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June 3rd, 2014

SocialMedia_June02_AAs social media becomes increasingly integrated with day-to-day business operations, we are seeing more businesses turn to these platforms for marketing purposes. If approached in the right way you could see some great returns from social media marketing campaigns. While there are many elements you can integrate in each potential plan, social PPC (Pay-per-Click) is really starting to take off. But, what exactly is this?

Define social PPC

Businesses who advertise through social media have a number of ways they can get their ads and content seen on this platform. The most popular is based on one of the Internet's oldest marketing schemes: Pay-per-Click, or PPC.

In a broad sense, PPC is the act of paying an advertiser or website to place ads at strategic locations. Placing these ads is usually free, or comes with a nominal fee, but when a user clicks on the ad and goes to the destination site, the owner of the ad pays the advertiser or site a small fee.

In relation to social media, social PPC is simply ads which are placed on the social networks. For example, you can pay Facebook to place an ad on the right-hand bar of certain user's News Feeds. If they click on the ad, Facebook will then charge you a set amount for that click.

Where social PPC differs from other types of PPC, more specifically search PPC - paying search engines to display your ads - is that it is more display oriented. With search PPC, you pay the engine to show your ad when specific search keywords are entered. With social PPC, you pay the site to display your ad regardless of what the user is looking at.

3 Common misconceptions about social PPC

While this process is becoming more popular with businesses, especially those who have integrated social media into their marketing plans, there are some common misconceptions that seem to be floating around.

1. Starting small is the way to go

As with most strategies in business, when starting something new you often want to test the waters before jumping in full scale. Many companies who are trying social PPC for the first time will often start with one or two campaigns running at the same time. While this may work for small businesses with an unproven profile, those with an established profile and marketing strategy may want to try running 3-5 campaigns at the same time.

The reason for this strategy is that it can help spread out the overall views, along with enhancing the quality of information and results. For example, you can easily compare and establish what is working when you have more than two alternatives to compare.

2. You need to be active on the services you target

Despite what some people in charge of marketing believe, you don't need to be active on a social network in order to be able to use social PPC features. Many networks, like Twitter, simply require that you have an account in order to be able to use the ad features.

If you do want to use the ad features of different social networks, you should be sure to at least have a fully completed profile. This includes address, name, location, and business info. Of course, if you want to enhance the success of your initiative, an active profile will help but it is not necessary.

The best example of this is if you want to use the promoted post feature in Facebook. You will need to have content in order to actually use this feature successfully and the more content and followers you have, the higher the chances of what you promote being seen.

3. You MUST be using Facebook Ads

Facebook is the most popular social media platform, and many businesses already have a Facebook Page. But many feel that in order to maximize the potential of their Page, they need to be advertising using Facebook Ads.

Sure, it can help to use this service, but it isn't the only one out there. You do have other options, including different platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. To really get the most out of a social PPC campaign you should try different platforms anyway. For example, if you want to target other business customers try using LinkedIn, which is where this target group may be more likely to be found than through Facebook.

Looking to learn more about social PPC or using social media in your company? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
June 3rd, 2014

Office365_June02_APiled up tasks on your desk, meetings lined up on your planner, and a list of reports you need to deal with. Sound familiar? A busy schedule can create stress and leave you holed up in your office longer than you'd like. However, you can make office work interesting and keep productivity levels up with just one app - Microsoft's Lync. This is more than just an instant messaging program, it’s a tool that allows you to build a better business by working remotely.

Get immediate response with instant messaging

Sending emails is a fast and standard way to communicate in business. However, there are times when you have to convey or get hold of some important information in the soonest time possible. Stashing your message in a pile of emails might not cut it and this is when you can switch to Lync’s instant messaging feature. Your message will be sent immediately, with a pop-up also appearing on the recipient's device to flag the message so you know it will most likely have been seen. It’s fast, efficient, and by cutting to the chase, a real time saver.

Hold meetings with HD video conferencing

Reporting can be done with ease through Lync’s HD video conferencing capabilities. This enables you to gather your associates from anywhere in the world, whether to present specific data or deliberate a decision. Not only does this allow communication with several people at the same time but also transmits clear videos to the other end of the line with its 1080p HD quality.

Brainstorm with your team through application sharing

Online meetings sometimes prohibit the sharing of files. With Lync’s application-sharing capabilities, you can easily exchange ideas with your team. You can share PowerPoint presentations, documents, images, Web pages or your desktop with your team to stimulate conversation based on your input and what you have to report. Lync supports all animations and features of Microsoft PowerPoint, letting you create an engaging presentation without the restriction of your location. If you choose to share your desktop instead, you can select which part of your screen you’d like to show your clients, eliminating the unimportant clutter flashed on your monitors. You can also share a virtual whiteboard that allows you to collaborate with your team as if you were stood in the same room. Online communication has become today’s trend for conducting business meetings. However, the choice of which application to use to accomplish tasks requires knowledge of the key features of specific programs. Through Lync’s online communication system, companies have minimized expenses allotted for reserving third-party conference areas, business trips, and in purchasing expensive communication systems. Lync supports Windows, iOS and Android systems. What could it support, enhance, and boost in your business?
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 23rd, 2014

Office365_May19_AA trendline is a straight line connecting a number of points on a graph. It is used to analyze the specific direction of a group of values set in a presentation. There are two kinds of trendlines, an uptrend with values going higher, and a downtrend where the direction of the line gradually drops to the lower values.

Predicting the future

Trendlines allow businesses to see the difference in various points over a period of time. This helps foretell the possible path the values will take in the future. This can help reveal performance, value, and competitiveness of specific products and services, along with the relevant business departments, such as sales.

By knowing how to add a trendline to your presentation, you can create a graphical representation of the values you have computed. This will enable the user to easily comprehend and analyze the message you are trying to imply.

Add a trendline to your Excel chart

If you use Office 2013, you can create a trendline to complement your reports by right clicking the data series (e.g., the information that has been graphed to charted) in the chart you created. This will show a drop down menu where you can find the option to Add a Trendline. This will open another window where trendline types are available. You can choose the one which suits the chart you created.

Another option is to click your chart and look at your Excel menu bar. Head on to the added tab, Chart Tools, and in the Design tab, click Add Chart Element where another drop down list will appear. At the bottom part of this, you will see Trendline, click this for a list of options that will best fit your data.

  • Exponential trendlines: This creates an uneven arc that is more curved at one side than the other on charts with values that fluctuate. It cannot be used when you have a zero or a negative value in your chart.
  • Linear trendlines: Most common when the values in your chart create a straight line. This shows a continuous rise or fall trend that indicates a path it will steadily continue in the future.
  • Logarithmic trendlines: Where there is a sudden increase or decrease in the chart, which then continues on to become level.
  • Polynomial trendlines: Used for larger set of data with fluctuating values. If the direction of your values continuously changes, then this option could suit you best.
  • Power trendlines: Almost the same as exponential, only in this, the arc is more symmetrical.
  • Moving average trendlines: Used when your points seem to have too many ups and downs. This levels out the extreme fluctuations for easier trend analysis. Depending on the number of periods set, this option gathers the values together and computes its average which is then used as the trend point.
Whatever your reports, it is easier to spot the direction of values when you use graphical tools to show data. This ensures that reports are easily understood, along with the trend at which your values are headed as a result of the lines appearing in the chart. The ability to fully grasp the value and use of trendlines and other Excel functions will allow you to use your computer programs to unlimited use. Want to know more? Get in touch!
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office 365
May 21st, 2014

GoogleAps_May19_ABusiness today is faster and expected to be accessible from anywhere. Thanks to cloud-based apps, both speed and remote access are possible. While there are many apps on the market, one reputable name is Google with their offering, Google Apps for Business, which you might want to consider as a tool to help the success of your business.

What is Google Apps for Business?

Google Apps for Business is a range of cloud-based productivity apps divided into four main groups or functions: communicate, store, collaborate, and manage. The apps all focus on integration for maximized productivity; which means keeping your team connected and of course giving you the access to work from anywhere.

Communicate

A company that lacks communication is a company working in the dark. But with apps like Gmail, Google Hangouts, and Google Calendar; no longer will you have to be worried about issues of work slipping through the cracks.
  • Gmail - Gmail for businesses features storage starting from 30GB, automatic backup, spam protection, and multiple email addresses, and is available on both the iOS and Android operating systems. Whether you want to create labels, prioritize your Inbox or even read and draft messages without connection, Gmail’s got your back. Or, if you’re thinking about migrating from another platform, Gmail has powerful migration tools to ensure a quick and easy process.
  • Hangouts - Connect face-to-face from anywhere with Hangouts, a high definition video conference app that allows up to 15 participants in one call and comes with built-in screen sharing, which allows you to see any file from a participant's screen; perfect for presentations. External parties can also join Hangouts even if they don’t have Google Apps account. Never miss out on important meetings again even if you’re far apart. To go even further, Hangouts also includes instant messaging which is handy for internal communication.
  • Calendar - Plan less and do more with Calendar which easily lets you set up meetings and appointments from Gmail to your calendar. You can also share documents and create group calendars directly from events as well.

Store

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could do away with external hard drives and storage devices and have your work accessible no matter where you were? With Google Drive you can do exactly that and more.
  • Drive - Keep all you work in one secure place and access it from anywhere. Featuring 30GB of storage space, upgradable up to 16TB, Drive lets you upload, share, edit, and even download any type of documents while automatically syncing these to your computer. This means you’ll never have to hit save again. Not only that, but you can also view over 40 popular file formats without having to buy extra software to open them.

Collaborate

Work faster with more hands involved. Without the right platform though, this is easier said than done. Now with apps like Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Sites, collaboration has never been easier.
  • Docs - Create and edit text documents right in your browser. This app supports co-editing, meaning multiple people can work on the same document at the same time. It also comes with security functions such as document access control and add-ons like mail merging and advance editing. As an added bonus, if you use Google Chrome, you can enable the ability to edit documents offline and have them sync the next time you connect.
  • Sheets - Lets you create and share spreadsheets, charts, and pivot tables even without an Internet connection. Multiple people can do real-time editing, as well as create surveys or questionnaires with built-in forms. You can also easily convert other spreadsheets with the original file structure remaining intact.
  • Slides - Draw charts, diagrams, and make presentations with Slides. Equipped with practical functions like co-editing, as well as working without Internet connection, you can get ready for your presentation at any time.
  • Sites - Brings content together under one roof by letting you easily create a wiki for your team or customers without writing a single line of code. Simply create a new page and fill in the information as you would in any document. This is a great way to quickly establish and share a centralized information source e.g., a FAQ.

Manage

Being the backbone of an organization can be quite a handful. But with the right apps. along with good integration, you can do away with the nasty headaches of account management and backup.
  • Admin - Manage Google Apps for your organization with the Admin feature. Whether you want to add users, manage devices, and set groups or restrictions, you can do so with just a few clicks while being sure all your data is kept safe.
  • Vault - An archive for emails and chats, Vault manages, retains, searches, and exports your organization’s emails and chat records, making sure nothing gets lost.
While there are many cloud-based apps available online, opt for the wrong one and you can face lost productivity and increased expense. Google Apps may just be the best tool for your business. If you are looking to learn more about this service, contact us today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 20th, 2014

Office_May19_AMicrosoft Office is widely considered to be one of the most important and popular software suites. With this software, employees can accomplish many major office-based tasks their job requires. While there are numerous programs incorporated in the suite, Word is arguably the most useful and well-known. The latest version - 2013 - has some interesting features you may not know about, such as the Spike.

What is the Spike?

If you have worked in the restaurant industry, or worked in offices that use older systems you are likely familiar with what a spike is.. It is literally a spike that is used to hold paper that you have finished with but want to keep hold of, perhaps to collate or check through later. Think of chefs spiking orders once the food's left the kitchen or a secretary spiking an invoice that's been paid.

Much like this physical tool, the Spike in Word allows users to essentially hold different items together until they need to be used. This feature is similar to the standard 'copy'' that we are all used to. The main difference is that the Spike can store information and content from different sources of your document, not just the last part you copied.

Say for example you have a 10-page sales report and want to create an executive summary. Instead of copying and pasting the main points from each section one at a time, you can copy each section to the Spike and then paste all of them at once.

How this feature works

You can add content to the Spike by simply highlighting it and pressing Ctrl + F3. This will cut the text you have highlighted and place it onto the Spike. From there, go and select the other content you would like to use.

Once you have all of the content spiked, you can paste it by:

  1. Clicking the mouse cursor where you would like to place the content. You can do this in your existing document or in a new document.
  2. Pressing Ctrl + Shift + F3.
This will take all of the content you have cut to the Spike and paste it into the document, and erase all of the content saved in the Spike. If you want to keep the content stored in the Spike and still paste it, you can do so by:
  1. Clicking the mouse cursor where you would like to place the content. You can do this in your existing document, a new document or another open document.
  2. Typing spike.
  3. Hitting F3.
This will put the content into your document while keeping a copy of it in the Spike. Be warned however, when using the Spike, your content will be cut from the source document. If you are staying within the same document, we recommend that you copy the content you would like to post into a new document and paste it there. Then, Spike it from there.

Viewing what you have spiked

If you forget what you have spiked, you can view what is stored there by:
  1. Clicking on the Insert tab.
  2. Clicking Quick Parts.
  3. Selecting AutoText from the drop down menu.
  4. Clicking on Spike.
As long as you don't click Insert or anything else, you should be able to see the content.

If you are looking to learn more about using Word or any other Office program, talk to us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 8th, 2014

WindowsPhone_May06_AAre you looking for a Windows Phone that’s intuitive, highly customizable, and a perfect fit for your business? If you answered yes, then the new Windows Phone 8.1 might be just what you’re looking for. All you need to do first is learn more about what the new phone’s features are and how you can personalize these to fit your business needs.

Every phone user desires a phone to reflect what they need a phone for; or how they use a phone. With this in mind, Windows Phone 8.1 was designed with customizable tools to allow users to creatively express their own individuality. Innovators in Windows even coined this, “the world’s most personal Smartphone”. So why is this? Let us first take a look at the screen.

A more personalized look.

Customization is the word to describe your phone screen if you have Windows 8.1 OS. Windows has made the Windows Phone start screen highly customizable by providing an additional column to give way to more tiles so that more can be seen, allowing ease in navigation. These tiles are also set on top of a customizable start background where you can add your favorite image or use the default options. There is also a new app that allows you to set up screen lock themes with tons of visual and animation themes available to choose from.

Superior streaming experience.

Aside from the highly customizable look of the start screen, Windows Phone 8.1 also offers an improved video and music streaming experience. Windows has added Internet Explorer 11, an upgraded browser that enhances video playback significantly. In fact, this new browser offers a playback experience like that of a desktop. It even allows for video and music playback even behind a locked screen.

Simplicity of navigation.

One of the most anticipated feature of this phone OS is its new notification center. This feature allows for users to manage all alerts from different apps by simply bringing them all to one location. It also has an action centre for easy access to settings.

Your own personal assistant.

What truly makes this OS a standout is Cortana. This voice assistant competes against Siri and Google Now. This feature is more than just a voice assistant; it can get to know your personal inclinations and update you regarding news and weather based on your location and preferences. Cortana behaves like a personal assistant by getting to know you the first time you interact with the feature and building a relationship by asking questions. Over time, Cortana will draw on the answers you provide and base actions on your pretences provided by you. Basically, Cortana detects what you care about, looks out for relevant information and even manages the phone volume so you can focus on whatever it is you are doing.

The Windows Phone 8.1 Operating System will be undoubtedly snapped up by smartphone users. This particular OS is available in Lumia 630, Lumia 635, and Lumia 930; it is also compatible to existing Windows Phone 8 OS users.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 7th, 2014

Office365_May06_AOffice 365 offers a good range of business plans and they come packed with valuable features to fit every business size and need. While Office 365 might be ideal for businesses, the decision then rests on choosing the best plan to help you reach your goals and conquer greater business heights. Not sure which plan to select? This guide aims to help you make the right decision.

The world can’t seem to get enough of the options that Office 365 offers. However, the variety of subscription plans can challenge your decision-making skills. Arming yourself with good research and knowledge allows you to gain more confidence in making wise business choices. You are off to a good start by reading about this article's comparison of the different Office 365 subscription plans.

Choosing the right subscription should start by identifying your business size. Whether you are running a small enterprise or a business empire, Office 365 has the subscription plan to fit every business need. In Microsoft standard definition, a business with 1-10 employees is considered small-sized. A medium-sized business has between 25-300 employees. Anything beyond is deemed to be a large-scale enterprise.

Office 365 for small businesses

If you anticipate having more than 25 employees in the near future, it is highly recommended to skip to the medium-scale subscription. If you are certain about your business size and you don’t have plans to expand, you can choose from two small business subscription plans.The Office 365 Small Business has all the standard features as follows: hosted email, Web conferencing and hosting, spam protection, 24/7 phone support, guaranteed uninterrupted service, SharePoint and file management via Web browser. The other subscription plan is The Office 365 Small Business Premium which comes with three additional functions on top of the standard features, namely the ability to download desktop versions of office applications, site mailbox access and mobile functionality.

Office 365 for midsize businesses

For medium-size businesses with up to 300 users there is a plan that has all the inclusions of the Small Business Premium Plan but provides reinforcement for your business IT infrastructure through better management of user permission credentials. If your business uses a huge chunk of Excel spreadsheets, this plan is for you as it has the Excel add-ons, with Power Query, Powerpivot, Power View and Power Map from multiple sources. In addition, this plan also includes a desktop version of Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2013.

Office 365 for large businesses

The high rollers in the business realm can choose from three plans, namely E1, E3 and E4. E1 has more or less the standard features of the Office 365 Small Business Plan and can support an unlimited number of users, plus it has the feature of user credential management, Yammer integration and access to a site mailbox. With E3 and E4 you can install the desktop version of the office applications. The only difference is that E4 has call capabilities via Lync Online calling, which is ideal for companies in countries where there are no VoIP prohibitions.

There are a lot of productivity tools in the market today and it can be a challenge to choose between the sea of options. In the realm of business, critical thinking should be observed, whether for small or big decisions, as any one of these choices could impact the success and productivity of your business. These decisions can range from low-impact, such as deciding which productivity tool to use for your day-to-day business functions, to high-impact, such as your long-term business plans.

Choosing the right productivity tool to use in your business needs to be taken seriously as this can take create a lot of difference. A good productivity tool makes a better organized work style and this can only mean a business that is easier to manage.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office 365
May 6th, 2014

SocialMedia_May06_AContent marketing is quickly becoming one of the most valuable marketing strategies at the disposal of smaller businesses. Content marketing is the act of creating your own branded content and sharing it on various mediums. When successfully orchestrated, it can prove to be an extremely effective way of expanding your online brand. The question then is how to achieve this.

In a recent infographic published on LinkedIn, a number of interesting facts were highlighted about what the most successful content marketers have in common. Here are some of the findings from the infographic and the related reports it is based on.

What do successful content marketers have in common?

Regardless of the industry, the more successful content marketeers have the following four traits in common:
  1. They have a content marketing strategist - According to the statistics, almost 86% of the successful companies have a dedicated content marketing strategist.
  2. They have a strategy - While not 100% necessary, over 66% of successful companies have a content strategy and plan, or roadmap, that dictates what content is produced and when.
  3. They spend a lot more of their marketing budget - It can be tough to split any budget, but the more successful companies spend nearly 40% of their marketing budget on content marketing, as opposed to the least successful who only spend up to 16%.
  4. They find creating content far easier - This one is kind of silly at first glance - of course it follows that whatever you find easier you will be more successful at. However, if you hire a strategist who knows what they are doing, creating content will be easier, and more likely more successful.

How exactly are they successful?

From the figures from the infographic it is easy to see what the successful content marketers have in common, but the question we really should be asking is, "What makes them so successful?"

1. Use lots of social media

The main thrust of content marketing is to get the word out in as many ways as possible. Social media is the best and most versatile way to do this, and that's why over 87% of businesses use this platform. But for a truly successful strategy you need to use more than one site and in fact the most successful use seven sites at least to share their content.

This makes sense as the more platforms you use the higher the chance that your content will be viewed. So which platforms are the most popular? LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are the three most popular but other platforms like YouTube, Pinterest and Google+ can also prove effective.

2. Diversify your content

In many cases diversification of services or ideas can be one of the best ways of driving a business forward. This is especially true with regard to content marketing, where the best marketeers use an average of 13 different tactics. In descending order, the five most popular tactics are:
  1. Social media
  2. Articles on your website
  3. e-newsletters
  4. Blogs
  5. In-person events
Some other tactics used include, publishing books, ebooks, and branded content tools.

While 13 may seem like a large amount, especially for small businesses, the message is clear: To be successful with content marketing, you should diversify and utilize a number of different tactics as possible.

3. Have specific goals for your campaigns

As with most aspects of business, you need a clear direction in order to be successful. Without a goal there is a good chance that your content initiatives will be somewhat aimless and lacking in overall effectiveness. There are a near endless number of targets businesses can set for their content initiatives. The three most common are:
  1. Raising brand awareness
  2. Lead generation
  3. Customer acquisition

4. It's not all digital

One interesting finding was that one of the most effective ways to drive a content marketing strategy was through face-to-face events. In fact, over 70% of content marketeers believe that these in-person approaches are effective.

What this indicates is that while digital strategies are useful, and can be a great way to reach a wide number of different customers, these can go hand-in-hand with traditional style marketing. As well as focusing on producing digital content you might want to integrate this with some good old fashioned physical collateral.

At the very least, you should be attending events that are relevant to your industry, as well as networking. By getting your name out in person, you can encourage other to connect to you on the Web where they can view your content on various platforms and interact with you online, increasing the overall effectiveness and reach of your content.

Looking to learn more about content marketing and how our various solutions can help you deliver? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
May 6th, 2014

Windows_May06_AIn April, Microsoft took somewhat of a great leap forward and officially ended support for one of the most popular operating systems (OS) ever - Windows XP. If you use Windows XP, or have been reading tech blogs, you likely know about this and may even be considering upgrading. The problem is it can be tough to decide what to upgrade to.

Should I actually upgrade?

There have been a number of articles in the news focusing on whether XP is really worth upgrading from, especially since some of the major governments still use XP. Elements of the UK, Dutch, and even US governments still use XP on a large percentage of computers and are not really looking to upgrade. Instead they are looking into paying Microsoft to keep up support.

In fact, one news report noted that the UK government paid Microsoft USD 9.1 million for further support of public sector systems running XP. News like this could give business owners the notion that If the governments are sticking with XP, that means they can too.

However, the vast majority of businesses likely don't have the money in their budget to warrant continued coverage from Microsoft, if that option were available. The other point is, Microsoft probably won't agree to this continued support either because they are likely more interested in businesses upgrading instead. What this equates to is the fact that, ignore it or not, your business is going to need to upgrade.

What are my upgrade options?

If your systems are still running Windows XP you have a number of upgrade options available to you. Here are four:

1. Windows 7

Windows 7 is by now the most popular version of Microsoft, and is in fact the closest system to XP. Because of this, it's the preferred choice for business owners and managers. It is also ideal because the hardware requirements are generally lower, so businesses running older computers will likely be able to run Windows 7 without the need for costly upgrades. Another positive is that Microsoft has said they will continue support until 2020, the knock-on with this is that software developers will also continue to develop programs that support this version.

The issue with Windows 7 is that any new computers purchased from stores will likely come preinstalled with Windows 8, so it will take an extra step or two to downgrade new systems. Luckily, an IT partner, like us, can help with this.

2. Windows 8

Windows 8 is the newest version of Windows and represents a bit of a departure from the traditional layout of Windows XP and 7. With a new, modern tile based layout, it can be tough for some users to get used to the new system. While the more traditional desktop is still there, it's not the OS of choice for many businesses.

That being said, Microsoft has moved to a more regular update stream, with changes and features being updated and changed on a near yearly basis. This could go a long way in helping employees get more out of the OS and even increase overall productivity.

The biggest advantage of Windows 8 is that it is generally easier to find and implement. This is because almost all new PCs will come with it installed, especially when you buy computers from large retailers.

In order to get the most out of Windows 8 however, you may need to upgrade your hardware because it may not be able to run the OS effectively. If you plan to replace all of your hardware, than Windows 8 may be the most viable solution.

3. Linux

Linux is an open source operating system that has numerous versions, like Ubuntu, that are almost all free. One of the biggest advantages of these systems is that they are more secure than Windows - largely because they don't support the same file extensions (.exe) as Windows.

Linux is a good option for users whose needs veer toward the simple side, or who would prefer not to upgrade hardware - Linux can be installed on almost any system. If you really only just use email or your browser, these systems could be a viable option. That being said, there are limitations to this system. The first is that there aren't as many programs available. So, if you have a specific program that was built for your business it may not work with Linux.

The second disadvantage is that the systems are generally harder to operate and maintain than Windows. When using in business, or migrating, you will likely need the help of an IT team or partner who can not only help you navigate the numerous versions of Linux but also carry out the migration and maintenance of your systems.

4. Mac

Another option that is quickly becoming popular with many smaller businesses is to move to Apple's Mac computers. Macs offer a generally stable and secure platform that is also easy to use.

The main downside of migrating to Macs is that you are going to have to buy new computers, as OS X, the operating system used by Macs, requires specific hardware. Another downside is that while the popular software programs like Microsoft Office are available for Mac, you will need to purchase the Mac version. Other programs may not be available. or supported by this system, so it is advisable to consult with an IT partner like us before migrating.

If you are still using Windows XP, you should look to develop a migration plan as soon as possible. We can help you with this by getting to know your needs, budget, and existing systems and then recommending a new system that will best meet your needs. Contact us today to get started.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

April 23rd, 2014

Office_Apr22_AMicrosoft Office 2013 is the latest version of Office that was released just last year. It offers more features than the older versions and it also gives access to online Office applications. More formats are supported and it offers integration to various web based services including Flickr, Skype, Hotmail and SkyDrive. And the research icon for launching the research pane can no longer be found in the standard ribbon of Microsoft Word, but it can still be accessed in another way.

How to launch the research pane

The research pane lets you find the synonyms, antonyms, meanings and translations of various words. There’s no need to launch a separate application for these functions as Microsoft Office comes built-in with the research feature. If you’re connected to the Internet, it also creates a search on the web using search sites like Bing.

While the research pane can be easily launched in Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint from the review tab just like with the previous versions of the applications, this option is not present in MS Word. But as we've mentioned, there’s still a work around to launch the research pane even when the button is not available under the review tab of Word. Here’s how you do it.

  1. Open an existing Word document or create a new one.
  2. Press ALT on your keyboard and without letting go, click on the word that you would like to research.
  3. The research pane should open on the right side of the window.
  4. If you wish to make another research, type the word in the “search for” field.
  5. Below that field, click the drop down arrow and choose from the reference books and research sites available to be used for your search.

Add the research option to the review tab

If you prefer to place a research button on Microsoft Word’s ribbon, this can be done. Commands can be added on a customized group under any of the existing tabs or a customized tab. It’s not possible though to add a command to a default group. As a workaround, we’ll first create a group under the review tab, then add the research command there.
  1. Click the File menu.
  2. Choose Options and the Word Options window will pop up.
  3. Select Customize Ribbon on the left side of the window.
  4. Under Choose Commands From, choose All Commands.
  5. Click Research.
  6. Under Customize the Ribbon, choose Main Tabs.
  7. Click Review under the main tabs and click New Group.
  8. Click the new custom group and click Rename.
  9. Enter a name for the group, select an icon and click OK.
  10. Click the group’s name to highlight, and since Research is already selected on the other pane, click the Add button and the command will be added under the review tab on the group that you created.
You can also add a shortcut icon on the Research command on the quick access toolbar. Open the Word Options window once more and click on the Quick Access Toolbar, which is just below the Customize Ribbon option. Click Research under commands and click Add. If you are looking to learn more about using Word in your office, contact us today to see how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.