Posts in Managed Service Provider

3 Advantages of Hosted Email for SMBs

March 17th, 2020 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Communication, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services 0 thoughts on “3 Advantages of Hosted Email for SMBs”

Email has become business-critical for most SMBs. Without it, operations can grind to a halt, employees can sit idle, and sales/support can be negatively impacted. You want your email to have minimal down time, suit your business needs and goals, and support your business growth. But managing and maintaining your own email server can be challenging at best and disastrous at worst. So, how do you get the functionality you need without the headache? Hosted email. In this blog post we’ll discuss 3 advantages of hosted email for your SMB.

 

What is Hosted Email?

Email hosting as a service is a great way for businesses to save money, tailor your email to your needs, and save time on maintenance. Your email server is hosted off-site in a secure data center and is managed and maintained by our certified engineers. One of the best parts of a hosted email solution is that it’s crafted to your business’s specific needs, rather than it being a “one-size-fits-all” solution. This means that you’ll have to spend less time on work-arounds and general frustration, because it has been customized for you.

 

3 Benefits of Hosted Email

There are significant advantages to outsourcing your email to an MSP. Here are three of the biggest benefits of hosted email:

Less time spent on maintenance and management: You can focus your time and resources on aspects of your business that only you or your staff can do. Since the responsibility of managing and maintaining the email server is handled by an external party, you’re free to work on your business instead of your email servers.

Flexibility and scalability: Whether you’re planning to grow in the future or dealing with growing pains now, it will save you time and money to ensure that your email solutions can grow with your business. Hosted email is scalable to suit the specific needs of your business; adding or removing users and features as you need them is convenient and cost effective.

Security and redundancy: Your company email is a vital part of your business, which is why hackers try to take advantage of it so often through spam campaigns and phishing emails. These tactics are alarmingly effective when you don’t take steps to actively mitigate them. Having your email hosted in a secure data center reduces the likelihood of hacking attacks, and we can add a spam blocking solution to help avoid those threats as well.

Think Network Technologies can help your business take advantage of all the benefits hosted email has to offer. To learn more about hosted email solutions, contact us today.

Getting to Know Our New Systems Administrator

February 13th, 2020 Posted by Best Practices, Managed Service Provider, Staff 0 thoughts on “Getting to Know Our New Systems Administrator”

Now that our new Systems Administrator, Madison Upton, has had some time to settle in, we thought it would be a good time to get to know her a little better.

 

Her background in technology and IT support

Madison has been in the IT industry for over 12 years. She came from a 9-1-1 IT support background and has taken on various IT work on the side for small companies and residents, too. She really enjoys fixing inanimate objects and teaching people how to use them.

 

Madison’s role at Think

Madison is a System Administrator. This means she is responsible for maintenance, operations, documentation and planning of systems infrastructure. She likes to focus on one problem at a time to be thorough in finding the best solution. And she likes to listen to music to get herself pumped up and energized.

 

She loves working at Think because

When I asked Madison what she loves about her job so far, she said, ”I really enjoy brain-trusting with my team on an issue that may have me stunned or curious. I’ve worked as a lone wolf within my IT career before and I found I really missed collaborating with a fun, intelligent, and trusted team.  There’s a lot to learn between the lot of us on this team and that’s a big part of what makes us good at what we do for our clients.”

 

Life outside the office

Madison is a lot of fun to talk to, so I asked her a few extra questions…

What do you miss about being a kid?
-I really enjoy being an adult; I have a lot more freedom and opportunities that I remember as a kid thinking “I can’t wait to grow up so I can…”. However, who doesn’t miss regular naps that we adults all took for granted as kids!?

What’s your favorite outdoor activity?
-The outdoors and I get along very well. I moved to the Southwest corner of Colorado so I can be much closer to rafting, paddling boarding, fishing in all varieties, target shooting, archery, snowshoeing, hunting and soaking in the hot springs.

What would you do if you won the lottery?
-If I won the lottery and was set for life, I’d become a full-time animal activist for our Elephants and Rhinos. Those poachers wouldn’t know what hit ’em!

 

5 Ways IT Can Improve Employee Experience

February 13th, 2020 Posted by Best Practices, Managed Service Provider, Staff 0 thoughts on “5 Ways IT Can Improve Employee Experience”

The experience your employees have shapes the quality of their work, their level of productivity, and every interaction they have with a customer. If your employees aren’t happy, your customers won’t be either. The technology and software you provide have a huge impact on your employee experience, and there’s a massive disconnect between most executives and their employees when it comes to how this is going.

Nine of out 10 C-suite executives believe that they choose new technology that delivers what employees need: 50 percent of employees disagree. In fact, close to 40 percent of employees feel that their IT departments and workplace technology experience is completely out of touch with their needs.

So, there’s a chance you may have some work to do. We’ve come up with these 5 ways IT can improve your employee experience to help you out:

 

Listen to your employees

Most people want to do their jobs well, but if there are constant impediments they may give up. Any technology that streamlines or simplifies part of the job will have a positive impact. And it may be a different technology or software for different departments who have different focuses and workflows. Take the time to talk with your employees about what they need to do their jobs, and you might be surprised at the positive results in their productivity and their experience in the company.

Smooth out onboarding

Starting a new job is inherently stressful. Sitting around for a week while a computer is set up, ID’s are created, accounts are set up, and everything is connected to the network makes the whole process a LOT more stressful than it needs to be. Help your new hires hit the ground running and have a positive experience starting by having processes and technology in place to ensure that onboarding happens smoothly and quickly.

Reduce the learning curve

Does your software require intensive training to use? Unless it has some very powerful, very specific functions that you can’t do without, it may not be worth the delayed start time and stress it causes your employees. Take the time to evaluate what you’re getting from your software versus what it’s costing your employees (and therefor you).

Aim for consumer-level experience

Most people have technology embedded in their lives, and they love it. They’ll stand in line for a new phone. Play with a new app until it suits them. Customize everything from their cars to their homes with every tech trick you can imagine. They know how to be good, enthusiastic technology users. Technology companies ensure that they enjoy learning how to use a new product by making those products tailored to suit their consumers’ needs. How does that compare to their experience at work? Are you making it easy for your employees to do their jobs by ensuring that they have the right technology, software, apps, and the knowledge they need to use them?

Upgrade the office

The quality of the technology tools you give your employees to do their jobs sends a message about how important they are (or aren’t) to the company and to you. If your employees are working (or trying to work) on 7-year old computers, a glitchy phone system, and software that makes every task harder than it needs to be, how likely are they to feel valued? How much enthusiasm are they bringing to their work, their customer interactions, and the company? How long will they want to stay? Upgrading is an expense, but so is saddling your company with technology that limits how productive and engaged your employees can be. One has the potential to boost your profits in a big way, while the other ensures that you’ll stay stuck. Which would you rather invest in?

This is a great opportunity to improve your business in every way, now and moving forward. If you need some help evaluating your situation, making a plan to move forward, or implementing your plan, we’re happy to help. Contact us today to see how our solutions can power your business.

 

5 Tips to Improve Business and IT Alignment

January 21st, 2020 Posted by Best Practices, Managed Service Provider, Security, Staff 0 thoughts on “5 Tips to Improve Business and IT Alignment”

The success of any new technology initiative depends on IT and business being on the same page. Otherwise you risk failed projects, lack of measurable ROI, and technology investments that don’t do much to improve the business.

We’ve put this blog post together to help you ensure that both sides of your business are working towards the same goals. Here are 5 tips to keep in mind for successful business and IT alignment:

BE AN ACTIVE LISTENER

Communication should always be a two-way street, and this is no exception. IT and business both have a specific focus. Which means both sides see each situation or challenge through a different lens. Where IT is looking at essential security upgrades and procedures designed to protect the business, the business side might only see an extra expense and processes that could slow down productivity with extra training. Both have a valuable perspective, but it won’t get them anywhere unless they learn how to communicate and compromise.

Remember to listen, ask questions, and communicate clearly not just WHAT you want or need but WHY as well.

HAVE EMPATHY

Something that is a top priority for IT may not even make the list for business, and visa versa. It’s important to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Not only does this help you see the situation from their perspective, but it means they’re more likely to try to see it from your perspective as well. This can lead to greater trust, easier communication, and more solutions that make everyone happy.

STRIVE TOWARDS MUTUAL GOALS

While it’s true that IT and business might have a very different approach and focus, ultimately everyone is working towards the same goal: the success of the business. If you take the time to ensure that everyone involved, regardless of their role, is focused on this overarching objective, it will help remind everyone that they’re working on the same team.

SPEAK UP ABOUT RISKS

No one wants to be “that person”, the one who’s always preaching doom and gloom or saying “no”. But trust is a huge part of working well together, and you can’t trust someone who lets you make a costly mistake just to avoid being uncomfortable. Whether the risk is about cybersecurity or financial stability, speak up.

REINFORCE THE GOOD, WORK WITH THE BAD

Let’s face it, too often it can feel like IT and business are spending more time butting heads than getting anything done. To help repair this relationship, you’ll need to make a point of emphasizing the good. When you have a productive conversation, come up with a balanced solution to a problem, or create a joint plan for moving forward, remember to point out the success and the people who contributed to it. This helps to establish a new normal, a relationship that is good to be a part of. And when things go a little sideways, because that’s always going to happen sooner or later, instead of slinging blame trying finding the “why”. You’re not looking to roast someone, just to do better in the future.

A MANAGED SERVICES PARTNERSHIP CAN BRIDGE THE GAP

Maintaining alignment between business and IT can easily become a full-time job. This is part of the reason so many SMB’s are turning to Managed Service Providers to help bridge the gap and ensure that IT and business have a mutually supportive and beneficial relationship.

If you’re looking for experts to become a real partner in your business, a partner who can help you align the knowledge, processes, and technology you need to achieve better business outcomes, we’d be happy to talk. Contact us today to learn more.

Top 3 Technology Resolutions for 2020

January 21st, 2020 Posted by Best Practices, Managed Service Provider, Security, Staff 0 thoughts on “Top 3 Technology Resolutions for 2020”

It’s a new year and a new decade, so it’s the perfect time to look at how technology can improve your business. Here are the top 3 technology resolutions you may want to consider:

 

UPDATE TECHNOLOGY

The impact technology has on business is undeniable, and it’s only increasing. Digitally mature businesses stand out because they’re more productive, move with the market, and impress customers by providing quality service and connection through multiple channels.

As you look to the future, you’ll need to understand where your business is today – achieved with a technology audit – and develop a digital transformation strategy that integrates digital solutions where they will benefit your business the most.

 

ENHANCE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

It’s no longer enough to provide a quality product; to retain customers a business must also provide a compelling and satisfying customer experience. More and more customers are expecting businesses to provide a digital component to make their experience easier and more engaging.

As you plan your technology budget for 2020, take the time to look at where technology can enhance customer service, increase accessibility, and personalize your customers’ experience. This could be an automated chat feature on your website, predictive analytics, or a more robust CRM. The key is to find the technology that serves your customers’ needs and complements your business culture and goals.

 

SAFEGUARD YOUR BUSINESS

It seems like every day we’re learning about a new, more sophisticated, more aggressive type of cyber attack targeting businesses, local governments, and even schools and hospitals. Add this to the growing number of regulations and risk compliance requirements, and SMB’s have a real challenge on their hands.

When you look for solutions to address these challenges, it’s important to know that there is a multitude of options that allow for a streamlined, customized approach to protecting your business. A little research will show you that compliance and security don’t have to be clunky or a heavy burden on your business anymore.

 

WHAT ARE YOUR TECHNOLOGY RESOLUTIONS FOR 2020?

As you build your path to success in 2020, we invite you to take advantage of the information we offer here on our blog. And, as always, if you need support in prioritizing and planning your technology resolutions, we are more than happy to help!

Your Business Needs These 3 Types of IT Resources

April 10th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Devices, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services, Staff 0 thoughts on “Your Business Needs These 3 Types of IT Resources”

As technology becomes more essential, more versatile, and more complex, it also becomes increasingly difficult to manage. This can be especially true for SMBs as they balance the need to grow and stay competitive with limited budgets and less IT expertise. Luckily, there’s more than one way to look at IT, and how you approach it makes all the difference.

 

The Challenges

As the demands of your business reach the limit of your IT department’s ability to keep up, you may find yourself experiencing some of the following growing pains:

  • IT is spending most of their time putting out fires, which means recurring problems are becoming more common.
  • Deployment of software, apps, and initiatives is getting more complex, and you’re seeing more delays, failures, and down time.
  • Keeping up with break/fix work is keeping your IT staff from focusing on developing strategies and solutions that will benefit the business long term.
  • System down time is becoming more frequent, and it’s resulting in a loss of productivity and profit.

 

The Right Team with the Right Resources

As the role of IT expands, it’s important that you have the right team in place with the right expertise. It’s not just about having more staff; it’s about having access to expertise in cyber security, cloud migration, data mining, collaboration, etc. But, while you need access to these types of expertise and support, it doesn’t make sense for most SMBs to have these high-level experts on staff full time. Which is why many businesses are excited to discover the benefits of Managed Services.

To get the most out of your IT, both internal and through outsourced partnerships, make sure to have these three types of resources covered:

Generalists

These are your “go to” people. They’ve got the basic knowledge necessary to solve most of the day-to-day issues that your employees will encounter quickly and reliably, and they have the people-savvy necessary to provide high-quality service. This is a point of pride at Think. Our Support Desk staff is carefully selected, highly trained, and respond to most service tickets in an hour or less.

 

Specialists

With the rapid advancements in tech, IT departments are often expected to be experts in a variety of ever-changing specialties. To keep all the different aspects of your business tech running smoothly, you need access to a wide range of specialized skill sets. But, while these specialties are vital, they’re not necessarily something you’ll need forty hours a week. This is where the collective experience of a Managed Services team is key. With the right partner, you get the expertise and experience you need when you need it.

 

Advisors

IT has evolved from a convenience to a catalyst for innovation and future growth. But with each department working from their own perspective and towards their own goals, it can be difficult to see the broader picture and create a strategic place for IT in your business. An IT advisor with an outside perspective, a solid understanding of business and tech, and the ability to help you develop a plan to move your business forward is in an invaluable asset that can change the course of your entire organization for the better.

 

Bottom Line

Balancing the needs of your business with budget considerations is an ongoing challenge, and IT is no exception. But with the right combination of resources, you can ensure that your business receives all the benefits IT has to offer without sacrificing in other areas. For many organizations, this is where teaming up with a Managed Services partner gives them what they need, when they need it.

Continuous Adaptation: The new role of IT in your business

April 10th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Devices, Managed Service Provider, Services 0 thoughts on “Continuous Adaptation: The new role of IT in your business”

There was a time when critical business applications changed every few years at most. This gave you and your employees plenty of time to plan for major changes and adjust to them while your business continued to operate and grow. But, thanks to the power of cloud technologies, the pace of change has accelerated. While businesses are eager to take advantage of the benefits cloud computing has to offer, it’s important to ensure that your business and your employees are prepared to get the most out of the transition.

 

New pace, new approach

Growth and adaptation are essential to any business, and as a result the “set it and forget it” mode of thinking is out. This applies to both the software and hardware you’re using as well as the policies, procedures, and culture surrounding IT. It’s not enough to have the right applications and the newest hardware if your employees don’t have the motivation and support necessary to integrate these new resources into their daily routines and tasks.

 

Changing face of IT

Your company’s IT is no longer about fixing broken computers or installing software occasionally. It now plays an integral role, continuously engaging with everything from security to end user education and support. Adjusting the way you think about this vital asset to your business can improve your ability to adapt to change, respond to new opportunities, and cultivate your most valuable asset – your people.

 

The pace of change will only continue to increase, and it’s important that you have the support and expertise you need to help your business navigate and thrive. If you’re ready to see what IT can really do for your business, contact our engineers today.

How a Technology Replacement Plan Will Save You Time and Money

March 18th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Devices, Managed Service Provider 0 thoughts on “How a Technology Replacement Plan Will Save You Time and Money”

Would you like to help your employees be more productive? How about helping them collaborate more easily? And knowing in advance when and what you’ll be spending on IT?

If these sound good to you, then a Technology Replacement Plan is definitely worth looking into.

 

What is a Technology Replacement Plan?

Put simply, this is the plan for how you will replace technology in upcoming years. It can be as straightforward as a list of what equipment you currently have, when it was purchased, and when you want to replace it.

 

What are the benefits of a Replacement Plan?

For something so simple, a replacement plan can have a big positive impact for your business. It can be a useful tool to help:

  • Increase Productivity – Old equipment can slow down everything from opening emails to saving files. If each instance adds just 30 seconds to a task, and it happens 12 times a day, that adds up to over 13 hours of lost time over the course of a year. Thirteen hours of your employee’s time spent waiting on an outdated piece of equipment that could easily be upgraded. And that’s true for every employee who’s dealing with outdated equipment. It adds up fast.
  • Make the Most of New Options – Technology changes more quickly all the time, and these changes can bring new benefits to your business. Such as enhanced collaboration between employees or more secure storage options, just to name a couple.
  • Smooth Budgeting – No one likes out of the blue expenses. Especially when they come from all directions at once, which seems to happen just because it can. But, with a technology replacement plan, you can plan years in advance for the purchase of everything from monitors to printers.
  • Ensure Compatibility – It’s important that any new equipment works with your current system. Having a replacement plan ensures that you will be able to plan around any major changes and create a solution before you’re having problems with a pricey new setup.

 

No Time Like the Present

You don’t have to wait for the new year or the next budget meeting. You can start your Technology Replacement Plan today. If you’re unsure about where to start or how long to wait between upgrades, our Think engineers would be happy to help you create a replacement plan that suits your business, keeps your employees productive, and helps keep your budgeting as easy as possible. Just contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Pros and Cons: Cloud Computing

March 18th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Data, Devices, Internet, Managed Service Provider 0 thoughts on “Pros and Cons: Cloud Computing”

Should you be entrusting your data to the cloud or keeping it down to earth on your own servers? This is a decision facing every business. It’s one you’ll be forced to consider carefully, because it’ll impact your business practices and expenses for the foreseeable future. There’s plenty to be said for both cloud storage and dedicated servers, which makes the question which one is right for you. In this post we’ll be covering the pros and cons of the cloud.

Advantages of the Cloud

Cost Savings
One of the biggest benefits of cloud computing is the cost savings. With cloud computing, you can save substantial IT costs by eliminating the need to purchase, operate, and maintain server equipment. You pay for what you use, and you can stop whenever you like. This can make cloud computing ideal for some businesses all by itself. Though it is worth noting that in some instances an on-site server can actually be less expensive than using the cloud.

Reliability
With a managed service platform, your business can benefit from a large pool of IT resources that are dedicated to ensuring a reliable connection to your data at all times. These generally include redundancies that most businesses wouldn’t have built into their own personal servers.

Manageability
With a service level agreement (SLA) you get all the benefits of a high-end system without the hassle of performing updates and maintenance yourself.

Strategic Edge
The ease and accessibility of computer resources can give you a competitive edge, since the time you require for upgrading your IT resources to meet the needs of your business is basically nothing. This allows you to focus on moving your business forward.

Disadvantages of the Cloud

Downtime
If the internet is down, you have no access to your data and possibly the applications you use to run your business. Depending on the quality of internet service available in your area, this could be a significant disadvantage.

Security
Cloud service providers do everything they can to ensure the security of your data. But any time you’re storing data and important files with external service providers, it opens up some risk. It’s unlikely to be an issue, but you should consider the potential consequences any time you’re trusting someone else to safeguard your business’s information.

Vendor Lock-In
Moving to the cloud can be a quick, easy process. But moving between cloud services can get rather difficult. Not all services are cross-compatible, and you may end up staying with a less-than-ideal set up for a few features that you’re not sure how to do without.

Limited Control
Since the cloud infrastructure is entirely owned, monitored, and managed by the service provider, control over what you can change, update, or access is limited to the applications, data, and services you’re paying to use.

The advantages of cloud computing are many, and it’s well worth considering as an option for your business. But don’t forget about on-site servers just yet, because they have some pretty great advantages of their own. We’ll discuss both the advantages and disadvantages of on-site servers in our next blog post.

If you’re considering the future of your business IT and want input from the experts, our engineers here at Think would be happy to help. Contact us to schedule a consultation.

Windows 7 & Windows Server 2008 r2 Are On Their Way Out

February 14th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Communication, Data, Desktop, Devices, Disaster, Hackers, Managed Service Provider, Security, Services, Windows 7 0 thoughts on “Windows 7 & Windows Server 2008 r2 Are On Their Way Out”

All good things come to an end, and that includes operating systems. This time around it’s Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 r2. As of January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer be providing security updates for these systems. This means that any devices running on these operating systems will become vulnerable to security threats after January 14, 2020.

What You Can Do

We encourage you to begin planning for the upgrade of these devices to a newer, more secure operating system. The sooner you start this process, the easier it will be to ensure that you can:

  1. Have time to determine the most beneficial IT solutions for your business.
  2. Work in the transition period during a more convenient time for you and your staff.
  3. Plan for the expense of the upgrade.

What You Don’t Want to Do

Put it off until the last minute. Something this vital to your business operations and security isn’t something you want to rush or push to the side.

We’re Happy to Help

Here at Think our engineers are ready to help you find the best IT solutions for your business. And with their extensive experience and knowledge, they can help make the transition as smooth and convenient as possible for your business and your staff. To schedule a consultation with a Think engineer, contact us today.

For more information from Microsoft, you can read their information page here.

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