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May 26th, 2016

2016May26_Office365_AProductivity, collaboration, freedom. These words are often touted when the benefits cloud technology are mentioned. But do all businesses that make the cloud switch achieve these? Unfortunately the answer is no. Some businesses flounder in the new technology, and some even become less productive because of it. So how can you avoid such a fate? Well, attitude plays a big role. Here are three mental shifts to make before your cloud migration.

Consider cloud value over costs

When considering the cloud, too many business owners get hung up on costs. Instead, it makes more sense to think about how the cloud impacts their business and saves them money. The old saying, “you have to spend money to make money” is ever so true here. And as a business owner, the cloud is no different than any other investment you took to grow your organization. That’s why you should remember the cloud provides you value, such as the ability to work anytime, anywhere, and easier collaboration.

And of course, you shouldn’t just think of how the cloud benefits yourself, but also your IT managers and staff. In fact, before migrating to the cloud, why not go ahead and ask your IT leaders just how the cloud will benefit your business? They’ll likely mention how it can boost the productivity levels of all your employees, while making everyone’s job easier.

Think “strategy” before migration

Once you’ve considered the value the cloud provides, you’ll likely have some ideas of what goals you’ll want it to accomplish at your business. If you haven’t, now is the time to do so - before signing up for the service. Let’s say for example, you want to gain the productivity benefits of your staff being able to work from anywhere at anytime. How can you do this? When you roll out the cloud in your company, have the specific goal of increasing mobile use or adoption among employees. Talk with your IT leaders to devise a plan they can implement.

When it comes to your other cloud goals, clearly define them beforehand and then talk with your IT staff to come up with the nuts and bolts plan to accomplish that goal. By doing this, you’ll achieve much better results with your cloud service.

Learn to love the quickly evolving nature of the cloud

As the cloud is still a new technology, it is rapidly changing. New updates, features and enhancements are rolled out regularly, and if you want to get the most out of your cloud it’s best to keep up. Of course, this is a scary idea for many business owners and IT managers alike as the old way of doing things is rolling out new features and apps over long periods of time.

Some cloud services make it easier than ever to keep up with changes. Let’s take Office 365 for example. Adding users and implementing new changes can take mere minutes. Yes, it may be scary to do so, but remember, Microsoft and your IT managers are in your corner - they are there to support you. Of course, you may still have some bad memories from updating your legacy technology. Let us assure you, updates to Office 365 are nothing like this and require a small learning curve. Most new features are intuitive by nature, making adjustment to these changes painless and problem-free.

One of the best ways to assure your cloud updates go as smoothly as possible is to have an IT leader who’s enthusiastic about the technology be responsible for managing it. A cloud enthusiast is much more likely to be up-to-date on the newest features and enhancements and can quickly share with you whether or not an update will benefit your business.

When it comes to cloud migration for your business, it’s pretty much an all or nothing decision (unless of course you go with virtualization, which is a different topic altogether). The cloud will become an integral part of your business, and you and all of your staff will interact with it on a daily basis. So be prepared for a big transition and a big payoff of higher productivity and connectivity for you and your staff.

Are you ready to embrace the cloud with a solution like Office 365? Give us a call, and talk with us about a cloud migration today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office
May 25th, 2016

2016May25_Virtualization_ASoftware licensing has been a thorn in everybody’s side for as long as we can remember. It’s no surprise that as software begins to help us to consolidate and combine pieces of hardware through virtualization, we’re confronted with this problem yet again. SMBs are often unfortunate victims of licensing models that favor individual or enterprise purchasing, without enough options in between. Why don’t we delve a little deeper to see how your business can tackle virtualization while taking this legal necessity into consideration ?

Why are licenses an issue?

Virtualization is a complex topic, so let’s have a quick review. Most people are starting to work the concept of cloud storage into their everyday lives. Think of virtualization as a cloud where your server(s) store their hardware capabilities and your network computers can pull from that cloud as needed.

In this scenario, let’s assume employee A and employee B have two identical desktop computers with barebones hardware. Employee A needs to perform some basic text editing while employee B needs an in-depth scan of your client database. With the right infrastructure management, both employees will connect to your business’ server for the necessary physical processing power and server-hosted software. That means employee A will request the appropriate amount of processing power to edit text (which is likely very little) from the server, while employee B requests a much larger chunk of RAM, processing and harddrive space for scanning the database.

Understand so far? Because it gets really tricky when we start asking how many licenses are required for the server-hosted software. Licensing models were originally based on the number of physical hard drives with installed copies. However, in a virtualized environment that’s not an accurate reflection of usage. Using the most recent platforms, administrators can divide up their CPU into as many virtual machines as the SMB requires.

What do current virtualized licensing models look like?

Sadly, the virtualization and software industries are still deciding what’s the best way to move forward. The very vendors that sell the software required to manage the creation of virtual machines and segmentation of your server disagree about which model to use.

The company behind the popular VMware software has switched to a per-virtual-machine model after a huge response from customers, while other powerhouse vendors like Oracle and Microsoft have stuck with the per-CPU-core model that is based on server hardware capacity.

In any software selection process there is almost always the option of open source software. Under the open source model there are no licenses and usage is free, and just last month, AT&T committed to virtualizing 75 percent of its office under the OpenStack cloud computing platform by 2020.

What should I do?

In the end, software license considerations and total cost of ownership calculations should be a huge factor in how you plan to virtualize your SMB. When discussing the possibility of an infrastructure migration with your IT services provider, make sure to ask about the advantages and disadvantages of different virtualization platforms compared with their licensing models. You may find that paying more for hardware-based models is worth it, or that open source platforms provide you with everything you need.

No matter which platform you choose, remember to list every piece of licensed software in your office. Find out which licenses you can keep, which ones you’ll need to update and most importantly what the license migration will cost you in the short and long run.

This might seem like too much to handle at first. The process of virtualizing your SMB alone is enough to have you reaching for the aspirin. By contacting us you can avoid the headache entirely; we’ll walk you through all of the steps necessary to guide your organization through this next step in modernizing your business model.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 20th, 2016

2016May20_BusinessContinuity_AJust because your IT provider has a plethora of awards and certifications under its belt doesn't mean that you can blindly hand over your business’s future to them. Often times, there are some aspects in your business continuity plan that tend to be overlooked by your provider. We have rounded up some of these issues that could appear when you enact your business continuity plans.

Over-optimistic testing

The initial testing attempt is usually the most important as it’s when IT service providers can pinpoint possible weak points in the recovery plan. However, what usually happens is a full transfer of system and accompanying operations to the backup site. This makes it difficult to look at specific points of backup with too many factors flowing in all at the same time.

Insufficient remote user licenses

A remote user license is given by service providers to businesses so that when a disaster strikes, employees can log in to a remote desktop software. However, the number of licenses a provider has may be limited. In some cases, more employees will need to have access to the remote desktop software than a provider’s license can allow.

Lost digital IDs

When a disaster strikes, employees will usually need their digital IDs so they can log in to the provider’s remote system while their own system at the office is being restored. However, digital IDs are tied to an employee’s desktop and when a desktop is being backed up, they are not automatically saved. So when an employee goes back to using their ‘ready and restored’ desktop, they are unable to access the system with their previous digital ID.

Absence of communications strategy

IT service providers will use email to notify and communicate with business owners and their employees when a disaster happens. However, this form of communication may not always be reliable in certain cases such as the Internet being cut off or with spam intrusions. There are third-party notification systems available, but they are quite expensive and some providers sell them as a pricey add-on service.

Backups that require labored validation

After a system has been restored, IT technicians and business owners need to check whether the restoration is thorough and complete. This validation becomes a waste of time and effort when the log reports come in a manner that is not easy to compare. This usually happens when IT service providers utilize backup applications that do not come with their own log modules, and have to be acquired separately.

These are just some of the many reasons why business continuity plans fail. It is important for business owners to be involved with any process that pertains to their IT infrastructure. Just because you believe something works doesn’t necessarily mean that it works correctly or effectively. If you have questions regarding your business continuity plan, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
May 16th, 2016

2016May16_MicrosoftWindowsNewsAndTips_AEarlier this month, Microsoft made a huge announcement regarding Office that hasn’t received much attention. While there is a lot of interest in web-based versions of Microsoft Office, many organizations avoided the Office Online services for fear of compromising their privacy and security. However, they’ve announced a new version that allows businesses to host an Office Online Server locally. Keep reading to find out if this new service could be useful in your SMB.

Released in 2013, Office Web Apps offered access to powerhouse software packages like Word, Excel and PowerPoint without cumbersome installation procedures and storage requirements. Earlier this month however, Microsoft updated and renamed Office Web Apps to Office Online Server (OOS), and allowed delivery of these services via local SharePoint servers.

The update to OOS will include a number of collaborative features, like allowing multiple users to view and edit documents simultaneously. This will allow everyone’s changes to be visible the moment they make them -- thereby eliminating the necessity for drawn-out workflows. In addition to editing, OOS can also be used to easily facilitate meetings and presentations by utilizing real-time co-authoring in programs like PowerPoint, OneNote and Word.

The announcement elaborated that, “By integrating OOS with Exchange Server, you can view and edit Office file attachments in Outlook on the web and send back a reply without ever leaving your browser.”

But most importantly, we understand that many small and medium-sized business owners still have security concerns about the public cloud -- no matter what assurances they get from software providers. Many SMBs didn’t feel safe sending their company documents outside of their network and Microsoft’s OOS update aims at addressing those concerns by allowing OOS to be hosted locally. Contact us about how to move your Microsoft Office suite to the cloud without compromising your privacy.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
May 13th, 2016

2016May13_SocialMedia_AAre your tweets not getting enough exposure? With so many other social media campaigns out there, it can be tricky to get the attention of followers in Twitter. While posting regularly and writing bold headlines are important in grabbing the audience’s attention, there are other Twitter tactics that you should be employing in order to get the most retweets. Listed below are just a few ways to maximize your company’s reach over Twitter.

Schedule your tweets

There is absolutely no point in tweeting out any content if your audience isn’t even awake for it. That’s why it’s important for you to tweet at the right time to get the most retweets. Usually people won’t be retweeting in the morning and are more likely to retweet around 2pm to 6pm EST. However, if your followers live in different time zones and countries, the time you should be tweeting may vary. Twitter tools like Tweriod track down the geographical distribution of your audience and pinpoints the optimal time you should be tweeting to get the most retweets.

Use links

The next time you tweet out something, try embedding a link in your post. Whether it’s news, sports or celebrity updates, people will put some effort in keeping up-to-date with their interests. Studies have also shown that links to instructional posts get the most amount of retweets as well. The problem is, 140 characters is not enough content for your followers. So by satisfying your audience’s curiosity, you motivate them to pay you back by sharing your tweet out to their friends.

Ask for retweets

This is perhaps the most obvious tactic to get some retweets. Using call to action phrases such as “please retweet” significantly increases your chances of a retweet. Of course, you probably aren’t the only one asking for retweets. Adding something to sweeten deal, like a prize for one lucky person who retweets you, gives people incentive to do so.

Use visuals

Intriguing images can inspire retweets. Images are a great way to convey a lot of information in a short amount of time, and social media users love that. Some have found that, using colorful images and infographics in their tweets significantly increased their engagement rates and found that more followers were retweeting their content. It’s probably because there’s just more content to engage with other than a witty 140 character thought.

Use retweetable words

Research has shown that some words are more retweetable than others. Words like you, twitter, please, retweet, post, blog, social, free, media, help are the top 10 most retweetable words. However common-use words in any conversation such as “lol, haha, work, sleep or watching” are less likely to get retweeted. Unless you’re someone incredibly famous, it’s best to avoid using conversation filler words and stick to the buzz words that encourage people to share your tweets out to everyone they know.

Use quotes

Quotes express a lot in one simple line, making it perfect for any Twitter posts. Depending on your audience, a thoughtful quote can really move their fingers to click that retweet button. The next time you’re running out of ideas for tweets, dig up some good quotes relevant to your topic to get those retweets going. However, don’t continuously plug in quotes into your tweets. The trick is to do it occasionally, so you don’t risk people tuning out of your tweets.

#Hashtag

You’ll notice that the more popular tweets tend to have at least one hashtag. Using hashtags on keywords helps categorize your tweets with similar ones, giving your posts a bit more reach and, hopefully, more retweets. Just make sure you don’t overdo it as #thiscanbequiteannoying.

We get that small business may find it tough getting their name discovered among so many social media accounts. But if you consider some or all of these Twitter tactics, you have a better chance of getting more eyes on your tweets. If you want to learn more about useful Twitter tactics to increase your exposure and engagement, give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
May 12th, 2016

2016May12_Web&Cloud_AIt’s an amazing time to start a business and take your ideas to the market more quickly, and at lower costs without the traditional barriers in hiring skilled workers. A world of talented contractors is now available in the “Human Cloud”, ready to help you do the heavy lifting of building your company. In this article, we’ll take a look at how this technology is paving new ways for outsourcing white-collar jobs and what benefits SMBs can gain from using it.

Foundr Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Nathan Chan was sick and tired of hearing about how entrepreneurs were killing it in life and business. He set out with ‘a passion project’ that led him to interview some of the most influential entrepreneurs around the world, and shared his findings through a cool monthly digital publication known as Foundr Magazine. For Nathan, the launch of this successful project would not have been possible if it wasn’t for a human cloud service like Elance, which allowed him to leverage overseas talent and build a solid team of graphic designers, audio/video editors and writers. All tasks and projects for each issue of his magazine is run via the platform, which conveniently auto direct debits and pays for his contractors.

Just like Nathan Chan, business owners are beginning to shift their labor demands from local to global. According to an online survey by Wrike, a social project management platform provider, close to 44% of business owners are already predicting a rapid shift to distributed teams in their companies. For them, technology can make their virtual workers just as efficient as if they were collaborating in one office. Remote collaboration via the the human cloud is indeed a game changer that benefits companies such as startups who are inclined to spend fewer resources to build their business infrastructure. Before we get into these advantages, let’s acquaint ourselves briefly with the human cloud paradigm.

What is the “Human Cloud”?

For those who are already familiar with cloud technology and services, you may know that the modern workforce no longer has to be tied to a physical office. Gone are the days of commuting and trudging along with the herds to get to cube farms or bullpens which some employees may regard as productivity- and soul-killing places.

In the new world of the human cloud, work is a digital cloud space where staff perform white-collar tasks from any location and on any device. Collaboration, file sharing or discussions on projects are done effortlessly and efficiently in a flexible and productive manner, rewarding team members solely for their output -- regardless of their location, education, gender, or race. For employers, it’s not hard to see the promise of the human cloud as a greater and more visible assurance of on-demand worker supply. Although having a virtual workforce has a few challenges, knowing how to overcome them can yield great benefits for SMBs and particularly, startups.

Benefits of hiring on the human cloud

Low cost. The human cloud eliminates time and money wasted on traditional employment processes. Hiring is fast and easy; you pay for the skills you need on a transactional basis -- as opposed to paying a high monthly wage on physically hired talent who may have too much idle time. No overhead. Hiring on the human cloud requires no overhead for office space, thereby enabling firms to stay lean and profit-focused. By becoming “virtual”, teams can work independently from their homes or coffee shops. Get skills on-demand. Employers can contract for micro tasks such as copying text from business cards to larger tasks like selling products for a fee. Others may benefit from human cloud talent sourcing for more complex project work such as software design and programming. Global talent pool. Today, every organization or startup can be ‘multinational’, i.e., they are no longer limited by geography in finding key talent with specialized skills. A good idea can come from just about anywhere and can be performed and delivered from anywhere. Easy collaboration. Using an online platform gives SMBs the ability to manage projects through virtual workrooms. Wrike’s survey revealed that to a significant extent, collaboration software is important and even mission-critical for remote teams to work efficiently.

As more startups and SMBs become familiar (and comfortable) with the advantages of human cloud, the future of work means that location is not the most important factor in determining who will contribute to your business’s success. A worldwide network of online contractors is now ready to serve you with the qualifications, skill sets and shared enthusiasm you seek to turn ideas into valuable products or services. For more information on how to leverage cloud technologies or collaboration software, please get in touch with any of our cloud specialists.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web & Cloud
May 11th, 2016

2016May11_Office_AMicrosoft Word is used by over one billion users worldwide, and of those how many are using it to its full potential? Over the years Word has transformed into a complex design tool that allows it to move far beyond simple text editing. Most users know how to change a font or center their text, but how many know how to track changes on a collaborative document or remove formatting from pasted text? Staying up to date on the features listed in this article will drastically increase the efficiency and productivity of your document creation processes.

Writing outside the box

Not all of your documents are simple line-by-line writing, and even the ones that are might require a bit of unique formatting. We’ve all wrestled with textboxes, customized margins and indents, but did you know that you can write anywhere on a Word document simply by double clicking wherever you’d like to insert your text? No more counting how many times you pressed the spacebar, no more spending 10 minutes formatting your textbox, just double click and start typing.

Customize your AutoCorrect

No matter how often or how much we write every day, there are still words, phrases and special characters that we can’t seem to master. Increase your typing speed by personalizing AutoCorrect to fix your commonly misspelled words without prompting you. Most of these are preprogrammed into Word (pretty much any ‘i’ before ‘e’ mixup), but customizing your own settings can solve issues like accented letters that are missing from your keyboard, or replacing short abbreviations with verbose technical terms. Just go to the File menu, click on Options, select the Proofing tab and click on the AutoCorrect options to explore all of your options.

Apply document formatting to pasted text

No matter how original your content is, there will always be reasons to copy from an outside source and paste to your own. You may need a quote, a piece of data or just an outside voice to your writing. When using the copy and paste function, you may need to remove formatting carried over from the original source. Although the icons and interface of this feature have changed throughout different versions of Word, Microsoft has been careful to always leave it as an option for users. Simply adding the Windows key to your copy shortcut (Ctrl+Windows Key+V) will integrate the copied material into your content. Default paste options can be further customized in the Options menu.

Collaborate with Review tab features

After the content has been written, you may want to invite others to edit your document with Microsoft’s Track Changes function. Once selected, anything altered in the content will be timestamped, highlighted and underlined in a color that changes in accordance with each editor. This allows you to see the original text along with suggested edits from colleagues. If an edit seems too drastic or risky, users have the option to leave comments or suggestions attached to the document, like a virtual sticky note. After the collaborative process is over, changes can be accepted or rejected individually, or en masse. All of these features can be found under the Review tab along the top of the screen.

Find and Replace

Most users know about using the Ctrl+F shortcut to find text in their documents, but not as many are aware of the Replace function. There are several hypothetical situations when you may need to replace several uses of an incorrect word or phrase. In a technical document you may realize late in the writing phase that you’ve misused a term, or in a marketing piece you may decide to change the name of a product or service; regardless, there is a simple one-step solution. After opening the Find window, simply click on the Replace tab and type the original word or phrase into the top field and the corrected word or phrase into the bottom field. From there you can choose to automatically replace all instances, or review them one by one. In addition to using this trick to fix errors, you can also use it as a shortcut to typing difficult and complex phrases by initially writing a shortened version and replacing it with the full phrase after you’ve finished writing.

Undo and Redo

Almost everyone knows the shortcut for undoing nearly any action in Microsoft Office - Ctrl+Z. Far fewer people know, and actively employ, the redo shortcut. This is a quick solution for viewing and comparing different formatting and layout options, and with a tracking history of 100 actions you’re pretty safe from changing so much that you can’t return to where you started.

Microsoft Word is one of the most universal document editing programs in the world. Don’t let creative, design and formatting speed bumps slow the development of your content when there are existing solutions tucked just a few menus away. An up-to-date understanding of Word and its functions can drastically alleviate the headaches of editing and formatting your files. If you’d like to know more about Word and other Microsoft Office products, shoot us an email.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office
May 6th, 2016

2016May6_Virtualization_AApp virtualization is a term that gets thrown around by professionals quite often. Vendors say it’s a necessity for small business owners. But for a service that claims to make your life easier, it’s ironic that small business owners are left even more confused with what app virtualization actually is. So what exactly is it? How does it help your company? And what should you be aware of, if you do decide to get it? Here are some things that you need to know about app virtualization services.

Non-virtualized apps

To understand app virtualization, we need to know how desktop applications are traditionally installed first. When you install an application like Skype or Slack onto a computer, the installer program puts most of the files required for the app to run in the Program Files folder on your hard drive. This process is usually fine for personal use, but things can become problematic if you install similar apps on your device.

For instance, if two similar applications are installed on the same file destination, there is a chance that these programs might conflict with each other and inevitably crash. Similarly, if you choose to uninstall a program without knowing that it shares important files with another application, you run the risk of breaking the other application. Additionally, installing applications the traditional way means you’ll have to manually install the same programs for all your users. Not only is this expensive but installing new applications for every desktop in your company is going to take an absurdly long time.

App virtualization

The solution to this is app virtualization. This refers to the type of virtualization where you run a program on a thin client, which runs in an environment separate from the physical server allowing you to run programs that are normally not compatible with a certain operating system (OS). In other words, virtualized apps trick your computer into working as if the application is running on a local machine, but in fact you’re actually accessing the app from somewhere else. This is better than traditionally installed programs because virtual apps run and feel just like any regularly installed app would.

Advantages of app virtualization:

Apart from the basics however, app virtualization offers more advantages for small businesses including:
  • Quick installation times and less money spent on local installation for each user.
  • Allowing incompatible applications to run on any local machine. For instance, if your laptop is dated and can’t run the latest apps on its own, you can lighten the load on your CPU by accessing virtualized apps instead.
  • Mac users can simply run any Windows apps if your company’s local server runs Windows OS.
  • Applications will not conflict with each other on your computer, since virtual apps are installed in a different location.
  • Upgrading is easy since your IT department won’t have to upgrade applications in individual desktops, they just have to upgrade the virtual application within the company’s local server.
  • Applications can be accessed from any machine, allowing your employees to work from home or on the go if they choose to.

Things to consider:

Before you start deploying app virtualization solutions at the workplace, you need to have a stable network connection first so that you can smoothly stream apps to your users. This is definitely more important for graphic intensive applications. You should also note that some applications like antivirus programs are difficult to virtualize since they need to be closely integrated with your local OS.

App virtualization is popular for many SMBs and it definitely pays off to know why it’s good for your company before taking the plunge. Virtualizing a workplace is no easy task and that’s where we come in. So if you’re convinced that your company can benefit from app virtualization, get in touch with our IT experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 4th, 2016

2016May4_MicrosoftWindowsNewsAndTips_AWhen it comes to smartphones, Windows phones have largely gone unnoticed. Some say iOS and Android phones are just better. While some experts claim that Windows phones entered the market too late to make a lasting impact. However, one of the big reasons why Windows phones are not as successful is because of a lack of support for apps. So what is Microsoft doing to remedy this problem? And how will this affect the popularity of Microsoft’s smartphones? Let’s find out.

The problem

Since its release, Windows 10 Mobile has not been getting as much traction as Microsoft had hoped. One of the biggest factors to this is due to Windows 10 Mobile struggling to get popular apps like Instagram or Snapchat onto their platform. This would mean that customers would have to settle for third-party services that were usually quite obscure, and had a higher chance of shutting down since developers cannot maintain the app running for long without proper funding.

Furthermore, because of such a small market for Windows 10 phones, fewer apps were being developed. No app creator was going to spend time making an app for a platform that is constantly overshadowed by iOS or Android devices. The only thing the Windows 10 Mobile had going for it was its lower price point, but with barely any apps to make the entire device worthwhile, customers were going elsewhere for more popular alternatives.

The solutions

So, clearly, Microsoft needed to reevaluate their strategy to get people’s heads turning back to their devices. In pursuit of a larger user base for Windows phones, here are some of the features that Microsoft are planning to deploy:
  • Cross compatibility apps: In order to get on the same playing field, Microsoft has been trying to make apps that were only available on iOS and Android compatible with Windows devices.
  • Universal Windows Platform: Microsoft’s best solution for a lack of apps on the Windows 10 Mobile is to allow apps to run in several platforms. This means apps that were initially developed for PC, Xbox and Internet of Things (IoT) powered devices can also run on your phone. Instead of getting limited services from one device, you have access to all the apps available for any Windows 10 product.

Will this work?

We’re still uncertain if these strategies will make you want to run out to the nearest store and pick up the newest Windows Phone model, but it seems promising. Companies like Apple and Google have not been successful in unifying their apps for different devices. However, Microsoft’s large PC customer base and available apps can hopefully change that. It also gives Windows phones a unique selling point, other than their competitive pricing, which is sure to attract some customers.

These days, users are working with more than one device at any given time and as we begin to lose track of all the apps installed on our devices, a unified app platform can be just what we need for the future. So do you think you’ll be picking up a Windows phone anytime soon?

Want to stay up to date with the latest developments from Microsoft? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
May 3rd, 2016

2016May3_BusinessIntelligence_AFrom free information products such as ebooks to brochures and email campaigns, today’s marketers have a wealth of tools and tactics at their disposal. While content marketing and social media garner most of the attention in the marketing world, it’s easy to forget about tried and true techniques that are as effective today as they were twenty years ago. Recent data supports that one age-old sales tool in particular is still incredibly effective today, and even beats out some newer marketing tactics. What is it? Let’s take a look.

What is one thing every consumer has in common? They all love to save money. This is why the marketing technique of offering coupons is still as effective today as it was decades ago. Shocked? Don’t believe this is true? Well, let’s explore some statistics.

A recent report by Valassis, a large marketing firm that serves clients across the globe, provided some enlightening information on the effectiveness of coupons. Here’s what they discovered in terms of how coupons influence consumers.

  • 82% of all consumers are more likely to buy from a brand they wouldn’t normally because of a coupon
  • 85% are influenced to try a new product because of a coupon
  • 84% are more likely to switch brands because of the weekly specials on offer
  • 24% choose to shop at another brand’s store over their preferred because of better advertised bargains
This same report also uncovers some interesting data about brand loyalists, revealing that 78% are more likely to buy from a brand they wouldn’t normally patronize, due to a coupon. While this number is surprising close to the amount of total consumers influenced by coupons (as mentioned in the first bullet point above) this next bit of data may come as more of a surprise: 43% of brand loyalists have a more positive view of a company that offers coupons over those who don’t.

While this recent report goes a long way to revealing the benefits of coupons, how do they compare to another common marketing offer used today: free information products?

The appeal of coupons over information products

According to one marketing firm based in Waterford, Connecticut, a coupon was chosen 9 out of 10 times over an ebook when offered simultaneously. This raises an interesting question: why would a coupon be more effective than a free ebook or other information product? Let’s look at some common psychology triggers at play here.

Broad appeal - simply put, coupons have mass appeal. While information products are likely to be seen as more valuable to those with a higher education, a coupon can appeal to all income brackets - from the very wealthy to the very poor.

Instant value - to gain results from an information product requires a time investment and action. For example, if a customer receives a free 30 page ebook that explains how to get the best discounts on electronic equipment, he or she needs to read the book and then take action (and possibly create a plan) to gain the rewards of that time investment. Many consumers would rather spend their time doing something else, but a coupon on the other hand offers immediate value. Simply hand it over to the service provider, and you save money instantly. What’s not to love about that?

Uniqueness - the online marketplace is flooded with free information products. While they’re still an effective tool to gain a prospect’s email address, far fewer businesses offer coupons on their website, especially in the small business sector. By offering a coupon, you provide a free offer that immediately separates you from the pack.

The point here is that just because a marketing tool is popular doesn't mean it’s the most effective. This is why we encourage you to review data and statistics before implementing any marketing technique in your business. It can save you a whole lot of time and also make your business stand out.

Want more valuable business information that can help you connect better with your customers? Curious to learn how IT can help collect data more easily? Call us today to find out more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business