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Why You Should Never Use A Free Email Address For Your Business

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The message is clear: email is king. Many clients and customers choose to communicate primarily by email and as you know, it gives a fantastic ROI in your marketing strategy…unless you’re using a free email like Hotmail, Gmail, Bigpond, or even your internet provider. If that’s the case, you’re losing business each and every day.

It looks unprofessional: Imagine if banks used free email accounts – you’d never feel comfortable giving them your personal details let alone any money. How people perceive your business is what makes your business. Without that professional touch, you’ll appear temporary and fly-by-night. It puts your credibility into question and sends the message that you’re not serious about doing business – or worse – that you’re prepared to cut corners.

It erases your experience: Newer, fledgling businesses often start out with a free email address. The address clearly communicates that they are new and have little experience, and are perhaps testing the waters in a new direction. They’re not even remotely proven yet and are firmly within the hobby-zone. Continuing to use the free address once your business moves into the professional arena means you’ll struggle to build momentum and any experience will be negated.

It’s forgettable or inappropriate: Your business success hinges on being memorable enough to gain referral custom and results from your advertising. Unfortunately, free email addresses are by default filled with hard to remember clutter, for example – joesplumbing_1985@hotmail.com or milkshakes_mybabby@gmail.com.

Neither of these roll off the tongue, is appropriate for business, or can be remembered without a high likelihood of typos and bounce back. Branded email addresses such as joe@joesplumbing.com make running a profitable, scalable business much easier.

It’s not permanent or safe: When you use a free email address you are at the mercy of the email provider. They may close down operations or cancel your account for any reason. These types of accounts are also often hacked and leaked on a global scale. When a better internet or email deal comes along, you’re still stuck using the old address because it’s printed on your business cards, car lettering and flyers.

Some will agree to keep the address open for a fee, but you’ll lose the control and flexibility you need to grow your business. With your own domain name, you own it and can move it to a new business-grade email service easily. You’ll also have complete master control over the addresses within your domain, resetting passwords and creating/closing accounts at will.

Give us a call on 02 4602 6000 to set up your branded business email.

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Why Businesses Sign Up For Complete IT Management

There are many reasons why businesses opt for complete IT management. In this blog we’ll identify a few of them and explain why business owners find them so important:

Spend less money on IT

It may seem counter-intuitive, but signing up for complete IT management is one of the best ways to reduce IT costs. There are a couple of reasons for this. 

First of all, outsourcing IT management saves you from having to hire full-time IT workers. Secondly, by taking care of your technology and taking several preventative measures, you lessen the risk of more serious problems developing. 

Focus more time in your business

Many business owners have a passion for their product or service, but not necessarily for the other things that come with running a business. The mere thought of accounting probably isn’t enough to inspire someone to start a company. 

It’s the same with IT. You don’t want to have to deal with network security, but you still need to protect your business’ data. That’s where complete IT management comes into play. The less time you allocate to IT, the more you have to focus on your business. 

Get support for the rare IT problem

With complete IT management, you’ll avoid most of the typical IT problems that plague small businesses. We believe that the best way to deal with technological problems is to prevent them beforehand. 

But technology isn’t perfect. We understand that and are ready to offer support to our clients when they need it. All you have to do is send us an email or call us and we’ll send someone over to fix the problem. 

In the end, businesses sign up for complete IT management because it improves their operations and increases their productivity. 

To talk more about complete IT management, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks.

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How Scalability Links Voice Over IP and Cloud Computing

Voice Over IP and cloud computing are linked together by scalability. In addition to scalability being a defining characteristic of both services, it’s also enhanced when the two are used in accordance with each other. 

When applied to VoIP, scalability means the ability to add and drop new lines easily. If your business has a busy period in December, then you can scale up with the increase in activity and scale back down alongside it. 

In terms of cloud computing, scalability means changing the number of users who have access to your files as well as increasing and decreasing your storage needs. The idea is that you don’t have to pay for extra storage capacity that you don’t need, but you can always upgrade if that changes. 

Now when you put the two together, you get even more options. A recent Cloud Wedge article explains why VoIP is most flexible when it’s hosted on the cloud: 

“Cloud and VoIP work well together because of the rapid scalability needed in deploying a VoIP solution. Imagine if you were renting hardware by the server at your local data center and you needed to rapidly add in an additional 100 users onto your existing call platform. You might have to order server hardware, you may have to acquire licenses, you might be required to configure the servers if you don’t already have an image ready.”

You don’t have to worry about all this with a hosted VoIP solution. Scaling up or down is easy, and all you have to do is contact your service provider. Moreover, there are also options available to rent equipment if you’re not looking to make a new investment. 

VoIP on the cloud provides businesses with even more options in terms of scalability. You’re free to modify your plan based on your changing needs. 

To talk more about VoIP, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks. 

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Cloud Computing Has Revolutionized Business Operations

The effect of cloud computing on business operations has been so big that experts are referring to it as a revolution. We’re now seeing more businesses than ever switch to cloud computing to optimize their operations. 

A recent LinkedIn article talks about the impact of cloud computing and its level of priority in businesses:

“As modern SaaS application suites for HCM and marketing have generated huge new levels of business value via their enhanced capabilities and social/mobile optimization, CEOs are reclassifying marketing and HCM as mission-critical because of their specific and quantifiable links to revenue, customer engagement, and strategic execution.”

Translation: Because software as a service helps businesses quantify human capital management and marketing, CEOs now prioritize the two practices more.

This is a perfect representation of the nature of cloud computing. Cloud computing on its own won’t improve your business operations. You have to already have other components in place like marketing, human capital management, data and analytics, and customer loyalty. 

Cloud computing then helps you be more effective in each of these practices. It can help improve collaboration in marketing teams by organizing various components into one project. If several members of the marketing team are mobile or remote employees, for example, they can still work on the same project with cloud computing. 

And once businesses realize that their marketing efforts are more effective with cloud computing, they start to pay more attention to it. It’s easier to set new goals and look for improvement when you can quantify your efforts and success. Cloud computing helps you do just that. 

With the number of businesses migrating to the cloud, it’s clear that cloud computing has revolutionized business operations. If you’re looking to increase productivity in your company, then you should consider cloud computing.  

To talk more about cloud computing, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks. 

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How Office 365 and Exchange Online Reduced the Division Between Windows Computers on Macs

The division of Mac and Window computers has always caused complexities among businesses. With Office 365, the barrier between the two operating systems isn’t as divisive, and businesses are finding it easier to communicate with employees. 

First of all, there are several reasons businesses may use both Mac and Windows computers. If you have a bring your own device (BYOD) policy, then some employees will bring in MacBooks. Plus, there are some programs that users need to have a Mac for.

This used to cause problems in businesses, but Office 365 makes things simpler. According to Tech Republic, it’s now easier than even for users to access hosted Exchange with Macs:

“In my experience, clients have been well served using OS 10.6 and iOS 6 and newer with hosted Exchange. Connecting new tablets, smartphones, and Macs to hosted Exchange services typically proves to be a simple task that requires less than five minutes, assuming the user knows the correct server name, username, and password for the account. And when Apple shops add Windows machines, it’s very easy to connect Outlook to the hosted Exchange platform.”

In addition, Office 365 makes the transition to mobile easier. With Exchange Online, employees can access their company email accounts and files from any device they’d like. This is especially important for remote employees that are rarely in the office. 

Moreover, Microsoft has made the transition to Exchange Online simple and painless. It’s easy to integrate your accounts and the user-interface is straight-forward. As long as employees have been using Outlook for a while, they’ll adjust to Exchange Online in no time. 

Microsoft emphasized collaboration and mobility with Office 365 and Exchange Online. As a result, employees can work more productively since they’re not tied down to the office. We expect several businesses to start using hosted services this year. 

To talk more about Office 365, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks. 

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Which Benefit of Complete IT Management Speaks to You?

There are many benefits of complete IT management and each business values them differently. If you’re considering IT management as a solution, then see if any of the following benefits speak to you: 

Reduced IT costs

There’s a huge difference between outsourcing IT and employing a full-time IT team in terms of expenses. In fact, many of our clients come to us because they’re looking to reduce their costs. 

Complete IT management provides you with the same service as a full-time IT team for a fraction of the cost. A big reason for this is that you don’t have to pay for all your equipment when you outsource IT. 

Added network security

Data breach affects businesses just as much as it does consumers. If your business has a lot of financial data lying around, then you’ll be an easy target for hackers.

Network security is an important component of complete IT management. It’s our job to help you keep your files safe. 

Phone support when you have problems with your IT

Once we set everything up, we don’t just leave you on your own. You can call us at anytime if you’re having issues with your IT. 

We recommend trying our phone support first since we can probably solve the problem that way. This also helps your business recover quickly from minor kinks. 

Your IT team can take over when necessary

Then again, not every IT-related problem is that simple. Sometimes we’ll have to see what’s going on for ourselves.

With remote support sessions and management software, we’ll be able to detect what’s wrong and fix the problem. We’ll help you get back to your business operations as soon as possible. 

Peace of mind

And finally, many businesses come to us because they don’t want to have to worry about IT anymore. There’s a lot that can go wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing and it can be a pain to fix. If you trust us with complete IT management, then you can relax as we take care of everything. 

To talk more about complete IT management, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks. 

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3 Things to Know about Windows 10

Windows 10 is coming and is shaping up to be one of Microsoft’s best operating systems in a while. Here are three things to know if your business is considering Windows 10:

You may be eligible for a free upgrade

As discussed in this PC World article, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 users will be eligible to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. Microsoft hasn’t confirmed whether this version of Windows will require a subscription or not, but your first year will be free at the very least. 

Cortana

After the Windows 8 debacle, Microsoft is looking to make its user-experience better than ever. Cortana, Microsoft’s “Siri” or “Google Now,” will play an important role in this experience.  

According to a recent Tech Times article, Windows 10 will include voice controls:

“Cortana will be placed on the desktop next to the Star button and can be summoned by saying: “Hey Cortana.” Moreover, users will have the option to edit stuff that the assistant knows about a user so that it can improve the service.”

Spartan

And the last major thing to know is that Windows is scrapping its old browser, Internet Explorer. It’s replacing it with Spartan, which will challenge Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. 

An interesting feature of Spartan is that users will be able to draw and comment on web pages as they like. Here’s how The Next Web describes the feature: 

“Spartan is based on Microsoft’s Trident rendering engine, which is also found in Internet Explorer. The browser allows you to collaborate with others by marking up with drawing on the page directly. You’ll also be able to click anywhere on the page and comment.”

So now the big question is if your business should upgrade to Windows 10. If you’re still unsure, then you can always reach out to us and we’ll give you more information about Microsoft’s new operating system. 

To talk more about Windows 10, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks. 

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Executives are Increasingly Looking to Cloud Computing for More Company Efficiency

Cloud computing has been around close to a decade now, yet it’s surprising so many companies have yet to use this tech solution. The reason they haven’t is still due to media misinformation (related to security), in addition to lack of knowledge about how the cloud has evolved. Fortunately, things are changing with executives now considering the cloud more than ever.

ZDnet recently reported that executives are finally considering the cloud because the economy is improving along with awareness of what the cloud offers. Information like our own blogs consistently try to impart this knowledge while reminding how the cloud is really the best data storage solution available.

But what are executives really looking for in the cloud according to the above report?

Productivity and Employee Satisfaction

The main goal of every executive is to create more productivity in the office, and the cloud provides it in spades. That’s because everything that makes your business run is capable of being in the cloud to save buying expensive hardware or keeping up with regular updates. Plus, the cloud is an outstanding method of disaster recovery during a natural or man-made event. Because all your data gets stored in the cloud server, it’s easily accessible wherever you have an Internet connection.

However, executives are also looking at the cloud as a method toward employee satisfaction. Having software and other applications accessible through the cloud puts less pressure on your staff to update or maintain everything. Plus, the cloud allows for mobility thanks to accessing of data (and phone services) anywhere Internet is available.

It’s no wonder executives have finally gone for the cloud this year, with growth expected in the months and years to come.

We provide an excellent cloud solution here at Hawk IT Services that’s guaranteed to bring the highest level of productivity and employee satisfaction to your company this year.

Contact us and we’ll tell you more about our cloud services, plus our comprehensive IT management services to keep things running efficiently at all times.

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Two Office 365 Programs That Improve Collaboration and Business Productivity

Office 365 revealed the direction Microsoft is headed in. It wasn’t a simple update that just changed the layouts in Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel; it introduced new programs that businesses can take advantage of. 

There’s a lot to talk about concerning Office 365, but for now we’d just like to focus on two essential programs:

Sharepoint Online

Sharepoint Online is Microsoft’s attempt at making the cloud a user-friendly experience. And we have to admit that the program is not just functional, but extremely effective.

Sharepoint Online redefines the term collaboration. By using the program, employees will be able to work together on projects even when they’re in different cities or states.  

A recent CMS Wire article demonstrates how Office 365 can even improve your project management:

“We’ve all worked on projects where we’ve wanted to add or share ancillary files, videos, images, with the team but didn’t because it wasn’t a “must do,” it took time or whatever. Boards take that hassle away. You simply share the URL of a board with your team, or send link directly from the board, which remains fresh as your team works on and updates documents over time.”

Microsoft Lync

But Sharepoint Online wasn’t the only new program that improved collaboration. Microsoft Lync is a new program that businesses can use and integrate with their VoIP phones. As a result, employees will find it easier than ever to switch to the new phone system. 

You can use Microsoft Lync for both internal and external communication. A recent Tech Target article explains how businesses can do the latter:

“There are various ways to configure Microsoft Lync Server, now Skype for Business, to allow internal Lync users to communicate with someone outside of the company.  In the Lync Server architecture, it is the Edge Server role that enables all remote connectivity scenarios.”

In terms of business productivity and collaboration, Office 365 was a grand slam. Any company can use it to improve their communication and business operations. 

To talk more about Office 365, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks. 

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Restaurant Point Of Sale Systems

Restaurant point of sale systems were always right on the front burner of business system development, even from the beginning of the personal computer age. The hospitality and restaurant industries really needed automated systems that

  • minimized the demands on wait staff
  • while accurately passing orders to cooks,
  • enabling customers to conveniently and quietly pay their checks and add their tips,
  • use their credit cards,
  • while, behind the scenes, handling all the data base business functions like inventory control and accounting,
  • made sure everyone got appropriately paid,
  • and integrated everything with the front office so senior management always knew what’s going on. 

If these things could be done at table, so much the better.

Early electronic cash registers were pre-windows PC computers disguised to look like regular cash registers, because operating staff were not used to using computers.

In 1973, IBM introduced the IBM3650 which was really a small main frame computer that would serve up to 128 point of sale registers connected to it in a local area network. The first company to use these systems was McDonald’s Restaurants. Staff used numbered menus for order-taking. The screen displayed the entire order. When the “grill” button was pressed, the order was sent for preparation and other orders could proceed. The computer totaled bills and taxes for the customer after the transaction, printed receipts and saved accounting information. The system had built-in accounting checks and duplicated data in triplicate for security. 

The development of the first digital POS systems corresponded to the introduction of the first magnetic stripe credit cards, which began appearing in the early 1970s. The union of magnetic card readers and POS computers marked the beginning of the modern era of POS systems.

The first graphical interface POS systems ran on Atari 16 bit systems in 1986 using a touch screen interface. These had some limited success, installed on several restaurants in the US and Canada. The first POS software to run on Microsoft Windows systems appeared in 1992. POS system development proceeded with the improvements in network technology and portable digital devices.

Modern cloud-based POS systems run on computers and portable devices including IOS and Android tablets and phones, which can be equipped with card reading devices for at-table POS service. These system often include back up on local servers to assure operation during periods of lost wi-fi service. The typical restaurant POS software system can create and print guest checks, distribute orders to the kitchen, accept credit card or cash payments with necessary accounting. The systems can also provide ongoing inventory and other accounting management functions.

Hawk IT Services is an IT services company in Australia with a special interest in POS systems. For more information, contact us.

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