Technology

Simple Changes That Can Make A Big Impact

The value of LED lighting to your business In today’s business environment, overall efficiency is critical to obtain full profitability potential.  However, many companies who are looking for an edge over their competitors seldom look to their own facilities as a source of continued savings.  While it is much more exciting to talk about talent […]

The value of LED lighting to your business

In today’s business environment, overall efficiency is critical to obtain full profitability potential.  However, many companies who are looking for an edge over their competitors seldom look to their own facilities as a source of continued savings.  While it is much more exciting to talk about talent acquisition and the latest disruptive technologies; there is an amazing source of money right above your head.  In case you haven’t been approached by one of the thousands of ESCO’s (Energy Service Companies) in the last few years or just walked the aisles of Home Depot; then you need to know about the revolution that is occurring in the world of lighting.  About 15 years ago LEDs (light emitting diodes) started to make their way into commercial and industrial light fixtures.  They were inefficient and extremely costly, but they held the potential to eventually revolutionize the way we think of illuminating our work environments.  It really wasn’t until LED TV’s began to climb in popularity that the LED chipset became both efficient and affordable enough to offer viable alternatives for retrofitting existing spaces with this decades-old technology.  So, what does that have to do with you?  Well, a survey done in 2012 by the Dept. of Energy indicated that there was over 87.4 billion sqft of existing commercial office space… guess how much of that has converted over to energy efficient lighting?  Yep, less than 15%.  That means most of you reading this article are probably doing so under fluorescent lights; which, while efficient in their own rights, consume more than double the energy of their LED counterparts.  A typical 10,000 sqft office building is going to cost roughly $.50 to $.75/sqft in lighting energy alone.  With efficient lighting, those numbers can be cut in half.  Here are three benefits to think about before you turn the page:

  1. Efficient lighting means money back in your pocket.  Above, we used an example of a 10,000 sqft office space.  By fully transitioning to efficient lighting that building will realize a savings of $2,500 – $3,500 every year into the future.  While that may not seem like a lot of money for an organization with a 10,000 sqft office, consider the fact that the investment for that annuity was roughly $2,500 total.  If I were an investor and offered you the ability to make your money back in a year and pay you that same investment back every year after that…would you take me up on the offer?  Where else can you get an annual rate of return of 100% or greater?  Also, we are not talking about major capital investments here, most of these updates can take place within your current maintenance budget.
  2. Efficient lighting is good for your people.  By far the most overlooked benefit to upgrading your lighting to LEDs is the impact on the people.  Now, this might sound a bit too technical but hang with me.  The lighting you currently have probably has a CRI (color rendering index) of about 80; which means it doesn’t do a great job of rendering colors and showing contrast as compared to a perfect light source.  LED’s typically have a CRI of 90+…that small change makes a world of difference in our ability to see and quickly process information.  To put it simply, the light created by LED’s is generally of a higher quality and the benefits of this better light stack up quickly.  In a recent IES article, the authors demonstrate that better CRI is actually more important than brightness alone in determining how well people perceive their environment2.  All this goes to create a better work environment for your employees and a proven increase in worker proficiency.
  3. Efficient lighting is good for the environment.  Regardless of your political views or stance on man-made climate change, there is no denying the fact that we do have an impact on the environment.  While the benefit here cannot be measured in actual dollars and cents, it can be measured in impact.  Consider that for every $500 dollars saved you have effectively removed the equivalent emissions of one passenger car off the road.  Additionally, LED’s have no harmful substances (such as mercury) which can leave lasting impacts for years down the road.

Overall the landscape of commercial lighting is changing rapidly.  Now is the time to look at this untapped resource that can help bring savings to your bottom line.

1Dept of Energy U.S. Energy Information Administration website: https://www.eia.gov/consumption/commercial/reports/2012/preliminary/
2Konstantinos Papamichael, Michael Siminovitch, Jennifer A. Veitch & Lorne
Whitehead (2016) High Color Rendering Can Enable Better Vision without Requiring More
Power, LEUKOS, 12:1-2, 27-38, DOI: 10.1080/15502724.2015.1004412

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Highway to the Cloud

Have you looked into cloud solutions? Do you know how cloud-based solutions can help or hinder your company? Generally speaking, cloud solutions can be great for your business. It is often accurate that you can effectively meet your business needs, and positively impact your bottom line. Using the cloud, you may reduce your company’s capital […]

Have you looked into cloud solutions? Do you know how cloud-based solutions can help or hinder your company? Generally speaking, cloud solutions can be great for your business. It is often accurate that you can effectively meet your business needs, and positively impact your bottom line. Using the cloud, you may reduce your company’s capital expenses through reduced future infrastructure requirements, and operating expenses due to a decrease in software and systems maintenance, support agreements and other requirements. This can be a tremendous win for your company and those you provide services or products for. That said, the equation can be a bit complicated as it is comprised of quite a few variables. The key is not to miss any critical components.

The benefits of leveraging cloud solutions are widely covered elsewhere so without further ado; I want to draw your attention to a frequently overlooked component of a successful cloud deployment. Let’s assume at this point that you have done your due diligence and determined that the selected cloud provider can meet your business needs.  You can modify your processes and workflows to adapt to the new solution, if necessary, and finally you have run the numbers and determined that this is the best direction operationally and strategically for your company. You are ready to sign.

Before you commit to this migration, first make certain you will have everything in place to ensure it will be a success. Has your new partner communicated to you how important your data connections are? What transport speeds do you need to ensure good performance, i.e. a good user experience that will not impact productivity? Do you require symmetrical bandwidth, i.e. equal bandwidth for upload and download? What will the impact be to your business if you lose access to your company and customers’ data once it is off premises? How long can you truly afford to be without access to said data?

Complete, detailed and accurate preparation for any enterprise migration is imperative. If you are working with a knowledgeable IT organization, either in-house or a business partner, they will have most assuredly posed these questions, noted the responses and planned accordingly. Be sure that your team or your IT services provider is engaged with your cloud partner from planning through deployment phases to ensure you have a successful migration.

After working with business and technology executives across the Valley, it has given me a new perspective for the predicament so many find themselves in. If you are contemplating moving your business solutions off premises, it is essential that you also plan ahead for your data transport needs.

With your data in the cloud, you may now very likely require significantly more bandwidth to get your data into and out of your provider’s servers. If you currently run your business with a primary or exclusive connection over a cable modem, don’t assume this will support the new bandwidth requirements. This technology may no longer be adequate to handle your business needs simply because of the constraints inherent in the architecture where the upload will continue to be a fraction of the download speed. The upload limitation alone may preclude continuing with a cable modem for Internet access as the symmetrical bandwidth of a dedicated fiber connection is often now required in the world of cloud-based business solutions.

If you are betting the future of your business on the cloud, then you need to be certain that you have the security of SLA-backed transport that will provide the necessary upload and download speeds to also run your business. When your data and your business logic is hosted offsite, your Internet connectivity is now mission critical unless you can run your business without access to your data and your customer’s data.

Also keep in mind, if you must also migrate from a cable modem connection to dedicated Internet access, i.e. fiber, you will need time to get the agreement in place and get the fiber lit. Permits may be required for access and construction takes time (pole access, underground work, etcetera) which could result in a delay of sixty days or significantly more.

Plan ahead and best wishes for your success in the cloud!

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Snapchat’s Friendly Takeover

It’s a phenomenon that is quickly entering the adult and business community. Most of us by now are familiar with the now-iconic logo of a little white ghost against a bright yellow background: Snapchat. The original function of the fairly basic app was to communicate with friends via taking pictures that disappear in ten seconds […]

It’s a phenomenon that is quickly entering the adult and business community. Most of us by now are familiar with the now-iconic logo of a little white ghost against a bright yellow background: Snapchat. The original function of the fairly basic app was to communicate with friends via taking pictures that disappear in ten seconds or less. This is just background noise compared to what Snapchat has evolved into. What started as an app that was mocked as a pointless “teenager-only” app has now turned into the cutting edge of connection.

Snapchat no longer wants to be an app only adolescents use for nonsense. They want to be your phone, your go-to app to communicate with anyone, over any medium. Since the initial disappearing pictures and videos, they’ve added a texting feature, a video call feature, a phone call feature, 3D emoji, Geofilter that is now available to be made by anyone for any occasion. Personalized QR codes enable quick and easy ways to scan a new friend onto your contact. They’ve also rolled everyone’s “stories” back to back to increase visibility. They are effectively putting a live broadcast platform, whether it is to a single individual, or out to the entire world at the tips of any individual with a smartphone.

How does this affect the business community? Take note at some big gurus in the industry like Gary Vaynerchuk, Grant Cardone, or Tai Lopez; you’ll notice their Facebook profile pictures are their Snapchat QR Codes. This enables your marketing team or your personal brand to get out there at any moment to your audience no matter what you’re doing or where you are with a personalized touch, really connecting with your audience. There’s also a way to conduct a video call that works like a private live-stream: You choose the people you want to chat with and start shooting your video. Your guests can join with their video or audio, or watch and text back. Unlike other forms of video messaging on the app, whatever you film can’t be saved to your phone. Talk about a unique conference call.

Now you know about it, so let’s put it to use. It is good to understand that this app is used strictly on your mobile device, only captures real-time data, and the longest that data can be displayed is for up to 24 hours (if you are using the story function) or less. Just like building any brand, whether it is personal or business, the owner(s) of the Snapchat account want to be providing their followers and viewers with relative and valuable content. This can differ depending on who you are and what your message is, but the strategy is all the same. Stay on top of current events, use Geofilters to let people know where you are, create feeling and emotion in what your followers are seeing; CONNECT.

We are not 100% certain how Snapchat will continue to evolve and impact business or personal brands, but it is very apparent they have made a push to the big boy table. The market share for screen time in social apps is crowded, they’ve made a voice for themselves and have only been able to expand and evolve as their users continue to grow. If you don’t have Snapchat personally, give it a try and see what the craze is all about. We will see more changes to come as 2016 keeps progressing forward. Those who follow these shifts and trends may just find themselves capitalizing on their early adaption.

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The Evolution of CRM

How the latest tools help businesses connect with customers Decades ago, customer relationship management was simply a salesperson’s Rolodex full of clients’ information. Now, CRM has evolved into robust, feature-rich software that gathers and stores information about your customers, allowing you to deliver a more personal experience with each interaction. Plus, CRM can streamline your […]

How the latest tools help businesses connect with customers

Decades ago, customer relationship management was simply a salesperson’s Rolodex full of clients’ information.

Now, CRM has evolved into robust, feature-rich software that gathers and stores information about your customers, allowing you to deliver a more personal experience with each interaction. Plus, CRM can streamline your team’s workday by automating many of the tasks that used to require meticulous records and hours of research.

The Cloud Revolution

In 1999, Salesforce revolutionized the industry by offering CRM in the form of Software as a Service or SaaS. The idea behind SaaS is that the software runs in the cloud and requires no on-premise hardware or software. This type of model allows businesses to easily reap the benefits of updates and new features with no installation or maintenance needed. In addition, the smallest businesses share the same infrastructure, security, and functionality as the largest companies.

In the early to mid-2000s, as integration with legacy systems became more important, Microsoft entered the market with Dynamics CRM. Today, Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM Online works seamlessly with Office 360 and other familiar tools.

CRM products have shifted from being used as basic account and contact management tools to being a clear competitive advantage for those companies that can correctly leverage CRM’s powerful features.

The most popular CRM platforms currently provide mechanisms for applications to be built without the need for developers to write extensive code. An innovative tool like Salesforce’s Lightning App Builder allows non-technical users to drag and drop prebuilt components to construct mobile-ready applications.

The Future of CRM

CRM products will continue to evolve in ways that empower their users to make intelligent, data-based decisions and connect with their customers in entirely new ways. Analysis and intelligence tools already provide many features that support this but they are just the tip of the iceberg.

“The ‘intelligence’ aspect of CRM is helpful, no, essential, for small and mid-sized businesses if they want to compete in the 21st century,” says Doug Pelletier, President of Trifecta Technologies. “To be successful, we believe that companies must be engaged with the initial setup and select a consulting partner that knows the CRM platform to successfully enable the automation of all or most of the sales and service workflows and business processes.”

Tips for Making the Switch

Pick a cheerleader: Identify who will be the champions for the new system at your company. It is imperative that there are sponsorships at the executive level but it is also important to have everyday users who will trumpet change.

Investigate your data and workflows: Begin thinking about your current pain points and missing functionality with your existing systems or processes. Moving on to a new and better system is a great excuse to improve processes. Identify what, if any, data from other systems would need to be migrated into your CRM. This can be done at a very high level but is still helpful in getting you to think about how you will use your CRM.  It can also be helpful in gauging your level of effort, though you should consult with the CRM company or one of its implementation partners before making any assumptions.

Find a partner: While you’re considering a CRM, make sure that you choose an implementation partner that will work best for you. There are many partners to choose from, of various sizes and with varying skill sets. Some perform plain implementations but do not have the skills necessary to tackle more complex implementations that require code. Some partners are good at extending the capabilities of CRM platforms with code but are not as good at business process consultation. Some partners have a mix of both.

Be sure that your partner cares about your company’s success and takes the time to fully learn about your business. A good partner should clearly add value, give advice, share experience, empower the employees of your company, and always be available. The difference between having a good, knowledgeable, and available partner and one that is not can make all of the difference.

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What is a Cursor?

Someone having computer problems. IT. Enough Said. Quality IT help is hard to come by, isn’t it? The scope of IT support is no longer printer/copier configurations and basic desktop support. With an ever-expanding digital landscape, increased emphasis on data security, and greater reliance on interconnectivity comes the need for highly skilled, reliable IT experts […]

Someone having computer problems. IT. Enough Said.

Quality IT help is hard to come by, isn’t it? The scope of IT support is no longer printer/copier configurations and basic desktop support. With an ever-expanding digital landscape, increased emphasis on data security, and greater reliance on interconnectivity comes the need for highly skilled, reliable IT experts that can manage everything for you. Have you considered outsourcing your IT services to offload the required labor, expertise and management of those resources?

IT Support Before, During and After Business Hours

How can you achieve business efficiency when you can’t even get to your systems? It’s fair to say that the modern workplace is dependent on constant connectivity, with applications like virtual desktops, Office365 and other cloud applications in regular use. As a business owner, you need IT processes to run smoothly so that you never have to suffer costly downtime. Wouldn’t it be nice to know your office network will be up and running when you return to work every Monday, and every other day? You’re not in the business of troubleshooting outages and service disruptions. In fact, wasting time with IT yourself prevents you from performing core business functions.

Round-the-clock IT support service is just one of many advantages of working with an MSP like MC IT to increase efficiency and productivity. Viruses that lock you out of your computer and important company files can strike without notice. Because these attacks, commonly referred to as malware and ransomware, don’t follow a set schedule, you need 24x7x365 IT support services. If you haven’t yet explored the benefits of managed IT services, you probably face the following two scenarios when shi.., I mean IT hits the fan:

  • Your in-house IT loses valuable company time trying to resolve the issue.
  • You call up your break/fix provider, the IT “support” that only comes when you report an issue, to see how soon they can come onsite, evaluate and attempt to solve the problem.

As you may have discovered, neither situation is ideal. When you partner with MC IT, however, you receive proactive rather than reactive solutions. This distinction makes all the difference when attempting to minimize business downtime and reduce the impact of issues. So how does this work? Unlike a break/fix provider that depends on you discovering an issue, we come equipped with an IT management platform that allows us to monitor your network continuously from the cloud. This product is referred to as remote monitoring and management (RMM). We deploy agents to all of your devices and track the health of your IT network, using the leading RMM. Unlike break/fix IT services, we can therefore detect an issue as soon as it arises and resolve it before it becomes a bigger issue, often remotely, rather than require a possible lengthy venture to your offices. One hidden benefit of this is that you don’t have to wait in line. Whereas a break/fix provider may already have a full agenda of sites to visit and can’t get to you until later, we can act fast, so fast, you may not know there was a problem to begin with. Yes, if an alert hits after business hours, we will be able to act quickly and without disturbance to you or your employee’s production.

Supplemental Resource to Your In-House IT Team

How large is your IT department? Are there a few holes you wish you could fill, but either can’t afford to employ more people or can’t find enough qualified candidates? If you do have an in-house IT department, perhaps they could benefit from the additional IT support and resources an MSP, such as we provide. Then, there’s the issue of turnover. Is it difficult for you to keep true IT talent very long? IT is the glue that holds your company together and keeps business up, running and profitable.

An MSP helps you extend your in-house IT team, enabling existing staff to better manage their workload, at a fraction of the cost. This can be a huge relief for companies that only have one or a few dedicated IT folks on staff. Working with us at MC IT also opens you up to new expertise and skillsets. Our technicians hold a wide array of technical degrees and certifications, and can help you implement more complex technology projects. There’s no doubt that with more hands on deck, you can reach higher levels of business efficiency.

Group Policies and Procedures

When you hear the words “data breach” and “data loss,” what images appear? One very real consequence of compromised data is loss of business, delayed work efficiency or even going out of business. Are you aware of all the various contributing factors responsible for data loss and data breaches? Better yet, have you built and enforced security policies and procedures to protect against these threats? Let’s first examine the role human error plays in weakened security. Poor passwords and password security are just the tip of the iceberg. Combine this with staff accidentally deleting files, leaving devices unattended without locking screens, misplacing devices, sharing files un-securely and falling for malware or phishing schemes, and you’ve got the potential for business-crippling situations on your hands.

Enough tech-talk. We hope we’ve convinced you to prioritize the importance of your IT and do something proactive about it. In fact, contact us. MC IT, we ensure critical IT systems are always available to support your core business functions. Take advantage of our complimentary initial consultations.

Info@MCLVIT.com

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Why Bad Video Isn’t Good for Business

How many of you have seen the recent explosion of videos being shot on an iPhone inside a car?  They’re all over social media.  While it’s most often being done by small business owners, it’s not exclusive to that group.   People have caught onto the idea that video sells and that Google demands it, but […]

How many of you have seen the recent explosion of videos being shot on an iPhone inside a car?  They’re all over social media.  While it’s most often being done by small business owners, it’s not exclusive to that group.   People have caught onto the idea that video sells and that Google demands it, but they missed the subheading.  Bad video isn’t good for business.

No matter what the size of your company, corporate videos are an investment.  And here’s the truth, no matter how big (or small in the case of the do-it-yourselfers) the budget sometimes they miss the mark.

Most business people need help creating good video. Business owners are experts in the work they do, but producing watchable video is most likely not part of the skill set. Just reading about video production techniques online or monkeying around with an advanced iPhone video app, won’t give you the polished, creative content and visual presentation that showcases a business in the best light. It’s likely you aren’t telling a story that engages your audience.

You really have to spend some time and a little bit of money to get started in a professional way. You do not need lots of bells and whistles, green screens, drones or dancing dogs to create content that counts. You simply need to put a professional polish on it, just like you would when building your website. Potential customers or clients need to know you care enough about your business to invest in quality work, including your marketing materials. You and your videos need to be professional.  Your video won’t promote your expertise, your passion or your work effectively if the audio and the lighting are bad.

People often know they should be using video in their business but both the technical aspects of shooting, editing video, the content part and deciding what to say in their video, scares them. They may think, “Oh, well, I can’t possibly make the video.  I don’t know what to say.” Or a lot of people also say, “I’m not good on video. I don’t want to be on TV.”  Or, they “go for it” and embarrass themselves.

In your marketing video, you simply have to talk about you in an engaging way. You’re the expert in YOU. You’re the expert about your business.  Your video shows that you’re the passion behind the product. What you need is to find someone who can help coach you through this process.  Find someone with the knowledge to ask you the key questions to develop your message:

You’re going to talk about WHO? That’s you.

WHAT? What’s your business do or what products do you offer?

WHY should a consumer buy your product or service?  Explain why you do what you do!

You also have to think about how much time your potential client will give you to consume your content.  When I say that, I mean sometimes, its 15 seconds and other times its 30 seconds.  Maybe your video is a minute long. It just depends on your story and the visuals that go with it, because, above all, this is a visual medium and you want robust pictures to go with your story.  The days of doing a 5-10 minute about your business, and calling your video needs met, are over.   The modern YouTube viewer won’t give you that much time.

Whether it’s a corporate profile, a television commercial or a product promotion, it makes no difference. You’ll want an emotional hook to engage viewers.  And most importantly, put your best foot forward, so you’re not creating videos that are painful to watch.  I firmly believe and advise all clients that poor quality videos will attract the wrong clients.  Simply put, bad video makes you look bad.

You’re good at what you do and you want it to show.  You don’t want to look like one of those amateur auditions.  The old advertising slogan of what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas does not apply online.  The modern expression is, “What happens on Google stays on Google.”  And it might stay there forever, so you’d better make it good the first time.

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What Makes A Company High-Tech?

Let’s face it – high-tech is in…everyone wants to be a high-tech company. Why? It’s good business—having a “reputation” as a high-tech company says you are relevant with the times, on the cutting edge of growth and progress, a place where people want to work and customers want to bring their business. It matters, but […]

Let’s face it – high-tech is in…everyone wants to be a high-tech company. Why? It’s good business—having a “reputation” as a high-tech company says you are relevant with the times, on the cutting edge of growth and progress, a place where people want to work and customers want to bring their business. It matters, but being high-tech means a company’s business technology is more than just its computers and devices. It is not only the tangible hardware and software but also the intangible elements that drive technology implementation and usage. It is just as important to consider how a company embraces and makes use of their tools to implement operating processes with the result of improved efficiency, output, and results on a day to day basis. Being high-tech is an evolution, a transformation, and one that if implemented well makes you a better company.

We all know that here in 2015, very few companies could function if every computing device were to disappear, so let us consider what else defines the technology equation. Ultimately the greatest factor as to whether a company is high-tech comes down to whether they have developed a technology culture. Starting with the CEO at the top, down to the lowest level function employee, does the company embrace the ever changing options that enhance, define, and revolutionize any and every given function in the workflow of the day to day operations? A technology culture embraces technology-driven change and not for the sake of change, but change that makes the company and its people better.

It is far too frequent that employees fear rather than embrace the tools that can make their processes more streamlined. The weakest link metaphor has a chance to manifest itself anywhere an employee has developed this fear of technology. It is up to the executive team and management to identify and strengthen these links, and bring up every participant that affects the company’s technology IQ. This can be done by investing in technology education. Training employees to strengthen their technology skills improves your company, and more importantly, your people.

As technology improves and evolves, the gap only widens. A strong technology culture is able to evolve with the new technology and adapt specific technology enhancements to fit their company’s unique needs. The greatest asset in becoming a high-tech company is the willingness to ask “How can we improve how we do things and are we willing to change?” This requires research and the fortitude to implement those methods. There is always a better way to do something, either available now or around the corner. If every employee participates in that discovery process, then a company thrives in a high-tech world and builds a technology company. So are you a high-tech company?

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