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Tablets in the Workplace

Tablets in the Workplace

Over the course of the last few years the computer industry has been experiencing an exciting change:  Tablets have arrived are changing the way users want to interface with technology. When the iPad broke onto the scene it was originally seen as a consumer-only product, with little interest from businesses. This has all changed, and many businesses are now welcoming tablets such as the iPad into their environments and are even starting to distribute them to users.   According to New NPD In-Stat research, some of the most common uses for Tablets in the workplace include: email and calendar management, note-taking, customer relationship management (CRM), and are presentation-equipped.

               Tablets are easy to use mobile devices that require very little training for users to be able to be productive on one. They also allow for instant-ON performance and great battery life making it an ideal tool for users on the go. One of the other benefits, is the vast array of Business and Productivity Applications available for for tablets. The online application stores have outgrown the infancy stage and have many free and modest priced applications that serve nearly all your needs. There are Apps out there to provide easy access to most of the items that business users need and provide it to them up to date and quickly.

Take Control with Web Filtering

Take Control with Web Filtering

With high speed internet being used in most businesses, employees have access to information whenever they need it. While there are certainly business benefits in utilizing the Internet, this can also provide for a diversion from their daily tasks reducing productivity and potentially putting the business at risk for inappropriate online behavior. In progressive work environments, employers may allow some latitude with non-business internet access, but at any level, this takes away from employee productivity as well as creating potential for inappropriate usage or unwanted network traffic.

Some employers have included an “Internet Usage Policy” (IUP) for employees to sign as part of the hiring process. This is an agreement outlining the acceptable ways that the Internet can be used. There are online samples of IUP’s however we recommend working with your attorney to create one as they will be most familiar with the local laws.

An IUP provides a guideline on how internet access should be used for business purposes, as well as defining the process for handling employees found to be in violation of the policy. In addition, such a policy would also inform employees that their online usage and related content is subject to monitoring at any time. This puts the policy in written form, but relies on the employee to properly interpret the intentions of “responsible internet usage”.

While this is a good first step and establishes a baseline for appropriate use, there are those employees who either do not understand or do not respect the terms of an IUP. Also, there are online resources that may contain legitimate business content, but may either link to sites or content that would not be considered acceptable. Additionally web sites can contain imbedded malware or other security risks.

With the overwhelming popularity of social sites like Facebook and Twitter, people are spending much more time online and sharing personal information that may not be in the best interest of the business. Some businesses and even educational institutions are making it a condition of employment that employees do not to post certain types of information on social sites. The line between business and personal information online has become less structured. For example if an employee is linked to your company Facebook or LinkedIn profiles it may expose their personal information to customers, suppliers and other business colleagues.

There have been instances of employees being fired for using their work internet connection to post comments on social media sites. An employee of the non-profit organization Coats for Kids in Chicago was terminated in January 2011 because of his commentary posted on Facebook. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCH33TgK8Mw)

A recent survey done by Salary.com shows that 44% of workers who responded, cited internet usage as their top way of wasting time while at work.

As a countermeasure to protect a business network from employee abuse or unintentional misuse of internet resources, many businesses have implemented web content filtering. This technology places controls on the types of resources that can be accessed online through the business Internet connection. Controls can be placed on specific web sites or categories (like blocking adult content or job sites).

A web filtering solution can also provide insight into:

o             Time spent online by employee.

o             Bandwidth utilization by employee.

o             Websites that employees are accessing and how much time was spent.

Web content monitoring and filtering can provide valuable insight into how your business is using your internet resources, as well as maintaining protection of your business assets.

Anna Fassano, Founder and CEO of A. Fassano & Company was concerned about how employees were utilizing the Internet. She also wanted to be proactive in controlling the types of online content that could be accessed from the business network. We worked with Anna to implement a web filtering solution by Barracuda Networks, a leading provider of this technology (Barracuda Web Filter).

“We needed to get a better handle on how the Internet was being used and be able to identify any inappropriate usage so we could address it. We also wanted to be proactive in placing some controls on how the Internet is used.

The Barracuda Web Filter gave us feedback right away on Internet usage. It also made the topic more visible the company discouraging any inappropriate use. It allows us to control the sites users can access by web address and by category and allows us to place more restrictive controls on users who need lower levels of access to the Internet.

As the principal I feel better knowing these controls are in place and that we are using the Internet for business purposes.”

In addition to the data that can be collected and the greater visibility of the solution to the end users, the intuitive management interface, makes it easy to adjust settings as business needs change. General Manager and Co-Owner of DCT Industrial Supply Company, Julie Gahwiler, also utilizes a Barracuda Web Filter.

“Barracuda Web Filter allows me to control and monitor the web activity of my employees. The software is very easy to navigate, even for someone without an IT background. It is important to me as a company owner for my employees to be productive, but even more important is that they are protected from unsolicited information in the work place.”

There are many options for web content filtering, and Beringer Associates can help you improve your employees’ productivity, as well an gaining an understanding of how your internet resources are being used. Click here for more information on web filtering solutions.

Differences in Microsoft CRM Deployment Models

Differences in Microsoft CRM Deployment Models

There are 3 deployment models for Microsoft CRM; On Premise, Online and Partner Hosted. There are both usability and cost differences with each model, this article summarizes each model and points out some key differences in the models. With Microsoft you have the flexibility to switch models easily as your needs and requirements change. Whether you need to expand or leverage the application for different areas of your business, or if you simply need to scale the solution as you grow your business, Microsoft Dynamics CRM will be able to accommodate your evolving needs.

On Premise – This is the traditional way software was implemented in businesses. Licensing is purchased along with any necessary infrastructure. And installed at the customers office (or a co-location data center). Purchase is made upfront (or on a lease) so it is a capital expenditure. There are potential tax advantages to this model as you can depreciate this investment. In this model you own the hardware and software and fully control the data. Ongoing expenses would be for Software Assurance (maintenance from Microsoft) and maintenance for the hardware that Microsoft CRM runs on. Additional soft costs would be for internal IT resources to manage the infrastructure (including making sure it is backed up on a regular basis). For Microsoft CRM On Premise you would typically need two servers (for a small deployment) and SQL Server and client licensing.

The On Premise model gives you the most flexibility with things like deeper level reporting/analysis, data integrations and customization of the application.

Microsoft CRM Online – A cloud based pay per user/month subscription model. The benefits to this model are low startup costs (the current pricing is $44 per user/month), no infrastructure costs (servers, SQL etc.) and the ability to scale easily as Microsoft handles the hardware infrastructure and maintenance. The downside is that you do not have unfettered direct access to the SQL database so deeper levels of reporting and customization are more difficult and sometimes not possible. You also cannot store custom code on Microsoft’s CRM servers so if you will have custom code related to Microsoft CRM it will need to be hosted elsewhere. Finally there are limits to data storage (5 GB per company, NOT per user). Additional storage is available for an extra monthly fee.

Partner Hosted – A hybrid model offering the On Premise licensing but available on a pay per user/month basis. It is hosted on servers in a data center normally by a Microsoft CRM provider (we offer a Partner Hosted model). This model gives you all the capabilities of the On Premise model with the ability to pay on a monthly basis.


3 Year Cost Comparison Based on a 25 User Implementation:

CRM-Cost-Comparison-On-Premise


As you can see there is only a $166 per user cost difference over a 3 year period between the On Premise and Online models. In a lot of cases a customer will start out with the CRM Online model to reduce the upfront investment and choose to later migrate to On Premise as Microsoft allows you to change models as needed.

Only after a full needs analysis is performed can a formal recommendation be made on the best deployment model but we hope this article gives you some guidance. If you have any questions please Contact Us.

2012 ISA Product Show and Conference

 

Beringer Associates will be attending the 2012 ISA Product Show & Conference in San Antonio, Texas.  The event will be held at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and Marriott Rivercenter along the popular Riverwalk.

If you have interest in attending this event, please Contact Us for more information and event details.

Deploy an Internet Lead Capture Form in 10 Minutes using Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online


Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online includes an Internet Marketing feature that allows you to very easily build and deploy website landing pages and contact forms for collecting leads off the Internet. Microsoft will even host these pages for you or you can generate the HTML and host the pages on your web server.

This feature is completely non-technical and allows you to easily build the landing pages and contact forms.Within minutes, you can have a form created on your site with up 34 fields that will flow directly into Microsoft CRM. You decide which fields to use and how to arrange them, and which fields are Mandatory. 

And best of all, all leads automatically are imported to a queue and assigned as a lead in Microsoft CRM. It also supports any field customizations you have implemented in the leads module in CRM. For example let’s say you have added profiling fields to collect information such as industry, product interest etc… these fields will be selectable for inclusion on your landing page form. It also automatically formats fields (for example if one of your fields is a list of selectable values) it will be presented the same on the online form.

leadcapture 

 This is a great (and often times underutilized) feature of Microsoft CRM.

 The short 10 minute video will walk you through the process of creating and deploying lead capture forms. 



Business Lessons from the Movie "Moneyball"

Business Lessons from the Movie "Moneyball"

 

If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book Moneyball I highly recommend it. The movie is based on the true story of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. After several seasons of painful losses, the team's general manager, Billy Beane, adopted a radical, statistics-driven approach to building a competitive baseball team under an ownership that underinvested in the franchise. He faced resistance, lack of buy in and even public humiliation to change the way the organization operated. With his career on the line he stayed the course and ultimately his methods were proven successful.

Anyone who has ever led significant change within a business can certainly relate…

 

There are a few lessons that we can take away from this story:

Understand the need for change – When things are not working it is time to reevaluate. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In Moneyball the change factor was technology. Using technology the A’s figured out a winning formula and put the necessary pieces in place to support this formula. They were able to acquire the necessary talent at a lower cost because other organizations were still using dated (manual) methods for evaluating talent.

Look for cost effective ways to compete – Like the Oakland A’s, small businesses should think differently realizing they may not have the budget to compete on the same level as larger well-funded competitors. We need to evaluate the way we market, sell and support our customers looking for ways to be unique and drive value. It may be necessary to take chances and come up with innovative and different strategies, because the traditional ways may not be working in today’s market.

Stay the course – Change is not easy. In the film Beane tried to convey the vision eliminating team members that refused to adapt. He spent weeks getting buy in from the players and let nothing stand in the way of his vision.

As business leaders, we all need to ask ourselves if we have adapted with the times. While implementing Microsoft CRM we work with the leadership of businesses to determine their goals and what it will take to accomplish them. One of the biggest obstacles is the lack of baseline data.

Without a CRM system it is very hard to determine things like:

  • Average length of the sales cycle
  • Close rates of the entire sales team
  • Lead conversion rates
  • Success of marketing investments
  • Actual profitability of customer accounts
  • Competitive win/loss rates

Using a properly implemented CRM solution exposes this information and allows you to change the way you operate to accomplish your goals. How can you change if you don’t know what’s not working? In Moneyball, Beane utilized technology to take a realistic look at the organization and it was clear they could not achieve success without significantly changing the way they operated. They embraced technology to expose their deficiencies and to determine what they needed to accomplish to succeed.

For more information on how a CRM solution can help you succeed please contact us.

Deep Freeze

Protect your workstation computers with Deep Freeze

Deep FreezeHave you ever wanted to not have to worry about viruses or unauthorized installations on your company’s workstation computers? If so then we have great news for you Beringer Associates is proud to be a reseller of Faronics Deep Freeze Software. This exciting software allows for your computers to be “Frozen” once configured. A simple reboot is all that is needed to get rid of any viruses or unwanted changes. If authorized changes are needed the computer can simply be “Thawed” and worked on and then “Frozen” again. This will allow you to add increased levels of security and potentially lower your IT support bills while still providing your users with a full desktop experience. Please contact a member of our sales department for more information!