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A cheat sheet to help you make the most of your subscription

Written by: Peter Marshall, Voicecom Technologies

If you have Microsoft 365 for business, we want to make sure you’re making the most of it. You’re already paying for the subscription so why not take advantage of a whole suite of integrated applications that can streamline your workflows?

While remote work has been a key driver for Otago businesses to adapt the way they work and assess the systems they use, along the way they’ve realised that these apps not only offer remote capabilities but also the opportunity to integrate apps and business processes to allow them to better serve customers, streamline work, and improve employee productivity.

Four apps you’re paying for but missing out on

Microsoft SharePoint – SharePoint can seem overly complicated because it can offer so much. But it doesn’t need to be so scary. You can start small and use more functionality as needed or as you grow. Basically, it’s a platform that offers content management and collaboration. It helps with reducing duplicate files, gives you remote access (needed more than ever!) and allows you to work on the same document at the same time. Find out more about SharePoint here.

Microsoft Power Automate – Microsoft Power Automate allows you to automate workflows across applications. You can use it to connect email and instant message alerts, synchronise files between applications, copy files from one service to another, collect data from one app and store it in another, and much more. Templates are available to get you started. Efficiency is key for sustained success across businesses and Power Automate assists this by simplifying workflows with the automation of repetitive tasks.

Microsoft Forms – Forms allows you to create shareable surveys, quizzes, and polls in just minutes. You can then invite others to respond to it using almost any web browser or mobile device, see real-time results as they’re submitted, use built-in analytics to evaluate responses, and export results to Excel for analysis.

Microsoft Planner – A simple, visual, task management app that helps remove chaos from the team collaboration environment. You can create multiple task lists associated with different projects or set up daily to-do checklists.

Other apps to take advantage of.

Microsoft Teams – a chat-based workspace that integrates people, content, and tools into a single platform. Find out more about Teams here: https://ita.co.nz/microsoft-teams-more-just-video-conferencing

Microsoft OneDrive – OneDrive is essentially an online folder system for file storage. Similar to SharePoint however SharePoint offers much more in the way of collaboration. You might use OneDrive to save your personal drafts and then move them to SharePoint when you’re ready for collaboration.

Microsoft Lists – Helps you track information, organise your work and easily share with others. Lists are simple, smart, and flexible, so you can stay on top of what matters most to your team. Track issues, assets, routines, contacts, inventory and more.

Microsoft Stream – Your central destination for your business video content. It’s like an internal, secure YouTube for your business. This is the perfect place to keep things like training videos or marketing content for staff to easily access.

Microsoft Sway – Sway is a cloud only story-telling application similar to PowerPoint but provides more narrative options than a slide show.

Microsoft Whiteboard – A digital version of the traditional whiteboard that allows collaboration and brainstorming with your team in an interactive and engaging manner.

Microsoft MyAnalytics – Uses your data to provide insights into two of the key factors in your personal productivity: how you spend your time and who you spend it with. MyAnalytics takes a look at your everyday work patterns, finds areas that could benefit from your attention, and provides you with the tools to achieve more thoughtful use of your time.

Microsoft Power Apps – If your business needs a specific app to do a specific job, this is what PowerApps can do. Using simplified development techniques and with the help of your IT expert, you can create sophisticated applications using features, procedures, and processes found in Microsoft 365.

If you want to find out more about how any of these Microsoft 365 applications can benefit your business, contact us today on +64 3 443 5499. If you’d like to visit or email us, you can find our details here.

Protecting your business with ESET Security

Written by: Andrew Fergus, IT Alliance

Now, more than ever, it is important to secure your data. Cybersecurity threats to your organisation, your staff and your clients are becoming a regular occurrence here in Otago. As these cybersecurity threats become more significant, it’s really important to understand what they are, and how to do your best to prevent them. So let’s dig in and look at the different types of attacks and one of the most popular options for countering it – ESET Endpoint Security.

So what are the key threats?

Ransomware. This is a type of malware which threatens to publish or block access to your data unless a ransom is paid.

Email Virus Attachments. It’s common for viruses to be sent as email attachments to unsuspecting users, if opened these can potentially infect your whole system with unwanted viruses.

Spyware. This is another type of malware which can steal sensitive data such as passwords, credit card details and commercially sensitive data.

ESET Endpoint Security

ESET is used on 110 million devices, each one sends a feed to head office if it detects an unknown potential virus – this means they can examine it and send out a fix if needed. They send out updates every 2 hours and have a team dedicated to threat security. It also has a negligible impact on computer performance. Meaning your computer wont go super slow. Its testing system has no false positives, so if there is a notification, you know it is correct.

With so many businesses moving their files to the cloud there is an additional ESET product helping keep business safe. ESET Cloud Office Security provides advanced preventive protection for Microsoft 365 applications against malware, spam and phishing attacks via an easy-to-use cloud management console. Eliminate spam from Microsoft 365 inboxes and keep your OneDrive files malware-free.

A Word of Warning for Compromised Data!!

One more motivation will be around from 1st December 2020 with a new Bill from the New Zealand Government, which means that if you are compromised and your data gets taken or lost, you have to notify the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and affected individuals. If you don’t then you could be liable for up to $350,000 per EACH MEMBER of a class action.

So what next for your Cybersecurity?

We recommend using ESET Endpoint Security, this protects your files and network, doesn’t hog your resources or waste your time on false positives – it also mitigates your risk against the NZ Privacy Act 2020.

Bonus tip for those using Microsoft 365

For those of you that have moved your files to the Microsoft Cloud. We recommend turning on 2FA (Multi-Factor Authentication) which is included free with your Microsoft 365 subscription. Also add your Office IP address so it only prompts you for a second authentication every few months when using your office, but still prompts to authenticate when adding new devices or visiting new areas.

If you’d like help choosing the best antivirus & firewall software for your business and help with setting it up, contact us today on +64 3 443 5499. If you’d like to visit or email us, you can find our details here.

How a proactive approach can save you money and mitigate risk
Written by: Phil Strang – Technology Partners

Do you find yourself so caught up in other areas of your business that you tend to only manage your IT when things go wrong or it becomes an absolute must?

This is called reactive IT Management. With it, brings a mountain of stress, disruption and blown budgets.

A proactive approach to IT management doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. In fact, it can save you money and keep you focused on doing what you do best.

This is where a Managed Service Provider steps in. They’re not just the guy you call in for computer repair, they’re essentially an extension of your team. An MSP is there to support you and ensure the IT side of your business is efficient, cost-effective and low-risk. Let’s look at some of the benefits of proactive IT management and why businesses in Otago might want to move away from a more reactive response.

Preventing blown budgets

Large, unexpected IT bills can often be avoided with a good plan in place. A Managed Service Provider can help prevent the unnecessary cost of fixing things by implementing a plan with regular, scheduled maintenance. Additionally, they can give you the tools to effectively manage your IT life cycle, forecasting hardware and software upgrades. With a fully prepared life cycle, IT budgets can be planned in detail for years to come. Everything from printers to operating systems can be prepared on a tightly controlled schedule. Adopting an IT life cycle is a great way to eliminate unwanted surprises and make the most out of your IT budget.

Productivity / Minimal disruption

There’s nothing worse than when you get halfway through the day and you realise you’ve spent most of it troubleshooting or dealing with an IT issue. Can you imagine how frightening the numbers would be if you calculated the total number of hours lost due to IT-related disruption? A Managed Service Provider’s core purpose is to lessen this disruption and would likely pay for themselves rapidly. An MSP often does routine maintenance outside of hours so when you log in the next morning, you’re good to go! They’re your Clark Kent, unobtrusively making things happen in the background and quickly embracing their capes should anything big arise.

Knowing your business

Something stops working at the worst of times and you find yourself giving an IT technician your full operational history to help you both connect the dots of where things went wrong. Sound familiar? The great thing about an MSP is that they get to know your business, and more importantly, have a detailed documentation process. The team will get to know your business and you’ll often be dealing with the same technicians who know you and your systems. Having an intimate knowledge of your site’s configuration and a detailed service history means they’ll spend less time troubleshooting and more time working on the job. Familiarity when working regularly on a system means clients are not paying for a technician to relearn the basics for each job or call out. As an added bonus, when you partner with an MSP, the charge is often much less than the hourly rate of one-off call outs.

A practical and trusted approach to technology

In the technology space, there are changes and updates left, right and centre, often leaving you overwhelmed. This leads to you either falling behind with your IT services or purchasing things your business may not need. A Managed Service Provider is across all things IT, so you don’t have to be. You have the option to meet on a regular basis to discuss and review appropriate changes or updates that should be considered to your IT infrastructure. They know what’s happening in the industry and can guide you according to your specific needs. They’re not about telling you that all your computers need to be updated with the highest spec and most expensive models. In fact, an MSP will get to know how you operate with an audit and provide you with a plan on where you can best spend and save money. They’re about plans with priorities and delivering a solution according to budget.

If you’d like to find out more about how a Managed Service Provider can help you move from reactive to proactive IT management, contact us today on +64 3 443 5499. If you’d like to visit or email us, you can find our details here.