Watch this video to see how you can protect your business network and personal devices from the threat posed by malware and hackers. You’ll learn about setting smart passwords, firewalls, the value of updating software, and more. Clients of our managed services solution PROSuite don’t have to worry as much about these issues because we are keeping an eye on them, so please contact us at 301-948-8077 if you have concerns about the security of your own systems.
Archive for the ‘Business Strategy’ Category
Today’s been a busy day – in and out of meetings and I haven’t really had much of a chance to play with the new stuff, just basic working inside of Outlook. That’s when I noticed the awesomeness of Outlook 2013 folder list. I’m a folder guy, I have somewhere around 250 of them. One for each client, one for each employee, one of each vendor partner…you get the idea. Well, everything comes into the Inbox and is filed from there. I noticed that the folder list was all out of order. In Outlook 2010, it’s always alphabetized. Not so in 2013!
The folder list had defaulted to some other sort method (I forgot to figure it out) and then I noticed on the right-click context menu that I could “Sort SubFolders A to Z.” Then I noticed that I could drag and drop folder around to manually change the order!
For a folder guy like me, this is HUGE. I can move commonly used folders up, while moving those older and rarely used folders to the bottom faster than you can say productivity boost!
That all for today. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow!
This morning’s keynote from Microsoft COO Kevin Turner was nothing sort of spectacular. Kevin is a great speaker and motivator, but the power of his presentation was not in his delivery, but in the data. He even commented a few times about getting on your glasses so you can be impressed with the slide!
Basically, Microsoft is aggressively attacking all of its major competition – more so than ever before. Over the next 24 months, every single product they make will be refreshed and each of these products not only outdoes the last but claims to outperform their competition. From Windows 8 and Office 15 to XBox to Microsoft SQL, everything is being poised for a major push.
Supporting his claims, Kevin listed off several benchmarks from internal and third party surveys. SQL Server has more than twice the market share than any of it’s competitors. Bing has higher server relevancy than Google. Virtualization through Hyper-V increased market share while VMware began to lose. Dynamics CRM has more fatures with salesforce.com. Heck, even Siri knows that the Windows Phone gets better reviews!
Additionally, Microsoft is planning to open more stores, including pop-up stores in time for the holidays.
While it remains to be seen what will really happen when everything is released, one thing is for sure, Microsoft is pushing hard and you will continue to hear more from them.
If you’re following along at home, you already know that Windows 8 will be released in about a month. If you follow tech news then you’ve also seen a ton or rumors about what it will look like and if you believe what you read, you’re probably pretty scared. The good news? It’s just like Windows 7 – only with a fancy new interface on top of it.
Really, the big noticeable change is the Metro User Interface (UI). Metro is a tiled interface that you can currently see on Windows mobile phones. It provides real time updates in the tile – new email, calendar reminder, news headlines, stock prices – you get the idea. If you haven’t seen A Windows phone, think about an iPad but the App icons update with the latest info.
There are Apps that run in this Metro style interface that can either be purchased in the Windows Store or “side-loaded” onto the Windows device. Anyone who is familiar with developing Windows applications today should have no problem developing a Metro app, but if you need to run a non-Metro app, the device will flip over into a familiar Windows 7 interface, making it easy to move forward without having to update every app (Microsoft Office 2010 runs this way).
Now that we know the big change, let’s talk about those rumors:
No Start Menu – This one is true with the Metro UI. The truth is that you don’t need it. Search is fully integrated in Windows 7 and the best way to find something is not to dig into the menu, but to just search for it. For old applications, the Windows interface is readily available. File this under – it will take some getting used to.
I need a touch screen to use it – I’m not going to lie. Touch is awesome. Windows 8 makes it a first class citizen with the keyboard and mouse. However, it works just fine with a mouse and keyboard.
It’s really made for a tablet – This is 100% true, but not the tablet that you use today. With touch, 3G/4G and mobility built into the core of the system, it can run on your desktop, your laptop, your Intel CPU tablet or your basic tablet that you use today. I’ve seen a few different laptops where the touchscreen pops off and becomes a tablet – with the full power of Windows. There is also a version that only runs Metro UI apps, this is the most direct competitor to today’s tablet.
It will be expensive to upgradeFalse. If you up a computer today (give it a few days – this was just announced) you’ll be able to upgrade for under $20.00. All other computers will only cost $40.
It will slow my computer down – False. Tests show that it boots up 50% faster than Windows 7.
There you have it, myths debunked! I was just handed a Windows To Go preview drive, so I’m going to start playing with Windows 8 ASAP. I’ll keep everyone posted.
What’s that? Never heard of Windows to Go? Another new feature! You can now work with your IT department to save all of your computers settings to a bootable USB drive. You boot to the drive and your corporate work computer is there. Maybe you’re on vacation at Aunt Sally’s house. Maybe you travel globally and can use a spare PC at every office you travel. Windows To ago includes your corporate accounts and fully supports the bit locker drive encryption, making this a fantastic way to deploy Windows for many different situations.
Hello from Toronto! I’m currently sitting in the Air Canada Centre with over 16,000 people representing Microsoft Partners from around the globe. We’re here to watch Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, deliver his keynote address. And what an address it was! Steve, and his team, talked about a number of new items being released by Microsoft in the coming months.
First the big news, Windows 8 is officially on track to be be completed in early August – that’s next month! While it will take until mid-October for computer manufacturers to start delivering the new operating system on new PCs, volume license customers should have access to the foibles in just a few short week! To match that, we saw a demo of several new touch enabled ultra books. The only comparison I can come up with is imagine the MacBook Air, with Windows 8 and a touch screen. It was pretty awesome to see that new technology.
Another major topic was Office 365. Just celebrating its first birthday, it has grown faster that ever expected – across all business sizes. Loses Home Improvement stores, for example, recently migrated over 200,000 users into the platform! Microsoft also revealed a new licensing strategy for the platform that allows resellers to package the offering – this bit of news was in direct response to the communities request and received a huge ovation.
Rounding out the session, there was a brief discussion of Office 15. And by brief, I mean it’s existence was acknowledged. No news yet, but they hinted that it will include a ton if new features and capabilities that address the consumerization trend happening in corporate IT.
Overall, the keynote delivered a few surprises and some great announcements. More to come late, on to a day of Windows 8 training!
The PROSuite Detective, or How our CNS Managed Service Solution, PROSuite, Saved the Day!
A few months ago, an unfortunate PROSuite client experienced a break-in and had several computers stolen. When the machines were reported stolen we set up our PROSuite tool to email us anytime a PROSuite agent was activated on them. We received a few alerts from one computer shortly after it was stolen and passed along information to the police assigned to the case, but the lead went cold before the computer could be recovered. Yesterday afternoon we received an alert stating that the machine was back online! Using our PROSuite tool we were able to access the files on the machine without the illicit user’s knowledge. We found a credit card receipt on the desktop where the user had purchased antivirus software for the machine. The receipt has the user’s name, address and phone number along with the last 4 numbers of their credit card and expiration date. We passed that information along to the detective on the case who is now obtaining a warrant to search the house and recover the stolen property. Hopefully our client will have their machine back within the next week or so!
Recovering stolen computers is another reason to use PROSuite managed services by Corporate Network Services, and to have us as your technology partner. Is managed services right for your organization? Call us to find out!
With the economy and unemployment the way it is today, your company’s posting of open positions is likely to garner a huge response. But how do you find the perfect person in that stack of resumes? Since the interview is in essence all you can go on, your company’s interview questions are very important to help you make the right choice.
Make certain that your interview questions solicit the data that will help you choose the individual with the traits you want. If you use a cookie cutter approach to the interview, it’s likely you’ll get uninspired, cookie cutter answers.
Ask the Right Questions
Rather then asking people what their former positions were, ask them how they positively impacted their positions at their previous employers. Did they create any processes that improved efficiency? Did they help their employers save money, if so, how?
One of the most popular questions to ask a candidate concerns their strengths and weaknesses. Avoid asking them to list these; almost everyone has predetermined answers. Instead ask them what they bring to the culture of a company, or ask them what they do to make their job more satisfying. The answers you get to these types of questions will assist you to gauge the actual inventiveness of the person you are interviewing.
Another method you could use to measure creativity is to give them a task to execute. Something simple, for example have them write their ideas about what their ideal work environment would be like. Or they could brainstorm products and services for a company of your choosing. You could keep it light and fun; the goal is to get a snapshot of their brainstorming abilities, and creativity. In addition, if you have a technical opening, you also want to ask him or her to explain how to solve common technical issues your company faces.
At Corporate Network Services, we are looking for people-friendly candidates who embody our Attitude tenets and customer service requirements for our computer consulting business, so we also craft questions that help us determine if the candidate would fit in with our culture and purpose. What is important to your business? Make sure you’ll be able to determine if the candidates have those traits or not by the time the interview process is over. Sometimes as part of the interview process we require candidates to take a personality test, just to give us another data point when deciding between qualified candidates. Two that we like are Kolbe and DISC.
Finally, while the interview is an important part of our selection process, don’t discount how candidates interact with all of your employees during the entire recruiting process. How are their communication skills over the phone? How do they treat your receptionist? What do they do to follow up after the interview? All of these things are important to consider when looking for a new team member for your business!
To view the open positions that we have at Corporate Network Services, visit our employment page.
Times are certainly tough for start-up businesses, but that shouldn’t mean that you should be afraid to ask for a raise if you feel like your hard work justifies a higher salary. As an Executive team member for a start-up government IT contracting business, one of our Directors came to us just for that reason, and was successful in winning us over to get a new salary. You can try the same thing! Here’s how to do it:
- Document the new work you are doing and determine the benefits and value that you are providing the organization. How are your current responsibilities above your original job description? How many extra hours are you working? What tasks have you tackled that no one else wanted? How have those things impacted the business? Did they save money, make money, save a client, attract a new client, or make the company more financially stable? Even so, how do your executives value that impact? Do you know what your executives are valuing in that moment of time? If you’ve had a performance evaluation, how did you do? Don’t ask for a raise if you aren’t earning top scores.
- Determine what new salary you want by analyzing the market. Consider all the hats you are wearing (operations, administration, finance, sales, marketing, etc.) and analyze those salaries, too. This data can be found easily on line at places like www.salary.com or associations unique to your industry. How do all those new salaries compare to your current salary? Together, what do they average out to be? When you are finished, determine what a target realistic salary could be for you.
- If you have access to financial information, run some numbers to see if the new target salary is affordable for the business. If it isn’t, reconsider your number or come up with a way to afford it. Maybe you can present some ideas on how to save money on expenses somewhere else to help justify the new amount.
- Get an appointment with the executives. Ask for a meeting with all of the decision makers, or ask for time on the agenda of a regularly occurring meeting where the executives will be. Make sure you are asking the final decision makers.
- Prepare and practice your presentation. Don’t forget to also prepare for questions, objections or alternatives. They’ll probably want to know first if your requested salary is even affordable. They might want to know if you also expect a title change. They might wonder how your new salary would impact those around you; if they give you more money will they have to give everyone more money? Decide ahead of time what you are going to do if they turn you down flat, say “ok but not now,” or offer you another type of benefit. Will you resign? Will you ask for another meeting in 3 more months? Would you accept a bonus or commission plan in lieu of a salary jump? What if they tell you that the value you thought you were providing wasn’t really of value? Will you be open to accepting their evaluation of your work?
- It’s the day of your meeting, what are you going to say? Start out by telling them how happy you are to have the job that you have, and that you are excited about the company’s future. List the tasks you’ve accomplished and show how they provided value to the company. Admit that you’ve done some thinking lately and came to the conclusion that your current salary is not commensurate with the job you are providing for the company. Show the salary figures that you researched. Tell them the new salary you want. When you are finished, sit back and let them take the floor. Answer their questions that you’ve hopefully already prepared. Use smart selling skills: if they say yes, stop talking and say thank you. Don’t keep blathering on with data that you have in your arsenal. If they say no or not yet, present what you are prepared to do or ask for.
- Follow up after the meeting. If they said yes, thank them again and see what needs to be done to process it. If they said not yet, come up with your plan to meet their criteria to earn a yes later. If they said no, hopefully you set the stage for asking another time.
You don’t need to be afraid to ask for what you are worth if you present a strong case and are open to hearing the feedback you might receive. Good luck! Let me know if you used these ideas and it worked!
Did you wait in line for the new iPad? How about pre-order? Are you just DYING to get one? I was, at first, then I started to think about it for a bit. Why? What am I going to do with the new iPad that I can’t do on my current one? Without a clear answer in my head, I did what I always do and asked the smartest people I know (my management team) their thoughts. What I found was pretty similar to what I was thinking.
To give you some background, I have an old and ugly iPad 1. It’s actually my second iPad. I found out pretty quickly that WiFi only was too limiting for me and I made someone at CNS very happy and got myself an upgrade. I use it basic things like email, Kindle, travel, and meeting notes. I don’t notice not having a camera and while iOS 5 made it a little sluggish, it’s generally a pretty good device.
Everything starts to unravel now that the new iPad has been launched. My old and ugly iPad 1, is now older and uglier. Common computer trends say that you should upgrade and replace when you are two versions behind (as I now am), but common trends also indicate that a device should last for three years and I’ve still got one to go. In today’s age of Bring Your Own Device and Consumerization of IT, there are simply no studies or good data to support when consumer devices should naturally expire and be replaced.
The best advice I got on the matter came from our Anvil Dataworks manager, Chuck Melton. Chuck suggested that its not the screen or the camera, but what you are going to do with it. He specifically mentioned that the increased RAM and CPU will make FileMaker Go users extremely happy and provide a noticeable improvement. I see that, and I’m all about the noticeable improvements! It stands to reason that any app that is memory or resource intensive would also benefit greatly.
In the end, I don’t really have a good answer. While the gadget fever is still running high, I’ve tempered that and will probably wait until the next iPad comes out before upgrading. For me, I don’t see the purpose. I think the industry is still trying to figure out what to do with these things. While new iPads are hip and sexy, they are also expensive and don’t replace your primary machine. Hip and sexy can only get you so far, and money talks!
What about you? Are you ready to upgrade? If so, what are your reasons?
We’ve talked a lot about data closets in this blog, and for good reason, they contain the backbone of your corporate IT services. But we at Corporate Network Services have been concerned with something we have noticed at many customer sites—easy access to data closets. Why does this matter? Because security threats and disasters don’t always come from tornadoes and hurricanes, they can also come from your own employees.
As a business owner, you hate to believe that employees might harm your company, but it’s true. At one of our clients, two employees from two different locations got together to discuss how they could get around the content filter in the company’s network switch. Maybe they wanted to buy concert tickets together on StubHub that Friday afternoon. Maybe they wanted to look at baby pictures on Flickr. Whatever it was, the company had already determined it didn’t want employees doing that since certain web sites were blocked. What did these two employees do? They took matters into their own hands. They separately went into the data closet in their offices and physically pulled all the cables out of the firewall. Problem solved, right? WRONG! This action of course took the network down! Not only were those two not able to buy tickets or look at pictures, no one was able to work.
Luckily, a CNS consultant was near one of the offices and fixed the cables within the hour. The other office wasn’t repaired until Saturday morning (thus incurring over time charges). Our client immediately installed locks on their server closet doors after this happened, and they instituted a new policy: any employee caught tampering with the company network will be dismissed.
How secure is your network from your employees? If you’d like us to perform a security review for your company, let us know.