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So Many Smartphones and Tablets! It’s Time You Get On Board the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) Train

February 7, 2013 at 3:24 pm PST

Here are tips to help you adopt and support mobility for your small and midsized business.BYOD blog image

Did you know, 42 percent of employees who own smartphones use them for work? In addition, 8 percent of Internet web based transactions and activities are conducted from a mobile device.

The new BYOD trend has changed both employee and customer expectations. The future is in your hands now! Are you reading this on your smartphone?

When you consider this new way we all live—the mobile world, as a small or medium sized business why would you want to ignore this BYOD trend? As Linda Beaton, marketing manager for Cisco points out in her recent blog, this BYOD trend encourages business growth and has security challenges. The upside is that companies that choose to embrace mobility reap a lot of benefits, including attracting more customers and serving them better. According to the Cisco ISBG Horizons Research, mobility improves employee productivity and ultimately can provide you with a competitive advantage.

In addition, when employees get to choose how, where, and with which tools they work, there is a 16 percent increase in job satisfaction. Cost savings are a benefit, too! Companies save approximately 15 percent when employees pay for all or part of their own devices and mobile data plans. And what company wouldn’t want to save money?You many ask: so how can I prepare my business for this new growing trend? It’s easy. By taking into account the following tips, you can get your business ready to adopt mobility and start reaping the benefits today.

Network infrastructure: According to the Cisco Connected World Technology Report, 40 percent surveyed expect to be able to access their company network from their personal mobile device. The inability to access the network impedes productivity—up to six hours per week. To support employees with mobile devices, you need a robust network, fast access and a lot of bandwidth, all wireless! You may also need to invest in network improvements to support advanced technologies to improve communication and collaboration among employees, partners and customers all seamlessly—and Cisco’s unified communications is the key.

Security: You may think that your anti-virus is the only protection you need. But guess what? In a recent Dark Reading article it points out, even when 40 antivirus products were tested with the most common viruses today they detected less than 5 percent of those threats. A breach in your company business data can result not only in financial loss, but also lost customer and business downtime. In fact, the new Cisco ISA500 is a comprehensive all-in one solution that performs like a router, firewall, and unified threat management device.

Protecting the privacy of your data from outside threats requires a three-pronged approach:

  • First, put infrastructure precautions in place to protect your network from malicious activity, such as: firewalls, anti-virus and anti-spam software, and intrusion prevention systems (IPS).
  • Second, you need a VPN to ensure secure access and transmission of your data from mobile employees.
  • Third, you need an acceptable use policy that includes guidelines for mobile device usage. The AUP should outline your expectations for these devices, such as who has rights to the data on them, users’ responsibilities, and security procedures.

Support: So, when employees use their mobile devices for work, how do you provide them with support? For example, if your employees use their smartphones or tablets for work and encounter a technical issue, who do they call? Time spent dealing with technical issues is time that your employees aren’t spending on company business.

To address this, consider purchasing a service contract. A service support plan gives you access to expert technical support engineers who can quickly resolve issues, keeping employees productive. Perhaps the biggest hurdle for small and medium-sized businesses is where to start when it comes to mobility and BYOD. A Cisco Partner can help plan, implement, and support a secure, scalable mobile experience for you and your employees. So what are you waiting for? Find a partner today!

This is a great topic, right? Want more? Check out these posts:

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How to Obtain a Competitive Edge by Outsourcing IT Services

December 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm PST

Learn how Proserv gained a competitive advantage from outsourcing IT Services and watch how amazing things happen by connecting people, process, data and things.

Last month, I had the opportunity to visit Proserv Property Services, a customer of Clark Integrated Technologies based in Aberdeen, Scotland, who recently implemented a Cisco Unified Communications solution designed for small business. From the moment that I arrived in town, I had a feeling that the trip was going to be an eye-opening experience. First of all, the weather condition was just a drastic change especially coming from California. Quickly, I had to adjust to the freezing temperature in Aberdeen and some light rain during the entire trip.

I  pre-arranged a meeting to visit ProServ early the next morning so I could learn more about their business and the reasons why they’ve become so  successful. I also wanted to know more about their day-to-day operations, their challenges and how they are using technology to serve their customer better. Walking into ProServ was like a breath of fresh air. I quickly understood where their true success lies… which I’ll come back to it as I wrap up this blog.

As planned, I was greeted by Morgan Cooper of Proserv and members of her team who were all eager to discuss their experience using Cisco technology. They shared how it helps them to be more productive such as- rerouting their calls directly to the technicians on the road– a process that used to take multiple steps to complete. Now, the calls are automatically sent to the technicians on the road informing them of their next customer visit. All of this was great for me to observe because being at the customer site offered me some perspective that is usually hard to grasp otherwise.

Next, I met with Austen Clark, Sales Director at Clark Integrated Technologies – a very successful IT solution provider who is a Cisco Select Partner. Austen and I started working together earlier in the year so it was nice to finally meet him in person. He quickly reinforced the benefits Proserv is gaining as a result of the new IT network. Additionally he explained how Cisco OnPlus allows him to monitor the devices on the network proactively and alerts the client of any issues before they affect the business. Again, a plus for me to aborb this in the real customer environment! Obviously, Austen is a great business partner of Cisco.

As if this wasn’t enough, Morgan arranged for me to visit one of their clients, David Lloyd Gym & Tennis Club. What an amazing club! Top notch facilities, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, studio, gym, state of the art cafeteria and best of all, Ross, the Managing Director, extended us such a warm welcome. He shared that when businesses like ProServ and Lloyd, that are focused on serving their customers, implement IT solutions that helps them provide an efficient and reliable service, it becomes a win-win situation for everyone.  

Now, I’ll come back with my conclusion on what I think makes Proserv stand out from their competition. Of course, choosing the right IT solution provider who can give them  the best advice on the technology they need to meet the business challenges- is always a plus.  But in my opinion, their true success lies in the quality of the service they provide, their  management, having a proactive mindset and most importantly the people who work at Proserv–they truly are all super stars!

Check it out for yourself. Watch and enjoy the video! And don’t forget to share it with others too!

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3 Things to Look for in a Service Plan

An optional service package can protect your technology investment and keep your network running

It’s happened to all of us at one time or another: A much relied upon appliance or electronic device dies the day after the warranty expires. Although annoying and frustrating, you can live a day or more without your TV, iPod, or dishwasher.

When you’re a small business, though, your network is your lifeline—it connects you to your community of customers, partners, and suppliers. Having your network go down because a key component (such as a switch, router, or storage device) has failed can cost you in lost revenue and customers as well as the price to replace the faulty equipment. By some estimates , the average financial loss due to network downtime costs companies 3.6% of their gross annual revenue.

Often, the product warranty just isn’t enough. That’s where a service plan comes in. These optional packages provide investment protection for your network and will keep it—and your business—up and running. This can be especially beneficial for small businesses that have limited or no in-house technical support.

Service packages vary in term length, coverage, and cost. Here are some things to look for when comparing plans:

Hardware replacement: When a network component fails, you want the fastest replacement possible. Look for a service plan that will deliver a replacement product the next day, at the very least; or, even better, within hours.

Software updates: Getting the latest upgrades and bug fixes keep your network devices performing at their best and reduces the risk of potential problems.

Multiple support channels: Choose a plan that provides more than one way to get the help you need, such as online chat, phone support, and a support community forum or knowledgebase.

A plan should provide comprehensive service so you get the most value from your technology investment. A service plan that keeps your network running smoothly, like Cisco Small Business Support Service, will help save you money, make employees more productive, and allow them to better serve your customers—ultimately, making your business more competitive.

What’s your experience with service plans? Share your advice with other small businesses here.

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