Protecting your data from hurricanes

Hurricanes damage property and put lives at risk. If you’re not prepared, hurricanes can also disrupt your operations and put your business through extended downtime. In this blog, we’ll help you quickly regain access to your data and get your business back to operational mode after a disaster.

Determine recovery hierarchy

Certain parts of your IT system are more mission-critical than others. Ask yourself which systems and/or data must be recovered in minutes, hours, or days so your business can resume operations quickly

For example, you may find that recovering sensitive customer information and eCommerce systems take priority over recovering your email server. Whatever the case may be, prioritizing your systems ensures that the right ones are recovered quickly after a disaster.

Pay attention to location

First and foremost, your backup site should be in a hurricane-free zone. Ideally, your off-site facility should be located at least 100 miles away from your main location. If this isn’t possible, make sure it is built to withstand wind speeds of 160 miles per hour (as fast as Category 5 storms) and is supported by backup generators and uninterruptible power supplies.

You should also request an upper floor installation or, at the very least, keep critical IT equipment 18 inches off the ground to prevent water damage in case of floods.

Use image-based backups

Unlike fragile tape backups, image-based backups take “snapshots” of your systems, creating a copy of the OS, software, and data stored in them. From there, you can easily boot the virtual image on any device, allowing you to back up and restore critical business systems in seconds.

Take advantage of the cloud

The cloud enables you to host applications and store data in high-availability, geo-redundant servers. This means your backups can be accessed via the internet, allowing authorized users to access critical files from any device. Expert technicians will also watch over and secure your backups, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of enterprise-level backup facilities and IT support.

Back up your data frequently

Back up your data as often as possible, especially during disaster season. If your latest backups were created on September 15th and a storm makes landfall in your area on the 28th, you could lose nearly two weeks of data.

Test your disaster recovery (DR) plan

After setting up your backups, check whether they are restoring your files accurately and on time. Your employees should be drilled on the recovery procedures and their responsibilities during and after a disaster. Your DR team should also be trained on how to failover to the backup site before the storm hits. Finally, providers, contractors, and customers need to be notified about how the hurricane will affect your operations.

As cell towers and internet connections may be affected during a hurricane, make sure your company forums are online and have your employees register with the Red Cross Safe and Well website so you can check their statuses.

It’s nearly impossible to experience disruptions during disasters like Harvey or Irma, but with the right support, you can minimize downtime. If you’re concerned about any natural disasters putting you out of business, call us today. We offer comprehensive business continuity services that every company should have.

This post was originally published on this site

Protecting your data from hurricanes

Hurricanes damage property and put lives at risk. If you’re not prepared, hurricanes can also disrupt your operations and put your business through extended downtime. In this blog, we’ll help you quickly regain access to your data and get your business back to operational mode after a disaster.

Determine recovery hierarchy

Certain parts of your IT system are more mission-critical than others. Ask yourself which systems and/or data must be recovered in minutes, hours, or days so your business can resume operations quickly

For example, you may find that recovering sensitive customer information and eCommerce systems take priority over recovering your email server. Whatever the case may be, prioritizing your systems ensures that the right ones are recovered quickly after a disaster.

Pay attention to location

First and foremost, your backup site should be in a hurricane-free zone. Ideally, your off-site facility should be located at least 100 miles away from your main location. If this isn’t possible, make sure it is built to withstand wind speeds of 160 miles per hour (as fast as Category 5 storms) and is supported by backup generators and uninterruptible power supplies.

You should also request an upper floor installation or, at the very least, keep critical IT equipment 18 inches off the ground to prevent water damage in case of floods.

Use image-based backups

Unlike fragile tape backups, image-based backups take “snapshots” of your systems, creating a copy of the OS, software, and data stored in them. From there, you can easily boot the virtual image on any device, allowing you to back up and restore critical business systems in seconds.

Take advantage of the cloud

The cloud enables you to host applications and store data in high-availability, geo-redundant servers. This means your backups can be accessed via the internet, allowing authorized users to access critical files from any device. Expert technicians will also watch over and secure your backups, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of enterprise-level backup facilities and IT support.

Back up your data frequently

Back up your data as often as possible, especially during disaster season. If your latest backups were created on September 15th and a storm makes landfall in your area on the 28th, you could lose nearly two weeks of data.

Test your disaster recovery (DR) plan

After setting up your backups, check whether they are restoring your files accurately and on time. Your employees should be drilled on the recovery procedures and their responsibilities during and after a disaster. Your DR team should also be trained on how to failover to the backup site before the storm hits. Finally, providers, contractors, and customers need to be notified about how the hurricane will affect your operations.

As cell towers and internet connections may be affected during a hurricane, make sure your company forums are online and have your employees register with the Red Cross Safe and Well website so you can check their statuses.

It’s nearly impossible to experience disruptions during disasters like Harvey or Irma, but with the right support, you can minimize downtime. If you’re concerned about any natural disasters putting you out of business, call us today. We offer comprehensive business continuity services that every company should have.

This post was originally published on this site

Here are 5 mistakes to avoid when investing in IT

Investing in new IT solutions can make your team more productive, ensure compliance with industry regulations, and improve the outputs you deliver to your customers, among other outcomes. But if you really want to maximize the returns you gain from any new tech investments, make sure to avoid these common mistakes.

Spending without finding the perfect fit

Advertisers would have you believe that the newest technology will solve all your problems. While the latest cloud or virtualization offering will likely improve things for many companies, they may not work for everyone.

Don’t let the flash and hype of new products impress you. Carefully think about the results you want to achieve with technology. Make a list of your goals and see if they can be fulfilled through a new IT investment. A good IT provider should guide and not confuse you and should see to it that you make the best choice.

Believing everything will magically work together

As technology evolves, it tends to become more user-friendly, helping people work better and faster. However, some solutions do not follow that route and many business owners mistakenly assume that their new tech investments will work well with their existing IT systems.

Incompatible technologies can result in massive and costly downtimes that can cripple your business. Therefore, you need to be smart and do your research, or consult an IT professional before making tech purchases.

Not training your team

Just because you’ve found and purchased powerful new technology that integrates well with your existing infrastructure doesn’t mean you can set them and forget them. New systems won’t magically boost your company’s outputs and increase its bottom line. To achieve your desired results, your team will have to know how to use your tech investments first.

Keep in mind that not all of your employees may be able to quickly get a handle on new tools. Some may simply prefer the technologies they’ve become accustomed to. If you can, have IT experts who have considerable experience in your new tools train your staff. Because of their knowledge, these specialists will know how to simplify complicated steps and can offer tips on how to get the most out of your tech investments. Your IT provider is a good place to start when looking for an expert who will handle training.

Forgetting your budget

More and more IT solutions are packaged with pay-as-you-go monthly pricing. While this is a great way to help you avoid a large upfront capital investment, implementing too many different technologies quickly without thinking about recurring costs can exhaust your finances.

Think carefully before opening your wallet. Do a little research, draft a budget, or get help from a consultant. These steps will spare you from a lot of frustrations in the future.
Not getting feedback

Before you purchase new tech, consult the employees who will be using the new technology on a daily basis. Remember that not everyone may feel at home with fresh tools. They might even discover some downsides you aren’t aware of.

Need an IT professional to create a complete technology solution for your business? We’re happy to serve you.

This post was originally published on this site

Here are 5 mistakes to avoid when investing in IT

Investing in new IT solutions can make your team more productive, ensure compliance with industry regulations, and improve the outputs you deliver to your customers, among other outcomes. But if you really want to maximize the returns you gain from any new tech investments, make sure to avoid these common mistakes.

Spending without finding the perfect fit

Advertisers would have you believe that the newest technology will solve all your problems. While the latest cloud or virtualization offering will likely improve things for many companies, they may not work for everyone.

Don’t let the flash and hype of new products impress you. Carefully think about the results you want to achieve with technology. Make a list of your goals and see if they can be fulfilled through a new IT investment. A good IT provider should guide and not confuse you and should see to it that you make the best choice.

Believing everything will magically work together

As technology evolves, it tends to become more user-friendly, helping people work better and faster. However, some solutions do not follow that route and many business owners mistakenly assume that their new tech investments will work well with their existing IT systems.

Incompatible technologies can result in massive and costly downtimes that can cripple your business. Therefore, you need to be smart and do your research, or consult an IT professional before making tech purchases.

Not training your team

Just because you’ve found and purchased powerful new technology that integrates well with your existing infrastructure doesn’t mean you can set them and forget them. New systems won’t magically boost your company’s outputs and increase its bottom line. To achieve your desired results, your team will have to know how to use your tech investments first.

Keep in mind that not all of your employees may be able to quickly get a handle on new tools. Some may simply prefer the technologies they’ve become accustomed to. If you can, have IT experts who have considerable experience in your new tools train your staff. Because of their knowledge, these specialists will know how to simplify complicated steps and can offer tips on how to get the most out of your tech investments. Your IT provider is a good place to start when looking for an expert who will handle training.

Forgetting your budget

More and more IT solutions are packaged with pay-as-you-go monthly pricing. While this is a great way to help you avoid a large upfront capital investment, implementing too many different technologies quickly without thinking about recurring costs can exhaust your finances.

Think carefully before opening your wallet. Do a little research, draft a budget, or get help from a consultant. These steps will spare you from a lot of frustrations in the future.
Not getting feedback

Before you purchase new tech, consult the employees who will be using the new technology on a daily basis. Remember that not everyone may feel at home with fresh tools. They might even discover some downsides you aren’t aware of.

Need an IT professional to create a complete technology solution for your business? We’re happy to serve you.

This post was originally published on this site

Streamline your eCommerce business with a cloud-based OMS

If you’re looking for ways to optimize your eCommerce business’s operations, you should definitely consider deploying a cloud-based order management system (OMS). This article will help you learn more about the business benefits of an OMS.

First off, we need to clarify that an inventory management system is not the same as an order management system. The former is a solution for analyzing sales history and forecasting demand for product and raw materials. On the other hand, the latter is all about the here and now, as it tackles transactions as they happen.

What does an OMS do?

A cloud-based OMS enables eCommerce businesses to track orders for goods and services via a centralized dashboard, which your staff can access anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected device. In general, it can help you organize orders into a coherent and manageable workflow by:

  • Updating your website to reflect when certain items are out of stock
  • Automating payment authorizations and integrating these with your shipping services
  • Providing reports to customers about their order’s shipping status
  • Automatically restocking products and materials once they dip below a certain level
  • Automatically processing refunds and returns
  • Monitoring your business on mobile/on the go
  • Storing data in a more efficient and less costly manner
  • Ensuring your data is protected in the event of a disaster

There are dozens of OMS platforms with niche functionalities that may be better for specific business models regardless of the industry. The important thing is that you find a solution that reduces the most tedious organizational tasks for tracking your store’s orders.

What are the benefits of an OMS?

Below are five key advantages of using an OMS:

Fewer errors
Since an OMS allows you to automate various stages of order processing, it eliminates the need to manually enter and update order details. This reduces the risk of error, increasing your eCommerce business’s operational efficiency.

Lower costs
With fewer errors, you can avoid having to rework inaccurate order information, saving you time and effort. This means your business also saves on labor. And because a cloud-based OMS requires virtually no hardware, you can eliminate installation, maintenance, repair, and other associated costs as well.

Better visibility
A cloud-based OMS offers a consolidated view of your orders and inventory in real time, which allows you to stay on top of the entire fulfillment process so you never miss a sale. This also enables you to optimize inventory levels while minimizing surplus.

Not only that, but an OMS gives you better visibility into your business’s processes, so you can easily identify issues and make the necessary adjustments to achieve operational efficiency.

Faster delivery
When a customer places an order, your OMS will choose the warehouse or fulfillment center closest to them as well as the method of fulfillment. A fulfillment request will then be sent automatically to the warehouse so the item can be prepared and shipped out immediately.

Enhanced decision-making
With an OMS, you have all the information you need to make smarter business decisions at the tip of your fingers, from consumer behavior to market trends to product performance.

Improve your eCommerce business’s workflows and profitability with an OMS. If you need help choosing the right OMS platform for your company, give our experts a call today.

This post was originally published on this site

Streamline your eCommerce business with a cloud-based OMS

If you’re looking for ways to optimize your eCommerce business’s operations, you should definitely consider deploying a cloud-based order management system (OMS). This article will help you learn more about the business benefits of an OMS.

First off, we need to clarify that an inventory management system is not the same as an order management system. The former is a solution for analyzing sales history and forecasting demand for product and raw materials. On the other hand, the latter is all about the here and now, as it tackles transactions as they happen.

What does an OMS do?

A cloud-based OMS enables eCommerce businesses to track orders for goods and services via a centralized dashboard, which your staff can access anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected device. In general, it can help you organize orders into a coherent and manageable workflow by:

  • Updating your website to reflect when certain items are out of stock
  • Automating payment authorizations and integrating these with your shipping services
  • Providing reports to customers about their order’s shipping status
  • Automatically restocking products and materials once they dip below a certain level
  • Automatically processing refunds and returns
  • Monitoring your business on mobile/on the go
  • Storing data in a more efficient and less costly manner
  • Ensuring your data is protected in the event of a disaster

There are dozens of OMS platforms with niche functionalities that may be better for specific business models regardless of the industry. The important thing is that you find a solution that reduces the most tedious organizational tasks for tracking your store’s orders.

What are the benefits of an OMS?

Below are five key advantages of using an OMS:

Fewer errors
Since an OMS allows you to automate various stages of order processing, it eliminates the need to manually enter and update order details. This reduces the risk of error, increasing your eCommerce business’s operational efficiency.

Lower costs
With fewer errors, you can avoid having to rework inaccurate order information, saving you time and effort. This means your business also saves on labor. And because a cloud-based OMS requires virtually no hardware, you can eliminate installation, maintenance, repair, and other associated costs as well.

Better visibility
A cloud-based OMS offers a consolidated view of your orders and inventory in real time, which allows you to stay on top of the entire fulfillment process so you never miss a sale. This also enables you to optimize inventory levels while minimizing surplus.

Not only that, but an OMS gives you better visibility into your business’s processes, so you can easily identify issues and make the necessary adjustments to achieve operational efficiency.

Faster delivery
When a customer places an order, your OMS will choose the warehouse or fulfillment center closest to them as well as the method of fulfillment. A fulfillment request will then be sent automatically to the warehouse so the item can be prepared and shipped out immediately.

Enhanced decision-making
With an OMS, you have all the information you need to make smarter business decisions at the tip of your fingers, from consumer behavior to market trends to product performance.

Improve your eCommerce business’s workflows and profitability with an OMS. If you need help choosing the right OMS platform for your company, give our experts a call today.

This post was originally published on this site

Ways virtual reality saves businesses time and money

Virtual reality (VR), the technology that immerses users in digital simulations and models, has many more uses than people initially imagined. Many of these involve helping businesses save time and money. Read on to find out how.

VR training

Virtual hands-on training has been proven to be much more effective than in-classroom or e-learning methods. According to PwC, VR learners are:

  • Four times more focused than their e-learning counterparts
  • Four times faster to train than their in-classroom counterparts
  • Nearly four times more emotionally connected to what they were learning than classroom learners
  • 275% more confident to apply the skills they’ve learned from the training

This means that VR learners become productive and efficient much sooner than non-VR learners.

An important benefit of VR training is that it can replicate situations that are dangerous or have adverse consequences if people make wrong or suboptimal choices in real life. Here are a few examples:

  • Pilots log many hours in VR training long before they actually get off the ground.
  • With haptic VR, budding surgeons can learn how it feels to use their scalpels without cutting into actual flesh.
  • Trainees in organizational leadership can learn soft skills via VR training, too. Immersive VR interactions can provide impactful learning experiences with little to no risk of unwanted real-world consequences such as fallouts with colleagues.

Create your own VR prototypes

Thanks to VR, you’ll no longer have to rely on manufacturing prototypes when you want to see what your product physically looks like and how it might work. VR prototypes allow you to make any changes before actual production. Model creation in VR, for example, can save company resources, as these virtual prototypes allow manufacturers to examine a product and make changes without the time and money required to build a physical model.

And if you have the data, you can use VR to simulate real-world conditions. To illustrate, you can see how your automotive suspension design responds to different types of terrain, or how easily your drone can be controlled in a hurricane.

VR for engineers

As with manufacturing, VR is also time- and cost-efficient for engineers, architects, and other professionals who work in large-scale construction. It replaces traditional approaches, such as rendering small 2D models, and offers a more immersive experience that helps in designing structures that are more useful and intuitive for the people who’ll be using these.

VR real estate tours

With VR, real estate agents don’t have to tour potential buyers in the actual property. They can let their clients see what the property looks like in a three-dimensional setting and virtually go from room to room. Brokers can entertain buyers who may be miles away or simply don’t want to spend time going from house to house.

Take customers on an adventure

If you are in a tourism- or adventure-based business, you can use VR to give customers a taste of what to expect from your attractions. If you’re a marketer for an amusement park, you can offer a short VR simulation of one of your most popular rides. Or if you own a resort or campground, you can also create VR simulations of the activities you have in store for visitors.

If done properly, VR has the potential to bring your small- and mid-sized business to new heights. If you have any questions about how you can mesh VR with your company, don’t hesitate to send us an email or give us a call. We’ll be more than happy to assist you.

This post was originally published on this site

Ways virtual reality saves businesses time and money

Virtual reality (VR), the technology that immerses users in digital simulations and models, has many more uses than people initially imagined. Many of these involve helping businesses save time and money. Read on to find out how.

VR training

Virtual hands-on training has been proven to be much more effective than in-classroom or e-learning methods. According to PwC, VR learners are:

  • Four times more focused than their e-learning counterparts
  • Four times faster to train than their in-classroom counterparts
  • Nearly four times more emotionally connected to what they were learning than classroom learners
  • 275% more confident to apply the skills they’ve learned from the training

This means that VR learners become productive and efficient much sooner than non-VR learners.

An important benefit of VR training is that it can replicate situations that are dangerous or have adverse consequences if people make wrong or suboptimal choices in real life. Here are a few examples:

  • Pilots log many hours in VR training long before they actually get off the ground.
  • With haptic VR, budding surgeons can learn how it feels to use their scalpels without cutting into actual flesh.
  • Trainees in organizational leadership can learn soft skills via VR training, too. Immersive VR interactions can provide impactful learning experiences with little to no risk of unwanted real-world consequences such as fallouts with colleagues.

Create your own VR prototypes

Thanks to VR, you’ll no longer have to rely on manufacturing prototypes when you want to see what your product physically looks like and how it might work. VR prototypes allow you to make any changes before actual production. Model creation in VR, for example, can save company resources, as these virtual prototypes allow manufacturers to examine a product and make changes without the time and money required to build a physical model.

And if you have the data, you can use VR to simulate real-world conditions. To illustrate, you can see how your automotive suspension design responds to different types of terrain, or how easily your drone can be controlled in a hurricane.

VR for engineers

As with manufacturing, VR is also time- and cost-efficient for engineers, architects, and other professionals who work in large-scale construction. It replaces traditional approaches, such as rendering small 2D models, and offers a more immersive experience that helps in designing structures that are more useful and intuitive for the people who’ll be using these.

VR real estate tours

With VR, real estate agents don’t have to tour potential buyers in the actual property. They can let their clients see what the property looks like in a three-dimensional setting and virtually go from room to room. Brokers can entertain buyers who may be miles away or simply don’t want to spend time going from house to house.

Take customers on an adventure

If you are in a tourism- or adventure-based business, you can use VR to give customers a taste of what to expect from your attractions. If you’re a marketer for an amusement park, you can offer a short VR simulation of one of your most popular rides. Or if you own a resort or campground, you can also create VR simulations of the activities you have in store for visitors.

If done properly, VR has the potential to bring your small- and mid-sized business to new heights. If you have any questions about how you can mesh VR with your company, don’t hesitate to send us an email or give us a call. We’ll be more than happy to assist you.

This post was originally published on this site

4 Ways to boost staff efficiency

Technology enables businesses to work remotely, collaborate more efficiently, and manage their time more effectively. But to achieve these benefits, you need to implement technologies that align with your business’s needs. Here are some things to consider.

Change office communication

To increase teamwork and productivity, set up instant messaging software such as Slack or Microsoft Teams. These platforms allow employees to communicate in real time instead of communicating through asynchronous methods like email. You can instantly send messages and share files in team chat rooms, saving precious time and allowing you to get more work done. This is especially useful in enabling communications when everyone is working remotely

Install video conferencing

Rather than spending hours getting to and from meetings outside your office, opt for a networked phone solution that offers video calls and conferencing. This way, you can hold a video conference to discuss business matters while in the office, at home, or abroad. You can also record the call so everyone can actively participate in the meeting and review important details for later without having to pause to take notes.

Implement ERP software

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a type of software that organizations use to manage various business processes like accounting, project management, and supply chain management. ERP software provides employees with up-to-date business information that they can easily access and use. It eliminates redundant data entry and reduces the number of spreadsheets that are used to record critical business data by storing information in a centralized database.

Once information is in one place, managers have complete visibility across departments, allowing them to make smarter decisions and eliminating organizational silos. For example, supply chain managers can quickly detect when store shelves need to be replenished and send purchase orders to accounting teams for approval.

Upgrade workstations

Outdated technologies and workstations limit your business’s progress, and are a hindrance to developing clued-up, efficient employees. Aging systems and slow networks can frustrate your team and hamper productivity.

That’s why it’s important to thoroughly assess your current workstations, applications, hardware, and tools. While this doesn’t mean that you have to buy a new set of workstations for your entire company, you should at least replace obsolete equipment with more modern machines In addition, make sure all software and applications are up to date to ensure maximum efficiency and employee satisfaction.

To get the maximum return on your technology investment, it’s also important to partner with a knowledgeable and reliable service provider. Get in touch with our IT experts today to find out how we can implement technology to help your employees become more efficient and productive.

This post was originally published on this site

4 Ways to boost staff efficiency

Technology enables businesses to work remotely, collaborate more efficiently, and manage their time more effectively. But to achieve these benefits, you need to implement technologies that align with your business’s needs. Here are some things to consider.

Change office communication

To increase teamwork and productivity, set up instant messaging software such as Slack or Microsoft Teams. These platforms allow employees to communicate in real time instead of communicating through asynchronous methods like email. You can instantly send messages and share files in team chat rooms, saving precious time and allowing you to get more work done. This is especially useful in enabling communications when everyone is working remotely

Install video conferencing

Rather than spending hours getting to and from meetings outside your office, opt for a networked phone solution that offers video calls and conferencing. This way, you can hold a video conference to discuss business matters while in the office, at home, or abroad. You can also record the call so everyone can actively participate in the meeting and review important details for later without having to pause to take notes.

Implement ERP software

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a type of software that organizations use to manage various business processes like accounting, project management, and supply chain management. ERP software provides employees with up-to-date business information that they can easily access and use. It eliminates redundant data entry and reduces the number of spreadsheets that are used to record critical business data by storing information in a centralized database.

Once information is in one place, managers have complete visibility across departments, allowing them to make smarter decisions and eliminating organizational silos. For example, supply chain managers can quickly detect when store shelves need to be replenished and send purchase orders to accounting teams for approval.

Upgrade workstations

Outdated technologies and workstations limit your business’s progress, and are a hindrance to developing clued-up, efficient employees. Aging systems and slow networks can frustrate your team and hamper productivity.

That’s why it’s important to thoroughly assess your current workstations, applications, hardware, and tools. While this doesn’t mean that you have to buy a new set of workstations for your entire company, you should at least replace obsolete equipment with more modern machines In addition, make sure all software and applications are up to date to ensure maximum efficiency and employee satisfaction.

To get the maximum return on your technology investment, it’s also important to partner with a knowledgeable and reliable service provider. Get in touch with our IT experts today to find out how we can implement technology to help your employees become more efficient and productive.

This post was originally published on this site