How Mobile Technology Can Improve Your Sales And Marketing

How Mobile Technology Can Improve Your Sales And Marketing

Your customers have questions. You have the answers. It’s the job of your sales and marketing process to make the two connect in the easiest way possible.

In years past, you might have handled the process with consultations and brochures. Technology increased and a lot of the process moved to the web. But times are changing once again, and more and more of your customer base is no longer tethered to a desktop or laptop existence; they are pulling out their mobile technology and accessing the data everywhere. Whenever they have a question, the answer is a mere click away.

Are you ready?

Control Leads With A Process

All leads go through a process from the moment they determine they need help, to finding and finalizing the sale. Most of that process can be anticipated by simply thinking like your customer. (There’s a book I highly recommend that will help you understand this process on a deeper level – Becoming The Customer.)

Buyers have taken control of the sales cycle; they want information on their timeframes and know exactly how to get it. With seemingly unlimited resources online, they can do as much research as they choose, pushing the sales cycle from days to hours, even to minutes, all depending on their needs and desires.

Traditional marketing and sales strategies lack the ability to allow a customer to travel at their own pace. They rely on you for everything. By converting the process to the web, you are opening it up to a new level of potential. With the web, a customer can search for and have access to any information you choose to release. You can direct them through landing pages and sign up opportunities. You can have contact forms and shopping carts that put the customer in control.

But there’s one more step you have to consider; are you mobile ready? Traditional websites may not convert easily and be accessible on mobile devices. Certain programs may not be visible on smaller screens. While it may take a conversion process to handle the details, the results can be more than worth it as your potential customer base grows.

Create Support Systems To Keep Learning

The sales and marketing process doesn’t end when the customer signs on the dotted line. The sales and marketing process keeps going indefinitely. They continue when a customer forgets the advice you gave them and goes to your site hunting for the answer. They continue when its time for another service. Or the next appointment. Or the next question.

Technology gives us the ability to build comprehensive mobile-ready libraries that interact and provide on-demand customer support in every way. They can provide push notifications as alerts, provide newsletters to keep people better informed, and can provide ongoing support throughout the process. Whether content is provided directly in one-on-one format, or is created generically and pushed via scheduled formats, staying in your customers’ thoughts is an important part of remaining a viable business.

Mobile Can Increase Productivity

Whatever your needs, however you choose to connect and be a part of your customers’ lives, incorporating a mobile friendly strategy as you move forward will make all the difference. Customers of the future won’t just demand it, they won’t be able to function any other way.

That means coming on board today with the realities of what mobile has to offer. What programs make it easier for you to connect with your customer base? What apps give you potential at the click of a button? Yet through all of this change, there is one more thing to keep in mind: safety.

Downloading an app is quick and easy; keeping your customers safe and happy is a completely different challenge. If you have any questions about how to combine all the pieces into a working strategy, lets talk today.

Protecting Health Information When Using A Mobile Device

Protecting Health Information When Using A Mobile Device

As a small medical practice, comparing how your business runs today with even a few short years ago can make it seem light years apart. Technology doesn’t just change by the year, in some cases it seems to change every day. Go back ten years to a time when a cell phone was simply a phone. By today’s standards, even that would seem archaic at best. Today’s smartphones are used for everything from texting with your kids, to checking the latest scores of the big game, to keeping your life on track with a multitude of apps throughout your busy day.

Yes, in most cases, we as a culture can no longer imagine life without a 5 inch screen nestled in our pockets, ready for our every request and action. We can no longer imagine life without a mobile device ready and waiting at our beck and call.

And in many ways that’s a good thing. Its made our lives easier than ever, especially as a health care provider. Instead of waiting to take notes and perform research when you have time to sit down at the computer, with even just a few moments to spare you can immediately take care of business, anywhere, any time.

Yet how safe is it to rely on your mobile device for everything? Are you ensuring enough safety precautions to not only ensure your safety, but the safety of all those you do business with?

Start with passwords and user authentication
Mobile devices can and should be configured to require a password, personal identification number (PIN) or a passcode in order to gain access. It can be masked to prevent people from seeing it. Your mobile device should also be activated to lock the screen after a set period of inactivity to present unauthorized users from accessing it.

Install and enable encryption
Encryption protects all information stored and sent via a mobile device. While most mobile devices have built in encryption capabilities, you can also purchase and install additional encryption tools based on your needs.

Install and activate remote wiping and disabling
Remote wiping allows you to erase data from your mobile device from a remote location in the even its lost of stolen. Remote disabling allows you to lock or completely erase data on a mobile device in the event its lost or stolen. The difference being remote disabling has a lock feature that can allow you to unlock the data once the device is found – a great feature if you know you’ve simply misplaced your device.

Install and enable a firewall
A firewall intercepts incoming and outgoing connection attempts and blocks or permits them based on a predetermined set of rules and criteria. By establishing a personal firewall on your mobile device, you can protect your data from unauthorized connections.

Install and enable security software
A mobile device is simply a personal computer in a small format. Its subjected to the same malicious files, applications, viruses, spyware and attacks as your laptop or desktop. Make sure you install appropriate security software to protect you and keep you safe from future attacks. Zscaler, for example, provides a mobile security system that not only provides advanced security measures for your mobile platforms, but also ensures corporate compliance as well. Also make sure you run updates on a regular basis to keep it up to date.

Install and enable only reputable apps
With millions of apps available to download and use on your phone, its easy to find things that make your life a little easier. Yet just because they’re available in the app store doesn’t make them safe for use. Do your due diligence and make sure you download and use reputable apps with great ratings and regular maintenance to keep them up to date and bug free.

Use appropriate Wi-Fi networks
Public Wi-Fi networks can be an easy way for unauthorized users to gain access and intercept your information. Whenever you login to your system, send or retrieve data, make sure you are using a secure and encrypted connection.

Delete all stored data before discarding or reusing
When its time to replace your mobile device with an upgraded model, be sure to thoroughly wipe or delete all data stored on your mobile device. The US Department of Health and Human Services has specific guidelines available to ensure the proper way for dealing with the deletion of sensitive information.

5 Security Risks That Could Be Putting Your Data At Risk

5 Security Risks That Could Be Putting Your Data At Risk

No matter if you run a company of one, or have thousands of employees all over the world, keeping your sensitive information away from potential threats is critical to your success.

Yet studies consistently show that as many as 8 in 10 businesses have had a data breach at some point in the previous two years.

Once a company loses sensitive data, they can can quickly face insurmountable direct and indirect costs. It may begin by reimbursement to customers. It can include data recovery costs, as the company painstakingly tries to recreate lost data from scratch. But even worse than the direct costs it will face on the information side is the damage to their reputations. Its difficult to build trust with customers; it can be lost in a second with a publicized event.

5 Security Risks That Could Be Putting Your Data At RiskYet like many things that happen in a business environment every single day, security breaches do not come without warning. There are clear indications that your data may be at risk.

1. Employee negligence
Employees are a company’s greatest asset – and its weakest link. The larger your company, the more employees you have come and go. With each password created and account access given, it releases your data in a variety of ways. People use mobile devices, and can access your data from anywhere in the world. They open up attachments and click on links in embedded spam. They forget to change passwords regularly, or make them so easy it leaves a vulnerable hole. Even without malicious intentions in mind, employees can leave your data open to the whole wide world.

2. Not using the right technology
Small and medium sized businesses are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to security. Keeping track of new technologies and new threats is more than a full time job. And when a company isn’t large enough to have the proper staff on hand to monitor security fully, it means you may be operating with old, unsafe systems at best.

3. Not having a backup policy in place
Backup processing is something each and every one of us knows is vitally important, yet its often overlooked. Studies show that more than 60 percent of all small and medium sized businesses state they do not backup their data regularly, and cite budget and resources as the primary reasons why.

4. New technology
What gives us more power to do our jobs in an easier way also makes us more vulnerable. Laptops, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices allow us to carry work with us everywhere we go. It also leaves sensitive data open and for the taking for anyone willing to grab the device in a coffee shop, airport or hotel room.

5. Lack of policies
Not only is it important to have strong security policies in place, its equally important to train employees about IT security procedures as well.

To help combat the potential threats and help protect your company’s data, its important to put companywide security practices into place.

Start by closing doors and installing effective security. We can help by providing you with solid resources that will eliminate some of the weakest points most small to medium sized businesses have today.

Then begin educating your employees about the importance of security. Passwords are the first key; the stronger you make it to get into an account, the less likely intruders will have access. Also stress the importance of keeping mobile devices safe and secure at all times, no matter where in the world they are. And if a problem does arise – losing a tablet, for instance – assure them that quick action is by far the best course of action. A tablet is easier to replace than putting colleagues, customers and the entire organization at risk.

As always, if you have any questions about the security of your company’s data, lets connect.

How To Improve Customer Satisfaction With Everyday Technology

How To Improve Customer Satisfaction With Everyday Technology

As the head of a company, customer satisfaction is your top priority. Yet with so many contact points throughout the process, perfecting every piece can be a challenge.

To ensure customer satisfaction, you need to attract the right potential clients, gain their trust, provide them with a high level of service, and finally be there for any comments or questions that may arise throughout the process, even long after the sale has been made. That’s a pretty tough order to carry through with.

Because at any point in the process, there is always the potential for breaking down. You can have the best salesperson in the world, but if they experience a poorly trained customer service representative and get frustrated early in the process, the relationship may be damaged beyond repair.

There are many ways that technology can impact what your prospects and customers think about your company as a whole. Here are a few ways to improve your process with the use of technology:

Start By Talking With Your Customers To Find Out What They Want
How many times throughout a week do you get the opportunity to fill out a survey or offer your review of how well a company is doing? Almost every day. You’ll find cards lying on your table at your favorite restaurants, and you’ll be redirected to a survey page every time you make a purchase through the website of your favorite online store. Customer satisfaction surveys are everywhere. But here’s the thing; no matter how often you fill one out or what you have to say, how often do you see a change implemented?

In many cases, these surveys are simply touching the surface of what people truly want. They give people an avenue to vent if they’ve had a bad experience, while most people that are satisfied simply walk away without leaving a comment at all.

If you really want to know how to improve your customer service process, ask deeper questions with your customers. As an IT department, your end user may be departments within the company, or they may be with prospects and customers that will ultimately bring in revenue. Determine all the different paths your customers will take, then speak directly with your customers to determine what needs they have. Do your current processes work well? Or are there some visible disconnects that should be solved? What expectations do they have before they do business with you? How well would they rate the entire process over all? By getting into the minds of your end user, you can often come up with viable options for what they would truly like to use, and what would mean the most to them as they connect with your company throughout the process.

Improve Your Processes
Once you find your disconnects, its time to put new systems in place. Yet that doesn’t mean its time for another system to be added to the process, or another tool to be tacked on to an existing system. Instead, it may mean taking a step backwards and reevaluating the systems you already have in place.

Technology changes faster than any of us can keep up with. New programs are added and updated every day. What you considered to be the right solution even a few months ago may now be archaic and out of date. And when bandaged together with several other third party systems, you could be creating more of a mess than a viable solution. As you find out what your customers really want from you, determine if you can easily provide the solution with what you currently have in place. If its not an easy solution, it may be time to re-evaluate your strategy and make bigger changes to your system. And here’s the good news: in some cases it may save you money. Instead of retrofitting several third party systems together, a new and more viable system may be the perfect solution, saving you money every single month.

Repeat Again And Again
Customer satisfaction is always relative and can change quickly over time. What can seem easy today can become clumsy and outdated within a few short months. At a minimum, review your customer satisfaction measures every three to five years to make sure you are delivering the right service in the right manner to meet your customers’ demands.

While customers come and go, and technology changes every day, there is one thing that remains: the need to have a solid system and a successful strategy in place. If you haven’t evaluated your customer service process in a while, or if you are wondering how you can use technology to make the process more efficient for both you and your customers, it may be time for an assessment. Lets talk.

The Pros and Cons Of Implementing A Virtual Desktop Infrastructure In Your Business

The Pros and Cons Of Implementing A Virtual Desktop Infrastructure In Your Business

If you run a small to medium size business, technology is probably one of the top frustrations you deal with each year. Not only do you have to keep up with the latest device – would your sales team operate better with tablets over laptops – you also have to stay on top of software upgrades and security updates.

In the end, every user’s technology is different, and as an administrator, you often find yourself having little control over the variety of operating systems and applications running throughout the company. Troubleshooting to you doesn’t just mean downloading and installing the latest security patch, it also means significant time researching what is on the terminal, verifying what the system requires, and only then downloading the necessary upgrades and updates.

And this isn’t a once in a blue moon process; this is  a regular routine.

All of this has led to many companies looking for alternatives. And depending on the size and structure of your business, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, or VDI integration may be the answer.

VDI is based on a thin client computing model. A virtual desktop machine on the server side is used to handle all operating system related tasks, application processing, and storage; each endpoint PC simply acts as a workstation.

There are a wealth of benefits to moving to a VDI approach.

Extends PC Lifecycle
Because each endpoint PC acts as little more than a workstation, with little to no real modifications to keep it running, the life of a PC can be pushed from two to three years to five or more. That can mean significant savings over time, especially in larger offices with a lot of end users.

Requires Lower Grade Equipment
When it is time to purchase new PCs, a company can do so at significant savings. Because the focus won’t have to be put on disk or memory space, or processing capacity, endpoint units can be purchased based on price instead of needs. In many cases, lower hardware requirements also mean lower energy usage, which can help you reduce other costs throughout your office as well.

Less Downtime
When a conventional PC fails, it puts both the technician and the employee at a disadvantage. A technician has to stop all other processes and immediately work on the PC. The employee loses the ability to perform until repairs are made. Which can put both into crisis mode mentality. When a thin client PC fails, it’s a simple case of replacing the terminal, and work can continue immediately. In addition, if a PC can’t be swapped out immediately, he or she can still login from other endpoints, and continue working as required.

Superior Administration
One of the biggest reasons companies move to a VDI platform is because of control. Management happens almost entirely at the server level. If a new desktop is needed, an administrator can simply set up a thin client PC in the new workstation, and connect it with a pre-established virtual image from the server side. Admin can also control many other functions from the server side unit, including deployment of new software, patches and upgrades, antivirus, antispyware and other security products, and even control what an end user can download and access, and what they can’t, keeping the entire system safer overall.

Even with so many benefits to moving to a VDI platform, there are a few negatives to be aware of as well.

Depending on the type of company you run, how many end users you have, and the functionality each end user needs, bandwidth can be one of the largest drawbacks. This can especially come in to play if you have hundreds, even thousands of PCs pulling data and refreshing screens as they continue on with the day. Graphics can be one of the biggest drains, and may require upgraded hardware and network upgrades to support use. Though systems today are designed with the needs of today’s printers, scanners, audio, video, and other USB device needs, it is important to keep all of this in mind as your system is developed.

Server Redundancy
Imagine an office with 50 thin clients and one server. If all are hosted on the one server and the server fails, instant panic. To avoid this scenario, it is important to realize that for safety reasons, server clustering, redundant connectivity and other tactics are essential for keeping office technology running at its best.

Because all processing is handled centrally, all application data is stored centrally as well. Whatever storage space was allocated to each end user in original PC format will also be required on the server with this new platform. Which means if the average PC in your office stored 100 GB of information and you have 100 thin clients in the office, you’ll need at a minimum 10,000 GB (or 10 TB) in the data center. Too many administers cut themselves short in the planning process, and quickly realize they are out of space, even with basic functionality.

Historically, with the complexity and server requirements necessary to support the VDI infrastructure, only mid-to0large size companies could practically implement VDI.  Fortunately, the huge explosion of cloud providers has made the implementation and affordability of VDI practical and attractive for even small companies.  It’s more than likely that the next generation of business users will (with companies of more than 5-10 users) will all employ VDI.  As always, call me if you want to see how VDI or any other technologies can strategically work in your company.

Why Security Questions Can Be Your Biggest Threat

Passwords. We all use them every single day.

Studies consistently show that people become lazy when it comes to creating a password, with the top spots going to things like “password” and “123456”. But with a little education, you can bring your employees around to changing their habits and creating a more encrypted password choice.

But what about security questions?

Security questions are used on almost every site in which you login to an account. They are used for the “just in case” you forget your password, and have to retrieve it by some other means.

In most cases they provide you with a list of security questions to choose from, with most of them asking fairly standard things.  Top 10 lists put these at the top:

·      What is your mother’s maiden name?
·      Who is your favorite author?
·      Who is your favorite actor?
·      What is your favorite movie?
·      What is your favorite book?
·      What was your favorite pet’s name?
·      Who was your childhood friend?

You’ve probably used one or more of these yourself, over and over again. Yet how secure are they? All are simple questions that can easily be answered with a little bit of research, something a detailed profile on Facebook could make readily available with five minutes of browsing through your page.

While these questions make it relatively easy for an external hacker to gain access to an account, studies also show that its not always an external hacker that will be your biggest threat. In some cases, it may be an internal risk. If a co-worker wants to access company data through someone else’s account, what better way than to do so then through an account from someone they know? And who’s going to question a co-worker when you stand around the water cooler and ask, “what’s your favorite movie”? Its just idle chit chat that we talk about all the time.

So what makes a good security question? A good security question typically will have the following characteristics:

Be safe from guessing or research
This is the most important characteristic of a great security question. It should be something that cannot be easily found out by visiting a social media profile page, or that someone could guess simply by being around a person for a short amount of time. After all, walking your dog and calling him by name can release information to everyone at the dog park.

Won’t change over time
If a security question is vague and can have many meanings, it can be easily forgotten as time goes by. Avoid questions that ask for your “favorite” thing, such as “what is your favorite food?” And avoid questions that can fluctuate as you age, change and grow, “where do you want to retire?”

Be memorable to you
We all have things we talk about and share because it’s a part of our culture. Which is what most security questions are designed around. I’m sure you’ve had conversations with friends, even co-workers, over your very first crush in school, or the first person you ever kissed. But what about the second?

These things are memorable to you, yet they aren’t something we share on a regular basis. They are part of your past, yet don’t come up in regular conversation.

There is one other factor that should be part of online security. When someone forgets a password, having them login with a security question is an important step, but it should always be a part of a two step process. The second half of authentication should be using a code that is sent via email or text to the information used to set up the account. This will further ensure that only the correct person will be gaining access to the system.

What Cloud Computing Means For Small Businesses

What Cloud Computing Means For Small Businesses

Think back to how quickly technology has changed. A few short years ago, every computer was a free standing unit. All upgrades, all changes, all control was handled by moving from unit to unit.

Fast forward as organizations quickly found ways to integrate the entire process to help them scale their businesses. They developed an in-house infrastructure, with expensive servers, physical copies of software, and lots of fully equipped computers for each end user. Control was centralized, meaning it was easier to keep things running smoothly without having to go out to each end user to make adjustments or corrections.

And while this may still be the norm in some businesses, once again technology is changing the way businesses are operating.

Cloud computing is now moving rapidly into businesses of all sizes, and allows a business to put the processing and hosting responsibilities on a professional third party company. Instead of running everything internally, employees access their programs, email and data via browser like tools that connect them to everything they need to operate efficiently. And while large enterprises have been quick to adapt, there are many reasons why small businesses should make the transition as well.

One of the biggest reasons people move to cloud computing services is to allow your employees to work from anywhere. All documents, programs and related data is stored online, which means they will never be tied to a single computer in order to get their work done. With desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones all being able to access the same data at the same time, employees can quickly move to where they are needed most. A doctor, for example, can make notes on his smartphone as he finishes with a patient, move to a tablet as he talks with his staff, and open up the same file on his laptop as he sits down at his desk.

Since programs are not stored locally, updates, bug fixes and changes can all be handled on the server side without the end user experiencing any of the process. This creates a stable platform that helps the entire office stay productive throughout the day, without the usual downtime associated with in-house processes.

If you’ve ever lost important client files or large amounts of data before, you know how important it is to have a strong backup and data recovery plan in place. As users create new documents, their local copies are synced with a cloud version, making it easy to access a file later from any device. These systems can also save revisions so its possible to go back in time and work with a previous version if a mistake is made. Many cloud providers have comprehensive data backups that automatically copy and protect your data on a regular basis. So there is no more relying on an end user to initiate the process.

Cloud computing can now make even the smallest of offices more productive. Instead of having to move a file from machine to machine with a flash drive or through email, a user can simply go and “check out” a file, work on it, save it, and have it waiting for the next user. Collaboration on a project file from anywhere in the world is a simple as logging in. And with automatic backups occurring along the way, there is never any risk of having one team member delete the wrong data. Simply retrieve an earlier version and get right back to work.

If you’ve never thought about upgrading to a cloud based system before, you might be surprised at how easy it really is. Many small businesses can make the switch to the cloud, and even stay on their existing equipment (meaning your end cost will be even less). Find out today what the cloud can do for your business.