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Microsoft 365: Enterprise-Grade Productivity Suite for your Business

Microsoft 365: Enterprise-Grade Productivity Suite for your Business

Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 is the de facto communication, collaboration, and productivity suite of tools for organizations and enterprises alike. The following is a detailed look at the features and capabilities of Microsoft 365 to help you understand why it’s the most popular cloud productivity suite option for businesses today.

Pricing Options

Unlike Google Suite, which is available in only three conventional packages, Microsoft provides an array of subscription plans specifically designed for organizations of different sizes, types, number of employees, or specific needs. The most affordable Microsoft 365 Business Basic plan is priced at $5 per user, per month while the feature-packed Microsoft 365 E5 version costs $35 per user per month.

There are Microsoft 365 plans for small companies and enterprises with many of its apps and services available for a la carte purchase as well. This gives you the flexibility to customize your plan to best fit your business needs now and to adjust in the future. For example, you may opt for a lower-level plan and combine it with one or two add-ons instead of getting a more comprehensive package that is priced higher. Once your business needs grow, you can then upgrade your plan accordingly. There are also Microsoft 365 plans specifically geared for government agencies, academia, and non-profit organizations that include a combination of Windows 10, Office 365, and Microsoft security management features.

Files and Storage

By default, Microsoft offers the most storage space – at 1 TB of data capacity (for Business Basic plan) – when compared with Google Suite basic plan (for a paltry 30 GB). Additionally, Microsoft provides an exclusive 50 GB of email storage. This is not provided by Google Suite.

Office Apps

Microsoft 365 includes advanced incarnations of the Office 2007 or Office 2010 so there’s that sense of familiarity and confidence when you’re using it. Its core features are all there and the overall feel is just the same – navigation is a breeze so even first-time users won’t be intimidated and learn quickly.

And when it all boils down to performing various tasks, you’d rather be using MS applications than Google apps – Microsoft Word instead of Google Docs, Microsoft Excel instead of Google Sheets, Microsoft PowerPoint instead of Google Slides – you get the gist.

Sharing and Collaboration

People who want to work on the same file at the same time without messing about with ‘track changes’ will be delighted with real-time collaboration capabilities in Microsoft 365. And did you know that Microsoft’s Business plans are on free trial for 30 days (as opposed with just 2 weeks no-obligation use for Google Suite)?

Compatibility

When it comes to formatting consistency, no other cloud productivity suite will come closer to Microsoft Office. Its document fidelity capability means that you can access and view them just as they are whether it’s from an offline version or from a web-based equivalent.

Email

Gmail might offer a more streamlined interface, but Microsoft Outlook clearly has some headway in terms of enabling the user to view and respond to priority emails, to simplify long email threads, and to seamlessly integrate calendar and contacts functions with Outlook itself.

Conclusion

With every bell and whistle to make communication, collaboration, and productivity possible, Microsoft 365 wins all categories. Its core features and add-on tools have zero compatibility issues with desktop Microsoft Office software – perfect for saving time and doing task more efficiently – a sound investment for businesses who want to stay on top of their game.

Do you need to set up or migrate to Microsoft 365? Contact us today to find out more about how we can arrange a professional, risk-free installation of the #1 cloud-based productivity suite for your business.

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IT Services

Keep your sales moving: Three Key Benefits of Outbound Call Centers in the Time of Pandemic

Keep your sales moving: Three Key Benefits of Outbound Call Centers in the Time of Pandemic

Key Benefits of Outbound Call Centers

Think about this. How many customers can you talk to in an hour when you do door-to-door sales versus phone calls?

For many, door-to-door sales may have been the primary strategy given its advantage of connecting with customers on a personal level. Then COVID-19 hit, and door-to-door sales is no longer a viable option. What is not safe for your sales teams is also driving risk to your business. However, it does not mean that you must completely put your operations on hold, because this may have opened an opportunity to transform your business.

An Outbound Call Center is what businesses employ to have a team of call center agents to make outbound calls to customers on behalf of the company. Business objectives met by outbound call centers include sales, telemarketing, fund-raising, contact list updating, surveys, and information verification to name just a few.

Whether you want to get more leads, attract prospective customers, or learn about your customer needs and interests, you can hire an outbound call center to help you get the job done. Here are three benefits you can expect from employing an outbound call center amidst the pandemic.

Reach more customers

Bypass the limitations of door-to-door sales. Due to the physical nature of door-to-door sales, there is a limit to the potential customers a sales agent can reach. There are chances that the sales agent may not be able to speak to the decision maker directly, in cases where they live in residential buildings or areas that have strict policies regarding sales professionals. With an outbound call center, you have an entire team to make calls directly to your target customers without worrying about geographic limitations, and now, the added restrictions due to the pandemic.

Monitor and measure team performance

Not only do you have an entire team to get in touch with prospective customers real-time, you can also expect them to follow an exact approach and monitor their performance. There are certain metrics used to measure the success of outbound call teams such as, first call close, conversion rate, calls per agent, average call length, and more. These can be aligned with your business goals. Outbound call teams are regularly checked in every stage of the process to ensure quality control. This also gives you the opportunity to adjust and strategize to achieve higher customer satisfaction.

Customers are staying at home

While your target customers are staying at home because of the pandemic, your business has more opportunities to reach them and capture their attention. Through an outbound call team, you can learn more about their needs and offer a solution. This increases the probability of turning prospects to actual leads.

Hiring an outbound call center allows you to maintain that personal touch when it comes to reaching your customers. Moreover, while it may be a solution for your business to keep sales moving during this time of pandemic, it can be part of a long-term strategy to improve leads generation and increase sales. Get more information about outbound call center and how to hire one. Schedule a FREE consultation today.

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IT Services ServiceNow

ServiceNow: Work Smarter on a Unified Platform

ServiceNow: Work Smarter on a Unified Platform

ServiceNow

Your business already has processes in place. You have invested in the apps and systems that both your team and your customers use. Everyone delivers what is required of them and your customers are satisfied. What you may not know is that there may still be some weak spots in your operations that could mean losing valuable time and money. There’s always room to improve and work more efficiently.

Using apps and tools in your daily operations is necessary to get things done faster. However, there’s also such as a thing as app overload. Research done by RingCentral showed that employees navigate between business apps 10 times in an hour. This means you are losing 32 days a year which could have been used to get actual work done.

Forrester Consulting’s research found that businesses focused on customer experience achieve “1.7x higher customer retention, 1.9x return on spend, and 1.6x higher customer satisfaction rates”. Your business process and the tools play a crucial role in ensuring the best customer experience, from inquiry, to service delivery, to post sale. The faster you meet or exceed customer expectations, the more you return for your business.

ServiceNow can help you both improve your team’s productivity and customer satisfaction. ServiceNow is an intelligent unified platform that allows you to automate business workflows. It gives you the power to customize and complement the way your business operates.

Automation creates better work

Empower your team to focus on their core functions by automating recurring, menial tasks. Amy Nguyen of Happiness Infinity LLC shared that while the basic business needs are addressed through automation, the way you satisfy the more sophisticated needs makes work more exciting and meaningful for employees. Studies also show that there is a 12% increase in productivity when employees are happy.

Make the experience intuitive

Cut the learning curve by making your processes easier to understand and perform for both your employees and your customers. Richard Davis of Katalyst Data Management noted that the experience of using an effective tool should enable the user to flow through work in a logical progression. The same experience is important especially for your customers. Andrew Alexeev of Nginx explained that the more time spent learning the very basic functions of the user interface, the less chance that customer returns. Functions should be as basic as possible and be easily learned or accessed in just a few minutes at most. just a few minutes at most.

Unify your workflow

Simplify your processes by integrating your crucial business apps, software, and data with ServiceNow’s unified platform. Maxim Garkavtsev of Qarea Limited, Testfort Inc shared that in their experience having a consolidated platform alone saved their company countless hours of work, enabled transparency in management, and improved quality of deliverables.

In our digital age, working smarter with technology can be both a challenge and opportunity. Make the move to transform your business through automation and simplified workflows with ServiceNow. Get more information about its fast deployment and competitive rates. Schedule a FREE consultation today.

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IT Services Microsoft

Worried about Unsecured Web Calls? Why you should move to using Microsoft Teams

Worried about Unsecured Web Calls? Why you should move to using Microsoft Teams

Teams

Avoid hackers and nosy interceptors invading your private communications. Especially, if your job involves handling sensitive company information or customers’ personal data, using a secure web calling app is critical.

Avoid Getting ‘Zoom-bombed’

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing a surge for work-from-home video calls, Zoom was one of the top web conferencing app options. The platform gained instant popularity – but not in a good way due to a serious security issue dubbed as ‘Zoom-bombing’. Taking advantage of Zoom’s lack of security, digital trolls employed a variety of different malicious tactics including hijacking or blocking shared screens, removing attendees from virtual meetings, spoofing messages from users, or broadcasting offensive video materials right in the middle of work-related or school-related discussions.

Zoom CEO Eric Yuan acknowledged that they have failed to meet the expectations of the online community and even issued an apology via Youtube live streaming. Security experts and privacy advocates remain concerned that Zoom seems to continue operating under a rather relaxed approach towards securing video calls for its growing number of users worldwide.

According to The Citizen Lab, “Zoom’s weaknesses make it highly unsuitable for government agencies and businesses worried about espionage.” American journalist and columnist Doc Searls thinks that Zoom ‘needs to clean up its privacy act’ while Bruce Schneier, computer security professional, is concerned that Zoom’s security is “at best sloppy, and malicious at worst”.

Zoom’s lax security protocols gave rise to an FBI investigation even in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.

Zoom has fixed the front-end issues by allowing users to set the privacy settings and requiring to manually admit participants in. However, they still don’t have end to end encryption. According to Zoom, they have acquired Keybase to work on the end to end encryption. They said it will be available in the near future.

How does it impact me as a user of a web calling app that doesn’t have end to end encryption?

If the app is not end to end encrypted, it means that while data may be encrypted and protected while in transit an on all end devices, the data is not encrypted on the servers

  1. Employees of the company who have access to the servers can view your data or webcall conversation because it is not encrypted
  2. When hackers successfully hack into the servers, they can get the data or your webcall conversation as is (without encryption). Zoom has been recently hacked. The hackers released around 500,000 user credentials
  3. If the company gets subpoenaed, the records will be released unencrypted.

There are may alternative apps that emerged , but most of them are also not end to end encrypted.For example, Google Hangouts admitted that it doesn’t use end-to-end encryption which means Google can completely access your messages and conversation once they’re on a Google server. Slack users, on the other hand, have been cautioned about linking the cloud-based team collaboration software platform to third-party apps in light of the accidental data exposure of sensitive government information to outsiders for at least five months. Unlike other fully encrypted video calling apps, Slack is only protected by HTTPS which means private data can also be intercepted at the server.

Why Microsoft Teams is the most recommended app

For any business where security matters (e.g. Law Firms, Counselling Services, Education, Government, Financial Institutions), Microsoft teams is recommended .

According to Professor Alan Woodward, a computer scientist at Surrey University, it really isn’t that much of a big deal if an uninvited guest is listening to your private conversation with your mom but in the case of businesses and public offices, the implications may be life changing. “In the case where I have taken part in government briefings, it is crucial to ensure that it is for the participants’ ears only – so we have used Microsoft Teams.”

Why is that? First, Teams naturally inherits all the associated Office 365 security features of all Microsoft products. Second, it ensures fully encrypted data both in transit and while at rest. This means it doesn’t have the issues mentioned above. Third, its added multi factor authentication (MFA) feature ensures that the organization is not vulnerable to data breach in the event that specific user personal data falls into the wrong hands.

While the decision to choose a conferencing platform depends on your organizational structure or situation, it makes logical sense to fully rely on Microsoft Teams; especially if you are already utilizing Office 365. However, if you’re in the business of dealing with sensitive information on a regular basis, Microsoft Teams is your best choice for fully encrypted video calling, messaging, and collaboration platform.

Microsoft 365 Advanced eDiscovery (AED): Smart Capability for Attorney-Client Privileged Communications

For attorneys, one of the ethical obligations is to keep clients’ data safe and private. Advanced eDiscovery is a smart tag feature that locates and identifies attorney-client privileged content. This Ai-enabled Microsoft 365 feature allows lawyers and legal practitioners to search, identify, and tag information and files that are classified as potentially privileged documents.

Furthermore, AED is a powerful software tool for digital evidence gathering which can minimize time and costs spent by a legal team for this critical task. Specifically, it is useful for carrying out the following tasks:

  1. For gathering, assembly, and grouping of similar data and information for analysis or review by specific user groups
  2. For fast-tracking information gathering and collating from large datasets or sources
  3. For identifying relevant or irrelevant files and documents
  4. For reviewing and exporting filtered information into a report format for submission to regulatory, legal, or government body
  5. For automating costs associated with research, review, and compilation of documents

Get More Out of Teams

If you want to learn more about the Teams dynamic security to automatically protect data and documents from digital breaches, contact us for a FREE consultation today.