3 Ways to Save Your SMB Money with Technology

For many businesses, technology is an enigma. Does it help things run smoother, or does it cause massive hiccups that disrupt the flow of business?

If you aren’t careful, it’s the latter.

The key to taming the wild beast that is technology is to generally understand how each part of it works for you. Once you fit the pieces of the IT puzzle together, you can use your technology to propel you forward rather than hold you back.

Here are three ways to save your SMB money and improve the way you work.

1. Consolidate Your Tech Tools

Many organizations overlook a simple fact – they have too many tools. That can be true for both hardware and software. For example, you may have multiple servers taking up space and running up costs.

Moving some of your applications to the cloud can consolidate the amount of hardware you need while lowering your costs in the process.

The same is true for software – you don’t need to pay for multiple software licenses if you can find a platform that can do it all for you.

Related: Transform Your Work Environment with the Cloud

Consolidating your technology also inherently decreases labor costs due to simplified management. In other words, you don’t have to spend a long time managing multiple things if they’re all in one centralized location.

2. Look for Potential Efficiencies

Paper costs add up. Printing costs vary, but remain expensive in large quantities. Even when getting rid of sensitive physical information, secure shredding and disposal costs can quickly rack up.

Utilize digital copies and methods whenever possible. Going digital instantly frees your organization of many unnecessary costs.

Technological efficiencies don’t just exist at the file/folder level, either. Turning your office space into a “smart” office connected by an internal network gives you better control over all your devices.

This concept of interconnecting devices is known as the internet-of-things (IoT). Organizations are using it as a way to efficiently manage costs related to lighting, heating, cooling, and much more.

Did you know? IoT endpoints will grow to 30 billion by 2020.

3. Get a Proper IT Partnership Going

IT support is a very broad term to say “we do IT stuff”. So what exactly does that stuff entail? Anything, really – from day-to-day helpdesk tickets helping Cheryl with her emails to migrating the server to the cloud.

Related: The Top 5 Apps to Boost Your Productivity

The question you must ask yourself is this: do I need an in-house IT team? Or, if you have one, ask yourself this: Can they really do it all by themselves?

For smaller organizations, outsourcing the IT makes sense. You get a team of experienced professionals at a flat rate without having to hire, train, and variably compensate additional employees.

For larger organizations that have mission-critical in-house IT departments, outsourced IT specialists are key. They can save you money by following through on projects for a set rate. You don’t have to hire a network specialist to configure a few servers here and there.

Proper IT partnerships can cut costs and put capital back in your company where you need it most.

 

Celebrating 25 Years of IT Service

We’ve hit a huge milestone: Our 25th year in business. We’re thrilled to have grown into the IT service business we are today. So many companies like ours never get that chance, and we couldn’t be happier that we’ve been able to build what we love. Check out some of the pictures from our 25th Anniversary Party below.

Lots of friends, family and long-time clients showed up to help us celebrate. County Executive Allan Kittleman dropped by to talk about our work in the community. Larry Twele, President & CEO of the Howard County Economic Development Authority, joined us to talk about our economic presence. Linda Ostovitz from Offit & Kurman Attorneys at Law was there too (read her blog about the party). We saw Greg Fitchitt, Senior VP at Howard Hughes Corp, Stacie Hunt, President & CEO of Leadership HC, plus more than 75 other friends and clients.

The Significance of the Milestone

It’s been an action-packed time at EaseTech in our first quarter of a century. We have been working hard to help bring technology dreams to our customers. From our initial experiences while at Apple in the early days, we have honed and crafted a workplace environment that values and nurtures teamwork, loyalty and the love of technology. That’s why we have so many employees and customers who have joined and stayed with us for so long.

What we’ve been doing the last 25 years

  • Wrote and produced the first training video bundled for Apple’s Newton and as other early handheld PDAs.
  • Integrated an award-winning enterprise integration project for the largest trading floor outside on NY.
  • Designed, wrote and launched one of the first industry standard digital trading platforms for Wall Street (TRIAD)
  • Honored as the 4th fastest growing company in Maryland (1996) and Fast 50 & Fast 500 nationwide winner (1996-98)

What we’re doing today

Today, we’re 51 people strong, one of the largest and long-lasting managed IT services providers in the country. We still thrive on helping local businesses migrate to the cloud and innovate through the right technology. Here’s to another 25 great years!

This year, watch for our milestone articles, where we’ll share some of the highlights of the last 25 years.

As always, contact us if you need anything.

 

The Top 5 Apps to Boost Your Productivity

You can find an app to do almost anything these days. Apps can monitor your health, maintain your schedule and improve your social life.

While many of these apps are enjoyable, only a handful are actually business-related. But when it comes to your company, you can still continue to use these applications to improve your productivity.

If you’re looking to get productive, the following five apps are well worth implementing.

SiteBlock

When you get to the office each day, you intend to sit down and get right to work. But first, you need to check the weather, local news and, of course, Facebook.

Before you know it, you’ve wasted 15 minutes or more surfing the web. SiteBlock is a Chrome extension that lets you temporarily block your favorite sites so that you are forced to concentrate (and hopefully get your work done).

You can easily unblock them when your work is finished or when you take your lunch break.

You can consider it a willpower enhancer.

Related: Transform Your Work Environment with the Cloud

Trello

Busy people need help staying organized. No one can remember every detail of their schedule when they are balancing work and their personal life.

Many people find Trello to be an easy-to-use app that alerts you to what you need to do today, tomorrow, and next week. After some initial configuration, the program will help you meet all your deadlines by never letting an important task slip by.

Trove

Keeping up with your email may seem impossible. Even when you’re diligent, spam creeps in. You overlook an important message. You forget to follow up when people don’t reply.

Trove offers a radar section that marks emails that need answers and reminds you when people haven’t responded to your messages. With this app, you can easily maintain control of your email inbox.

Stop, Breathe & Think

Sure, “mindfulness” is amongst current trends… but for good reason. This app helps you stay calm in all situations, which is a priceless business skill as well as life-enhancer.

Stop, Breathe & Think walks you through mediation sessions that make you feel less stressed and more in control. As a result, you will be less likely to make bad decisions based on emotion. Your health will probably benefit as a result, too.

Skype

If you haven’t fully embraced Skype at your office, you may not be maximizing your productivity. Many companies use Skype for video conferencing, saving travel time, and hosting more efficient meetings.

You can discuss business matters with your overseas branch or with the group across town. If you are on vacation, you can still hold an emergency meeting if necessary.

Related: Weather the Storm with Cloud Mobility

Not everyone uses all elements of Skype, such as the ability to instant message and upload documents. You can also screen share so that you can demonstrate processes and work on projects as a team, even when people are scattered around the globe.

Get Productive

You can choose from an impressive number of applications for productivity and mobility. You will experience workflow improvement, and you should also experience less stress, individually and as a team.

Not all applications are created equal, but you can find at least a few that will work for you and your employees. Many are inexpensive or even free, so you can certainly afford to try them out. You may be surprised at how much more you will get done each day.

5 cloud benefits to give your business an advantage

Everyone uses the cloud to some extent. Yet, the more that companies take advantage of this technology, the more of a competitive edge they can gain over their competitors. Some of the benefits of the cloud include ease of scalability, reduced need for IT resources, higher flexibility and increased innovation — which all leads to reduced costs and an advantage over competitors.

Ease of Scalability

One of the greatest benefits of cloud services is their ease of scalability. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine the IT needs of a business. The cloud allows companies to scale their needs up or down as necessary.

This can help to reduce waste and drive down the cost of services. Companies won’t end up paying for services they don’t use while using cloud services — as long as they adapt to their businesses’ changing needs and scale down when necessary.

In other words, there’s no need to change a business to fit its IT needs any longer. Instead, IT needs can change to fit any business.

Related: The Evolution of Cloud Computing

Higher Cost Savings

There’s no doubt about it: servers are extremely expensive. When companies no longer need to pay for expensive servers, they can use that money in their budgets for more important costs. The cloud removes the need for expensive onsite servers. It also cuts down on software and maintenance costs.

This technology can also help to extend the life of workstation investments.

Did you know: 85%of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy.

Higher Workstation Flexibility

Since the cloud is akin to an online server, employees can work from virtually anywhere. There’s no longer a need to travel to an office and access an on-site server — or even to log on to a server remotely.

This can help to cut down on office and workstation costs. Instead of investing money in an office building, businesses can invest that money in technology, innovation, and customer service.

Related: Weather the Storm with Cloud Mobility

Reduce IT Costs

The cloud can help to reduce IT costs across the board, from CAPEX to OPEX costs.

CAPEX costs (or capital expenditures) add very little value to the company but increase the operating costs. OPEX costs (or operating expenditures) can add value to a company only if they are necessary to the day-to-day operations and increase overall productivity.

Yet when a company can cut some of these costs altogether, the company will run more efficiently. Companies can save both time and money can by cutting these expenses from the budget.

Increased Innovation

Cloud innovations are increasing by a significant margin every year. Not only are startups taking advantage of cloud-based services, but large corporations are also swapping in their expensive servers for the cloud.

This technology has evolved from simply storing information and applications on an online server to offering important data analysis services.

When it comes to the cloud, companies that take advantage of these online services have an advantage over companies that still use exclusively on-site private servers.

Did you know: 78% of executives said their teams lack the cloud skills required to achieve their five-year plans.

Embracing Cloud Computing

The companies that embrace this new technology will have a competitive edge over the companies that resist these changes. One way that companies can maintain this type of edge is by recruiting young professionals with cloud-based work solutions.

Young professionals want the ability to work anywhere at anytime. They also understand the importance of integrating social media services into the corporate culture. Cloud computing can help companies embrace new technology as it develops, and it can help to attract the types of employees who are willing to embrace that technology.

Learn more about cloud computing with EaseTech.

Webinar | Keeping Yourself Protected from Phishing Emails

Almost 90% of all cyber compromises originate from phishing emails with the intent of stealing your personal information or committing financial theft in your organization. What should you be doing to keep yourself protected from these malicious email attacks?

Join us for this exclusive educational webinar for EaseTech clients, as we cover how to spot phishing emails and what you can do to mitigate the risk of the most common cyber compromises.

Watch It Now

Phishing Email webinar

Want Young Professionals? Migrate to the Cloud First

Millennials have been flooding into the workforce. Around the globe, business owners must learn how to engage this new generation by adapting to a new system of working. (Hint: This mostly has to do with cloud computing.)

A recent survey showed a few interesting things about the millennial workforce. Check out some of the highlights:

  • 44% of millennials, if given the choice, would leave their current employers in the next two years.
  • 66% of millennials expect to leave their current positions by 2020.
  • Just 16% of millennials see themselves with their current employers a decade from now.

It’s interesting to consider how willing to change a new wave of employees are.

So, the question remains, how do you attract young professionals who produce quality work but who also won’t bounce the moment the opportunity arises? The answer is in cloud computing.

Related: The Evolution of Cloud Computing

Work Anywhere, Anytime

Many new employees want to work from home, even if it’s a few days a week. This option used to be off the table because cybersecurity and data loss prevention created difficult, if not impossible, obstacles.

In addition, virtualization capabilities enable cloud providers to deliver highly scalable solutions that allow you to convert would be CAPEX purchases, like computers and servers, into OPEX line items.

BYOD

Cloud-driven mobility makes way for businesses to finally employ true BYOD (bring your own device) programs. Gone are the days where employees have to be tethered to a desk and working from outdated devices that don’t enable greater productivity. With ever increasing internet speeds, VoIP, and cloud-based business solutions, you can now appeal to a larger cross-section of millennials who seek a choice in the devices they use for work. The cloud’s inherent nature of enabling users to work securely and efficiently from anywhere, at any time is now both a strength and benefit for the modern office that’s ready launch new BYOD policies.

Social Media Tools

Millennials love their social media. And it doesn’t end with work. Staying engaged with coworkers and employees is a high priority. By deploying tools to keep your workforce “together,” you can appeal to the generations desire to remain a part of the team, no matter where they are.

Collaboration, likewise, can be greatly enhanced when using the cloud-based web and video conferencing. Instant messaging tools, like Slack, can keep your team fully engaged even when working out of the office.

“By 2020, Millennials will comprise more than one of three adult Americans. It is estimated that by 2025 they will make up as much as 75 percent of the workforce.  Millennials’ desire for pragmatic action that drives results will overtake today’s emphasis on ideology and polarization as Boomers finally fade from the scene. Thus, understanding the generation’s values offers a window into the future of corporate America.” – Brookings Institute

The EaseTech Cloud Computing Solution

In the grand scheme of things, cloud computing is the way of the future, both for your business and for your workforce. But migration to the cloud can be tricky, and costly if not done correctly.

At EaseTech, we’ve created a cloud computing solution to help businesses attract the best talent from the incoming job pool. Contact us today to talk about your business and the cloud.

EaseTech Cloud: Your Perfect Cloud Computing Solution

5 Reasons a Cloud Migration Means Less Work for You

Stop. Don’t buy that new server. Sure the old server is dusty, slow, behind-the-times. Sure it’s incompatible with some of your new systems. Maybe it shut down altogether, and you’re reading this at Starbucks across the street from your office. But we implore you: Rather than diving headfirst into another expensive piece of hardware that will inevitably fail you, consider cloud migration.

The reality is, you’re already utilizing the cloud. Actually, 90% of organizations use the cloud in some way. It may come in bits and pieces. Maybe you use Office 365 or ADP for payroll. But a true migration to the cloud could mean less work for you in the long run.

Here are our top 5 reasons cloud migration means less work for you.

No ongoing hardware maintenance.

The problem with servers, of course, is that they are machines. No matter how amazing they are out of the box, time and use wear them down. Just look at some of those Terminator movies if you don’t believe us. When the average lifespan of a server is three to five years, you may be looking down the barrel of pretty hefty investments every few years. That’s not to mention the cost of powering, managing and cooling your server room.

In the long run, a move to the cloud puts all the hardware maintenance on the data center, and you never have to worry about it.

No ongoing software maintenance.

The problem with software is maintenance (in terms of patches and updates) and licensing. If your server is on premise, then you essentially must roll out all the updates. Most businesses with on-premise servers have a tendency to do this at night when the fewest people are working. But this may require some overnight staffing to help maintain the integrity of the network.

With cloud-based software, your updates are automatic and behind-the-scenes, so you never experience the downtime, and you never have to worry about multiple versions of software throughout your organization, which can slow down productivity.

EaseTech Cloud: Your Perfect Cloud Computing Solution

No scaling guesswork.

Is your business growing? Are you adding staff left, right and center? Considering a three-to-five-year lifespan on servers, you have to guess what kind of storage you might need going several years out. Think, are your storage needs today going to meet your needs a few years from now? Is it worth paying for that “down the road” storage now, so you don’t have to invest in new equipment earlier than planned?

In the cloud, scalability is infinite. As your needs ebb and flow, so can your storage.

No complex BDR.

What do you do when your server room has a foot of water in it? How does your backup system work? BDR planning is a complex endeavor, made even more complex when adding critical hardware to the list. But a true cloud migration can give you the power to work anywhere, anytime. This means after a disaster, you can log into your system from any desktop, laptop or mobile device, accessing your hard-earned data without any trouble.

No lag in technology.

Finally, as you invest in new technologies to help you compete and stay relevant, you never want your older tech standing in the way. With a cloud migration, you retain the ability to integrate new tech, because your network’s foundation is in the cloud. No more rigging systems, no more square pegs in a round hole. This is simply best technology practices.

Talk to us today about migrating to the cloud.

Related: Transform Your Work Environment with the Cloud

Business Having Growing Pains? Let Cloud Solutions Be Your Tonic

Business growth is a good thing, though not without its challenges. Just as successful ideas start off small and grow over time, so do businesses. Today’s SMB might become tomorrow’s industry titan. Proper growth requires new and expanding solutions if a company expects their IT to keep up.

As companies grow, so do their teams and their IT needs. An increased staff means more technology resources. Not to mention additional networking needs and greater bandwidth to support increased data traffic.

For many SMBs there will come a point where replacing, upgrading and housing expensive on-site equipment to support continued growth will cease to make sense.

That’s where cloud solutions can transform and supercharge a company’s growth trajectory. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and virtual desktops are just the start of what cloud computing can deliver a growing company.

It can also expand their staffing options (more in a minute about that).

Here are a few quick ways that cloud solutions can help your company grow with minimal pain.

Scalability That Keeps Up With Expansion

Perhaps the biggest benefit cloud solutions can offer your growing company is the ability to scale your infrastructure up or down with a few clicks of your mouse. One of the biggest side effects growth brings is bandwidth limitations and network overload.

When you switch over to cloud computing, your network instantly becomes scalable thanks to pay-as-you-grow solutions.

Rather than you having to make costly investments in hardware (think new servers and computers), cloud computing can provide unlimited vertical and horizontal scalability to meet your needs. This keeps your company from ever running into a situation where a lack of available resources hinders performance.

Or worse, causes downtime and lost productivity.

The specific solution for your company depends on your business’s unique combination of systems and software. But exchanging the upfront costs of adding more infrastructure for a flat monthly service fee means your company can focus on serving your customers while improving IT budget management.

Remote Access Through Mobility

Cloud solutions can also provide excellent mobility for your team, increasing productivity and expanding your work outside the confines of the physical office. The secure remote access that cloud technologies provide means your team can access sensitive data and systems from anywhere, anytime.

This means less downtime, more productivity, and more chances for growth.

By the way, that mobility carries over to personal devices, specifically smartphones. Cloud mobility allows your team to access data and systems in real time from devices on hand, increasing workplace connectivity.

Expanded Staffing Options

Though perhaps not the right fit for every company, there are plenty of SMBs that exist in smaller regions and markets which might not have as wide of a talent pool for new hires as they would like.

The remote access and mobility provided by the cloud equips your company to take on remote employees, or expand out into new markets and offices without suffering from connectivity or communication issues.

In the cloud, all files and systems update in real time, so all employees or potential hires get access to the latest versions of documents or other projects from almost anywhere in the world. Imagine what that kind of hiring pool could do to drive your growth!

Cloud Solutions Are the Future, Right Now

The cloud’s advantages go way beyond what they can do for your staff expansion needs. And it would be insincere of us to tell you that cloud computing is the future because, in truth, cloud computing has already nearly become the standard for SMBs and industry titans alike.

If your company is on an upward trajectory and you haven’t already considered a switch to cloud solutions, there’s no time like the present to get on board. Imagine all the future growing pains you’ll avoid!

Weather the Storm with Cloud Mobility

They call it a bomb cyclone. A low-pressure system that brings with it heavy precipitation. In winter, that means snow. And wind. And, well, a lot of potential for havoc, disruption and destruction in your business operations.

It may be a low-pressure system, but that doesn’t mean it can’t create a high-pressure situation by knocking out business systems and erasing precious data. Or forcing your team to brave sub-apocalyptic conditions to get to work, only to arrive at an office with no power or blocked access.

The antidote to this swirling cloud of chaos is, ironically enough, in the cloud. The computing cloud, that is.

Cloud technology takes technical problems off your plate so you can focus on preparing your physical location and staff for potential disaster. Here are a few ways cloud computing provides ideal protection from the chaos caused by stormy weather.

Related: Prepare Your Organization for a Winter Storm

The Cloud Makes Data Protection a Breeze (No Pun Intended)

One of the greatest benefits of cloud storage is never having to worry about losing your data to disaster, natural or manmade, again. Whether mother nature buries you in two feet of snow or twenty, the cloud ensures your data and systems are safe.

Even if a natural disaster levels your building it won’t interrupt your business systems. Not having to worry about lost data and resources means you can maintain focus on your people and your business while clean up efforts get underway.

Related: How to Build a Disaster Recovery Plan

Cloud Mobility Means Minimal Downtime

Storm got your team stranded? No problem. Cloud-based systems and storage means your employees can easily work from home until the storm breaks. Icy roads or buried buildings don’t have to mean business comes to a screeching halt.

With the cloud, employees can log into your systems remotely with full access to the programs and data they need to do their work. Gone are the days of braving sketchy travel conditions to and from the office in the name of productivity. With cloud mobility you can keep working while your competition waits out the storm.

Related: Business Mobility Tips for Bad Weather

Cloud Computing Means Less Costly Equipment On Site

Among cloud computing’s greatest benefits is that you no longer need costly equipment such as servers on site. This means when the roof comes caving in your losses are minimized because your server closet is already empty.

You get all the benefits mentioned above plus unlimited storage. They get to worry about physical storage and protection, which is something they’re far more prepared to take on. The end result is less up-front investment on your part, with those costs consolidated into one low monthly fee.

Related: How to Fix Your IT Budget

The Ultimate Silver Lining

No single business decision could protect your company from mother nature’s havoc more than switching over to cloud services. They’re more secure, scalable, and mobile than storing your data, and the equipment needed to house it, on site.

The business continuity and protection from downtime that cloud services provide can serve as the perfect buffer to keep losses to a minimum when even the worst natural disasters happen.

Like all storms, even bomb cyclones will eventually pass. Will your company’s IT pass the continuity test these and other powerful storms provide? If not, hit us up so we can help!