What Could Digital Transformation Do For Your Business?

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

As an ambitious business owner, you’re always looking for new ways to help your business develop, improve, and grow, no matter how successful it already is. You also want to improve the experience for your customers.

And of course, you’ll be aware that your IT infrastructure plays a big part in this growth and the overall experience.

That works both ways. Sometimes, it’s that same infrastructure that can limit how your business evolves. Running older systems, or perhaps systems that don’t fully meet your needs, can hold back growth.

This is where digital IT transformation comes in. Maybe you’ve never heard that term before. Or perhaps the concept is new to you. Here’s a one line explanation:

Digital IT transformation is about using modern technology to create or modify business processes, culture, and customer experiences.

It involves a complete reassessment and overhaul of your technology, with the goal of improving the efficiency and delivery of your products or services.

We can make this easier with a few case studies of how big businesses you’ve definitely heard of used digital IT transformation. Just because these are big names doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant to you – this is for all businesses, of all sizes. [Read more…]

What Are The Most Helpful Features Of Windows 11?

One of the reasons that Windows 11 has been welcomed with open arms for both home and business computer upgrades is that it isn’t dramatically different from Windows 10. This upgrade is mainly focused on helping users do tasks faster and find things more easily.

If you’ve been on the fence about whether or not to upgrade to Windows 11, we’ll go through several of the most helpful features below that might make you want to upgrade sooner rather than later.

And if you have already upgraded your machine to Windows 11 or purchased a new PC with the OS installed, you’ll want to look over these features to make sure you haven’t been missing out on some productivity enhancers.

Snap layouts

One challenge that tends to be universal across multiple users is the struggle of trying to work in more than one window at a time on your PC screen. You can end up spending time resizing the windows just right, then need to open a window to full size to reach a scroll bar and end up back at square one.

Many users will app-switch, meaning they switch between one app window that is fully open and another that isn’t. This is also time-consuming.

In a study of user productivity, it was found that 56% of app users said that switching between apps makes it difficult to get essential work done and costs them at least 30 minutes per day.

Enter… snap layouts in Windows 11.

This feature is designed to solve this problem by providing the user with several options for window arrangements that snap windows into place. The view is designed so you can reach all scroll bars and menu items in a particular app window.

This is one of the most time-saving features of the new operating system and it’s very intuitive and easy to use.

Texting & video calls from Teams on the desktop

If you’re one of those people that hates typing out texts on a tiny smartphone screen only to have it altered by a rogue auto-correction, then the new Teams integration in Windows 11 is going to be a welcome change.

Teams is now natively integrated on the taskbar, so there is no application you need to install. Setup only takes a few minutes and involves you putting in your name and a mobile phone number.

Using the Microsoft Teams icon from the desktop, you can instantly begin connecting to people via SMS or video/audio chat. You can even share a screen during your meetings.

The To Do widget

One of the new features in Windows 11 that doesn’t look fully finished is the widgets panel. This feed has a few basic applications in it at the moment, and more are expected to come, which will make it even more useful. You get to this panel through an icon on the taskbar, and the widget feed can be tailored with local weather, traffic, news, and more.

One of the helpful features you can use right now is the To Do widget. It allows you to quickly create a task list and check off those tasks without having to open another application.

The widget can be added in seconds to your panel and can be quite a time-saver because of the easy access right from your desktop.

Streamlined Start/Search Menu

If you’re still using your File Explorer to search for documents, you can save a lot of time by using the Start/Search Menu instead. Click the Windows icon on the taskbar (which has now been moved to the middle instead of far left) and type your search keyword at the top.

This is a master search that will bring up documents, settings, applications, and even web pages. Searching using the Start Menu is faster than trying to find a file in the Explorer.

The newly streamlined interface also reduces the clutter of the old Windows Start Menu making it easier to get where you need to go and find the programs you use every day.

Task view

Task view is the virtual desktop feature that had been introduced in Windows 10. This remains a very handy feature for separating the different areas of your work to stay focused.

You can use the task view icon on the taskbar to create a different virtual desktop with different open applications and documents. For example, you could keep your email open on one virtual desktop and then use another when you’re in a video call and sharing screens.

How Distributed Cloud Computing Enhances User Experience

As cloud technology is gaining popularity, businesses are encountering challenges such as security and reliability. This explains why the cloud market, edge computing, multi-cloud, and hybrid cloud are staging the ground for distributed cloud computing.

New generations are ready to move on from traditional methods and technologies to the cloud. This is possible once businesses access the distributed cloud computing technology to enhance user experience and other tasks.

What is distributed cloud computing?

Distributed cloud computing is a technology that provides businesses with better knowledge about the market to fulfill customers’ needs with inexpensive IT systems. There are three origins of the distributed cloud:
• Public cloud
• Hybrid cloud
• Edge computing

Benefits of distributed cloud computing

Public cloud providers distribute services in different locations. The facilities are available to organizations that require low latency computational abilities.

This will help control the consistency in the location to manage the public and cloud infrastructure through a single channel.

Distributed cloud computing will provide major benefits with improved performance. This is possible after eliminating the latency problems and reducing the risk of control plane inefficiencies or global network outages.

With the distributed cloud, you can create cloud networks, storage, and compute in a shared environment. These storage networks are available in different zones. Some experts call these zones substations, which makes a lot of sense after understanding their qualities.

For instance, you can use the nearest branch of the local post office to avail their services.

The support, innovation, and productivity will not change because the public cloud providers will be responsible for managing distributed cloud substations.

Below, you will find some benefits of the distributed cloud:

Distributed cloud will increase compliance

This will ensure that the data is available in a specific location where customers can easily avail benefits.

The system will reduce the risk of network failure as the data is available in local and semi-local subnets. Different compute zones will be available with an increasing number of locations.

Distributed cloud computing and enhancement of user experience

Distributed cloud computing tools enable businesses to process data in real-time. They can also manage their data and create a data foundation. They can enhance the user experience by driving new and innovative strategies with accuracy, consistency, and relevant data.

Distributed cloud computing solutions allow businesses to customize their solutions to develop long-term customer relationships and offer faster, seamless services.

With this advanced version of cloud computing, they can enhance their responses to discover customer preferences.

Distributed cloud computing and the future

Technology experts are planning the future of distributed cloud computing by keeping in mind the business sector’s needs, interests, and similar industries. They focus more on cloud strategy, which concisely provides faster and better solutions to businesses.

Technology plays a vital role in enhancing business performance. However, businesses still need a solution so they can simplify their complicated IT structures. To drive better outcomes, businesses require an IT solution such as distributed cloud computing to simplify their tasks and activities and facilitate their customers with a better user experience.

Grow Your Business With Influencer Marketing

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Traditional influencer marketing means relying on celebrities and famous bloggers to generate traction about your brand. However, as time changes with the boom of social media, the number of influencers in the market is rising.

The influencer marketing technique involves affiliating with famous social media celebrities and bloggers for the purpose of promoting product or services to their followers.

While collaborating with influencers, identify their audience reach and engagement. This marketing tool’s main purpose is to drive sales and build your brand’s credibility.

Campaign surrounding KPIs
Influencer campaigns are exciting and attractive because of numerous ideas and sparks in the campaigns. [Read more…]

How To Choose The Best POS System For Your Business

A good POS system will not only help you manage the transaction, it also enhances your cash flow system. With these two factors in play, you can easily grow your business.

By implementing an advanced POS system, you can provide numerous payment options to your customers. These options include online payments, card payments, and cash payments. Furthermore, it also simplifies your business. An effective all-in-one point-of-sale system will help you efficiently perform administrative tasks.

While selecting a point of sale system, you need to consider various factors, including your business type. For instance, if you have a restaurant, your business process will be different than a retail business. Therefore, you need to choose a system specific to your business needs.

How to Choose a POS System: Identify your needs
First, you need to understand your business requirements. Your goal is to find the best solutions to your problems. However, you cannot make a better decision without identifying and considering your problems. Therefore, you need to ask some questions. The answers to these questions will lead you to pick the right solution:

  • What type of product do you sell?
  • How do you accept the payments?
  • How many people do you have on your team?
  • What payment method do your customers prefer?
  • How will you interact with your audience?
  • What type of solution are you currently using?

Perform market research
After answering all the above questions, you can use a search engine to list down the best options according to your needs. However, with so many options, you might feel overwhelmed. Below, you will find some best tips that will lead you in the right direction:

  • Check the system that your competitors are using.
  • Communicate with the POS system provider and seek help from professionals
  • Visit tech websites

Check the features of service providers
After shortlisting your options and narrowing it to two to three POS systems, you can investigate the services they are offering. Here are some factors that you should consider while evaluating your options:

  • What features are they offering?
  • How will their system work for your business?
  • What is the price of the tool?

Download the trial version
Once you complete your research about the best POS system for your system, you should download and install the trial version. When you perform the actions on a trial version, you can understand if this tool will benefit your business or not and how well it fits your company.

Why Protecting Your Printers From Cybercrime Is A Must (And Eight Tips For Improving Printer Security)

Printing devices are often overlooked when it comes to security. But the reality is, cybercriminals can hack your printer to get confidential information. Your printer is probably the last piece of computer equipment you thought needed protection from cybercriminals. But the truth is very different.

Attackers actively try to locate the weakest links in security to gain access to and exploit valuable data. And among the weakest links is the printer.

Printers have access to your devices, network, and the Internet. This new open-access functionality makes them an ideal target for cyberattacks.

Unfortunately, many business owners overlook the importance of securing their printers and mainly focus on computers and mobile phones.

Most people still perceive printers as internal devices that serve basic functions. For this very reason, they are an easy target for cybercriminals.

Other than performing unauthorized print jobs, hackers can access confidential information as well as all connected computers and networks all through a printer.

You may also not be aware of the amount of valuable data your printer can store about you – tax files, bank details, financial records, employee information, personal information, etc. All a hacker needs to do is get into the operating system of your printer, and they can collect this sensitive data.

If you’ve just realized the importance of securing your printer, keep reading. This article shares eight tips to help you do just that.

Tip #1. Make Sure Your Printers Are Configured Correctly
Many things can make a printer vulnerable to cyber threats and security breaches. So, you want to get the basics right to ensure the attacks don’t happen to you. To start with, make sure to change the default password on your printer. Since anyone can access a printer remotely, a simple “123456” code won’t suffice.

Second, make sure you’re using your own router to print files remotely. Never connect to “Guest” networks.

Tip #2. Inspect Print Trays Regularly
This one is a no-brainer, but everyone could use it as a reminder. Make sure to check your print trays and get rid of unused pages carrying sensitive information. There’s no easier way to prevent data leaks than this.

Alternatively, you can get a shredder for your office and shred the papers you don’t want anyone to see.

Tip #3. Install Malware and Firmware Updates
Invest time and effort to ensure that your malware and firmware protection are up to date and can handle all types of hacks.

The good news is that many printers come with pre-built malware protection.

HP, for example, installs the HP “SureStart” software in their printers that monitors approaching targets when the printer is on. The software can shut down the device if an attack comes its way. This is a great way to prevent attacks from spreading further within the network.

Tip #4. Limit Access to the Network
Unprotected printers in a network are an extremely easy target for cybercriminals. Sure, businesses and offices require printers to access networks to perform remote prints. But if you can do the job by disabling the network access, make sure you do that.

If not, tweak the printer and network settings to only allow the device to take print jobs from the network you trust. This will help avoid outside interference and security breaches.

Tip #5. Update Your Printers
Updating a printer is equally as important as updating your phone to the latest software. Much in the way iOS developers look for bugs and fix them in a new update, printer manufacturers work toward known device vulnerabilities and update the software for added protection.

Look for printer updates so you can easily overcome known threats to the printer. Ideally, update your printers every quarter to get the most out of the security benefits.

Tip #6. Install a Firewall
If you run an office, chances are you already have a firewall. But in case you missed this requirement, now’s the time to do it.

Using a reliable firewall helps keep printers safe from cybercriminals. Your computers most likely come with pre-built firewalls, and all you need to do is keep them enabled. But there are also specialized firewalls for homes and offices that offer advanced security and make it virtually impossible for anyone to break in.

Tip #7. Encrypt Your Storage
Printers with shared networks can perform distance printing. And when a print job is in transit and travels from a computer to a printer, hackers can intercept the data and exploit it.

To keep this from happening, encrypt your print jobs. Also, make sure the sensitive data on your printer’s hard or internal drive is encrypted as well.

Keep in mind that when you print a document, that file is often stored as an image within the printer and makes it an easy target for hackers. It’s why you should use an encryption tool to protect your data. Luckily, many modern printers have this tool pre-built.

Tip #8. Educate Your Employees
If you work in an office, chances are you aren’t the only person using the printer. Everyone that has access to it needs to be aware of the responsibilities that come with its usage. Make sure to talk to your employees about ways to ensure both the physical and virtual safety of the printers.

Your staff should also be careful when using their mobile devices to print, as smartphones are easier to hack than standard computers. Explain to them what phishing scams are and how they can avoid being the victim.

Finally, make sure it’s clear to them how they can use confidential information in your company.

Whether you use printers in your office or at home, take a moment to see how you can enhance its security before your next printing job.

Which Type of Hacker Is Endangering Your Business Data?

Your data is pivotal to running a successful company. If you don’t have proper security measures in place, hackers can easily steal your data and take you out of business. Cybercriminals might be the biggest threat facing your company. Besides gaining access to your money and accounts, they can also take over critical software, preventing you from collaborating with clients.

Any organization can fall victim to hacking. However, small and medium businesses are particularly at risk. Why?

Too often, their owners don’t always address cybersecurity when launching their company. Sometimes, they even just hire the first IT service provider they see. They also don’t know how to shield themselves from online attackers, making them low-risk targets.

As a result, these organizations often go under due to the loss of sensitive data. It isn’t a risk you can take.

The 5 types of hackers to watch out for

Here’s a quick list of potential hackers, depending on what they’re after:

#1. Hackers Who Are After Personal Information. Many hackers are dying to get their hands on the personal information of your clients and employees. It includes birth dates, financial data, and social security numbers.

Social security numbers might be the most valuable asset they want to get ahold of since cybercriminals can use them for various purposes. For instance, they can perform tax fraud, open credit accounts, and make other significant identity breaches. In addition, financial data can be utilized for fraudulent activities and purchases, especially if it lacks robust digital security systems.

#2. Hackers Who Want to Get Into the Digital Infrastructure. Storage and data servers are expensive – and hackers know that.

In order for them to cut costs, hackers may aim to store their applications and data on your infrastructure instead. The better your infrastructure, the more likely cybercriminals are to target it. This can strain your network to the limits and have devastating effects on your business.

Unsurprisingly, tech companies are some of the most common victims of this type of hacking.

The common indicators that a hacker has tapped into your digital infrastructure include:

  • Running out of storage faster than usual
  • Your network suffers slowdowns
  • You may have unknown devices on your network.

#3. Hackers Who Are After Confidential Information. Few business aspects are as important as your intellectual property (IP). Your products and services enable you to stand out from the competition and strike a chord with the target audience.

A huge problem arises if hackers steal the design of your upcoming product before you launch it or submit your patent. A competitor may obtain the information, allowing them to hit the market first and undercut your sales.

#4. Hackers Who Want to Get Account Data. Sure, you and your IT service provider might have done enough so that hackers might not be able to obtain financial data. But are your employees’ accounts secure?

If hackers compromise them, they may let them run scams and gain information to disrupt your operations.

For example, losing CEO login credentials can be devastating. Besides granting hackers access to sensitive information, it also helps them impersonate the CEO. In return, they can solicit information from employees or clients and halt your operations. This data breach can lead to widespread confusion, tarnishing your reputation.

#5. Hackers Who Aim to Have Network Control. In some cases, hackers aren’t after data. Instead, they want to gain control of the entire network. And to make it happen, they launch ransomware attacks.

These activities enable them to lock you out of the system and make data inaccessible until you pay a ransom. They’re typically initiated through spam, phishing emails, and online ads.

The average ransom amount stands at approximately $30,000, but the loss caused by business disruption is much more significant.

What Are The Five Perspectives In Business Analytics

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Business analytics is an approach to identify the challenges faced by an organization and finding solutions to them. In other words, business analytics help you implement changes in the business to streamline tasks and activities.

Your role as business analysts is to bring efficiency to the working process. To analyze business activities and bring change, you need to understand how your business works. Depending on how it works, you need to consider the change you can bring to the organization to boost productivity.

Agile
Agility is an effective perspective to compare your traditional business analytics with new and advanced innovations.

The reason why this tool is effective is it provides you data considering your user stories and product backlog. Here are some benefits of using agility:

[Read more…]

Benefits Of Transforming Into A Paper-free Office

Going paperless at your office by digitalizing your documentation is a huge step.

Although it’s not easy for many businesses to transfer the entirety of their paperwork electronically, you can start small and shift slowly. It involves numerous benefits, such as lower costs and higher efficiency after digitalization.

In a competitive market, cutting down on expenses and enhancing productivity is an arduous task. You can accomplish these tasks easily by going paperless.

The availability of advanced technological tools is making it easy to move your documentation online. If you are still confused about going paperless at your office, consider these benefits.

Better organization
Tracking and maintaining papers manually is a time-consuming task. Your employees may find it intimidating to handle all clutter and mess when it comes to documents. This becomes even tougher when you are running a large-scale operation. Paper documents increase the risk of huge errors and blunders.

Going paperless will streamline your management and organizing tasks so your employees can channel concentration towards high-priority tasks. This avoids tedious paper hunts. You will face a lower chance of human errors and mistakes by introducing coherence and proficiency in the workplace.

Transfer information easily
Numerous available tools enable you to generate digital invoices and quotations. Hence, your employees can instantly share relevant details without incurring printing and postage expenses.

Marketing and accounting teams can communicate information in realtime and make adjustments according to their clients’ needs. Employees can easily search through old documents with a few clicks. They can arrange documents by date, clients, serial number, and nature of documents.

Enhance security
Even though cyber-attacks are frequent, digital documents have become more secure. Electronic records are easier to render through encryption.

You can control access to specific documents and manage security levels. Printed documents require a lot of space, and controlling access is not possible. Documents are also prone to fire and water damage. You can double up digital efforts with backups and cybersecurity.

Lower costs
When you transform documents digitally, you improve the process’s efficiency and lower expenses.

Digital transformation offers you to store a large volume of paperwork, saving a lot of storage space. Moreover, digitalization will reduce the cost of ink, printers, paper, employee time, and space to store the documents.

The most important benefit of going digital with your paperwork is that you save employee time. They can perform additional tasks instead of storing, managing, and searching for documents.

Tech Tip: How’s Your Video Call Etiquette?

Two years on, we’re all Video Call Champions now. Bet that’s a skill you never thought you’d master.

It’s so convenient to hop on a video chat with a colleague to discuss a problem or clear up details on a project. You don’t really think twice about it anymore, do you?

There’s always room for improvement. So here are our suggested rules for good video call etiquette:

Create and share a meeting agenda
If you schedule a meeting with several others, let everyone know what the meeting is about and give them chance to prepare. If you use Teams, there’s a text box at the bottom of the New Meeting invitation where you can add in details.

Make sure your background is suitable
Cameras on, everyone. Seeing people is the big benefit of video calls. While people may be intrigued about where you are, blurring your background or working in front of a plain wall will make sure the focus is on you and not your house.

Don’t overshare
Ever been caught out when screen sharing? Maybe you’ve received a notification for a personal message, or even forgotten to close down a website before joining your meeting?

You can share only the application you want to show by clicking ‘Share’ and choosing the thumbnail shown in the ‘Window’ category.

Stand up
Want to keep your video calls focused and productive? Then get everyone to stand up for them. This might seem strange, but guess what? It works really well for in-person meetings you want to keep short and to the point.