What can unified communications do for your business?

Unified communications is a great opportunity to leverage several different communications platforms to reach suppliers efficiently, maintain a good flow of internal information, and interact with customers effectively.

What is unified communications?

Unified communications (UC) allows you to manage all your communications as one piece of architecture rather than as several different components patched together. It integrates computer-related communication technologies like instant messaging and video conferencing with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which allows you to make and receive calls using the internet.

What can be integrated?

Just about every medium of communication can be integrated. This includes voice communication in all its forms — voicemail, email, or fax — as well as multimedia services like video chat and web conferencing. Real-time communication like call screening and call conferencing can also be integrated. On top of these, even data services and transactions like eCommerce and online banking can be added to a UC system.

What are the benefits of UC to small businesses?

One of the most evident benefits is having a single and flexible communication infrastructure that allows you to streamline and enhance business communication and easily manage all the components.
Features can be scaled up or down to support your business needs without hassle. Other benefits include:

Hypermobility
UC enables you to access your files via a wide array of smart devices, like laptops, smartphones, tablets, and more. This means you can create your office environment and satisfy customers from anywhere you please. This opens up a world of opportunity for real-time collaboration and remote work.

Improved productivity
Your employees will be equipped with productivity-enhancing communication features, like call info, call routing, and more, which will enable them to work more efficiently and better tend to customers’ needs. Web and video conferencing calls, for instance, not only allow for real-time interactivity, but also for better collaboration. Delayed response times and gaps between dispersed teams are also minimized.

Real-time updates
You and your employees will be able to see important presence updates in real time, including the locations of your colleagues and ways to contact them. This way, you can get the right information from the right person when you need it.

Single point of contact
Clearly defined points of contact ensure that stakeholders can reach you by email, phone, SMS, etc., whether they are reaching out to you from a softphone, an IP phone, email, or IM.

Reduced costs
UC eliminates travel costs and lowers phone bills since it uses the internet to make calls. It also limits the need for expensive on-site hardware, as one UC server keeps everyone connected using the aforementioned communication features.
Even better, you can potentially save thousands of dollars on office overheads by allowing employees to work from home since they’ll remain connected with their softphones even when they’re not in the office.

It’s only a matter of time before unified communications becomes the norm for day-to-day office interactions. If you’re interested in learning more about how UC or VoIP can transform your business, just give us a call. We’ll answer your questions and help you devise an integration strategy for your business.

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Unified communications defined

Communications is an integral business component that no enterprise can survive without. At the forefront of modern business communications is the all-in-one, internet-powered communications solution: unified communications.

What is unified communications?

Unified communications (UC) allows you to manage all your communications as one piece of architecture rather than as several different components patched together. It integrates computer-related communication technologies like instant messaging and video conferencing with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which allows you to make and receive calls using the internet.

What can be integrated?

Just about every medium of communication can be integrated. This includes voice communication in all its forms — voicemail, email, or fax — as well as multimedia services like video chat and web conferencing. Real-time communication like call screening and call conferencing can also be integrated. On top of these, even data services and transactions like eCommerce and online banking can be added to a UC system.

What are the benefits of UC to small businesses?

One of the most evident benefits is having a single and flexible communication infrastructure that allows you to streamline and enhance business communication and easily manage all the components.
Features can be scaled up or down to support your business needs without hassle. Other benefits include:

Hypermobility
UC enables you to access your files via a wide array of smart devices, like laptops, smartphones, tablets, and more. This means you can create your office environment and satisfy customers from anywhere you please. This opens up a world of opportunity for real-time collaboration and remote work.

Improved productivity
Your employees will be equipped with productivity-enhancing communication features, like call info, call routing, and more, which will enable them to work more efficiently and better tend to customers’ needs. Web and video conferencing calls, for instance, not only allow for real-time interactivity, but also for better collaboration. Delayed response times and gaps between dispersed teams are also minimized.

Real-time updates
You and your employees will be able to see important presence updates in real time, including the locations of your colleagues and ways to contact them. This way, you can get the right information from the right person when you need it.

Single point of contact
Clearly defined points of contact ensure that stakeholders can reach you by email, phone, SMS, etc., whether they are reaching out to you from a softphone, an IP phone, email, or IM.

Reduced costs
UC eliminates travel costs and lowers phone bills since it uses the internet to make calls. It also limits the need for expensive on-site hardware, as one UC server keeps everyone connected using the aforementioned communication features.
Even better, you can potentially save thousands of dollars on office overheads by allowing employees to work from home since they’ll remain connected with their softphones even when they’re not in the office.

It’s only a matter of time before unified communications becomes the norm for day-to-day office interactions. If you’re interested in learning more about how UC or VoIP can transform your business, just give us a call. We’ll answer your questions and help you devise an integration strategy for your business.

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Rediscover Office 365 with Surface

Microsoft’s Surface line does not only have the most powerful Intel Core processors, but it also offers unprecedented integration with Office 365. With unique touchscreen capabilities and advanced accessories, Surface devices enable you to work with the popular productivity suite in new and exciting ways.

Audio transcription in Word

This new feature allows audio files to be uploaded into Word, which will then be broken down and transcribed on a side panel using Azure Speech Technology. If you want, you can also record directly on Word using the Dictate function. The app will automatically transcribe it. To review the accuracy of the transcription, simply select a piece of the transcribed text and the audio version of that part will be played back.

This technology will be available in Word for web in early 2020, and can be enjoyed on desktop and mobile in the spring. This feature isn’t free, but researchers, students, and professionals will find that this feature is worth the cost. It can also be of help to people with disabilities.

Improved Ink Editor

Ink Editor lets you edit and highlight documents by using your finger or a digital pen. Previously, you could already do simple commands with it, like delete and add words in a document, split a word, or link two words together. With Surface devices, the editing gestures become even more natural. When the technology arrives on web and desktop in Spring 2020, you will be able to insert comments anywhere in the document, as well as add graphs, drawings, or dictations.

Digital pen support for Excel

Microsoft takes advantage of the touchscreen capabilities in Surface devices by offering digital pen support for Excel. With this capability, you can now use your digital pen to write letters and numbers directly into Excel. This is perfect for people who are always on the go and those who want to save time when taking down notes.

Powerful Earbuds

Surface Earbuds are wireless earbuds that allow you to control music and calls by using signature gestures and voice commands. And because it integrates with Office 365, you can also use these gestures and commands on Office apps, such as when controlling a PowerPoint slideshow. Go to the next slide on PowerPoint by swiping on your Earbuds, or play and pause a video with a single tap on your device. Access apps like Outlook calendar and email without a screen. You can also use its built-in mic for dictation in apps like Word and Teams. The possibilities are limitless.

With Surface and Office 365 working together, you can expect improved productivity and more efficient workflows. Want to learn more about Office 365 and other necessary business technologies? Contact us today. Our technology experts are always ready to answer your questions.

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Why O365 and Surface are perfect together

Surface is comprised of Microsoft’s top-of-the-line laptops and tablets built with touchscreen capabilities, allowing them to integrate with Office 365 in even more efficient ways than previously possible. Here’s what to look forward to.

Audio transcription in Word

This new feature allows audio files to be uploaded into Word, which will then be broken down and transcribed on a side panel using Azure Speech Technology. If you want, you can also record directly on Word using the Dictate function. The app will automatically transcribe it. To review the accuracy of the transcription, simply select a piece of the transcribed text and the audio version of that part will be played back.

This technology will be available in Word for web in early 2020, and can be enjoyed on desktop and mobile in the spring. This feature isn’t free, but researchers, students, and professionals will find that this feature is worth the cost. It can also be of help to people with disabilities.

Improved Ink Editor

Ink Editor lets you edit and highlight documents by using your finger or a digital pen. Previously, you could already do simple commands with it, like delete and add words in a document, split a word, or link two words together. With Surface devices, the editing gestures become even more natural. When the technology arrives on web and desktop in Spring 2020, you will be able to insert comments anywhere in the document, as well as add graphs, drawings, or dictations.

Digital pen support for Excel

Microsoft takes advantage of the touchscreen capabilities in Surface devices by offering digital pen support for Excel. With this capability, you can now use your digital pen to write letters and numbers directly into Excel. This is perfect for people who are always on the go and those who want to save time when taking down notes.

Powerful Earbuds

Surface Earbuds are wireless earbuds that allow you to control music and calls by using signature gestures and voice commands. And because it integrates with Office 365, you can also use these gestures and commands on Office apps, such as when controlling a PowerPoint slideshow. Go to the next slide on PowerPoint by swiping on your Earbuds, or play and pause a video with a single tap on your device. Access apps like Outlook calendar and email without a screen. You can also use its built-in mic for dictation in apps like Word and Teams. The possibilities are limitless.

With Surface and Office 365 working together, you can expect improved productivity and more efficient workflows. Want to learn more about Office 365 and other necessary business technologies? Contact us today. Our technology experts are always ready to answer your questions.

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Increase productivity with Office 365 and Surface

Microsoft recently showcased Surface, a line of touchscreen-based laptops and tablets that run on the latest version of Windows. These gadgets boast compact builds, sharp displays, and other top-of-the-line specifications. And the best part is, all of these devices can integrate seamlessly with Office 365 to help you achieve optimum productivity. Here’s what you can expect.

Audio transcription in Word

This new feature allows audio files to be uploaded into Word, which will then be broken down and transcribed on a side panel using Azure Speech Technology. If you want, you can also record directly on Word using the Dictate function. The app will automatically transcribe it. To review the accuracy of the transcription, simply select a piece of the transcribed text and the audio version of that part will be played back.

This technology will be available in Word for web in early 2020, and can be enjoyed on desktop and mobile in the spring. This feature isn’t free, but researchers, students, and professionals will find that this feature is worth the cost. It can also be of help to people with disabilities.

Improved Ink Editor

Ink Editor lets you edit and highlight documents by using your finger or a digital pen. Previously, you could already do simple commands with it, like delete and add words in a document, split a word, or link two words together. With Surface devices, the editing gestures become even more natural. When the technology arrives on web and desktop in Spring 2020, you will be able to insert comments anywhere in the document, as well as add graphs, drawings, or dictations.

Digital pen support for Excel

Microsoft takes advantage of the touchscreen capabilities in Surface devices by offering digital pen support for Excel. With this capability, you can now use your digital pen to write letters and numbers directly into Excel. This is perfect for people who are always on the go and those who want to save time when taking down notes.

Powerful Earbuds

Surface Earbuds are wireless earbuds that allow you to control music and calls by using signature gestures and voice commands. And because it integrates with Office 365, you can also use these gestures and commands on Office apps, such as when controlling a PowerPoint slideshow. Go to the next slide on PowerPoint by swiping on your Earbuds, or play and pause a video with a single tap on your device. Access apps like Outlook calendar and email without a screen. You can also use its built-in mic for dictation in apps like Word and Teams. The possibilities are limitless.

With Surface and Office 365 working together, you can expect improved productivity and more efficient workflows. Want to learn more about Office 365 and other necessary business technologies? Contact us today. Our technology experts are always ready to answer your questions.

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Are you using this WordPress checklist yet?

Many will immediately blame hackers for an extremely slow website or being delisted from search engines, but that’s not always the case. When it comes to managing your WordPress website, how sure are you that all your bases are covered? If not, you might want to give this WordPress maintenance checklist a try.

Make backups

It’s crucial to perform a daily off-site backup of your WordPress files and database. This ensures data security in the event of a network breach or natural disaster, and it will facilitate the resumption of your business’s regular operations. Although plugins like BackUpWordPress and hosting servers like SiteGround automate the backup process, manual backups are still necessary.

Verify backups

Not only should you be making backups, but you should also be verifying them. By doing so, you are making sure that the backed up files are going where they are supposed to, and backups are being updated. The last thing you need is a failed backup strategy on the day you need it most!

Daily security reports

If you ask any cybersecurity expert, “Is it crucial to maintain a daily network security report?” the answer will be a resounding “YES.” While you might not have enough time to carry out thorough inspections and create these reports yourself, you can use security monitoring services like Sucuri. Not only does it carry out the inspections, but it also sends an SMS to notify you of any suspicious activity and emails you a daily status report.

Malware scans

Cybercriminals are growing in both number and sophistication. With every passing day, new strains of malware are developed and released onto the systems of small- or medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Unless you are a bonafide hacker yourself, detecting malware might be a little tricky. WordPress plugins like Wordfence keep your website safe using the latest firewall rules and flagging the latest malware signatures and malicious IP addresses.

Speed audits

Slow and steady may be qualities valued by some, but not so much for your website. Plugins like Google PageSpeed Insights test how fast your site loads. If it takes more than five seconds, you should consider implementing caching and other measures to speed up your site. Slow sites put off visitors, and that further lowers their search rankings.

Review your site

For this step, sit down with an impartial friend and let them explore your website. A fresh pair of eyes will highlight issues you may have overlooked, such as forgetting to update the copyright date in your footer.

Forbes, National Geographic, and The New York Times are all powered by WordPress, which means you are in good company. By sticking to the checklist, you too can harness the power of this online, open-source website creation tool. Or, instead of signing up for half a dozen services that need daily check-ins, why not have us take care of all of it for you? If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to send us an email or give us a call!

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An essential checklist for WordPress users

Wake up. Take a shower. Get dressed. These are just some of the numerous tasks we do every single day. They may not be fun, but they are essential to our daily routine. Managing a website is very much the same. By going through certain necessary steps, you can ensure the speed and security of your WordPress website. The best part? They don’t take long to complete!

Make backups

It’s crucial to perform a daily off-site backup of your WordPress files and database. This ensures data security in the event of a network breach or natural disaster, and it will facilitate the resumption of your business’s regular operations. Although plugins like BackUpWordPress and hosting servers like SiteGround automate the backup process, manual backups are still necessary.

Verify backups

Not only should you be making backups, but you should also be verifying them. By doing so, you are making sure that the backed up files are going where they are supposed to, and backups are being updated. The last thing you need is a failed backup strategy on the day you need it most!

Daily security reports

If you ask any cybersecurity expert, “Is it crucial to maintain a daily network security report?” the answer will be a resounding “YES.” While you might not have enough time to carry out thorough inspections and create these reports yourself, you can use security monitoring services like Sucuri. Not only does it carry out the inspections, but it also sends an SMS to notify you of any suspicious activity and emails you a daily status report.

Malware scans

Cybercriminals are growing in both number and sophistication. With every passing day, new strains of malware are developed and released onto the systems of small- or medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Unless you are a bonafide hacker yourself, detecting malware might be a little tricky. WordPress plugins like Wordfence keep your website safe using the latest firewall rules and flagging the latest malware signatures and malicious IP addresses.

Speed audits

Slow and steady may be qualities valued by some, but not so much for your website. Plugins like Google PageSpeed Insights test how fast your site loads. If it takes more than five seconds, you should consider implementing caching and other measures to speed up your site. Slow sites put off visitors, and that further lowers their search rankings.

Review your site

For this step, sit down with an impartial friend and let them explore your website. A fresh pair of eyes will highlight issues you may have overlooked, such as forgetting to update the copyright date in your footer.

Forbes, National Geographic, and The New York Times are all powered by WordPress, which means you are in good company. By sticking to the checklist, you too can harness the power of this online, open-source website creation tool. Or, instead of signing up for half a dozen services that need daily check-ins, why not have us take care of all of it for you? If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to send us an email or give us a call!

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Manage your WordPress with this checklist

WordPress is one of the most powerful blogging and content management systems (CMS) today. Since 35% of the internet is powered by WordPress, there’s no room for sluggish load times, potential security vulnerabilities, or search engine delistings. Follow this checklist to avoid those problems.

Make backups

It’s crucial to perform a daily off-site backup of your WordPress files and database. This ensures data security in the event of a network breach or natural disaster, and it will facilitate the resumption of your business’s regular operations. Although plugins like BackUpWordPress and hosting servers like SiteGround automate the backup process, manual backups are still necessary.

Verify backups

Not only should you be making backups, but you should also be verifying them. By doing so, you are making sure that the backed up files are going where they are supposed to, and backups are being updated. The last thing you need is a failed backup strategy on the day you need it most!

Daily security reports

If you ask any cybersecurity expert, “Is it crucial to maintain a daily network security report?” the answer will be a resounding “YES.” While you might not have enough time to carry out thorough inspections and create these reports yourself, you can use security monitoring services like Sucuri. Not only does it carry out the inspections, but it also sends an SMS to notify you of any suspicious activity and emails you a daily status report.

Malware scans

Cybercriminals are growing in both number and sophistication. With every passing day, new strains of malware are developed and released onto the systems of small- or medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Unless you are a bonafide hacker yourself, detecting malware might be a little tricky. WordPress plugins like Wordfence keep your website safe using the latest firewall rules and flagging the latest malware signatures and malicious IP addresses.

Speed audits

Slow and steady may be qualities valued by some, but not so much for your website. Plugins like Google PageSpeed Insights test how fast your site loads. If it takes more than five seconds, you should consider implementing caching and other measures to speed up your site. Slow sites put off visitors, and that further lowers their search rankings.

Review your site

For this step, sit down with an impartial friend and let them explore your website. A fresh pair of eyes will highlight issues you may have overlooked, such as forgetting to update the copyright date in your footer.

Forbes, National Geographic, and The New York Times are all powered by WordPress, which means you are in good company. By sticking to the checklist, you too can harness the power of this online, open-source website creation tool. Or, instead of signing up for half a dozen services that need daily check-ins, why not have us take care of all of it for you? If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to send us an email or give us a call!

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Do you need identity and access management?

To defend against cyberthreats, businesses often implement strong antivirus software and firewalls — but both these solutions are not enough. A cutting-edge identity and access management (IAM) solution is crucial to protecting your digital assets from hackers, rogue employees, and weak passwords.

What is IAM?

Identity and access management is a system that secures, stores, and manages user identities and access privileges. It ensures that users are who they say they are and will grant access to applications and resources only if they have permission to use them. System administrators can make it so that employees can only access apps and data they need for work.

Other solutions that go into identity and access management include single sign-on (SSO) and multifactor authentication (MFA). The former allows users to securely log in to multiple applications that they are authorized to access. Meanwhile, MFA sets an additional method of user verification other than passwords. This includes fingerprint scans, facial ID, or a one-time security code from an SMS.

These security solutions are designed to protect digital assets even if users attempt to access company accounts through mobile devices and the cloud.

Centralize access control

Too much access to certain systems is risky, while too little can hamper productivity and frustrate users. IAM strikes the perfect balance by letting you set centralized policies for the right access privileges. For example, you can deny your design team access to the accounting system while granting it to your CFO.

Each user’s role and attribute can be used to determine which resources they’re allowed to access and to what extent. This not only offers better security, but also more flexibility and ease of management.

Lower chances of data breaches

With SSO and MFA, your employees will no longer have to remember multiple passwords. Instead, they’ll be able to prove their identity using evidence-based authorization such as answering a personal question that only they would know. IAM also comes equipped with advanced encryption tools to protect sensitive data, reducing the risk of compromised user credentials.

Improve user experience

Customers today interact with your company across multiple channels, whether in the cloud or via third-party applications. This is where IAM helps provide a better experience through SSO, self-service capabilities, and unified customer profiles that make communication processes quick and easy.

Your employees, on the other hand, will be able to access the information they need securely and conveniently no matter where they are. This means productivity will no longer be confined to their office desk.

Achieve regulatory compliance

Businesses today must meet the constantly changing regulatory requirements concerning data access governance and privacy management. IAM was designed with just that in mind and provides control over who can access data and how it can be used and shared.

Reduce IT costs

IAM automates and standardizes many aspects of identity, authentication, and authorization management. This means you’ll be able to minimize significant labor costs associated with keeping your business environment secure.

An identity and access management solution equips you with much-needed security without compromising on usability and convenience. To operate in a digital business environment, it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” you’ll adopt IAM within your company.

If you’re looking to enhance company-wide security, whether with IAM or other solutions, why not give us a call? We’re sure we can help.

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Identity and access management 101

Whether it be cloud, mobile, or on-premises, every technology you use stores confidential data that are accessed by your employees. So how do you guarantee the safety of said data from cyberthreats like identity theft, phishing attacks, and more? Identity and access management (IAM) is the answer, and here’s why.

What is IAM?

Identity and access management is a system that secures, stores, and manages user identities and access privileges. It ensures that users are who they say they are and will grant access to applications and resources only if they have permission to use them. System administrators can make it so that employees can only access apps and data they need for work.

Other solutions that go into identity and access management include single sign-on (SSO) and multifactor authentication (MFA). The former allows users to securely log in to multiple applications that they are authorized to access. Meanwhile, MFA sets an additional method of user verification other than passwords. This includes fingerprint scans, facial ID, or a one-time security code from an SMS.

These security solutions are designed to protect digital assets even if users attempt to access company accounts through mobile devices and the cloud.

Centralize access control

Too much access to certain systems is risky, while too little can hamper productivity and frustrate users. IAM strikes the perfect balance by letting you set centralized policies for the right access privileges. For example, you can deny your design team access to the accounting system while granting it to your CFO.

Each user’s role and attribute can be used to determine which resources they’re allowed to access and to what extent. This not only offers better security, but also more flexibility and ease of management.

Lower chances of data breaches

With SSO and MFA, your employees will no longer have to remember multiple passwords. Instead, they’ll be able to prove their identity using evidence-based authorization such as answering a personal question that only they would know. IAM also comes equipped with advanced encryption tools to protect sensitive data, reducing the risk of compromised user credentials.

Improve user experience

Customers today interact with your company across multiple channels, whether in the cloud or via third-party applications. This is where IAM helps provide a better experience through SSO, self-service capabilities, and unified customer profiles that make communication processes quick and easy.

Your employees, on the other hand, will be able to access the information they need securely and conveniently no matter where they are. This means productivity will no longer be confined to their office desk.

Achieve regulatory compliance

Businesses today must meet the constantly changing regulatory requirements concerning data access governance and privacy management. IAM was designed with just that in mind and provides control over who can access data and how it can be used and shared.

Reduce IT costs

IAM automates and standardizes many aspects of identity, authentication, and authorization management. This means you’ll be able to minimize significant labor costs associated with keeping your business environment secure.

An identity and access management solution equips you with much-needed security without compromising on usability and convenience. To operate in a digital business environment, it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” you’ll adopt IAM within your company.

If you’re looking to enhance company-wide security, whether with IAM or other solutions, why not give us a call? We’re sure we can help.

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