02 Oct

A Look at Google Apps for Work

Over the past decade, as technology has continued to evolve rapidly, Google has gone from merely a search engine to a cloud-based application provider. Its famous product, Google Apps for Work, is gaining momentum in increasing its popularity among business owners, as a result of its numerous different applications and overall ease of use.

 

In a nutshell, Google Apps for Work is a cloud-based productivity suite and collaboration software application from Google that gives businesses all the benefits of cloud computing, including flexibility, scalability, and cost savings. Let’s take a closer look at all it has to offer.

 

Gmail

 

Gmail is Google’s webmail service, with over 400 million users worldwide. Although Gmail is available free of charge, you can get extended features for a low monthly fee, including custom company email addresses, unlimited group addresses, 30GB of inbox storage, and 24/7 help desk support.

 

Hangouts

 

With Hangouts, you can have a chat or group chat with your coworkers, start face-to-face group video calling, and share your screen and documents. Accessible via both desktop and laptop computers and smaller devices like smartphones and tablets, Hangouts is a powerful video chat application that is efficient and simple to use.

 

Calendar

 

Google Calendar allows you to stay in sync with your colleagues from anywhere, and on any device. These shareable calendars integrate seamlessly with Gmail, Drive, and Hangouts, so you can easily manage events, view and edit your schedule, and check your coworkers’ availability.

 

Google+

 

Google+ is a social network platform designed to help you connect, share, and collaborate with your team members. You can customize and filter the dashboard’s contents in a way that’s suitable for you.

 

Drive

 

Google Drive is an online cloud storage platform that enables you to store all of your files in one place. These files are accessible from anywhere, at any time, and from any web-enabled device. You can get as much storage as you need, and also view common file formats without having to install extra software on your device.

 

Docs

 

With Google Docs, you and your colleagues can work on the same documents, in real time, allowing for better collaboration and efficiency. You can also leave comments and communicate through a built-in chat box. What’s more, all edits and changes are automatically saved, and you can restore the revision history in an instant.

 

Sheets

 

Google Sheets contains the fundamental functions of the popular Microsoft Excel application. Whether you’re looking to create spreadsheets and charts, perform calculations, or generate pivot table reports, Sheets has all these capabilities and so much more.

 

Forms

 

Creating surveys and forms online has never been easier. Forms allow you to build professional-looking surveys and questionnaires. You can collect answers by sending the URL to respondents. It’s that simple! You can track and analyze responses in real time in order to gain valuable insights from your surveys.

 

Slides

 

With Slides, you can work on a single presentation online with your colleague, your whole team, or even external contacts. You can also control who gets the permission to edit or view the slides with just a few clicks. Again, there is no software installation required.

 

Sites

 

Looking to create an internal website to train your new hires? Want to build a project site for your team? These can be done easily, and without needing any coding experience. Simply choose a template from Google Sites and determine what needs to be put in place to make your website successful.

 

For more information about Google Apps for Work and how you can integrate it into your business, give our tech professionals a call today at 1-866-BIT-WISE.

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05 Jun

How to Remain Productive While Working Remotely

Technologies such as cloud computing are freeing employees from their desks and lighting the fuse to the remote working revolution. However, for employees who lack discipline or a strong work ethic, a remote worksite is a breeding ground for a lack of focus and unproductivity. What can you do to help them out? Here are some ideas you can provide your staff (or take advantage of yourself) to develop the proper habits for successful remote working.

 

Stick to the plan

 

Would you go to the office without brushing your teeth or combing your hair? Probably not, unless you are a hipster. Believe it or not, it’s not a good idea when you’re working remotely either. Sometimes the simple act of preparing for your workday – jumping in the shower, shaving, and so on – can put you in the right frame of mind to work. If you or your staff are finding it difficult to be productive at home, try sticking to a pre-work routine and see if it makes a difference. Remember, nobody panics when things go according to plan.

 

Stick to a designated workspace

 

Attempting to work while sitting in your bed or lounging on the couch can be a recipe for a productivity disaster. So instead, try designating a specific space where you work everyday. It can be as simple as a desk set apart from the rest of your living room or bedroom, but just make sure it’s not cluttered with non-work items (like a TV remote, Star Wars novel, or Batman comic), and that it’s properly lit and comfortable. A move from the bedroom or couch to an actual desk will help you start taking things a little more seriously.

If you’re working from a coffee shop, airport, or other public place, consider using a pair of headphones to help drown out the noise so you can focus. Eliminate as many distractions as possible, and the productivity will come. Do not be swayed by others who may ask you, “Why so serious?” Remember that you are working, and your work ethic should not be diminished simply because you don’t drive to an office each day.

 

Stick by your team

 

Thankfully, cloud computing has made it unbelievably easy for your remote workers to stay connected to the office wherever they are. If your business is setup with Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365 or another cloud product, make it a requirement that your employees access it daily and remain available. When your staff is connected to your business this way, it will strengthen their relationship with other employees and the organization as a whole. Generally speaking, more connected employees are more productive ones, but if you upset the established order, everything becomes chaos. Don’t be an agent of chaos!

 

Stick to your schedule

 

When you work remotely, the line between work and personal life blurs more than ever. To avoid burnout, it’s important that you discipline yourself to log off after you’ve put in a full day’s work. Whether you choose to work from 9 to 5 or 4pm to midnight, define work hours and stick to them. This will help you completely disconnect at the end of the day, which will ensure that you’re properly rested and prepared for the next. Getting enough rest and relaxation is a sure way to put a smile on that face of yours.

 

Want more tips on productive habits for remote working? Are you ready to empower your staff with cloud computing to help them along? Let’s talk. Call us today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or email sales@eitnetworks.net.

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29 May

IT Pitfalls to Avoid

As a small or medium sized business owner, you likely have your hands full. Between managing your staff, looking for growth opportunities, and keeping clients happy, you probably have little time to dedicate to new technology purchases. Being so busy, it can be easy to make a mistake when choosing an IT solution. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of common IT investment missteps that every business owner needs to avoid.

 

Investing in the newest technology instead of the best fit

It’s the job of every marketer to make you believe the newest technology on the market will resolve all your problems. And while the latest cloud or virtualization offering is likely to make things better for many individuals and organizations, it isn’t going to work for everyone.

Don’t let the flash and hype of a new product deceive you. Take the time to think about the results you’re trying to achieve with technology. Make a list of them, and when you’re done match those criteria with the product that fits. Any good IT provider will be happy to serve as your consultant to ensure you make the best choice.

Believing everything will magically work together

As technology evolves, it is inevitably becoming simpler to use. Consumers want user friendly products and solutions that are easy to implement, and nowadays that’s what they’re getting – at least most of the time. Because of this belief that all products are going to be plug-and-play, many business owners hold the misguided assumption that any new technology they implement is automatically going to synchronize with their other IT. It is simply not true.

Though many technologies are compatible with one another, your business is taking a big risk – that could result in massive downtime and wasted money – if you implement a new tool that doesn’t integrate well into your current system and workflow. Be smart, do some research or consult with an IT professional before making a purchase.

Assuming your team doesn’t need support and training

Now that you’ve found the perfect fit technology and you’re sure it will integrate into your current IT setup, you go ahead and purchase it. You let out a sigh of relief as you kick back and let your sparkly new IT solution power your company to new levels of success and profits in a SMB “happily ever after” fantasy. Sound too good to be true? That’s probably because it usually is.

Don’t forget that not all of your employees are going to instinctively know how to use the new technology. Consult with your IT provider to see if they offer support and training. If not, you may want to look elsewhere or find an alternative solution before you buy.

Forgetting to create a budget

More and more IT solutions are packaged with pay-as-you-go monthly pricing. While this is a great way to help you avoid large upfront capital investment, if you implement too many different technologies too fast – and without thinking about the recurring costs – you could quickly run out of money before having properly created a complete technology platform.

Think about what you’re comfortable spending on IT before you open your wallet. Do some research, and either draft a budget on your own or acquire the assistance of a consultant to help you along.

Failing to get staff input

It’s wise to consult with the employees who will be using the new technology you implement, on a daily basis. It’s even wiser to do it before you purchase it.

The truth is that not all of your employees may be on board with the new product. They may actually even know some downsides to it you weren’t aware of. Regardless, it’s smart to consult with them beforehand, or you may find yourself in a constant fight getting them to adopt it.

Need to consult with an IT professional to create a complete technology solution for your business? We at EIT Networks are happy to serve you in any way possible. Contact us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net!

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22 May

The Incredible New Features of Office 2016

Its release is still months away, but there’s reason to get excited about Office 2016. The latest version of Microsoft’s classic application package is adding new features designed specifically for today’s modern workforce, who are more mobile and collaborative than any generation before. Here are four of these head-turning features that are changing the way we use Office applications.

 

Cloud focus for Outlook attachments

 

Microsoft knows that sharing attachments amongst co-workers and teams can be a hassle. With many collaborators still sharing documents and files the old fashioned way – attaching it to an email and then sending to others – it’s easy for users to get confused and send an incorrect or outdated version.

To solve this problem, Microsoft is gently nudging us to use the cloud. Now when you add an attachment to an email, you’re asked if you’d also like to share a link to a file on your OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint account.

 

Showcasing easy ways to use Office better

 

If you’re like most people, you probably aren’t using Office to its full potential. And who can blame you? Between Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more, there are literally hundreds of features and tools you can use – if only you had the time to discover them all.

To help you get the most out of Office, Microsoft has now added a Tell Me box in the top center of your program title bar. This tool gives you an easy way to get questions answered. For example, if you want to project your desktop screen to a second monitor or create a graph in Excel, simply type your question into the Tell Me box and Microsoft will find the answers that most closely fit your search criteria.

 

Sway

 

Look out PowerPoint, here comes Sway – the new, hipper Office application that makes creating fluid, stylish presentations easy. With Sway, you can now gather content from various sources across the web and then easily organize it into a presentation that can be viewed on a smartphone, laptop, iPad, or other device.

What makes Sway more exciting than PowerPoint is in the process of gathering content: simply drag files, photos, or video from YouTube, OneDrive, and various social networks into the app. Once you have your content, you can easily organize it and adjust your design to create a unique look and feel for your presentation.

 

Better Data Protection

 

With Office 2016, Microsoft has raised the bar for data security. Now administrators can set and enable Data Loss Protection policies for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Unlike in older versions of Office, administrators now have a range of security options at their disposal. For example, they can prevent data from being copied and pasted outside of Office 2016 applications, restrict files from being sent to certain individuals, and implement file-level encryption for Word, Excel, and Outlook.

 

Want to learn more about Microsoft Office 2016? Have questions about other Office products? Give us a call at 1-866-BIT-WISE or email at sales@eitnetworks.net.

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13 Mar

Microsoft’s New Office Suite for Mac

Mac users have a reason to celebrate – after a long wait since its last update in 2011, the Microsoft Office for Mac suite of productivity applications has been given a makeover. The latest look brings on board the power of the cloud to take Office to new levels for Apple fans, including a move to deliver an experience that’s closer to that of the Windows version of the package. Better still, you can upgrade for free while it’s still in preview stage – here are some of the killer features of Office for Mac 2016.

Cloud power

Office for Mac 2016 takes the power of the cloud and puts it to full use, bringing the advantages of its cloud-oriented Office 365 applications to its flagship package. As a result, you can now access your Office documents whenever and wherever, and no matter which device you are using. Aside from Office 365, the new software is also integrated with OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, and SharePoint.

It’s now possible to jointly author Word and PowerPoint documents with colleagues, and to make challenges simultaneously. Much like Google Docs, you can run a chat conversation alongside the document, in order to discuss the changes you are each making. Word and PowerPoint automatically flag up updates to the document that you might not have spotted already. These features are already available to Windows-based users of Office.

Sharing documents also becomes simpler, with a dedicated sharing button in the applications’ top right corner that allows you to invite colleagues to collaborate on the document you’re working on. It’s possible to share a document either as an attachment or as a link, and of course to control access rights for each person to whom you give access. You can open others’ Office documents right from your email account and get straight to editing.

Ribbon refresh

Until now, there have been differences in the options available on the ‘ribbon’ of icons that appear beneath the File, Edit and other menus at the top of the screen. You might see one thing on your Mac but another on your PC, and another still on your tablet. With Office for Mac 2016, Microsoft has taken the opportunity to fix those inconsistencies, so you’ll now find the options you need in the same places across all the platforms you use. A new task pane is also intended to help simplify graphics editing.

Email grouping

The updates to Outlook, and OneNote too, were actually released in 2014 and so are technically not new with this release. But one such useful update that is carried through to Office for Mac 2016 is the organization of Outlook emails by conversation, as is the case with Gmail. Emails can be sorted using a variety of other criteria, too.

Presentation aids

Office for Mac 2016 makes life a little easier for those presenting using PowerPoint slides. While your audience is shown the final product on your big screen, you can benefit from having ‘presenter view’ open on your monitor. This dedicated view gives you access to all of your presentation’s slides, any associated notes, and also a timer to help you keep pace.

The entire suite of Office for Mac 2016 applications – including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook – is available for free upgrade during Microsoft’s preview period, which runs until later this year. Once that comes to an end, you’ll need an Office 365 subscription or perpetual licence in order to keep making the most of the package’s features.

To find out more about boosting your company’s productivity with Microsoft Office applications, give us a call today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or if you would prefer email, sales@eitnetworks.net.

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06 Feb

Microsoft Introduces Free BI Product

The business intelligence market is changing. While most of you are probably familiar with business intelligence software such as Excel, the new wave of BI products is making it easier for you to track down data and organize it into easily viewable graphs and reports. So if you’re looking for data on how well a new product sold this past year, you can save time by not having to gather that information and organize it yourself. Now Microsoft is joining the scene and trying to make noise with its free Power BI product offer.

What is Power BI?

Power BI is a Cloud service which mainly functions as a self-service data analysis tool. What makes it unique is its use of advanced visualization options (graphs, charts, etc.) and the ability to find data by using natural language to ask questions and get answers. For example, you can simply type, “which department had the lowest sales profits last month?” and then get a chart that will visually display the sales from the different departments.

Another distinct characteristic of Power BI is its ability to collect and analyze data from various applications and services. These include Salesforce.com, Marketo, Excel, Zendesk, and more.

And lastly, being a Cloud based service, the data is easily shareable, and employees can access it whether they’re in the office or on another continent.

Do I really need data analysis for my business?

It’s easier to get ahead of the competition if you know where you’ve been. With knowledge of your past failings or successes, you’ll know what methods and strategies are working and which ones aren’t. Then you can make appropriate business decisions based on facts and not assumptions.

For some, Excel may give you the ability to track all the Business Intelligence you desire – if the data you need is relatively simple and is kept all in one place. But if you have large amounts of data over various applications, then a product like Power BI can be a huge time saver since you won’t have to waste hours finding and organizing it.

If Power BI is so great, why is it free?

Power BI comes in two versions: the free one and a pro version for $9.99 a month. The pro version will feature more support for streaming data, quicker scheduled data refresh, and more storage. But light to medium data analysis users will still gain much from the free version.

Likely the real reason for the free version of Power BI is to capture market share from Tableau software, which currently dominates the self-service analytics market. Microsoft appears to be trying to create a simpler data analytic system that will be less complex than Tableau and more appealing to non-tech users.

And once they get sign-ups, Microsoft can then use this as a gateway to sell other Microsoft business products.

Want to discover how Microsoft’s Power BI or other Business Intelligence products can give your business an edge? Contact EIT Networks today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net to see how we can help.

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30 Jan

Boost Productivity with Technology

Does it seem like every day another PC breaks down or your IT contractor interrupts you with questions about your software budget? In today’s world, technology shouldn’t be slowing down your business, it should be speeding it up. If it’s not helping you, it’s time to admit you have a problem before your employees organize an intervention. Here are four ideas on how technology can blast your business into the future.

Work together from anywhere

With the onset of Cloud technology, it’s now possible for your employees to work easily from anywhere – be it Bangkok, Belize or Boston. With Cloud-based suite products, employees can log on from remote locations and access company files. All they need is a web-enabled device.

Cloud-based technology also makes it easier than ever for your staff to collaborate. While one employee is in a coffee shop in Vancouver and another is at a desktop in your office, they can both be editing the same document at the same time. This makes it easy for your staff to remain on the same page, both literally and metaphorically, which in turn boosts both productivity and profits.

While many SMBs use public Cloud applications like Google Drive, Dropbox and Evernote, private pro-level options are available, which come with more security and more features.

Keep all your data in the Cloud

The fact is that searching through spreadsheets for information stored in bloated data sets can be a huge waste of time. By having all your data in the Cloud, all your information will be in one place. So when you’re looking for that critical client receipt for your taxes, you’ll know where it is immediately.

Thanks to its remote access and collaboration possibilities, the Cloud also gives you and your staff easy access to all of your data wherever in the world you are.

Identify bottlenecks and upgrade your technology

Facing the facts about your current technology is key to increasing productivity. Yes we know you love your tablet from way back in 2008. You even named her Susie, after your niece, because they’re both so incredibly creative. But let’s face it, Susie is old now and is slowing down your business. She’s served you well, but it’s time to upgrade.

And desktops aren’t the only technology that can slow you down. There are also unreliable internet connections, obsolete software and outdated email providers. The list goes on…

The solution is to take a careful inventory of your current IT technology and see what’s keeping your business from reaching its true productivity potential. After you have your list, update your technology accordingly. Then create a plan to regularly upgrade your IT resources, so your employees are never being slowed down.

Outsource your IT

As the old saying goes, ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Whether you have a part-time contractor or a fully-staffed IT department, the mere presence of tech staff onsite in your workplace can be a distraction. When you’re focusing on sales or setting up meetings with potential clients, a knock at your door from your IT colleague – because he or she has just discovered a glitch in your system – can take you out of the flow of the task at hand.

On the other hand, outsourced IT departments are proactive in preventing technical issues from popping up in the first place. They’ll fix problems without you even knowing they existed, and without distracting you from your core work. All of which means a great boost to your day-to-day productivity – and therefore profitability.

Want to know more ways IT can enhance your company’s productivity? Contact us today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net to learn how.

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23 Jan

Spanning Protects Office 365

While what the cloud is about may seem a little foggy to many business users, a great many are already taking advantage of the collaborative power of such cloud platforms as Office 365. There is a big amount of trust and belief that data is safe in the cloud, however, there are security issues to consider and some of these relate to problems with data protection from the user end. Spanning is set to offer an extra layer of protection for Office 365 in 2015.

Data backup provider Spanning is widening its ambit to include Office 365 this coming year. With an increasing amount of data located in cloud applications, this expansion will likely be welcomed by business bosses all over the world.

Isn’t my data protected in the cloud?

Well, yes it is, but not 100%, and it is this gap that users need to be wary of. A 2014 report by IT hardware storage providers, EMC, who recently acquired Spanning, points to a 400% rise in data loss since 2012. With platforms such as Office 365, each end-user represents an opportunity for data to be compromised. In other words, it is not the solid core of the cloud and its backup and recovery services that is the issue, but this increase in cloud-based collaboration and file sharing.

How can data be lost?

Each cloud provider offers certain protections and terms which it is vital you understand first and foremost. On top of this, an awareness of how data is at risk from user influence is essential too. Some data loss issues include:

•Accidentally deleting files.

•Intentionally deleting files with malicious intent.

•File corruption and data wipes due to tech glitches.

•Retrieving files deleted over 30 days previously or locating a previous file version due to errors in current documents.

What will Spanning offer Office 365 users?

Spanning allows for automated and manual daily backups of mail, calendar and contacts, whilst ensuring there is a copy of data from applications and cloud files. Other benefits include:

•Ability to find previous backups and restore these.

•Ability for data restoration, from one Office 365 account to another to allow for smoother and security-conscious recruitment and end-of-employment changes.

•Protection through 256 bit encryption with intrusion detection.

•Data control with compartmentalized access.

When it comes to data loss there is clear and present danger that could spell financial ruin for your business. There is always need for a copy of your data so that recovery is possible. To ignore cloud security and not consider data protection for Office 365 could be costly and for many businesses even deliver a fatal blow.

According to some recent statistics from IDG Research, 58% of businesses surveyed had suffered some hosted software data loss in the last year and 31% were debating whether to invest in backup and recovery for this data. Cloud data storage protection does not cover human error or problems with system configurations, nor IT service management process errors.

Find out how to protect your Office 365 data by getting in touch with us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net.

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