Blog

November 6th, 2014

BI_Nov03_AWhen it comes to running a business, you likely thrive on customer and employee interaction. If your customers aren't active, or employees are struggling to interact with each other and customers, you could be facing a downward spiral. One way companies try and reverse this stagnation, while simultaneously gaining important and useful data, is through gamification.

What is gamification?

It's human nature to be competitive, and many of us exercise this nature by playing games. Be it team sports, board games, video games, or even office-related games, many of us partake in some form of game on a regular basis. Gamification is the incorporation of game elements, such as points, rules of play, competition, etc. into business-related processes.

By implementing game elements into areas like marketing or training, you can drive engagement, while also collecting better data, primarily because most people will be more willing to provide relevant information when they are invested in a game.

When it comes to implementing these elements into business processes, many companies tend to focus on either customer gamification or employee gamification.

Customer gamification

The vast majority of customer-oriented gamification relates to rewards programs and repeat customers. Small to medium businesses who have successfully implemented these elements usually do so via social media and mobile apps. Repeat customers gain points for each purchase and when they reach a certain level receive a freebie perhaps or a rebate. This in turn drives the need to keep purchasing and to "win".

Many businesses have been successful in implementing this game characteristic into social media, where people who interact gain levels and therefore access to such benefits as discounts. Businesses implementing customer-oriented gamification often see both increased engagement and better data flowing into the organization. In fact, many businesses have found that the data implemented through these elements has been useful in decision-making and overall business intelligence efforts.

Employee gamification

Employee-based gamification is usually employed by businesses to encourage teams and individuals to work together towards a common goal. For example: Implementing a point or badge-based sales system where at certain sales levels badges are awarded, which can then be used for a reward, has proven to be incredibly successful for many sales-oriented companies. Publicly announced results and recognized rewards can also be a great employee motivator.

As with customer gamification, employee gamification can be a great source of data. For example, by tracking where employees are, and their results, you can quickly see weak spots or places where help may be needed. Essentially, more data means the ability to make better decisions.

Should my company implement gamification?

While this may sound like an exciting, and useful tactic to implement in your business, it's not for everyone and it won't fit well with all activities. What you should do is to look at whether the objectives and goals of the program you wish to implement can also be paired with gamification.

If you find that gamification, or elements of it, won't benefit your business program, then it's best not to implement it for the sake of it.

How to implement gamification

There are a wide number of mobile apps developed around gamification, along with social elements and ideas. What we suggest is talking to us to see how we can help first. We can work with you to find solutions and ways to implement your solutions. Contact us today to start the game of business success.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

November 6th, 2014

BusinessValue_Nov03_AIT is in a near constant state of evolution, largely because of the sheer number of technology-based systems and products released on a weekly basis. This fast-paced development has led to the creation of three major IT areas. It is essential that companies invest in these three areas if they want their business to succeed.

1. Commodity-oriented IT

IT is made up of systems that support day-to-day operations, so it is essential that you invest in this area because it is what supports your core business practices. Without proper investment, your employees may not be able to carry out their tasks adequately. Commodity IT is essential but it does not bring increased value to your company. Sure, implementing a new email system could save money but it does not directly lead to increased profits.

One of the best ways businesses can get the most out of commodity IT is to first identify which systems the business relies on. From here, you can look to see if improvements can be made that will reduce overall expenses and increase productivity. Regardless of what you do with commodity IT, all changes and improvements should be operations-oriented; making jobs easier.

2. Business value focused IT

Business value IT involves any system that supports key operations and processes that drive overall business value. Essentially, these systems are not only essential, but they allow businesses and customers to do what they need to do. A good example of business value IT for companies with online stores is the technology that supports the store. Without it, customers would not be able to make purchases from the company.

With this form of IT you want to invest in systems that increase the value you offer customers and employees, while increasing your bottom line.

3. New opportunity IT

New technology and systems can help give your business a competitive advantage when properly integrated, while increasing overall business value. A good example of this is leveraging a new social media platform to help gain customer insights, or implementing technology that allows your business to capture and analyze data quickly and easily.

Companies able to incorporate new technology will often find that they have somewhat of a first mover advantage, and if leveraged correctly you could see increased profits and customer retention.

Get a good IT strategy

The vast majority of companies choose to focus a large percentage of their IT budgets on commodity IT. What this results in is a focus on simply maintaining existing IT systems, without actually investing in new systems. Ideally, you want to minimize your technology upkeep expenses, and invest more in discovering new technology and systems.

How do you do this? That’s where a company like us comes in. As your IT partner, we can help ensure that your systems are managed effectively, costs are minimized, and we can even go so far as to help you find and implement new systems. Contact us today to see how our solutions can help maximize your IT investments.

Topic General IT
November 5th, 2014

AndroidTablet_Nov03_AWith the impending release of the new Nexus and other tablets, all of which will be running the latest version of Android, there is a good chance many businesses will be integrating these tablets. As with any new version of a mobile operating system, there are new security features introduced. Android 5.0 is no different; in fact, there are three new security features business users can benefit from.

1. Smart Lock

One of the first steps to ensuring that your Android device is secure is to put a lock code on the screen. Adding a pin code, or pattern code, to your device makes it more difficult for someone else to gain physical access. On the downside, constantly entering the code can be annoying, especially if you need access to your device on a regular basis.

In an earlier version of Android, the ability to use your face to unlock your device was introduced, but it hasn't really been all that popular. With Android 5.0, Google has introduced a feature called Smart Lock.

This feature uses either NFC, Bluetooth, or your face to unlock your device. Essentially, you pair your device with another device and when it is in range it will automatically unlock. For example, you can pair your computer with your phone via bluetooth. When your phone is near your computer, it unlocks and allows you access without having to enter the pin. If you prefer to use your face to unlock your device, this feature has now been improved and moved to be part of Smart Lock.

2. Automatic encryption from first boot

As businesses continue to integrate tablets and other devices, the amount of data stored on these devices increases. As a result, you eventually end up with important data on your device that you need to keep secure. One of the best ways to do this is to encrypt your device.

On older versions of Android, device security was fairly complicated when not automatic. Now, any device running Android 5.0 is automatically encrypted when the device is started up for the first time.

This encryption will ensure that the data on the device is secure from the start, something which many business users will likely find quite useful.

3. SELinux

SELinux, or Security Enhanced Linux, is a security model implemented in Android last year which is configured to help minimize security threats. All developers must include SELinux enforced security on their apps. What this has done is increased the overall security of apps installed on devices and reduced the number of vulnerabilities that could compromise device security.

For most users, the updated requirements and measures introduced by Android Lollipop will lead to increased overall device security from the apps through to other features.

If you are looking to learn more about the latest Android release features get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

November 5th, 2014

iPad_Nov03_CApple usually prefers to launch new or updated mobile products with a flashy press conference and unveiling. They did this with the recent release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but oddly enough they didn’t do it when they announced two new iPads – the iPad mini 3 and the iPad Air 2. If you are looking for a new iPad, here is an overview of these two new devices.

The iPad mini 3

First up is the third version of Apple’s smaller iPad – the iPad mini 3. The immediately noticeable changes with this year’s device is the home button. It now has the metal ring right around it which enables the Touch ID feature so that you can unlock your device using your fingerprint.

Touch ID also enables users to pay for items using the Apple Pay feature that has just been released. Sadly, for the iPad mini 3, this is limited only to in-app and iTunes purchases as there is no NFC chip in the device to enable it to work with in-store terminals.

Aside from a slightly changed exterior and the extra Apple Pay related features, the device is more or less exactly the same as the iPad mini 2. It still boasts a 7.9 inch retina display and the same A7 processor found in the mini 2.

The major difference is that you can purchase the mini 3 with 64 GB or 128 GB of storage, which is not available for the mini 2. Unfortunately, the price of the device starts at USD 100 more (USD 399 for the 16 GB version) than the mini 2, which costs USD 299 for the 16 GB version. In other words you are paying USD 100 for the fingerprint unlock and semi-functional Apple Pay.

At this time, Apple has noted they will continue to sell the mini 2, which for many businesses will remain the better deal largely because it is less expensive yet offers exactly the same hardware and size.

The iPad Air 2

As the name implies, the iPad Air 2 is the second version of the popular iPad Air which was introduced last year. As with the mini 3, the Air 2 has seen a slight change to the home button with the introduction of the Touch ID feature that allows users to unlock their devices using their fingerprint.

The new version also enables the Apple Pay feature so users can use their fingerprint to approve purchases. Sadly, there is no NFC chip in the device, so you won’t be able to use the device to make purchases at stores.

Beyond this, there are a number of interesting changes that many business users will find useful including:

  • A faster processor - With what Apple calls the A8X processor, the iPad Air 2 is one of the fastest and most powerful tablets on the market. Users have already noted faster website loading times and better overall responsiveness, especially when running graphics intensive apps.
  • A thinner, more mobile body - Apple reduced thickness with the iPad Air 2, making it thinner than any other iPad. At 6.1 mm, you will be able to use the device all day without it feeling awkward in your hand.
  • A less reflective display - While the displays on the iPad have always been top of the line, there have been complaints in the past about how the glass on the device is a bit too reflective. With the Air 2, a less reflective display is being used which supposedly cuts glare down by as much as 56%. This means you will be able to see what is on the screen more easily in more locations and situations.
  • The Apple Sim - For users in certain countries like the US and UK, the cellular version of the iPad comes with what is called the Apple Sim. This sim card is universal in that it allows you to connect to the mobile network of your choice without having to switch cards. This also makes switching networks and plans much easier.

If you are considering picking up the iPad Air 2, the 16 GB Wi-Fi only version starts at USD 499. If you would like to learn more about how these devices can be used in your office, contact us today to learn more.

Topic Apple Mac OS
November 5th, 2014

Office365_Nov03_BFor businesses looking to integrate Office 365, there are a number of plans available. Some offer full versions of Office 2013, while others include just Office Web Apps (OWA) – browser-based versions of Office. Because of the different plans available, it can be slightly confusing to figure out which one to go with. Here are five questions to help you decide.

1. Am I comfortable doing all, or most of my work in a browser?

Because Office Web Apps is browser-based, you will be spending a fair amount of time in your browser. Many of those who have switched to OWA have found that it takes time to get used to working with the system. Because of the way many of us work, you will start to see multiple windows and tabs open with different documents which could lead to increased confusion and more time finding the tab and window you need.

What’s more, you will need to ensure that all browsers on all computers in your company are kept up-to-date if you want to use OWA. For example, older versions of Internet Explorer may not support OWA. This means you will need to spend time ensuring that everyone within the business is updating when necessary.

To get around this, you can work with a company like us who can ensure that browser activity is not only secure, but also up-to-date, which basically guarantees OWA will work when you need it to.

If, however, you are not comfortable using your browser for everything, then it may be a good idea to go for an Office 365 plan that includes the full version of Office 2013.

2. Am I going to collaborate on files with users both in and outside of the organization?

Many business tasks are real team efforts, where users need to collaborate on documents. While this is possibly with any Office program, one of the biggest weaknesses of traditional Office installs is version control.

If you have shared one document with a number of different users you will quickly find that the changes they make and send back to you are likely going to need to be manually added back into the original document. This takes time and can lead to confusion, errors, and a lack of productivity.

With OWA, any document you create is stored on your OneDrive account and can be easily shared with other users. When the document is opened, all changes are made directly to the main document in real time. This means each user can see the changes show up as they are being made, which increases the effectiveness of collaboration.

Of course, this is possible with almost all Office 365 plans – especially if you also integrate SharePoint, but OWA offers by far the easiest solution to collaboration. So, if you collaborate a lot, then OWA may be a better version of Office to use. That being said, if you just need a few people to edit documents or offer comments, then Office 365 plans with Office 2013 will usually be the better option.

3. Will I need to format documents, or need advanced features?

The Web-based versions of Office offer many of the key features found in the desktop versions. However, some advanced features, like in-dept formatting, adding charts, etc. are not currently available with OWA.

While many users find OWA is enough to meet their day-to-day document production needs, those who use the advanced features of each Office app will be better off with Office 365 plans that offer full installs of Office 2013.

4. Will I need more Office apps than just the core five?

Currently, OWA apps available to users are: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Lync. These five major apps cover the majority of document production needs for most users, however, if you require other Office apps, like Access, or Publisher, that aren’t included in OWA, then you will be better off going with an Office 365 plan that offers Office 2013.

5. Will I be constantly connected to the Internet?

In order to get the most out of OWA you will need to have a strong and constant Internet connection. While you can create documents offline, you will need to connect in order to save and update them. If you spend a lot of time out of the office, this may be a real inconvenience, especially if you often struggle to find a solid Internet connection.

What we recommend is talking to an Office 365 vendor like us. We can explain the different Office 365 plans in depth and how you can integrate them into your office. Contact us today to learn more.

November 4th, 2014

GoogleApps_Nov03_AWhen it comes to the security of online systems, every security expert is quick to agree that two-step verification is a much stronger way to secure your accounts, especially when compared to using just a password. In fact, many suggest that if it is offered by an online platform, you should enable it. Google does indeed offer two-step verification and has even introduced a new way to secure your accounts using a USB key.

Google and two-step verification

In order to further secure your Google account, beyond a difficult-to-guess password, your main option is two-step verification. The way this works for Google accounts is you need to provide a cellphone number for your account. When you try to log in you are either called or sent an SMS with a code to enter. Alternatively, you can download the Google Code generator which generates a code which you then need to enter when logging into your accounts.

While this works well when you have your mobile device with you, or when you are near the phone number linked to your account, it doesn't work so well when you aren't. In order to make things a little easier, Google has introduced a new two-step verification method that utilizes a special kind of USB key.

Two-step verification via USB key

Take a look around your desk, chances are high that you probably have a USB key or USB storage device within easy reach. While it would be cool to be able to use one of these to log into your account, you can't use just any USB key. Instead, you need to use one that is FIDO Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) compliant.

If you have one of these keys, once configured, you can stick it into one of your computer's USB ports and press a button. The coding on the stick will then talk to Google servers, sending cryptographic code back and forth, thereby unlocking your account.

This guarantees two things: Firstly, that you are logging in using two-factor verification and are therefore you; and secondly, that the Google site you are logging into is actually Google and not a malicious or fake site. Essentially, this further increases your overall account security.

A few caveats

While these security measures are a good idea in practice, there are a few caveats regarding this authentication method:
  1. You have to buy your own key, which costs anywhere from USD 15 and up.
  2. It will only work with Google Chrome and Chrome OS. This means that if you are trying to log into your account on another browser, or a mobile device, it won't work.
If you are worried about account security, then using a USB key like this could be a good idea, and if you are looking to learn more about implementing this method and ensuring all of your accounts are secure, contact us today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

November 3rd, 2014

AndroidPhone_Oct20_CEvery system needs a benchmark, and for Android that standard is Google’s Nexus line of devices. These phones and tablets offer users a pure Android experience, along with hardware that sets the trend for the coming year. In mid October, Google launched not one but three new Nexus devices and officially named the next version of Android.

Android L becomes Android 5.0 – Lollipop

While Google announced Android L earlier this year, little was said about what the full name of the next version of Android would be. The company finally laid speculation to rest with the announcement that the next version of Android will be 5.0 – Lollipop.

This is the first major update to the Android platform pretty much since Android 4.0 was released back in 2011. While the different versions of 4.0 introduced useful features and changes, the overall look of the system has largely remained the same. Android 5.0 will change this, with what is called Material Design, which brings a universal look (user interface) to apps across all devices.

Beyond a new look, 5.0 will introduce a new operating environment and coding that allows apps to run faster and more efficiently on existing hardware. Support for faster and more powerful processors is also being included so over the next few years you can expect to see phones and tablets become even more powerful.

To begin with, Android 5.0 will be available on the newly announced Nexus devices, along with older Nexus devices (7, 7 (2012), 5 and 4), some Motorola devices, and all Google Play Edition devices. The company has not set an official release date for this update, but you can probably expect it sometime in mid-November. Other devices will have to wait until the manufacturers can adopt this version of Android to their systems.

The Nexus 6

Like most other popular devices, there have been solid rumors about the Nexus 6 all over the Internet. True to these ruminations, the 6 will be made by Motorola and will be a large phone – 6 inches in fact. Here is a brief rundown of the important specs for business users:

  • Screen size - The display is 5.96 inches diagonally, with the total size being 6 inches from top-left to bottom-right.
  • Battery - The battery is 3220 mAh, which should be more than enough to see you through a day. Motorola has also included their fast-charging technology which can produce six hours of use from a 15 minute charge.
  • Processor and RAM - The processor is a top of the line Snapdragon 805 quad core 2.7 GHz. There is also 3 GB of RAM, which means there is more than enough processing power to run everything you need.
  • Memory - The device is available with either 32 GB or 64 GB of storage.
  • Price and availability - Unlike previous Nexus devices, this phone starts at USD 650 for the 32 GB version, while the 64 GB version costs USD 700. Pre orders for this device start on the Google Play store on October 29 with the device being released in mid-November of this year.

The Nexus 9

The Nexus 9 is the newest tablet in the Nexus line. Made by HTC, it looks to have been designed to compete directly with the iPad Air. Here is a brief rundown of its tech specifications:

  • Screen size - The display on this device is 8.9 inches diagonally, with the total size being 9 inches from top-left to bottom-right.
  • Battery - The battery is a 6700 mAh, which should be more than enough to see you through a couple of days of use.
  • Processor and RAM - There is a high-quality processor running at 2.3 GHz. There is also 2 GB of RAM, which means there is more than enough processing power.
  • Memory - The device is available with either 32 GB or 64 GB of storage.
  • Price and availability - This tablet starts at USD 400 for the 32 GB version. There is also be a keyboard case, which looks similar to those purchased for Microsoft’s Surface. The device is available to pre order from the Google Play store on October 17, with a release date of November 3 of this year.

The Nexus Player

This new Nexus device is the next step in the evolution of the Chromecast, or Google’s device-to-TV broadcasting device. Like similar solutions, it allows users to stream content from their devices, or stations like Netflix, onto their TV or HDMI monitors. While at first glance this may not be the most useful device for businesses, there is one feature that could prove popular: You will have the ability to broadcast what’s on your device’s screen on your television screen.

This includes Chrome tabs, so if you use cloud-based software like Google Apps you can technically use this to stream presentations or to collaboratively work on documents in a meeting format.

Coming in at USD 99 per set, this could be an affordable solution for companies who don’t want to invest in a projector, or who already have a television screen in their office. The system went up for pre order on the Google Play store on October 17.

If you would like to learn more about Google’s Nexus devices contact us today and we can help you make the right tech decisions for your business.

Topic Android
November 3rd, 2014

HealthcareIT_Nov03_AMedical Group Management Association (MGMA) 2014 annual conference attendees were fortunate to get some tips for improving patient satisfaction from Joan Hablutzel, senior industry analyst with the MGMA—because doing so is essential to the success of a medical practice in an increasingly competitive health-care marketplace. Here are 10 of them.

  1. Say hello and smile when patients arrive to acknowledge their presence.
  2. Answer the phone in three rings with a consistent greeting to show the practice views the patent as an individual.
  3. Show empathy in your communication with the patent by observing his or her mannerism sand responding in kind.
  4. Explain what is going to happen, whether it’s a process or a procedure.
  5. Don’t interrupt when a patient is talking.
  6. Look for signs that a patient is dissatisfied or concerned—and when you hear concerns, don’t ever leave it at “I don’t know.” Find someone who does.
  7. Always respect patient confidentiality.
  8. Live up to your promises. Set time estimates and update patients if they change, apologizing when necessary.
  9. Say goodbye and wish the patient well upon departure to affirm respect.
These steps may be simple, says Hablutzel, but implementing them can truly transform the way staff members interact with patients, boosting their perception of your practice and driving growth. Contact us today to see how our systems can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 31st, 2014

Security_Oct27_AOne of the biggest business technology trends of the past half decade or more is the increasing amount of business that is conducted online. These days, many businesses have integrated online solutions into daily operations and have reaped the benefits. The downside to this is the on-going threat to online security. With an ever-increasing number of online attacks, it is important that you take steps to ensure that you remain secure. Here are five tips on how to maintain security while working on, or browsing, the net.

1. Use two-factor authentication whenever possible

Two-factor authentication, or two-step authentication as it is also known, is the idea of using two pieces of information to log into accounts: Your usual password and a code that is usually sent to a mobile device or generated by a code generator.

By utilizing this safety feature, you can further increase the security of your accounts, largely because the chances of someone getting their hands on both the generated code and your password are slim.

Some sites don't use a code and instead ask a question that needs to be answered every time you log in. If this is the case, make the question something that is difficult for a hacker to guess. For example, use your address from 10 years ago instead of your current address.

2. Audit who has access to what data

Between all of your online accounts and social media profiles you will likely be surprised at just how much information about you can be found online. There are a multitude of scare stories online, where someone has had their accounts hacked and identity stolen, largely because they had left pertinent information online without even thinking about it.

It is a good idea to audit what information you have online. This includes looking at the contact and personal information you have on social media profiles, account information, etc. Ideally, if it is not necessary information, then it shouldn't be shared. As for social media profiles, make sure only the absolute basic personal information is online and limit who can see this information.

3. Watch what is posted on social media

Because of the nature of social media, we often feel the need to share our whole lives online. This can often lead to oversharing, and even sometimes oversharing of personal information. There are stories online of thieves monitoring social media for businesses posting about how they are going to be closed for a holiday, with all staff gone. Once a thief finds this information, they then break into the business without worrying about people being there.

If you are going to share information online, be sure to limit the potentially sensitive information that you post, especially if the content is shared with the public.

4. Change your passwords regularly

It seems like almost every week news breaks of a password or account information breach. What this translates to is the fact that your accounts are always facing a potential risk. Therefore, you should make it a habit to change your passwords on a regular basis.

Most experts recommend at least once every three months, but if there is a breach where your account information may have been leaked then naturally change your passwords straightaway.

To ensure maximum security, you should use a different password for each account, and keep these as separate as possible.

5. Work with an IT partner who can offer enhanced Internet security

Ensuring that your business is secure online can be an on-going battle that you will likely not win easily. One of the best steps to take is to work with an IT partner like us. We offer a variety of Internet security solutions that can help stop malware intrusions before they infect your systems, block access to potentially harmful sites, and even scan Internet-based email solutions. In other words, we can help improve your overall online security.

If you are looking to learn more about how we can help your business be secure online, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
October 30th, 2014

Hardware_Oct27_BComputers, servers, mobile devices, and more, are constantly seeing hardware and component upgrades being released. From faster processors to new screens, it feels like there are new elements being released on a daily basis. This can make many business owners feel like they must upgrade. The problem is though that this is a costly endeavour. If you are wondering whether to upgrade or not, here are five signs that you should.

  1. Replacement parts are difficult to find
  2. Computers, servers, and even mobile devices are made up of a number of different parts of hardware that rely on other parts in order to operate properly. If one breaks down, there is a good chance that the whole system will stop working.

    Luckily, for many newer pieces of hardware and systems, replacements are easy to come by. But, if something breaks and you are having trouble finding replacement parts then it might be a good idea to consider upgrading. The reason for this is because parts that are more difficult to find are usually going to cost more when you can actually find them. While this may be ok for one system, if you have more than one system using the same components there is a good chance that these will also need to be replaced, leading to increased costs.

  3. Repair costs outweigh replacement costs
  4. Some hardware components can only be repaired by experts with highly specialized skills. What this means is that should this hardware break, you will likely be facing a fairly high repair bill. What we recommend is to always get a quote on how much it will cost to repair your broken hardware first.

    When you have this quote, look at the price of replacement components. If it’s more affordable to replace, then this is usually a better option. Of course, you are going to want to ensure that any replacement parts are actually compatible with your system, so before you go purchasing be sure to ask check with your IT partner.

  5. You are running ‘legacy’ systems
  6. Legacy systems are computers and technology deemed to be old by experts. For example, computers running Windows XP, or computers purchased before the release of Windows 7 would be considered legacy systems.

    While these may be working like a charm now, they will eventually break. When this happens, you will see higher repair costs when compared with new technology. Beyond replacement costs is the fact that many manufacturers and software developers have stopped supporting older systems. This means that should an error occur, you will not necessarily be able to get support from the company who made the hardware. This can lead to repair delays and lost productivity.

    Now, not every “old” system will need to be replaced right away. What we recommend is talking to an IT partner like us. We can help you determine if your older systems do actually need to be replaced, and suggest affordable alternatives.

  7. Hardware is impeding productivity
  8. If you or your employees are struggling to complete work because of constant computer crashes, or slow systems, productivity will be lower than it could be. Should you notice this in your office, it is a good idea to look into upgrading your systems in order to enable employees to do their jobs properly.

  9. Your systems don’t meet minimum requirements
  10. If you are going to install new software or systems that require other hardware components, be sure to look at the minimum requirements. Almost every piece of software indicates which requirements must be met in order for the software to work.

If your systems don’t meet these minimum requirements, then the software won’t work. Should they meet them, but just barely, the software will work but there is a good chance that it won’t work as well as it could do. Should you not meet the requirements, you will need to upgrade your hardware.

Looking to upgrade, or for some advice on how you can keep your systems working? Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help.

Topic General IT
October 29th, 2014

BCP_Oct27_AWhen it comes to business continuity plans, many companies need technology in order to support their plan and systems such as backups and recovery. While this technology may be in place to support current continuity needs, there will come a time when this needs to be upgraded. The issue is how to know when an upgrade is really necessary? Here are five tips that can help you determine this.

1. New technology and systems offer increased resilience

When it comes to continuity and the systems supporting it, businesses need to ensure that they are resilient. This means implementing hardened systems that will remain working in adverse environments; systems like UPS (uninterruptible power supplies), etc., so that should a disaster occur services will still be available.

Beyond this, it is a good idea to implement systems that can be switched from one location to another quickly and easily. A good example of this is implementing cloud storage and backup which can be recovered to other systems with minimal fuss.

Technology that increases the resilience of your systems and continuity plans is worth implementing.

2. Enhanced data protection and availability

During and after a disaster, it is vital that businesses have access to their data. If your data is not protected in an efficient manner, or easily accessible once it has been backed up, you could see a decrease in business effectiveness and delays in fully recovering.

Technology or systems that enhance data protection and availability over your existing systems are worth including in an upgrade, so that you can benefit from data being available when you need it most.

3. Systems offering increased communication

Communication during and after a disaster is crucially important if your business is to survive and recover full operations. When a company faces disaster, communication networks need to be strong and available at any time. So, if you can find systems that enhance the ease and effectiveness of your communications then these could be worthwhile upgrading to.

4. New technology is available to simplify plan development and auditing

If you have developed a continuity plan in the past, you know that it can be a time consuming task. While essential, many business owners do not have the necessary time to commit to this. This is where systems and technology can help.

A system that makes the auditing and development of plans easier may be worth including in an update.

5. Technology that decreases costs

With businesses operating on narrower margins, many business owners want systems to keep costs low or at the very least ensure costs don't rise. If the systems you are looking at have been proven to reduce operating costs, then it may be a good idea to consider them.

It is important however to not integrate technology simply to save money. You should aim for solutions that are affordable, but that will also offer these worthwhile benefits and more.

We recommend talking to us to find out how we can help you find the services and technology your business needs to ensure your business continuity is not only working but will also deliver when you need it.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 29th, 2014

OSX_Oct27_BIn mid-October, Apple launched their much-awaited update to their popular desktop operating system, OS X. This new version, named Yosemite after one of the most beautiful National Parks in the US, brings about a number of new changes and features that business users can benefit from. Here is an overview of the most useful developments.

Upgrading to Yosemite

The good news about Yosemite is that Apple has made this a free upgrade for users with compatible Macs. You can get it by going to the Apple Store on your Mac, and logging in using your Apple account. For businesses, we strongly recommend contacting us before you do this as we can help back up your systems and install the update so that your systems will work perfectly.

A new look for OS X

Last year Apple released a drastic redesign of their popular mobile operating system – iOS. This redesign brought about a modern look to the system with translucent menus and a clean, semi-transparent design. Apple has brought this style of design to Yosemite.

When you first start up Yosemite you will notice that bars like the launch bar at the bottom are translucent. Many icons have also been updated with clean and consistent design and menus have been somewhat flattened, making them easier to read.

Overall, the new look makes systems running this version of OS X easier to look at, while modernizing them and bringing them more in line with other Apple systems.

Enhanced continuity between devices

Apple has noted before that they are striving to bring their desktop OS and mobile OS closer together, eventually reaching a point where they are more or less one and the same. With Yosemite, they make a big jump forward by introducing a number of mobile and desktop features. One of the most useful being Handoff which allows users to start a task on their iPad or iPhone and continue this on their laptop, or vice versa.

Instant Hotspot is another feature that allows users to instantly share their iPhone’s data connection with their desktop – no need to enter a password as the system uses iCloud to ensure that the connection is secure.

If you have an iPhone that is running iOS 8 and a laptop or desktop with Yosemite installed, and connected to the same Wi-Fi network, you will be able to answer calls to your iPhone from your computer, or even send and answer text messages via the Messages app on any device.

Improved AirDrop

AirDrop is a feature that Apple has been trying to get working properly for a number of years now. When it works, it works really well, but with the last update to iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks, it simply didn’t work when you needed to transfer files from your phone to your computer.

Yosemite fixes this, as this version of AirDrop now has the same protocols as the mobile versions, so you can swap files between devices on the same Wi-Fi network.

Notifications Center

This feature has been updated to make it much more useful, mainly due to the introduction of the Today view. Similar to the view introduced in iOS 8, this shows you, at a quick glance, useful information for the day. By default you can see your calendar, stocks, weather, etc.

There is also support for widgets. Because Apple has enabled this, software developers can now create widgets that can be placed in the Today view of the Notifications Center. This is similar to the new feature that was introduced with iOS 8, and can be accessed by swiping four fingers from the left of the track-pad to the right on your laptop, or pressing the bulleted icon at the top-left of your menu bar.

Improved Spotlight

While Spotlight has long been a feature of OS X, it has been updated in Yosemite. Now, instead of just searching for files on your computer it can also search for applications. You can also use it to search the Web, so when you enter a term you see results from pages like Wikipedia, the Apple Store, iTunes, and more.

As in other versions of OS X, you can access Spotlight by hitting Command + Spacebar. You then see a search bar pop up in the middle of your screen. Simply type what you are looking for and a window will drop down with results.

These are just a few of the new features that business users will benefit from when they upgrade to Yosemite. If you would like to learn more, please contact us today.

Topic Apple Mac OS
October 28th, 2014

Web_Oct27_AFor many businesses the cloud has become a driving factor that supports numerous technical systems. These systems have been proven to reduce costs, increase productivity, and ensure security of vital data. However, there are still a large number of cloud related terms that can confuse. To help, here is an overview of 10 commonly used cloud terms.

1. Cloud app

A cloud app, or cloud application, is any application that is supported by a cloud service, or is accessed over the Internet. The key difference from other apps is that the vast majority of cloud apps are not installed on a device, rather they are accessed via a Web browser.

Some mobile apps are cloud-based, whereby an app is installed on the device and allows you to access data that is stored in the cloud.

2. Cloud burst

Cloud burst is a term used to reference a specific setup that many companies employ. Essentially, this is the idea of implementing a private cloud solution that provides for most usage requirements. When demand exceeds capacity, the company can integrate a public solution to cover the excess demand thereby "bursting" into another cloud.

A good example of this is when a company uses a private cloud solution to store data. When the threshold for maximum data storage is reached, they can implement a public cloud solution to increase overall storage. All essential information stays in a private cloud, while non-essential information is moved to the public cloud.

3. Cloud

The cloud is any service or solution that is delivered to a user via their Internet or network connection. To many, this term has come to be associated with the Internet.

4. Cloud management

Cloud management is often used to refer to a set of software or administrative panels that are specifically designed to allow business managers, owners, and IT teams to monitor and manage their cloud-based solutions. This often includes data, applications, and cloud services.

These tools are of strategic importance because they help to ensure that your cloud resources are functioning optimally and that users are able to interact with them properly. They also allow you to audit who has access to what and even add new accounts when needed.

5. Cloud provisioning

Cloud provisioning is the actual deployment of a cloud strategy. This often includes the selection of solutions and then which data and solutions will reside on either public or private clouds. Services are then deployed and data is migrated, usually with the help of an IT partner.

During the provisioning process, IT partners will also take the time to develop processes regarding how you will interface with the cloud solutions you will be implementing and set who has access to solutions.

6. Cloud storming

Cloud storming is the act of connecting multiple cloud services into a useable platform for your business. Some companies also use this term to refer to the idea of brainstorming about the cloud and how to use, or implement, it in daily operations.

A good example of cloud storming is where a company implements a cloud-based CRM solution from one provider, a cloud-based productivity suite, and cloud-based email at roughly the same time in order to better support operations while reducing operating costs.

8. Public cloud

Public cloud services and solutions are just that: public. They are available for any person or company to purchase or subscribe to and implement. With these services, all data or apps are hosted outside of the company and accessed over the usual Internet connections.

Public cloud services are usually the most common type of cloud implemented by companies who are first moving over to the cloud.

8. Private cloud

A private cloud is any cloud solution that is hosted by a company's own resources. This could be on servers kept on-site, or rented servers that are then configured so that the solution is only available to the company, not the public.

While mainly large companies will employ private clouds, smaller companies looking for a niche cloud solution are starting to implement these as well.

9. Hybrid cloud

A hybrid cloud is a solution implemented by companies that has elements of both public and private cloud solutions. Essential data or business processes are hosted or delivered by a company's own cloud service, while less essential services are delivered by public clouds.

Many larger companies employ this model of cloud computing for data storage as it allows them greater control over where their data is being stored, while ensuring that essential or highly regulated data can be stored in a secure manner; managed by the company.

10. Cloud portability

This is the level at which data maintained or stored in one cloud service can be moved to another. It is also used by experts when moving whole systems, such as apps, from one provider to another. If the overall portability is low, then it will be difficult for the user to move either apps or data from that provider.

Another similar term used by experts is 'Vendor lock-in', which is used to describe a dependency on a certain cloud provider and the general difficulty of moving away from this provider due to lack of other solutions or mechanisms that enable transfer. For many companies, it is a good idea to look for a provider that won't lock you into their cloud, or at the very least offers some portability options.

If you want to know more about how the cloud can benefit your business then connect with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web
October 28th, 2014

GoogleApps_Oct27_AWhen working with cloud-based services like Google Apps, there are a number of important features that business users require. One being the all-important Spell Check. While this has been a feature of Google Docs, it has been largely missing in newer versions of other apps like Sheets; until now that is.

Spell Check in Google Sheets

When Google introduced their new version of Google Sheets they brought back a much requested feature - Spell Check. In Google Sheets, Spell Check works much the same as it does in other apps like Docs; you can select whether to check the entire sheet, worksheets, columns, and even individual cells.

In order for this feature to work best you need to ensure that the spreadsheets you are using are created using the new version of Google Sheets. You can check this by looking for a green checkmark on the lower-right of the file you would like to check for spelling.

This checkmark indicates that the sheet is running the latest version of Google Sheets. You can then run Spell Check on the whole sheet by:

  1. Opening the sheet you would like to check for spelling.
  2. Clicking Tools followed by Spelling.
The Spell Check should highlight any errors, along with replacement suggestions. If there are errors you should see a drop-down window open with options to:
  • Change - Will change the error to the selected word.
  • Ignore - Will ignore the error.
  • Add to dictionary - Will add the word that is highlighted to the dictionary.
If you would like to check either a column, row, or number of cells, you can do so by selecting this area first and then pressing Tools followed by Spelling. Interestingly enough, this feature is also available in sheets that were created in the older version of Google Sheets and then updated to the new version.

Looking to learn more about Google Sheets, or other Google Apps? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 24th, 2014

On 10/8/14, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a case that involved time that may or may not be compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In this case, the Supreme Court reviewed a decision in which the Ninth Circuit court ruled that employers, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Portal-to-Portal Act, must compensate employees for the time spent in security screenings at the end of their shifts.

I won’t get into all of the details of the case, but this case proves that it is evident. Compliance with the FLSA continues to remain a top challenge for HR/payroll professionals. In a recent article, the Society for Human Resources (SHRM) reported that inquiries related to the FLSA exceed those of all other federal employment statues other than the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Until some of the rules of these acts are rewritten to make them clearer and easier to understand for everyone who has a stake in the process, it would be in any employer’s best interest to institute an automated time and attendance solution to properly capture and report time.

A time and attendance system allows you to collect, analyze, and take immediate control of your employees’ attendance and labor data. They are invaluable for ensuring compliance with labor regulations regarding proof of attendance. Plus, there are auditing functions contained within them to guarantee accuracy and compliance for payroll information.

While the outcome of this case is still pending, securing a great time and attendance system, instituting best practices, and keeping an eye on pending legislation should be at the top of every HR and payroll professional’s list.

Check out Sage HRMS today to gain control over time and labor data.

October 22nd, 2014

Windows_Oct20_AAt the end of September, Microsoft held their now annual Windows event, where they announced the next big version of Windows - Windows 10. While it seems a little odd that they are skipping 9 completely, from what we can see, 10 is shaping up to be the best version of Windows to date. Here is a brief overview of what you can expect from the latest version of Windows.

Why Windows 10?

When first announced, many eyebrows were raised regarding Windows 9 being skipped. In the tech world, missing out a number with a sequence is not the norm, yet Microsoft stated that they believe that the next version of Windows will be such a drastic improvement over Windows 8 that calling it Windows 9 would not do it justice. From what we can see of the new system, there really are some drastic improvements, including:

One operating system (OS), many systems

When Windows 8 was released, a slightly modified version of the OS was also released for mobile devices. While this was good news, especially for mobile users, the systems were still largely separate, with different apps, app stores, and more.

With Windows 10, Microsoft has noted that the OS has been designed to run across all systems. This means that different devices will likely have slightly different interaction experiences but the underlying system will be the same. For example, there will be one way to write programs for all devices, one app store, and updates will be applied to all versions of the same app, on all devices, at the same time.

A new, yet familiar, Start menu

Windows 8 was a drastic departure from the familiar Windows desktop layout. For the most part, it was despised by business users, who instead have largely bypassed this layout for the traditional Desktop mode. Windows 8.1 allowed users to boot directly into the Desktop, but one large feature has been lacking: a Start menu.

Windows 10 welcomes it back! As with older versions of Windows, the Start menu will be at the bottom-left of the screen, and pressing it will bring up the familiar menu of programs and options. Only now, the old Tile-based layout has also been merged into this section. Think of the traditional Start menu bar, but with a mini-tile based section to the right that will be customizable.

Everything opens in a window

If you've ever downloaded an app from the Windows App store, you likely have noticed that they automatically run in fullscreen mode. With Windows 10, any Windows Store apps will open in window-format, similar to any desktop app.

When apps open you will see the familiar taskbar, along with the maximize, minimize and close buttons. This will make it much easier to work in multiple programs at the same time.

Multiple Desktops

Microsoft Virtual Desktops is a feature that will allow users to create different desktops for different purposes and switch between them quickly and easily. While you will only need to install Windows 10 once, you can have a different desktop setup for say home, personal, and business use all under one user.

Each desktop can display different icons and layouts, but all desktops will have access to the programs installed for that user. Essentially, this will make it easier for business users who also use their devices for personal use or those who need to switch roles at work.

An enhanced File Explorer

File Explorer has been a part of Windows for a while now, and its main function is that it helps you to find your files and folders. In Windows 10, this feature will be upgraded to now search for not only your files and folders, but also to scan the Internet as well. You will also be able to quickly see recent and most popular files and folders, meaning you'll be more likely to be able to find what you are looking for in less time.

When will it be available?

Microsoft has already released what they call a Technical Preview of Windows 10. Anyone can sign up to download Windows 10 and install it on their computers. We would advise against this however, as this version is incomplete and there will be bugs and compatibility issues.

The company has noted that this current version is really for tech experts to install on secondary computers and test, so business users will have to wait! At the time of this article there has been no actual release date set for Windows 10, but you can probably expect it sometime in early 2015. Microsoft has also been quiet about the price, but rumors are circulating that it will either be free or affordable for users to upgrade to if they already have an older version of Windows installed.

Get ahead of the curve and find out what benefits Windows 10 can bring to your business, by dropping us a line first.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 22nd, 2014

SocialMedia_Oct20_ASocial media has come to play an important part of an overall marketing strategy for many small to medium businesses. An essential component to any social media plan, regardless of the platforms you use, is the creation of content to post onto these networks. When it comes to content, many businesses tend to rely on 2-3 different types, which can get a little boring. To help, here are five types of content you should be sharing on social media.

1. Selfies

The 2013 "word of the year", according to the Oxford English Dictionary, has become so popular it's no mean feat to avoid it these days. Truth be told, the selfie is popular for a reason: It is a quick way to get people to engage with your content.

The key here is to know when to take a selfie for your social media sites. What you want are selfies that make your company look more human, for example a group lunch meeting or after-work game night that shows people having fun. When done in the right way, selfie posts can increase interaction. Just be sure to limit the number you post, as too many could lead to you being perceived as being too focused on your company and not your customers.

2. Inside looks

When we find a product or service we like, we are often curious to learn more about it. This includes learning more about the company that makes the products or services and how it operates.

If you have a growing fan base, why not create content that provides customers with an inside look at some aspect of your business. Take pictures of your office, videos about how your products are made, or perhaps write content about how certain services are created and delivered. Basically, try to come up with content that gives people an inside view of the company.

The reason this type of content works is because it often gives customers a deeper understanding about a business, and creates a closer connection to the products and services. If you can increase overall attachment, you can increase the chances that customers will interact with content, stay loyal to your brand, and even share information about your company or recommend you.

3. Quotes

Famous quotes can be a great way to get a message across in a strong way. If for example you are hosting a Thanksgiving party, or Halloween party, adding a themed quote to your post could be a great way to encourage social media users to interact with it.

Also, if you can find quotes that are relevant to your industry, you could post these whilst asking for opinions or to further a point you're trying to make.

4. Fill in the blanks

While this may sound a little simple, posts that ask your audience to fill in a blank can be a great way to drive engagement while giving your customers a chance to tell their own story. For example, if you are a bakery who produces well-known donuts, asking a question like: "The first time I had this donut was _." could be a good way to inspire customers to interact with you.

5. Videos

One of the more drastic changes many social media sites like Facebook have implemented in the past couple of years is a feature that automatically plays a video when someone pauses on it while scrolling. While not fully welcomed by all users, this move has actually led to the number of video views increasing by as much as two times.

While creating a video because everyone else is, is a bad idea, if you have content that you know can be turned into a useful video e.g., a how-to video, then this could be a great way to reach your target market in an interesting way.

If you are looking to learn more about how you can leverage social media in your business, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
October 22nd, 2014

Many employees begin saving for retirement through a 401(k) account, hoping it will generate enough money over time that they can stop working at a reasonable point in their careers. At the same time, a large number of workers invest in a Roth IRA for the same reasons. Employers often handle these accounts for their staff using payroll management software, but it’s not always an easy task, especially if an employee has both types of retirement accounts.

However, recent changes to the way employees can deal with after-tax money in their 401(k) account in relation to their Roth IRA may alter the way employers help manage workers’ retirement savings.

Making it easier to transfer funds

The IRS is the government body that writes the rules for retirement accounts, and it has recently made several alterations that will provide employees a bit more freedom. Forbes wrote that IRS Notice 2014-54 gives employees the ability to transfer after-tax money from their 401(k) account to their Roth IRA without having to pay taxes on the transaction. Beginning January 1, 2015, employees will be able to take advantage of this opportunity to roll over funds between the two accounts.

Why is it advantageous for employees?

A 401(k) account is essentially a contributor-based savings plan that has limits in terms of how much workers can contribute. At the same time, money is taxed in this kind of account, while a Roth IRA is tax free. With regard to the latter, workers fund their retirement savings using after-tax money, which grows in the account until it’s withdrawn at retirement.

Before the IRS made this change, employees could technically still do the same thing, but it was a convoluted process. In fact, many tax experts felt that the IRS was against the practice, which makes the recent announcement a welcome surprise.

Still, it doesn’t give employees a blank check in transferring after-tax money from their 401(k) to a Roth IRA. The first caveat is whether a worker actually has after-tax money in his or her 401(k) account.

What’s expected of employers?

Many employees who meet the criteria for transferring money between accounts will likely want to take advantage of the opportunity. Employers should facilitate the process. Human resources managers will need to clearly communicate the changes in the IRS’s treatment of retirement savings to employees. This may even involve bringing in a financial advisor who can explain any aspects of the changes that may cause confusion. 

Employer Solutions Blog | Sage HRMS

October 21st, 2014

Office365_Oct20_AMicrosoft is working hard to ensure that their popular cloud-based productivity suite, Office 365, is constantly being improved. Because of the great products and support offered, businesses are continually migrating to the platform. If you are considering moving to Office 365, you should be aware of five factors that can cause a migration to fail, so you can avoid them.

1. Slow Internet connection speeds

Because Office 365 is primarily cloud-based, you are going to need a solid bandwidth connection to use it. When migrating your files and system over to Office 365, you will likely need to consume a large quantity of bandwidth. This demand will often be enough to to tax most small business lines, resulting in lower Internet speeds all around while the migration is happening. If this is being carried out during business hours, employees might struggle to do their jobs properly if they are reliant on the Internet.

Beyond this, Office 365 is most often delivered over an Internet connection, rather than in-house servers. This means that the day-to-day demand for bandwidth will increase. If you are already noticing slow speeds and service interruptions before implementing Office 365, you will likely see these issues compounded after implementation.

To avoid this, you should ask an Office 365 provider to test your existing network connections to ensure that your Internet connection can handle the migration and day-to-day operation of Office 365. If not, a provider should be able to offer you a solution.

2. Mailboxes and files are too big

While the business versions of Office 365 do come with 50 GB of email storage and over 1 TB of file storage per user, actually getting your emails and files online could take a while, especially if you have users whose email inboxes are approaching the storage limit.

As a general rule of thumb, larger files will cause the migration of files to take longer. If this is not prepared for, then you could see migration affecting work or even continual issues of data not being available when it's needed.

To avoid this, you should encourage your staff to archive their email inboxes and either delete or remove emails with large attachments that aren't necessary.

3. Uninformed users

The average Office 365 migration takes from one to three days, depending on the size of the business and the amount of data moving over. If you start a migration without informing users that some files and emails won't be accessible over this time, or that even some systems may not be working, you could end up with employees unable to do their jobs and creating resentment of the new platform.

To avoid this, you should inform your employees about how the migration will run and what they can expect during the migration. Beyond this, you should try to run training sessions on how to use the new systems to ensure that everyone is familiar with it before they start to use it. This will increase the overall chance that the platform migration and subsequent use will be successful.

4. Older, less compatible software installed on systems

While many versions of Office 365 do come with subscriptions to the latest version of Microsoft Office, there is support built in for systems that are running slightly older versions of Office. If your business is using a version of Office that is older than Office 2010 (e.g., Office 2003), you will not be able to properly use Office 365.

Beyond this, you will also need to be using the latest version of Internet browser. If you use Chrome or Firefox, this won't be a problem, however if you use Internet Explorer you will need to be sure that you are using the latest version. Should you be using older systems, especially those no longer supported by Microsoft, you may also have trouble accessing Office 365 because you may be unable to upload to the latest version of Internet Explorer.

The good news about Office 365 is that actual systems requirements are low, so almost every business will be able to integrate it. We recommend that in order to avoid failure, or being unable to use all of the features, you should ask your provider to ensure that your software and systems are able to support Office 365.

5. Migrating yourself

On paper, migrating to Office 365 is a fairly simple and straightforward process. What many companies find, when they choose to migrate themselves, is that the process is often much more difficult than expected. Many companies come across unexpected issues that require an IT expert to solve.

In order to ensure a smooth migration from start to finish, it is a good idea to work with an IT provider like us. We can ensure that your systems are ready and the migration is smooth. Contact us today to learn more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 21st, 2014

GoogleApps_Oct20_AGoogle Apps for Businesses offers a wide variety of useful productivity oriented tools that enable users to do more from almost anywhere. When it comes to a busy manager or business owner, one of the most useful tools is Google Calendar, which offers a wide range of features, including the ability to layer multiple calendars from different users onto your calendar.

About multiple calendar layering

The idea behind multiple calendar layers is that it allows you to view your own and other user's calendars on one screen. If other users have shared their calendars with you, you can easily see their events and schedule without having to ask them.

How do I add calendars from other employees/users?

Before you can layer your calendar, you need to first add other calendars. You can add calendars by:
  1. Opening your calendar.
  2. Clicking the box that says Add a coworker's calendar under Other calendars.
  3. Entering the email address of a colleague whose calendar you would like to show on yours.
  4. Pressing Enter.
The calendar should show all shared events and entries from the added calendar within a couple of seconds. To keep things clear, each calendar you layer will be assigned a different color.

In order for this to work, users must have shared their calendar with the organization. If they have not, you will get a pop-up box asking if you would like to ask the user to share their calendar. Similarly, only events that are shared will show up on your calendar.

You can edit whoever's calendar you see once this have been added, by going to your main calendar (calendar.google.com) and clicking on the colored box beside the calendar name, which will be located under Other calendars. Once you click on the box, the color will turn to grey and the user's events will be shown on your calendar too.

How do I layer these calendars?

The great thing about this feature is that it is automatic. When you add someone's calendar, their events will automatically be layered onto yours. You can tell this is working by looking at the Other calendars section of your calendar. If there are names with colored boxes beside them, events from these calendars should be showing on your calendar.

Hovering over a name and pressing the downward facing arrow that appears at the right will allow you to edit layering settings. This includes assigning another color, hiding the calendar, and even editing calendar settings.

Why is this useful?

Possibly the best reason this feature is useful is that it allows a manager to quickly and easily see what employees are doing. If, for example, you want to create a training session and are looking for a time when your staff are available, looking at the calendar can be a good start.

Of course, this feature only really works well if everyone is using their calendars and keeping them updated, so you might want to encourage employees to do this first before you start laying.

If you are looking to learn more about Google Calendar or any of the Google Apps, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.