In modern businesses, automation can be implemented in a lot of ways, but for small businesses, it may be more difficult to find ways to incorporate time-saving automation. In this week’s blog we’ve decided to point out a few ways even the smallest business can use automation to their advantage and give their employees the freedom to focus on revenue creating processes.
Use a CRM
The efficiency of creating and sustaining leads can be troublesome for any business, but by utilizing the automated tools presented by a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system your business can improve your sales and marketing efforts quickly by automating some of the minutiae that comes with those efforts. By using a CRM you can improve customer satisfaction and completely manage your sales process. Most CRMs have the capability to handle the process of getting your business the right customers for the right products/services and then building that relationship without having to spend a lot of time and effort to do so.
Social Media Management
Social media is likely a big part of your business’ ability to attract new customers and interact with your current clientele. By using automated tools to schedule out your social media efforts, you can not only engage more people over more platforms, you can stay organized. Getting your message out over social media can be a fairly easy and repeatable process, a perfect environment for automation to help your business’ efforts in that arena.
The biggest problem for small businesses is typically that the amount of resources they can spend on support is lacking due to budgetary constraints. If the people that are responsible for the production of a business’ products/services are also given the responsibility of being the support system of those products/services, it can significantly reduce the advancement of those products/services. Today, there are many automated tools outfitted with artificial intelligence that can effectively handle a lion’s share of the customer support. Specifically, chatbots are a tool that can allow you to handle a series of customer problems without the need for workers constantly being available to provide support.
Having to constantly schedule meetings can be a time-intensive task as people have variable schedules that don’t always line up. This typically means meetings are held without people or serially rescheduled, reducing productivity and grinding workflows to a halt. Automating the scheduling of meetings and appointments normalizes scheduling and avoids conflicts while bringing enhanced efficiency to your business.
With supply chains a mess, it can often be hard to get the components or products you need quickly. Today, businesses can use inventory management applications to automate the ordering of certain goods to ensure that goods are there when your business needs them. This can be something as simple as paper goods, but can also work on mission critical components as well.
Automation is giving small businesses the ability to compete with larger businesses in their markets through end-to-end advanced efficiency. If you would like to talk to one of our IT specialists about the integration of tools that allow you to save time and money, give us a call at 651-234-0895 today.
Microsoft has officially unveiled Windows 11, the latest in its line of PC operating systems, as well as detailed its system requirements. Will your business be upgrading to Windows 11 when the time comes? We think a lot of it will depend on its current IT infrastructure and whether or not you meet the minimum requirements right out the gate. Let’s dive into the details and what you need to know about Windows 11.
First, a short disclaimer–Windows 11 does not release until fall of this year, and even if you can’t get your hardware up to speed before then, Windows 10 will remain supported until 2025. As for the hardware requirements themselves, that seems like a good place to start.
Windows 11 Hardware Requirements
Before we dive into Windows 11’s requirements, let’s first provide a little bit of context. The current system minimum requirements for Windows 10 are a 1GHz processor, either 1 or 2 GB of RAM, depending on whether you are using a 32 or 64-bit OS, and a display with at least a 800 x 600 resolution. Of course, these are bare minimums. You won’t get much mileage out of a PC with these specs.
Windows 11, on the other hand, has more stringent requirements for its operating system. Windows 11 will require a 1GHz multicore processor, but it doesn’t have to be top-tier to run the operating system. In terms of memory, Windows 11 will also need more of that as well; at least 4 GB of RAM will be required to run Windows 11, as well as 64 GB of onboard storage. Furthermore, the display requirements are also a bit higher, needing a resolution of at least 720 pixels.
For more on the specific requirements of Windows 11, check out this document from Microsoft.
For the most part, modern PCs won’t have an issue running Windows 11, but for now, we don’t recommend installing it on a PC that you need to use everyday for work.
Get Ready for Windows 11 Today
While Windows 10 will still be around until 2025, we want you to start thinking about your update strategy now. The reason for this is simple; you don’t want 2025 sneaking up on you out of nowhere (and trust us, it can and will sneak up on you if you let it). The last thing you want is to wind up in a situation where you are using an unsupported operating system in much the same way that many Windows XP users did all those years ago.
For Help, Contact Us!
If you can’t tell the difference or don’t know the difference between your various components and hardware specifications, we would be happy to help you make a determination about your current system specs. If you want to make sure your business can seamlessly transition to Windows 11 upon its release, Point North Networks, Inc., can help with the acquisition of new hardware, installation, and monitoring/maintenance. To learn more, reach out to us at 651-234-0895.
It’s no secret that new technology can be useful for a business, unfortunately too many businesses struggle with their technology implementations. When adding new tools to your business, you will need to understand that the more deliberate you are, the more success you will find. Rushing any new deployment is sure to have some types of issues. For today’s blog, we take you through some of the best practices of adding new technology to your business.
Your Business’ Needs
When looking to add technology, you should only do so when you recognize a need for some. Too many businesses add technology that, in theory, will enhance productivity only to have problems supplanting the practical usefulness of their current technology. Of course, there will always be some type of transitional period, but the more a business is identifying problems and deploying technologies as a response, the fewer problems they will ultimately run into.
Take a Beat
Another solid practice to adhere to before you go ahead and start putting new technology in place is to take a bit before you make any financial commitments. Can you make do with the technology you have? Could it just be some strategic alterations you can make that won’t necessitate the time and expense that goes along with new technology? Sometimes it’s just about using the tools you have more effectively, not introducing new tools. Take some time to adjust and monitor, but at the end of that time, if you’re convinced the new technology gives you the best chance to be competitive, then go ahead and go for it.
Assign a Competent Project Manager
A large percentage of new technology implementation failures happen because the people running the project are stretched too thin, or aren’t up to the task of carrying out the project. For small business owners, it is tempting to do it yourself, but your influence is more important in other parts of your business. You need to have a project manager to serve as the point of contact, develop the training regimens and schedules, and deal with the inevitable challenges that arise during the new technology deployment.
Stand Behind Your Choice and Get to Training
Once the project begins, one of the most important parts of implementing new technology is to get your people behind it. Typically, there is some type of pushback, even if people have been complaining about the old technology for some time. Workers get comfortable with one thing and are afraid that their jobs will change for the worse if they are forced into using new technology. Some even think that their jobs will be irrelevant. For the business owner to get their people behind the new technology, you need to explain how it will positively affect their jobs and the company as a whole. By getting people to understand the positive aspects of implementing new tools, they will be more engaged in the training process, and ultimately, get up to speed faster.
After implementation and training, understanding how best to use the technology is going to be a process. The best way to ascertain this is by testing. Testing the solution, the employees, and the whole workflow is a critical step in understanding what changes need to be made, what policies need to be altered, and how the system works for your business. You’ll want to give your workers advanced notice that there will be training and monitoring as to make them understand that the more committed they are to getting the technology incorporated, the faster things can go back to normal. Additionally, you will want to get feedback from your employees. They are the ones that are using the new technology, after all.
Get It Working
Finally, after all the hand wringing, politicking, testing, and tweaking, your business will have new, and hopefully better technology to use. Adjustments to the tool will be ongoing, of course, but it’s a solid practice to get it as close to finished before you start using it for day-to-day operations.
New technology can be extremely useful for a business, but without the consideration that it is going to change the way you do things, it can be a major problem, too. If you would like to talk to one of our IT experts about how we can help your business implement the technology you need to improve your operations, and do it successfully the first time, give Point North Networks, Inc., a call today at 651-234-0895.
Software runs our lives. It certainly runs your business. What if I told you that this essential cog in your business’ operations can also be the thing that is most susceptible to being exposed by outside attackers? It’s true, software can be the very door that hackers and scammers need to get into your network and run amok. Let’s take a look at the unsung service that is patch management and why it is so important.
For the first years of managed IT services, patch management was more of a value proposition than it was a crucial part of the offering. Today, the script has officially flipped and it is no longer perfunctory, but crucial. This is because threats have changed. In fact, they’ve changed for both the business and its IT service provider.
MSPs and IT departments use software known as Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tools to cover all the ends of a business’ IT infrastructure and network. As the core software that allows IT experts to keep a watchful eye over their domain, IT providers were horrified to learn that hackers with a keen eye for opportunity, hacked into unpatched RMM software and were able to not only able to access that company’s information, but other companies that were being managed by the platform. These hackers exploited these vulnerabilities and injected malware into all managed systems. We don’t have to tell you, that’s not a good look for any service provider.
That’s just an anecdote, sure, but it goes to show what can happen if your software isn’t patched and updated properly.
Challenges of Patch Management in 2021
Managing software updates isn’t a very easy process anyway, but with all that has happened recently, patch management has become extremely difficult. With growing complexities of remote workers, cloud platforms, the immense amount of software that an organization uses, and the rapid-fire updates being developed, it isn’t as simple as signing in and updating eight files once a month. You really have to stay on top of it to ensure that your network and infrastructure are properly protected.
A big challenge for IT teams concerning patch management is actually downtime. When software is patched, systems typically need to reboot. This can be a real hindrance to productivity if it is done while someone is working. Most IT administrators won’t make people restart in the middle of the workday, but then they have to remember to reboot these machines when they are not in use. Forgetting is just like not patching the system in the first place, so coordinating patches and reboots at a time when people aren’t working is its own challenge.
It’s a fact that most vulnerabilities that are exploited are over six months old. This tells you that somewhere along the way that either patches and updates were overlooked, or they weren’t properly coordinated in the first place. Combine all that wrangling with the fact that sometimes patches simply don’t “play nice” with corresponding systems and cause more headaches and hand wringing and you have a complicated and often frustrating task list that is just a fraction of the IT admins’ responsibilities.
Some MSP Patch Management Tips
Of course, the best way to get comprehensive patches and updates is to outsource your patch management to a managed IT services provider like Point North Networks, Inc. Any business can save time and money by relying on our certified technicians to ensure that your systems are up-to-date and patched correctly. Furthermore, we won’t cause any downtime as we will schedule patches for times when traffic is low or non-existent.
If you insist on doing your own software maintenance, a couple of tips that you should adhere to include:
The first thing you should consider is to understand all the software your company is using officially and ensure that you are up to date with all the relevant patches. Missing software updates, while probably not the end of the world for an individual, is a horrible practice for any business.
You’ll also want to schedule maintenance on some machines as soon as possible after official software updates are released and if there are no problems, schedule maintenance on all other machines the following week. The test group will go a long way toward exposing any possible hiccups you may be facing.
Software is extremely important to your business, and your business is extremely important to your employees and customers. In order to keep it that way, you will need to ensure that your software systems are patched and updated regularly. To talk to one of our It professionals about patch management, co-managed IT services, or comprehensive managed IT services, give us a call today at 651-234-0895.