Carrollton Dermatology Associates
Dr. Thomas H. Lamb, MD.
Brighter Image, Inc.
RA-Lin and Associates
North Georgia Turf, Inc.
The fast-paced communication revolution has greatly challenged the dominance of the traditional landline telephone. VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a big part of this changing tech landscape, and has risen to become one of the main landline replacements. Businesses looking to cut back on costs often pursue a free VoIP solution, but is this really a change for the better?
Here are four of the most popular free VoIP apps available and a look at what they can offer businesses.
This service lets users make free Skype-to-Skype audio and video calls, group calls, and instant messaging. But, if you want more advanced calling features like call forwarding, SMS messages, caller ID, calling landline or other mobile phones around the globe, video conferencing, and having your own Skype number, you are going to have to subscribe to a business plan.
The biggest downside to this app is that while it does allow calls to landlines and other numbers, you need to purchase credits or a premium account which can prove a bit expensive for many users.
Although Viber has already released a version for Windows and Mac, this app is definitely made for Smartphones. You need to have a Viber mobile account before you can use its desktop version. This is a good solution for individual users, but may not be the best option for businesses that need to make calls to landlines or non-Viber users.
Aside from video calling, Jitsi also offers you the features of instant messaging, desktop streaming, call recording, encryption for calls, and file sharing. Jitsi's broad compatibility and powerful encryption support may make it seem like a great tool for business. However, because it is open source it could pose potential security risks and be a challenge to manage for your business.
The VoIP systems provided by IT partners like us however are designed for business use and can offer the same benefits as many of the free solutions - video calls, text messaging, etc. - along with the traditional phone requirements, only delivered through a digital connection and at a cost that is usually far below traditional landline subscriptions.
The other main problem with choosing free services is that they may not be able to handle a high volume of communication, largely because many of them are designed for personal or home use, rather than a business environment. Adopting the business features will usually require a paid subscription that could end up costing you more, especially if you subscribe on a per-user basis.
If you are looking to use one of the free apps above or are considering another solution, we strongly recommend you talk to us first. We can talk you through the process, and help ensure that any service is truly right for your business. Beyond that, we can also make recommendations for a system that will truly fit your business.
If you want to know more about VoIP, contact us today.
In this digital age it has become important to not only have an online presence but to create one that is active. In fact, many of your customers probably expect that you can be found online so you will need to be as visible as possible online. This means a business website and involvement with social media and even blogging. The question many business owners ask is whether a blog has any real value.
A blog, a portmanteau of Web log, is usually a page on a website where authors post written articles. The content, usually called a post, can be incredibly varied, from along the lines of a journal style to breaking news or even thoughts and opinions to open up debate.
Business blogging is the act of creating content that is related to your business. The topics are usually narrowed down to relate to the products or services you provide. For example, you are reading this post on our blog, which largely focuses on technology in business. The vast majority of business blogs are not profit oriented (the company isn't out to make money directly from their blog articles) and is usually a part of their marketing plan.
Even if your site effectively explains what your business does, search engines generally look kindly on websites that are active. It is incredibly hard to keep re-writing your website, so one of the best ways to fix this is by blogging. When you create a new blog post, a new page on your website is usually indexed - added to the site structure, kind of like the index at the back of textbooks. This activity tells search engines that your website is active. Active websites will usually show higher in search results.
Blog articles are also great to share on social media services. By sharing content with your existing customers there is an increased chance of your name and profile being seen by people who aren't your customer yet but could be in the future.
If you have more people seeing your content in different places - search results, social media, etc. - you should see an increase in overall traffic to your website.
As many people do this research online, it can be a challenge to establish your company as the expert in your field. Your blog can be the perfect tool to establish your company as a go-to expert. If you answer common questions and provide tips, there is a higher chance that your articles will be regarded as helpful and having potential customers contact you. What this means for you is an increased chance of conversion.
If your posts get a fair number of shares, comments, etc. there is a good chance that search engines will begin to show it higher in results. What this means for you is that the post will continue to be seen in results for a of couple weeks to months or more, depending on keywords, etc. This translates to longer visibility, and a higher chance of traffic and leads in the future.
Of course, not every post will be a smash hit and bring leads pouring in, but an active blog that produces good content could prove to be of great value to your business. It will take time, but most bloggers do see increased payoffs.
Looking to learn more about blogging? Contact us today to see how we can help.
Facebook is without a doubt the most popular social network currently out there. Businesses have taken to it in an effort to forge better connections with their customers and to even harness the vast quantities of data generated. However, it's the advertising and marketing potential that often really draws businesses. Facebook has recently announced though that it is actually pulling the plug on one form of advertising - sponsored stories. So what does this mean for businesses?
Say you own a coffee shop and have allowed users to check in on Facebook when they visit your store. When a user checks in, their friends will sometimes see this on their News Feeds. However, a check-in may be missed because of the sheer amount of content shown on our News Feeds.
With sponsored stories you can pay to promote, or sponsor, these check-ins, or other interactions with your company's Facebook profile. When you do this, the post or story will show up higher on user News Feeds or in the bar to the right of the News Feed. These posts will say Sponsored on them and will tell the user that their friends have liked the content, or interacted with the business e.g., checked in.
In fact, in 2011 Facebook was hit with a class action lawsuit over misuse of user data directly related to sponsored stories. In the summer of last year, it was ruled that Facebook had been violating user privacy and was fined $20 million. Largely because of this, the company implemented the ability to opt out of sponsored stories. It is estimated that this has cost the company around $100 million in lost revenue, which is highly likely the real reason why the company has decided to drop sponsored stories as of April 9, 2014.
For your business this means that you will still be able to advertise, and your content and even ads will still continue to show up on News Feeds, only they will lack other contact information usually seen at the top of sponsored posts.
There are also a number of other options available, including promoting posts and content on yours and other people's News Feeds. Another option involves using the teo Custom Audiences features. These two features allow you to create an ad that can be sent to existing mailing lists or a market that is most likely to respond positively to the content. For businesses that don't have mailing lists or a target market in mind, Facebook also offers Lookalike Audiences which can help you find potential audiences based on your current connections.
In fact, both of these features are currently used by many Facebook users to set up sponsored posts. Now, the main difference will be that the word-of-mouth style of sponsored posts will be gone and will only appear in the right-hand sidebar of user News Feeds.
If you are looking to learn more about using Facebook with your business, contact us today to learn more.
A common trend many small businesses are embracing is virtualizing their data. Like any other types of data, you also need to back virtualized data up. Since backing up your virtualized data can be really challenging, we’ll focus just on this aspect. This guide will show you some of the most common difficulties you’ll be facing when backing up your virtualized data.
As with every other type of data you will need to consider backing up your data. This can be a bit tougher with virtualized data. While our services do make things easier, there are still backup obstacles you should be aware of. In this guide, we highlight the three challenges and hurdles in backing up your virtualized data.
You should take steps to ensure that your backup solution can handle the file growth your business will face. While a virtual solution may be working now, it is a good idea to check with your IT partner to ensure their systems are scalable.
What this means for businesses is an increasing number of virtual servers that are needed to host your virtual solutions. Therefore, it is crucial to protect these virtual machines and the servers that host them because they are quickly becoming the most essential tool your business relies on. If your business is growing, your current virtual machines are likely backed up, but as you add more servers you will need to ensure that these are also backed up.
While backup speeds are increasing year-on-year, it still takes time to copy data files from the backup servers, especially when the quantity of files to copy can be over a billion. It is worthwhile talking with your IT partner about backup and recovery times so you can better know what to expect when you do need to recover virtual systems.
If you have anything to share about data virtualization or virtualization in general, let your voice be heard using the comment section below.
It seems like over the past five years or so, understanding, processing and leveraging of data has become one of the most important parts of a business. When reading about data you often come across the term 'business analytics'. Despite this terms common usage many people are confused as to what exactly it is and where exactly it fits into business processes.
In this article we will take a brief look at business analytics and why it is so important to businesses of all sizes.
We like to define business analytics as a process rather than a science. This process uses skills, business experience, technology, applications, and common business practices, to enable business owners, managers, and employees to explore past performance. Simply put, it's the study of the past performance of a business.
With most businesses, the goal of business analytics is to gain insights into the state of the company, and even drive future decisions based on existing data. If you can successfully implement a business analytics process, you and your employees will gain a higher understanding of your business which will lead to better decision making abilities and even higher growth and profits.
If you are looking to learn more about using business analytics or the components that make up this process, contact us today to see how our solutions can help.
Microsoft's PowerPoint is an important and popular business presentation tool. It has become so embraced that most people nowadays refer to presentations as PowerPoints. There are many elements that lead to a successful PowerPoint presentation, including using lists effectively. While it is easy to use lists, many users often wonder how to use them effectively.
If you have a list with numbers or points in it, you will likely be better able to capture and retain the attention of your audience while making your presentations easier to read and follow. In fact, there are some presentation experts out there who only use bullet point lists, preferring to use these as a guide or pointers to note what to talk about.
Technology is becoming increasingly complex and many small to medium business owners and managers are finding it an increasing challenge to manage their systems, while also ensuring that they are secure. One way to prioritize security is to turn to an IT partner, many of whom offer managed antivirus solutions. While this is a viable option, it can still be a slightly confusing topic.
A managed antivirus solution is provided by IT partners. These tech experts take care of installing the software on computers and other devices, and will then manage the solution. They will also ensure that scanners are up-to-date and scans are scheduled for a convenient time, thus protecting computers. The best way to think of these solutions is that they are specifically provided by a company to look after your computers and protect them from viruses.
When it comes to working on computers, many of us would feel most comfortable using machines and devices that we are used to. There are many companies out there that offer employees a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) option. However, there is a new concept that is also starting to catch on: Choose Your Own Device (CYOD).
Below is a brief overview of BYOD and CYOD and the main differences between the two concepts.
The biggest benefit of adopting this policy is that it can save companies money, because the purchase and maintenance of devices is at the expense of the owner of the device, not the company. This can also lead to higher productivity as employees are using their own device which they are comfortable using.
On the other hand, the biggest drawback of this policy is that it does pose a potential security risk. Because users are accessing company networks and the sensitive data stored within them from their own devices, businesses may see an increase in security breaches. The other downside of BYOD is that it can be tough to control devices and restrict access to data. Companies adopting this policy need to ensure that they have a solid system in place that deals not only with security but how the devices are to be used.
The biggest benefit of this type of policy is that you get to pick what devices to offer and also manage them. This means you can limit access to apps, information, and even certain functions. There is also a knock-on effect with this system too, in that your organization will generally be more secure because you manage the devices. You can install virus scanners and other programs that help ensure your networks and the info stored within are secure.
As with most things, there are downsides to this policy too. The biggest is that you likely won't save any money on hardware, largely because you will have to purchase and maintain this yourself. Another potential disadvantage is that your employees may not be happy with the choices on offer and may want to choose to use their own devices. While this isn't the biggest negative, it could lead to a decrease in productivity, or if employees use their own devices anyway it could create a potential security issue.
If you are looking to adopt a new policy, contact us today to see how we can help.
2013 saw some interesting disaster conditions around the world. From a nearly US-wide cold snap, to flooding in numerous locations, and even the super typhoon that slammed into the Philippines, there was hardly any country not affected by a disaster of some form. In order to be able to recover from negative events many companies have adopted some form of disaster recovery plan. As we look forward to 2014, many business owners and managers are wondering what disaster recovery or business continuity trends they should be aware of.
Certain trends relevant to small to medium size businesses are vital for company leaders to be aware of in 2014:
In 2014, this trend is set to continue. Businesses around the world will continue to gain access to faster Internet connections and disaster recovery specialists will likely improve the speed with which they can implement a backup.
Many solutions will also be able to help businesses align or optimize their processes. ln turn, this will enable faster recovery and stronger protection. It's highly likely that with this combination you could see a business up and running again within hours instead of days.
Because most social media platforms are hosted in numerous locations around the world, they are hardly ever down. If you have an Internet connection, you can pretty much guarantee that you will be able to get a message out. Combine this with the fact that almost everyone has a social media account on at least one platform, and this proves to be a great option that allows you to reach people quickly.
We predict that in 2014 companies will realize this in higher numbers and begin to implement social media into their existing plans and even train employees on how to use this platform in an emergency situation where other communication lines are down.
In order to have a truly effective backup solution, many experts are suggesting that multiple backups of data should be made and stored in multiple locations that are as geographically diverse as possible.
There is little doubt that businesses have learnt this lesson from the fate of either themselves or others, and will be implementing or looking for solutions that host backups in different locations more readily. In 2014, we predict that many providers will be marketing multi-location backups as a main feature. What this means for businesses is more secure backup and a higher chance of recovery when faced with disaster.
These services are managed by an IT partner, who can not only help set up backup and recovery systems, but also support recovery after a disaster. The key here is that they give businesses of all sizes a way to implement a backup and continuity plan properly, at a fraction of the cost as was previously the case. We predict that small to medium businesses will take full advantage of services like this, and providers will begin to focus more on offering this type of service.
If you are looking for a backup solution, why not contact us. We may have something that will work for you. Give us a shout today.
Microsoft's Windows operating system (OS) is unarguably the most popular system used by businesses. While Windows has a wide variety of features, there are some that aren't used on a regular basis but are nonetheless useless. One such feature is the screenshot, which allows you to capture what is on your screen as an image.
Here is an overview of how you can take screenshots on both Windows 7 and 8.
The second method is to use the Snipping Tool. This can be done by:
If you would like to select a screenshot e.g., a picture from a window, the Snipping tool is also available on Windows 8. You can access it by opening the Start screen and typing Snipping tool. Once this has been searched for, click on the app and select New. This will allow you to select your screenshot and save it by following the same instructions as above.
Looking to learn more about using Windows? Contact us today to see how we can help.