How Small Businesses Can Approach Workforce Technology Modernization

Technology plays a pivotal role in driving efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness. For small businesses, workforce technology modernization is both an opportunity and a challenge.

Embracing modern technology can empower small businesses. It can help them thrive in a digital era. Yet many of them don’t keep up with modernization. For example, over 30% of small businesses haven’t upgraded systems in 4+ years.

Some of the reasons SMBs don’t upgrade their tech include:

  • Limited funding
  • Unsure how to modernize technology
  • Stuck in the “old way is fine” mentality

The benefits of upgrading technology are many. One study found the following. That 45% of businesses modernizing tech saw improved ROI for IT investments. Other important benefits include improved employee retention and decreased cybersecurity risk. Not to mention the productivity and time-saving advantages.

Is your small business looking to modernize its workforce technology? Here are some steps to get you started.

Assess Your Current Technology Landscape

The first step in any technology modernization initiative is to conduct an assessment. You need to fully understand your current technological infrastructure. Identify existing strengths and weaknesses. As well as outdated systems and areas where technology could enhance business processes. Understanding your starting point is crucial. It helps in developing a targeted and effective modernization strategy.

Align Technology Goals with Business Objectives

Technology should not be an isolated component. But rather, a strategic enabler aligned with your business goals. Clearly define how technology can support and enhance your business objectives. Whether it’s improving customer engagement. Or streamlining internal processes and expanding market reach. Ensure that your technology modernization efforts align with your overarching business vision.

Focus on Cloud Adoption

The cloud has emerged as a game-changer for businesses of all sizes. Embracing cloud technologies can offer small businesses several benefits. These include scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness.

Consider migrating key applications and data to cloud platforms. This can enhance accessibility, collaboration, and data security. Cloud solutions can also simplify software updates and maintenance. This frees up resources for other strategic initiatives.

Invest in Collaborative Tools

Effective communication and collaboration are essential for small businesses. Invest in collaborative tools and platforms. These ease seamless interaction among team members, regardless of their physical location. Examples are video conferencing, project management, and document-sharing tools. These tools can enhance teamwork and productivity. This fosters a cohesive work environment even in remote or hybrid setups.

Look at Cybersecurity Measures

There is an increasing prevalence of cyber threats. So, cybersecurity should be a top priority for small businesses undergoing technology modernization. Put in place robust cybersecurity measures. Focus on protecting sensitive data and customer information. As well as your critical business assets.

Cybersecurity measures include:

  • Firewalls
  • Antivirus software
  • Regular security updates
  • Employee training
  • Threat identification & response

Embrace Mobile-Friendly Solutions

In a world where mobility is paramount, adopting mobile-friendly solutions is key. Ensure that you’ve optimized business applications and platforms for mobile use. This allows employees to work efficiently from various devices. This enhances flexibility. It also accommodates the evolving expectations of the workforce. Employees value the ability to work on the go.

Look at Remote Work Options

The global shift towards remote work has accelerated. Small businesses should prepare to embrace flexible work arrangements. Modernize your technology infrastructure to support remote work options. These provide employees with the tools and connectivity they need. As well as helping them maintain productivity outside of the traditional office environment.

Consider Automation for Efficiency

Automation can significantly improve operational efficiency for small businesses. Identify repetitive, time-consuming tasks. These can often be automated to streamline workflows. Look at things like customer service chatbots and automated invoicing systems. Embracing automation can free up valuable human resources. As well as reduce the risk of errors in routine tasks.

Provide Ongoing Training and Support

Introducing new technologies requires commitment. A commitment to ongoing training and support for your workforce. Ensure that employees have the necessary skills to leverage the new tools effectively. This may involve providing training sessions. As well as creating user-friendly guides. And offering a support system to address any issues that may arise during the transition.

Watch and Adapt to Evolving Technologies

Technology is a dynamic field. Staying ahead requires a commitment to watching and adapting to emerging trends. Regularly assess the technology landscape. Work with your IT provider. We’ll help you identify new solutions that could benefit your business. A proactive approach to staying current ensures your small business remains competitive.

Need Help Upgrading Your Workforce Technology?

Workforce technology modernization is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. It’s a strategic journey that requires careful planning. As well as alignment with business objectives. By embracing these practical strategies, small businesses can leverage technology. And use it to enhance their operational capabilities. They also position themselves for sustained success in the digital age.

Need help with workforce technology modernization? Give us a call today to schedule a chat.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

These 18 Sustainable Tech Habits Are a Win for Your Bottom Line

In today’s world, sustainability isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a necessity. Businesses around the globe are increasingly embracing eco-friendly practices. This isn’t only for the positive impact on the environment. It’s also for the benefits they can bring to the bottom line.

Sustainable technology habits are not only about reducing your carbon footprint. They’re also about improving efficiency, cutting costs, and attracting environmentally conscious customers.

“Going green” can mean saving more dollars, besides helping the planet. Below, we’ll explore several sustainable tech habits you can adopt. These are not only good for the environment but also a win for your business’s bottom line.

1. Energy-Efficient Hardware and Appliances

Investing in energy-efficient hardware and appliances can lead to significant cost savings. Especially in the long run. Energy-efficient devices consume less electricity, resulting in lower utility bills.

Consider upgrading to Energy Star-rated equipment. And using LED lighting to reduce your energy consumption. It may surprise you how fast your electric bill goes down after replacing lightbulbs.

2. Virtualization and Cloud Computing

Virtualization and cloud computing solutions can help you optimize your IT infrastructure. By consolidating servers and resources, you can reduce the number of physical devices. This leads to lower energy consumption and reduced hardware maintenance costs.

3. Remote Work and Telecommuting

Embrace remote work and telecommuting. This reduces the need for office space. It also cuts down on commuting-related emissions. Employees who work remotely also report increased job satisfaction and productivity. Both of which can positively impact your bottom line.

4. Renewable Energy Sources

Consider transitioning to renewable energy sources like solar or wind power. The initial investment may be significant. But renewable energy can lead to big savings on electricity costs. Additionally, it demonstrates your commitment to sustainability, which can attract eco-conscious customers.

5. E-Waste Recycling Programs

Put in place e-waste recycling programs. These help you properly dispose of outdated or non-functioning electronic equipment. Many electronics can be refurbished, resold, or recycled. This reduces waste and potentially generates revenue through resale.

6. Optimize Data Centers

Data centers are notorious for their high energy consumption. Optimize your data center by doing things like:

  • Using energy-efficient servers
  • Implementing efficient cooling systems
  • Consolidating data storage to reduce power usage

7. Green Web Hosting

Choose a web hosting provider that uses renewable energy for their data centers. This reduces your website’s carbon footprint. It can also lead to improved website performance and uptime.

8. Paperless Office

Transitioning to a paperless office can save money on paper, ink, and storage costs. Use digital documents, electronic signatures, and cloud storage solutions to reduce paper usage.

Office workers spend about 6 hours a week searching for paper documents. Digitizing files allows for keyword searching. This reduces those wasted hours and improves productivity.

9. Eco-Friendly Office Supplies

Buy eco-friendly office supplies. This includes recycled paper, biodegradable pens, and reusable office products. These sustainable choices can reduce your office expenses. They also show your commitment to environmental responsibility.

10. Software Optimization

Regularly update and optimize your software to reduce system resource usage. Unnecessary background processes and inefficient code can strain your hardware. As well as increase energy consumption.

11. Remote Monitoring and Control

Install remote monitoring and control systems to manage your facility’s energy usage. This technology allows you to adjust heating, cooling, and lighting remotely. This reduces energy waste. Smart thermostats are very affordable now. That makes this an easy energy energy-efficient win.

12. Green Transportation Policies

Promote green transportation policies for employees. These might include:

  • Carpooling
  • Biking
  • Using public transportation

Incentives like subsidies for eco-friendly commuting options can help. They promote the reduction of transportation costs for your team.

13. Sustainable Data Practices

Adopt sustainable data practices by cleaning and organizing your databases. The goal is to remove redundant or outdated information. Efficient data management reduces storage requirements and enhances data processing speed.

14. Green IT Certification

Consider pursuing green IT certifications. Such as the ISO 14001 or the Green Business Bureau certification. These certifications can improve your environmental standing and boost your company’s reputation.

15. Employee Education and Engagement

Educate your employees about sustainable tech habits. Encourage their participation in eco-friendly initiatives. Engaged employees can help identify more cost-saving opportunities.

16. Supply Chain Sustainability

Collaborate with suppliers and partners committed to sustainability. Sustainable sourcing and procurement practices can lead to cost reductions. As well as a more resilient supply chain.

17. Lifecycle Assessments

Conduct lifecycle assessments of your products and services. This helps you identify areas where you can make environmental and cost improvements. This process can help you optimize your offerings and reduce waste.

18. Green Marketing

Leverage your sustainability efforts as a selling point in your marketing campaigns. Customers are increasingly seeking out eco-conscious businesses. Promoting your sustainability can help you stand out from the competition. It can lead to increased brand loyalty and sales.

Get Help Going Green to Save Money & Help the Planet

Sustainable tech habits are not just about being environmentally responsible. They can also help your bottom line. The world has become increasingly aware of the importance of environmental responsibility. Embracing these sustainable tech habits can be a win-win for your business and the planet.

We can help you put together a sustainable tech roadmap that makes sense. Give us a call today to schedule a chat.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

These 5 Small Business Tech Trends Can Fuel Your Growth

In today’s ever-evolving digital landscape, small businesses have more opportunities than ever. Many of these call for leveraging technology to their advantage. Embracing the right tech trends can help businesses compete. It enables them to streamline operations, enhance customer experiences, and fuel growth.

But it can be confusing knowing which routes to take. Most small businesses need to choose the route that is going to bring the biggest return.

Below, we’ll explore five small business tech trends. These trends have the potential to drive success. As well as propel your business forward in an increasingly competitive market.

1. Cloud Computing: Expanding Possibilities

Cloud computing has emerged as a game-changer for businesses of all sizes. And some believe small businesses are among the most benefitted. 82% of small to medium businesses report reduced costs after adopting cloud tools.

The cloud offers many benefits. It’s a cost-effective and scalable solution for data storage, software access, and collaboration. By migrating to the cloud, small businesses can save. They cut the need for on-premises infrastructure. This reduces maintenance costs and gives enhanced flexibility.

Also, cloud-based tools and platforms enable teams to work remotely. This can promote collaboration and improve productivity. Working in the cloud offers access to real-time data and apps from any location. This enables small businesses to make informed decisions faster. They can also respond to market changes with agility.

2. Artificial Intelligence: Automating Efficiency

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has revolutionized the way businesses operate. This year alone, ChatGPT has completely transformed many business apps. We cannot overstate AI’s potential benefits for small businesses.

AI-powered tools and algorithms can automate routine tasks. Such as data entry, customer service, and inventory management. This frees up valuable time for employees to focus on higher-value activities.

Chatbots, for instance, enable small businesses to provide 24/7 customer support. All without the need for more staff or paying overtime hours.

AI also empowers businesses to gain actionable insights from vast amounts of data. This helps them optimize processes, personalize marketing strategies, and enhance customer experiences.

Embracing AI technologies can give small businesses a competitive edge. It does this by boosting efficiency, reducing costs, and improving decision-making.

3. E-commerce and Mobile Commerce: Expanding Reach

The rise of e-commerce and mobile commerce has opened up new avenues for small businesses. They can now easily reach a global audience. Using websites and apps, companies can sell anywhere at any time.

It’s easier than ever to put up a secure payment gateway and take payments online. These “plug-and-play” e-commerce sites and apps can create a seamless user experience. This allows small businesses to build trust and encourage repeat purchases.

Businesses can easily understand customer preferences by leveraging data analytics. They can also optimize inventory management and personalize marketing campaigns.

By embracing e-commerce and mobile commerce, small businesses can grow quickly. They can extend their reach beyond geographical boundaries. As well as tap into new markets, thereby fueling growth opportunities.

4. Data Security: Safeguarding Trust

As businesses increasingly rely on digital technologies, data security becomes paramount. Small businesses are just as vulnerable to cyber threats as larger enterprises. This makes it essential to prioritize data security measures.

46% of all data breaches impact businesses with less than 1,000 employees.

It’s important to put robust cybersecurity practices in place. This includes things like:

  • Encryption
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Regular data backups
  • Endpoint protection
  • Identity and access management
  • Advanced threat protection

Additionally, two more tactics to proactively manage risks include:

  • Staying informed about emerging threats
  • Investing in employee training

Customers value businesses that focus on their data security. A strong security posture can instill trust and confidence. This leads to long-term customer loyalty and positive brand reputation.

5. Automation and Workflow Integration: Streamlining Operations

Automating business processes can significantly streamline operations. When small businesses integrate workflows they save time and money. Workflow automation eliminates repetitive manual tasks. It also reduces human error and enhances efficiency.

Think about integrating various systems and applications. Such as customer relationship management (CRM), project management, and accounting software. Integration can end silos and ensure seamless information flow across different departments.

Other benefits include:

  • Enabling better coordination
  • Fostering collaboration
  • Optimizing resource allocation
  • Improving productivity
  • Enhancing customer satisfaction

Small businesses that leverage automation and workflow integration gain a competitive advantage. They operate more efficiently and deliver superior experiences to their customers.

Take an Important Step Toward Digital Growth

In today’s digital era, small businesses have a ton of tech tools and trends at their disposal. But it takes guidance to know what to do and how to do it.

While embracing cloud computing, AI, e-commerce, data security, and automation can help. To stay competitive small businesses need a clear and affordable path. One that makes sense for their business goals.

We can be your digital transformation guide.

Give us a call today to schedule a chat about tech solutions to fuel your growth.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

8 Reasons Every Company Is Now a Technology Company

Whether you sell shoes or run an accounting firm, you need some type of technology to operate. Today’s companies aren’t just in the business of selling their own goods and services anymore. They also must master various types of digital tools.

These include software, payment systems, computers, Wi-Fi networks, mobile devices, and more. Companies also need to protect their devices and network.. If that technology isn’t working, it can impact a business significantly.

98% of surveyed organizations say that just one hour of IT downtime costs more than $100,000. The reliance on technology means that every company is now a technology company.

This is the case no matter what products you sell or services you provide. Let’s discuss exactly why this is the case in today’s world.

What Makes Technology a Backbone of Any Business?

1. Technology Is a Critical Part of Business

Even farmers use tech to check commodity prices, sell livestock, and keep their books. Most companies couldn’t operate without their software. Or without databases filled with important information.

IT downtime is so devastating for this very reason. Remember the breaches impacting global meat producer JBS and Colonial pipeline? Those companies had to halt operations because of ransomware attacks.

They both paid the ransom to their attackers so they could begin operating again. Without the technology that’s become a normal part of our day, a lot of companies would close.

2. Customers Expect an Excellent Digital Experience

Customer experience came in first in a survey of top business priorities for the next 5 years. Nearly 46% of respondents said it was at the top of their list.

If a customer has just one bad experience with your company, they will likely go elsewhere. In a digital world, those experiences are often:

  • Navigating your website
  • Checkout experience
  • Appointment scheduling ease
  • Shipping notifications
  • Helpfulness of online chat
  • Response time from customer support
  • Ability to contact your company via social media

To keep up with consumer expectations in 2023 and beyond, means you need to use technology. From your website to your payment experience, people expect a smooth digital flow.

3. Employees Need Devices to Drive Productivity

How do employees work productivity without the use of a computer, tablet, or mobile device? These devices keep staff connected to each other and your customer data. Devices enable communication and are how much of the work in offices gets done. If they don’t run well, business productivity suffers.

4. AI & Automation Help Companies Stay Competitive

AI and automation help organizations move faster. AI can personalize a consumer shopping experience. Automation can help sales teams close 30% more deals and improve conversions by over 200%.

To stay competitive, companies must integrate technology tools with AI and automation capabilities. This means they need to know the best ways to use these tools. Plus, integrate them well with existing solutions.

5. Information Is Being Generated at a Rapid Pace

Companies generate information digitally at a dizzying pace. Can you imagine what it would be like if you had to go back to all the paper files? You’d need a separate building just for all the filing cabinets.

Files, documents, and customer records are largely digital now. Keeping track of all that information and making it searchable requires technology skills.

6. Vendors/Suppliers Are Leaving Legacy Systems Behind

Think of the vendors you use to run your business. Could you interact with any of them offline only? No email, no digital documents? In most cases, the answer is, “No.”

The companies that you rely on for your business are also “technology companies” in the same way. Most will be leaving behind legacy systems like fax machines and paper documents. Thus, you need to use digital means to interact with them.

7. It’s Difficult to Grow Without Tech Innovation

People are limited by what they can mentally and physically do in a day. Computers and technology have exponentially increased that. They do a lot of the processing and manual work.

The cloud is often touted as leveling the playing field for small businesses. It allows smaller companies to leverage technology to do more affordably.

It’s hard to continue growing your business without the smart use of digital tools. This includes reviewing your technology infrastructure and looking at innovations on the horizon.

8. Business Continuity Needs

Business continuity is about keeping your company running despite any crisis events. One natural disaster could severely impact a building and everything in it. But, if you are storing your data in the cloud and using cloud software, your business can still operate.

Companies that aren’t employing backup systems are at significant risk. Tech solutions create the ability to continue operating from anywhere, increasing business resiliency.

What Does Your Innovation Roadmap Look Like?

Using technology securely and to its fullest can be a full-time job. Give us a call today, we can help take that burden off your shoulders.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

How Is the Metaverse Going to Change Business?

The new buzzword around town is “metaverse.” But what does that actually mean for businesses? Is it just something that social media companies need to be concerned about?

According to people like Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, the metaverse is coming. He stated that “Life without AR will soon be unthinkable.” Whether that’s a short-term or long-off prediction, companies need to be ready.

First comes the understanding of what the metaverse is. Metaverse is a general term – hence why it’s not capitalized like a proper name. The metaverse refers to a collective upgrade of the internet to a 3D virtual environment. This would be a world interconnected between various sites. These sites would reflect the immersive games that you see today.

Did Facebook/Meta invent the metaverse? No.

The idea of connected 3D immersive worlds has been around for decades. Several online gaming companies have staked a territory in the metaverse. But their applications are less interconnected.

What’s one of the best representations of the early metaverse? It’s a short-lived software called Adobe Atmosphere. This 3D immersive experience included interconnected online worlds. It also gave people the ability to chat with others. It was a bit before its time but shows how the concept of the metaverse has been around for a while.

The metaverse is getting attention now because technology has advanced. It has begun to catch up to the needs of such a world. This includes fast internet connections and immense processing power. It also includes a delivery method for 3D that works on most PCs.

Are we there yet? Not quite. But the metaverse is picking up steam. Recently, Microsoft announced a partnership with Meta. This partnership is to bring Microsoft 365 apps into the metaverse. This means collaboration in an entirely new way. Microsoft notes that 50% of Gen Z and millennials expect to do some of their work in the metaverse in the next two years.

Microsoft Teams Meeting in VR
Image source: Microsoft

How Does the Metaverse Impact Your Company?

With companies like Microsoft looking at the future of AR/VR, it could be a reality soon. You can expect the metaverse to touch your own company in some way in the next few years. Here’s a preview of what it may impact.

Where to Advertise

When the internet was first introduced, companies didn’t immediately realize its potential. Now, most companies wouldn’t consider operating without a website. It’s a necessity for driving leads and converting sales.

If the metaverse takes off as a new 3D iteration of the internet, it could be just as important. This means exploring metaverse-type advertising in virtual worlds. Also, potentially creating your own VR site or showroom.

How to Service Customers

As the popularity of social media took off, companies realized customers used it to reach out. Seventy-nine percent of consumers expect companies to respond to a social media message. And they expect that response within a day.

To address that need, many businesses have a social media presence. They use this for marketing and to answer questions and inquiries from customers.

The metaverse may be the next step. If people begin hanging out there, they will expect to interact with businesses in that space. Just like they do now with social networks.

This means companies need to be aware of how customers may be using the metaverse as it grows. Adding a question about metaverse use to a year-end customer survey could be a way to be proactive on this topic.

Employee Training

One of the touted benefits of the metaverse is its ability to enable more immersive training. This could greatly increase training capabilities for everyone from doctors to forklift operators.

Imagine being able to replicate a task more closely in a virtual world. A person could safely make mistakes there. Then they could grow proficient before doing that thing in real life.

Start thinking about the types of training that your employees need. Then, look at ways that a VR world may make the training safer or more efficient. The metaverse may not have what you’re looking for now. But with the pace of technological advancement, it could in a year or two.

More Immersive Remote Team Collaboration

Virtual meetings skyrocketed out of necessity during the pandemic. Now, meeting by Teams or Zoom is commonplace. The next generation of online team meetings may end up being in a virtual world.

As we noted earlier, Microsoft is already working on bringing its apps into a virtual space. Add a few avatars and an immersive setting. Suddenly, you have a completely different meeting experience.

What’s one more way to enhance remote team collaboration in the metaverse? It has to do with building design and maintenance. Imagine being able to walk through a 3D recreation of a space before it’s built. Then fine-tuning the construction while inside that space.

Is Your Business Ready for the Next Digital Transformation?

What are your digital transformation plans for the next 12 months? The next three years? If you’re not sure where to begin, we can help. Contact us today to schedule a technology brainstorming session.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

What Are the Most Helpful VoIP Features for Small Businesses?

Just five or six years ago, VoIP was still considered a “different” type of business phone system. One that wasn’t the norm. But the pandemic changed that way of thinking. Now internet-based phone systems aren’t simply the norm. They’re mandatory for business continuity.

During the pandemic, VoIP and video conferencing have skyrocketed by over 210%. This is largely due to the move to remote work and hybrid offices. Sixty-seven percent of surveyed companies say switching to VoIP helps improve call handling.

So, no longer is the business phone system tied to a physical location. This enables fluid management of a business with staff spread out over many locations.

Additionally, VoIP significantly reduces costs for businesses. The technology is much cheaper to use than a traditional landline-based system. Calling plans are also often less expensive, and a company can add new numbers for very little cost.

VoIP has several helpful features for small businesses. But owners are busy and may not have time to have all of them enabled.

What are the best features to drive efficiency, productivity, and positive caller experience?

Here are some of the best features of cloud-based business phone systems to leverage.

Automated Attendant

In many small companies, the person answering the phone also has a lot of other duties. You can free up that person’s time and give the caller a better experience with an automated attendant.

An auto-attendant acts as a company directory. It will forward calls to the correct department or staff member for you. Record a pleasant greeting and ask the caller a few questions. Such as, “Press or say 1 for sales, 2 for technical support,” etc.

The caller gets the person they need without having to explain why they’re calling twice. Once to the person that answers the phone and once to the person they’re transferred to.

Find Me/Follow Me

What’s the most favorite user feature for VoIP? According to 77% of surveyed employees, it’s the Find Me/Follow Me feature. This includes the ability to use a virtual phone number that is accessible from all devices. Staff can also transfer calls from one device to another with ease.

Whether you are on a PC, in a conference room, or on your smartphone, you can get your calls. This feature reduces friction and allows people to give out a single phone number. Callers can then use that number to reach the person via mobile, home office, or onsite office.

Hold Music

Playing pleasant music while your callers are on hold might seem like a small thing. But it can have a big impact on customer satisfaction and lead generation activities.

We found some eye-opening statistics from a study on hold music versus silence. In the study, researchers kept people on hold for 1 minute. Results showed:

  • On hold in silence: Over 50% of the callers hung up
  • On hold with music: Only 13% of the callers hung up

Additionally, 45% of the silent group that did not hang up thought they were on hold for 3-5 minutes. They were on hold for just one minute. While on the music side, 56% of people thought they were on hold for less than one minute.

So, you can see the power of activating that one simple feature of your VoIP system. You may notice happier customers and fewer leads hanging up before they reach anyone.

Voicemail Transcription to Email

When you’re coming out of a meeting, going through a string of voicemails can be frustrating. You have to listen to each one to figure out the people to call back first.

Voicemail to email in VoIP services, provides recorded voicemails emailed to you. This also comes with a transcription of the message. You can quickly glance through the emails and scan the text to rank callbacks. No need to listen to every message first.

Ring Groups

Ring groups are an especially helpful feature if you have a small team. It allows a group of numbers to ring simultaneously until one person in the group picks up.

This means that another staff member may be able to assist a caller, rather than them needing to leave a message. Ring groups are great to set up for sales teams, accounting teams, and customer support teams.

Call Reporting

Another bonus of VoIP phone systems over analog is that you get real-time call reporting. What are your busiest times when you need more staff? Do you have a problem with calls not getting answered fast enough?

Your call reporting can give you insight into those things and more. Make sure you check out these reports and then automate the ones you like so you’ll see them regularly.

Local Support

This isn’t a system feature, but it’s important to have. If you sign up for VoIP from a company halfway around the world, you don’t have any local support when you need it.

Having someone that can come to your office is important. They can set up VoIP desk phones and help you optimize ring groups, mobile apps, and more. Your business phone system is one of the most important pieces of technology you have. Make sure you have the local support you need to keep it operating reliably.

Looking for Local VoIP Solutions?

Get expert VoIP services and local support. We’ll integrate your cloud-based phone system with your entire technology environment. Contact us today for a free consultation.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Everything You Need to Know About Microsoft Viva Sales

Data entry can be a real drag for salespeople. The time they spend on administrative tasks is time away from customer interactions. But that data is vital.

It’s important to capture customer orders, quotes, needs, and more. Lead and sales reporting help sales managers know where to direct their attention. Analytics also help drive more efficient ways of closing the deal.

Microsoft has taken up the mantle of this challenge. It is about to launch a new digital experience for sales teams. Microsoft Viva Sales is part of the “Viva” line of applications. These include things like Viva Insights for improved staff wellbeing. As well as Viva Learning for staff development.

The Viva apps natively integrate with MS Teams and the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. They include automation designed to eliminate boring tasks and enable more work engagement.

Viva Sales is a “CRM helper” application. We’ll go through some of the most asked questions about the app, its features, and when you can get it.

What Is Microsoft Viva Sales?

Viva Sales is an application that will provide sales and lead insights. These insights populate throughout Office 365 and Microsoft Teams. The focus of the app is to cut unnecessary manual entry to give sellers more time to sell.

How Does Viva Sales Work? Is It a CRM?

Viva Sales is NOT going to replace your normal CRM platform. Instead, it connects to your CRM and other sales-related apps. It leverages the data from these connections. This makes it easier for salespeople to get the prospect data they need to enable their work.

Salespeople spend approximately 34% of their time on administrative tasks.

Viva Sales Basics

Some of the core advantages of Viva Sales are:

  • Eliminate Forms: Data entry for sales professionals is greatly reduced. This frees them up for more customer relationship building.
  • Powerful Data Leveraging: Viva Sales connects to several platforms. This includes non-Microsoft programs and CRMs. The integration allows salespeople to cross-reference data points and gain valuable insights.
  • AI-Driven Help: Salespeople will get prompts that are AI-driven. These suggestions and reminders help them along in the sales process with a lead.

Interconnected Interface

Microsoft Viva Sales provides sales-specific insights throughout the various M365 applications. Salespeople natively see important customer details, wherever they are. Including in their Outlook Calendar or when in their Microsoft or non-Microsoft CRM.

Microsoft Viva Sales
Image courtesy of Microsoft

Viva Sales Features

Tag to Capture Sales Interactions

Tagging is also known as using someone’s “@name” to get their attention. Tagging is a popular software integration used throughout many cloud-based apps. It’s also used within Microsoft 365.

Salespeople can use the familiar tagging function. They can use it to capture data from another M365 application for a prospect or customer. This includes adding someone to a list of customers by using a tag for their Viva Sales name. The system will capture the contextual information on the lead or customer.

Collaborate

Viva Sales makes it easier than ever to collaborate with your team on a sales prospect or customer. You don’t have to chase down information to copy/paste into a message. Use that tagging function to populate lead information from Viva Sales in seconds.

Viva Sales Feature - Collaborate
Image courtesy of Microsoft

You can also easily edit or open a lead/customer record. No need to look for and open another app. The process gets you where you need to go in as few clicks as possible.

Call Summaries & Integrated Data

One thing that customers and salespeople hate is a lack of understanding. For example, when a salesperson doesn’t know about a recent customer interaction.

This can happen when company communication systems store data from different sources separately. Such as phone call messages being in one place and a customer’s website chat session being in another.

Viva Sales brings all that customer engagement data together into a single view. This allows the salesperson to see call summaries and capture call action items.

Download & Customize

Salespeople that prefer an Excel view of their contact list can get this from Viva Sales. Download lead and customer lists. Customize the application per the organization’s needs.

When Will Viva Sales Be Available?

Microsoft has announced that Viva Sales will be “coming in Q4 2022.” There is no exact date for the launch yet, but you can be sure that we will keep an eye on this!

In the meantime, you can watch a video explaining the application on Microsoft’s site here.

Take Advantage of Microsoft Viva Automation

Microsoft built the Viva suite of digital experience apps for productivity. These apps help employees find information faster, feel more connected, and work more productively.

Now is the perfect time to explore those that have already launched and get ready for Viva Sales.

Contact us today for a free consultation to improve your team’s digital experience.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Lead Your Business More Effectively by Implementing Unified Communications

Unified communications are a go-to solution for business owners looking to streamline their businesses and increase employee productivity in the long term. See how it benefits your business.

Providing high-quality communication channels is crucial for any company. After all, it promotes cross-department collaboration and faster exchange of ideas. 

Since phones often don’t suffice for this, many business owners turn to unified communications. 

But what exactly is unified communication?

This article explains just that. Read on to discover the main concepts of this approach and how you can use it to help your business achieve success. 

What Is Unified Communications?

Unified communications is an all-in-one platform that unifies phone, video, screen sharing, chat, and file management into a single space. It’s a ready-to-use system that allows for seamless communication in numerous ways. 

The system operates as a cloud, making it easily accessible to all team members with access to the internet. 

But why should anyone consider switching to unified communications?

There are several reasons, but this is the most crucial: 

Business leaders who adopt it would be able to impact their business every day and make it seamless for employees to interact with each other. 

That said, we’ll list 5 of the key features of this concept to help you better understand how it can help you scale your business. 

The 5 Features

Feature #1. Mobility

When connected to unified communications, all employees can stay connected at all times and from all locations. It doesn’t matter whether they’re working from home, vacationing on a remote island, or sitting in the office. They’ll still be able to chat, receive calls, and more.

Feature #2. Unified Messaging

This allows employees to handle different message types using a single tool. They can easily switch communication modes, depending on their needs. 

Feature #3. Conferencing 

Whenever you need conferencing tools, you’ll have them in the palm of your hand. You can allow a group of teammates or customers from outside your organization to connect and speak via video or audio from different locations. 

Feature #4. Fax Support

Faxes received through unified communications appear as email attachments. This way, users can also receive faxes on their desktops and smartphones. 

Feature #5. Presence

This feature lets other users know each other’s status. That means you’ll be able to see when someone is online (Active), busy (Do Not Disturb), or away (Out of the Office). 

How Unified Communications Help Business Leaders

So, what are the benefits of using unified communications in your business? 

Let’s explore 6 of them below. 

Benefit #1. Higher Team Productivity

It’s important for a business owner to boost their team’s workflow and eliminate bottlenecks. Because once they get to do so, productivity will drastically improve. 

This can be done thanks to unified communications. 

This type of communication makes it easier for team members to save time on various tasks, including:

  • Faster file sharing that gets rid of email threads for teamwork
  • Ability to receive calls from any location
  • Ability to receive voicemails and faxes directly in the email
  • Single-click video meetings for emergencies

Teams with access to such technologies can be more effective and get more tasks done in a single day. It also helps get rid of communication challenges. 

Benefit #2. Lower Communication Costs

Legacy phones and on-site communication tools often cost more than your IT budget should allow.

On the other hand, unified communication relies on the internet for all its activities. This means your phone system turns to Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and integrates with the rest of the tools. This approach eliminates the need for server and hardware infrastructure creation. 

Unified communications also make it super easy to add new users. You can simply do so via an easy-to-use dashboard without having to make service calls. 

Finally, the cost of unified communications is the same every month. There won’t be any surprises to your budget. 

Benefit #3. Enhanced Customer Service

Whether or not a company is successful greatly depends on the quality of its customer service. 

With unified communications, your employees can provide great customer service easier. After all, they can respond to client queries regardless of their location. It’s because all chats, incoming calls, and emails are visible from any device. 

You can also integrate all your CRM software on the platform for added benefits. 

For example, when a person contacts your business, the person in charge can see all the necessary information and notes related to that client. In the end, they can help them solve issues faster.

Benefit #4. Empowering a Remote Workforce

Thousands of companies have switched to remote work over the past few years. There are plenty of benefits to this approach after all. 

However, a constant concern here is ensuring that remote workers have all the tools they need for work. 

Thanks to unified communications, all communication aspects are included in a single platform. This means that all your remote worker needs is a stable internet connection to get access to your network and all the features, just like the rest of the team. 

Benefit #5. Increasing Organizational Agility

When you increase your team’s productivity, the same follows for the entire organization. The organizational agility reflects the strategic value of unified communications. And the results you achieve impact your business as a whole. 

So, to see how this approach benefits your work, you must view unified communications from the management side as well. 

Sure, communication has a utilitarian role for management. But when that communication drives productivity, streamlines workflow, and leads to enhanced business outcomes, it’s where you really get to see its value.

Benefit #6. Enhanced Security

The security aspect is crucial for every business. And unified communications enhance the security of a business by integrating all applications into a single platform. 

As a result, it becomes straightforward for the IT team to apply specific security policies across all apps. It’s also easier for them to manage security patches and compliance updates since all applications share the same protocols. 

Realizing the Power of Unified Communications 

Streamlining the processes inside an organization is extremely important in improving the overall performance of its employees. And unified communications allow you to do just that. 

With it, you can boost your customer experience and make your team more efficient by integrating your whole communications system into a single platform. 

Unified communications will let you and your team make calls, host conferences, send emails, receive faxes, and chat from a single, unified space to make your job (and life) easier. 

If you’d like to learn more about implementing unified communications in your business, we’d be happy to help. Reach out to us and we can have a 10-15-minute chat to discuss this topic further. 


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

What Is an MSP (And How to Choose the Right One for Your Business)

Managing data and IT solutions in-house can be challenging and expensive. That’s why many organizations turn to MSPs. 

Digitalization has forced businesses to alter their operations and make IT a huge part of their day-to-day affairs. Still, some owners can’t cope with the change effectively, so they hire a managed service provider, or MSP, to take care of the work. 

But what exactly is an MSP? 

Simply put, this is a third-party company you can collaborate with to help manage parts of your business, such as your IT or cloud needs. It provides technology and expertise to boost your organization’s scalability. 

Working with MSPs can have tremendous benefits for your enterprise. 

For instance, their profound understanding of cutting-edge technology can help you improve performance, operations, and security while reducing overheads. In addition, they can offer several creative solutions to help you navigate the evolving landscape of the big data world. 

But the strongest suit of any MSP is usually their ability to deliver tailor-made solutions that fit your company perfectly. 

Their expertise allows them to analyze your business thoroughly and render their services according to your strengths and weaknesses. Plus, they consider the regulatory environment and compliance to safeguard against legal issues. 

Another great thing about MSPs is that they can support your business even after hours. 

They offer support measures and staff to maintain and protect your organization 24/7. MSPs can even tap into your system to resolve issues and deploy updates without going to your office using remote technology. 

Overall, MSPs can help take your company to the next level. However, you can’t work with just any service provider. You need to select the right team for your enterprise, and this article will show you how. 

Choosing an MSP – What to Look For

Hiring an MSP shouldn’t be a hasty decision. Instead, you want to take a variety of factors into account.

Here are the six important factors to keep in mind: 

Factor #1. The MSP’s Track Record

Prospective MSPs should provide case studies and success stories to demonstrate they’re suitable for your business. You can also look for testimonials, references, and endorsements. These will help you determine if the team has been operating for a while and if their reputation is solid. 

Working with a reputable MSP can give you peace of mind with the knowledge that your system will be appropriately managed. Moreover, you’ll feel confident that the MSP will do all in its power to preserve its name. 

The MSP’s success hinges on yours in some respect, which is why they’ll view you as a valuable partner. 

Factor #2. The Range of Services It Provides

MSPs offer a wide array of services. Some teams are full-service companies, meaning they address your cloud and IT needs comprehensively. In contrast, others may help you with different pieces of your tech puzzle. 

Therefore, consider your needs carefully and ensure your MSP can meet them. 

Regardless of your service package, the MSP needs to keep up with the latest technology trends. Otherwise, numerous security issues may compromise your company and allow the competition to prevail over you. 

Factor #3. Support

As previously indicated, MSPs can work round the clock to ensure your business is compliant and maintained adequately. However, they should also increase their support quickly and adjust staff schedules as your company grows. 

That’s why you should consider an MSP that offers training for your employees.

It lets them understand the necessary changes and encourages them to train other team members as they join your business. But if your employees are too busy, you can instruct the MSP to carry out all the training. 

Factor #4. Response Time

Your network can go down for any number of reasons, preventing your employees from working and your clients from reaching you. This situation can even cripple your reputation, customer base, and revenue. In the worst-case scenario, it can even make you shut down your business. 

Fortunately, a high-quality MSP can help you avoid this scenario. They can identify threats to your system and neutralize them before hurting your company. 

Moreover, if an incident takes place, they should respond immediately. They need to mitigate the risks as soon as possible to keep your organization from crumbling. 

Factor #5. Security and Backup

One of the most important duties your MSP should perform is to shield your data from cyberattacks. This is critical to protecting your company and customers. Besides, safe data storage might be mandatory in your industry, which is why your IT department could use all the help they can get. 

Once you work with an MSP, they should recommend robust security solutions and endpoint protection to combat harmful software. And throughout their engagement, they should consider compliance to help prevent legal issues. 

Another major part of their mission should be the implementation of backup software. It enables you to retrieve your data in case of a breach. Such implementation may involve automation, a restoration plan, and a no-downtime policy. 

With a failproof backup and security strategy in place, you should be able to run your company more confidently. The risk of downtime will be drastically lower, allowing you to operate smoothly, maintain high sales, retain customers, and preserve your brand. 

Factor #6. Guidance on Workflow Options

Your MSP shouldn’t just deal with cybersecurity – they should also suggest adopting the best practices across the entire tech landscape. 

For example, they should advise you on various CRM solutions and project management applications. They should also help you revamp your approach to workflow and data to create efficiency in all departments. 

The fact is, you can yield tremendous results from their guidance. Your team can work faster, collaborate in real-time, and be more tech-savvy. 

Recruit Your MSP Carefully

While price is important when selecting an MSP, it pales in comparison to all the factors listed above. Be sure they’re a perfect fit for your enterprise, even if you need to pay more. 

With high expertise, customized services, and an understanding of threats, a reputable team can help you stay ahead of your competitors. 

If you need more assistance choosing your MSP, get in touch with our experienced team. Let’s schedule a quick 15-minute chat and figure out the ideal MSP for your company. 


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Finding the Right IT Provider: Avoid These 8 Mistakes

Your business can benefit a lot from working with an IT provider. However, you need to avoid several key mistakes when choosing your team.

Time spent on trying to figure out the technology you use in your business can be costly. While doing that, you can’t focus on your business needs, which can then result in poor customer satisfaction. 

This is where IT providers come into play. 

They enable you to outsource hardware and computing-related services, such as managed IT security and cloud computing. IT providers can also provide a robust IT infrastructure so that you can direct your attention to revenue-generating activities. 

While there are numerous IT providers to choose from, not all of them may accommodate your business’s specific needs. And integrating with the wrong team can raise your spending due to irrelevant services, recurring security issues, data backup problems, and downtime. 

Therefore, you need to be extra careful when selecting your team. The only way to avoid disappointment is to avoid these eight common mistakes when looking for the right IT provider. 

The Eight Mistakes

Mistake #1 – Insisting on the Newest Technology

Many advertisers want to trick you into believing that the latest technology will resolve all your issues. While the newest virtualization or cloud offerings can boost operations in many enterprises, they might not suit your business. 

Hence, don’t let the hype surrounding new products dazzle you. 

Carefully consider the results your IT provider will help you achieve and determine if the investment enables you to fulfill them. Your provider shouldn’t confuse you with state-of-the-art features – they should guide you and allow for seamless integration. 

Mistake #2 – Failure To Consider the Response Times

Determining the response times of your prospective IT providers is essential. You need to ask them how long they usually take to reply to queries and resolve problems. Be sure to gauge their onsite support efficiency, too. 

Not inquiring about their availability is another grave error. Your IT team should provide round-the-clock services, including specialists that will monitor your system. 

Constant monitoring and availability can help ensure you can detect IT issues early. With this, the provider can immediately administer patches and updates to safeguard against disasters. 

Furthermore, your IT provider should offer simple access to their desk support. You should be able to contact them via email, phone, and chat for instant guidance. 

Mistake #3 – Neglecting the Security Aspect

Disregarding the security features of your IT provider might be the most severe mistake. Teams with improper defense mechanisms can’t shield your system from cyberattackers, increasing the risk of losing data and access to resources. 

To avoid this, look for IT providers that can protect you from malware and other threats. They also need to prioritize protecting your business’s confidential data, like trade secrets and customer information. 

When it comes to specific security measures, your IT provider should have features that prevent data intrusions instantly upon detection. The list includes phishing attacks simulations, web content filtering, DNS security, endpoint protection, mobile device management, and dark web protection. 

In addition, responsible teams should eliminate point-of-sale and network intrusions before they compromise your system. Making sure they abide by security compliance and government regulations is also paramount. 

Mistake #4 – Forgetting the Budget

Many IT companies operate under pay-as-you-go pricing schemes. Although this helps you minimize upfront investment, adopting a large number of technologies simultaneously without considering the recurring costs can cripple your finances. 

Thus, think twice before signing on the dotted line. 

Research your providers thoroughly and draft your budget with professional assistance. These steps can prevent considerable frustration down the line. 

Mistake #5 – Not Determining Scalability

One of the biggest impediments to growing your company is choosing an IT provider with poor scalability. 

By contrast, scalable IT teams allow your business to evolve and grow. They can continually extend their services to accommodate your company’s goals, even if these goals change. 

Mistake #6 – Opting for a Non-Responsive Service Level Agreement 

Service level agreements (SLAs) hold IT providers accountable for their services. It establishes standards for responsibilities, quality, scope, and delivery time in writing. Without it, you’ll have no way of ensuring transparent collaboration. 

When selecting your IT provider, find one with a responsive agreement. It can help guarantee the SLA scales with their services while rendering continual improvement. 

Mistake #7 – Lack of Team Training and Feedback

The story doesn’t end once you’ve found and partnered with a trustworthy IT provider. New technologies won’t magically increase your bottom line and decrease outputs. 

To accomplish your goal, your employees will still need to understand how to use your new tech solutions. But bear in mind that not every team member may be able to grasp new tools easily. Some may even prefer the existing platforms.

Fortunately, you can hire IT experts to train them. These professionals should simplify any complex steps and advise your staff on making the most of your new investment. 

Also, some enterprises set up regular training but fail to monitor their team’s performance. This is a huge mistake, as it keeps you from assessing your employee’s response to new technologies. 

So, conduct questionnaires and other forms of feedback collection to determine and address any weaknesses.

Mistake #8 – Ignoring Experiences With Previous Clients

Choosing an IT provider is similar to buying standard products and services. Failure to check user reviews can lead to disappointment. 

To get a clear picture of your IT team’s capabilities, analyze their current and previous clients from similar industries. Look for reviews, testimonials, and ask the provider for a list of projects and references. 

After doing your due diligence, you should be able to tell whether an IT provider is an ideal match for your company. 

However, keep in mind that every IT team is different. For instance, they might be well-versed in the healthcare industry but have no experience working with retailers. That’s why as mentioned, stick to IT providers servicing your industry to get the best results. 

Find the Right Fit

Nobody wants to end up with a poor IT provider that can’t deliver great results, leaves your company open to cyberattacks, and causes other vulnerabilities. Your investment goes down the drain, and your operations suffer. 

Luckily, we can show you a way out. 

Let’s arrange a quick, 10-15-minute obligation-free chat. We can discuss more ways on how to find the right IT provider for you and ensure you get your money’s worth.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.