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.
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SMB Sunday Paper: May 15, 2022 Issue: 16-39

SMB Sunday Paper:
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May 15, 2022
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SMB Sunday Paper: May 8, 2022 Issue: 16-38

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May 8, 2022
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SMB Sunday Paper: May 1, 2022 Issue: 16-37

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May 1, 2022
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SMB Sunday Paper: Apr. 24, 2022 Issue: 16-36

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Apr. 24, 2022
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SMB Sunday Paper: Apr. 17, 2022 Issue: 16-35

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Apr. 17, 2022
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SMB Sunday Paper: Apr. 10, 2022 Issue: 16-34

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Apr. 10, 2022
Issue : 16-3

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SMB Sunday Paper: Apr. 3, 2022 Issue : 16-33

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Apr. 3, 2022
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SMB Sunday Paper: Mar. 27, 2022 Issue : 16-32

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Mar. 27, 2022
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SMB Sunday Paper: Mar. 20, 2022 Issue : 16-31

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Mar. 20, 2022
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SMB Sunday Paper: Mar. 13, 2022 Issue : 16-30

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Mar. 13, 2022
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SMB Sunday Paper: Mar. 6, 2022 Issue : 16-29

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Mar. 6, 2022
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SMB Sunday Paper: Feb. 27, 2022 Issue : 16-28

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Feb. 27, 2022
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SMB Sunday Paper: Feb. 20, 2022 Issue : 16-27

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Feb. 20, 2022
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SMB Sunday Paper: Feb. 13, 2022 Issue : 16-26

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Feb. 13, 2022
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SMB Sunday Paper: Feb. 6, 2022 Issue : 16-25

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Feb. 6, 2022
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SMB Sunday Paper: Jan. 30, 2022 Issue : 16-24

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Jan. 30, 2022
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SMB Sunday Paper: Jan. 23, 2022 Issue : 16-23

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Jan. 23, 2022
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SMB Sunday Paper: Jan. 16, 2022 Issue : 16-22

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Jan. 16, 2022
Issue : 16-22

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SMB Sunday Paper: Jan. 9, 2022 Issue : 16-21

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Jan. 9, 2022
Issue : 16-21

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SMB Sunday Paper: Dec. 12, 2021 Issue : 16-20

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Dec. 19, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: Dec. 12, 2021 Issue : 16-19

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Dec. 12, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: Dec. 5, 2021 Issue : 16-18

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Dec. 5, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: Nov. 21st, 2021 Issue : 16-17

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Nov. 21, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: Nov. 14th, 2021 Issue : 16-16

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Nov. 14, 2021
Issue : 16-16

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SMB Sunday Paper: Nov. 7th, 2021 Issue : 16-15

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Nov. 7, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: Oct. 31st, 2021 Issue : 16-14

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Oct. 31, 2021
Issue : 16-14

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SMB Sunday Paper: Oct. 24th, 2021 Issue : 16-13

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Oct. 24, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: Oct. 17th, 2021 Issue : 16-12

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Oct. 17, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: Oct. 10th, 2021 Issue : 16-11

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Oct. 10, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: Oct. 3rd, 2021 Issue : 16-10

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Oct. 3, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: Sept. 26th, 2021 Issue : 16-9

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Sept. 26, 2021
Issue : 16-9

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SMB Sunday Paper: Sept. 19th, 2021 Issue : 16-8

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Sept. 19, 2021
Issue : 16-8

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SMB Sunday Paper: Sept. 12th, 2021 Issue : 16-7

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Sept. 12, 2021
Issue : 16-7

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SMB Sunday Paper: Aug. 29th, 2021 Issue : 16-6

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Aug. 29, 2021
Issue : 16-6

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SMB Sunday Paper: Aug. 22nd, 2021 Issue : 16-5

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Aug. 22, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: Aug. 15th, 2021 Issue : 16-4

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Aug. 15, 2021
Issue : 16-4

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SMB Sunday Paper: Aug. 8th, 2021 Issue : 16-3

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Aug. 8, 2021
Issue : 16-3

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SMB Sunday Paper: Aug. 1st, 2021 Issue : 16-2

SMB Sunday Paper:
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Aug. 1, 2021
Issue : 16-2

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SMB Sunday Paper: July 25th, 2021 Issue : 16-1

 

SMB Sunday Paper:
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July 25, 2021
Issue : 16-1

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SMB Sunday Paper: July 18th, 2021 Issue : 15-49

SMB Sunday Paper:
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July 18, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: July 11th, 2021 Issue : 15-48

SMB Sunday Paper:
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July 11, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: June 27, 2021 Issue : 15-47

SMB Sunday Paper:
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June 27, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: June 20, 2021 Issue : 15-46

SMB Sunday Paper:
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June 20, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: June 6, 2021 Issue : 15-45

SMB Sunday Paper:
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June 13, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: June 6, 2021 Issue : 15-44

SMB Sunday Paper:
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June 6, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: May 23, 2021 Issue : 15-43

SMB Sunday Paper:
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May 23, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: May 16, 2021 Issue : 15-42

SMB Sunday Paper:
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May 16, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: May 9, 2021 Issue : 15-41

SMB Sunday Paper:
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May 9, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: May 2, 2021 Issue : 15-40

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May 2, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: April 25, 2021 Issue : 15-39

SMB Sunday Paper:
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April 25, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: April 18, 2021 Issue : 15-38

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April 18, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: April 11, 2021 Issue : 15-37

SMB Sunday Paper:
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April 11, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: March 28, 2021 Issue : 15-36

SMB Sunday Paper: March 28, 2021 Issue : 15-36

 

 

SMB Sunday Paper:
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March 28, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: March 21, 2021 Issue : 15-35

SMB Sunday Paper: March 21, 2021 Issue : 15-35

 

 

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March 21, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: March 14, 2021 Issue : 15-34

SMB Sunday Paper: March 14, 2021 Issue : 15-34

 

 

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March 14, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: March 7, 2021 Issue : 15-33

SMB Sunday Paper: March 7, 2021 Issue : 15-33

 

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March 7, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: Feb. 28, 2021 Issue : 15-32

SMB Sunday Paper: Feb. 28, 2021 Issue : 15-32

 

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Feb. 28, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: Feb. 21, 2021 Issue : 15-31

SMB Sunday Paper: Feb. 21, 2021 Issue : 15-31

 

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Feb. 21, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: Feb. 14, 2021 Issue : 15-30

SMB Sunday Paper: Feb. 14, 2021 Issue : 15-30

 

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Feb. 14, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: Feb. 7, 2021 Issue : 15-29

SMB Sunday Paper: Feb. 7, 2021 Issue : 15-29

 

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Feb. 7, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: Jan. 31, 2021 Issue : 15-28

SMB Sunday Paper: Jan. 31, 2021 Issue : 15-28

 

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Jan 31, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: Jan. 24, 2021 Issue : 15-27

SMB Sunday Paper: Jan. 24, 2021 Issue : 15-27

 

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Jan 24, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: Jan. 17, 2021 Issue : 15-26

SMB Sunday Paper: Jan. 17, 2021 Issue : 15-26

 

 

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Jan 17, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: Jan. 10, 2021 Issue : 15-25

SMB Sunday Paper: Jan. 10, 2021 Issue : 15-25

 

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Jan 10, 2021
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SMB Sunday Paper: Jan. 3, 2021 Issue : 15-24

SMB Sunday Paper: Jan. 3, 2021 Issue : 15-24

 

 

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No Lunch for You! New Study Says Your Boss Judges You For Taking Lunch Breaks

H.R. expert weighs in on new findings and why the research is so troubling

A recent study has discovered that many employees are afraid to take their lunch breaks. Rather than appear ‘lazy’ before their manager or boss, they opt to skip their appointed lunch break…even though that Gone to Lunchcan have a negative impact on their ability to perform as well as their general mood and well-being.

Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and human resources expert says, “The study found that almost 20 percent of employees are worried their boss judges them when they take a lunch break. 13 percent worry that their coworkers judge them for taking a break.”

And, sadly, Wilson says that these fears are not unfounded.

“The same study found that bosses do indeed judge employees for taking breaks. 22 percent of bosses believe that employees who take regular lunch breaks are not as hard-working as employees who do not, and 34 percent of bosses say that they take into account how often an employee takes lunch breaks when they are evaluating their job performance,” says the Chicago-based president of the employee solutions firm Employco USA.

Unfortunately, says Wilson, this particular management belief (that employees who take lunch breaks are slacking off) can actually be harmful to a company. “Almost 90 percent of employees say that a lunch break makes them feel refreshed and ready to return to work with a clear mind. Other research has borne out the fact that taking breaks is good for an employee’s mood, precision and creative abilities.”

Wilson says it’s time to start changing the way that bosses think about lunch breaks and for managers to step up and start encouraging people to take their lunch breaks every day.

“Don’t think of it as losing money,” says Wilson. “But rather a way to improve your bottom line and retain your staff. A happy, rested employee is an employee who is going to give 100 percent and be a credit to your company.”

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Have you MAPS CRM IURed?

Let’s face it. Many members of the SMB Nation community are happily situated at the Microsoft Action Pack (MAPS) membership-level inside the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN). Fair enough. But did you know that, with the recent June 30/July 1 renewal date, MAPS has a hidden jewel just waiting for your consumption. It’s related to the five (5) Internal Use Rights (IUR) for Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Plan Enterprise Edition. This is real value and I’m going to share with you my journey, up-to-the-minute as of this writing.

Bekker’s Partner’s Guide
My journey started when I read Scott Bekker’s IUR posting (Bekker is a colleague who works for Redmond Channel Partner magazine). His missive imparted details about the five IUR licenses for Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Plan Enterprise Edition in MAPS. Prior to that, I hadn’t been aware of this benefit. You can download Bekker’s guide here.

The timing couldn’t have been better for two reasons.

Cost
SMB Nation has 50,000+ contacts as a long-time community. We have migrated over the years from Microsoft CRM 1.2 to NetSuite to Salesforce and back to Microsoft CRM Dynamics 365 on-prem. We have been happily paying $60/seat per month for our licenses. But the MAPS offer is just too juicy to pass up – the IUR licenses (count ‘em – five) are effectively free after you pay your MAPS annual subscription fee of $475. My current annual CRM financial commitment is 3x that amount and only because we conserve our license usage (can’t wait to do more with more licenses!).

Get Appy!
As many readers know, I’ve spread my wings over the past few years playing in Seattle startups in addition to running SMB Nation. At the Big Data startup LeadScorz, we worked with Versium. Fast forward the movie and Versium has a Dynamics 365 app called Predict that provides insights, appends records and intelligence to your CRM contacts, leads and accounts. It has very basic scoring models but the good news is that it’s free. I’ll write more about Predict at a future date but the point is, that with my current Dynamics 365 on-prem implementation, I couldn’t use Predict (it’s only on the cloud-side aka Microsoft Online Services). Ergo – my motivation to conduct the migration asap to my new CRM instance.

Looking Back
First – proper context needed. Here are the exact details of my current CRM instance: (Version 1612 (8.2.2.112) (DB 8.2.2.2.112) on-premises (SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 1). While I’m happy with Dynamics 365, I’m wanting to get more appy as per above (plus there are hundreds of more apps to play with). In Figure 1 – you can see my current environment.


Fig1CRM 

Figure 1: This be our existing CRM instance! 

Looking Forward

To level-set, I’m migrating this offering: for Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Plan Enterprise Edition (Version 9). When I renewed MAPS, and I assigned out a couple of my IUR licenses, I then wanted to “run” my CRM instance but it wasn’t clear at all how to do this. So I filed a service request with Microsoft and worked with a support professional to stand-up my new CRM instance.

SECRET: The key is to select Dynamics 365 via Admin centers on the lower portion of your left-side column in the Microsoft 365 admin center console. You’ll answer questions about production v. sandbox and what module you want to activate. See the results in Figure #2.

Fig2CRM
Figure 2: The instance setup procedure results in the following instance. But there is much more work to be done.

Migration Madness
Initially in my “simple is hard” technology paradigm, I thought I’d just do a lift-and-shift or forklift migration from my existing CRM instance into the new instance. I asked my current CRM hoster to export the database which resulted in the following files seen in Figure 3.

Fig3 current crm databases
Figure 3: My current CRM database files exceed 10GB.


But after researching this lift-and-shift migration approach and consulting with the fine people on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM group (Facebook), it was none other than SMB Nation fan Julie Yack who educated me that this is both a migration and an upgrade (plus we have limited customizations).
So it’s been a “back to the drawing boards” circular reference as I’m trying to complete this work over the long 4th of July holiday week/weekend when the private sector is napping. Another call with Microsoft support suggested I output my existing database to an Excel file so it can be imported into my new CRM instance. I’m in the process of doing that now with these steps in my existing CRM instance:


• Select data area (e.g. Accounts, Contacts, Leads, Opportunities, Reports, Marketing Lists, etc.)
• Select Funnel (advanced find) in upper right
• Select Edit Columns, Click OK
• Select Add columns
• Select ALL COLUMNS by clicking the checkbox next to Display Name
• Click OK
• Click OK
• Click Results (this can take a long time to run)
• Click Export Accounts
• Select Dynamic Worksheet
• Select Export on the Edit Columns dialog

Then – in theory – I’d import the contacts, et al into the new CRM instance. Read “even I could do it!” But I have hit a time-out condition/error because of the number of contacts I have, etc. See Figure 4.

Fig4 error exporting accounts to dynamic excel spreadsheet

Figure 4: I can’t export 50,000 contacts successfully at once – one person has told me I’ll have to do smaller exports (think letters A-J; K-S; T-Z).

And there you have it. I’m at mid-point in my migration trading notes with Yack to successfully land this migration!

In my next blog, I’ll let you know how it goes!

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Six Years Later – SBS EOL

Can you believe it – it was six years ago in early July that Microsoft discretely announced the end-of-life for Windows Small Business Server. And the world has never been the same since. Along with you, I certainly have strong opinions on this. Lord knows we hashed out our seven stages of grieving over these six years and, if a recent post-up to the “You Knew You Grew Up With SBS…” group on Facebook is any indicator, several of you still have resentments LOL.

But I really want to simply recognize that six years have passed.

It’s an appropriate time to ask out loud how have you transformed in that period. It’s a big question: Office 365? Azure? AWS? Retired? Took a day job? I’ve heard all of the above and more. I’d like to hear from you. Perhaps you can join the above-mentioned Facebook group and share your “six years later” story for a future blog and/or feel good therapy outlet to just get it all off your chest!

Speaking for myself, I’ve learned to run a much more efficient business that essentially had to recreate itself from the bottom up. As they say in business, if you had the chance to do it all over again, would you do it differently and faster? The answer for me is yes. I’m getting traction with my new niche in analytics but not so much trying to recreate an SBS-like community for Office 365. Different vibe.

erin
Figure 1: A blast from the past – how many of you remember Erin (Bourke-Dunphy) Chapple from the original SBS team in the late 1990s? She started right out of college with SBS and has now gone on to be THE Corporate Vice President for Windows Server (she’s a real executive now). Shown here in her original SBS office circa late 1990s.

Also noteworthy with the arrival of July, we’ve incremented our newsletter to Year 13, Issue 1. That’s because we originally launched our newsletter(s) during July – the month of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) (aka Inspire). And a little-known fact is that this is our 17+-year of publishing as our earlier newsletters had a different name and cadence. If you’d like to learn more about the original “Small Business Best Practices” newsletter from July 15, 2001, click HERE. 

# # # 

FEEDBACK! 

Hi, Harry—

                The death of SBS really didn’t affect us much, even though we had basically built our practice around it. Virtualization and Windows Server “1 physical +2 virtual” licensing came onto the scene about the same time, so we simply started setting up a virtual domain controller and a separate virtual Exchange Server on a Hyper-V server (plus additional VMs for other applications if necessary) instead of having it all on one physical box. We don’t miss SBS, really. It was a good value, but it had its headaches, and it often got in the way if you didn’t want to do things its way. Separate VMs for individual roles is really the way to go anyway. Now, if Exchange is a problem, we just get everyone out of Outlook and restart that. If QuickBooks is the problem, we just clear everyone out of QuickBooks and restart that server; we don’t have to get everyone out of everything because one person is having an issue with one application. And we don’t sell cloud as if it were a religion. For those who want it, it’s there. For those who don’t, we are happy to sell on-premises solutions (as long as they still exist; lots of vendors are railroading people into the cloud when they really don’t want to be there, the same way the government railroaded lots of people into the stock market by keeping interest rates pathetic). That said, the message from Microsoft is twofold; first it doesn’t understand small business, and second, it doesn’t care about small business. Its vision is Fortune 500 and then everyone else. If they had eliminated the SBS technical product and replaced it with a SKU for 2 physical licenses for Windows Standard plus 4 VMs plus Exchange and 25 user CALs for everything, at least that would have shown that they understand and care. But we worked around that with our own imaginations.

                I don’t use Facebook myself, so I’m emailing this in case you are interested.

                — Andrew

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5 Multistate Tax Considerations for SMBs

By: Nathan Sykes

As a small business, you’ll eventually be looking at expanding your reach, and that means crossing state lines. The act itself is pretty straightforward — you taxessimply move or open new operations. Of course, it’s more involved than, that but you get the point.

What you’re probably most unprepared for is the multistate taxation system. As soon as your business or organization jumps state lines, this issue becomes a major concern, and one that you’d do well to understand and plan for.

1. What Is Nexus?
Before tax comes into play, you must understand Nexus. It’s also referred to as “sufficient physical presence.” The concept essentially means you’re connected or linked to the region in question, which calls for you to be a suitable contributor to the commonwealth. Any state in which your business has Nexus is a location you can be taxed for.

Step one for any business or professional should be determining Nexus. Generally, it’s defined as where you own or rent property, whether you employ people in a particular state or generate revenue within a state’s boundaries. When a situation is clearly defined, such as you owning a property in another state, it’s easy to determine your status.

It gets tricky, however, when things aren't so clear-cut. For example, you might be hiring a remote worker or employee, visiting a state for some time but earning funds or even dealing with inventory or a warehouse that’s in a different state.

2. Understanding the Interstate Commerce Tax Act
Public Law 86-272, also called the Interstate Commerce Tax Act, dictates the solicitation of sales across state borders. More specifically, an individual state cannot levy income tax on a company or business that performs the solicitation of sales for tangible personal property and nothing more.

But the law itself is remarkably misunderstood and has been altered considerably over the years in regards to what it means. “Solicitation” specifically has been used in many different ways. From the placement of orders to content or item delivery, it can be used differently depending on the court and state in which it’s applied. Because of this, it’s important that either you — as a manager — or your legal team understand the precedent of this law so that you’re not affected by legal traps related to it.

3. Apportionment
Generally, your taxable income is apportioned under either the three-factor formula or single sales factor — more likely the former. However, some states use varying apportionment schemes, which means you’ll have to follow a formula you’re not used to or one that differs considerably from the standard.

This factor is something to keep in mind when dealing with taxable income, so you’ll want to understand the laws and regulations regarding the states in which you do business. If you’re stretched across many boundaries, you’ll want to take the appropriate time reviewing this information before your filing.

4. Credits and Incentives
Tax credits and incentives are great, as they can afford you a little extra capital or revenue to distribute elsewhere. The thing about them, however, is that tax day — or at least the weeks leading up to it — is not the appropriate time to start paying attention to them. Many incentives and credits require you to document and collect proof that you’re eligible, so if you discover them last minute, there's a chance said information might not be readily available.

It’s important to sit down with a financial team and group of legal professionals to identify potential incentives and credits your business can take advantage of over the coming year — for the subsequent tax season.

5. Major Transactions and State Tax
This consideration is especially important for SMBs who are in the process of an acquisition, completing a major transaction of some kind or involved in the sale of a subsidiary.

With federal income tax, issues are ad nauseam. Many focus on the large-scale issues, with state income tax being left by the wayside. This situation is unfortunate because there's always the chance that unexpected or evident state income tax problems will arise as a result of a transaction too. This issue could result in hefty fines or audits later down the line, which are troublesome for major organizations and detrimental for small business.

Pay attention to state tax concerns, especially when working with larger organizations. Don’t expect them to consider all angles, because most of the time, they’re most concerned with federal influence.

Cover Your Bases
The central theme of many of these considerations or potential “issues” is that you should invest the time to understand how tax filings — state and federal — factor into the future of your business. Even a small mistake can result in inordinate fees or lengthy financial audits, which are never helpful or light on overall impact. Even major organizations struggle with the legal ramifications and consequences of poor tax handling. The last thing you want is your SMB suffering simply because you were unaware or unfamiliar with particular regulations and rulings.

If you don’t have the time or resources to invest, then absolutely hire a legal team to handle your tax and resulting finances. You can work with them directly to gain a better understanding, cut down on risk and cost and ensure everything is up to speed.

Joshua Lawrence, a partner at Hodgson Russ, advises, “A number of companies—Avalara and TaxJar are probably the most well-known—specialize in multistate sales tax compliance. They can assist with some of the administrative and practical burdens by automating the determination of tax rates, filing returns, managing exemption records, etc. Such services may also assist in determining the taxability of a company’s transactions.”

He continues, “However, in the case of software and SaaS, where questions of taxability and “sourcing” are often highly fact-dependent and reliant on interpreting case law and rulings, getting the advice of a tax professional, such as an accountant or attorney whose practice includes state and local taxation, is the best way to mitigate the risks associated with misinterpreting state tax laws.”

Staying up to date with state and local tax regulations that will have an effect on your small business is the one of the most important steps in successfully running a business that crosses state lines. Just because your business is small doesn’t mean it can’t have a large outreach, you just need to be aware of the risks and address them correctly.

Bio: Nathan Sykes writes about the latest in business and technology at his blog, Finding an Outlet.

 

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10 Easy Ways to Convert B2B Lead with Blogging

Lead generation is absolutely crucial to your business. Lead generation is the practice of finding and drawing in potential customers to your business. There are a variety of ways to do this including via social media or even investing in certain tools that can help you generate leads.

One way you can easily generate leads without stepping outside blog keyof your website or investing in any expensive tools is to work through your own blog. In this article, we are going to look at 10 of the easiest ways for you to convert B2B leads through your blog.

1. Make Your Blog Similar to Your Website

The Problem: If someone is landing on your blog, they may never click over to your homepage. Or, even worse, they might find your blog and your homepage separately and not realize your the company that’s been giving them quality content for months.

The Solution: Connect your blog and website. Of course, on your blog you would ideally have ample links to your homepage but that isn’t always enough. At the most basic level, your blog and main website design should be the same. By using the same colors and themes, you create a visual correlation that allows visitors to either or both pages quickly recognize that they are working within the same company when they switch between pages.

You should also, both for correlation in visitor’s eyes and for SEO purposes, link your blog and main website technically. For example, the URL for many website’s blogs is a subdomain rather than their own. This means instead of completely unique URL for the blog, the blog would have a URL like blogname.websitename.com.

2. Use a Call to Action

The Problem: Most people stumble onto blogs the first time because they asked a search engine a question and your blog was one of the initial choices to hold the answer. So, they often go onto your blog, get the answer they need, and then leave. Unfortunately, while this increases your traffic, you haven’t really drawn in a potential customer meaning you haven’t generated a lead.

The Solution: When you are writing your blog’s content, use calls to action. These are sentences inserted in your content - usually near the end of a blog post - that prompt readers to do more that get the answers they need then click away.

A good example of a call to action is when you see a webpage or blog post that says something such as “call now!” or “visit our website today!”

3. Use Prompts

The Problem: As we noted before, you might have a lot of traffic but few leads through your blog. This is because many people come to your blog for a specific question and leave once they get the answer they need. This is an obvious problem because while they may use your content, they won’t participate in your B2B sales.

The Solution: It won’t always work but one method that many websites use is to prompt visitors to enter their email address. Usually, they are promised deals or updates in return for this information. What this does in reference to generating you leads, though, is that it opens up dialogue with the visitor of your website and creates the potential for their visit to your blog to become a purchase through your company.

4. Stay Updated

The Problem: Once you have a reader hooked on your blog, they are more likely to visit the rest of your website and partake in your services. However, if you stop posting on your blog, they have less of a reason to visit it regularly, and eventually they will forget about your blog.

The Solution: The solution to this is rather simple - just keep posting! Even if you are a smaller company with a smaller following, try to keep your blog updated on a regular basis. If you don’t want to lose readers, keep them interested with content that is meaningful and consistent.

5. Have Internal Links

The Problem: As we stated earlier in the article, a problem can arise when people visit your blog but don’t visit your website in turn. Obviously, this is a problem because while a lot of traffic on your blog is good, a lack of traffic on your main website doesn’t help your B2B leads.

The Solution: Before, we stated that you can help this by linking your website and blog technically and aesthetically. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to link to your main website either. This is also a great way to connect readers to specific pages of your website rather than just sending them to your homepage.

6. Create a Content Library

The Problem: Sometimes, when people come to your site looking for a specific answer, they don’t stick around for the full experience of your blog. As such, they don’t have the time to get invested in or attached to your content.

The Solution: Create a content library. You can make a main database where people can browse through your content but your best bet isn’t to stop there. In addition, consider having a “similar content” section on your blog posts. If you suggest other, relevant content to your readers right away, they are more likely to click around your site and get invested. This, paired with tactics like backlinks to your main website and calls to action, will get you more leads.

7. Use Your Blog as Conversation

The Problem: The problem that many businesses - especially small businesses - have is that they don’t know exactly what their customers want or need. In addition, even if they do, it can take a little convincing to prove to customers that they are your first priority, not just turning a profit.

The Solution: Use your blog as a method of conversation with your readers. Make sure that you reply to their comments on posts and answer every time they fill out a “contact us” form. By doing this, you are hearing what your potential customers are looking for and you are making sure they feel heard and cared about when they contact you.

8.Remember to Utilize Headlines

The Problem: Stepping away from some of the other problems that we’ve looked at in this article, there is the issue of people not clicking on your content at all. This, of course, is an issue. This is because while traffic doesn’t always contribute to leads, you can’t have leads if you don’t have any traffic.

The Solution: One way to try and counteract this is to have eye-catching headings. There are a few different ways to do this - many writers choose to pose a question. However, you should avoid anything misleading or clickbait-worthy. If someone clicks on your article only to be disappointed by the content, your only going to lose potential leads.

9. Utilize SEO

The Problem: This is a repeat of the problem when we looked at headlines. To repeat, though, it can be difficult to generate leads through your blog if you aren’t even drawing in readers.

The Solution: Try to utilize SEO techniques in your content. If you don’t know what this is, SEO stands for search engine optimization. You can do this in a variety of ways such as inserting keywords into your content and making sure your site is user-friendly and loads quickly. The main idea behind this is to rank as highly on a search engine when someone searches a term that is related to your business.

10. Don’t Get Away From Your Customers

The Problem: As we have looked at a lot in this article, there can be a problem when visitors come to your website and only stick around long enough to get the answers they need. However, you can have a problem if you are so focused on generating leads that you forget to deliver meaningful content.

The Solution: The last thing you want to do is to get away from the content that brought new readers to your blog in the first place. So, while you want to implement these lead-generating practices, you don’t want to sacrifice quality content. After all, you can’t gain leads if you aren’t even gaining traffic.

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AT&T to launch wireless plans bundled with video after Time Warner win

(Reuters) - AT&T Inc (T.N) will launch two new unlimited wireless plans next week that will be bundled with a new video streaming service called WatchTV, in the company’s first move to pair entertainment with phone service after closing its $85 billion acquisition of media company Time Warner Inc.

 

ATT

FILE PHOTO - An AT&T logo is seen at a AT&T building in New York City, October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith/File Photo

The No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier is putting to use Time Warner’s stable of content, including TV channels like TBS and CNN, to drive sales of the wireless plans at a time when carriers have struggled to find growth.

“This is the first step to transforming how content is created, distributed and consumed,” David Christopher, president of AT&T mobility and entertainment, said in an interview.

WatchTV, which will have over 30 live channels but no sports or local news channels, will be free for customers of the new wireless plans. It will cost $15 per month as a standalone product. Customers who sign up for the higher-priced wireless plan can also get HBO for free, the premium TV channel with the hit show “Game of Thrones” that AT&T acquired as part of the Time Warner deal.

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Bitcoin explained by AI will melt your brain

BitCoin

 

By now I'm assuming we all have a fundamental understanding of what Bitcoin is: digital money regulated and distributed with encryption techniques, stored on a ledger independent of a centralised bank.

Something like that. Maybe go here for a better explanation.

OK, that's good. That's how a human being might explain Bitcoin. Here's how an AI might try to explain it.

BitCoin Video

 

The video comes from Botnik Studios' YouTube channel, posted Tuesday. According to the description, it was created "using predictive keyboards trained on dozens of Bitcoin explainers".

Friends, my brain is currently leaking out of my earholes

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SkyKick Launches Cloud Backup Support for Microsoft Office 365 Groups and Teams, and Upgrades Syndicated Apps

• Strengthens #1 MSP-voted cloud automation platform to enable IT providers to grow
• Robust data protection for Group and Teams unlocks new profitability scenarios for partners
• Enhancements to SkyKick Syndication provide partners with more customizable ways to sell cloud migration and backup directly in their own e-commerce experiences

Seattle – June 27, 2018 – SkyKick (www.skykick.com), a global provider of cloud management software for information technology (IT) solution partners, announced today major enhancements to its Cloud Backup skykickSuite for Office 365. The enhancements extend cloud backup data protection to Microsoft Office 365 Groups and Teams, enabling partners to deliver added value to customers seeking Office 365 data protection.

“Microsoft Groups and Teams is growing rapidly and was one of the most requested backup features from our global partner base,” said SkyKick Vice President of Product Management Chris Rayner. “We’re thrilled to deliver this additional value to our partners, and continue to accelerate our momentum in enabling partners to protect customer data across the entire Office 365 tenant.”

The Groups and Teams upgrade to SkyKick’s Cloud Backup Suite for Office 365 provides partners greater product completeness and flexibility. It enables partners to browse and select specific Groups to backup, search and restore conversations, calendar, files, and notebook, and choose from a range of data retention periods. In addition to the Groups and Teams enhancements, SkyKick is releasing support for point-in-time restore for Exchange and OneDrive for Business. Together, these enhancements further distinguish SkyKick’s Cloud Backup Suite as one of the most technically complete and partner-centric data protection solutions for Office 365. Groups and Teams is included in SkyKick’s Cloud Backup Suite for Office 365 and available at no additional cost for SkyKick partners with active “full backup” subscriptions (Exchange and SharePoint/OneDrive).

“As a progressive MSP, it is critical that we protect customer data in new collaboration scenarios like Groups and Teams. The fact that SkyKick is one of the first to offer a robust backup solution for Groups and Teams demonstrates their commitment to partner success,” said Ryan Chernick, president of Wisconsin-based partner CCCP. “Leading with a comprehensive, integrated solution like SkyKick’s gives us a competitive advantage while enhancing customer satisfaction.”

SkyKick is also announcing upgrades to SkyKick Syndication, which thousands of partners are using to incorporate SkyKick Migration and Backup directly into their websites or e-commerce buy-flow with simply a few lines of code. The upgrades include new ways for partners to add custom branding to SkyKick Cloud Backup apps on their own websites, including modifying favicons, creating custom URLs or domains and providing customized support details. The company is also releasing a new Cloud Backup self-service search and restore capability to give partners new options for operational service delivery. Partners who choose to grant customers self-service access can incorporate this new experience in their websites, enabling their customers to directly initiate data search and restore. These upgrades are free for existing SkyKick Syndication customers.

“We welcome SkyKick’s approach to syndication. It will help partners simplify their operational burden while still creating a deeper brand connection with their customers,” said Vegard Aspnes, SaaS product manager at European partner Dustin Group.

“With our recent $40 million funding announcement, we reiterated our commitment to our 20,000 partners and the broader partner ecosystem,” said SkyKick Co-Founder and Co-CEO Todd Schwartz. “We’re relentlessly innovating across our cloud management platform to provide partners with more ways to package and sell cloud services, improve their operational efficiency, enhance their customer experience, and ultimately transform their business for the future.”

These enhancements extend the company’s cloud management platform, and complement the SkyKick Migration Suite which was the top-rated solution in a recent survey of MSPs by research firm AMI-Partners. With partners increasingly packaging and bundling cloud services, SkyKick’s unified cloud management platform provides integrated applications to help IT solution providers build more successful cloud businesses. The SkyKick Migration Suite allows IT consultants, system integrators, managed service providers, value-added resellers and other IT partners to automate an entire Office 365 migration project from initial sales to project completion. SkyKick’s Cloud Backup Suite provides cloud-to-cloud backup, unlimited storage and one-click restore of lost Office 365 data.

SkyKick’s new Cloud Backup Suite for Office 365 is available immediately. SkyKick will be demonstrating the enhancements in booth 1013 at the Microsoft Inspire Conference July 15 to 19 in Las Vegas, Nev.

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Understanding Small Business Tax Eligibilities Will Increase Your Profitability

Many small businesses do not seem to understand the importance of taking small steps all year long as one of the most vital keys to minimizing tax responsibilities and avoiding expensive tax penalties. As well, there are many eligibilities that small Taxbusiness owners are not even aware that they are entitled to, especially in light of the most recent tax reform laws.

The best place to keep up with any available information will be to follow the IRS Tax Reform News and Information Page.

If you run a small enterprise and would like to maximize your tax minimizations; we would like to help you succeed with some suggestions that will make a difference with your tax responsibilities by the end of the 2018 tax year. The more of this information you’re aware of, the more likely that these tips alone will increase your profitability in 2018.

  • Begin by Educating Yourself About the Forms You Must Complete For Employee Payroll
    Federal taxes will not be the only taxes upon which you will need to focus; There are also separate state and municipal, as well as additional federal forms that may be required.
  • It is Best to E-File Your Taxes and File Taxes On Time
    Filing on time will save you headaches and penalties. By E-Filing, you will receive a confirmation number that will be provided by the IRS, and there will be no question as to the date that your filing was received. Filing electronically on time will help avoid penalties that will accrue until you pay in full
  • Paying Enough Quarterly Estimated Taxes Will Help Your Business Avoid Penalties
    It is easy for new business owners to spend their W-2 income all the while believing that they can pay taxes on their entire income at the end of the tax year. The wise business owner will pay enough estimated taxes on a quarterly basis. It will benefit your business when you file your taxes next year.
  • Consider a Reputable Tax Software Program and a Separate Accounting Software Program for Properly Tracking Expenses and Revenue Acquired in Your Small Business
    Using a reputable tax software will assist in the avoidance of penalties. Doing so will also make a difference in helping you separate your personal from your business finances.
  • Integrate a Paper Filing System
    Set up a filing system of your choice, whether it is 12 folders in a filing cabinet, an expandable folder or an electronic receipt scanner and use it faithfully. Prepare a few hours monthly to organize all expense receipts, banking withdrawal, and deposit slips, etc. into their respective folders. Failing this, you will spend all of those stressful hours at the end of the year organizing all at one time. Monthly organizing will ensure that you do not lose your documents and they are correctly indexed and available at the end of the tax year.
  • Consider Implementing the Services of Independent Contractors to Save on Taxes
    Whether you are an old pro in business or you are just beginning, ICs will save small businesses money in many ways. For tax minimization, you do not have to pay taxes on their behalf. If you pay an IC $600.00 or more in a tax year, you will need to maintain records stating what you have paid them and merely provide a 1099 form at the end of the tax period. If you would like to do this, however, be sure that you understand the definition of an Independent Contractor according to the IRS.
  • Consider the Donation of Remaining Inventory
    Should you find that you must pay to store leftover inventory that you are confident will not be used, you might choose to donate that inventory to a good cause. This “philanthropy” will save money in the long run. The caveat is that donations exceeding $500.00 face far more strict reporting rules with the IRS sure gift makes sense.
  • Consider the Benefits of Implementation of a Retirement Plan
    See the “Highlights for Changes in 2018” located within this IRS Pension Limitations document.
  • There Could Be Hidden Value In The Miles You Put On Your Vehicle
    Not everyone is aware that they may have the ability to deduct miles they use to participate in charitable acts. You may also deduct miles accrued for medical purposes and even some personal uses of your vehicle. You can see what you are allowed to deduct through this IRS Standard Deduction page.
  • Where and How You Decide to Structure Your Business Will Affect Your Tax Responsibilities
    The SBA (Small Business Administration) offers a plethora of information as to how your specific business should be structured and how it will affect your tax status. This is definitely worth the read for a small business owner.

 

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Trump officials roll out new rule for small business health insurance plans

 Insurance

By Tami Luhby, CNN

New York (CNN)The Trump administration is taking the final step Tuesday in its plan aimed at making health insurance policies cheaper for some small businesses.

But the move could weaken some of the Affordable Care Act's consumer protections for those buying these plans and make coverage more expensive for those who remain on the Obamacare exchanges.

The administration is releasing its final rule governing association health plans, which allow small businesses and the self-employed to band together based on their industry or location and buy health insurance. The rule stems from an executive order that Trump signed in October aimed at providing alternatives to the Affordable Care Act, which it is bent on dismantling.

The rule allows association health plans to be regulated in the same way as large employer policies. That would free them from having to adhere to some of Obamacare's rules, particularly the one requiring insurers to offer comprehensive coverage. So these plans would likely have lower premiums, but also provide fewer benefits -- which could leave sicker and older workers out in the cold. Also, the offerings could be less attractive to young women if they don't cover maternity benefits.

Plus, the proposed regulation would allow associations to base an employer's rates on the gender, age and industry of its workers, which could leave firms with many younger men paying less, but those with older workers and women saddled with higher premiums. Currently, the Affordable Care Act bans insurers from basing premiums on gender or industry and limits the amount that can be based on age.

However, plans would not be allowed to set premiums based on workers' health status, which critics of the executive order had feared. It also maintains state regulators' oversight of these policies.

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Windows 7 to Windows 10 migration guide

With Windows 7 approaching the end of support deadline, it’s time to get cracking on upgrading your organization to Windows 10. Use this planner to help ensure a successful migration.

Windows 7

By Jonathan Hassell

All good things must come to an end, and the reign of Windows 7 as an actively supported, good-enough operating system is no exception. While it may feel like you just finished the heavy lifting of migrating your Windows XP machines to Windows 7, it turns out that Windows 7 is now almost nine years old, at least two and a half versions behind Windows 10 (depending on whether you consider Windows 8.1 to be a version of Windows all its own), and approaching end of Microsoft support in 2020.

All of this is to say that you need a plan. Except in some edge cases, it makes little sense to spend the time and money to migrate from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1, since that only buys you a couple more years of supportability. The smart money is on moving to Windows 10, buying everyone expensive Macs, or, gasp, deploying Linux on the desktop. And while small businesses might be able to buy everyone MacBooks or move to Linux, large companies with lots of software investments in the Microsoft stack will continue running Windows, thus leaving Windows 10 as the only option.

Of course, moving any large quantity of users from one operating system to another, especially one with as many differences, shiny new objects and moved cheese as Windows 10, is no small feat. That’s where this guide comes in. I want to help shine light on the considerations and actions you need to take in order to make your migration successful.

A caveat before I begin: While this is not a review of Windows 10, I think it is important to let you know what to expect. Windows 10 is, to me, a frustrating mix of tremendous security improvements and OS enhancements, along with several significant steps back in stability, usability, and overall quality. I have not run Windows 10 without it crashing, hard, at least every 48 hours on any system. My experience indicates that in general you will find that your client machines have more trouble than they did running Windows 7, and you may well have the trouble ticket count to match.

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Small Businesses Are The Real MVPs Of Analytics And BI Growth

 smbs driving analytics growth

Louis Columbus , CONTRIBUTOR

  • Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) spend more on software subscription services and new software, while large enterprises spend more on maintenance and consulting.
  • BI initiatives in small & medium enterprises are most likely to be driven by sales and marketing.
  • SMEs with up to 100 employees are the most aggressive of all businesses in their plans for analytics and BI adoption in the 12, 24 and 36-month timeframes.
    SMEs with up to 100 employees are also nearly 3X more likely as large enterprises to report the highest rates of BI adoption

Dresner Advisory Services recently published the 2017 Small and Mid-Sized Enterprise Business Intelligence Market Study, part of the Wisdom of Crowds® series of research and the 5th annual edition of the study. Dresner Advisory Services defines a small enterprise as an organization with between one and 100 employees; mid-size enterprises have between 101 and 1,000 employees, and large enterprises have more than 1,000 employees. For additional details on the methodology, please see the study. Operations and Management are the greatest Business Intelligence (BI) drivers in organizations of any size as their focus is on improving operational efficiency. Small and mid-size enterprises are more likely to be driven by sales and marketing business roles. The smaller the company, the higher the priority for growing revenues and finding increased competitive advantages using analytics and BI.

Key takeaways from the study include the following:

  • In 2017, SMEs are driving the highest levels of cloud computing adoption, while concentrating on reporting and dashboards to improve marketing and sales decisions. Large enterprises are prioritizing data governance, location intelligence, and enterprise planning to improve operational efficiency often on a global scale. Interest in big data transcends all sizes of organizations included in the study.

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Bitcoin could 'bring the internet to a halt,' banking group warns

by Jethro Mullen @CNNTech

ICO

Don't bet on bitcoin ever replacing the dollar or other traditional currencies as everyday money.

That's one of the messages from a new report by an organization that represents dozens of the world's central banks.

The group, Switzerland-based Bank for International Settlements (BIS), said the "intense interest" in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies had prompted it to look "beyond the hype" at what use they could actually contribute to the economy.

The report's authors were unimpressed, detailing a range of problems with trying to adopt cryptocurrencies as a widely used form of money.

They include the danger that just processing all the payments "could bring the internet to a halt," said the report, which was published Sunday.

A big part of the appeal of many cryptocurrencies to their supporters is that they are decentralized rather than tied to a central bank like the US Federal Reserve. Records of transactions are kept on a digital ledger.

But because every single transaction is added to the digital ledger, the report said using a cryptocurrency like bitcoin for retail transactions around the world would quickly swell the ledger beyond the capacity of computer servers to store it. Supercomputers would be needed to keep up with verifying incoming payments, and the huge amounts of data being exchanged between users would bring the internet to its knees.

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How to use Windows 10's File History backup feature

Here's how to back up your files with Windows 10's built-in feature, File History.

By Ian Paul

external hard drives 100761623 large

Windows 10’s File History is an easy way to get started with backing up your personal files since it comes built-in to your system.

File History takes snapshots of your files as you go and stores them on an external hard drive either connected over USB or your home network. Over time, File History builds up a library of past versions of your documents that you can recover if need be. Say, for example, you really liked a paragraph from the first draft of an essay, but you deleted it long ago and are now battling regret. You can dip into File History, retrieve the right version of your document, and copy the paragraph.

Windows 10’s File History is an essential part of any PC backup strategy, but it’s only

one part. Ideally, you’d have your files in three places: the working copy on your internal hard drive, a local backup that you can access straight away, and a remote backup that keeps your files safe offsite. That way, if anything ever happens to your house such as a fire, flood, or tornado, the third copy is still safely tucked away in the remote location.

The easiest way to take care of the remote backup is to use an online backup service. We’ve got a separate article dedicated to reviews and purchasing advice for online backup. While you’re at it, check out our look at the best external drives for backup, storage, and portability to get a quality drive for your local File History backups.

To get started with File History in the latest version of Windows 10, open the Settings app and go to Update & Security > Backup.

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$2,500 in Amazon gift cards!

Christmas is very, VERY early this year!

We’re giving away free Amazon gift cards to all SherWeb partners who bring in new Office 365 subscriptions. Register today!

Promotion Details

Offer ends June 30, 2018

All Office 365 subscriptions are included, except:Amazon

Microsoft Intune™ Extra Storage
Office 365 Archiving In-House
Office 365 Extra File Storage

Here’s how it works:

  • Sell 125 seats and you get a $200 gift card
    Sell 250 seats and you get a $500 gift card
    Sell 500 seats and you get a $1200 gift card
    Sell 1000 seats and you get a $2500 gift card
    * Only available for US or Canadian customers who are not on SherWeb Hosted Exchange.

Terms and Conditions

This promotion applies to Eligible Customers who register for the promotion on this web page and is subject to the following conditions. Eligible Subscriptions must be provisioned before the end of the Promotion Period. Eligible Customers must maintain each Eligible Subscription for a minimum period of twelve (12) months. The minimum payout credit per Eligible Customer is $200 and the maximum is $2,500 according to the following terms: 125 Eligible Subscriptions represent $200 of Amazon gift cards, 250 Eligible Subscriptions represent $500 of Amazon gift cards, 500 Eligible Subscriptions represent $1200 of Amazon gift cards and 1000 Eligible Subscriptions represent $2500 of Amazon gift cards. SherWeb will send you the Amazon gift card 60 to 90 days after the Eligible Subscriptions are provisioned. The Amazon gift card will be sent to the Eligible Customer’s main contact. SherWeb reserves the right to enforce a payback of the gift card amounts for all Eligible Subscriptions that are canceled within the first 12 months.

Definitions

"Promotion Period" begins upon registration for this promotion and ends on June 30, 2018 at 11:59 PM EDT.
"Eligible Customers": means any US or Canadian SherWeb customer who is not currently using SherWeb Hosted Exchange. Customer must have at least one hundred and twenty-five (125) Eligible Subscriptions.
"Eligible Subscriptions": are all Office 365 subscriptions, except Microsoft Intune™ Extra Storage-Unknown, Office 365 Archiving In and Office 365 Extra File Storage. Eligible Subscriptions exclude migrations from SherWeb Hosted Exchange to Office 365.

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MS Hope for a Cure

MS Cure

 

I have been on the board of MS Hope for a Cure since 2007 and this year I wanted to share some additional info on where your money has gone and how you have helped to make a difference so far.

MS Hope for a Cure, an organization with only two full-time employees, has had a huge impact in providing funds for research and support for individuals suffering from MS.

Since Inception in 2007, MS Hope has raised over $9.6 million and in turn, funded 110 grants to support a variety of programs and services.

Examples of critical research funded towards finding new treatments and eventually a cure for MS:

  • Provided a $300,000 grant to help launch the National MS Society’s Fast Forward. The biggest hurdle in moving potential treatments forward is securing the necessary early investments and resources for commercial development.  Fast Forward investments propel new therapies forward by providing the necessary funding to ensure that promising treatments don’t languish on a dusty shelf.
  • Provided a $220,000 grant for the National MS Society’s Pilot Research Program. The Society initiated the pilot research program in 1987 to provide a mechanism to encourage new, innovative research on multiple sclerosis.  The fiscal environment forced this program to be put on hold in June 2008. This grant allowed the vital program to resume in 2010.

 

  • Provided over $600,000 in Stem Cell grants for research focused on the development of non-embryonic stem cell therapies to help stop and repair MS.  This is an extremely promising area for people living with progressive MS and we are excited to be helping to propel it forward.
  • Provided a $500,000 grant to fund research specific to the progressive forms of the disease as the first foundation member of the International Progressive MS Alliance.

Examples of programs and services we are proud to have funded:

  • Provided access to free psychiatric support to anyone living with MS by fully funding an MS Psychiatric Position at Mount Sinai Hospital.
  • Provided $185,000 in college scholarships to students living with Multiple Sclerosis to enable them to focus on their studies without having to take on the stress of a part-time job.
  • Provided over $100,000 over 4 years via the National MS Society Crisis Services program to ensure that everyone living with Multiple Sclerosis in the New York area had a working air conditioner.
  • Provided the following programs, services and grants to help people living with MS, which due to budget constraints were cut by the National MS Society in the Tristate area.
    • Personnel support for social workers and nurses at over 10 local MS Centers
    • Funding for free exercise programs during the winter months. In many cases, these classes were the only opportunities for people with more advanced mobility issues to leave the house and socialize with others.
    • Creating an Annual Research and Wellness Symposium as part of MS Hope Day by bringing in MS experts in a variety of areas to provide the latest information on current research directly to the people to whom it matters most.

Please support me and this vital work by taking a moment to donate and sponsor me today.  Simply click here right now to make a secure donation online and give what you can; everything helps.

Thank you for joining me in the fight against MS! Together we can make a difference.
David

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Green Geeks: POS Technology Solutions (Part I)

The emerging cannabis industry is surprisingly technologically sophisticated. Take what I call the last mile: point of sale (POS).

I recently interviewed John Yang at California-based Treez, a POS solution focused on the cannabis industry. In fact, the free ranging conversation went so long, over two interviews, that I’ve decided to do a two-part blog series. In this first blog, I paint the picture (including taxation) and introduce Treez. In the second installment we’ll get down to the keystroke level.

“We are an enterprise-grade product with reliability and stability.” Said NAME. “In fact, you can run Treez as it’s meant to be in the cloud…we are a cloud-based solution first. But you can run it on-prem toowhich is important if you can’t be down for even a few minutes or a day. We serve dispensaries that have 100+ customers in the lobby at a time so any downtime is unacceptable.”

Let’s Talk Taxes!

Some readers know that SMB Nation’s hometown of Bainbridge Island is where Avalara started (about to IPO and known for creating online sales tax and compliance solutions). Thinking about taxes and compliance is second nature to me. When NAME took a left turn with our cannabis conversation to discuss Treez tax and compliance solutions, I told myself this conversation just got much better.

“In our business development efforts, we lead with the tax calculations for the State of California. Many of our competitors don't have this functionality. We do taxes correctly and help dispensaries from being overtaxed. This includes that we take care of the excise tax calculations.” Shared NAME. “California is taxing 35% to 40%...different tax layers (city, county, excise, sales) that compound on top of each other. Think of it as a tax on top of a tax on top of a tax.” Seems like tough math to track.

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Figure 1: Treez tracks cannabis taxes. Harder than it looks folks.

We next discussed the Excise Tax Report. “it’s about….how much to pay….a lot of complexity…very important with compliance…we do the break out of the taxation - our competitors don't have the granular level of detail.” Stated NAME.

I asked about how it works in Washington state, sensing that this young industry behaves differently in each state (#TrueThat). NAME shared that the State of Washington is a post-tax model like $40 for a ten pack of gluten free Indica peanut butter cups. The taxation is baked into a round number price that a customer would pay. If there is a mathematical mistake, the dispensary would have to “eat it” with respect to making the taxes paid whole.

In Part II of this blog series on Treez, I’ll speak toward the hands-on, keystroke-based POS solution and its use cases. Hint: Customer experience is the development paradigm.

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How to Maintain Data Integrity in a Business Setup?

Everybody, every day and everywhere is flooded with large volumes of data. This is most apparent and significant in the business sector. Who is worried and why should anybody actually pay attention to the business data? The fact is that data formulate the framework for all business operations. In order to run a thriving business irrespective of its niche, data management plays a significant role in the overall success equation.

In all probability, if you are reading this blog you are an integral part of such a business; consequently, you must be careful about your business data.

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What Exactly Do You Understand by Data?

If you ever ask distinct people this very question, you are likely to obtain varied responses from all of them. Some of the standard definitions are provided below: Figures and facts that are accumulated for reviewing and analysis. Things referred to as facts, which form the base of reasoning, computation and making decisions.

Still finding it hard to understand? A good illustration of business data is “the amount of merchandise sold by a company in the northeast region in the previous business quarter.”

Why is Data and its Credibility Crucial for Businesses?

Who is concerned in case the data available is inaccurate or if perhaps the all-round quality is lousy? Data quality is also known as data integrity. It is managing and retaining the accuracy and uniformity of the data over its complete lifecycle. Data integrity implies that the data available is correct and dependable. At numerous stages in work life, all the employees of the company have to make essential business decisions as a part of their job and commitments and such decisions play an important role in the deciding a company’s fate thereafter. In a lot of business firms across the globe, there exist areas where crucial business decisions are regularly made depending on the available data.

Business Performance Measurement: Constantly evaluating the performance of the business against its overall objectives and the competitors is essential for being successful.

Managing and Delegating Resources: Having the right resources in the right places at the right time focusing on the right project is essential. Not doing so is unfavorable and can provide the competitors a heads up.

Customer and Client Satisfaction Management: Happy customers and clients are crucial for a business success. Be it in the form of feedbacks, visitors on the site, and so on data must be consistently gathered and assessed to ascertain that the customer demands are satisfied or surpassed. Possible inadequacies or constraints in company's services and products must be brought to the front and addressed before the competitors learn about the same.

As stated above, dynamical real-time data with substantive credibility makes it possible for the business decision makers to get a clear picture of the company’s overall performance in the industry as well as against the competitors at any time. Getting correct and dependable data for conversion into information in order to make vital, fast or effective decisions is an important business function.

Strategies for Maintaining Your Company’s Data Integrity:

It is one thing to determine what actually is meant by data and the reason why its integrity is essential. It is an all-together different thing to systematically collect and manage it. At higher-levels, businesses commonly gather data by means of a variety of techniques like the following:

The Website of the Company: A usual practice is gathering data from a business website by means of page views and mouse clicks, a get in touch with us segment, a request for quote segment, a blog segment, a service or product purchase (shopping cart) segment, and so on.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Platform: An ERP platform is a business management program that incorporates a number of aspects of a business, such as project and service planning, production process, material acquiring, inventory management, supply, accounting solutions, financial management, human resources, sales and marketing, and so on. Data is accumulated from manual or automated data entry.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Platform: A CRM program is a business management software that deals with communication and connections with existing customers, potential buyers, and affiliates etc. It supports departments like sales, marketing, customer support and service. Data is collated from automated or manual data entry processes. Integration between an ERP and CRM program is furthermore very beneficial and can put a stop to data silos, superfluous data and general reliability on poor data.

Back-end Database: In the background, usually exists the database. Front-end programs like websites and CRM/ERP platforms are connected with databases. Data entered into the front-end programs move into and is saved in database on the backend. It is in this place where data extraction takes place and, thereafter that data is analyzed with the help of several techniques.

Author Bio:  Alika Cooper works a Business Development Manager at Cogneesol, a well-renowned company offering Data Management, technology, accounting and legal services. She has been working with Cogneesol for the past 10 years and is responsible for generating sales for the Data Management division.

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SAP Business One Surpasses 60,000th Customer Milestone

SAP

SAP Business One, the comprehensive enterprise resource planning (ERP) business suite designed for small to midsize businesses (SMBs), has just accomplished a landmark achievement: The application has surpassed the 60,000th customer milestone mark.

This makes SAP Business One the best-selling ERP offering within SAP by number of customers. Just consider this tremendous accomplishment in its proper context:

  • Over 1 million end users from more than 60,000 SMBs across 170 countries use the solution every day to transform the way they work — let that sink in for a moment!
  • SAP Business One contributes at least half of all new customer acquisitions for SAP in the SMB space with over 1,000 new customers added each quarter.
  • Even at this very moment, SAP Business One continues its accelerated growth streak – providing deep expertise in multiple industries and over 500 industry-specific add-on solutions delivered through 300 software partners.
  • Technologies such as natural language processing, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things built on top of SAP HANA make SAP Business One the intelligent ERP of choice for SMBs.

SMBs are increasingly turning to SAP Business One to support and extend their business growth, and we are thrilled to be able to participate in our customers’ digital transformation journey.

Bernd Leukert, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE, Products & Innovation, sums it up best: “We have a hands-down winner with SAP Business One. The positive feedback from the market validates SAP Business One as exactly the type of solution that small and midsize businesses want: It is easy to implement and offers end-to-end functionality that is tightly integrated between different business functions while enabling access to a comprehensive portfolio of industry-specific solutions. As a strategic differentiator for small and midsize businesses across the world, SAP Business One is an important vehicle that brings to them the power of the intelligent ERP.”

Helping SMBs Be Successful

Without a doubt, every one of us on the SAP Business One team has worked hard to ensure our customers – and our customers’ customers – are successful.

QALO, leaders in the functional wedding ring industry, is a recent SAP Business One customer to have seen tangible business outcomes. In order to support their business with 500 retail partners and over 1,500 daily orders, the company deployed SAP Business One to centralize its enterprise information into one system, and automate its sales and ordering processes. Through the use of analytics from SAP Business One, it quickly discovered, and rectified, a 10% discrepancy in inventory value.

“As people, we all want to be the best versions of ourselves. SAP Business One is helping us to be the best business we can be,” said Ted Baker, CEO and co-founder of QALO. Learn more about how SAP Business One helped QALO here.

The Power of Strategic Partnerships 

It is thanks to the power and the passion of our partners that has helped put SAP Business One at the top of the leaderboard. We are proud of the rich history we have of developing new routes to markets and industries through strategic partnerships. The solution currently serves multiple industries with over 500 industry-specific add-on solutions, delivered through 300 software solution partners.

A prime example of the symbiotic relationship we share with partners is MWA Intelligence, Inc. (MWA). The company expanded its partnership with SAP Business One just a few months ago in March of 2018 to revolutionize the copier dealer and print imaging industry. MWA Forza, using the SAP Business One platform, created a single integrated ERP business solution to dramatically reduce the overall costs of IT management and service provision – while providing real-time data-driven insights to improve business processes for imaging dealer networks.

This partnership enables unprecedented alignment, standardization and integration of operations and data between imaging vendors, their channel partners, and customers. It also allows SAP Business One to serve at least 10,000 new companies within the imaging industry.

But don’t just take my word on this. Michael T. Stramaglio, president and CEO of MWA Intelligence, Inc., has stated in no uncertain terms, “The unrivaled power of the SAP Business One platform opens up possibilities for organizations that otherwise could not have been achieved on any other system. We have leveraged SAP Business One powered by SAP HANA into the design and development of FORZA, an all-inclusive solution tailor-made to ensure the successful growth for the future of the imaging channel – on a level never seen before in the imaging industry.”

Attend the SAP Business One Partner and Customer Presentations at SAPPHIRE NOW

MWA will be presenting at this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP’s flagship customer and business technology event. So if you are attending the conference, check out MWA’s session, “Innovate the Way You Work with Business Partners Using Integrated ERP” on Tuesday, June 5, at 12:00 p.m. ET. You can also join us at the Business Applications area to catch top customer speakers, including David Leadbetter Golf and Square and Baumer. Hope to see you at SAPPHIRE NOW!

Luis Murguia is senior vice president of Global Customer and Partner Operations for SAP Business One and SAP Business ByDesign.

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Kaseya’s Ten Dollar Word Strategy: Horizontal Integration

It’s right out of the old school business playbook. It’s about portfolio diversification, risk reduction and greater customer choice. And it’s ultimately about a stronger Kaseya. Just prior to its annual KaseyaConnect conference in Las Vegas last week, Kaseya announced its acquisition of Unitrends, a mid-market enterprise and MSP backup provider. In a 1:1 interview with Fred Voccola, CEO of Kaseya, I got the inside scoop. Warning. A couple more ten dollar words ahead.

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Figure 1: KaseyaConnect 2018

I liken the Unitrends acquisition to a company eating its own dog food. According to Voccola, Kaseya had been using Unitrends internally and on customer-side activities and it got to know the product very well along with the Unitrends team. Kaseya engineers impressed upon Voccola that Unirends might be a good technical addition to the Kaseya family. On the financial side, Voccola and team viewed the acquisition as accretive, defined by Investopedia as “An acquisition is considered accretive if it adds to the item's value or corporation's earnings per share.” Loosely translated, we’re talking synergy here.

Full disclosure: we have worked with both Kaseya and Unitrends over the years at SMB Nation. Both have had their eyes firmly affixed on the “M” of SMB and I don’t see that necessarily changing in the future. But the story is better. There is more horizontal integration going on here. Think of it as eating tapas at a true Spanish restaurant where you can order fish and beef to create a complimentary meal.

The trend to all-in-one-shopping is being observed across the MSP space. For example, SkyKick, known for its Office 365 migration tools, introduced a backup solution over a year ago. Kaseya, best known for its remote management and monitoring (RMM) roots (it now holds itself out to be “complete IT infrastructure management solutions for managed service providers (MSPs) and mid-market enterprises (MME).” The Unitrends acquisition mirrors this horizontal integration trend.

I attended KaseyaConnect for a day last week after completing my duties at Lenovo Accelerate just up the strip. I’ve attended this show in the past but not in recent years. It’s certainly grown and still reflects a slighty larger MSP (read sports jacket). For me – it was a chance to check-in on Kaseya and meet up with old friends such as this gent below from the Orlando-area.

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Figure 2: Brian Laufer, Vice President at QuoteWerks in ‘da booth!

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Brelsford to Zielinski: Sell Me A Laptop

Over the past year, I’ve worn out a Lenovo laptop as a road warrior. In a pinch, I went up to the SMB Nation mini-storage and grabbed a third-tier brand laptop to get me by until the annual Lenovo Accelerate conference this past week in Las Vegas. My intention was to ask the newly installed president Matt Zielinski just one question: sell me a laptop. I believe the president role in a large company such as Lenovo should be akin to rainmaker not bottle washer. Zielinski’s career path is on the sales-side, not operations. Could he sell me a laptop?


Before I give you the answer – I want to provide some context.

Mobility
One year ago at the Lenovo Accelerate conference in Orlando, I was on my last legs with my Nokia 1020 Windows-based phone. Milanka Muecke, Director of PR, Customer Center and Community Relations sold me on a Moto Z Play phone. How? She demonstrated the “mods” that snap on to the back of the phone including the HD projector, the JBL sound system and backup battery. Worked for me as it’s Android-based so I can also get appy. And that’s why there is a basis for me viewing the annual Lenovo Accelerate conference as a Spring buyers show.

FUN FACT: I actually wrote my blogger notes in the big stage keynote with my Moto Z Play 2 mobile phone using the Google Docs word processor to supplement my audio recording device. I’ve never done that before, always being the blogger with the laptop. The keynote summary highlighting Lenovo’s partner pillars will be my next blog.

Lucky 13

A primer on Zielinski https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthew-zielinski-34a2642/ . As you can see in the figure below, Zielinski is one tall dude with more years ahead of him than behind him. He framed up his career as two chapters of a book (although I’d offer he has more chapters ahead). The first chapter was 13-years at AMD where he enjoyed a successive and progressive career path resulting in his role as Corporate Vice President and General Manager, Global MNC Sales. Then he shared another 13-ism. He’s only been in role as President for Lenovo North America for 13-weeks. He’s in the process of relocating from Austin, TX to Raleigh-Durham NC with his wife and two children.

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Figure 1: Guess which one is Zielinski in this pic?

The Answer
I asked my question: Sell me a laptop. Proving he’s quick on his feet, Zielinski responded rapidly. He shared that he’s played piano since he was three years old (yes – he’s “that guy” we all have heard of). By analogy he offered that when he plays his Steinway piano, he “just plays better.” Not a bad answer for being ambushed in our 1:1 interview.

Floor tour
Armed with Zielinski’s answer, I took that view point into a private 7:15am trade show hall tour (seriously – a 7:15am meeting in Vegas?!?!?). I was on a mission to discover what my next Lenovo would be. The short answer is that I’m eyeing the Lenovo 480s family to balance functionality, budget and durability (I first and foremost respect the lifetime duration I’m able to consistently maintain my Lenovo models for; in fact, my son has a Lenovo laptop he has used for four (4!) years studying aerospace at CalPoly). I’m not feeling the need for the more flashy/cute Lenovo laptop SKUs such as 2:1 because I’m increasingly leaning on my Moto Z Play 2 phone for the “fun stuff” (for example – in the near future I’m adding the Hasselblad True Zoom Camera Mod to improve and enhance my blog pics). I want my laptop to be a working dog; not a show dog.
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Figure 2: Lenovo T480s model on the tradeshow floor at Lenovo Accelerate

Finally – I end with some “fun photos” from the tradeshow floor – all before 8:00am in Vegas!

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CMIT: Start Over Opps 4 AARP Crowd

In advance of CMIT Solutions’ annual convention next week (Vancouver, WA), I reached out to CEO Jeff Connally for a check-in. Simultaneously I noticed a LinkedIn update for former Microsoftie Kevin Remde having secured a CMIT Solutions franchise territory for the Maple Grove, MN-area. Seems like a “start over” story for this techie in the works.

CMIT Solutions has grown to be the largest computer-related franchise in the US with over 200-locations. It has evolved from the days of Ms. Iceland in its doublewide booth at the SMB Nation 2008 Fall Conference

to emphasize technology solutions, not just a ‘puter guy break-fix business model. What I believe sets CMIT Solutions apart is its unflinching commitment to marketing, learning and operations excellence. In its own words, CMIT Solutions says “…helping people and businesses to be more productive and to success through the intelligent application of information technology.” 

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Figure 1: CEO Jeff Connally awarding Kevin Remde (right) his owners school completion certificate!

In my view, a franchise should be a few things for a new owner to enter a specific line of work. It should provide training (that’s the above referenced marketing and operations excellence), promotion, collaboration (think of fellow franchise owners in non-competing territories as being in a peer group) and the ability to be instantly in business with a marketing bill of materials such as branding. I also liken the CMIT Solutions community as a way to fight owner loneliness (that’s a true medical condition).

Ironically the core SMB Nation audience isn’t necessarily the “best fit” for CMIT Solutions. Why? Because SMB Nation members, will aligned with respect to CMIT Solutions’ demographic persona(s), are already experienced and established business owners in the tech sector. Not that many of “us” couldn’t benefit from the CMIT Solutions “way” lemme tell ya.

One of the ideal CMIT candidate personas is Remde. Remde is north of 50-years old, received his severance after serving many years at Microsoft (some might remember Kevin as a Sr. Technical Evangelist on the vaunted Microsoft TechNet event and content motion. He is technically top heavy and, with all due respect, a corporate guy who has spent the bulk of his career signing the back of paychecks (endorsement for deposit) versus signing the front of the paycheck (making payroll). In short – the ideal CMIT Solutions candidate is seeking the next great thing post-corporate career (as a member of the hard core corporate enterprise “50+yo and out crowd”). What I like about Remde is what he alluded to in his “open for business” letter that I recently received: learning. Not only is Remde a continuous life learner but he espouses the passionate narrative of helping others “learn, learn, learn!” That makes sense given his role on the TechNet team. Coupled with CMIT Solutions’ learning paradigm, it’s about as good as it gets.

There you have it. CMIT Solutions has enabled Remde to tap his passion to marry his technical experience with a long-held desire to own a business and provide employment for others.

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5 Processes SMBs must Automate to Stay Competitive

The era we live in is highly automated. At home, you may already have the doors that automatically lock once you leave the house, smart lights you can turn on/off using a single button, or an audio system you can control via your phone.

The same goes for your business. The beauty of today’s machine learning and AI-powered technology is that they give us the newton s cradle balls sphere action 60582opportunity to make almost every aspect of our businesses simpler and faster. By investing in the right tools, you can get rid of boring, repetitive tasks and finally focus on those practices that can help you grow your business.

With this in mind, here are a few basic things every small business should automate.

1.  Social Media Marketing

Today, social networks are the foundation of creating firm relationships with your customers and providing them with stellar customer support.

Your followers expect you to be active 24/7 and social media management tools like Buffer or Hootsuite can help you here. They allow you to schedule, upload, and edit numerous posts at once, across different social networks. These tools also make the process of finding and curating industry-relevant content much simpler.

To tailor your marketing strategies to your target audience’s needs, you need to know what they think of you. And, social networks are a perfect place to start your search. You can use tools like Awario, Mention, Social Mention, Topsy or Talkwalker Alerts to stay on top of your customers’ discussions and provide them with instant, real-time feedback.

2.  Search Engine Optimization

Statistics tell us that 93% of all online experiences start with search engines. This is why SEO is still an inevitable part of your digital marketing campaign. Now, to boost your rankings, you have two options- to hire an SEO agency or simply do your SEO on your own. If you go with the latter option, you will have to hire an in-house team of marketers and invest in the right tools to automate your marketing efforts.

You can use Moz Keyword Explorer, Google Keyword Planner, KW Finder, or Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer to target and optimize your site for relevant keywords.

There are numerous content marketing tools like BuzzSumo that will help you come up with relevant topics and create an awesome story around your keywords.

You can also invest in link building tools like Dibz to find relevant link building opportunities and drive quality traffic to your site.

3.  Customer Relationship Management

Did you know that 86% of customers would pay more for a better customer support? Given these facts, it’s not surprising at all that customer relationship management (CRM) can make or break your business. Now, providing customer support is probably the most powerful way to connect with your customers and humanize your brand. This is why many businesses avoid to automate it.

However, there is nothing bad in today’s CRM automation. With the rise of AI, it has become more natural and it helps you do things you cannot do on your own.

First, the implementation of artificial intelligence makes your self-service content smarter. Modern chatbots are already able to impersonate real-life conversations and provide to-the-point and reliable answers to the questions asked.

Second, they allow you to offer exceptional customer support 24/7. Automated customer service helps you give real-time feedback and instantly address the problems your customers face.

Third, better customer support boosts customer experience, resulting in skyrocketing conversions and customer retention.

Finally, automating customer support helps you save money. Namely, statistics show that, compared to traditional call centers, AI-powered voice responsive services help you save up to 80%.

4.  Office Management

Effective office management improves the overall workplace performance, encourages better collaboration, and saves you both time and money. Of course, automating your workplace doesn’t mean replacing people with machines. 

Start with project management tools like Basecamp, Asana or Trello that will help your employees work on an important project simultaneously and leave comments, share documents, and download files instantly.

If scheduling meetings, finding the right time for everyone, and sending circular emails has become too tiresome to you, you should go with the tools like Doodle. With it, you can select stuff like dates, time, and places and invite your employees to vote. Once all votes are in, you just need to choose the option that works for everyone.

Use tools like Smashfly or BreezyHR to automate your hiring process instead of sifting through the mountains of job applications manually.

You can also invest in a smart bot like Spoke to answer repetitive internal questions for you. Your employees can ask you questions via email, Slack, and similar platforms and get the answers instantly. Most importantly, Spoke is based on AI, meaning that it collects insights from every conversation so it can reply to similar questions faster in the future.

5.  Financial Management

To stay competitive, you need to know where your money flows or comes from. This means knowing to read your financial statements and monitoring a bunch of your invoices, taxes, bills on a monthly basis. And, if you don’t do it properly, you may put your business at risk.

If hiring an accountant is not an option for you, you can always consider investing in the right cloud-based accounting software such as QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Zoho Books, or Xero. These tools automate repetitive tasks, such as recurring invoices, bill payments, or payment reminders. They keep track of all your credit card transactions, classify all your expenditures, and help you monitor them in real-time. Most importantly, they can automate your financial report creation and offer regular data backups so you don’t have to worry about the safety of your sensitive data.

Conclusions

In the world of sophisticated technologies, not investing in your business automation means missing out on the opportunity to improve your customer satisfaction, save money, and boost your workplace performance. By leaving monotonous tasks to your software, you and your team can finally focus on some other, more creative aspects of your job.

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The Future of Internet of Things

Everything changes so rapidly! We have evolved from the dial-up connection to superfast 24/7 available internet connection. We are globally connected with others, work from home, have friends on the different continents and travel super fast from one destination to another.

With all of these valuable things that the internet evolution has brought, internet of things iot ts 100709714 largeunfortunately, comes a big issue – privacy. With social media and routers that hold all of our private info, imagine your coffee maker and the car having more info about you? Imagine that all of your devices are interconnected with you. It is pretty intriguing, right? That concept is called the Internet of things!

And it is an interesting concept. For those who are getting to know this idea for the first time, it could sound pretty weird. In order to understand the concept and its future, we should first define the Internet of Things.

What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of things as an idea could lead us to a life that we could only dream of, although, it is not necessarily in a good way. The interconnectedness sounds pretty cool and exciting when you imagine the outcome and then move on with your regular life. But, imagine a day in a world where billions of your private data flow from one device to another and impact the course of your action. For example, your car is connected to your calendar, so it knows where you should be that exact day and it starts to count the best route for you to come just in time.

You are probably wondering, how in the world is this possible? Well, we should start from the basis. Internet of things is including all the devices that have an on and off switch to the Internet. That will include everything from cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of.

The Internet of Things and Net Neutrality

As the broadband internet has become widely available, the cost of Internet connection proportionally decreased. Furthermore, there are more devices that have WI-FI option and sensors in them, plus technology costs are going down. These conditions are a perfect foundation for the Internet of Things (IoT).

Maybe the most important factor for the IoT is net neutrality regulation. According to experts, without net neutrality the future of IoT is uncertain. But, why is that the case?

Net neutrality ensures that you can use the device you want to. Current net neutrality rules imply that the internet provider is not allowed to stop you from connecting any laptop, tablet, smartphone, or WI-FI router you prefer to your home network. However, without net neutrality, everything will change.

For example, broadband companies and cell carriers could create unfair conditions on the market. They could let internet traffic to flow faster to one brand of phone or computer over another.

Charter Communications have started testing 5G technologies in 6 cities earlier this year. It is predicted that Charter Spectrum Internet 5G network will be the first network designed to be scalable, versatile, and energy smart for the hyper-connected internet of everything world. 5G platform will impact many industries including automotive, entertainment, agriculture, manufacturing and IT. As industries are preparing for 5G, we’ll see the issue of net neutrality come to the forefront.

Let’s sum it up! If the internet providers have the power to decide which gadget or home appliance you should or shouldn’t use, they create winners and losers on the market. That would be the worst case scenario for you, competition and the future of the IoT.

Internet of things and smart cities

Basically, everything that can be connected will be connected in the future. Although it is scary and dangerous on some levels, interconnectedness can be great for the environment.

If we take a look at a broader picture, the Internet of things can be applied to things like transportation networks: "smart cities" which can help us to reduce waste and improve efficiency for things such as energy use; this would be helping us understand and improve how we work and live.

The truth is that the IoT allows for virtually endless opportunities and connections to take place, many of which we can't even imagine or fully understand.

Internet of things and security

Security is a big issue, and it is in the center of attention today. But, can you imagine how it would look like with billions of devices being connected together? What can people do to protect their information? Will someone be able to hack into your toaster and get access to your entire network? If we are discussing privacy and safety today, we don’t even want to know how the conversation would go if the internet of things becomes our reality.

Another logical question arises – where are they going to store that amount of data?  Billions of information have to be stored somewhere, and that would be a huge challenge for the companies

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Top 4 Free Applications for SMBs

Even though most people may not realize it, small and medium businesses are the backbone of the economy. In 2016, there were 28.8 million small businesses in the US, which translates to 99.7% of all American businesses – and in fact, since the 1970s, 66% of total net new jobs are generated by small businesses, which also make for 55% of all jobs in the marketplace. Yet only 50% of those businesses are set to surpass five years and only one third will survive for at least 10 years. This means that SMB owners have to play it smart in order to increase their chances in a highly competitive market – so why not take advantage of free applications that could be ideal for your enterprise?

1. Project Management

One of the most important questions you have to deal with as an SMB is how to deal with managing various projects among the few people that you employ. There are software tools out there that can help make that easier for you, by streamlining communication between team members and allowing you to stay on top of the workflow. Asana, one of the most popular PM apps, is free for the first 15 users, making it great for small businesses. It has a flexible interface and visually documents progress, while it can integrate with services like Evernote, Google Drive, MailChimp, and WordPress.

project management

 

Source: Pexels

2. Traffic Management

When your SMB has a website – as most businesses today do – then sometimes managing traffic can be daunting. A load balancing tool such as HAProxy (High Availability Proxy) allows you to allocate load across multiple servers and help optimize system performance and speed. HAProxy is a free and open source (FOSS) application– it is included in some Linux distributions, if your system runs on Linux, or it can be downloaded separately. Due to its elaborate nature, though, it also requires IT expertise to set up and maintain – so having the right people on board in-house or hiring outside help is crucial.

3. Productivity

Especially when working in small numbers or when you are freelancing, time can really fly. A good time tracking app can help both you and people on your team stay more focused on the task at hand and spend less time distracted by social media or less important tasks. RescueTime is a time management app that tracks where you allocate your precious time by website and application and allows users to set productivity goals. The basic version is completely free, but if you want features like blocking certain sites or breaking down offline activity, then you’ll have to upgrade to premium for a little extra. RescueTime is flexible across platforms and can be used on Mac, PC, and Linux, but its app is currently only available on Android.

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Source: Pexels

4. Team Communication

Besides specialized project management apps, it is nice to have a tool dedicated to internal communication in order to make sure that everyone is up to date and colleagues can get easily in touch when needed. Slack is your best friend – and its basic version is free for an unlimited number of users, although it comes with space and feature limitations. You can create a shared workspace with organized communication channels, customized notifications, searchable messages and mandatory two-factor authentication for extra security.

So if you’d like to increase productivity while on a budget, there is no better way to do it than to look out for these free software tools and choose which one right for your company’s needs.

 

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Data Protection Best Practices for SMBs

Data protection comprises of a mix of services, all poised to ensure that IT environments do not experience data loss, data leakage and downtime. Data protection technologies hold a special place for Small to Medium sized Businesses (SMBs).

Importance of Data Protection for SMBs

As businesses grow they rely on digitalization and the data generated, as a result. Data can be classified into different types Data Protectionsuch as mission critical data, frequently accessed data, infrequently accessed data and archival data. Each type presents its own unique storage requirements and challenges. The most important type of data among this chunk is mission critical data. This is the type of data that fuels all of the processes of the IT environments of a business. If this data is lost or compromised, the business experiences an outage or downtime.

Outage or downtime tends to be very costly for businesses; they incur financial repercussions and reputation damage. If an SMB does not have adequate data protection technology and techniques, then they are more susceptible to data loss or downtime and in turn financial costs and reputation damage. In the worst case scenario, an SMB may not even recover from it.

That’s why data protection technology is very important for businesses and especially SMBs.

Now the question is “What are Data Protection Technologies?”

What are Data Protection Technologies?

The major part of data protection technologies can be severed into two: Backup and disaster recovery. Backup and disaster recovery technologies are sometimes confused with one another; however, the two are very different.

The comparison between the two is an explanation for another time but the concise difference is that backup is meant to prevent data loss in all its entirety; while disaster recovery services reduce downtime by prioritizing the restoration of mission critical data.

Data Backup Options for SMBs

Data backup options for SMBs can all be summed up in two major types: Cloud backups and On-premises backups.

On-premises backups require SMBs to acquire an infrastructure, set it up and then endure the dynamic costs of maintenance, power, cooling costs and an IT professional or a team that manages the infrastructure for them. The plus side to on-premises backup appliances is that they deliver reduced latency; if an IT environment is focused on faster data flow, then backup appliances are probably the better fit.

Cloud backups enable SMBs to acquire backup services without the acquisition of infrastructure and without initial costs. Cloud backup service providers deliver pay-as-you-go payment models. Instead of commissioning a backup infrastructure that has storage resources which sit idly until they’re used; SMBs can acquire the storage space that they need with cloud technology and then scale up later to add more space.

The most well sought after attributes of cloud technology are scalability and cost effectiveness.

The downside of cloud backups is that each time a backup file is retrieved, the process incurs charges. This requires detailed management of the backup and restore processes; otherwise, cost efficiency is compromised.

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) Options for SMBs

Similar to backup solutions, disaster recovery solutions also come in two major forms: on-premises disaster recovery and cloud disaster recovery.

On-premises disaster recovery solutions comprise of an infrastructure that replicates data using combinations of technologies like data replication technology and snapshot technology. Disaster recovery solutions tend to be quite expensive because they need optimized technology to reduce RTOs (Recovery Time Objectives) and RPOs (Recovery Point Objectives) as much as they can.

Cloud disaster recovery solutions are less taxing and less expensive than on-premises disaster recovery solutions. However, as with all cloud based services, latency remains an issue. For IT environments that cannot tolerate latency, on-premises disaster recovery technology is the better option.

Till this point, we are now familiar with backup and disaster recovery technology and we know why data protection is important for SMBs.

Let’s explore some data protection best practices for SMBs.

Best Practices – What SMBs should do to efficiently protect their data

Before indulging in the best practices, I’d like to mention here that each business has their customized data requirements. This implies that what’s best for one IT environment may not be for another; one shoe does not fit all. It’s better to scrutinize your data requirements before setting up data protection solutions.

With that in mind, here’s a general set of recommendations pertaining to data protection for SMBs.

Setup a Hybrid Solution – Cloud and On-premises

Instead of setting up a single on-premises or cloud based solution, I recommend setting up a hybrid data protection solution that uses both of them.

Initially, acquire a backup appliance for all your backup purposes and setup cloud disaster recovery services with it. As the data grows, you can either scale-out the appliance or you can set it up with a cloud based service. The compatibility depends on the appliance and the vendor. It is important to make sure that the desired services are being offered before the acquisition of the solution.

The initial setup will accommodate all the SMB’s data requirements and as the requirements increase, the SMB can use cloud connect services or cloud gateway appliances to tap into the cloud and utilize the different storage tiers offered by major cloud service providers.

With this setup, SMBs can have a scalable solution that’s optimized to address all their data requirements and is cost efficient. This sort of a setup is basically future proof; SMBs don’t have to worry about future expansion.

The cloud disaster recovery service will ensure that downtime is reduced while keeping the cost implications in check.

That sums up my insight about the subject. What’s your take on it? Comment below and remember to share with other professionals.

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How to Collaborate Effectively If Your Team Is Remote

by Erica Dhawan and Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

February 27, 2018

 

Remote Team

Remote communication isn’t always easy. Do you recognize yourself in any of these examples?

At 10 p.m., a corporate lawyer gets a text from a colleague and wonders (not for the first time) if there’s a protocol about work-related texts after a certain hour.

After a long and liquid client dinner, an advertising executive opens an email from his boss reminding him to submit his expenses on time. Annoyed by this micromanagement, he immediately responds with his uncensored thoughts.

On the weekly team conference call, a remote team member is confused about whether her colleague is really on mute when she delays a response to a question or if shes just not paying attention and is using this as an excuse.

When it’s possible to be set off by a phone’s mute button, it’s safe to say that we’re living in challenging times. The digital era has ushered in a revolution in communication that’s equivalent to the one surrounding the invention of the printing press. It’s changing how we speak — often in bullet points. And it’s affecting what we hear, as the jumble of information coming at us can lead to frequent misunderstandings and confusion.

People who work on remote teams face these challenges consistently. According to recent estimates from Gallup and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 22% of Americans work from home, while nearly 50% are involved with remote or virtual team work. This continuing shift calls for a new range of behaviors and skills.

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Top Takeaways - Ingram Cloud Summit

Talk about a working vacation, I have returned well-rested and intellectually nourished from the just completed Ingram Cloud Summit held at an iconic, old-school Florida hotel (Boca Resort). In my earlier blog, I spoke toward CloudBlue, a new platform announced by Ingram Micro and Microsoft. 
But there were other nuggets at this event.

Here is my take.
1. SkyKick $40m Raise. Wow – that was a surprise. As I was monitoring Seattle-based GeekWire, a story broke that migration and backup ISV SkyKick closed on a $40-million investor round. It brings its

Skykick

Lauren Wood (SkyKick) with a partner.

2. Women in Technology. I attended a pre-conference afternoon panel about Women in Technology. As I like to do, I asked one question. While most of the women leaders on stage were from the corporate world, there was one like-minded SMB entrepreneur (Dao Jensen, Kaizen Tech Partners) who spoke towards feeling challenged as a woman geek in high school. I asked her about the findings in a popular book “The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance---What Women Should Know” (Shipman and Kay) wherein as young people transition from tweens to teens, men become overconfident and women have a drop in confidence. Dao and the other panelists affirmed that inflection point in life and offered sage advice, experience, etc. Bottom line. A recognition that we all need to work on inspiring confidence in women.

 

womenintechnology

 

3. IAMCP Expanding. I’m a fan of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) monthly lunch meeting in Seattle that I attend regularly plus its annual presence at the Microsoft Inspire partner conference. I wasn’t used to seeing IAMCP at a conference like Ingram Cloud Summit. It appeared to be happy hunting to recruit new IAMCP members as the Ingram Cloud Summit catered to larger partners.

4. Microsoft IoT. The coolest thing on the tradeshow floor was the Microsoft IoT SUV. IoT was the overarching theme for the Ingram Cloud Summit (hey – every conference has to have a theme). The IoT SUV was here, now and pragmatic. I felt a lot of the IoT conversations were still too far off in the future to impact today’s cash flow. But we’re getting closer. 

iotSUV

 

 

The IoT SUV was very popular! 

5. Hallway 101. Long-time readers know that I prefer to work the hallways all-day every day at conferences versus attending lectures to meet people (I wasn’t a well-behaved student due to ADHD). The good news is that there are folks just like me walking ‘da halls and open to networking. Shout outs to Jeff Ponts (DataTel) and George Mellor (KloudReadiness) for sincere business development conversations.

jeffponts
 Jeff Ponts from DataTel

george

George Mellor from KloudReadiness

Really enjoyed this event and I will repeat. Join me.

 

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Why Microsoft gave Windows 10 (version 1803) a different name

Rather than recycling 'seasonal' names for OS upgrades, the company changed things up this time around.

 

Microsoft Windows 10

 

Microsoft will start distributing the next Windows 10 feature upgrade, "Windows 10 April 2018 Update," today - a few weeks later then it had been expected to arrive.

The release date barely squeaked under the wire Microsoft set for itself with its labeling of the upgrade, although the company has never expressed concern when actual release dates have conflicted with each update's alternate - and numeric - title, the one formatted as yymm. That conflict continued with the April 2018 upgrade. Its 1803 moniker envisioned a March, not a last-day-of-April, debut.

 

Microsoft will start distributing the next Windows 10 feature upgrade, "Windows 10 April 2018 Update," today - a few weeks later then it had been expected to arrive.

The release date barely squeaked under the wire Microsoft set for itself with its labeling of the upgrade, although the company has never expressed concern when actual release dates have conflicted with each update's alternate - and numeric - title, the one formatted as yymm. That conflict continued with the April 2018 upgrade. Its 1803 moniker envisioned a March, not a last-day-of-April, debut.

But the new name puts a spotlight on more than just that long-standing contradiction. Here are the most likely reasons Microsoft changed Windows 10's nicknaming.

Microsoft would have exhausted seasonal names

After last year's "Fall Creators Update," for the October feature upgrade, Microsoft would have run out of seasons this month unless it was willing to upend, if not its twice-annual cadence, then the times during the year when it would issue a refresh. (There was a time when virtually everyone, including Computerworld, assumed the latest would be branded as "Spring Creators Update," a single-word upgrade on April 2017's "Creators Update.")

The protesting howls would have matched stadium concert levels.

As some noted, the naming is also northern hemisphere-centric, because south of the equator, "spring" comes in September and "fall" in March.

So, absent a decision to add Roman numerals to the nameplates - "Spring Creators Update II" or "Fall Creators Update IV" - and risk mimicking Hollywood's creative bankruptcy, Microsoft faced a forced name change.

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Leveraging the Power of AI to Stop Email Scammers

Staff members are on the frontline when it comes to cyberattacks against their employers. They’re increasingly seen by hackers as a weak link in the cybersecurity chain. That’s why most threats today come via email, aimed squarely at tricking the recipient into downloading malware, divulging log-ins or making wire transfers to the attacker. Trend Micro predicts cumulative losses from Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks alone will hit $9 billion this year.

As attacks get smarter, so must we. That’s why Trend Micro is SMB Nation WhatsYourX Banners 220x150introducing two innovative new offerings to help in the fight against email scammers. One is a new AI-powered feature designed to improve BEC detection while the other will help IT teams train their employees to spot phishing attacks. It’s one more step towards taking the fight to the bad guys.

The email threat

There’s no doubt that email is the primary threat vector for attackers targeting organizations today. The Trend Micro™ Smart Protection Network™ blocked more than 66 billion threats in 2017, over 85 percent of which were emails containing malicious content.

BEC is an increasingly favored tactic as the rewards can be huge. It’s hard for many organizations to spot because attacks typically don’t contain any malware; they rely mainly on social engineering of the carefully selected recipient. That recipient, usually in the finance department, is sent an email impersonating the CEO, CFO, or other executive requesting that they urgently make a wire transfer or reply with sensitive data. With average losses topping $130,000 per incident, it’s no surprise that we saw an increase in attempted BEC attacks on our customers of 106 percent between 1H and 2H 2017.

This is not to underplay the impact phishing continues to have on organizations around the globe. By targeting employees, attackers can spread malware and covertly infiltrate networks to steal sensitive data and IP. Results from the Black Hat Attendee Survey last year illustrate the impact this trend is having on organizations.

  • IT Leaders cited phishing as their #1 security concern
  • Phishing was identified as the most time-consuming threat
  • The weakest link in IT security was cited as end users being tricked by phishing attacks
  • 19 percent rated phishing as the most serious cyber threat to emerge within the past year, second only to ransomware

Taking action

The potential financial and reputational damage of such attacks is obvious. In the face of these rising threat levels we must hit back — and we have, with two new free tools.

Writing Style DNA includes new AI-powered technology that learns how executives write so that it can spot impersonation attempts, and sends a warning to the implied sender, recipient and the IT department. It sounds straightforward but requires serious computing power and smart AI algorithms to achieve. For each user, a personal model is created using 7,000 features of writing characteristics to train the system — things like punctuation and sentence length. We convert emails to meta data before analyzing, to protect customer’s privacy and meet compliance requirements.

Focusing on the writing style in the body of the email complements existing techniques that analyze behavior and intention. Some of these current techniques can fail if, for example, the attacker uses compromised accounts at legitimate domains to hide the true origin of the email. It’s one more tool to help IT teams push back the rising tide of email threats, and it will be made available at no extra cost as part of Cloud App Security (CAS) for Office 365 and ScanMail for Microsoft Exchange (SMEX),

First line of defense

Technology is a vital layer of defense to keep email threats at bay. But what about your employees, who are often thought of as the ‘weakest link?’

We can help here, too. A new free SaaS-based phishing simulation service can help IT teams train employees to spot attempted attacks before they have a chance to impact the organization. Phish Insight is all about enhancing awareness of your staff. All it takes is one administrator, four steps and five minutes to run a real-world exercise designed to mimic what employees might see at their desks.

With the detailed reporting results, displayed in a handy graphical interface, IT teams can then tailor their education programs to make lasting behavioral changes.

Phish Insight is now available free of charge to all organizations of all sizes around the world. The service has been available for a year in Asia and has generated huge interest as organizations leverage it to turn their weakest link into a formidable first line of defense. As email threats continue to rise, we’d encourage you to take a look.

To stop phishing and social engineering attacks it is critical to make both your people and your technology smarter. Phish Insight trains your people to better spot phishing attacks and Writing Style DNA confirms the authorship of an email to prevent CEO fraud and other types of BEC attacks.

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All Together Now: CloudBlue

At this week’s Ingram Micro’s Cloud Summit conference for partners, MSPs and resellers, a new line of business called CloudBlue was announced and released into the wild whacky world of cloud computing. My take is CloudBlue basically aggregates a lot of existing Ingram Micro cloud assets under one umbrella. It is considered a new division within Ingram Micro and Microsoft is a significant strategic partner in this solution. Microsoft declined to specify if it was a financial investor.

Microsoft and Ingram Micro will co-sell the CloudBlue commerce platform to new service providers joining Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program, and the CloudBlue platform will operate on Microsoft Azure.At this week’s Ingram Micro’s Cloud Summit conference for partners, MSPs and resellers, a new line of business called CloudBlue was announced and released into the wild whacky world of cloud computing. My take is CloudBlue basically aggregates a lot of existing Ingram Micro cloud assets under one umbrella. It is considered a new division within Ingram Micro and Microsoft is a significant strategic partner in this solution. Microsoft declined to specify if it was a financial investor. Microsoft and Ingram Micro will co-sell the CloudBlue commerce platform to new service providers joining Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program, and the CloudBlue platform will operate on Microsoft Azure.

Almost two and a half years ago, Ingram Micro acquired Odin (the successor brand to Parallels). While I’ve covered that in the past, Odin brought a line of work to Ingram allowing ISVs, Distis and entrepreneurs to create a cloud marketplace with provisioning, billing and support. In many ways I thought that interesting in that I liked Odin as an independent solution that could serve other distributors such as D&H Distributing plus its really strong research arm that published excellent primary research. Over the past couple of years, I felt we had “lost” both the independent platform and research with the Odin acquisition; CloudBlue now clarifies what “happened” to Odin and brings the platform back to the center of attention. 

In an interview with Richard Dufty, Executive Vice President of Ingram Cloud, he stated that CloudBlue brings together a rich set of assets in the Ingram Micro family in a multi-year development effort.CloudBlue has the following components: 

Marketplace

Service Catalog

Subscription Management

Billing and Invoicing

Provisioning

Reporting/BI

Channel Enablement

Platform

You can see in Figure 1 showing a significant resource commitment in terms of money, time and labor. You can also get a sense of the CloudBlue scale, scope and geography. 

CloudBlue Fig1

Figure 1: CloudBlue facts. 

The CloudBlue commerce platform enables service providers of any size and a wide variety of business models to automate, aggregate and monetize their own cloud and digital services as well as those from third-parties. CloudBlue also enables ISVs to take their offerings to market almost instantly across the entire multi-service provider ecosystem with the company’s industry-leading cloud commerce and anything-as-a-service (XaaS) platform. Loosely translated, an SMB Nation MSP could be a cloud market place/cloud distributor. Reflecting Odin’s roots, CloudBlue launches with significant telecom support: Sprint, Centurylink, Cogeco, Telefonica, O2, Telenor, Telekom Austria, AmericaMovil, Cobweb, GTI, Copaco, PCM and Telstra.

Self-Service Platform?

In another private meeting with Ingram Micro executives, it was noted that CloudBlue will endeavor to offer a customer-facing self-service portal. I called BS as it has been my (admittedly biased) experience that technology self-service is an oxymoron (customers are lazy IMHO). But the upside for CloudBlue is that I believe partners and MSPs will be in continued market demand; this stuff doesn’t just happen on its own. Self-service is over-rated.

Developers are the New Rock Stars

An inherent assumption concerning CloudBlue is the focus on intellectual property and DevOps. This is less of an infrastructure play and more of a app bolt-on play. It’s a natural progression as they aren’t making servers like they used to buddy boy. It creates a challenge for us Big Iron server-side guys as we’ll need to continue our own transformative journey to recreate and reinvent ourselves. Look at Figure 2 and observe the CloudBlue architecture and design. This is showing the internals with an emphasis on API-based connectivity. 

fig2 cloudblue

Figure 2: Get Your Geek On!

The Ingram CTO who presented the CloudBlue architecture emphasized ease-of-use in API creation and integration but I’ve had my fingertips burned in software development projects so I’ll withhold judgement until I learn more about CloudBlue. At the core of the CloudBlue ecosystem, is its proprietary API technology, APS, which customers can use to immediately connect to CloudBlue’s network of vendor solutions, enabling them to offer these vendor solutions in conjunction with their own core services quickly and easily. CloudBlue provides a single entry point to an ecosystem of the world’s most innovative ISVs, including more than 200 pre-integrated solutions from Microsoft, Dropbox, DocuSign, IBM, Cisco, Symantec and many more.

BTW – you can revisit a past blog on Slingr’s “Platform as a Service” play that provides additional context on API integrations and the bolt-on concept here.  

Scale Sales Quickly

A woman who most recently was a CMO inside a Big Data organization once told me what her takeaway was from her graduate school experience (MBA): learning how to scale. Agreed as MBAs are typically oriented towards enterprises and not entrepreneurs. Adopting the same MBA-like mindset, I’d concur with Ingram Micro’s assertion that CloudBlue’s raison d'être is rapid sales scalability (CloudReferral; CloudMarketplace; CloudPremium). It’s “graduate school” for the merchant and reseller class. You can see BlueClouds scalability intentions in Figure 3. 

CloudBlue Fig3

 

Figure 3: Visualizing worldwide scalability via CloudBlue.

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10 Key Technologies that enable Big Data Analytics for businesses

Big Data

 

The big data analytics technology is a combination of several techniques and processing methods. What makes them effective is their collective use by enterprises to obtain relevant results for strategic management and implementation.

In spite of the investment enthusiasm, and ambition to leverage the power of data to transform the enterprise, results vary in terms of success. Organizations still struggle to forge what would be consider a “data-driven” culture. Of the executives who report starting such a project, only 40.2% report having success. Big transformations take time, and while the vast majority of firms aspire to being “data-driven”, a much smaller percentage have realized this ambition. Cultural transformations seldom occur overnight.

At this point in the evolution of big data, the challenges for most companies are not related to technology. The biggest impediments to adoption relate to cultural challenges: organizational alignment, resistance or lack of understanding, and change management.

Here are some key technologies that enable Big Data for Businesses:

 

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SMB HR: LinkedIn isn't the best way to...

shakinghands

by John Reed

7% of candidates that come through referrals account for 40% of total hires

As a source of new, competent staff, employee referrals have no equal. There is no other source for candidates that generate the same ROI; in fact the 7% of candidates that come through referrals account for 40% of total hires.

New data show that employee referrals provide better candidates, higher retention rates and help companies hire faster.

Referrals are the number one source of high performing employees.

Applicants hired from a referral begin their position quicker than applicants found via job boards and career sites (after 29 days compared with 39 days via job boards and 55 via career sites).

Referral hires have higher retention rates – 46% of employee referrals stay for three years or more, compared to only 14% of those hired from job boards.

Challenges to employee referral programs

Recruiters and hiring managers realize how important and effective employee referrals are, and every large enterprise today has referral programs to stimulate their existing workforce to help identify quality candidates within their network. Companies use monetary incentives, in some cases several thousands of dollars, to get employees to refer candidates for critical open positions.

The HR question is: why do only 7% of all applications come through referrals? What is stopping employees from referring more candidates?

Recruiters declare that especially for senior roles, the peers that could make an introduction to the right candidates are usually senior managers or directors with a very busy schedule and little or no time for browsing through a company’s open positions and then identifying great candidates within their network.

The other problem is that sometimes even though a first attempt is made, employees forget to follow up, and the referral doesn’t go further.

Make referrals easy for your employees

The best way for recruiters to quickly identify great candidates through referrals would be to source talent within an employees’ network and identify candidates upfront. Once the passive candidate has been identified, the employee’s job is to simply make the introduction and let HR follow up with the talent. In order to implement and manage this process, recruiters have to:
1. Access employee’s network upfront
2. Leverage automated notification and customized messages
3. Track in real-time the status of referrals

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Visual Studio 2017 roadmap: The new features y

Microsoft adds capabilities to the Visual Studio IDE almost every month. Here's what you can expect for the rest of 2018.

 

 

road to future 100719709 large

 

Microsoft has published a roadmap of features planned for Visual Studio 2017 in 2018.

Some key capabilities anticipated by June 2018 include:

  • Setup of continuous delivery for the Azure Functions serverless computing platform.
  • Faster switching of Git branches.
  • Just-in-time debugging for .Net Core.
  • Customizing of the Visual Studio installation location to reduce the footprint on the system drive.
  • Improved startup and load performance.
  • Full C++ 17 conformancein the Microsoft C++ compiler and libraries.
  • Creation of F#Net Core projects.
  • Ability to fix code style violations via one-click code cleanup.
  • Improved Python debugging experience.
  • Full support for .Net Core 2.1, which will be in a beta version.

For July through September 2018, planned key features include:

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(Internet of) Things as a Service (TaaS) – Hype vs. Reality

With all of the excitement around Internet of Things (IoT), it can be difficult to separate hype from reality. IoT is more about disruptive new business models than technology.

Move aside SaaS, IaaS, PaaS (Software, Infrastructure, and Platform as a service) – there is a new kid, TaaS (internet of Things as a Service), in town.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a trend in which the physical world is becoming a type of giant information system—through IOT one photo shutterstock 468787469 A2sensors and telematics embedded in physical objects and linked through wireless networks. As with all new and exciting technologies, it's difficult to separate hype from reality. Certainly the IoT, with its promise of connecting homes and cars, smart grids and smart manufacturing fit into this category. What is different this time around is the convergence of disruptive technologies such as cloud and mobile, shrinking hardware and ubiquitous connectivity, increasing business use cases that are rewriting traditional business rulebook.

IDC says the number of connected devices will increase to 30 billion this decade. The mix of devices will shift from traditional clients such as tablets, smartphones and wearables to IoT devices ranging from sensors to jet engines, transmission grids, and facilities equipment to assembly line machinery, train switches, even cattle. The things that we expect to connect to the Internet will consists of sensors, actuators with information processing and communication capabilities that will make themselves intelligent.

While consumers eagerly await a new iWatch, Android wear­able or a new smart home device from companies such as Nest; for organizations like Ford, FedEx, and GE it is all about IoT-enabled intelligent sensors, machine-to-machine connectivity, and sophis­ticated back-end data analytics to reap the busi­ness benefits of instrumenting, configuring, connecting, contextizing, and analyzing data from equipment, vehicles, physical infrastructure, smart grids and even humans. At the heart of IoT is ma­chine-to-machine (M2M) communications.

The first thing to keep in mind about IoT is the distinction be­tween the consumer and industrial spaces. IoT industrial needs to support a vari­ety of last-mile technologies driven by unique application and environmental requirements as traditional consumer oriented wireless and mobility would not work in all situations.

We would need a whole new infrastructure where disparate devices on industrial equipment, environmental sensors, home appliances, consumer wearables can relay data, and talk to the central public or private cloud services, where most powerful data aggregation and analysis will occur.

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