially important when running an organization successfully. A workflow is a process or a set of steps that you follow to reach a goal. It can be simple or they can be complex. Either way, workflows are important and essential to getting things done in organized and efficient fashion.
All in all, workflows work best when they are actually flowing, no matter how simple or complex. If a workflow stalls or stops, it can make an organization come to a grinding halt. What keeps a workflow from flowing? Here are a few things to think about:
The Sneaker Net: How long does it take to walk a document around for signing? Is this walking around causing a disturbance(s) in schedule of the person walking them around?
Bottlenecks: What happens when a stall happens because someone is out of the office for vacation or a sudden accident or illness or simply doesn't know that they are holding up progress?
Where Are We?: Ever started a workflow and, later, realize that you have no idea of where the process is, who is supposed to be doing what, and/or how long the process is taking?
Sound familiar? If it does, you aren't the only one. Lots of companies have issues with slow flow or no flow workflows. Workflows not flowing or flowing slowly wastes time and money and can accumulate into huge problems which can wreck your organization. Now you may be asking: so how do I speed it up? Automation, my friend. Picture this:
Eliminate the Sneaker Net: Imagine kicking off a workflow and no one has to physically walk it through the process. Imagine it being started and it routes itself around.
Get Rid of the Bottlenecks: Imagine that a workflow is started and one of the people in the chain is out of the office. Imagine that the workflow waits for a certain amount of time before it auto-magically delegates itself to another person on that team, notifies someone about the bottleneck, and/or it is initially sent to the team and moves on once one person from the team completes the action. Imagine that person or those people are constantly reminded until their task is completed without someone having to do remind physically them.
Know Where You Stand: Imagine being able to see where the process is and who its with by checking out a dashboard that gives you real time stats. Imagine getting notifications on the workflow's status.
If your workflows were flowing efficiently, how much more productive would your organization be?
Your workflows can start flowing successfully by using a great tool called SharePoint! One of the many great things SharePoint does well is online forms, workflow automation, project management, and dashboards. Your organization's workflows can be implemented, to your specifications, in SharePoint. You can also have a special portal or portals for your clients and/or vendors to be able to fill out forms, participate in workflow, and view statuses. These portals can also keep historic data.
As a small, or even a medium sized, company, you may think that getting a tool like SharePoint is be hugely expensive. I'm here to tell you that is a fear of the past. Since the invention of Microsoft clouds, Office 365 and Azure, you can get SharePoint for a fraction of the cost of getting it on premises. If it works better for your organization, you can also decide to break the cost down into a monthly cost, making it a more manageable operational cost as opposed to a capital expense. If your organization gets Office 365, you also get solutions for email, online meetings, Office, and more.
Are you 501c3 nonprofit? Guess what! You can get the power of SharePoint via Office 365 for FREE! Seems too good to be true? Well, believe it.
Already have SharePoint on-prem? Nice! You already have your basis. Just need to get cracking on identifying those slow flow and no flow processes and making them into automated solutions that will save your organization time, money, confusion, and stress.
So are you ready? Want your workflows to start flowing? Let's do it!
Need help or a demo? Need to talk this through more? We understand and are here to help. Reach out to us and we will happily answer your questions. We can also work with you to bring Microsoft Office 365 and SharePoint as well as this and other solutions to your organization.
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There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the role SharePoint and OneDrive can play as a hub for collaboration and as a document management platform. Though Microsoft has offered both in some form for more than a decade, the names and parameters have changed. Only in recent years have enterprises started building out SharePoint on a pervasive basis and has OneDrive become a core component of Microsoft’s collaboration story. Nonetheless, many customers, as well as Microsoft partners, say they’re confused about the role of OneDrive and it’s not entirely their fault.
The confusion intensified upon Microsoft including vast amount of free document storage with various SKU’s of Office 365 as well as offering OneDrive for Business as a file store for SharePoint Server and SharePoint Online. As the forecasts show, 1 billion smartphones will be in use by 2016 and 50 percent of enterprise customers using cloud services in some form, we’ll decipher OneDrive in the context of SharePoint to dispel the myths surrounding Microsoft’s multipronged document storage offering.
It’s important to note Microsoft’s cloud offerings are upgraded regularly and what follows is based on the OneDrive offerings available for SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 as of July 2015. Also, OneDrive for Business is not to be confused with OneDrive. OneDrive is the consumer offering which comes free with every Microsoft account, i.e. outlook.com, hotmail.com, live.com, etc. OneDrive for Business if for business customers and is available through Office 365 and with SharePoint Server 2013. In this article, we will be discussing OneDrive for Business.
OneDrive for Business Origins
SharePoint began as a solution for content management and initially offered a basic intranet and document storage capabilities. As SharePoint evolved, it included an option known as My Site for personal storage to replace the local desktop, My Documents and personal folders within the network drive locations. Last year, Microsoft rebranded the personal My Site areas to OneDrive for Business, with SharePoint becoming the hub for company employees by expanding into social collaboration, business intelligence, and project management in addition to the intranet and document management components. SharePoint and OneDrive now accommodate today’s changing world of mobile technology and the remote office worker scenarios within companies of all sizes.
SharePoint and OneDrive come in a server format and are also included as an online offering hosted through Microsoft Office 365. A free version of SharePoint, called SharePoint Foundation, is offered for download with Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 or Windows Server 2012. SharePoint Foundation offers basic functionality.
SharePoint versus OneDrive
Both SharePoint and OneDrive are repositories known as site collections, which are simply collections of sites, within SharePoint. SharePoint hierarchy starts with a farm and, within it, multiple site collections exist. In the instance of SharePoint and OneDrive, one site collection may exist for the company documents held within SharePoint, and OneDrive, which is used to house personal employee documents, would be in a separate site collection (see Figure 1).
Caption Figure 1: Intranet Site and My Site Collections defined as URLs.
To provide a basic understanding, here’s a way to define when you would use SharePoint and OneDrive.
“Share”Point – emphasis on “share” is meant to be shared with the organization by default although the sites can be limited. Examples:
Company & Team Documents
Integration with other Apps and Services
“One”Drive – emphasis on “one” is meant to be a person’s personal data storage but can be shared from with others Examples:
Document Storage (personal and limited Company & Team use)
SharePoint in essence becomes the company hub and provides a central location for employees to work together on documents. It is where to also see integration efforts with other Microsoft products including Yammer, Visio, InfoPath, Excel, Access, and Skype for Business. Since OneDrive is meant for more personal storage, integration with Skype for Business is available but will be somewhat limited when it comes to working with true integration of Yammer, Visio, and other products.
Both of SharePoint and OneDrive solutions can mean countless hours of time to understand the full abundance of features available but here we’ll focus on the most popular ways of working within both of these products. Generally speaking, you’ll find that many of the features work the same when using both OneDrive and SharePoint, which promotes employee adoption and reduces the learning curve.
SharePoint and OneDrive Uses
Intranet: One of the most popular ways SharePoint is implemented is as a corporate intranet. Currently, companies may have an online document storage repository solution but it may not have an intranet. Intranets offer a good way to centralize core documents that all employees need to access. This may include benefit forms, sales collateral, and specific department forms. Intranets also let employees find specific office location information, employee announcements and newsletters, and even view updates through a newsfeed or through integration with Yammer. Organizations can put the information within a traditional folder structure but it’s much easier and efficient to have an intranet available to locate information instantly and more intuitively when set up in such a manner. Many IT pros set the default browser home page to display the intranet.
Available via: SharePoint Server, SharePoint Online
Document Storage: Document Control: There are so many features to document storage and, no matter the vertical or specific industry, these document repositories are designed to accommodate the most complex solutions needed. When working with files, a history of the documents is invaluable for retrieving prior versions. This is called version control. The versions are available with both major and minor publishing versions and restrictions surrounding viewing access to draft document. If an additional reviewer is needed prior to publishing, a feature known as content approval is available to ensure the document is kept out of the public view (i.e. view of the otherstaff) until final approval is made. These options are included to reduce the total number of copies of draft documents by maintaining one filename with the history of the document.
Additional parameters can be placed on the content, known as content management, to define retention policies for the document. These additional options can assist with assigning specific metadata components for tracking a document workflow process and can also be helpful in maintaining a governance plan for the lifecycle of documents.
Available via: SharePoint Server, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business
Document Edits: Once a document is uploaded, employees can edit it simultaneously when working within Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote documents. Co-authoring a document reduces the time of waiting for a document and also reduces the pressure of a looming deadline to complete the file updates required. As an employee changes a document and saves it, the changes will save and show as a merged copy when someone else open the file but a separate copy of their file including changes is stored within the version history of the document. Documents may be edited within a browser web app, phone or tablet app, or the full version of Office client.
Documents can also be check out and in again to prevent employees from working in the document at the same time. Such a restriction may be crucial in cases where co-authoring is not advisable.
Available via: SharePoint Server, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business
Document Sharing: When storing documents within SharePoint or OneDrive, the goal is to store it within one location and share with others. This ensures that employees working with the document will be working with the latest version and won’t have to search through e-mails and folders within their department on a network drive to find it what is believed to be the latest and may not be. Documents may be shared with links to employees within the company as well as those externally designated to have access. External access can be provisioned for a specific e-mail log in or anonymous access with a link and access can be maintained by an IT staff person or the employee depending on the configuration.
Available via: SharePoint Server, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business
Document Searching: Searching for documents becomes effortless compared to network drive searches. Searching is available for a library, a specific site, and globally through a search feature known as everywhere. Custom searches configured on the administration side are also available for specific scope searching. When searching for results, a few lines of information are pulled from the document but you can also move your mouse over the document to see more of it in a preview. This ensures you found the document without having to open it fully to confirm it’s the right one. Information within searches is captured by locating metadata including the file name, keywords and other properties. The search also reads the documents of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and even PDF files where OCR is available. The results are spectacular and may also deliver more information than initially thought so additional filtering is available to fine tune search results.
Available via: SharePoint Server, SharePoint Online
E-discovery: When it comes to locating information for discovery needs, the task can seem daunting in the network drives and other document storage solutions. Microsoft makes it easy with its e-discovery options built within SharePoint to locate documents with specific keywords and quarantine them for a duration of time. Employees can be granted access to information, as needed, which helps make the process go much smoother.
Available via: SharePoint Server, SharePoint Online
Project Management: Managing projects in SharePoint can range from simple to robust depending on your needs. Think about the information that is required for working on a project. A place to store the documents is needed. E-mails pertaining to the project need to be stored. A project timeline and high level overview of the tasks and responsibilities are required. Updates relating to the project may need to be communicated. And all of this can be kept within SharePoint. SharePoint offers a site mailbox with a dedicated e-mail alias to send and receive mail as you would with a shared mailbox in Exchange (the mailbox management is completed through Exchange) but is located within a site along with the project documents, announcements, and other pertinent items. This site also provides the ability to include a project timeline that can be viewed at the top of the site to display the overall timeline.
For more complex project management, Project Server or Project Services within Office 365 provide Microsoft Project integration to SharePoint to maintain updates and task status of the projects at a granular level. If you have multiple projects at one time, the portfolio manager available as part of the Project Server and Services will provide a detailed impact of projects at a financial, resource, and project change level for the overall project management solution. Since Project can be integrated with SharePoint, it can provide a complete solution when projects need to be accounted for. It can also be used to view the pertinent information of the project without having to pay for a Project license for all of the team members which can be expensive.
Available via: SharePoint Server, SharePoint Online
Video Storage: In previous versions prior to SharePoint 2013, the limitations for file sizes and true embedded video options made it difficult to host video in an effective way. SharePoint now includes larger file limits of 2GB per file to be stored and also created a feature known as a video portal which can be used to store and play photos in an effective way. This allows for storage and embedded play of the company training videos, executive videos, and any other recorded video content to be available for employees to play instantly.
Available via: SharePoint Server, SharePoint Online
Business Intelligence: Big data and Business Intelligence (BI) are big buzzwords these days and SharePoint offers business intelligence solutions for both self-service and defined reporting needs. On the self-service side, Excel becomes the focal point for pulling multiple sources of data and millions of rows by leveraging PowerPivot. Once the data is pulled, data visualization maps known as PowerView can assist with building reports and utilizing the data through PivotTables. The configuration for the data source storage is configured in SharePoint to allow others to see the stored data and the document becomes available through SharePoint to provide access as needed.
Sometimes pre-configured exports are required and, through Excel Services, the data string can be configured and allow documents to be stored and refreshed at specific intervals of time. Access is provided just as a document would be stored on SharePoint but the control of the data integrity is maintained.
Available via: SharePoint Server, SharePoint Online
App integration: SharePoint allows for third party apps by offering direct download from the SharePoint Store or available as a line of business app for deployment. This can be helpful in having a central source to manage documents that require a signature like DocuSign or a proprietary line of business app for your company. Both options can be controlled from an IT perspective to determine what can be downloaded and who can download it. These options are leveraged using REST services and OAuth 2.0 protocol. This will not only allow secure communication between SharePoint and any external data source but will also accommodate apps built in technologies from Azure, Linux, and others. This also gives flexibility to run apps anywhere when available within SharePoint.
Available via: SharePoint Server, SharePoint Online
In summary, SharePoint can become an end to end solution for all of your company needs by offering integration of other products and apps in addition to the intranet and document storage components. OneDrive can be a specialty document storage component for personal documents and sharing with others. No matter which product you use, the solutions are robust and worth taking a closer look as a right fit for all companies.
Screenshot/Caption: SharePoint and OneDrive available on all devices
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Is your organization still "pushing paper"? Are you and/or your staff still filling out paper forms, such as purchase requests, timecards, time off requests, etc., then using the "sneaker-net" (i.e. walking around the form around to collect approvals) to work through workflow process? If so, you are not alone. Many organizations are still working through their day to day as well as other workflows using paper. This can be an ok way of managing internal processes while a company is small but, when that company grows, one of the growing pains experienced is the pain of dealing with paper and slow, manual workflows.
Fortunately, you can do something about it. SharePoint to the rescue! One of the many great things SharePoint does well is online forms and workflow automation. Your paper forms can be a thing of the past! Implement them in SharePoint using SharePoint List Forms, Nintex, and/or, my personal favorite, InfoPath (or using another of the many SharePoint form solutions), and your employees can fill out those forms online in your organization's intranet portal. You can also have a special portal or portals for your clients and/or vendors to be able to fill out forms as well. AND not only can they fill out those forms, those forms are stored in your organizations portal.
AND it gets better! Usually a form is not just filled out and stored. There is normally a workflow process that takes place where the form needs to be reviewed and approved, or rejected, by one or many people. In SharePoint, forms can be filled out and when the user submits the form, it can route itself around and even notify the user, or maybe a manager, how the workflow is progressing and/or that the workflow process has completed and give the result. The status can be tracked by the owners of the process as well as the supervisors by notification and by viewing a dashboard with that information.
Let's walk through an example of requesting time off so you can get visualize what I am saying. Picture this:
Employee goes to the Time Off Requests page of the organizational portal where they can initiate new requests and see the status of their other/past requests.
The employee fills out the form and clicks a submit button on the form.
A notification is sent to the employee, with the form in the email, stating that their request has been routed to the supervisor for approval.
The supervisor receives and email, with the form in the email, stating that their subordinate is requesting time off.
The supervisor clicks on a link to be taken directly to the request.
The supervisor chooses to either approve or reject the request.
The supervisor enters a reason for the rejection, electronically signs the form, and clicks the submit button.
A notification is sent to the employee, with the supervisor cc'd, stating that their request was rejected and why.
The accounting department receives and email, with the form in the email, requesting time off and showing the supervisor's approval.
The accountant clicks on a link to be taken directly to the request.
The accountant fills in pertinent information such as how many hours the employee has left on the books to take. There may even be a calculation that is performed to subtract the hours requested by the employee from the hours the accountant entered then give the accountant the subsequent amount.
The accountant electronically signs the form, and clicks the submit button.
A notification is sent to the employee, with the supervisor cc'd, stating that their request was completed.
The workflow ends and the form remains in the storage area of the portal.
This is a scenario that one of my actual clients had for the approval process attached to their own time off request form. This doesn't mean that your process needs to be the same way, it can be customized to fit your organization process and any form can be implemented, not just time off requests. That is one of the many beauties of SharePoint. Another beauty is that that process, once implemented, can be duplicated in your portal for different departments who may also use the same process.
As a small company, you may think that getting SharePoint, even for your small organization, is be hugely expensive. That was in yester-years. With the advent of the Microsoft clouds, Office 365 and Azure, you can get SharePoint for a fraction of the cost of getting it on premises.
Already have SharePoint on-prem? Sweet! You already have your basis and just need to get cracking on identifying those paper forms and manual processes and making them into automated solutions that will save your organization time and money.
So are you ready? Ready to stop pushing paper?
Need help or a demo? Need to talk this through more? We understand and are here to help. Reach out to us and we will happily answer your questions. We can also work with you to bring Microsoft Office 365 as well as this and other solutions to your organization.
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You have projects and you want to make sure everyone is on the same page so that each project runs as smoothly as possible. In order to keep everyone in sync, you need the following:
Calendar for special events
List of contact information
One thing that most people do to when managing projects is to get Microsoft Project but it can be expensive. Currently, the desktop version of Project Professional 2016 costs $1159.99 (https://products.office.com/en-us/Project/project-professional-desktop-software) which will, most likely, make it cost prohibitive to get a license for every member of the team. Also, although Project does some AWESOME project management calculations such as EVM and reports such as Burndown, it does not do all of the things listed above.
So what's the answer, you may ask? How do I manage my projects efficiently while keeping the team "in the know" and without breaking the bank? The answer is Microsoft's cloud, Office 365. Office 365 has Sites which is the intranet/portal for your organization. In Sites, you can have subsites for managing your projects. In each project site, you can assign and track tasks, manage documents related to the project, have lists of the team members, vendors, and client POC contact information, and have a calendar to reminder the team about upcoming events. There's more! Because it is Office 365, you also get the following additional bonuses:
Skype for Business
Have a quick question for a team member who is not in the same place as you are? See when that person is online and instant message with them. You can turn an instant message into online meeting by adding screen sharing, audio and/or video calling.
Need to have a meeting with whole team but they are geographically dispersed? Send an online meeting invite and present your desktop (or just a specific program) and add audio and/or video calling if needed.
Need to have an online meeting with your vendors and/or clients? Even if they don’t have Skype for Business, you can send them a meeting invite via email. At the meeting time, they can click on the meeting link and download a little bit of software, just like GoToMeeting or WebEx, to join the meeting. You can even make them a presenter.
No Office on the desktop? Not a problem. Use the Office Webapps to view or even create and edit Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote files in the browser. You can even view PDFs. No software needed.
Think that's good? Well, it gets better. You can hook Project into your project sites and use Project to drive the team's tasks as well as use the more in-depth functions of Project. That way, you can limit the amount of Project licenses down to only the project managers while the rest of the team can have access to the Gantt schedule as well as to their tasks. AND, because it is Office 365, you can get the online version of Project Pro for Office 365 for $25/month/user (https://products.office.com/en-us/Project/project-pro-for-office-365)!
As you can see, your projects and Microsoft's cloud are a match made in heaven!
Need help or need to talk this through more? We understand. Reach out to us and we will happily answer your questions. We can also work with you to bring Microsoft Office 365 as well as this and other solutions to your organization.
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"My server is safer than the cloud." "I feel safer with it in my house", "no one knows about it" or my favored "I've never had problem before so why change it now". There are many, many more reasons we give ourselves for keeping our own server. Well, here's a few reasons why you may want to take another look. Since the advent of PCs and the internet, cybercrime has become a real concern and is only growing and that concern is growing. In 2007, alone, US-CERT received ~12,000 cyberincident reports and, according to new statistics from the Government Accountability Office (PDF), those incidents have more than doubled by 2009 and has grown four times that by 2012, showing an alarm pattern. Today, BP says it suffers 50,000 attempts of cyberintrusion per day and, as secure as we think the Pentagon is, they report 10 million attempts daily. The National Nuclear Security Administration records 10 million hacks/day and the UK reports 120,000 cyberincidents/day. Many states are dealing with the same alarming issue. Utah received 20 million attempts a day which is up from 1 million/day two years ago and is almost as many as the state of Michigan deals with. (From http://www.nextgov.com/cybersecurity/2013/03/how-many-cyberattacks-hit-united-states-last-year/61775/). BTW, when was the last time you patched your server? Aside from the software side of the system security, there is the physical side. Ask yourselves - how many times have we watched the news and seen families who lives were devastated with homes and businesses lost from disasters like earthquakes, floods, fire, tornados, and hurricanes? Maybe you are saying to yourself, "I'm not in one of these zones" or "that will never happen to me". With the changing weather patterns and earth anomalies, living in a zone not known for nature disasters, doesn't mean you are immune. Case in point: Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey and the tornado that touched down in MD. Damage of these sort leads to businesses, organizations, and individuals losing their data like reports, client files, and financial information… saved on in-house servers. What will happen to that important client's file that Is due in two days or all the data that you use on a daily basis? It could cost you thousands or even millions. Getting the picture? Cybercrime is a real concern and it is only growing and none of us are not immune to nature disasters. Do you have a disaster, backup, and redundancy plan being executed and enforced in case disaster strikes? How much would be lost if any of this happened to you? How long would it take you to recover? Could you recover? Ok, ok, stay calm. I am not trying to freak you out but I want you to face reality: in most cases, the "cloud", especially Microsoft's cloud, is safer and more reliable. Microsoft holds the data and trust of many major companies and government agencies as well as SMB. But you don't have to take my word on it. The proof is in the pudding…You May Want to Take Another Look. If you go to trustoffice365.com, you can read all about Microsoft's compliance, security, privacy and transparency measures. Namely, the following: Built-in security Service-level security through defense-in-depth Customer controls within the service Security hardening and operational best practices Privacy by design Your data is not used for advertising You have extensive privacy controls You can take your data with you when you want Continuous compliance Proactive processes to meet your compliance needs Customer controls for organizational compliance Independently verified to meet evolving standards Transparent operations You know where your data resides and who has access Visibility into availability and changes to the service Financially backed guarantee of 99.9% uptime So what are you waiting for? Move to the cloud and, not only, save money but, also, BE SECURE! Need help or need to talk this through more? We understand. Reach out to us and we will happily answer your questions.
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You may be thinking, "Isn't that the latest buzz word I have been hearing?". Why, yes it is and for good reason. In today's world, people are more mobile than ever before. Also, the number of people who work from home for businesses and organizations is increasing every year. In the US in 2010, just over 2% of the workforce (about 2.8 million people) telecommute a most of the time according to Telework Research Network. This number is not inclusive of those who are self-employed or unpaid volunteers. In 2011, approximately 34 million people work from their homes occasionally according to Forrester Research. Forrester Research also predicts that the number will nearly double by next year to about 63 million. According to Forbes, Teleworking is the Future of Work and I agree whole heartedly! My company is made up of mobile and remote employees and I plan to keep it that way. As technology prevades and the economy becomes more and more competitive, getting and retaining the best talent is crucial. The best talent, especially in my generation (GenX) and going forward, most notably in the Millenials, feels the work life balance is essential part of, well, life. Commuting is so 20 years ago (this is me saying that with a rolling of my eyes)! I believe in letting my employees be where they want to be to do their work as long as they get work done. I want them to be happy. A happy employee is a hard working and productive employee. Besides, I know how I felt when I had to drag myself into a job, day in and day out, that I could have easily done from home! "Get to the point!" you may be saying/thinking (to which I would say keep your pants on 😉 ). I said all of that to say that UC or unified communications is one of the things many companies, including mine, is using to accomplish the feat of having mobile and remote, and happy, employees. What is UC? According to Wikipedia, "Unified Communications (UC) is marketing buzzword describing the integration of real-time, enterprise, communication services such as instant messaging (chat), presence information, voice (including IP telephony), mobility features (including extension mobility and single number reach), audio, web & video conferencing, fixed-mobile convergence (FMC), desktop sharing, data sharing (including web connected electronic interactive whiteboards), call control and speech recognition with non-real-time communication services such as unified messaging (integrated voicemail, e-mail, SMS and fax). UC is not necessarily a single product, but a set of products that provides a consistent unified user-interface and user-experience across multiple devices and media-types". One such product that empasses most of those things is Microsoft's Skype for Business. Microsoft's Skype for Business, formally known as Lync, encompasses the following in one platform: See the online status of other team members. Connect with colleagues through instant messaging. Make audio or video calls. Host online meetings via Web or video conferencing similar to WebEx/GoToMeeting. Share and transfer files. Record your audio and video calls. Set up dial-in conferencing. Share your desktop. Use a whiteboard. Save notes to your OneNote notebook. And you can even replace your telephony system with it! Better yet this platform is available as one of the many services in one of Microsoft’s clouds, Office 365. My company uses the full power of Office 365 and I especially love S4B (Skype for Business)! I use it to helpdesk and setup my clients' computers, hold training sessions/webinars, send online meeting invites even to those who don't have the service, record trainings and send to the client as well as see when my employees and/or clients are online so that I can reach and ping them and vice versa! And, of course, much more! So, as I have said You Have to Get You Some of That! So, what are you waiting for? GO GET IT! Have more questions? Feel free to reach out to us (firstname.lastname@example.org). Sources: Americans Who Work From Home - http://womeninbusiness.about.com/od/wibtrendsandstatistics/a/number-of-people-working-from-home.htm Telework is the Future of Work - http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghanbiro/2014/01/12/telecommuting-is-the-future-of-work/ What Millennials Want in the Workplace and Why You Should Start Giving It to Them - http://www.forbes.com/sites/robasghar/2014/01/13/what-millennials-want-in-the-workplace-and-why-you-should-start-giving-it-to-them/ Generation Y: They Don't Live for Work ... They Work to Live - http://www.theguardian.com/money/2008/may/25/workandcareers.worklifebalance Leading the Four Generations at Work - http://www.amanet.org/training/articles/Leading-the-Four-Generations-at-Work.aspx Unified Communications - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unified_communications
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During lots of my many adventures on advising my clients and potential clients of solutions that can help them and their organization become more productive and work together more efficiently, I often hear "So what's what the big deal with this SharePoint thing? I mean, its just a glorified file server, right?" Ok, I am paraphasing a bit but that is the gist of what I hear and my answer is a resounding no. SharePoint is much, much more but, regrettably, in a lot of arenas, it is downplayed as a document management system (i.e. file server) or it is despised to the point that if you even whisper its name, people come out the woodwork with flaming torches, pitch forks, and declarations of "Burn the Witch!!!". Think I am joking? Well, I'm not. In this blog, I am not going to get into why it has become such a dirty word in some spaces and why that is very unforetunate (that is for another blog) but I will get into why SharePoint is not JUST for document storage. First of all, sharing is the point with SharePoint. I can't remember if I heard that somewhere or made it up (sorry if I stole that from you. point it out and I will happily give credit) but that is the real point. When you share with people in your organization, you do more than share documents. Think about it. You share ideas, data, and other information as well. All of this collaboration makes your organization more efficient and productive. Ok, ok, you say: So what is your REAL point, Nikki. Break it down for me. To that I say: Sure, here goes the breakdown. Think of SharePoint as your organization's portal or intranet. As such, it can provide a place for: The entire organization to see upcoming events and get pertinent information that is important right now as well as in the past Project Managers to track and manage people, resources, and workflow around the project Automating, thereby speeding up, paper and "sneaker-net" driven processes that can break down or slow down if, for example, one person drops the ball or is out for a week The entire organization to be able to fill out forms online (for example HR forms) which notify the appropriate person(s) of completion Each department to have their own site dedicated to their needs Leadership to see milestones and accomplishments happening in the organization as well as monitor for trouble areas Sharing of ideas, solving of problems, and spreading knowledge And, oh yeah, document storage and management where documents are easier to find, tagged with keywords, search and filtered by keywords and other indicators, versions are kept in check, approval processes can be implemented, etc. And there's more. This is by no means an exhaustive list but I believe it is just enough to get your juices flowing. See what I mean by more than just documents? Are you starting to get the picture? Great! Tell your friends! :smileywink:
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Hi all! The following is part 2 to the blog post from last month. Continuing the journey of 3M's customer story from last month. In this 2nd part of the story, we look at the following: Rapidly and easily deploying Microsoft Office using Click--to-Run The ease of use for staff to use Office The ability to get more value of out Office 365 by using all of the tools This article excerpt, by Stephen Magnuson, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1DQb2Ly We’re very proud of our record of innovation here at 3M, and we are always striving to improve. 3M takes a very thoughtful approach to our IT deployments, balancing organizational disruption of new technology with user demand and the productivity enhancing potential it can bring. Microsoft delivered the tools to help us make our Office 365 ProPlus rollout fast and easy, even in a large, diverse environment like ours. Just four months after announcing our Office 365 direction to the company, we’ve deployed Office 365 ProPlus to more than 60,000 employees and nearly 6,000 mobile devices. Using self-service for rapid progress When we first learned about Click-to-Run we knew we wanted to use it because it relieves IT of the responsibility for installs and updates and lets users manage them instead. We chose to use the System Center Configuration Manager and a user self-service portal, which let us save bandwidth by deploying from local distribution points while still delivering the streaming advantages of Click-to-Run. We sent links to 5,000 early adopters across the company, and then began deploying in geographically distributed waves to minimize help desk and network impacts in a given region. Deployment was going so well, soon we were sending out 20,000 links per week. The self-service part of the rollout lasted about two months, and 48,000 employees installed Office on their own during that time span seeing up to 10,000 installs per week. After that we began push deployments to the remaining employees. Our devices now automatically perform Office updates from the cloud without IT involvement. That’s one of the big benefits of cloud computing—IT can get out of the low-value business of delivering updates and focus on enabling our users to get the most out of new features. And the fact that Office 365 ProPlus updates from both a functional and a security aspect was a big selling point for us, because we will never have to do a major Office upgrade again. Managing change Office 365 is an important project for the company, so we made sure that employees were prepared. We appointed an executive sponsor for the project to get the word out through a video. We also dedicated our collaboration centers to Office 365 for six months so that employees could come in anytime and see what they were getting through demos, literature, and classes. With Office 365 ProPlus we didn’t see the need for mandatory training because our employees were familiar with Office and we felt they could begin using Office 365 ProPlus immediately. And we were right—we saw immediate uptake on day one. For employees that wanted to learn more we created tip sheets, e-Learning sessions, and 90-second task-specific videos. Tracking adoption and benefits Once most employees had Office 365 ProPlus, we made Lync Online available to everyone. The financial benefits of Lync Online along the new mobility features gave users plenty of incentive to make the move. We also saw a huge uptake in OneDrive for Business usage, with about 10,000 active users. We have about nine terabytes (TB) of data on OneDrive today, and that is increasing at about half a terabyte per week. OneDrive is especially big with our Sales and Marketing teams because it lets those employees access documents anywhere. Documents from user’s PCs are automatically backed up to the cloud and synced across their devices, and can be easily and securely shared with other 3M employees and customers. We promoted this project with the tagline, “Making decisions faster, improving the speed at which we do business.” Even though we are only a few months in, I can see the differences. I’m looking forward to getting Office 365 fully deployed with Exchange Online and SharePoint Online to see how much more value we can add.
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The customer story below is an example of how a large company is winning with Office 365. Microsoft's cloud offering, Office 365, has so much to offer but what it offers is not yet widely known. This blog is one such story that will help you to realize the potential of Office 365 through the example of how another company is using it and finding great value. 3M is a large enterprise but you DO NOT need to be large or an enterprise to greatly benefit from the offering but you don't have to just take my word for it: see it for yourself. In the coming months, I will share with you many such cases that you can see by way of concrete example. And if you have questions, don't hesitate to ask! All comments will be responded to! This article excerpt, by Stephen Magnuson, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1DQb2Ly We’re very proud of our record of innovation here at 3M, and we are always striving to improve. 3M takes a very thoughtful approach to our IT deployments, balancing organizational disruption of new technology with user demand and the productivity enhancing potential it can bring. Microsoft delivered the tools to help us make our Office 365 ProPlus rollout fast and easy, even in a large, diverse environment like ours. Just four months after announcing our Office 365 direction to the company, we’ve deployed Office 365 ProPlus to more than 60,000 employees and nearly 6,000 mobile devices. Unlocking value through collaboration 3M has a culture of creative collaboration that inspires powerful technologies—we continuously work to introduce new products that solve our customers’ challenges. The next great idea can come from anywhere in the company and our organization is most successful when ideas can flow easily, whether that’s between our global R&D centers, or a salesperson sharing a customer process with others in the organization. After investing in collaboration solutions for more than 10 years—with each team picking their favorite—we had disconnected systems. It was taking too long for us to make the connections we needed internally or with customers, vendors, and distributors. Now, we’ll be able to improve and accelerate those connections by using Office 365 across the organization. Our Sales and Marketing organizations eagerly anticipated the ability to use Office 365 on multiple devices. They typically use tablets during customer visits, and spend a lot of time converting presentations to PDF files so they display correctly. With Office now available on our mobile devices, salespeople can deliver presentations from any device and not worry about document fidelity. Making application compatibility a non-issue We faced numerous application compatibility challenges when we moved from Office 2003 to Office 2007, and it took 18 months to complete that upgrade. Office 365 ProPlus provided a very different experience. After piloting the solution with key stakeholders we saw that cross version compatibility was far better than we had experienced in the past. There were a very small number of third-party applications we had to update overall. We also made our lives easier by choosing to deploy Office 365 ProPlus in a side-by-side configuration with Office 2007. Keeping Office 2007 in place helped overcome the inevitable fear of change. We knew that everyone could keep working no matter what happened during the deployment. We’ll go back and remove Office 2007 in a few months once everyone is comfortable. Be on the lookout for part 2 next month!
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All types of organizations have always had to keep a close eye on their budget and make sure that the dollars they spend are spent wisely. Budgets are tight for non- and for-profit organizations alike but the challenges mostly remain the same and trying to operate without the right tools can impede or even thwart success. Having effective collaboration and productivity tools are especially critical but, in the past, they could be cost-prohibitive. Tools such as professional, business class email and website, web-conferencing, internal portal for your team, storage space for your people’s documents, and more are an essential need for all, no matter the size, but many, especially in the SMB and nonprofit space, have unable or barely able to afford the cost of the proper tools. As a result, they tend resort to using Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo for the email and free website spaces for their website which makes them look very unprofessional. They have people, staff, vendors, and possibly even clients, that they are unable to collaborate with in a timely manner and their experience productivity loss on a daily basis. All of these challenges add up to revenue loss which perpetuates a vicious cycle.
Today, there are now choices that give businesses and organizations those valuable tools at an affordable price through the “CLOUD”. What is the cloud, you might ask? It is a dawning of a new technological g where such needed tools become more affordable and are always up-to-date since the company offering those tools offer them as a service instead of the traditional, and typically expensive, pay-up-front model. Now, these tools are available as a low monthly subscription. This new model can also be helpful because it changes that expense from a capital expense to an operating expense. Some tools even help with data backup and emergency restoration.
One such platform of tools is from Microsoft. It is called Office 365 and it is the affordable answer you and your organization have been looking for. If you are 501(c)3 non-profit, then it gets even better because it can be FREE (or super low cost). If you are a 501(c)6 nonprofit, you may be able to participate in a half price program which is now available through April.
So what does Office 365 include? Prepare for your socks to be knocked off! Office 365 gives professional email (50 GB), web/audio/video conferencing for up to 250 people, instant messaging and presence, productivity and collaboration environment, personal storage to backup your files (1TB), Office web apps for Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote and Office Pro Plus on your desktop (depending on subscription level). There are also discounts for a public facing website! Loads of the tools you need to look professional, increase collaboration and productivity, and save money!
So, does this sound like what you have been missing? Well, just wait… there’s more:
Set up quickly
Easily manage users and settings from a streamlined yet powerful web portal
Built-in malware protection
Worry-free, continuous data backup to geo-redundant servers
99.9% financially-backed SLA
IT level phone support (in addition to your Microsoft Partner)
Always up to date security, features, and services
Access securely from anywhere on web connected device
Awesome, right? Right! So what are you waiting for? Grab a Microsoft Partner (like yours truly) and get started! Every moment you spend without it is money and productivity loss which you can’t afford to lose.
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There are so many social media platforms to choose from! To choose the one(s) best for you, take 2 things into account: your industry and your target market? You also need to have an understanding of each of the platforms to make the best choices. Consider the Big 4 (at least in my book), Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ (yes, I'm a Microsoft Partner and I said Google), and what each has to offer. While considering each, it is important to ask yourself what is the platform (what does it do), who is using it, and what’s in it for me (WIIFM). TWITTER What is Twitter? Twitter is a Microblogging service, Social Network, Real-Time Information Network and Social Search Engine all rolled into one. In short, Twitter is a place where people share what’s on their mind—and it can be great for your business. Want to learn more? Visit http://blogs.constantcontact.com/social-media-quickstarter/ . Who is using Twitter? There are now over 550 million registered users and 215 million monthly active users on Twitter. Twitter was the fastest growing network with a 44% growth from 2012-2013 and 34% of marketers use it to successfully generate leads. Want to learn more? Visit http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/01/17/20-social-media-facts-and-statistics-you-should-know-in-2014/#TJZUfJVEmIUB47Ao.99 . WIIFM? The biggest takeaways on this platform are building customer relations, driving traffic to your sites and landing pages, and establishing your brand as a industry leader. Want to learn more? Visit http://blogs.constantcontact.com/social-media-quickstarter/ . FACEBOOK What is Facebook? Facebook is the most widely used social network worldwide having over 1 billion active members of all ages! Facebook is a great way for businesses to connect with existing customers, make new contacts, and get the word out about products and services. Want to learn more? Visit http://blogs.constantcontact.com/social-media-quickstarter/. Who is using Facebook? More women than men by a slight margin (63 to 70 ratio) with average incomes of $49,999 or less a year (followed closely by $50-$75K). On the education level front, the numbers are about the same with high school grads slightly leading some college and college grads. Until recently, the age range most using the platform was 18-29 year olds followed closely by 30-49 year olds. That paradigm is shifting as more teens and young adults are leaving in favor of other platforms due to the influx of their parents. Want to learn more? Visit http://blogs.constantcontact.com/social-media-quickstarter/. WIIFM? So what’s in it for you? In a word: FANS. Gathering and maintaining a loyal base of fans is the name of the game followed by testimonials which also relates to those fans. Want to learn more? Visit http://blogs.constantcontact.com/social-media-quickstarter/. LINKEDIN What is LinkedIn? LinkedIn is a cross between an online resume and an interactive rolodex. Get it on your computer, or get it on your mobile phone. Either way, it gives you immediate access to your complete network. Like other social networks, it all starts with your profile. From there you can mine your network for connections, join group discussions, ask and answer questions, and stay up on the latest news and trends in your industry. But it quickly expands into a B2B (business to business) and B2E (business to employee) platform as well. Want to learn more? Visit http://blogs.constantcontact.com/social-media-quickstarter/. Who is using LinkedIn? LinkedIn boasts a new member every 3 seconds adding to their 70 million members in 200 countries as well as executives from all Fortune 500. Professionals with LinkedIn profiles is growing daily! It is heavily used by recruiters and job seekers alike. Want to learn more? Visit http://blogs.constantcontact.com/social-media-quickstarter/. WIIFM? LinkedIn’s primary purpose is job seeking BUT you can also drive traffic to your sites as well as get recommendations about you and your organization. Want to learn more? Visit http://blogs.constantcontact.com/social-media-quickstarter/. GOOGLE+ What is Google+? Google+ is a social networking website, but more than that, it integrates with the entire Google stable and it carries significant weight in terms of SEO and organic search visibility. Google+ was launched as an invitation only social network on the 28th June 2011. As it became apparent that there was a lot of demand, the new social network was opened up to all. Want to learn more? Visit http://socialmediatoday.com/ubersocialmedia/1632481/google-plus-why-your-business-needs-it. Who is using Google+? (Source: 9) So what are the latest numbers? After 3 years, there are now over 1 billion with Google+ enabled accounts and it has reached 359 million monthly active users. Google+ is growing at 33% per annum with the 45 to 54 year old bracket increased its usage by 56% since 2012. Want to learn more? Visit http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/01/17/20-social-media-facts-and-statistics-you-should-know-in-2014/#TJZUfJVEmIUB47Ao.9. WIIFM? So why should I care??? I am with Microsoft!!! Well, here is why. Using Google+’s circles, you can place followers into categories, similar to email lists which allows you to share more efficiently. Google offers a social advertising platform called +Post Ads. The program enables you to create a Google+ post on your business page, then turn that post into a web banner ad. Google+ offers a program called Interactive Posts. It gives you more than 100 different action buttons including “Subscribe”, “Share,” “Buy,” “Play,” and “Download”. By far and away the #1 reason is SEO. By sharing pages from your website on your Google+ page, you are helping your business rank higher in the Google Search Engine. I love Microsoft but, let’s face it, even Microsoft has to hand this to Google. Want to learn more? Visit http://blogs.constantcontact.com/product-blogs/social-media-marketing/what-is-google-plus/ and http://www.forbes.com/sites/netapp/2014/05/27/google-plus-for-business/ Ok so why am I doing this again, you may be asking. Take a gander at these stats. 93% or marketers use social media for business with good reason since Facebook has 1.15 billion active users followed by 359 million for Google+, 215 million for Twitter and growing! 70% of marketers have used Facebook to gain new customers and 34% have used Titter successfully for lead generation. 47% of Americans say that Faebook influneces their purchasing decisions. 70% of brands (your competitors) have a presence on Google+ And… Need I go on? Want to learn more? Visit http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/01/17/20-social-media-facts-and-statistics-you-should-know-in-2014/. Now that you have seen some of the platforms and know why it is important to have a social media presence, you need to know what Rules of Engagement are. Social media is relational, not transactional Organizations must have a dedicated social media evangelist. An organization should focus on engagement and not on numbers. Define your core audience and identify your area of expertise. Content is king. Updates should be consistent and frequent. A Social Media platform must be manifested. A Profile must be perfect. Want to learn more? Visit http://socialmediatoday.com/joshleatherman/331973/8-essential-rules-social-media-and-business We are now going explore tools that my company has used and we have found to help with #5 and #6. CONSISTENT AND FREQUENT UPDATES Building your brand is vital is today’s market. Keeping your brand out there is just as important if not more so. Your customers and potential customers need and want to get to know you. They also need to be reminded of you so you are who they think of each time they need services and/or products you provide. Hootsuite is a tool we use to our presence present. Hootsuite allows you to login to and see multiple platforms as well as post to all of those simultaneously platforms. We also use it to schedule posts by putting our posts in a spreadsheet and uploading them. CONTENT IS KING Bill Gates said that in 1996. He was right about it then and it definitely applies now! Content IS king. By providing content that is timely, creative, and, most of all, informative, you can build trust. Building trust can help bring in more potential customers as well as keep your current customers trust in you high which strengthen your brand and you in the forefront of their minds. CMS uses rFactr which provides content specific to Microsoft technologies and articles. rFactr also provides strong analytics tools. You can see how each individual piece of content is being received, how much engagement there is around your and others content, how much your network is growing and where the growth is coming from as well as how your campaigns are going. In summary, don't be scared... take the dive! Find out which platforms you should be on and get on them! Use the tools to help you and be consistent. If you are still unsure, follow those who are in the same industry/field as you and get your ideas from them to start. Get your brand out there or be seen as yester-year's company and be left behind!
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