How Technology Can Increase Your Competitive Advantage

April 8th, 2019 by Julie Lough

Technology fuels competitive advantages

Businesses spend millions on marketing each year in an attempt to look different from the competition. While marketing will always remain essential, technology offers endless opportunities to create differentiators that put real space between you and your competitors.

How Technology Affects Competitive Advantage

Many companies believe they must make massive changes and large investments to reap the advantages of changing technology. This isn’t true, although organizations that adopt software solutions not suited to their company struggle to adapt and actually create a disadvantage.

Before diving into any big technology purchases, we recommend working with a strategic managed IT provider (like Micro Visions!) to gain an edge without creating problems. Here are a few ideas:

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Exploring Cloud Based Document Sharing

August 12th, 2014 by Pamela Michael

MVI Cloud-based document sharingLast week we highlighted a survey that revealed many small to midsize businesses were slow to implement new technologies. In fact, 80% of business owners polled said that their teams did at least some of their work remotely, yet only 30% of them had embraced cloud computing. If your company is one of those struggling to bridge the gap between an increasingly remote workforce and their need to more easily collaborate, we’d like to introduce you to, or at least shed some light on, the benefits of cloud based document sharing.

Traditionally, companies would store, share, and backup their data on a central server, with files accessible on individual workstations. This traditional server model works great and is extremely secure. However, a virtual private network (VPN) is required to enable external access. Though this system works very well when properly maintained, a new, simpler option now exists – in the cloud. Online services such as Box, Dropbox, Egnyte, and OneDrive now allow users to immediately access, edit, and sync files across multiple devices anytime, anywhere, without the costs associated with managing and maintaining a VPN. Syncing is done automatically, and most robust programs offer the ability to see who is working on a particular document at any given time.

Beyond the cost savings, online document sharing is not hindered by file size. Many times throughout production or life of a project, the need will arise to share large files either inter-departmentally, with vendors, or with clients. Unfortunately, email systems have limitations on file size. If the file was too large, a transfer to disc would be required, resulting in additional costs and loss of productivity while in transit. With a cloud file server, this no longer happens. Those requiring access are provided a link and or password for immediate access.

Additionally, work flow is often enhanced with online file sharing. Because everyone is working within the same file, there are no version mix-ups. Audit trails are typically available on more robust systems, older versions are protected, and notifications to team members can be automated whenever someone reviews or completes another phase of the project.

Though borne from the 21st century’s need for better workforce accessibility, online document sharing and collaboration is a technological advancement that, if utilized, can improve the lives of almost every computer user. Students are collaborating on projects, and study groups no longer face traditional scheduling restraints. Organizations are planning events based on the latest attendance forecasts. Teammates are sharing photos, confirming schedules, and organizing carpools. Personally, even my “mom-duties” are easier now. Having the grocery list attached to the fridge with a magnet is incredibly helpful when someone polishes off the peanut butter. However, the poster board needed for a project and the cookies someone committed to bring often resulted in an additional trip to the store for me. Not any longer. These items are easily added to the shared list that everyone has access to. As an added bonus: I never forget the list on the counter anymore — I simply pull it up on my phone at the store!

Though many advantages exist for online file sharing and collaboration, businesses are cautioned to do a thorough analysis to determine whether introducing this innovation is best for their individual situation. Two key areas to fully investigate are, obviously, security and cost. Remember, while cloud computing is generally deemed to be safe, you are allowing your data to leave the confines of the environment you control. Traditional servers are not without risk, but you and your IT partner do have complete control there, which is reassuring to many business owners.

If you do make the switch, be sure to invest in a professional version. Many companies offer free versions designed for personal use, which may be tempting to smaller businesses. These versions, however, do not provide adequate access control, encryption, deletion recovery, or remote wiping. Imagine your receptionist “cleaning up her files” and deleting a batch of files she never opens. Is your biggest client’s proposal now gone forever? Or, what if your salesman’s luggage — including his laptop — is lost on the way to Atlanta. Will your company’s sensitive data become available to the highest bidder at the unclaimed baggage auction in Fresno? Though not without cost, investing in a professional version will ensure that you have the features necessary to protect your valuable data assets.

Interested in learning more about online document sharing? CONTACT US for additional information. We’ll translate the technical details into business language you can use!

Keyboard Shortcuts: Boosting Productivity a Few Seconds at a Time

July 8th, 2014 by Pamela Michael

mvi control keySimply put, a shortcut key, or Keyboard Shortcut, is a key or combination of keys that execute a specific function quickly and easily without the use of the mouse. For many users, especially those who haven’t been through any formal computer training, the use of shortcut keys has never really been embraced. It seems the time it would take to memorize the combination and re-train oneself to use them would outweigh any possible productivity gain. Let’s explore that a bit, shall we?

Shortcut keys are typically accessed by using the Alt key, the Cmd key(Apple), Ctrl, or Shift. The standard method for specifying a shortcut is to list the keys in the order that they should be pressed. (If you are new to shortcut keys, understand that you will not actually press the plus “+” key, but rather add the next listed key while holding down the first.) Example: CTRL + S would be instructing you to press the Ctrl key and, while continuing to hold it down, also press the S key.

Each time we remove our hands from the keyboard to grab our mouse or trackpad we lose a few seconds of time. Learning just one or two shortcuts, then, may not add up to all that much time savings overall. However, when a number of shortcuts are learned and put into practice, many users are amazed at the boost in their productivity. The time savings could even total 8 full days per year, according to Brainscape!

If you’re not already using shortcuts, you definitely should do so. Word processing, including email composition, is a great place to begin. Start by learning these 12 basics:

CTRL + A Select all text
CTRL + S Save current document file
CTRL + X Cut selected item
CTRL + C Copy selected item
CTRL + V Paste
CTRL + P Print the current page or document
HOME Goes to the beginning of the current line
CTRL + HOME Goes to the beginning of the document
END Goes to the end of the current line
CTRL + END Goes to the end of the document
CTRL + Left Arrow Moves one word to the left at a time
CTRL + Right Arrow Moves one word to the right at a time

Ready for more? Find a more extensive list of Windows shortcuts HERE.