Microsoft released the Windows 11 operating system (OS) over a year ago. It was largely well-received as stable and user-friendly. The OS is not a large departure from the Windows 10 experience. But it does offer a lot of enhancements over the older environment.
Yet with several improvements and a free upgrade for Windows 10 users, it still lags in adoption. As of November 2022, Windows 10 still owns the lion’s share of Windows PCs. It has a 69.75 percent usage share as compared to 16.13 percent for Windows 11.
People are slowly upgrading to the newer OS. But it’s natural for some to take a wait-and-see stance. They want to make sure it’s worth the time to upgrade. Additionally, no one wants to have to relearn their computer desktop.
The good news is that Windows 11 has a similar workspace feel to its predecessor. But it packs a lot of great productivity and security benefits that Windows 10 lacks. Here are some of the coolest features in this current Windows OS. After taking a look, you may choose to go ahead and take the plunge into the Windows 11 universe.
Most people are working with more than one app open at a time. It’s not unusual to need to reference two different windows while doing side-by-side work. Switching back and forth between apps can be tedious. It’s also time-consuming.
Approximately 68% of app users say that switching between apps costs them at least 30 minutes per day. Trying to size two windows next to each other can also be frustrating. You lose the scroll bar or can’t get to the menu items unless you resize.
Enter snap layouts. This nifty feature in Windows 11 solves the multi-app problem. Simply hover over the maximize icon at the top of any window to get access to a snap layout.
Choose the area you want for the active app, and it will snap into place and allow you to choose apps for the other slots.
Need to find a document, website, image, or app quickly? Use the Windows 11 master search. Just click the search icon on your desktop. You’ll get a search bar that will populate results from the entered keyword.
As an added touch, Microsoft populates fun topics into the search bar daily. Learn more about James Webb Space Telescope, Coffee Day, or other fun subjects.
Once you enter your keyword, you can further refine your search. Refine it according to the type of search result you want. (apps, documents, web, etc.).
In the latest Windows 11 update, Microsoft gifted users with a free video editor. The new Clipchamp app makes it easy to edit videos. You don’t need to download any extra software.
Clipchamp has a lot of the features you’d expect to have to pay for. These include templates, effects, video resizing, green screen, and more.
Video calls have become the norm since the pandemic. But not all video software is easy to use. Most of us have had to wait on someone late to a call because they were struggling with the app.
Windows 11 comes with Microsoft Teams preinstalled. This gives you a simple click-to-call experience. You can easily invite someone to a video or audio call. The person does not need to have a Microsoft account to connect with you. This makes things easy on both sides.
Another great feature of the Teams app in this OS is the fact that you can use it for SMS messaging. Instead of having to drag out your phone, just text someone from your desktop.
Windows 11 has some great accessibility features. They’re designed to help ensure everyone can use their computer as they want. Those with disabilities can enjoy these features. As well as those that like the extra flexibility they offer.
Four of the newest accessibility features in the OS include:
Microsoft Edge is the default browser for Windows. It’s worth checking out if you haven’t yet. Especially because of a feature called “collections.”
If your bookmarked favorites are becoming a mess, you’ll love this Edge capability. If you click the “plus” icon at the top of an Edge browser window, you’ll get the collections panel. Add a collection subject and click to add webpages.
You can see a preview of what you’ve added, and everything is nicely organized. Collections are easy to access and easy to delete when you’re finished with them.
It can be intimidating to upgrade your system’s operating system. Give us a call today to schedule a chat about a Windows upgrade.
Article used with permission from The Technology Press.
As technology continues to advance, so does the landscape of design tools. Microsoft has been a company at the forefront of business apps. Microsoft 365 began with about seven apps and now offers new users access to over 20.
One of the newest ones added is Microsoft Designer. This quick-and-easy design tool has caught the attention of designers and professionals alike. You can use it whether you’re a graphic pro, marketer, small business owner, or someone that simply wants to make a funny meme.
Microsoft Designer offers a range of features to streamline your design process. If you haven’t used it yet, you may want to check it out. With AI features and an easy interface, it can elevate your design game. Not to mention saving time and money creating business graphics.
Let’s explore the key features.
Microsoft Designer boasts an intuitive and user-friendly interface. This makes it accessible to both beginners and experienced designers. The tool provides a clean and organized workspace. It allows you to focus on your design without distractions.
Its user-friendly features include things like:
Text prompts to start your design
The first prompt it asks is “Describe the design you’d like to create.” This makes it simple for someone with no design experience to use it. Based on your prompt, the system can leverage AI to generate graphics. You can also upload your own.
Microsoft Designer has several stand-out features. One of them is its extensive collection of templates and assets. It has a wide range of professionally crafted templates. These enable you to kickstart your design projects quickly.
Whether you need a business card, flyer, or social media post, this app has you covered. Additionally, the tool offers a vast library of assets. These include:
You can use these to create visually stunning designs. Ones that align with your brand identity. The abundance of design assets gives you creative freedom and flexibility. You can have fun bringing your vision to life.
Microsoft Designer goes beyond being a mere design tool. It’s a knowledgeable design assistant. The tool employs artificial intelligence. It can analyze your design and provide smart layout suggestions and recommendations. So even if making images isn’t “your thing,” you can make something decent.
The AI help is useful for those who may be new to design or seeking inspiration. Your “design assistant” can offer optimal font pairings, appropriate image placements, and more.
Microsoft Designer helps you make informed design choices. This elevates the visual impact of your creations. It also keeps you from spending hours on one design.
Collaboration is essential in today’s digital workspace. Microsoft Designer understands this need. The tool offers seamless collaboration capabilities. It allows several users to work on the same design project simultaneously.
You can easily share your designs with team members or clients. As well as get real-time feedback and edits. Furthermore, Microsoft Designer integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft Office applications. Such as PowerPoint and Word. This creates a cohesive workflow across different design and documentation tasks. The ability to collaborate ensures efficient teamwork. The integration with other tools enhances productivity.
Microsoft Designer recognizes the importance of accessibility and cross-platform compatibility. The tool is available both as a web application and as a desktop application. You can use it on Windows and Mac.
Use it working on your desktop computer or from a mobile device. The tool also adheres to accessibility standards. This means it’s inclusive and usable for individuals with diverse needs.
For example, you can play with seeing what you get with the AI-generated option. Just describe the design as, “a sales ad for orange juice with palm trees.” In just a few seconds, Microsoft Designer will generate a few options.
While some images might not be relevant, it gives many options that are. If you’re not getting what you want the first time, rephrase your prompt. If you’re seeking a user-friendly design tool, Microsoft Designer is worth exploring. Whether you’re a seasoned designer or a beginner, it can save you time and money.
Microsoft 365 is a vast universe of apps. Ones that can lower costs and boost your productivity. Need help with M365 questions? Looking for setup and security support? We can help. Give us a call today to schedule a chat about our Microsoft support services.
Article used with permission from The Technology Press.
In today’s ever-evolving digital landscape, small businesses have more opportunities than ever. Many of these call for leveraging technology to their advantage. Embracing the right tech trends can help businesses compete. It enables them to streamline operations, enhance customer experiences, and fuel growth.
However, it can be confusing knowing which route to take. Most small businesses need to choose the route that is going to bring the biggest return. Below, we’ll explore five small business tech trends. These trends have the potential to drive success, as well as propel your business forward in an increasingly competitive market.
Cloud computing has emerged as a game-changer for businesses of all sizes, and some believe small businesses will benefit the most. 82% of small to medium businesses report reduced costs after adopting cloud tools.
The cloud offers many benefits. It’s a cost-effective and scalable solution for data storage, software access, and collaboration. By migrating to the cloud, small businesses can save. They cut the need for on-premises infrastructure, which reduces maintenance costs and gives enhanced flexibility.
Also, cloud-based tools and platforms enable teams to work remotely. This can promote collaboration and improve productivity. Working in the cloud offers access to real-time data and apps from any location. This enables small businesses to make informed decisions faster. They can also respond to market changes with agility.
The rise of e-commerce and mobile commerce has opened up new avenues for small businesses. They can now easily reach a global audience. Using websites and apps, companies can sell anywhere at any time.
It’s easier than ever to put up a secure payment gateway and take payments online. These “plug-and-play” e-commerce sites and apps can create a seamless user experience. This allows small businesses to build trust and encourage repeat purchases.
Businesses can easily understand customer preferences by leveraging data analytics. They can also optimize inventory management and personalize marketing campaigns. By embracing e-commerce and mobile commerce, small businesses can grow quickly.
They can extend their reach beyond geographical boundaries. As well as tap into new markets, thereby fueling growth opportunities.
As businesses increasingly rely on digital technologies, data security becomes paramount. Small businesses are just as vulnerable to cyber threats as larger enterprises. This makes it essential to prioritize data security measures.
46% of all data breaches impact businesses with less than 1,000 employees.
It’s important to put robust cybersecurity practices in place. This includes things like:
Regular data backups
Identity and access management
Advanced threat protection
Additionally, two more tactics to proactively manage risks include:
Staying informed about emerging threats
Investing in employee training
Customers value businesses that focus on their data security. A strong security posture can instill trust and confidence. This leads to long-term customer loyalty and positive brand reputation.
Automating business processes can significantly streamline operations. When small businesses integrate workflows they save time and money. Workflow automation eliminates repetitive manual tasks. It also reduces human error and enhances efficiency.
Think about integrating various systems and applications. Such as customer relationship management (CRM), project management, and accounting software. Integration can end silos and ensure seamless information flow across different departments.
Other benefits include:
Enabling better coordination
Optimizing resource allocation
Enhancing customer satisfaction
Small businesses that leverage automation and workflow integration gain a competitive advantage. They operate more efficiently and deliver superior experiences to their customers.
In today’s digital era, small businesses have a ton of tech tools and trends at their disposal. But it takes guidance to know what to do and how to do it. While embracing cloud computing, AI, e-commerce, data security, and automation can help to stay competitive, small businesses need a clear and affordable path. One that makes sense for their business goals. We can be your digital transformation guide.
Give us a call today to schedule a chat about tech solutions to fuel your growth.
Article used with permission from The Technology Press.
In today’s digital age, technology plays a significant role in our lives. But along with the rapid advancements and innovations, several myths have persisted.
Is it okay to leave your smartphone charging overnight? Do Macs get viruses? And what about those 5G towers? What’s going on with those?
Common tech myths can often lead to misunderstandings. They can even hinder your ability to fully use various tools and devices. In this blog post, we will debunk some of the most common tech myths that continue to circulate. We’ll also explore the truth behind them.
First is one of the most persistent tech myths. Leaving your device plugged in overnight will harm the battery life. But this myth is largely outdated.
Modern smartphones, laptops, and other devices have advanced battery management systems. These systems prevent overcharging.
Once your device reaches its maximum charge capacity, it automatically stops charging. This is true even if it remains connected to the power source. In fact, it is often recommended to keep your device plugged in overnight to ensure a full charge by morning.
So, feel free to charge your gadgets overnight without worrying about battery damage.
Many users believe that using incognito mode in web browsers guarantees complete anonymity. They feel completely secure while surfing the internet using this mode. But this is not entirely accurate. While incognito mode does provide some privacy benefits, they’re limited.
For example, it mainly prevents your device from saving the following items:
However, it does not hide your activities from your internet service provider (ISP). Nor from the websites you visit. ISPs and websites can still track your IP address. They can also still watch your online behavior and collect data.
Do you truly want to remain anonymous online? Then consider using a virtual private network (VPN). Or other specialized tools that provide enhanced privacy protection.
Another prevalent myth is that Mac computers are impervious to viruses and malware. It is true that Macs have historically been less prone to such threats compared to Windows PCs. This does not make them immune.
Some people that tout this myth point to malware statistics. For example, in 2022, 54% of all malware infections happened in Windows systems. Just 6.2% of them happened in macOS.
But you also need to factor in operating system (OS) market share. As of January 2023, Windows had about 74% of the desktop OS share. Mac’s OS had just 15%.
When you consider this, it turns out the systems aren’t that different when it comes to virus and malware risk. The infection rate per user on Macs is 0.075. This is slightly higher than on Windows, at 0.074. So, both systems have a pretty even risk of infection. This is the case even though Macs have a significantly lower infection count.
As the popularity of Macs has grown, so has the interest of hackers in targeting these devices. Malicious software specifically designed for Macs does exist. Users should take proper precautions, no matter the operating system in use.
You need to install reliable antivirus software. As well as keeping the operating system and applications up to date. Exercise caution when downloading files or clicking on suspicious links. Being aware of potential security risks and practicing safe browsing habits is crucial. This is true for Mac users, just as it is for any other platform.
When it comes to smartphone cameras, savvy marketing sometimes leads to myths. Many people believe that more megapixels equal better image quality. This is a common misconception.
Megapixels are an essential factor in determining the resolution of an image. But they are not the sole indicator of image quality. Other factors play a significant role. Such as:
The size of individual pixels
Image processing algorithms
A camera with a higher megapixel count may produce larger images. But it does not guarantee superior clarity, color accuracy, or dynamic range.
Manufacturers often strike a balance between pixel count and other image processing technologies. They do this to achieve optimal results. When choosing a smartphone or any camera, consider the complete camera system. Don’t only focus on the megapixel count.
In a world where technology is an integral part of our lives, you must separate fact from fiction. Debunking common tech myths can empower you to make informed decisions. It can also maximize the potential of your digital experiences. An understanding of the truth behind these myths helps you use technology more effectively. It can also help you better protect your privacy.
Whether you need help with an infected PC or setting up a corporate network, we’re here for you. We cut through the tech myths to bring you reliable and efficient service.
Give us a call today to chat about your technology goals and challenges.
(Article used with permission from The Technology Press.)
This article is written by Alexander Bant Chief of Research for CFOs at Gartner. We thought this may be of interest as this article highlights what his research team share with the top companies, to maximize their people, processes and technology.
Coupling radical efficiency with innovation to drive business resilience, growth and profits requires shrewd investing in digital.
Smart budget trade-offs, savvy talent strategies and optimal digital investments will all be key to success this year as organizations focus on:
“Business resilience and growth demand that you invest in differentiators that will drive success over the long term,” says Alex Bant, Chief of Research for the Gartner finance practice. “If you don’t invest effectively in digital in 2023, you’ll increase your technical debt and let competitors out-innovate you on digital products and services and scoop up the talent you need.”
See Playbooks: Recession Advice for Executives and their Teams
Whether the global economy heads into recession or not, organizations must still navigate the impact of trends like inflation, scarce talent and global supply constraints that emerged in 2022. Certain conditions have changed, however, so building resilience means tackling three variables that threaten to weigh down growth and profits in 2023:
The recession playbook of nine winning actions that Gartner recommended in mid-2022 holds true in focusing on three sets of actions for executives:
There are so many easy things that you can do to ensure you keep good working practices either at home or in the office.
Here are five top tips:
It is a well-known joke around the IT world, that support calls always begin with “have you tried rebooting?” It may seem like a frivolous joke, but there is truth to the joke for good reason. Your computer performs important updates and resets during a reboot, so rebooting regularly keeps your computer functioning at its best.
Your computer should be rebooted at least once per week. A good habit is to shut down your computer at the end of your working day. This ensures your computer is updated regularly and that your machine also gets the opportunity to completely cool down.
During normal operations the internal components of your computer heat up, and most workstations are not designed to handle these high temperatures for long. They are normally designed to stay warm for 8-10 hours per day. Machines that are run for longer than that regularly often have a much shorter life, as internal components wear out quicker.
To reboot your machine, press the windows icon on screen (or the windows button on your keyboard), select the power icon, then restart.
We recommend shutting down your computer at the end of each shift, following the same procedure, but selecting Shut down.
During your working day, you may find the occasional time where you feel the need for a new application you don’t already have, to perform an additional function, or to improve on the application you currently use. New, and free, applications can be easily found on the internet, but these applications can be malicious, and it can be hard to tell which is and which isn’t. In addition, a malicious application can contain a virus or open a “back door” giving others access to your device with your knowledge.
We strongly recommend that you do not install applications on your machine without first vetting the application for safety. All the software you need to perform your job would normally be provided to you from your manager, so make sure you talk to your manager if you require additional software, so you can make a safe plan.
Alternatively, you can contact us and we can help you decide if this is safe software to install.
Sometimes your computer will show you a scary looking virus alert. We often get calls from users who worry about these alerts and wonder what they should do about them. As long as the alert says the threat has been quarantined or deleted, there is nothing to do. These alerts simply mean that your antivirus software is doing its job.
In the event you get an antivirus alert like this that means that the antivirus software has recognized malware or a virus on your computer, and that the software has done its job and protected you from the attack. You don’t need to do anything, except relax knowing you are being taken care of.
However, if you or your colleagues get a lot of these alerts at the same time, reach out to us as this could indicate something more serious.
Error messages can, but should not be, a regular occurrence on a computer. Error messages appear for a variety of reasons, but the top reasons are:
If you get the occasional error message, don’t panic just read and try and understand the message, often it will provide a suggestion as to what you should do. Sometimes the error may be temporary or your computer may be able to resolve it itself, in these cases restarting your computer or the offending application may well help correct the problem.
However, if the error message keeps coming back, or you are getting a variety of different error messages, then this is an issue you should raise a ticket for.
If possible, take a screenshot of the error when it occurs, so you can send this to your technician. Alternatively, call your technician when the error occurs, so they can look at it immediately. Seeing the error message can hold some vital clues as to what is going wrong on your machine.
Computer security is a big topic of conversation right now, but one discussion that is often not discussed is physical security. One critical piece of physical security that you are responsible for is how you leave your computer. Whenever you are away from your computer, it should be secured so that others cannot use your unlocked computer while you are not there. This can potentially give up sensitive information to malicious “guests” in your office or to other internal staff. To prevent this type of intrusion, whenever you are away from your computer you should lock your machine. You can do this by
PRESS (on your keyboard): <windows><L>
or PRESS (on your keyboard): <ctrl><alt><delete>
Then, SELECT the “Lock” option on screen
You can also set your “Power and Sleep” settings so that your computer is automatically locked after a certain period of inactivity. WE recommend this be set to a maximum of 5 minutes. This means that if you leave your machine, and forget to lock your machine, then your machine is at worst unlocked for 5 minutes.
If you require any more information on any of these practices, or how to increase your security in the office or at home, please reach out to us here.
Microsoft are making some Security Enhancements to their 365 Cloud Services. These enhancements are being implemented and driven by Microsoft. As your IT Services partner we want to let you know the impact on your business and staff for those that have a Microsoft 365 account.
Microsoft is preparing to implement what is known as Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), which they say;
“can block more than 99.9 percent of identity attacks that attempt to compromise your 365 accounts.”Microsoft
When enabled, MFA will require your 365 users to approve account sign-ins using a feature on their cell phones.
Although MFA is not enabled immediately, your users will have to install and configure the “Microsoft Authenticator” application on their cell phone in preparation for when MFA is enforced.
Microsoft are turning this feature on for customers any time from now onwards.
In the first instance, go to https://outlook.office.com and sign in (if already signed in then sign out and sign in again) and follow Microsoft’s on-screen instructions.
If users are having trouble setting up the Microsoft Authenticator app then contact the IT Centre Help Desk on 03 443 5499 for assistance.
A Managed Service Plan has many advantages to your business, especially in this current climate:
In this article we cover:
We wrote about what a Managed Service Plan (MSP) is a while back (read the full article here), but here we answer some of the most common questions.
The ‘break-fix’ model of IT support is when you call an IT company when something breaks, and they come and fix it on an adhoc pay by hour model. There is no ongoing support or preventative security measures taken.
In contrast, an MSP provides strategic, proactive IT support to your business on an ongoing, consistent basis.
The IT Centre Managed Service Plan is designed to provide specific IT support to enable you to conduct your normal day to day business for a set monthly fee that you can budget on for the term of the agreement.
Although the exact specifics will be unique to each individual business, this is a generic overview of some of the things that are covered:
Whilst the above is by no means a comprehensive list of what is included in an MSP agreement, it offers you an insight. The best next step is to contact us for a meeting, where we can discuss your specific business requirements, and talk through what is best for you.
In this current environment, the biggest advantage of being on a Managed Service Plan is that you know that your security is taken care of on a consistent and ongoing basis. Whilst nothing can ever offer 100% guaranteed security, due to the escalation of cyber security threats, having consistent cover may mean that cyber criminals move on to an easier target.
Please reach out to us for any advice regarding going on to a Managed Service Plan.
At IT Centre we are celebrating 21 years in business! It’s a big milestone, and we definitely couldn’t have done it without you, our amazing customers, as well as our wonderful team.
Here we take a moment to reflect on the past 21 years:
It all started in 2002 after Rob & Linda had returned to New Zealand, having spent more than twelve years gathering top-level international IT experience, consulting to some of the UK’s largest corporates and Value Added Resellers.
Wanaka called, and Rob decided to start Wanaka Computers, with the support of Linda. In 2008, Wanaka Computers became incorporated.
In 2016, as the business grew, it was decided to change the name to IT Centre, for a number of reasons.
Firstly because we were servicing customers from all over the world, and secondly because we were doing a lot more than just computers.
Over time the team grew with Sam and Liz joining us in 2013, then Zane and Chris, and more recently Nigel.
We are now a team of seven, with Linda and Liz supporting the technical team, as well as an outsourced marketing department. To read more about our team click here.
We love being part of the Wanaka community, and have enjoyed giving back to the community by volunteering for and supporting local and national clubs and organisations: applying for grants on their behalf, organising meetings or fundraisers, and helping to bring in speakers to present on issues important to the community. You can read more about this here.
We couldn’t have done it without our wonderful clients. Over the years, we’ve seen many customers also grow, and it has been wonderful to be part of that growth. We have been lucky enough to receive a number of glowing testimonials which you can read more about here.Rob Facer
Its been a massive journey and we want to take this opportunity to say a BIG thank you to everyone involved in the journey of the IT Centre.
With the new financial year ahead, now is a great time to think about the year ahead, and budgeting for IT costs and hardware replacement etc.
Having a solid plan and budget for your IT is crucial to the smooth running of your business.
In this article we cover:
Prioritizing budgeting for IT projects equips businesses to thrive in a technology-driven landscape.
Budgeting for IT projects is vital for businesses in the upcoming year to leverage technology effectively and gain a competitive edge.
Here are some key reasons why:
Most businesses will have a budget for IT hardware and other goods and services that they need to operate.
Our advice is that if you have more than a handful of computers, you will benefit from forecasting and budgeting for IT expenditure.
Once your business is established, there is a very good chance that you will need to replace your IT equipment every few years. Such a good chance, in fact, that you can plan on it!
Drawing up an IT replacement schedule helps you plan well in advance, and helps ensure you have the funds when you need them.
This can be done in conjunction with our team at IT Centre. If you don’t have a list already, we can assist you to do an audit of the IT equipment that you have, the date it was installed, and therefore when it is likely to need replacing based on its expected life.
This asset management plan needs to be revised every year for budgeting purposes.
We strongly suggest that you do this years in advance of when you actually require upgrades. It’s not hard to do.
This list can help you have a clear and actionable plan on existing equipment, when warranties expire, and the requirements for a staggered plan for new hardware.
Something that makes this type of IT cash-flow or forecasting easier, is if you are on an MSP (managed service plan).
Being on a Managed Service agreement removes many of the fluctuations of IT budgeting as generally you pay a fixed monthly fee for day to day IT support.
You can read more here about the benefits of being on a Managed Service plan.
If there is one thing the last three years has taught us all, it is to prepare for the unexpected.
Whilst no plan is foolproof, having these business plans in place can save you precious time and money.
If this all feels too overwhelming, and you don’t know where to start, please feel free to reach out to our friendly team at IT Centre, and we can offer some advice on the most important priorities for you and your business in terms of IT planning and budgeting.
Imagine a world where you could get blogs automatically written for you, social media content generated effortlessly, as well as automate customer service chatbots.
More than that, imagine a world where you can communicate with your computer and the whole Internet by simply asking detailed or complicated real-world questions. And where it will come back with seriously good answers.
That world is arriving and in its vanguard is ChatGPT.
In a nutshell, it’s a website that you can go to, sign up, and ask serious questions – and get really good answers.
The amazing and unique thing about it is that it is programmed to understand how we speak. And then to do unbelievably quick research and processing to give us answers that sound like they have been written by a human.
For example, you can type in a question like:
What are the benefits to a small business of having a backup of their Microsoft 365 data outside of Microsoft?
And it will almost instantly give you a very good answer, with multiple bullet points, that you can’t really tell was not written by a human!
Or, how about – What are the benefits to a small business in New Zealand of using a professional accountant?
Or – What are the processes that a small business in New Zelaanbd needs to follow to terminate an employee for serious misconduct?
Starting to get a feel for what it can do?
And the answers are really good and around 400-500 words long (you can tell it how long you want them to be).
Notice New Zealand was spelt wrong? It doesn’t seem to mind that sort of thing and in the answer it uses the correct spelling.
Google can only take shorter less specific questions and you’ll generally need to look at several websites to get a decent answer. ChatGPT brings it together for you.
ChatGPT stands for Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer. The GPT-3 language model developed by OpenAI is one of the most advanced natural language processing models in existence. Watch the introductory video about ChatGPT here
On July 22, 2020, Microsoft announced its partial acquisition of OpenAI. OpenAI is best known for its work in developing advanced AI models, including the GPT-3 language model, which has been used in a wide range of natural language processing applications. This powerful combination of resources means that ChatGPT will be advancing significantly.
ChatGPT is currently free, and explains that it is available so that it can be used in the real world and learn. It will undoubtedly be monetized in the future, perhaps a bit like how Google is now.
The most exciting things are definitely still to come. Companies are starting to pour millions, billions and soon many billions of dollars into this type of technology.
It won’t be too long before you are just talking to your computing device, and perhaps asking it in plain English to put together your sales results by intelligently identifying and dragging in raw data to present to you.
Will you even need a keyboard and mouse anymore? Microsoft’s CEO has said probably not.
Microsoft Teams – here at the IT Alliance we are already seeing this type of technology being built into Teams. We’ll keep you informed.
Copilot – Copilot is a Microsoft product that is more than just a chatbot. Microsoft is gradually building an AI assistant that it has dreamed about for years. You can watch the video here on what Copilot can do for your business.
We asked ChatGPT that, and here is most of its reply:
Once you have signed up, type in your question until you get the results that you want .
Like any technology it is important to make sure that you still give it the human once over and check for anything that doesn’t sound quite right.
ChatGPT at present does not store the latest information. Like what band is playing at your local venue this Saturday night – use Google or Facebook for that.
ChatGPT also does not seem to like providing answers about individuals. Maybe it’s an anti-stalking thing that has been programmed in.
ChatGPT is in its early days, yet already could be very useful and provide some excellent advantages for businesses. Technology is always moving and evolving quickly, and here at IT Centre we will do our best to keep you up to date with what is going on, and help you to understand what is best for your unique business requirements.
Reach out to us here if you would like more information.
Following on from our blog last month of ‘Getting IT right from the Start’, (read here), we are now sharing the basic security minimums that we would recommend for our clients. This gives a broad scope of the security required in todays landscape.
Cyber criminals are in business, and like any ‘business’ person, they are looking for a return on their investment of their time. Hacking easier targets often gives that.
Unfortunately, these Cyber Criminals are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to attack your technology, and make money out of you. No business is too big or too small, and New Zealand is not too ‘far away’.
If you do not have the basics of security in place, then you quite simply make yourself a more attractive target.
Why attempt to break into the well-secured house when the one next door is wide open and much easier?
In fact, one of the reasons why more smaller businesses are being targeted, is that the bigger businesses and organizations are generally well-protected these days.
So, by having a decent level of protection, you are less likely to be hacked successfully.
You need some sort of system to be able to prevent and/or detect many of the attack techniques used today. Traditionally known as “anti-virus”, today’s software is often far more powerful than just detecting viruses.
For most of our clients, because of their general risk level, we recommend an “end point security” product. This is suitable for today’s complex threat environment at the small to medium business level.
We find the right level of security for your business needs, balancing protection without paying for more costly products.
A key way the attackers can exploit businesses is if the computer operating software is not up to date.
Microsoft is always updating its Windows and Server operating system, as new vulnerabilities are uncovered. These are then pushed out as updates, but these can fail or cause issues sometimes.
Many computers are not set up to take these patches. The IT Centre has a system where we manage these updates, ensuring they are successfully applied, and ensuring the bad ones are remedied before you get them.
Two Factor Authentication in place is an absolute essential. Even if “they” do manage to get into your email account, having 2FA turned on will mean they can’t do anything unless they also have your smartphone.
This is such a simple but effective recommendation. To read more about 2FA click here.
Similarly, the days of having your cats name with your birthday after it as your password, and using it everywhere, are long gone.
Like all security, it is a bit of a hassle, but it needs to be done. IT Centre can help you with this to some extent, but what you and your team do is not an IT issue, it is a business issue. We highly recommend that you use strong passwords.
We supply a password management utility called LastPass. Basically it stores all your passwords in an encrypted cloud based ‘vault’ that can be accessed from your computers and mobile devices. It can also enforce strong passwords and will input them for you so no need to remember them.
It is still very true that most hacks are successful because someone clicked on something they shouldn’t have. How do you support your team to be aware of these risks, and to be constantly vigilant?
There is much you can do, including subscribing to services that send phishing emails to your team to see if they click or not, But at the very least (and this doesn’t cost anything) we suggest that owners and managers periodically raise this topic and simply discuss with their teams Just being reminded and aware is better than nothing.
The above blog outlines IT Centres most basic recommendations.
Our Managed Service plan has MS365 Business Premium licenses included in it, that allow us to provide a greater level of security. This plan utilises features from MS365 that are not available with standard licenses. It also includes password manager, upgraded security software and backups (which is another form of security).
To discuss your individual security concerns please contact us here.
Do you have a plan for an Internet Outage?
Think about the country of Canada. Earlier this year, business ground to a halt in an instant. A botched maintenance update by a large internet service provider (ISP) created chaos for more than 10 million customers.
If your internet goes down, what is your plan?
In most cases, it could be at least three different vendors that you will have to deal with, if you are sorting the problem yourself.
As a customer of IT Centre, we will go through a thorough checklist first to figure out where the problem lies:
IT Centre can deal with all of your vendors, so that you don’t have to coordinate them, and figure out where the problem lies.
Here are some suggestions that can help you ensure you are protected against an Internet outage:
About one-quarter of Canada’s internet capacity was offline. The downtime lasted only 12 hours for some, days for others. The list of outage impacts is long. The problem halted some point-of-sale payments, some nonprofits lost the ability to serve vulnerable populations, and cellular-dependent traffic signals in Toronto were out of whack.
What can we learn from this? Businesses should prepare a backup.
Setting up a secondary internet connection can help your business remain online. You’ll be ready if there are system issues, intrusions, or power a failure. For this to work, you’ll need to partner with a different provider than you do for your primary internet. This cuts the odds that both your main and backup internet will go down at once.
If your primary internet connection is wired, consider a cellular backup. For example, a router with 4G backup would switch you to that network if the main connection failed.
The very nature of redundancy is that it repeats what you already have. That can make some businesses balk: Why pay twice? Yet internet redundancy can help you avoid lost business, productivity, and brand reputation, not to mention the stress of having to try to do business in this digital age without being able to get online.
Maybe you can’t reinforce your IT infrastructure with a second provider. At least reach out to your current ISP to learn their backup plans. Ensure they have failovers established to back up their systems.
The Canadian outage saw many businesses floundering. With the ubiquity of technology today, it’s not unlikely that more ISP outages will happen. Be ready for the worst with plans for redundancy and contingency plans.
Hopefully, we never experience an issue like Canada did, however it is is best to be prepared. Contact the team if you would like further information.
Setting up a new business is exciting and sometimes overwhelming! There are so many things to think about, that technology often gets left in the ‘we will sort it out later’ category.
As D.I.Y Kiwis we pride ourselves on our ability to do it ourselves. What a lot of businesses don’t realise is that it often takes more time and money to fix things up later.
Often we have businesses come to us who are expanding at a rapid rate, and wish they had taken a bit more time to start out on the right foot with their technology.
This is where we can help you by coordinating everything from the beginning, and ensuring that your technology gets off on the right foot. We can help you to:
Setting up a domain name may seem like a simple enough task, however who you use is very important. There can be implications with security further down the track if you are set up with the wrong people. We are able to work with your web developer on this.
We can work with your website developer or recommend a trusted web developer, or if your needs are simple, we will happily include a one page website with our IT Headstart package.
Nothing says unprofessional like an email that is from a free email service like; hotmail or xtra account, gmail. First impressions count and it is worth having an email address that ensures you not only look professional, but also have the security and features that other businesses are now requiring.
In this day and age, it is crucial to have your security sorted out right from the beginning. A security breach can happen to any sized business, and can cost you a lot of money, time and reputation. It is often just a few size appropriate security steps that can make a big difference to your business.
It is tempting to use many of the “free services” that are on offer, but often these become very expensive as you expand and need to pay for them or move to another service.
We’ve created a simple package that covers all your IT requirements for the first year, including:
If your needs are a little more complex, we can also help with:
We can make sure everything is working from day one, ensuring systems and data are backed up and secure. By dealing with your suppliers and ISP on your behalf, you can focus on your business.
The first thing to do is reach out to us for a free, no obligation consultation, where we can talk through the options and what is most suitable for your business. To find out more about our IT HeadStart package click here
This is not only because hardware is replaced every few years, but also because everything is backed up online, and sits in a data centre.
These data centres use a huge amount of electricity and resources in the process.
The good news is, that we are noticing that things are changing, in the right direction.
Here are a few great innovations that are making incremental changes to the environmental impact.
Just a few years ago we would end up with piles of polystyrene packaging that the; computers, monitors, phones, and every other IT device were packaged in.
This packaging was NOT recyclable and we could only pay for it to be dumped.
Now, very little packaging comes with IT equipment. Nearly everything now uses pre-pressed cardboard. This contains far less material as it is shaped and not solid, and can go directly into recycling. What a great difference this simple change has made.
The latest devices tend to use far less power than the ones a few years ago. The processors are more powerful, and less power hungry.
Because they consume less power, they need less cooling and less cooling means they can be designed to use less materials. Manufacturers are thinking hard about how to reduce power consumption.
Devices are generally getting smaller and therefore use less materials in manufacture.
The classic example of this is the move several years ago now from the huge CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors to the much thinner and lighter digital screens.
The other clear example is moving from the older desktop computers to predominantly NUCS or mini-PCs, which have a fraction of the raw materials. Again, our recycling racks would be full of old desktop computers, whereas now there is just a small pile of dead NUCs.
The recycling services have also improved. Whilst e-waste continues to be a huge global issue, New Zealand technology companies are seeing small gains happening.
Some laptop brands have started using recycled materials in the construction of equipment such as laptop cases, and laptop bags, even letting you know how many plastic bottles it took to make them!
Some manufacturers are also offering carbon offset schemes, where you can offset the emissions used in producing and manufacturing the equipment. Ask us for more details if you are interested.
Manufacturers are aware that consumers are increasingly aware of the impact on the environment, and want to make a point of difference.
Whilst it is not all roses. We still despair at the number of plastic bags that are used, and how every little thing comes in its own bag.
In summary, we wanted to let you know that there are many notable changes going on in the IT industry to make it ‘greener’ and less damaging to our planet.
2023 is predicted to be another year of fast movement with technology.
The past few years with the pandemic have seen rapid changes in how we work, and the technology that we use.
IT trends in business will continue to reshape the future of commerce and industries. Not all Central Otago businesses will be impacted by these changes in 2023, but even at the SME level, they are worth being aware of at the least.
Automation and digitization will make a lot of changes in customer experience plus Artificial Intelligence is continually improving and changing.
Here we share some of the key trends:
The Internet of Things continues to grow at a phenomenal rate.
IoT is essentially an ecosystem of devices and technologies connected via the internet that constantly collect and transmit data to be analysed and implemented.
Day-to-day examples of devices that make up part of IoT are smart meters, security cameras, fridges, and AI virtual assistants.
Currently each person has an average of four connected devices. By 2030 it is predicted that we will each have an average of 15 devices.
One of the key focuses for IoT is security as a lot of them are not equipped with the security required right out of the box.
2023 will see an increased focus in developments of the IoT plus a focus on security. Read more about the IoT here
2023 will see the Metaverse becoming even more significant. What is the Metaverse you may well ask?
“The Metaverse is like an immersive internet where we’ll be able to work, play, and socialize.”
What does the metaverse mean for businesses? In 2023, it is predicted that the metaverse will create an even more immersive environment for meetings where we can collaborate on projects, meet, work and share even more. We will see the further development of more human looking Avatars, that even have our unique quirks!
In 2023, artificial intelligence will become more real in organizations.
Less of a trend and more of a continued focus for all of us, Cyber Security will continue to be top of mind as cyber threats become more complex and common.
Smaller businesses with less than 1,000 employees are most likely to be targeted with a prediction that 61% of data breaches will be targeted towards smaller businesses. (source Verizon).
Please be clear – the bigger businesses and organisations are now well protected, and so the criminals have been turning their attention to small businesses who are still lagging when it comes to security measures. The Verizon quote above refers to smaller businesses of less than 1,000 employees, but we do advise our clients to not be complacent, because criminals are actively targeting businesses just like yours.
In 2023, robots will be made to look even more like humans. Elon Musk has already revealed the robots of the future, saying these will be ready to roll out in the next 3-5 years. These robots will begin to be used in the real world with basic roles, whilst also performing more complex tasks in warehouses and factories.
ChatGPT – or Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer – is a chatbot that was launched by OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research and deployment company, in November 2022.
It is a language model that can generate realistic, human-like text.
ChatGPT can be used in language translation and to summarise large chunks of text to give a precis of an article.
It can also generate text responses on any subject when prompted, making it useful as a chatbot for customer service. (Source RNZ)
2023 will see a continued increase in advancement in the world of technology.
IT Centre is keeping an eye on these developments, and especially on those that can add value (at the right cost) to businesses in Central Otago . Our purpose is to help you to leverage technology to support your specific business goals.
Purchasing a new computer is a big decision. Before you rush out to the Boxing Day sales and buy that computer recommended by that enthusiastic sales assistant, it is worth doing your research.
Buying a new computer is an investment. So, it’s natural to want that investment to last as long as possible. You don’t want to spend $1,000 on a new computer, only to begin experiencing problems when it’s just a year old.
You may have to pay a little more for a system that has better performance. But it will save you in the long run when you have more years of usable life before that device needs replacement.
This is where IT Centre comes in. We are able to help you to understand your personal requirements and prevent any post purchase remorse!
We’ve compiled a list of top things to consider before you purchase a new computer:
One of the big mistakes that people make when looking for a new computer is to ignore the RAM. Random access memory may be called RAM on the specification or “memory.” If your system has low memory, you run into all sorts of problems.
These issues can include:
Memory is the “thought process” of the PC. If there isn’t enough, it can’t take on another task until it completes the current processing tasks. This can cause frustration and ruin your productivity.
People often go for those low-priced computer deals when looking for a new device. But these can include only 4GB of RAM. That’s not a lot if you do much more than staying in a single application or just a few browser tabs.
The higher the RAM, the more responsive the system performance. So, look for PCs with at least 8GB of RAM. Or higher if you do any graphics/video or other processing-intensive activities. It is worth talking to our team at IT Centre about this.
If you have a small business or are a freelancer, you may try to save money by buying a consumer PC. But this could end up costing you more in the long run.
Consumer PCs aren’t designed for continuous “9-to-5” use. They also often lack certain types of firmware security present in business-use models. The price gap has also shortened between good consumer computers and business versions. If you’re not looking at the cheap systems, you’ll find that it’s not that much more to get a business-grade device.
It can be confusing to read through the processor specifications on a computer. How do you know if Intel Core i7 or i3 is best for your needs? What’s the performance difference between AMD and Intel processors?
Contact us at IT Centre and we will be happy to steer you in the right direction. We’ll explain in layman’s terms the differences, as well as which processor makes the most sense for your intended use.
If you’re looking for a laptop computer, it’s important that it is durable. Laptops have some unique characteristics that differ from desktops. For example, the screen is often folded down one or more times per day. Additionally, the keyboard is part of the case and is not easily replaced by the user.
If you get a laptop with a cheap plastic case, it’s bound to break during normal use. Keys could also easily pop off the keyboard, requiring a trip to a computer repair shop.
You want to consider the materials used for the case. Paying a bit extra for a better casing is definitely worth it. It can help you avoid unneeded headaches.
Storage capacity can be a pain point that you experience after the fact. If you buy a computer without paying attention to hard drive space, you could regret it. You may not be able to transfer over all your “stuff” from the old system.
But storage capacity can also be an area where you can save some money. If you store most of your files in the cloud, then you may not need a lot of hard drive space. The less space you need, the lower the price.
Bear in mind though that you always need to keep 15% – 20% free space on your drive for operating system and software temporary ‘working files’. Without this you will find your computer slowing to a crawl and/or freezing up.
If you can get a computer with a solid-state drive (SSD) rather than a traditional hard disk drive (HDD) you should know that SSDs are faster and less likely to have read/write issues. They have no moving parts; thus they are quieter as well. You will often find that ‘bargain computer’ you have found has an older style spinning hard drive that prevents the computer running as fast as it might. Given that Solid-state drives have come down in price quite a bit recently it just makes sense to go for a computer that uses one.
Most computers will come with a 12 month return to base warranty as standard that covers hardware defects. This means that it will need to be sent back to the manufacturer for diagnosis or repair.
All computers and IT equipment that we sell at IT Centre come with a three year warranty, often onsite which means you won’t have to package it up and send it to Auckland if something breaks.
Not only that but if the computer was purchased from us we will manage the warranty repair or replacement process with the manufacturer on your behalf at no cost, otherwise this would be a chargeable service.
Before you invest in your new computer, talk to our team at IT Centre. We can help you define the correct specification based on your business requirements and won’t offer you any extras that you don’t require’ e.g. that antivirus software you already have a license for.
Article used with permission from The Technology Press.
Christmas is the perfect breeding ground for Cybercriminals. Mix a dose of stress with some last minute Christmas buying, and voila, you have a recipe that serves the Cybercriminal well.
Take for example that pair of lemon coloured Crocs you’ve been desperate to find for your child. You’ve searched high and low, but they are out of stock everywhere. Everywhere that is, apart from this one store. You can’t believe your luck. Your child will be so happy on Christmas Day. However, weeks later, you are still waiting and waiting and waiting. When you check back, the store seems to have disappeared, along with your dollars.
Or that ipad that you want to buy your partner as a surprise. You search the internet and come across an unbelievably well priced ipad, so much cheaper then all of those well-known retailers. So you click…but never actually get to collect.
The saying “Too good to be true” has never rung more true than with online shopping at this time of the year.
Read our tips below to keep you safe this festive season.
Here are some of the ways that Cybercriminals operate.
· Setting up fake websites that look completely legitimate.
· Adding fake online reviews.
· Copying Social Media accounts of well-known brands.
· Social media ads that lead you to fake online stores.
· Fake missed delivery notification texts. Scammers send fake text messages claiming that a package you’re waiting for has been delayed or that you need to pay a fee before it can be delivered.
· Gift Card Scams
Here are some tips from Knowbe4 to make sure what you’re buying online is not a fraud in disguise.
Gift cards are a huge source of revenue at Christmas Time. Let’s face it, a gift card is a far better present then Aunt Mary’s standard soap set. However, Gift Cards have been the target of a lot of scams in the past few years.
This link here offers some advice on what to avoid with Gift Card Scams.
Whilst it is the season to be jolly, it is also the season to be jolly careful about your online purchases.
Along with the above tips it is very important to keep your device operating systems and antivirus programmes up to date. Talk to the team at IT Centre about this if you don’t already have this in place.
These few tips could save you money and time over the holiday season.
Teams and Channels, Channels and Teams. These buzzy buzz words may be leaving you scratching your head.
Here we break down what Teams and Channels are, along with a basic how to for setting teams up.
We are used to helping clients set up teams and channels, so please do not hesitate to contact us.
Let’s talk Teams. Think of teams as a group of people who come together to collaborate. In the olden days, this may have been in meeting rooms, with shared brown manilla folders passed between one another.
Nowadays you can collaborate easily with Teams either for a one-off project, or maybe as an ongoing internal department that work together e.g. the accounts team, marketing team, sales team or admin team.
The teams can be created to be both private or public, addressing a broad range of communication requirements, both inside your organisation and with parties outside your organisation.
Whatever the ‘team’ is, Microsoft teams is like a centralised place where you can chat, share files, store information, and easily find information pertaining to your ‘team’.
No more going over to Jim’s office to ‘find the file’. Because it is all here. In one place.
Advantages of Teams:
What about Channels?
Think of Teams as a way to ring fence people together, there are no hard and fast rules. Teams is like Netflix, and Channels as the genres within Netflix – anyone for a good Drama? Sci-Fi? Thriller? That’s the one. Channels are the segments within Teams.
Your teams Channels are dedicated sections within a Team to keep conversations organized by specific topics, projects, discipline.
Channels are places where conversations happen and where a lot of collaborative work gets done.
Different types of Channels:
Files that you share in a channel are stored in SharePoint. To learn more, read How SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business interact with Teams.
Each private channel has its own settings that the channel owner can manage, including the ability to add and remove members, add tabs, and @mentioning for the entire channel.
These create collaboration spaces where you can invite people who are not in the team. Only the users who are owners or members of the shared channel can access the channel
The setup for a shared channel requires some knowledge and thought about how you go about it.
They are really powerful if used correctly, you can have one channel that lives in many teams, cool right?
THE HOW TO PART…..
Creating a team is easy, like really easy. So easy that they can become messy fast.
Before we create a team it pays to spend a bit of time thinking about the structure of the teams in relation to the business. For example a team for each sector, the partners, customers, suppliers, projects, business, job types, locations, level (SLT, management, everyone), department. As well as this we also want to look at the work stream, the companies growth and who will be accessing teams.
To make teams scalable you need to do some business analysis, which is where we can help. Understanding the full picture of technology and where this intersects with your business and how you can efficiently deliver teams to ‘make it work’ is the ultimate plan.
Technology projects are there to provide improvement, not just change for change sake.
Create a team
Creating a team is simple. All you need to do is go to the left side of Teams, click Teams, at the bottom of the teams list, click Join or create a team, and then click Create a new team.
Once you’ve created the team, invite people to join it. Boom easy!
The next thing you will want to do is to find the team that you created, click More options … > Add channel. You can also click Manage team and add a channel in the Channels tab.
Teams and Channels are simple in theory but can be really hard to understand and to implement in a way that works for your business. Talking about how it works won’t show the benefit or the full picture. Having a demo of teams can take you through how it all works and explain it in simple terms.
For further assistance, please reach out to us here.
The IT Alliance, which is a group of IT companies throughout New Zealand, and which the IT Centre is a part of, have put together their thoughts on the biggest trends they have seen for IT in New Zealand this year.
The IT Alliance members deal with real New Zealand companies who may be facing similar IT issues to yourself. The businesses are generally small to medium sized businesses, often time poor, resource limited and with some cash flow restrictions. These are not multi-million dollar US companies.
Here we share the key trends that we are seeing with I.T in New Zealand companies as we round up 2022.
The culmination of the past few years has seen a huge shift towards remote and hybrid ways of working. Teams has become much more popular across clients who wish to collaborate on projects from remote locations. In a case study about Northland Kindergarten Association, they share how Teams has helped them through the past few years, and how it can also help your business.
We are seeing companies begin to explore the many options within Teams, and begin to utilise these within their businesses. Sharepoint and power apps are being picked up more for helping companies streamline internal processes and communication.
No longer are Cyber threats something that happen to big overseas companies. New Zealand companies both large and small have been hit by Cyber attacks and have paid the price in time, money and reputation.
The realization that we are not “so far away that this could never happen to us”’ has vanished, and been replaced for a healthy respect for Security.
Nothing can take 100% of the threats away, but having an IT provider making sure that your whole system is as secure as possible, should make any Kiwi business owner sleep more soundly.
2FA and MFA: 2FA or Two Factor Authentication or MFA Multifactor Authentication are now
being widely used.
Password Management System: Password management systems are being taken on by most
Monitoring and Maintenance: Companies now realise the value in having this taken care of on a
24/7 basis by an MSP (managed service provider).
2022 has still seen some post-Covid delays with computer shortages. Whilst that supply chain is now largely back to a good time frame, it has made companies aware of the value of creating a plan for the future. You can read about how to create a plan for computer hardware here.
As I.T becomes even more integral in your companies success, companies are realising the benefits of having a Managed Service provider as opposed to “someone you ring when something stops working.”
A Managed Service provider is like your outsourced I.T department, who runs all of the checks and balances remotely, and someone that you build an ongoing business relationship with, so that your IT supports your business key objectives.
If you would like help or advice with any of the above key trends that we are seeing, please do not hesitate to reach out. No question is too silly, and we make it as easy and simple for you because this is what we do! Contact us here.
Good question! The term ‘cloud’ can cause some confusion as it can make us believe that data is stored somewhere in the sky. The truth is that data is still physically stored by companies who offer cloud storage. The cloud is basically “a large computer somewhere else.”
Cloud storage warehouses are huge business. They have dedicated servers whose sole job is to send and receive data all day. The spaces are massive, with rows and rows of servers, sometimes upwards of 1 million square feet.
There are two key types of cloud-based services:
When you move to the cloud, you no longer have to store all that data on your own hardware. You still have access to your documents, media, or reports, but the third-party provider will likely have more storage space and processing speed, making your onsite technology function better.
By moving to the cloud, you are cutting out common cybersecurity risks. You don’t risk storing data on laptops, which can get lost or stolen. You also end the need for thumb drives (or USB drives), which can also be stolen or lost. Plus plugging in these external devices can also expose you to viruses or other risks.
Sometimes we feel our data is more secure having our data on-premises, but these days that isn’t always the case. Data can be safer in the cloud than on-site at your business.
Internet Connectivity: Cloud migration makes your business reliant on internet connectivity. If you have frequent outages or slow speeds, these conditions are not great hosts for cloud computing. Make sure to get this sorted out with your IT Alliance member first.
Large amounts of Data: For some companies that have huge amounts of data transfer, such as video editing, the cloud may not be the best option.
Limited local support: A lot of the Cloud storage centres are overseas, which may mean that the support is limited, and service sub-par.
Costs of the Cloud: The costs can be high with cloud hosting and sometimes. In talking with your IT Alliance member, you can work out what is the best option for your business.
“One IT Alliance member moved their client from Cloud hosting to a physical server as the client had experienced such rapid growth that the fees for the cloud were becoming hefty. The savings worked out to be over $50,000 to purchase a physical server and pay for the IT Alliance members services”
Encrypt your data: Make sure you contract with a provider who will encrypt data in transit. This makes it more difficult for hackers to get at your information.
Multi-Factor Authentication: Enabling multi-factor authentication can also help secure data by adding layers of security. It moves your data security beyond just asking for a username and password.
Compliance Regulations: Depending on your industry, there may be particular standards for data storage. Encryption is a common compliance expectation.
Training your team: Training your team on the importance of securing data is important, especially with people working remotely and connecting from off-site locations.
To cloud or not to cloud is a question that requires discussion. Our team can help you find the right solution for your individual needs and assist you with the process. Contact us here.
The costs of owning a website are complex, and a lot of people are surprised by the number of hidden costs. Let’s break it down:
1) Hosting: this can be either a monthly or annual fee.
2) Regular maintenance, security and updates: A service provided by your IT partner to help stop your site failing, glitching or getting hacked,
3) Routine backend maintenance of your site.
4) Keeping your website updated and fresh: This includes adding fresh content and articles, for example updating photos and keeping product details updated.
5) Small change requests: Whilst many web development companies might build you a site, they may not be equipped or even well suited to handling small change requests. Finding someone who handles IT tickets all the time every day means that you can just email your request and it will be done.
6) Knowing who is visiting your website. This is crucial to the success of your website. You must analyse who is visiting and how you can improve your organic reach. You can get reports for as little as $5 a month, or more detailed custom report which help to understand who is visiting your website.
7) Marketing your website: In other words actually getting visitors to your website
This list helps to give you a more realistic distinction around “website costs” . While the costs are not huge, some customers are surprised because they assume that after they have built the site there are no more costs.
Once your website is developed you may find that there are so many web hosting options, that it feels slightly overwhelming.
Before you go with the one with the cute adverts, or the cheapest ones, here are a few crucial things to consider:
IT Centre will ensure that the hosting provided for you is high functioning and gives you good value. With the myriad of options that are available, this saves you valuable time and money.
Knowing some of the costs of owning a website at the outset helps with budgeting for success with your website.
The advantages of having a good quality web host are many. It really does help with the success of your website in the long run, as well as stand you in good stead with your website security.
IT Centre can help you with this important decision by providing information on how best to progress with your budget and strategy. Contact us here.
So it didn’t work with your newest employee, in fact it didn’t work out would be an understatement…they left under quite a cloud!
A recent Symantec study states that “half of the employees who left or lost their jobs in the last 12 months kept confidential corporate data and 40 percent plan to use it in their new jobs.”
You’ve got the work laptop/computer back, but have they deleted things?
How do you know what they were doing and looking at before they left?
They used their own devices for work, do they still have their work material?
The vast majority of staff finish employment and move on with no issues. But occasionally people leave in less harmonious circumstances, or they are just plain dishonest. We’d like to cover off on some of the basics to ensure that your risks are minimised for if, or when, this happens to you.
Importantly, it makes a big difference what systems you use and how you are set up, so keep that in mind. For the purposes of this simple article, we assume you are a small to medium kiwi business, with a fairly simple IT setup, using one of the lower-level Microsoft 365 licences for your email document storage and sharing.
Set up the employee properly when they join and have proper security
To get the best outcome when an employee leaves you need to start when they join the company.
Practice ‘need to know’ access to systems and data:
Set up an off-boarding system
The obvious (we don’t want to tell you how to suck eggs with your HR, but people sometimes don’t do these things, or forget) things to do when the person leaves:
Of course IT being the mysterious being it is to most of us you might not consider the less obvious things to do:
If you are on a lower level 365 licence, such as Exchange Online, Business Basic or Business Standard, then talk to your ITA partner about the benefits and costs of moving to a higher licence with more security features such as 365 Business Premium. For example, configure 365 to prevent bulk downloading of company data, etc.
Put in place protections now, so that you have them there before you have a problem. Once the person has left, it is often too late. In general, these suggestions are a good place to start with ensuring your business is protected.
In IT we love to use fancy jargon, and Managed Service provider or MSP is no exception.
In this article we will break down what an MSP is, how it can help your business, and use some real-life examples of businesses, like you, who have made the switch to an MSP.
In a nutshell an MSP is your ‘outsourced IT Dept’ that provides proactive IT support. An MSP provides preventative measures, detecting most issues long before they become a problem.
The mission of an MSP is to protect your business from costly downtime and ensure that business continues seamlessly.
In contrast the ‘break-fix’ model of IT support is when you call an IT company when something breaks, and they come and fix it, on an adhoc pay by hour model. There is no ongoing support or preventative security measures taken. This is a bit like the ambulance at the bottom of the hill.
We become an IT partner to your business: As an MSP we are interested in understanding your entire business. We see ourselves as a business partner who wants to help your business to succeed and grow. This is quite different from the ‘break-fix’ model. We anticipate a long-term working relationship with your business.
Proactive IT Support: As an MSP, our mission is to keep your business technology safe and available, and to anticipate your needs and requirements. This means minimum costly down time, and maximum business continuity.
Knowledge of your needs: As we have a long-term relationship with your business, we become closely acquainted with your IT systems, and your personnel. Because of this we understand how the parts make up the whole, rather than just offering a quick short-term solution, which may be costly in the future.
Cost savings: By outsourcing your IT management to us, you get a well-informed IT department on your team, without the cost and responsibility of training, recruiting, and retaining staff.
“An IT Alliance member had a company who was reaching out to them on a ‘break-fix’ basis. During Covid the IT Alliance member reached out to them to discuss becoming their MSP. They sat down and discussed what this actually meant, the services that the MSP offers, and the priority that is given to MSP clients. The client has been using them as an MSP for over two years now, and happily sings their praises, saying that having an MSP has revolutionized their business. No more waiting for IT support, no more downtime and so much more alignment”
Remote Monitoring: An MSP proactively monitors, patches, and updates your software on an ongoing basis with 24/7 monitoring. This is all done in the background on an ongoing basis and requires no input from you.
Security: As an MSP we constantly review your systems to identify and address vulnerabilities. We can keep up with system updates, software patching, antivirus and more. It would be difficult for any business to keep up to date with all the daily security alerts. With an MSP this is all taken care of and is one less thing to worry about, so you can focus on your business.
Optimising hardware: An MSP provides information on optimal hardware that synchronises across your business. This includes laptops, desktops, and mobile devices, plus your network and servers. We can work with you to understand your growth requirements and work on the best timeline for your budget.
Strategic advice: As IT is our passion, we hear about a myriad of tools that may be of benefit for business goals. We share this advice with you, rather than you having to research or find out how you can optimise technology for your needs.
Regular reviews: As an MSP client, you are a priority which means that we schedule in regular proactive reviews. No more waiting on the phone to talk to someone to get IT support.
Business Continuity and disaster-recovery strategy: Nowadays it is crucial that you have a solid data-backup plan. We can help you with this process and ensure that everything can be efficiently restored should the need arise.
So now you have an overview of what an MSP is, and how they can help your business. The next step is talking to the team at IT Centre about your specific needs. Please feel free to reach out here for further advice.
Hopefully you are all staying healthy over this period. Please let us know if there is anything we can help with personally or professionally, we understand there is a lot of pressure on everyone, if there is anything we can do to reduce stress you are feeling just reach out.
With the unprecedented events we are currently experiencing everything has slowed down and turned on its head, working remotely has quickly gone from a new concept to a reality.
Isolation does not mean you have to be cut off from friends, family or work colleagues. IT Centre has plenty of solutions allowing you to communicate with others, share documents and run sections of your business from home.
Services we provide:
If you are having issues relating to video calling with friends and family we can help to get you up and running. Staying connected over this period will be vital.
Please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 03 443 5499, even if you just want to run something by us.
We can support you with most technology issues using our remote tools, connect into your devices or talking you through the process, along with phone, email, text or video call support.
Many of you may have felt the moderate 5.5 magnitude earthquake centred close to the Queenstown Lakes district over the weekend.
If you were anything like me, the next 10-20 minutes was spent thinking “am I prepared?”
These gentle reminders from mother nature trigger us to think about disaster recovery plans at home, but have you thought about technology disaster recovery and continuity plans for your business? What could you stand to lose?
At IT Centre we are here to help, we have strategies to minimise the risk should anything go wrong. Having a backup, stored in a different physical location, is a fundamental step to disaster recovery that can help you restore lost files. In doing so, if your computer was destroyed, your files and important documents would still be available. From such ‘uh-oh’ moments like accidentally deleting your family photos to larger scale disasters, back-ups can help prevent a lot of heartache and stress. You will also want to be assured that any backup plan will work, that the data is verified, and you know how you will access it.
IT Centre has many options that can help a business prepare for the worst-case scenario. We can advise on how to reduce your risk of data loss and how you can get back up and running as soon as possible.
With all things IT, the risks you are dealing with are not just local threats. Disaster recovery can cover natural disasters, cyber-attack, hardware failure, malicious software, sabotage, the list goes on. As we are so reliant on technology in our businesses and personal lives, mitigating the risk is the first step in being prepared.
Preparing for cyber-attacks can be as small as running up to date anti-virus and anti-malware applications. If anyone call’s requesting access to your computer, this is a good reason to be suspicious. Recently there has been an increased number of social engineering attacks, where people call under the guise of Spark/Vodafone or your bank (ASB/ANZ/BNZ) and talk you through some common trouble shooting steps to have you drop your guard and start providing access to personal files. Just remember that any suppliers of a service will not ask you for your password and should not require access to your computer. If you have any questions about these types of social engineering attacks, feel free to call IT Centre.
Disaster recovery and continuity planning – do you have policies and procedures in place to minimise down time for your business? How long can you cope with your IT being offline? IT Centre can help you identify steps that will ensure your technology is back online as soon as possible.
Having a backup is great but you will need to consider how you will access and use it in the event of any disaster. It’s going to be different for everyone, but we can help you come up with a solution that fits your requirements.
You may wish to consider spare computers, local backup copies (in case there is no internet access), and alternate locations for work. Think about the value of the data to your business and how much it would cost to recreate it. You should also think about the implications to your business if you are unable to access your IT systems. These factors can help you decide how much time and money to put into Disaster Recovery.
Only you can prepare your family for a disaster as you know your needs better than anyone. Technology plays a part of personal preparedness. Ensure that your local computer is backed up and that your family photos and important documents are saved somewhere safe. Again, we have various options to sort this out for you.
We offer a cost effective Managed Online Backup solution.
Click here to contact us and make a time to discuss this with us, or call us on 03-443-5499.
The Otago CDEM (Civil Defence Emergency Management) have put together useful resources specific to the Otago region, follow the links below for more information
If you need to pack a grab-and-go bag, here’s a handy list on what to include
Civil Defence New Zealand has put together a handy resource website to make sure you and your family are prepared for a natural disaster.
Don’t forget that pets will factor into whatever your personal preparedness plans will require. Make sure you are prepared to look after your furry friends in an emergency.
One of the most significant, and yet common gaps in New Zealand organisations is the management of IT disaster recovery.
If a catastrophic event, such as a natural disaster (earthquake etc.), office fire, or even a more minor event such as file deletion or corruption, were to happen would your business be able to recover and continue operating? Or like many other companies that are badly unprepared, could such an event see you lose everything you have worked so hard to build?
An IT Disaster Recovery Plan can be a relatively simple, fast and inexpensive safeguard to implement, which means there is no excuse not to have one in place for your organisation.
Call or email IT Centre today to book a time for your FREE Disaster Recovery Audit
Skiers and snowboarders aren’t the only international guests to flock to Wanaka in winter. Between June and September each year, Southern Hemisphere Proving Ground (SHPG) hosts global car
manufacturers who come to trial their newest models in the icy conditions.
SHPG has 16 testing workshops scattered throughout its site, in the alpine landscape between Queenstown and Wanaka. Not only is it a seasonal operation (the testing workshops run only during winter) but the competing car brands need to be certain their new features, as well as test data, are completely secure and confidential.
“Our season is busy and demanding. When we open the testing sites we’ve got to know our network and system are rock-solid and ready to go.
“Our clients from the research and development side of the automotive industry are cutting edge – we need to make sure we’ve got support in place to match their expectations.”
Southern Hemisphere Proving Ground.
For more than eight years, IT Centre has been looking after SHPG’s IT needs. This involves trekking up to the ice every year to get the 16 test workshops networked and operational. It’s no run-of-the mill job. Each of the 16 workshops has to be completely secret, yet networked to the central system.
• Network design, implementation and support
• Computer systems set-up, implementation and support
• Cloud-based services including online back-up and file sharing
• Microsoft Office 365 hosted email
• On-going monitoring and maintenance
• Priority response service
Through provider Spark, SHPG has a 100MB fibre link and guaranteed connectivity for international traffic. IT Centre worked locally to ensure all technical requirements were met when this was installed. Any new upgrades or software are introduced seamlessly. For example, IT Centre successfully integrated a weather station function that gives crucial real-time updates on weather conditions to all workshops – along with a user-friendly web-based interface. More recently, SHPG moved from standard email to Microsoft Office 365 hosted email – a cloud-based solution that gives greater flexibility and security. And over the 2016 winter, IT Centre is helping manage the implementation of a new management system.
As with any IT system it’s important to be prepared for contingencies – and SHPG uses the priority response service from IT Centre to make sure issues can be resolved promptly.
According to IT Centre’s Rob Facer, SHPG is one of their more ‘fun clients’, and has needed some creative solutions at times. But fundamentally, the need for security, flexibility and reliability is a constant across any business.
“We’ve had a long-standing relationship with IT Centre – they understand our business and how we operate. They’re on hand to sort out any issues that come up, and can deliver a creative solution when needed. It enables us to give our international clients the service they require.”
Southern Hemisphere Proving Ground.
But while it’s losing the town’s name from its brand, IT Centre Managing Director Rob Facer is clear about crediting Wanaka’s go-getting spirit for the company’s growth.
“Wanaka is incredibly entrepreneurial and outward-facing for a town of its size,” he says. “As Wanaka has grown and expanded, so have we – so the time has come for a name and brand that better reflects the broad scope of what we do.”
Rob set up Wanaka Computers 14 years ago with wife Linda Montgomery. Back then it was just the two of them, and a few dozen clients. They’ve seen a period of immense growth: the company now has six staff, and last year had 600 active clients.
“Although we’re proudly Wanaka-based, our clients cover the whole of the lower South Island – even as far afield as Auckland,” says Rob. “We felt IT Centre better sums up who we are, and also conveys the idea that IT is central to business because it’s about how we all connect and communicate.”
The company is also planning a move to the Three Parks commercial development next year, ensuring it’s well positioned for future expansion.
According to Rob, the sophistication and diversity of Wanaka’s IT requirements are a world away from where they were 14 years ago. Back then the majority of his business clients were in tourism. Today IT Centre’s clientele cover diverse sectors from management consultancy to helicopter maintenance – with many connecting to global customers, suppliers and partners.
“I don’t believe there’s another town in New Zealand that could give technology experts like us such a fascinating and growing mix of clients, coupled with the lifestyle we have here in Wanaka,” he says.
“I think we’re possibly the luckiest tech geeks in New Zealand.”