SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.
Marty brings a career of geek+media to SMB Nation from a brother from another mother. Marty spent 15+ years at Reseller Advocate Magazine/RAM TechInight which is a closely aligned integrated media company in the hardware and system builder space. Needless to say, Marty has been a quick study in the SMB Nation way as it’s not far afield. Marty’s primary role concerns business development. Right now with our focus on Office 365, we have many supporters who want to do goodness in the community. Marty’s your man. He is also driving content to the sites and assisting Queen Jenny in production coordination.

Turn Office 365 into a Power Tool

Story by Jennifer Hallmark, President, SMB Nation - 

Small business customers don’t fully appreciate all of the new features in Office 365 that can revolutionize their ability to work smarter and faster – and I am not speaking about the obvious “move your office to the cloud” advantages either.

365Let me state that this assertion relates to both Office 365 for Business and the Office suite of programs, since they are melding together both functionally and in the way Microsoft is marketing them.

The “move your office to the cloud” advantages are by now well known: work from anywhere, better security, scalable licensing, and automatic upgrades. But beyond those advantages lie some real game changers for small businesses that are often email-centric and don’t naturally gravitate to newer online services. Office 365 for business paired with the Office suite are enabling some massive workflow changes that users can get excited about, namely:

• Allowing deep integration with cloud-based software capabilities that take over where Outlook, Excel and Word leave off;
• Through new “add-ins” allowing new capabilities to be accessed directly from the MSFT program currently in use through a cloud-enabled window.
• Connecting Azure Active Directory and Office 365 to web-based software from vendors and from the company’s own Azure subscription.

These less-often mentioned elements are driving a revolution. Enterprises are utilizing them to host and implement their large customized ERP programs to reduce user training, increase compliance and drive productivity. Small companies can leverage these features (through Independent Software Vendors) for the same reasons, but they actually have more to gain than enterprises. Using these features in concert with the right software vendor, many small businesses can now successfully adopt new software that in the past might have been considered inaccessible to them in the past, for reasons of complexity or due to the fact that they want to stay in the Office environment. To learn more about how attachedapps can turn your subscription to Office 365 into a power tool, visit: www.attachedapps.com/lp/power-tool/

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Using Spreadsheets to Track Sales Opportunities

By Jennifer Hallmark, President, SMB Nation - 

A large proportion of small and medium-sized businesses use spreadsheets to track and manage their sales process instead of a dedicated software application, aka customer relationship management (or CRM) software. We’ve noted the following advantages and disadvantages of this choice:

Advantages:

1. Ease of use: Most people already know how to open a spreadsheet and make changes to it. Many old style CRM applications are complex and require significant user training, not to mention IT resources to setup and configure. Newer-style CRM applications are lighter and easier to use, taking away some of the advantage that spreadsheets had in the past.
2. No additional cost: Most employees already have access to a spreadsheet program or can access them for no cost.
3. Highly customizable: Spreadsheets can be customized as you go without a programming language.

Disadvantages:

1. Syncing: Before cloud storage was widely available, keeping spreadsheets synced between users was a major headache. That’s become much easier these days.
2. Integrations: Inside a spreadsheet, it’s not easy to have access to your contacts, your email, social media or other related applications. A properly designed CRM app can provide workflow advantages by bringing these elements together (if done with close attention to the user experience).
3. Mobile: It’s not easy to use a spreadsheet on a mobile phone screen, although using a tablet can work fine. Dedicated mobile apps for CRM are very popular and can increase the likelihood that users embrace the application.
4. Reporting: Getting the right reports and historical information from a spreadsheet can get quite complicated and difficult to manage.attached apps logo login

There really isn’t a right or wrong answer, it comes down to preferences and requirements. For more information about the app that turns Office 365 into a powerful sales tool, click here.

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Hear Ye! 2016 Annual SMB Nation Readership Survey

By Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation - 

As the NFL playoffs continue, it’s that time of the year to conduct our annual readership survey. There is one reason, and one reason alone to engage in the conversation: Feedback is the breakfast of champions!

SurveyWe’re asking a handful of questions that will allow you to help us direct our content coverage. We want to insure we are relevant, on-target, and that you enjoy our community building efforts.

It’s all very simple. Complete the survey HERE and we’ll analyze the results over the next couple weeks. Kindly note that the survey closes January 24th so don’t delay. And thanks for keeping ‘da Nation going!
Again – complete the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/smbnation2016

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Roadshow! Geek Grad School for MSPs

Story by Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation - 

We’re back! Time to hit the road and bring the bits to YOU! No travel, no hotel and daylong advanced Office 365 and Windows 10 technical content. Over winter and spring quarter, we’ll be back in familiar NFL cities plus add a few new destinations.chicago event hardcore

New Year’s Resolution

In 2016 it’s your chance to recommit to being a life learner. You’re in tech and every decade you have to reinvent and start over. Now is that time. So invest one day to discover that our amazing independent content will help you navigate the sheer madness with the technology shift underway.

Assured Outcomes

One thing you can count on is our independent outside view looking in. We take our role as community ombudsman very seriously. You will learn something you didn’t know and you’ll leave with actionable outcomes applicable at work the very next day. No high-level blue badges babbling mission fit and strategy folks – it’s bits and bytes.

The four extended content sessions are:

• Office 365 and Azure Active Directory
• Deliver Existing Apps from The Cloud
• Windows 10 End-to-End Deployment Part I
• Windows 10 End-to-End Deployment Part II

Learn more here: http://2016roadshow.smbnation.com/

Our expert instructor is once again the popular Grant Thompson [http://2016roadshow.smbnation.com/grant-thompson/] – a geek’s geek!

The venues we’ll visit are:
1. San Francisco, CA (January 26, 2016)
2. Los Angeles, CA (January 28, 2016)
3. Redmond/Seattle WA (February 23, 2016)
4. New York, NY (February 29, 2016)
5. Atlanta, GA (March 9, 2016)
6. Chicago, IL (March 11, 2016)
7. Washington DC (April 12, 2016)
8. Charlotte, NC (April 14, 2016)
9. Phoenix, AZ (July 2016)

Price is Right

As always – we rely on community supporters to underwrite our academic educational outreach. It’s worked well and allows you to attend our event complimentary. We do require a $99 deposit where we will charge you if you are a “no show” (without proper cancellation) because we gotta pay the catering bills regardless. Hope that makes sense!

See you soon!

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What’s The Half Life Of A Unicorn?

Story by Simon Crosby - 

“Cybercorns” are companies that have surpassed the magical $1 billion valuation. Several of these extraordinary ventures are Okta, Sophos, Tanium, Palantir, FireEye, Splunk, Zscaler, Lookout, CloudFlare, Illumio and AVAST.

Each has attained an enviable position as a valued solution to an important set of customer security pains. The entrepreneurs who built these companies (many of which are privately held) and the investors that backed them deserve their success. But in a world where technology is changing rapidly, and in which attackers are agile and focused, which of these unicorns will survive? What is the half–life, perhaps measured by stock value, of a cybercorn?

The most profound trends in the IT landscape are, of course, the rapid adoption of cloud services and growing mobility of the workforce. All too soon, application back-end micro-services will automatically and reliably scale as needed in the cloud, accessed by users over the public Internet.

Cybercorns that have bet on a long-lived traditional IT infrastructure are already in trouble. If the user is working in Starbucks, what value is a network security product that attempts to protect an indefensible network perimeter? If your organization is adopting Office 365, when a user opens a potentially threatening attachment, it runs in a virtual machine, in Azure.

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Microsoft bizdev chief Peggy Johnson on huge acquisitions, partnering with enemies, and HoloLens

Microsoft is now building apps for competing platforms, and it feels good about it.

Peggy Johnson is Microsoft's executive vice president of business enterprise development. She sat down with Organization Insider's Matt Rosoff at IGNITION 2015, and told us about how Microsoft decides when to buy a enterprise, and its new technique of creating apps for competing platforms.

Matt Rosoff: Peggy joined Microsoft a small bit extra than a year ago ...

Peggy Johnson: A tiny more than a year ago — a year and 3 months.

Rosoff: And at the time there was a comparatively new CEO — Satya Nadella — only Microsoft's third CEO in history and I would say in the final couple of years there is been a genuine remarkable transformation in the way Microsoft treats companies that utilized to be considered competitors. I keep in mind the old days when if it wasn't invented right here, we're not going to talk about it, and Linux is cancer and Apple is the enemy. And then in the final year and a half or so, you guys have bought a bunch of small app makers for iOS and Android, which is some thing you by no means would have carried out before. You have struck a complete bunch of partnerships, you're starting to even embrace issues like Linux, so how has this happened? And what is the philosophy there? And why is Microsoft being friendlier to other platforms now than it employed to be?

Johnson: It did start off with Satya and his vision for the firm. He's truly selected to concentrate on partnerships and appear for areas of collaboration and for confident we compete with other firms, but there are so numerous areas that we can also collaborate. So you mentioned a couple of — Salesforce is one. We have a competitive product in between the two of us. But we look for locations that truly our joint clients were involved in. And we stated, "Can we integrate right here and bring additional worth and delight our joint consumers?" So we did that with Office 365 and Salesforce. And it type of opens up a lot of new value for our buyers where they can now take these two sets of data that they are gathering from these two items, put them together, and as an enterprise sort of mind that information additional.

Rosoff: I'm specifically interested in Microsoft on the iPhone. So you purchased a Acompli and a Sunrise and integrated those into Outlook for the iPhone. I basically use that instead of the built-in mail client simply because it's much better. You purchased some corporations that do Android lock screens ... and this is fairly various than Microsoft before which was normally about Windows Telephone — Windows, Windows, Windows. So, why did you guys make the choice to start out investing a lot more heavily in iOS and Android?

Johnson: We totally recognized that our buyers have a variety of devices. They are carrying all sorts of things. And we want to bring our world class apps to these devices. And that meant going cross-platform. And it was shortly just after Satya took the reins that he made that initially choice to take Office apps to iOS. And then from there, we continued to construct on that.

You mentioned a few of our current acquisitions. Acompli is just a excellent instance of a fabulous app. And we looked at that — and we kind of do a create-get-partner with anything that we view — and that one particular just created additional sense to acquire. And we brought the app in, and because then — two terrific items have happened — 1. we acquired Javier Soltero, I never know if any of you know him, he was the CEO at Acompli, he's now performing remarkable perform at Microsoft. He's now in-charge of all of Outlook and I feel his outside perspective has been beneficial for the teams. We've have really engaged the teams deeply on his view of things. But then, what that did, was it sort of set the pace for bringing in other items. Acompli brought in Sunrise. Then Wunderlist — Wunderlist is a wonderful app. We've had, I assume now over a billion lists created on Wunderlist. And so it's just continuing to tap into points that are delighting our clients and bringing them in.

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Breaking News: I Love Work! Read This True Confession...

Story by Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation - 

Where to begin. Early on, I was the “business kid” in grade school through high school. That continues to today with my continued pursuit for work that marries business and technology. And of how it’s changed from my first Apple II+ with a Hayes 14.4k modem connecting from my college apartment to a centralized VAX computer. Or has it really changed? In this blog, I’ll explore Work 3.0. and point you to some amazing resources.

Full CircleHarry at Work

Above I’m both dating and telling on myself as I’m alluding to time sharing. Imagine the idea of having the heavy lifting occurring in a data center and you could work from anywhere with a thin client? Your applications were hosted and your data was safe. That was timesharing where I started my career in computing. With the emergence of the PC and client/server computing, certainly those days were gone forever. The “local” in Local Area Network (LAN) loosely translates in GeekSpeak to “within these four walls”, and that was the development paradigm of our beloved Small Business Server. It created a generation of commuters who believed in server gods and gurus at work. You thought nothing of driving to work.

But then a back to the future phenomenon emerged at the start of the Great Recessions when the Internet was validated as a secure tool (thanks Salesforce) and IT was used to save money with mobility. Just yesterday I was using a thin client (Google Chrome on a USB stick) working with Salesforce online with my mobile phone held to my left ear, while I listened to a conference call via a headset hooked up to a VoIP desk phone. And all the while working from my home office (I’ve upgraded from my college apartment!).
What does this before-and-after storytelling mean? I’m telling the exact same story. Timesharing is cloud computing. Period.

You’ll Feel Like You Are Talking to Yourself (You Are!)

I’ve thought a lot recently about the nature of modern work. How has technology changed the way we work? Over the years I’ve written blogs about office sharing schemes like Regus locations (remember my week in Istanbul in the Spring of 2014?) to online labor markets (remember our use of WorkMarket in the late 2013/early 2014 timeframe with Windows XP migrations?) to our giving up our office space when our commercial lease expired (see my February 2015 blog). But I had never crystalized my thoughts about modern work into a single missive. And that frustrated me.

Fortunately, I bumped into an amazing report titled “WORK 3.0 – The Next Generation Model for Smarter Business.” I felt like I was talking to myself. Over a dozen pages, remote offices, portfolio careers, and the human cloud revolution are explored. I’ve posted the report HERE so you can download it, read it and motivate on it. Let me know what you think?

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MSPs: Learn Enterprise Marketing, on an SMB Budget - Webinar

By Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation -

MSPs: Learn Enterprise Marketing, on an SMB Budgetmarketing puzzlePS

Join SMB Nation and other MSP's
Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015 at 12:00pm

Marketing is critical for MSPs to maintain their current revenue and grow their bottom line.You’re considering ramping up your marketing efforts in 2016, but is there a realistic way for an MSP owner/operator to accomplish their marketing goals without much time or budget? Where do you start? Where should you focus? What resources are necessary? Let us guide you through the complexity of marketing in a realistic and actionable way.

Click Here To Register!

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Happy Holidays!

Story by Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation - 

SMB Nation recently turned 16-years old and we wanted to wait until the holidays to share that news. We want to use this holiday season to celebrate our mutual success! And we look forward to continued success and a long life. So what better time than the moment to wish you our customers, readers, attendees and sponsors an AMAZING HOLIDAY SEASON! We appreciate your support.

Our community is a melting pot of ethnicities and we want to call out and support the following forms of celebrations:

• Christmas Day (Christian)coexist bumper sticker
• Hanukkah (Jewish)
• Kwanzaa (African American)
• Ramadan (Muslim)
• Eid al-Fitr (Muslim)
• Saint Nicholas Day (Christian)
• Eid'ul-Adha (Muslim)
• Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexican)
• St. Lucia Day (Swedish)
• Three Kings Day/Epiphany (Christian)
• Boxing Day (Australian, Canadian, English, Irish)
• Omisoka (Japanese)
• Yule (Pagan)
• Saturnalia (Pagan)

- See more at: http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/lesson/lesson246.shtml#sthash.c23rSm8r.dpuf

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Wiser Minds in IoT (Part II of II)

Story by Harry Brelsford, CEO. SMB Nation - 

Last week I painted the IoT picture and enjoyed fantastic feedback. This week I share insights from wiser minds about IoT that I met at the recent AllSeen (www.allseenalliance.org) conference in Seattle.

I walked away from the annual gathering impressed with the momentum of IoT and wanted to learn more. Ergo my conversation with these two gentlemen below.

Greg Whelan is the principal of the Greywale Insights (http://greywale.com/) consultancy. What immediately struck me was how he wanted to pivot the conversation. It was like having an intellectual conversation with Jeff Middleton (sbsmigrations.com) back in the old Small Business Server days when he’d proclaim “let’s turn that argument on its head.” Whelan proposed we refine service providers as “outcome providers.” That’s how he sees the role of the MSP/computer guy in an IoT world. “Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) want OUTCOMES from a provider. IoT is a whole bucket of tools and services for the outcome provider to “provide” to SMBs.

“The outcome provider will have a role in helping IoT standardization. Currently it’s a DIY market without a set of standards. For example, you can’t utter “Good Night” today and have everything in the smart house respond such as lights, heat, and security.” Whelan shared. “The main point with today’s status is silos. The DIY can buy bits and pieces at Home Depot, Best Buy et al.”harrybiot edited

Whelan’s forward looking statements continued with thoughts concerning standardization. It’ll take web companies who can scale and the outcome provider will deliver agnostic services, not just a Google House or an Apple House.

Which leads to my second conversation about scaling. I spoke with Eric Bozich (Vice President – Product and Marketing CenturyLink). CenturyLink is a sponsor of AllSeen. Bozich’s interest is to provide elements of the IoT value chain that go beyond telecom. “One thing we’re asking ourselves is how our customers are going to consume IoT. IoT will be about solving business problems and consuming services. Bozich stated. “CenturyLink will add value by proactively participating in the development of IoT solutions.”

You heard it here first.

BTW – in my resources below, you can watch a video of Whelan and Bozic. ;0)

I’ll end my two-part series with this thought. If only Radio Shack could have held on! It was IoT before there was IoT. Readers will recall the demise of Radio Shack (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RadioShack). It could have been the IoT Store!

AllSeen Resources

Service Provider Panel Video, featuring Greg & Eric
AllSeen Alliance Events List
AllSeen Alliance Membership Tiers & Companies Participating
Full list of keynote presentations, slides and photos from the AllSeen Summit 2015

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The Evolution of The Way We Work

Story by Mitel -

Changes in the interplay between technology, location, culture and business are transforming where, when and how we work.

Workers are taking control of their work / life balance with traditional ‘nine to five’ commuting patterns changing. Employees are also seeking more control over the communications devices and applications they use.Big Mitel

There is also an interesting sub-trend involving the development of portfolio based careers.

These trends are confirmed by evidence from SMB Group about the changing use of business communication technologies with 92% of SMBs using at least one cloud solution, 60% saying that mobile solutions are critical and 86% using mobile applications.

Rob Charlton, CEO of Space Group said “As a company we are moving towards keeping and managing everything in the cloud…Whatever we need, whenever we need it, accessible from whichever device is most suitable and available at the time.”

Small and medium sized business today face the challenge of providing workers with flexibility while at the same time maximizing their productivity, controlling costs and ensuring that teams retain good interaction.

Stephen Tanner, Founder of OfficePOD Ltd commented “An organization cannot promote the idea of flexible working and merely cover the provision of a desk and a chair in a spare room. Employers have a duty to provide staff with the tools they need to work effectively and productively; this should include a suitable working environment, wherever that happens to be.”

To explore these issues further the team at global business communications vendor Mitel asked business users, leaders in innovation, architects, psychologists and human resource experts for their perspectives in four key areas:

• How technology trends are setting the agenda
• Next generation workplaces
• The impact of a global market
• Cultural changes and the impact on work.

To discover more insights download the full guide at http://www.mitel.com/knowledge-hub

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Born Again – IoT Evangelist (Part I of II)

Story by Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation - 

So where did I stray? I started my geek life as a young ham radio operator in Alaska. Yep – had to pass the test having memorized Morse code (kids won’t get that!). Then it was a software lifestyle and all that brought including a 15-year run with Small Business Server (SBS). All good.allseen seattle edited 1024

But lately, since the demise of SBS, myself and other SBSers have been lost in the wilderness, asking huge questions about the meaning of life and why are we here? We’ve lost a few brothers and systems along the way. But I’m here to say that I’ve been saved by the Internet of Things and you can too!

What led to my being saved by IoT? It was a simple email from Tcat. Many readers recall Tcat is a frequent SMB Nation speaker and author over the past ten years (“New Success Secrets” and “Success Teams”). But there’s more to the story. Tcat was on the original SBS development team in the mid/late-1990s at Microsoft Redmond and owned the early Internet Connection Wizard (ICW) that allowed you to select approved local ISPs for your (ekks) modem-based Internet connection. We become fast friends and have stayed in touch ever since. Tcat always seems to land on his feet whether he is living in Egypt, Mexico or Georgia (true stories).

Tcat’s email was simple. He was in Seattle at an IoT conference called AllSeen (hosted by the AllSeen Alliance). It was a next generation geekfest just a few blocks away and AllSeen had selected Seattle this year for its big show. So I strolled over at Tcat’s recommendation and obtained a press pass so I could attend and report back to my loyal readers.

Findings

Here is what I found.

• IoT is the next great thing with silly numbers ($1.9 trillion) in future economic impact.
• IoT is just starting. You can see it for yourself with disparate home electronics “parts” at HomeDepot that don’t talk to each other over a common standard.
• The show was, in my opinion, more enterprise players such as OEMs and service providers (e.g. large telecoms) trying to figure it all out.
• The IoT paradigm is being defined right now, so there is a spoils go to the early bird mentality (sign me up – early is good).
• We’re creating the IoT community as I write this. Think of this as 1998 in SBS-land when folks like Grey Lancaster started a SBS BBS (yikes…modem-based) inside a local school he served in South Carolina). This is your chance to say you were there at the start and I’d encourage you to look into the IoT-friendly trade association Electronics Technicians Association- International (ETA) [http://www.eta-i.org/] which has served as an above reproach accredited vendor-neutral entity since 1978. (More on ETA in a future blog). Seen in the pic below is Joe Maher from the ETA (center) and Tcat (right).

eta and tcat 1024

                                                        Enjoying networking after the Seattle AllSeen conference.

Community Correlations

So what’s it all mean for the stereotypical tired old male SBSer, who won’t sell anything (according to old school SMB vendors LOL)? It’s a second chance. Most SMB Nation readers were born as geeks and will be buried as geeks. This is your chance to be born again, return to your roots, get your geek on and tinker and toil on the next great thing. Welcome home!

PS – That cool chick in the cover pic? That’s Tenaya Hurst @LininoWoman at the Seattle AllSeen conference. She’s one of us!

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How to know who visited your Facebook Profile

Story by Evans - 

Facebook is the largest social platform on the internet with over one billion users with more than 1/4 of its users active daily. It is very important to know who has been visiting your profile. Everyone would want to know who visited their profile but there isn’t such a feature on facebook that shows who visited your facebook profile.Viewed Facebook

I have find out an easy way to find out who visited your facebook profile to make you track those that have been visiting your profile and your stalkers. It’s very easy as it involves only a few steps. Please be informed that I am teaching this for people to know who mostly visit their profile and I’m not intending to promote any bad thing or product.

How to find out who visited my Faceboook Profile.

Let’s get started

1 Log into your Facebook account and visit your profile
2.Right click on your timeline and select open view page source. You will be taken to a new page
3. Here, Press CTLR+F and a new dailogue box will open on the right corner of your screen
4. Search for the word “Initialchatfriendslist”. without quotation marks
5. You will now see numerous ids which are nothing but only profile ids of those who visited your facebook profile
Identification numbers of those who visited your Facebook profile are the figures right before the “-0”, “-1”, “-2”, or “-3”. For example, “100003206416069-2” 100003206416069 <-This is the identification number of the person that visited my facebook profile.

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AVG Restructuring SMB Business, Laying Off 35

avg antivirus logo 3216Story by Scott Bekker - 

AVG Technologies is restructuring its managed service provider-centric SMB business division and laying off 35 employees as the unit struggles to meet the company's overall growth goals.

"As we discussed in the last earnings call, our expectation of the uptake of our cloud-based services was not where we wanted it to be as a result of our existing customers' commitment to our traditional on-premise product," said Gary Kovacs, CEO and managing director, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of AVG's third-quarter earnings call Wednesday.
"To fix this, we have taken specific actions to improve our go-to-market strategy, including a significant restructuring and streamlining of the business and further simplification of our products to make it even easier for our resellers to go out with our products to serve their end customers' needs. These restructuring and leadership changes, we believe, will put us in the right position to capitalize on a large and growing opportunity," he said.

CFO John Little explained the restructuring would include "releasing approximately 35 employees," outsourcing a portion of the help desk and restructuring the management of the division. Little said the moves would save about $3 million over the next 12 months.

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Tech boom drives Seattle to become fourth richest city in U.S.

In this East Coast vs. West Coast battle, it looks like the West Coast is winning.

Story by Molly Brown - 

According to a review of data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bloomberg found that the tech boom is shifting the richest cities in America to the West Coast. Three out of the top five land here with San Jose topping the charts.Seattle

Bridgeport, Conn., an ultra-wealthy suburb outside New York City where many in finance live, comes in No. 2, but San Francisco and Seattle follow, with Boston rounding out the top five.

Bloomberg looked at the nation’s 100 largest metro areas to crunch the numbers to see which city had the “highest output per resident” in 2014.

Apparently, tech is the new gold rush, with the gross metropolitan product, or GMP per capita in Silicon Valley at $105,482 — which Bloomberg cites is “more than double the national average.”

Seattle’s GMP came in at $75,874, but our neighbor to the south, Portland, is also seeing a large jump.

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Slack's Stewart Butterfield says email is 'the cockroach of the internet' and we'll be living with it for the next 30 years

Story by Jim Edwards - 

Anyone who has used Slack — the chatroom app for teams in workplaces — will tell you that it has one massive positive side effect on your working life: It reduces the amount of internal email you receive from your colleagues.Cockroach

Once your company is on Slack, gone are the reply-all emails where someone just says "Thanks!" Those crushing inboxes full of dozens, hundreds or thousands of unread emails, seem so much less urgent when your company is on Slack.

And you've probably also noticed that the Slack mobile app has a superior direct-messaging experience compared with many consumer apps that only do messages.

But Slack founder Stewart Butterfield, speaking at Web Summit in Dublin on Tuesday, said those of you hoping that Slack will kill off email altogether might have a long wait.

"Email will be the cockroach of the internet," he said, when asked whether Slack will kill email. "I think we've got another 30 or 40 years of email left."

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10 Great Apps Every Leader Needs to Be Effective

BY SHAWN MURPHY, CEO and founder, Switch & Shift - 

It's not enough for twenty-first-century leaders to focus on getting things done. They must also connect with employees to inspire performance. Digging deeper, top management today needs to marry purpose and meaning to each employee's contribution. Amid these expectations, and these are but a handful, it's easy for a leader to overlook herself.Apps

A leader depleted of energy is no good to anyone. Turning to digital for solutions, the list below recommends apps to help you be more effective in your life professionally and personally.

The recommended apps are broken down into six categories to increase your leadership effectiveness.

Personal Growth: Deepen your skills through personal development
Communication: Increase clarity, awareness, and understanding within your team
Productivity: Get more done and have energy left to be who you need to be to people important in your life
Inspiration: Know how and why to inspire people
Creativity: Add fulfillment in your work through creating solutions to business problems
Collaboration: Strengthen how you get things done through others. Work is a team sport.

1. Personal Growth

The Leadership Challenge: Hands down the best leadership app out there. Developed by the authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner and based on their best-selling book of the same name, this app gives you tangible actions to grow your leadership according to five leadership practices: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, Encourage the Heart. Excellent app if you want to grow as a leader.

Igniter: There's a saying, "Know what you stand for, or you'll fall for anything." To accomplish the first part of the saying, you need to know what your personal values are. Igniter, from Luck Companies, takes you through an automated process of identifying your core personal values. You ought to know what you stand for. Values are your true north.

Day One: Keep track of what's important to you. Capture ideas. Record memories. Day One is a journaling app to help you develop a routine of reflection. The best leaders take time to reflect.

2. Communication

Slack: My team of seven is completely virtual. Rather than overwhelm email with small requests or updates, of which there are many in a day, we use Slack. Think of Slack as texting on steroids. You can sync many other apps to Slack: Dropbox and Drive, for example. Try /giphy for some fun. Decrease unnecessary meetings and emails. Free up time to focus on higher-value leadership actions.

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All these apps are really cool. You can get all these apps for free on tutuapp store. All paid applications are available here for... Read More
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How To "Suk" At Social Media: An Indispensable Guide For Businesses

Story by Avinash Kaushik - 

Facebook, at last count, has 1.5 billion monthly active users. YouTube has 1.2 billion users (watching 6 billion hours of videos!). Instagram has an estimated 400 million users.violets

Those are some big gigantic numbers!

I believe that every human with time to spare, and a connection to the web, should be on social media. The benefits are numerous. Facebook allows you to stay close to people you choose to. YouTube has democratized entertainment and education. Instagram allows you to express your creativity, and soak up expressions from others. Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, others have a role to play as well.

Humans, check.

But, what about businesses? Companies small and big? In India or Japan or the United States?

It comes down to two important questions: 1. Do the big gigantic numbers imply that your business should use these social media channels? 2. If yes, should your participation be the same as regular humans?

I believe that we have never answered the first question. Businesses were told: "The numbers are HUGE!" The second question was never answered either, but because all businesses know is how to pimp that became their default strategy.

The assumption is: Big Social Audiences + Big Pimping = Big Social Profits.

Big mistake.

You know that of course because for your business, after five solid years of investment, this has not proven to be true. Even the people who powered your investment in Social Media, the Gurus, have, reluctantly, accepted this reality.

I believe that it was erroneous not to answer the two questions above, it was erroneous to be tempted by the Big Numbers and not understand how Social Media channels actually worked (streams, home pages, personalization, rankings and more).

So, let's fix that error.

In this post let's look at each Social Network, see what B2B and B2C brands are doing there today, from that draw lessons as to 1. if your business should be on that network and 2. if yes, what should your content (and marketing) strategy be.

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Don't connect with everyone on LinkedIn

Story by Steven Petrow - 

My column of two weeks ago (“Don’t make this mistake on LinkedIn”) drew lots of ire from some readers, not to mention a whole new crop of questions about conduct on LinkedIn. That column focused on what I called “inappropriate” or “bad” LinkedIn behavior, and I think it resonated so strongly because, as Peter Vincent, vice president of human rescources at the Audubon Society, told me: “LinkedIn is such a critical element in career management.”LinkedIn

Half a dozen readers specifically asked about a LinkedIn “mistake” of another kind, which is well-represented by this email:

“I quit LinkedIn because if you hit the wrong button in LinkedIn -- something related to Search for connections -- Linked In will automatically send an invitation to EVERYONE IN YOUR CONTACT LIST!!! Imagine: people you fired, people who fired you, ex-spouses and lovers, the guy you owe money to, your cable company, your proctologist, your kid's teachers -- you get the idea. LinkedIn's behavior in this regard is extremely arrogant, insulting, and embarrassing.”

As it turns out, a number of threads exist about this very topic on the LinkedIn site, including “LinkedIn automatically invited my entire contact list” and “People complaining I’ve sent invites to them but I didn’t.

One user posted his advice: “Beware hasty button-clicking! As pointed out elsewhere in this thread, [LinkedIn] standard practice is to use [a confusing user interface] to get users to do things they don't intend to do. For example, to NOT invite somebody you SELECT their name, and to invite somebody you DE-SELECT.”

Does that sound confusing? Well, it does because it is. In a nutshell, let’s say you have 500 names among your contacts and you want to send invites to 50. To do that, you would need to “deselect” 450. This is neither intuitive – nor easy.

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Sun Tan Effect: Seattle Startup Week

Story By Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation - 

 When a conference concludes, you leave on a natural high. That’s called the sun tan effect and lasts a few weeks post-event. You know the feeling. You’re psyched to implement what you learned, but then like a sun tan, the glow fades a few weeks later. So I write this as I am sporting a sun tan from last week’s Seattle Startup Week (tan in rainy Seattle?). Unfortunately, I only participated on the last day (Friday, October 30th) as I was unaware of the event (scary) and learned of it when colleague Dona Keating posted up a Facebook notice that she was speaking mid-day Friday.

pic1seattlestartupweek 1024

So I went to the event site (seattle.startupweek.co) and registered for free immediately. I did this so I could get in the loop. In essence, my registration will allow me to receive future updates. But my registration was also a lead for the sponsors. The primary sponsor is Chase, a financial institution underwriting the lion’s share of the event costs (more on that in a moment). For its sponsorship, Chase would have received over 3,000 leads (the total number of sign-ups) who attended over 170+ sessions sprinkled across Seattle, from October 26 - October 30. To be honest, it was an event and I learned from one of the 13 event managers that it’s held in 50-cities annually (like the Three Day Walk in a different realm). That would suggest that Chase is likely gathering around 150,000 leads for its sponsorship. I’d offer the leads are qualified, targeted and of high value to Chase trying to sell small business banking services.

pic2seattlestartupweek edited 1024

Melanie Gass (Microsoft) and Pat Murphy (LeadScorz, a start-up) talking business.

From an analytical point of view, I noticed a correlation to the SMB Nation “crowd” we know and love in that we’re small business owners and ergo, entrepreneurs. But that’s where it ends. The Seattle Startup Week audience was significantly younger and far more likely to explore new business opportunities far afield from the on-premises Small Business Server paradigm and even Office 365. This is the millennial crowd working in co-worker open spaces. These 20-somethings are very smart and focused on the new-new such as a mobile app to find uber movers. Needless to say, I was impressed and I will repeat.

So given I was a “Johnny-come-lately” to the event, exactly what sessions did I attend? Full disclosure: the Friday afternoon reception and the Friday night Halloween Party. Next year I’ll actually go to lecture, LOL.

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Mr. Shuey Goes to Washington

Story by Jeff Shuey - 

With apologies to Jimmy Stewart for co-opting his classic movie title. This week I went to Washington, DC to meet with my Senate and Congressional representatives. However, it wasn’t just me. There were about 50 people from the Microsoft partner ecosystem covering quite a few states. Many of us are also part of our local IAMCP chapters and a lot of us are also SMB’s.dc vfi visit dept of commerce jeff shuey sitting in the chait waiting for dpty secy

The Voices for Innovation team coordinated the efforts and helped make sure we were ready to meet with our representatives. I’d like to thank Jonathan Friebert and Maddie Orser of Microsoft for putting all the pieces together and for bringing great speakers from Microsoft as well as from industry and governmental agencies.

What does this mean for the SMB Nation?

It’s simple. Microsoft is putting their best foot forward and is Fighting for Your Rights. We focused on seeking support for the LEADS Act – which emphasizes Privacy. You can find more on the VFI website or search for S.512 and H.R.1174.

What Can You Do?

The call to action is simple. Get involved. Search for apps on your mobile device using the term “Congress” and if you are a Windows Phone user this is a great app – Informed American. Connect with your representative’s in-person –in DC if possible and in your home town. They do want to hear from you.

Follow the VFI team on Twitter @VFIorg and on Facebook.

I’d like to reiterate my thanks to Microsoft and the Voices for Innovation team.

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Ten Killer Features in Windows 10 / SMB Nation Webinar!

Sign up today! SMB Nation Webinar 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM PDT. Thursday, November 5th

Presented by: Harry Brelsford CEO of SMB Nation & Grant Thompson Founding Partner of MG Technology Group

This session will take you through what’s best in Windows 10. Expert Grant Thompson will filter out the “noise” so customers receive “signal” and are immediately productive at the end of this one hour investment.windows 10 logo

Discover:
01. The Start button (Yah!)
02. Windows Store Apps
03. Cortana
04. Edge Browser
05. Virtual desktops/Task View
06. Action Center
07. Core Apps – Revamped and Revised!
08. Xbox….yes….Xbox!
09. Continuum (not the RMM company – a touchscreen-ism)
10. Unified Settings - sorta

Be sure to invite your customers to show them how the Windows 10 solutions can help them operate more efficiently and empower them to grow their business.

Also remember since your customers are attending, you can register this event with Microsoft Community Connections and receive giveaway software and materials.

Registrationhttps://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1312087581753858

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Canonical Announces OpenStack Cloud App Store for Ubuntu Linux

App store will work on all Ubuntu systems, whether they are bare-metal or virtualized and support private and public clouds

Story by CHRISTOPHER TOZZI - 

Canonical is launching yet another app store for Ubuntu Linux. Unlike its great, late desktop-oriented predecessor, however, this one is focused on the OpenStack cloud, with apps delivered via Juju.Ubuntu

Ubuntu founder and former CEO Mark Shuttleworth announced the new app store at the OpenStack Summit this week in Tokyo. The platform will provide a way for people running Ubuntu-based OpenStack clouds to install cloud applications via Juju and Horizon, the web-based management interface for OpenStack.

The app store will work on all Ubuntu systems, whether they are bare-metal or virtualized. It also supports private and public clouds alike.

This isn’t Canonical’s first foray into app stores. The company ran a similar system for desktop-based versions of Ubuntu, called the Ubuntu Software Center, for years until announcing last summer it was shutting it down to focus on mobile app delivery for Snappy Ubuntu Core.

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Microsoft Aces Antivirus Test

In past years, Microsoft has brought up the rear in many antivirus tests, sometimes earning a below-zero score. AAA certification from Dennis Labs suggests that Microsoft's antivirus is coming out of its slump.

Story by NEIL J. RUBENKING - 

For years, Microsoft's antivirus has been the sad sack in antivirus tests. Several labs have taken to calling Microsoft's performance a baseline. If you can't beat the baseline, you're doing something wrong. That trend seems to be changing, though. In the latest test results reported by AV-Test Institute, Microsoft earned a respectable 14 points (out of a possible 18). That's a lot better than its previous score of 9.5 points; 10 points is the minimum to pass this test.

480105 microsoft wayIt seems that Microsoft is on a roll. Dennis Technology Labs certifies antivirus products at a number of different levels: AAA, AA, A, B, and C. For the first time, Microsoft managed AAA certification.

Real-Life Malware

The researchers at Dennis Labs search for websites hosting drive-by downloads and other types of attacks. They capture the entire contents of each attack page and use a playback system to expose each antivirus to precisely the same attack. This kind of testing is quite labor-intensive. Dennis Labs typically evaluates nine or 10 products, where AV-Test and AV-Comparatives include over 20.

An antivirus product that detects the launch of malware and neutralizes the malicious process gets one point. If it also removes all executable traces of the malware, that's worth another point. For the best scenario, when the antivirus completely prevents execution of malware, three points are awarded.

Points go both ways, though. If the malware slips past the antivirus and runs rampant on the test system, that takes away five points. In past years, Microsoft frequently wound up with a below-zero total score.

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An Agile Approach to Business Intelligence, Big Data

Story by Angela Guess

Robert Bates recently wrote for IT Pro Portalag, “In order to implement ‘open data’ practices across a business and improve data flow that can result in better and faster analysis a cultural change needs to take place as well as a technological one. The most important change that needs to be instilled is transitioning the whole business, not just the data insights team, to adopt an agile approach to ways of working. Originating from software development, the principles that make up an agile working methodology can benefit all business areas.”

Bates goes on, “These principles include: Active user involvement; The empowerment for all employees to make decisions; Requirements evolve but timelines are fixed; Make small changes to test and then adapt as necessary; Focus on frequent delivery of products; Complete each feature/task before moving to the next; Adoption of Pareto’s Law (80/20) for efficiency and productivity; Test early and often; Collaborate and cooperate across all stakeholders.”

He continues, “While some of these principles may require slight amendment depending on the team or business unit that they are being applied to, using these as a base, teams can instil more efficient and productive ways of working, particularly in regards to the way they look at data, make requests for insight and apply business intelligence to projects. From a technology standpoint, in order to deliver BI that can quickly adapt to the changing needs of the business a new approach to how data is delivered is required. A new concept that is gaining traction in the business world is viewing data delivery as akin to a supply chain. Currently this is not how most data is accessed and delivered.”

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How to thrive in the coming tech gig economy

Story by Paul Heltzel

The rise of contract and contingent work is shaking up the traditional IT career path. Here’s how to navigate for success.

Disruptive technologies do more than shake up markets -- they drastically alter the way we work. And it’s not only nonstop cost cutting that has businesses favoring IT contractors they can bring on -- or scale back -- as necessary without paying benefits. Emerging platforms, in particular around the cloud, have many organizations shifting their staffing models toward project-based, contingent work in hopes of landing the key skills necessary for their businesses to stay competitive in a constantly evolving technical landscape.agile business maneuver stressed overworked 100613656 primary.idge

In short, the days of decades-long careers in corporate environments may be dwindling for many IT pros, and while millennials coming of age in tomorrow’s gig-based tech employment market may be attracted to the idea of remote work for multiple clients -- as can be seen by the growth of co-working environments -- not everyone is prepared to embrace a nomadic future of career contingency.

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Building a Profitable and Scalable Cloud Business / SMB Nation Webinar

Sign up today! SMB Nation Webinar 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM PDT. Friday, Oct 30th

Presented by: Harry Brelsford CEO of SMB Nation and Dan Shapero Founder of CLIKCLOUD Digital Marketing

In today’s ever-changing business landscape, cloud computing is profoundly shifting the way businesses operate. As more SMBs are moving to a cloud-based strategy, new growth opportunities are opening up for channel partners seeking a competitive advantage in the channel.clikCloudlogo2

This session will examine the latest trends impacting SMBs and how they present unique opportunities for channel partners.
Attendees will learn:
● Learn how leveraging Office 365, among other best practices can help build a successful cloud business.
● Gain exclusive IDC research on the latest trends fueling channel success in cloud.
● Explore how leading Cloud Service Providers are capitalizing on Cloud as a “Door Opener”.
● Discover ways to recalibrate your sales compensation to support the Cloud business model.
● Learn about exclusive offers for to help partners implement Microsoft SureStep and Modern Marketing Programs.

Registration Link > https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/46816475679947778

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The Best Streaming Services For Your Halloween Horror Movie Binge

Story by Glenn Dunks - 

Have you started your annual Halloween horror purge? October is the month to indulge your fright bone, and with All Hallows Eve falling on a Saturday this year, you’ve got a big last weekend to prepare full of things that go bump in the night before you’re considered once more to be a weirdo for watching all those horror movies all the time.horror

You’ve got one less thing to fear though, because we’ve scoured the online streaming services and picked the best scary flicks should you choose to partake. So make some popcorn, turn off the lights, and settle in for a scary movie.

Netflix

Is the granddaddy of streaming services on the Halloween bandwagon? Well, not as much as you might hope. You’d be hard-pressed to recognise about half of the movies on offer on the company’s Australian platform. Not even I had heard of Fred 2: Night of the Living Fred (2011), Playback (2012), Sxtape (2013) or Preservation (2015).

Best of the Best: Obviously some people have kids, so if you’re looking for kid-friendly then Netflix offers Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark? You’ll get some wonderful 1990s nostalgia – Ryan Gosling pre-photoshopped sex beefcake! – plus the best parents teach their kids it’s okay to be scared.

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Defining the 'I' In Small Business CIO

Story by Tom Flynn - 

Big data and analytics market growth is far outpacing overall IT market growth, and that means the need for IT professionals who know what to do with the piles of data collected by businesses is growing just as fast. In fact, the McKinsey Global Institute predicts as many as 190,000 data scientist positions in the United States will remain unfilled by 2018. On top of that, some 1.5 million managers and analysts will lack the skills to understand and make decisions based on big data analysis.Big Data

“To capture the full economic potential of big data, companies and policy makers will have to address the talent gap,” McKinsey says. Otherwise, there will be a lot of unfilled potential in U.S. businesses to leverage big data and analytics to hone processes, develop new products, accelerate go-to-market strategies and measure customer sentiment.

The sector most likely to suffer from this skills shortage is the SMB market, which typically lacks the resources to vie for talent against large, deep-pockets competitors. For organizations in that situation, the answer could be to partner with a managed services provider (MSP)--one that delivers easy-to-use data analytics tools that enable SMBs to compete at the level of the big players.

And the time to act is now, since the big data and analytics market is poised to grow at a 26 percent yearly rate to $41.5 billion in 2018, six times faster than the overall IT market, according to IDC projections. That means if you can’t figure out how to leverage data analytics soon, others surely will – and some of them might just eat your lunch.

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Google Sucks at Naming Stuff

Story by Eric Ravenscroft -

Yesterday, Google announced YouTube Red. Google, blissfully unaware of what goes on in Incognito Mode, apparently thought that this was a good name for a service. It is not the first time that Google has made flagrantly terrible choices in naming stuff.Google

As a brand itself, Google is pretty great. The name is distinct, it’s become synonymous with search, and the company has even managed to convey a distinct identity of whimsy, curiosity, and experimentation. Which is why it’s pretty frustrating that every single time Google announces the name of a new product, it’s either a generic English word with “Google” slapped on the front, or it’s a weird name that makes no damn sense.

Google Now Is an Awful Name for a Great ProductGoogle now

Google is the only company that hasn’t tried to personify its voice assistant. And I’m okay with that. Siri, Cortana, and Alexa are all nice, but I’m not going to be upset if my phone doesn’t get sassy when I ask it to divide zero by zero. But I almost wish that Google did give Google Now a persona so it wasn’t so stupidly difficult to talk about it.

For starters, Google still hasn’t really clarified what Google Now is. Initially, it seemed that “Google Now” referred to the page of cards that attempted to guess what information you wanted at any given moment. However, it now seems that Google’s collection of voice commands is included in “Google Now.” Or is that part of something called Ok Google, as this help page seems to indicate? Google used to have a separate product called Voice Actions, but that’s now the name of Google’s framework for third-party developers to add voice commands to Google. Maybe Google’s voice actions have no name. But if that’s the case, then Google’s entire personal assistant product has no name at all. Which would be really silly, since the voice commands are way more useful than Google Now cards.

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Information Builders Banking On Channel Partners For SMB Push

Story by Rick Whiting - 

Business intelligence software developer Information Builders is making a major push into the SMB arena with its WebFocus Express business intelligence software. And it's relying heavily on its expanding channel operations to make that happen.

CRNLast month Information Builders made it official that WebFocus Express is available through its channel network via distributor Arrow Electronics' Enterprise Computing Solutions business. But the New York-based company has been working with its growing roster of channel partners for some time to bring the Express product to SMB customers.

"We are very happy to see [Information Builders] investing more heavily in its channel efforts in the SMB market," said Arun Gollapudi, CEO of Systech Solutions, a Glendale, Calif.-based solution provider that focuses on information management and analytics services.

[Related: 2015 Big Data 100: Business Analytics]

Systech has worked with Information Builders for many years, largely concentrating on providing its flagship WebFocus business intelligence software to large businesses. But now the solution provider is one of a growing number of channel partners riding the company's SMB push and new WebFocus Express to reach new opportunities.

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6 ways startups can *think different* with customer service

Story by Leyla Seka, Desk.com - 

Startups are known for creative thinking, trying new things, doing things differently. Yet they often fall prey to a fundamental mistake: forgetting to serve the customer. It’s not easy to launch a product, manage everything from IT to accounting, fend off the competition, and grow a customer base — all at the same time — so it’s hardly surprising that half of small businesses fail within the first five years. At Desk.com, we work with many fast-growing startups, so we’ve learned a lot about the journey. Here are six ways some of those amazing companies are using customer support to ‘think different’ and beat the competition.happy customer 1

1. Make every employee an agent
Startups have no time for specialized roles. Every employee — from the CEO to the receptionist — must be part of your support team. When everyone spends time on the frontlines, it’s easier to stay aligned around customers and maintain service levels when things get busy. (And nothing helps you understand the ins-and-outs of a product like answering service calls.) Just look at Charitybuzz, which brings together celebrities and top brands for auctions supporting nonprofits. “Every interaction that we have with celebrities, charities, bidders, and auction winners needs to be amazing,” says Dwayne David, a Charitybuzz Customer Service Manager. So while the company has an official concierge team of three, everyone jumps in to help during the busy times.

2. Offer wicked-fast response times
Customer service has come a long way since the old days, when you had to call a company between 9-5 Eastern Standard Time to get help. Most companies today offer a knowledge base or basic self-service so customers can find answers 24/7, but of course, sometimes customers still need to reach a living, breathing person. Get a customer service solution that’s easy to use and optimized for mobile so you have consistently fast response times. HotelTonight offers last-minute hotel reservations for busy travelers who crave efficiency; a response time of < 10 minutes (incredible!) has been a key driver of the company’s explosive growth.

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Check-in: Intel Channel Alliance

By Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation - 

SMB Nation was present with bells on at the October 7-8 Channel Alliance Summit led by Frank Raimondi, down in Portland at “The Farm.” We caught up with Intel Vice President Todd Garrigues, who carved out a few minutes to discuss the Intel Partner Program. “My focus is on North America.” Garrigues shared. “There is a strong focus on helping grow a healthy diverse channel. We’ll look to continue growth and activity in client/server, IOT, verticals and segments. And we’ll be promoting a focus on technology trends.”logo intel

For the record, there are two types of partners in North America (which Garrigues reported numbers 24,000 members of whom 4,000 are actively engaged). The two types are (1) System Builders and (2) Branded Resellers/VARs/MSPs that have a focus on branded goods.

One interesting area of conversation included specialties. Garrigues communicated that there is a specialty program that provided training and recognition in the following areas: Education, Internet of Things (IOT), and High Performance Computing (HPC).

We ended our chat with Garrigues offering words of encouragement to focus on verticals that can enable channel partners to be successful. One example is retail with an emphasis on digital signage and mobile point-of-sale (POS).

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Microsoft Unveils New Windows 10 Devices, Surface Book

By Jeffrey Schwartz, Redmond Channel Partner Magazine - 

Microsoft showcased its own new hardware products for Windows 10 at a recent New York event.

Inviting media, analysts and Windows Insiders, the company rolled out two new Lumia phones, an upgrade to its Surface Pro line and the company's debut into the high-end laptop market with the new Surface Book. The hardware rollouts put some metal around Windows 10, which originally launched back in July.windows 10 logo

Microsoft described today's product launches as the "beginning of a new era" for Windows. The company also will support upcoming product rollouts by its key OEM partners, including Dell, Hewlett Packard, Acer, Asus, Fujitsu, Panasonic, LG and Toshiba.

The biggest surprise was the introduction of the new 13.5-inch Surface Book. It's a convertible laptop and tablet that Microsoft officials claim can run 12 hours on a single charge and is two times more powerful than a MacBook Pro. "It redefines everything you would expect in a laptop," said Panos Panay, Microsoft's Surface VP, describing it as "the ultimate laptop" too many times to count.

The Surface Book starts at $1,499 for an i5-based system using the new Intel Core 6 processor with 8GB of RAM and scales up to an i7-based system with 16GB of RAM and a 1TB drive, both supporting optional Nvidia GPUs. The Surface Book is targeted at artists, engineers and gamers who require significant processing power. When the top part is removed from the keyboard to function as a "clipboard," it weighs 1.6 pounds; with the keyboard, it weighs 3.5 pounds. The device has a 13.5-inch 10 point multitouch PixelSense display that renders up to 6 million pixels at 267DPI, Panay said. "There's nothing close to it," he said. A new Surface Pen supports 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity. "If you look at a photo on it, it will look real, if you look at a video it'll immerse you," Panay said. The top-end system will cost a hefty $2,699.

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Microsoft Talks Up SharePoint Server's Hybrid Future

By Kurt Mackie, October 21, 2015, from Redmond Channel Partner Magazine - 

Future SharePoint developments will focus on enabling organizations to deploy "hybrid" SharePoint architectures, according to a recent talk by a senior Microsoft executive.

According to Mark Kashman, a Microsoft senior product manager on the SharePoint team, Microsoft is building SharePoint with end user productivity, as enabled via Office 365 services, in mind. Kashman gave the keynote at the SPTechCon Boston 2015 event this past August (a video is now available on demand here).sharepoint logo

Such hybrid SharePoint architectures, per Microsoft's definition, consist of SharePoint Server 2013 Service Pack 1 or the forthcoming SharePoint Server 2016 product running in an organization's datacenter. The server gets integrated with Office 365 services, which are run by Microsoft from its own "cloud" datacenters. This hybrid approach will support the new end user productivity technologies being envisioned by Microsoft.

In an earlier talk at the SPBiz Conference, Kashman had explained how past SharePoint Server products always had some cloud roots. Microsoft's current development strategy coming from CEO Satya Nadella is "mobile first, cloud first." Per that approach, Microsoft is using learnings from its massively scaled Office 365 cloud services to improve SharePoint Online first, as well as its forthcoming SharePoint Server 2016 product. Specifically, Microsoft is integrating new Office 365 services, such as Delve, Clutter and Groups, into both the SharePoint Online service, as well as SharePoint Server 2016. The integration effort is closing the gap between the on-premises and online products, providing for a more consistent code base, Kashman explained back then.

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Sasquatch + Slack Webinar Series: Hello World! (1 of 3)

By Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation

Join the Queen of Lean as she introduces Sasquatch, the Slack companion application that transforms chat into workflow. In this introductory session, you will discover how you can use Sasquatch + Slack to run your MSP and CSP. Read more at http://idea2.com/sasquatch-slack.More importantly, you will learn about Slack and why it is the fastest growing enterprise software on the planet. Yes – you too can be a Sasquatch Slack Consultant to your SMB customers as a new service -- and it's easier than you think. Join this story-telling session to learn how Barry and Bonnie learn how to pivot their internal MSP and CSP operations using the dynamic duo -- Sasquatch + Slack.

This webinar is October 15, 2015 at Noon (12:00pm – Pacific = UTC-7)
Sign-up here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4668626796890831361

Webinar Series
#1: How Barry and Bonnie transform their customer experience with Sasquatch + Slack
#2: Adding Sasquatch + Slack to your services portfolio
#3: Sasquatch + Slack custom solutions

Hosted by Grace Schroeder. CEO of Idea2.comgrace2
"Product/marketing professional with expertise in product launch and sales management systems in Financial Services and Telecommunications industries. Grace is now the CEO of Idea2 LTD, a business that builds custom CRM applications with an emphasis on third party application integrations. Competing with “out of the box” CRM solutions like Salesforce, Idea2’s custom cloud platforms are built 10x faster and at a fraction of the cost of custom development. With this, companies are able to connect their core platforms with current and future third party apps. Idea2 combines all of the elements of a developer platform, custom applications, and harmonious integrations that efficiently share data and workflow."

+ Harry Brelsford (you already know him!)
This webinar is October 15, 2015 at Noon (12:00pm – Pacific = UTC-7)
Sign-up here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4668626796890831361

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Fall Ahead! Office 365 Conference Wrap-Up

wp 20151004 12 18 28 proStory by Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation

I’ve escaped again. The post-Fall collapse that has afflicted my amazingly hard working staff has them taking a week off to recharge. But I’m online and ready, able and willing to report to you how the 13th annual Fall Conference changed.

Student / Teach Ratio

If the mark of a good educational experience is small classroom size so you get the teacher’s attention, I’d offer our 300-person show (in-person and online) is right where we want it. I repeatedly heard how meaningful conversations were cultivated in our three-day “Jam Session” format. Craving anonymity? Then we’re the wrong conference and I’d suggest you consider DreamForce held just before our event in San Francisco with over 115,000 attendees LOL! We’re good for making connections surrounding targeted content that this year included Office 365, Azure and Windows 10.

Disturbing and Disruptive Content

One of our speakers, Karl Palachuk, who always seems to be everywhere, likes to often repeat one of my keynote lines that conferences should be disturbing and disruptive. Hopefully we met our goals in spades there. The technical content, always the most well attended sessions, was delivered from a non-blue badge independent vantage point. Our technical content, led by Robert Crane and Grant Thompson, is our core asset in the SMB technology event field populated by one-day money-makers and booty shakers (you know who you are). The business content that I directed is a whole ‘nother story. My belief, as a weekend conference, is that the business track should be viewed as a three-day Executive MBA retreat. I specifically write content that is focused like an academic major, in this case Lead Generation/Management/Scoring. So over our long weekend you are immersed into a single topic that I don’t think is being well covered in other venues. For example – we went deep into predictive lead scoring. Boom!

I certainly didn’t make any friends with my keynote. In my sermon, I shared research I’ve conducted over the summer gathering facts from numerous sources such as extensive vendor interviews, reading research reports and talking with MSPs and CSPs. Invoking a fire-and-brimstone delivery method, I revealed the declining IT value chain. Work that MSPs and CSPs used to perform for $5.00 can now be accomplished automatically for a net cost of $0.50. So, I preached that you must repent and CUT COSTS because you can’t increase revenues fast enough. Cloud changes everything, and is causing a fundamental reset. You must terminate your staff of $100K server-side MCSEs and use cheaper faster contractors from WorkMarket or Odesk to perform the monkey work. SkyKick affirmed some but not all of my thinking in its keynote where it presented a pathway to recurring revenues. I guess that’s a nicer way of having this conversation than my fire everyone on Monday mantra.

Did I mention that conferences should be disturbing and disruptive?

What Others Are Saying

Our publishing partner Channel Pro covered the event here and Rich Freeman made the following, very well-written contribution: http://www.channelpronetwork.com/article/smb-nation-2015-spend-less-sell-more-survive-cloud?utm_source=cpdirect&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=cpdirect10082015

Channel Pro also had a fly-by post-up concerning the conference here: http://www.channelpronetwork.com/news/smb-nation-2015-taking-place-redmond

Robert Crane, one of our leading speakers, opined here: http://blog.ciaops.com/2015/10/office-365-nation-wrap-up.html

Should there be another Fall conference next year?

The beautiful thing about a digital life is that we can solicit your feedback very quickly. Years ago, when Apple bailed on MacWorld, the CEO of IDG held a community meeting at the event seeking input about the future of the show. I’m doing the same using different tactics. My talented staff at SMB Nation can continue to add value to the community in a variety of ways. But is a three-day destination conference the proper way to achieve this goal? (Contrast it with having a traveling one-day road show, as an example.) Lemme know!

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Look to the Sharepoint Ecosystem for Help Getting the most from Office 365

 by Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation

We’ve been talking a lot on O365 Nation about the financial and management benefits of moving to Office 365. Simply removing the internal infrastructure costs for Exchange can be a compelling reason for a business of any size to consider Office 365. That said, Office 365 is a service from Microsoft that offers so much more than a way to simplify the management of Exchange.help

Are you getting the full advantage?

One area that is currently underutilized by many Office 365 subscribers is the included SharePoint Online license. For example, a recent Radicati Group survey found that only 23% of respondents are using SharePoint Online.

SharePoint Online represents a transformational opportunity for many of today’s business and you should be taking a careful look at all the opportunities. Maybe you don’t have an intranet today or all your internal files are in a file share. Your current Office 365 license allows you to change all this.

So why aren’t more people using SharePoint Online?

Radicati states that the “hesitant majority of enterprises that aren't willing to move to [SharePoint Online is] because of user issues, existing architecture and data security.”

(Source for above: http://searchcontentmanagement.techtarget.com/news/4500245119/Migrating-to-SharePoint-Online-is-a-tale-of-two-realities )

In some areas these objections are tried and true challenges with SharePoint on-premises for which there is a well-established ecosystem of vendors focused. For example, AvePoint, Cryptzone, and Metalogix are just a few of the vendors focused on data migration, architecture and security problems.

So what about user issues? This is a newer area of focus for the Microsoft ecosystem, but promises to help overcome one of the last real stumbling blocks to better adoption of Office 365 across the enterprise.

Depending on your SharePoint Online needs, there is help for the user experience issues. For example, Beezy offers tools to enhance the collaboration user experience on Microsoft’s cloud stack. ShareGate is a vendor with roots in the data and site migration space that is differentiating itself on the SharePoint administrative experience across Office 365. Thirdly, there is Akumina, who is bringing their founders knowledge of the site management and content authoring experience and applying it to a new turn-key Office 365 intranet site that they say you’ll be able to use and manage without being a SharePoint expert.

So don’t hold back on getting the most out of your Office 365 investment. Just as with SharePoint on-premises, there are several ways you can address some of the most common gaps in what Microsoft delivers out of the box.

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Battle Tested – Sennheiser Headset in O365 UC Environment

For many, this is the brand that needs no introduction. Who can forget this German company with its yellow headphones in your youth, when you listened to the likes of the Allman Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, et al. I remember well, and Sennheiser headphones both revolutionized the listening experience and also kept family peace (so I didn’t play my rock-and-roll too loud).HarrySenn

Fast forward the movie and this well-respect brand associated with high-fidelity is not only alive and kicking but more relevant than ever. Sennheiser is now a major player in Unified Communications (UC) headsets. I’ve put the SD Pro1 to the test these past few weeks, and can report the following:

Supporting multiple call types. The ability to switch between my traditional Polycom VoIP phone and computer-based services like GoToMeeting and Skype is amazing. I can have my traditional calls via the SD Pro1 headset and my phone and then switch to Skype with push button ease for overseas clients. The “switching” has been flawless.

Range. Tested on the 20th floor of a busy downtown Seattle building, the range was impressive. I could migrate around the entire floor (even outside my leased office space) and once rode the elevator down, keeping the session alive until the 18th floor. That was unexpected.

Fidelity. The proof is in the ear of the customer. When using SD Pro1, I repeatedly asked how my sound quality was. I did this for two reasons. First, I wanted to know how well the SD Pro1 actually works. I’ve heard reactions from “fine” to “best ever.” Second, I wanted to practice what I preach. I’m so pissed off at people using UC solutions like Skype for Business and talking into their built-in laptop microphone. The sound quality for computer-based microphones sucks. I refuse to devolve about 15-years to poor quality VoIPy-like conversations. My point is that I’ve made a commitment to sound quality with Sennheiser and my entire staff is outfitted with the same. Stamp out poor sound quality in UC!

Music to my ears. Returning to my Sennheiser roots, I discovered I can listen to music while working and switch to incoming phone calls with ease. Using the online streaming capabilities of my laptop, I can listen to my beloved KEXP public radio (www.kexp.org) during the day. This hip station streams alternative music that keeps me calm and young at heart.

So find out for yourself if Sennheiser SD Pro1 allows you to step up to the next level with UC.

PS – Sennheiser is a sponsor at this weekend’s Fall conference in Redmond! Still time to join us in-person or via live streaming. Visit fall2015.smbnation.com.

by Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation

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Without a Web Hosting, Web Dev or Digital Marketing play, your practice may end up in the Doghouse

GoDaddyGoDaddyMarketing and IT — they’ve never been strange bedfellows, because, well, they’ve seldom been in bed together. In most organizations, they’ve slept in different rooms, if you know what I mean.

But here’s the thing: The terms of endearment have changed. Marketing has become so technology-driven, that you at least have to flirt with it. If you haven’t considered offering web hosting, website development, and other forms of digital marketing tools to your clients, you do so at your own peril.

This came to me as I reviewed the results of a just-released survey by RedShift Research sponsored by GoDaddy. It showed that a huge amount of money is sitting on the table among a still vast number of small businesses that have yet to take even the first, most basic step to get online with a simple website.

Getting them there may open the door more opportunities. “Companies that get online are likely to use other IT services,” GoDaddy SVP Steven Aldrich told me as we discussed the significance of the just-released survey.

Or as GoDaddy put it in announcing its findings:

“While those planning to build a website are as likely to telephone a customer as they are to email them, the survey found that those already with a website were twice as likely to communicate via email as to phone. That suggests that as these very small businesses get their own online presence, their communication practices will change, perhaps as they become more digitally sophisticated and their customer base grows.”

Note: Those “other services” extend beyond email. Digital marketing is on its way to becoming the next great imperative among all businesses, even including the very small ones (five employees or less) constituting the RedStart-GoDaddy survey universe.

Digital marketing is 90 percent technology-driven. Ergo, you, dear IT pro, will be an essential and trusted advisor on on this matter.

Let’s say you have a contract customer. Yes, you’re offering email, telephony, network management and monitoring. Great. But helping your customers with a website can also lead to a daisy chain of other related services — email marketing, marketing automation, live chat, reputation management, and a host of other related platforms.

This represents a huge potential opportunity. Consider: A surprising 59 percent businesses in the RedStart-GoDaddy survey didn’t have a website. Extrapolate: That means about 118 million small businesses need someone to help them get a Website — and then grow into other services.

And heaven help them if you don’t. Their competition promises to eat them alive. Look at these two other survey results:

59 percent of those respondents who already have a website say their business grew.
83 percent of small business owners who already own a website feel they have a competitive advantage over those without one.
Don’t write off those businesses without a website as hopelessly and forever behind the times. Of those surveyed, 55 percent said they intend to create a website in the next two years.

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One other note of interest about the GoDaddy survey: It exemplifies the extent to which the company has re-calibrated its strategy. Remember those racy Danika Patrick Super Bowl ads? Gone.

“We’re talking about GoDaddy to the customers we’ve always had,” Aldrich said. “Much of our advertising and marketing is about the day-to-day effort by small businesses to keep the lights on.

“So our creative has shifted away from the sensational to that small business struggle.”

And that to note as well because where small businesses are pained is exactly where you can most gain.

by Patrick Houston, Editor-in-Chief, SMB Nation

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