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September 30th, 2014

GppgleApps_Sep29_CThe security of your systems should be top-of-mind, especially with the ever increasing number of account hacks and malware attacks. For those with Google accounts, the risk of having your account information breached is always there, and it is therefore a good idea to take steps to ensure that your account is secure. To help, here are some useful tips on securing your Google account.

Don't use your main account to sign up/as a login for other sites and accounts

When we hear of account breaches or instances where Google account information has been leaked, many people will turn and blame Google, thinking that it was Google's systems that were breached. While this is a possibility, more often than not the breach occurred with another system where a Google account was used to either sign up, or as the main username.

When hackers get hold of this information they can then use it to launch subsequent malware or phishing attacks against the main Google account, in hopes of actually gaining access to it. Therefore, to prevent this from happening, you should be sure to limit what you use your main Google account to sign up for. Most websites requiring you to sign up for an account ask for an email address, so it is best to create a second dummy account that is only used for this purpose.

If you are asked to set the username as an email address, use this dummy email address and be sure to keep this account separate from your main account.

Don't use your Google password for other sites

Alongside account information breaches, password breaches on other sites are also commonplace. If you have used the same password for a site that you use to access your Google account that is akin to giving hackers direct access to these accounts.

Use a unique password for every site you sign up for, but at the very least make sure your password for your Google account is unique from any other accounts.

Use 2-step verification

Most major websites offer enhanced login security these days, Google included. When enabled, you will need to enter a second code - usually sent to your mobile or generated by a PIN generator - in order to access your account.

The major benefit here is that anyone who tries to access your account will need to enter this PIN, and because the majority of hackers won't have access to your mobile device, your account will be more secure.

You can enable 2-step verification by:

  1. Logging into your Google account.
  2. Going to the 2-step verficiation website (http://www.google.com/landing/2step/).
  3. Pressing Get Started at the bottom of the page.
  4. Selecting Start Setup on the next page.
  5. Logging into your account again.
  6. Following the instructions on the following pages.
In order for this to work, you will need a mobile device. You can either enter a phone number or choose to download the Google Authenticator app onto your mobile device. Regardless of which method you use, you will need to enter a cell number during the setup.

Audit your account security settings

If you are unsure as to how secure your account is, or the security options you have available, one of the first stops you make should be to Google's account checkup page (http://g.co/accountcheckup). Here you will see a number of security options that are available to you which you can enact or modify.

Finally, take a look at your account login locations on a regular basis. This information can be found here: https://security.google.com/settings/security/activity and shows you where recent logins were made, what systems were used, and even the IP address. Should you see some irregular activity, or strange looking login locations, then it is advisable to change your password immediately.

If you are looking to learn more about the security of your accounts, and what you can do to ensure that hackers can't gain access, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 24th, 2014

SocialMedia_Sep22_CAs a business owner, chances are high that you are aware of social media and even have your business established on one or more services. While this is a great start, many businesses often struggle with how exactly they should be using social media to their advantage. If this sounds like you, here are three common ways your business can effectively use social media.

1. To be a resource for existing and potential clients

This approach is by far the most popular used by businesses of all sizes. The main idea here is that social media is used as essentially a two-way street where you can pass information about the company, products, and industry to your followers. In turn, they interact with the content and eventually start to turn to your profile and page when they are looking for information.

One of the best ways to be successful with this approach is to provide your followers with information about the company, facts, tips about your products and industry, and links to other relevant content.

By sharing content, users will generally interact with it more and begin to see your company as a reliable source of information. This often translates into enhanced brand awareness and potentially sales.

The downside with this approach however, is that it can be time consuming to constantly develop new content. Most companies eventually reach a point where what they produce and share is pretty much the same, and overall payoffs begin to decrease. One way around this is to work with professionals to come up with dynamic and different content.

2. To provide customer service/support

These days, when someone has a problem with a company's services or products, the first port of call for complaints is often social media, largely because it's the most convenient place to vent where you can get instant reactions.

It therefore makes sense to create support or customer service presence on these channels. Some companies have even taken to launching support-centric profiles, where customers can contact them about anything, from complaints to questions, and receive a personal answer. For many companies this is ideal because it eliminates the hassle of customers having to call a support line and dealing with automated machines.

This approach can prove useful for businesses because it often makes it easier to reach out to disgruntled customers and track overall brand satisfaction. The downside is that you will need someone monitoring services 24/7, and to respond in a timely manner which may be tough to do for many smaller businesses.

3. To sell something

There are an increasing number of businesses who have launched social media profiles with the intent of selling a product or service. The actual sales may not take place through social media but the information on these profiles and platforms channels potential customers to an online store or to contact a company directly. Social media's instantaneous nature makes for a tempting platform, especially when you tie in different advertising features and include content like coupons, and discounts.

While this hard sales line can be appealing to businesses, many users are seemingly put off of companies with profiles that only focus on selling via their platforms. The whole idea of social networking is that it is 'social'; this means real interactions with real people. Profiles dedicated only to trying to sell something will, more often than not, simply be ignored.

What's the ideal use?

One of the best approaches for small to medium businesses is to actually use a combined approach. Most people know that ultimately, businesses with a presence on social media are marketing something, but focusing solely on this could turn customers off.

A successful split that many experts have touted is the 70-20-10 rule. This rule states that you should make 70% of your content and profile focused on relevant information to your audience. 20% of content should be content from other people and 10% of content should be related to selling your products or services e.g., promotional.

If you want to use social media for support as well, it is a good idea to create a separate profile dedicated just to this end. If complaints are lodged or noticed using your main account, direct them towards the support account.

As always, if you are looking for help with your social media strategy, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
September 23rd, 2014

Office365_Sep22_COffice 365, Microsoft's popular cloud-based productivity suite, is constantly growing in popularity, especially with small to medium businesses. However, as with many other software suites, the amount of data associated with Office 365 is also constantly growing and it can be tricky to keep track of all your data and connections. To help, Microsoft has introduced the Office Delve feature.

What is Office Delve?

The idea behind Office Delve is that it's a tool that helps business users get the most out of their data and information related to Office 365. According to Microsoft, Delve will allow you to:
  • Discover new information - Delve has been designed to show you information from different sources in Office 365 that you may find useful for what you are currently working on.
  • Discover what you need - Documents you have seen before, or have recently worked on, are highlighted and made easier for you to find, regardless of where they are stored. This makes it less taxing to find work you have been doing in the past, and continue from where you left off.
  • Discover new connections - Typing a name in Office 365 will allow you to see what a user is working on, their connections, and even connect with them to build relationships and share information.

How does it work?

In order to provide the information and data that users will likely find useful, Delve is powered by a tool Microsoft calls Office Graph. Graph maps the relationships between the various Office 365 users in your company, and the content/information related to them.

This 'map' is then used by Delve to provide users with what they need, when they need it. Content and information is displayed on a card-based screen, which can be found under the Delve tab in the main Office 365 launch screen.

Aside from content such as profile information, links to documents, or information, users can also see: Likes, views, comments, and tags, which brings a deeper social integration into Office 365.

Delve also orders content a number of different ways, including:

  • What you've recently worked on - Shows you content in card-form that you have recently opened or worked on.
  • Content that has been shared with you - Shows the content your colleagues have shared with you.
  • Content that has been presented to you - Shows content that colleagues have presented recently, or content that has been sent to you.
While this idea works great on the desktop, many Office 365 users access their systems from their mobile devices. Delve will also be available to mobile users. On your device you can browse the cards with files, swipe left or right on each card to view files, and even search for colleagues and view files they have shared with you and their recent activity.

When is Delve available?

Microsoft has noted that Delve is currently rolling out for businesses who have subscribed to the Office 365 Enterprise level plans (E1-E4) and have joined the first release program. Over the following months, it will roll out to all E1-E4 customers. In 2015, Microsoft has noted that they will introduce Delve to Business Essentials, Business Premium, Small Business, Small Business Premium and Mid Sized Business customers.

If you are looking to learn more about Delve, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 23rd, 2014

Google_Sep22_CWhen looking for information on nearly anything and everything, the first place the majority of people turn to is Google. The thing is, there are so many results when we input a Google search that it can sometimes be a challenge to find what exactly you're looking for. Luckily, there are a number of tips and tricks you can employ to make finding what you need far easier. Here are seven:

Search inside one site only

Oftentimes, we are looking for an article, words, page, or even image from one site. If you simply search for it on Google, you may find the site right away, but you will also see results from other sites. To narrow down the results a little, try using the search operator site:.

When using site: followed by a web address in the search bar (without a space), Google shows results for that site at the top of the results list. So, if you are looking for an article that has the keywords: 'cloud technology' on CNN, you can enter: site:cnn.com cloud technology.

Search for results based on a page's title

If you are looking for a specific webpage, but don't know the site it is on, you can use the operator: intitle: followed by keywords. This tells Search to look for webpages that contain the keywords in the title.

For example, if you are looking for a webpage that has the title: five cloud tips, you can search for it by entering: intitle: five cloud tips. Note, be sure to add a space between the operator and the keywords/titles.

Do two searches at once

Using an OR operator between two keywords tells Search to show results for both of the keywords at the same time. This can be useful for when you are looking to quickly compare two different ideas or topics.

The key to making this operator work is to make sure that OR (in capital letters) is between the two terms you are looking for, and separated by a space on both sides.

Exclude certain results or keywords

With many Google searches you will often see results for local businesses with a presence on Google first, or results related to your local area. While these can be useful, when you are looking for non-local results, it can take time to sort through these findings.

If you see that there are a number of results with keywords or terms that you are not interested in, then put a - (minus) in front of the term (without a space) e.g., -term, and Search will not show results containing that word.

Quickly find sites that link to yours (or another)

One of the key components of successful SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is link building - the concept of increasing links to and from your site. With Search's various updates, Google is constantly changing the way sites are ranked and displayed in results. Businesses with websites need to ensure that the links they are using to direct to other content, or to bring people into their site are legitimate.

One quick way to see who links to your site is to use the Search operator: link:site.com. Simply enter link:yoursite.com, and Google will display results for all other sites and content that contain links to your site.

Fill in the blank searches

Looking for something where you know the first and last part of say the name, title, sentence, etc? You can use the Search operator * to help. The * (asterix) functions as what is called a wildcard, or unknown, operator. When used, it tells Search that you don't know the words that are missing, and that you want Search to try and fill in the results.

Use quotes to search for exact terms

The way Search works is that when a set of keywords are entered with spaces, Search will return results that contain the words either separately or together in any order. If you know exactly what you are looking for, you can add double quotes (") around the terms.

By using double quotes, Google will show results that only contain those exact words, in that order. While this is useful, longer sentences in quotes will return fewer results, so if you aren't finding what you are looking for, try reducing the number of words inside the quotes.

If you are looking to learn more about Google Search, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 19th, 2014

Security_Sep15_CMany businesses are turning to the cloud in an attempt to avoid data breaches, which are growing in number as well as intensity. Still, what some businesses might not be aware of is the fact that there are certain parts of the cloud that point to an increased data breach risk. However, this doesn’t have to end in a mess as there are measures you can take to prevent a cloud-and-data security breach.

The cloud opens up some great tech advancements for businesses and is here to stay. However, as with all tech developments, you need to also be aware of any vulnerabilities and security issues as they change and develop at the same time too. If you use the cloud and want to proactively prevent cloud-and-data security breaches then here are five tips to follow:

  1. Know your cloud apps: Get a comprehensive view of the business readiness of apps and which ones render you more or less prone to a breach. Ask yourself these questions: Does an app encrypt data stored on the service? Does it separate your data from that of others so that your data is not exposed when another tenant has a breach? The idea here is to know exactly what each cloud service employed offers and how your company uses them.
  2. Migrate users to high-quality apps: Cloud-switching costs are low, which means that you can always change and choose apps that best suit your needs. If you find ones that don’t fit your criteria, take the time to talk to your vendor or switch; now more than ever you have choices, and the discovery process in step one will help you find out what these are.
  3. Find out where your data is going: Take a look at your data in the cloud. Review uploads, downloads, and data at rest in apps to get a handle on whether you have potential personally-identifiable information (PII), or whether you simply have unencrypted confidential data in or moving to cloud apps. You wouldn’t want cloud-and-data breaches with this critical data.
  4. Look at user activities: It’s important to understand not only what apps you use but also your data in the context of user activity. Ask yourself: From which apps are people sharing content? According to tech news source, VentureBeat, one-fifth of the apps they tracked enable sharing, and these aren’t just cloud storage apps, but range from customer-relationship management to finance and business intelligence. Knowing who’s sharing what and with whom will help you to understand what policies to best employ.
  5. Mitigate risk through granular policy: Start with your business-critical apps and enforce policies that matter to your organization in the context of a breach. For example, block the upload of information covered by certain privacy acts, block the download of PII from HR apps, or temporarily block access to vulnerable apps.
The key to preventing a cloud-and-data security breach lies in careful attention to your cloud applications and user activity. Analyzing your apps and looking into user activities might be time consuming, but the minimization of cloud-and-data security breaches makes this task worthwhile. Looking to learn more about today’s security? Contact us and let us manage and minimize your risks.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
September 17th, 2014

BusinessValue_Sep15_CThere is a good chance that your business is constantly looking for new clients. One of the most effective ways in which you can enhance your customers base is to have a strong Internet presence. It used to be that a website was enough, but now you need to have a full and active online presence. One of the best ways to achieve this is via content marketing. The challenge then is ensuring your efforts are successful.

What are the benefits of content marketing?

Before looking into ways you can implement content marketing that works, it is a good idea to look at the benefits of this type of marketing for businesses. One of the biggest pluses is that it boosts online engagement between you and your customers. If a customer sees that you are producing quality content that appeals to them, they will be more likely to interact and consider you when they need your products or services.

The other major advantage of a good content marketing strategy is that it helps show search engines like Google that your website and online presence are active. Because of the way search engines work, more active sites are usually ranked higher in results. If your website and overall Internet presence is seen to be active on a regular basis, you could possibly reach the first page of search results, which can lead to a boost in site visits, inquiries, and even sales.

If you have been considering implementing a content marketing campaign, or are looking to improve your existing efforts, the following four tips could help.

1. Always have a goal

The main thrust of many successful content marketing initiatives is that they tell a story. As with any narrative there needs to be an ending and in the case of content marketing this endpoint is a goal - something you want the reader to do. What do you want to achieve? Do you want customers to call? Do you want them to learn how to use your product?

By working backwards, you can then determine the right voice to use and best way to reach those customers who are most likely to react positively to the content. This also makes it easier for you to separate your campaigns and even launch multiple strategies at the same time.

Beyond this, having a goal can really help you narrow down the type of content you need to create. If for example, you know what customers you want to attract and how you want them to ultimately act, you can create content that is more appealing to them.

2. ABT

One of the most popular sayings amongst content marketers is to, "Always Be Testing (ABT)". When developing content you should be striving to test your content. Consider if certain images work better than others, as well as headlines, layouts, and content types, etc.

This could be as simple as developing three different social media posts and testing them with different market segments, or locations. You can then take what you have learnt from the tests and apply this to future posts.

The same can be said for more advanced content like blog posts or white papers. If you create different versions and layouts, and track the general downloads and interaction with the content, you can usually figure out how various people are reacting in different ways to a variety of content.

It is important to note here that content marketing is not a quick payoff style of marketing. You need to invest time, money, and effort into this and be willing to always be tweaking content. It takes time to pay off, but the time invested in testing what works and what doesn't work will help you develop better, more useful content.

3. Share and share alike

Creating content and just putting it on existing sites or sharing it with existing clients is not the most efficient way of making your content marketing show returns. Combine this with the fact that you will likely be using platforms like social media which are constantly changing and adding new content, and there is a good chance your content won't even be seen.

What you should aim to do is to share the content as much as possible. Share it on all of your social media platforms, link to it on your site, add it to emails, use the various social media content promotion features, and most of all: Share it again.

If you truly believe content is useful to your target market, you should aim to post it at least three to four times on social media. One of the most effective strategies is to share it on different days at different times, usually with a space of at least a week or two between posts. This can help maximize the numbers who see it.

4. Be prepared to fail

Failure is a part of business, and coincidently, it is also a part of content marketing. Face it, you might create content that just simply won't click as you intended. If this happens, your first reaction might be to pull the content and try something different. This may not be a good idea.

Sure, if the content is stirring up trouble, or has offended people, then it is likely best to remove it. But even if you aren't seeing the results you had hoped for, stick with the content for a bit. Try reposting it, and promoting more vigorously. It could very well be that users just didn't see the content.

As we stated above, successful content marketing takes time and effort. Once you realize this, and combine it with the fact that not everything will work, you should see a viable strategy surface over time.

If you are looking to learn more about content marketing and how our systems can help support it then get in touch and we can share our thoughts on how to be proactive and get results.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 16th, 2014

GoogleApps_Sep15_CIt is understandable that sometimes you can feel that your privacy is being invaded when someone asks to use your personal computer. After all, this is where a lot of personal messages, information and data is stored. There may also be history entries, bookmarks and instant messages you don't want someone else to be looking at. With Google’s Chrome, profile lock, a new feature that is being tested, you can have greater peace of mind that your privacy is being protected.

What is Chrome profile lock?

Chrome profile management system, as it is also known, allows you to lock your browser profile session, in a similar way to locking your entire desktop. What this means is that another user can still access apps and files stored locally, but won’t be able to sift through your personal data, bookmarks and personal apps because they will be using a Guest version of Chrome.

This eliminates the hassle of you having to quit your session or having to go through the process of creating a separate user account for the borrower to protect them from viewing your information.

How to lock your Chrome session?

  1. Open Chrome and in a new tab enter the following address: chrome://flags.
  2. Press Ctrl+F and search for Enable new profile management system.
  3. Click on the link to enable the feature (change default to enabled).
  4. Finally, press the Relaunch Now button at the bottom of the browser window.
When Chrome comes back you’ll see a drop down button with your Google account name in the title bar at the top-right of the screen. Click on this to reveal your user card, then click on the lock icon when you want to drop password-protection over your current Chrome activities.

Once locked, the browser will vanish and the User Manager window will appear along with the Browse as Guest option for when someone else is using your computer. Keep in mind that the User Manager window will remain active until you re-enter your password; even after restarting Chrome or rebooting the operating system.

Be aware that this new Chrome profile management system is not yet enabled by default and is still in the testing phase on Windows, Mac and Linux. Looking to learn more about Google’s applications? There are lots of ways that we can help you and your business, so get in touch.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 16th, 2014

Facebook_Sep18_CFacebook is one of, if not the most popular sites on the Web. With over 1.28 billion active (users who log in once a month) users it's hard to ignore this social media platform. However, the sheer volume of users makes it a tempting target for spammers and hackers. From posts with links to malicious content to fake apps, you should be aware of the common posts and tactics used by hackers.

1. Statistics on Profile visits

Spend enough time on Facebook and you will likely see this type of post on your Timeline. The post usually shows itself off as an app that allows users to see who has been viewing their personal profile, or the statistics related to profile views. There is also a link to click to either go to a site or install an app.

These posts look legitimate, but Facebook doesn't actually allow these apps, so clicking on them usually leads to malicious apps or sites. As some of these posts contain links to Facebook apps, you will be asked to allow the app permissions like access to personal data, friends lists, etc. These apps won't work, but they do give the developer access to your information which could then be used to start other malicious hacks.

2. Changing the color of your Profile

With the wide number of apps, devices, and other tech available to us, developers are often keen to offer users the ability to customize how their app looks. For example you may have applied your own themes or changed icons with your browser. Therefore, it makes sense that some users might want to change the color of their Facebook Profile from the standard blue that everyone uses.

There are apps out there that supposedly allow you to do this. However, Facebook doesn't allow users to customize the color of their Profile - it's blue for everyone. Therefore, the apps and links that supposedly allow you to change the color are fake and likely related to spam or malicious content. It's best to not click on the links in these posts, or install apps that say they allow you to do this customization.

3. Check if a friend has deleted/unfriended you

This post seems to come up every six months or so on Facebook. Like the statistics on Profile visits, apps claiming to allow you to check if you have been unfriended are fake. The biggest giveaway that this is a fake app or post is the wording. When someone doesn't want to be connected with you on Facebook, they will 'unfriend' you, not 'delete' you as these posts often claim. Needless to say, it is best to refrain from clicking on these links and apps.

4. Free stuff from Facebook

If you are a Facebook fan then you might like a free Facebook t-shirt, hat, water bottle, etc. There is a known post that shows up from time-to-time declaring that Facebook is giving away free stuff, and that if you click on the link in the post you too can get hold of some freebies.

Facebook does not usually give away stuff via network posts. Those people you see walking around with Facebook apparel usually either work for the company, had it printed themselves, or attended a Facebook event. Therefore, if you see these posts, don't click on the link.

5. Revealing pics or videos of celebrities

With all the recent leaks of celebrity photos and videos, you can be sure that the number of posts popping up on you News Feed with links to these types images and videos will become increasingly popular.

Not only is this obscene, the posts are 100% fake. Clicking on any of the links will likely take you to a site with 'files' that you need to download. The issue is, these files are actually malware and can pose a serious security risk.

As a general rule of thumb: Don't click on any links in posts connected to celebrities and revealing images or videos.

What can I do about these posts?

These tips are mainly for individual Facebook users as this is whom hackers and spammers are targeting the most. How is this an issue for your business? Well, if an employee is browsing Facebook at work and clicks on one of the links in posts like the ones above, there is a good chance they could introduce malware into your systems and networks.

Therefore, you might want to educate your employees about common Facebook security threats like the ones above. Beyond this, you should encourage everyone to take the following steps when they do come across content like this:

  1. Click the grey arrow at the top-right of the post.
  2. Select I don't want to see this.
  3. Click Report this Post.
This will ensure that the post itself is deleted and that the content is reported to Facebook for followup. Usually, if there are enough reports, Facebook will look into the content and likely ban the user.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 11th, 2014

BI_Sep08_CPredictive analytics has long been employed by large-scale businesses to help make decisions and long-term business predictions. Now, small to medium businesses are starting to integrate these methods in larger numbers. A common stumbling block for many managers and owners however is that this can be a highly overwhelming concept. To help, here is an overview of the three main components of predictive analytics business owners and managers should be aware of.

Together, these three elements of predictive analytics enables data scientists and even managers to conduct and analyze forecasts and predictions.

Component 1: data

As with most business processes, data is one of the most important and vital components. Without data you won't be able to make predictions and the decisions necessary to reach desired outcomes. In other words, data is the foundation of predictive analytics.

If you want predictive analytics to be successful, you need not only the right kind of data but information that is useful in helping answer the main question you are trying to predict or forecast. You need to to collect as much relevant data as possible in relation to what you are trying to predict. This means tracking past data, customers, demographics, and more.

Merely tracking data isn't going to guarantee more accurate predictions however. You will also need a way to store and quickly access this data. Most businesses use a data warehouse which allows for easier tracking, combining, and analyzing of data.

As a business manager you likely don't have the time to look after data and implement a full-on warehousing and storage solution. What you will most likely need to do is work with a provider, like us, who can help establish an effective warehouse solution, and an analytics expert who can help ensure that you are tracking the right, and most useful, data.

Component 2: statistics

Love it, or hate it, statistics, and more specifically regression analysis, is an integral part of predictive analytics. Most predictive analytics starts with usually a manager or data scientist wondering if different sets of data are correlated. For example, is the age, income, and sex of a customer (independent variables) related to when they purchase product X (dependent variable)?

Using data that has been collected from various customer touch points - say a customer loyalty card, past purchases made by the customer, data found on social media, and visits to a website - you can run a regression analysis to see if there is in fact a correlation between independent and dependent variables, and just how related individual independent variables are.

From here, usually after some trial and error, you hopefully can come up with a regression equation and assign what's called regression coefficients - how much each variable affects the outcome - to each of the independent variables.

This equation can then be applied to predict outcomes. To carry on the example above, you can figure out exactly how influential each independent variable is to the sale of product X. If you find that income and age of different customers heavily influences sales, you can usually also predict when customers of a certain age and income level will buy (by comparing the analysis with past sales data). From here, you can schedule promotions, stock extra products, or even begin marketing to other non-customers who fall into the same categories.

Component 3: assumptions

Because predictive analytics focuses on the future, which is impossible to predict with 100% accuracy, you need to rely on assumptions for this type of analytics to actually work. While there are likely many assumptions you will need to acknowledge, the biggest is: the future will be the same as the past.

As a business owner or manager you are going to need to be aware of the assumptions made for each model or question you are trying to predict the answer to. This also means that you will need to be revisiting these on a regular basis to ensure they are still true or valid. If something changes, say buying habits, then the predictions in place will be invalid and potentially useless.

Remember the 2008-09 sub-prime mortgage crisis? Well, one of the main reasons this was so huge was because brokers and analysts assumed that people would always be able to pay their mortgages, and built their prediction models off of this assumption. We all know what happened there. While this is a large scale example, it is a powerful lesson to learn: Not checking that the assumptions you have based your predictions on could lead to massive trouble for your company.

By understanding the basic ideas behind these three components, you will be better able to communicate and leverage the results provided by this form of analytics.

If you are looking to implement a solution that can support your analytics, or to learn more about predictive analytics, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 9th, 2014

Office365_Sep08_CCloud-based solutions that are public oriented, such as Microsoft's Office 365, offer a wide variety of features that the majority of business users want and need. As a result, the service tends to look the same for all and the ability to customize how Office 365 looks has often been a requested feature. In an effort to make the cloud-based suite more useful, Microsoft has recently announced the ability to customize Office 365.

Coming soon to Office 365 (if not already): Themes

In early September, Microsoft announced that in the following weeks the company would be rolling out a couple of new options that will allow businesses to personalize the look of Office 365. In fact, there are not one, but two new personalization options available for Office 365 users with business subscriptions.

Option 1: Company-wide custom themes

The idea of establishing company brand is not a new concept to business owners, who realize that one of the factors to success is creating positive brand recognition amongst stakeholders, including employees. One of the best ways to achieve this is to include identifiable visuals and colors repeated in as many places as possible. Almost every company has colors that they use as part of their corporate image and brand identity.

To help cement your brand with your employees, you can now customize the theme of Office 365 so that the theme is applied to all users in your organization. When it comes to customizing your theme Microsoft has noted that you will be able to:

  • Pick the color scheme, which includes a base color and text/icon colors. Set the base as blue for example, and the menu bar across the top will be that color. Set the text as yellow and all icons/text in the menu bar will also be yellow.
  • Set the color of the Office 365 logo. You can pick up to three colors for the Office 365 logo.
  • Upload a custom logo. You can upload your company logo and have it applied to the top-left of all Office 365 menu bars.
  • Make the logo a clickable link. Once you set a logo, you can also make it clickable by adding a custom URL. When a user clicks the logo, they will be taken to the predefined URL.
If you would like to apply your company's brand to Office 365, and have it automatically applied to all users in the company, you will need to be the admin, or to log in as an administrator. Once you are logged on, click on Admin from the main Office 365 screen. Then, click on your company's hyperlink located at the top-right of the Admin screen (right below the menu bar) and select Custom theming.

In the screen that opens, you will be able to set your desired theme, and when you are finished simply hit Save and the theme should be applied.

Option 2: Personalized themes

While company users can set a theme related to their brand, individual users in the organization can also select their own theme from a list of 22 provided by Microsoft. Each theme changes:
  1. The top navigation bar color scheme
  2. Menu colors
  3. Background
  4. Office 365 logo colors
You can change the theme of Office 365 by logging into your account, pressing the Settings cog at the top-right of the screen and clicking Change theme. Once you have selected a theme you like, press Save and it should be applied immediately.

If you are looking to learn more about Office 365 and how you can get the most out of it, contact us today for a chat.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.