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Archive for December, 2009

A tough year teaches valuable lessons in business technology.

I don’t know what kind of learner you are – visual, auditory, kinesthetic. Personally and like many, I am a combination. When I am faced with a mistake or a challenge, I learn best from observing what wasn’t right and then changing it. Finding out the correct answer or a better way to do something “sticks” with me better than knowing something right off the bat. This applies personally and professionally.

It’s no secret that the economic downturn affected millions of small and mid-sized businesses in 2009. At the beginning of the year, credit was hard to come by – even for businesses with sterling credit histories. Many small businesses struggled to meet payroll and were forced to put off big purchases. Eventually the credit markets loosened and banks began lending again, but by then SMB businesses had other problems to deal with, like a steep drop-off in consumer demand that hurt many B-to-C companies. Now, at the very end of the year, tentative signs of a recovery are appearing. So, what did we learn about business and technology in 2009? A few things.

You can’t skimp on maintenance. If cash flow is tight and you’re busy trying to keep your business running, you might be tempted to put off routine IT maintenance tasks. But if you fall behind on your anti-virus updates or forget to install an urgent software patch, you’re courting expensive trouble down the line.

Downturns are when you get ahead. You’ve heard that old saying a thousand times, sure, but it’s true. In a steep recession like the one we just experienced, businesses that manage to stay open have a huge opportunity to scoop up clients from their out-of-business competitors. Not only that, but rising equipment and real estate inventories made for some very good deals for those who were poised to take advantage of them. This was the year to lock in a low rent for your office space and acquire steeply discounted equipment at going-out-of-business sales.

The most expensive solution isn’t always the best. Take, for example, email. If you’re interested in Microsoft Exchange because you need shared calendars and a global address list, you could install an Exchange server. The cost of the server and installation isn’t cheap, and you can enjoy similar capabilities by using a (less expensive) hosted Exchange service. Which solution is right for you? That depends on your individual business’s needs and priorities. One thing is for certain, though: your decision should be based on more than just cost.

Mobility is here to stay. Smartphones are no longer the crazy new gadget that only early adopters and gearheads are interested in; they’re a vital communications tool for most of the small business executives we know. So while you’re planning for your business’s technology infrastructure, communications, and security requirements, make sure you’re thinking about how you are going to accommodate all the BlackBerry and iPhone users in your company.

Social networking is great free marketing – just make sure you do it right. Proceed with caution before you set up a Twitter feed and a Facebook fan page for your business. While it’s never been easier for a satisfied client to share the news about companies they like, it’s also never been easier for news of a clumsy marketing effort to spread like wildfire.

Stay tuned for Windows 7. It’s never a bad idea to take a “watch and wait” approach to Microsoft releases, but if Windows 7 lives up to the promises, it will be a robust, stable, and user-friendly operating system.

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 Do you wake up in the morning feeling like you didn’t get enough sleep?

Do you wake up during the night with your mind racing about business issues?

Are you getting quality sleep?

Could these two aspects of not getting quality sleep be connected? I am not a sleep doctor; however, as a small business owner, wife and parent of three kids, I know how critical it is to get consistent quality sleep in order to perform at the necessary levels required and requested by others. I used to think that by staying up late at night plugging away at work  that I was being efficient. It worked great until about noon the following day when I would start to falter. Plus, I had CMIT colleagues teasing me about emails that I would send around midnight.

What can we do to get or almost guarantee that we will have better quality sleep and, therefore, greater productivity during the workday?!

Let’s think of how your technology streamlines your business processes. For me, I constantly work at using technology to keep me on track and accountable whether it is having a “fast” computer that can handle my computing needs or maybe knowing how to remotely access my computer from home or feeling secure that what I create will not disappear unexpectedly.

Just imagine – by having a solid and stable IT infrastructure in place, everyone at your business as well as your clients and vendors who interact with you are able to do more. Be more productive, efficient and billable. 

Doesn’t the thought of this and having your technology working for you put you more at ease?

Our "Standby Server" gets your firm running againMany CMIT clients across the country are sleeping better (it’s not just a bed that can make you sleep better) because they have put a process and solution in place to allow their business to move forward. Just as business owners review their numbers on a regular basis, CMIT Guardian helps to keep a business’ numbers in the “black” by providing a proven restore and recovery system.  By having the foresight and business sense to plan for all situations (good and really bad), you are putting your company and your livelihood  in the position to succeed and thrive.

Keep IT Simple! While you continue to focus on taking your business to the next level, my firm will remain focused on the welfare of your business by keeping your technology in tip-top health.

Good night, sleep tight and get that well deserved quality sleep that puts you and your busines at the top of your game!

CMIT Guardian - Protecting Your Business

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Planning on doing a lot of online shopping? A few quick, easy steps can help you stay safe.

If you’re shopping online this December — whether it’s for friends, family, co-workers, or employees — you’ll be joining the millions of Americans who are skipping the crowded parking lots and endless lines at the mall for a fast, easy experience on the Web. Here are a few tips to make sure you get the best deals in the least amount of time … without falling for an online scam.

1. Read the fine print. Thoroughly investigate a company’s shipping and returns policy before you commit to a sale. Otherwise, you may get stuck with a late delivery and a nonrefundable item.

2. Take advantage of free shipping and other discounts. Many retailers will foot the bill for shipping or provide other incentives if your purchase exceeds a certain amount. So, instead of sending six different clients six different fruit baskets from six different sources, find the single source that will let you ship all of them for free.

3. Make a list. It’s easy to surf from site to site, spontaneously adding goodies to your online shopping basket. If you know exactly what you’re looking for ahead of time, you’ll be less likely to stray from your list and more likely to comparison shop — both of which can help you stay within budget.

4. Don’t forget the basic rules of online shopping. When you’re placing an order, make sure the ordering page is secure and encrypted. If your credit card issuer offers a virtual credit card number generator, use it. (A virtual card number only works for a brief amount of time on a single site, so if it falls into the hands of data thieves it can’t be successfully used again.) And if a deal looks too good to be true, do some research on the company. Look them up on  BizRate.com or the Better Business Bureau at http://www.bbb.org before you commit to a purchase.

5. Check with the experts. If you’re stumped for tech gadget ideas, Amazon, CNET,  eWeek, and PC World all publish holiday gift lists.

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Travelling over the holidays or winter break? Driving around town and making a lot of client visits or running personal errands? What measures do you already take to protect your laptop from being apprehended by a ne’er do well? How SECURE is your laptop while on the road or schlepping around town? Really?!

Dell laptopNot too long ago Microsoft posted a great article about this topic. Here are the 9 Ways and you can click through to the entire article too.
  1. Avoid Using Comptuer Bags
  2. Never Leave Access Numbers or Passwords in Your Carrying Case
  3. Carry Your Laptop With You (even if it’s a pain to lug the laptop in and out when you don’t need it)
  4. Encrypt Your Data
  5. Keep Your Eye on Your Laptop
  6. Avoid Setting Your Laptop on the Floor
  7. Buy a Laptop Secuirty Device
  8. Use a Screen Guard
  9. Try Not to Leave Your Laptop in Your Hotel Room or With the Front Desk
One thing item that I would like to add to this is:
Make sure to have at least a three (3) year warranty on your laptop AND have an Accidental Care warranty.
We recommend this to every client and prospect when discussing laptop purchases. Granted, this isn’t the same type of security as mentioned above; however, this will help to secure your productivity, billable time and limit additional money outlay when you run into a problem at the office or on the road.
 
Click here to read the Microsoft article in its entirety.

 

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