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February 25th, 2014

GoogleApps_Feb24_CGoogle is a company known for developing some pretty interesting products, none more so than Google Glass. This wearable computer, first introduced in 2012 and currently being tested by so-named Explorers, has garnered some intense interest from many quarters. While it is still in the testing phase there have been some new updates that point to the fact that the device may soon be available to the public.

A new Google Glass

In late January, Google put a post on their Google+ page with information about new versions of Google Glass. From the outset many Explorers and people in general were wondering how the device would work with prescription glasses. Others were worried that the device simply looked a little too strange for most people to want to use. Others still noted that the device wasn't great for outdoor activities, largely because it didn't fit over sunglasses well.

It appears that Google has been listening and has announced a number of new styles for Glass. The first is the Titanium collection, a set of four (for now) frames that make the device look more stylish. The device now sits above a pair of actual glasses. What's more, these glasses can come with a prescription, which means users won't have to wear a pair of glasses underneath just to be able to see.

For those who don't need glasses but are still looking for style, Google introduced the newest frame for the device. It looks similar to the original offering, kind of like a bulky pair of glasses without the lenses, but now you can snap on different lenses, including tinted ones for outdoor use. There are currently three styles of tinted lenses you can attach, the best looking are perhaps the Classic, with the main glass arm sitting above the right-side of the frame.

There is little doubt that the addition of lenses makes the Glass not only more stylish but also a device that we could envisage people wearing without standing out too much. That being said, wearers will stand out anyway, largely because the device is so different from anything else.

When will Google Glass be available to the public?

With the recent announcement of newer and trendier Google Glass options, it appears that the device is finally nearing a public release. Visit the Google Glass site however and information is still a bit sparse. You can still sign up to be an Explorer and can also view the new options but there isn't a whole lot of other information.

That being said, on the main Google Glass Explorer site - which is kind of like a messaging board for all involved in the Explorer program - a recent article popped up with tips on how an Explorer should use their device.

What this points to is an impending public release, which is likely to happen later in 2014, or possibly early 2015.

What does this mean for businesses?

Well, to be honest, probably not a lot at first because this device is such a radical shift from the norm public acceptance will likely be low. You will likely come across the device shortly after its release if your business focuses on customer-facing services such as a restaurant or retail outlet. With this in mind you should probably try and develop a plan or rule on whether these devices are allowed on your premises. While outright banning likely won't help your business, it might be a good idea to define when and how Glass can be used in your business. It might be advisable to follow the same rules you do with smartphones.

If your employees want to use them, or you want to integrate them into your business, you might want to set rules as to how and when they can be used. For example, if you are using Glass around customers, ask them whether they are happy with the device being used and how, such as taking their picture with them.

Looking to learn more about the Glass or any other Google product? Contact us today to learn about the latest exciting tech developments.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 20th, 2014

Security_Feb17_COne of the most common threats to business and individual systems is phishing. This form of hacking is well known and many users have educated themselves on the more traditional methods used by hackers. This has forced hackers to come up with different phishing techniques, and one of the methods that is causing problems is spear phishing.

What is spear phishing?

Spear phishing is a specialized type of phishing that instead of targeting a mass number of users, as normal phishing attempts, targets specific individuals or groups of individuals with a commonality e.g., an office.

Generally a hacker will first pick a target and then try to learn more about the related people. This could include visiting a website to see what a company does, who they work with, and even the staff. Or they could try hacking a server in order to get information.

Once they have some sort of information, usually a name, position, address, and even information on subscriptions, the hacker will develop an email that looks similar to one that another organization might send e.g., a bank. Some hackers have been known to create fake email accounts and pose as a victim's friend, sending emails from a fake account.

These emails are often similar to official correspondence and will always use personal information such as addressing the email to you directly instead of the usual 'dear sir or madam'. The majority of these emails will request some sort of information or talk about an urgent problem.

Somewhere in the email will be a link to the sender's website which will look almost exactly like the real thing. The site will usually ask you to input personal information e.g., an account number, name, address, or even passwords. If you went ahead and followed this request then this information would be captured by the hacker.

What happens if you are speared?

From previous attack cases and reports, the majority of spear phishing attacks are finance related, in that the hacker wants to gain access to a bank account or credit card. Other cases include hackers posing as help desk agents looking to gain access to business systems.

Should someone fall for this tactic, they will often see personal information captured and accounts drained or even their whole identity stolen. Some spear phishing attacks aren't after your identity or money, instead clicking on the link in the email will install malicious software onto a user's system.

We are actually seeing spear phishing being used increasingly by hackers as a method to gain access to business systems. In other words, spear phishing has become a great way for people to steal trade secrets or sensitive business data.

How do I avoid phishing?

Like most other types of phishing related emails, spear phishing attempts can be easy to block. Here are five tips on how you can avoid falling victim to them.
  • Know the basic rule of business communication - There are many basic rules of communication, but the most important one you should be aware of is that the majority of large organizations, like banks, social media platforms, etc., will not send you emails requesting personal information. If you receive an email from say PayPal asking you to click a link to verify your personal information and password, it's fake and you should delete it.
  • Look carefully at all emails - Many spear phishing emails originate in countries where English is not the main language. There will likely be a spelling mistake or odd wording in the emails, or even the sender's email address. You should look out for this, and if you spot errors then delete the email immediately.
  • Verify before you click - Some emails do have links in them, you can't avoid this. That being said, it is never a good idea to click on these without being sure. If you are unsure, phone the sender and ask. Should the email have a phone number, don't call it. Instead look for a number on a website or previous physical correspondence.
  • Never give personal information out over email - To many this is just plain common sense - you wouldn't give your personal information out to anyone on the street, so why give it out to anyone online? If the sender requires personal information try calling them or even going into their business to provide it.
  • Share only essential information - When signing up for new accounts online, there are fields that are required and others that are optional. Only share required information. This limits how much a hacker can get access to, and could actually tip you off. e.g., they send you an email addressed to Betty D, when your last name is Doe.
  • Keep your eyes out for the latest scams - Pay attention to security websites like those run by the major antivirus providers, or contact us. These sites all have blogs where they post the latest in security threats and more, and keeping up-to-date can go a long way in helping you to spot threats.
If you are looking to learn more about spear phishing or any other type of malware and security threat, get in touch.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
February 19th, 2014

BCP_Feb17_CDisaster recovery features have become a vital aspect for small to medium businesses. With systems and networks becoming more complex, there are many things that can go wrong. It’s for this reason that a business needs to have a DRP, or Disaster Recovery Plan. These plans are a good way of protecting your business from unforeseen calamities that could disrupt your business process.

When creating a disaster recovery plan for your business, there are certain key elements that you need to consider.

Basics of a Disaster Recovery Plan

In building an effective disaster recovery plan, you should include thorough documentation that lays out the details of the ins and outs of the plan. You need to know that there is no right type of DRP, nor is there a single template that fits all. But there are three basic aspects to a disaster recovery plan: Preventive measures, detective measures, and corrective measures.

In addition, before building your disaster recovery plan, make sure that it can provide an answer to these basic questions:

  1. What is the objective and the purpose of making one?
  2. Who are the assigned team responsible when certain events occur?
  3. What is the framework and the procedure to be followed?

Plan for the worst case scenario

Since you’re planning for an unforeseen event, you might as well make sure that you have plan for the worst case scenario. That way, you’ll never be overwhelmed and you’re as prepared as you can be for any situation.

Having different tiers of backup plans is also advisable. It gives you a better assurance that when bad comes to worst, you have a system in place to make sure that these disasters are handled correctly, regardless of the disaster’s severity.

Data issues

One of the objectives of disaster recovery plan is to protect the collection of data. Almost half of the total population of business organizations experiences data loss from both physical and virtual environments. This is often due to corruption of the file system, broken internal virtual disks, and hardware failures. Thus, there is a real need for established data recovery plans such as backup features offered by many IT solution vendors.

Test-drive

Before deploying your disaster recovery plan, you need to have a sort of a test-drive to check if it works. Aside from making it work, you also need to know if it’s going to be effective. Through testing, any shortcomings can be identified and will garner corresponding resolutions to improve on your plan. Although the real score of its effectiveness can only be identified once a disaster occurs, at least you will have an idea of how your business and the recovery plan can operate during a disaster.

Building an effective disaster recovery plan is a must for your business. This might not directly lead to a positive impact on productivity but it will surely save you in the events that can possibly crush your business. Anticipating and adjusting for the things that might happen is one of the keys to a company’s success.

Setting up an effective DRP can be quite an intricate process since there are several elements that you need to consider. Should you want to learn more, give us a call and we’ll have our associates help you develop and test a plan that works best for your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 18th, 2014

GoogleApps_Feb17_CIn 2011, Google launched their take on a social media platform - Google+. Since the launch, Google has continually integrated the platform into their other apps in an effort to make it one of the most viable networks for all users. In an effort to attract more businesses, Google has also implemented a number of useful features like Google+ Ripples that allow users to track the success of their endeavors.

What is Google+ Ripples?

For businesses, social media platforms like Google+ are a large part of their marketing campaigns. This means that they often need to know what is working, what isn't, and the overall success of different content.

While this is doable on every platform, you are usually left with a bunch of data that needs to be dealt with. Many businesses choose to visualize this data, and most platforms actually have tools to help you do this. One of the main determinants of the success of a post is whether it has been shared and re-shared. In order to give users a deeper understanding of a post's reach, Google has implemented the Ripples feature.

This feature visually represents a public post's reach via sharing. It allows a user to see who posted the content and who is sharing it. This essentially shows how content ripples out from the original creator, giving the original poster a good idea of what works and how, and who it is working with.

How it works

When you publicly post content on Google+ you can view the shared data, or ripples related to it. If you hover over the post, a downward facing arrow will appear at the top-right. Click it and select View Ripples from the drop-down menu to open the Ripples report for that particular post.

In the center of the report you will see the post's title and radiating out from the center are arrows. These arrows point to bubbles with people's names, which represent a share. If a friend of that user shares the content (called a secondary share) they will then ripple out from the original user who shared the content, and the circle will expand to encompass these shares too. The bigger the circle, the more shares related to the user it encompasses.

If you click on a name in a bubble, the graph will zoom in and show you the content that was shared, who it was shared with, and the message attached when the user shared it. You can even add the user to your circles or view the full post on their profile.

Below the Ripple graph is also more information to be found in five segments:

Historical spread of the post

Right below the Ripple graph is a section labeled Watch the spread of this post. It is an interactive timeline that allows you to see how the post was spread over time. Press the play button on the left and watch the graph change in relation to shares and time.

Reshares over time graph

This section is another timeline that highlights the number of shares over time. It follows the same timeline as the bar above, so you can easily see when the highest number of shares occurred.

You should pay attention to this section, largely because it gives you a glimpse as to when your content is shared most. If for example you look at a number of posts and see that there is a sharp uptake in shares around noon, then you can guess that your users are most active at noon, and so post content just before in order to maximize shares and views.

Influencers

This section is focused on the people who have shared the original post and had the content reshared by their friends. The top five influencers are shown ranked from highest to lowest, along with the number of reshares from their post. This can be a useful tool for businesses as it allows them to see which users are the key influencers.

Statistics

In this section you will see some interesting statistics on the post including:
  • Average chain length - This is the average length of shares e.g., someone shares your content and it is in turn shared by another user, and then another and so on. Obviously, the longer the chain the better.
  • Longest chain - This is the length of the longest chain of shares, which can be useful in helping determine whether there are any major anomalies e.g., why is there an average of only two shares when the longest is 16? This statistic may point to a potential heavy influencer or a dummy account.
  • Shares/hour - This indicates the number of shares per hour since the content was first posted.

Languages

Finally, in this section you will see what languages your content has been shared in. If you post content in English and see that a large percentage of the shares are in Spanish, it may be a good idea to translate your content in order to better appeal to a larger audience.

If you are looking to learn more about Google+ and how you can get the most out of it, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 14th, 2014

Security_Feb11_CAs information technology systems get more complex, computer malware also gets stronger and more aggressive. An effective security strategy to protect your computer system from a variety of malware is to employ the concept known as defense in depth. In its simplicity, it involves implementing multiple secured layers wrapped around your computer system.

Just like the human body, a computer system can also be attacked by many viruses that can infect and disrupt computer operations. And what's worse is it doesn’t just disrupt the operations of your computer, but these viruses and other malware can gather sensitive information or even gain access to other private and secured computer systems on the same network.

Although computer viruses aren't deadly, they can spread at an unimaginable rate across your entire computer system, affecting your database, networks and other IT-related sources. You can get these viruses by opening bogus email messages, downloading unknown file attachments, and accidentally clicking ads that pop up your screen. This is why there is a need for a strong and effective security system to protect your network.

One of the tested and proven security strategies used today is defense in depth. This concept focuses on the coordinated and organized use of multiple security countermeasures to keep your database safe from intrusive attackers. Basically, this concept is based on the military principle that a multi-layered and complex defense is more difficult to defeat than a single-barrier protection system.

The defense in depth strategy assures network administrators by working on the basis of the following guiding principles:

Defenses in multiple places

The fact that many viruses can attack the network system from multiple points means that you need to deploy strong defense mechanisms at multiple locations that can endure all types of attacks.

Defense in depth focuses on areas by deploying firewalls and intrusion detection to endure active network attacks and also by providing access control on servers and host machines, to resist distribution attacks from the insiders. This multi-layered defense also protects local and area-wide communication networks from denial of service attacks.

Multiple layered defense

Defense in depth is an extremely effective countermeasure strategy, because it deploys multiple layered defense mechanisms between the attacker and its target. Each layer of the defense has a unique mechanism to withstand the virus attacks. Furthermore, you need to make sure that each layer has both detective and protective measures to ensure the security of the network.

The reason for wrapping the network with multiple layers of defense is because a single line of defense may be flawed. And the most certain way to protect your system from any attacks is to employ a series of different defenses that can be deployed to cover the gaps in the other defenses. Malware scanners, firewalls, intrusion detection systems, biometric verification and local storage encryption tools can individually serve to protect your IT resources in a way others cannot.

Perhaps the final layer of defense should be educating your employees not to compromise the integrity of the computer systems with potentially unhealthy computer practices. As much as possible, teach them the dos and don’ts of using the computer, as well as how they can prevent viruses and other computer malware coming in and destroying your system.

If you’re looking to give your computer systems better protection against the harmful elements that the internet can bring, then give us a call now and we’ll have one of our associates take care of you and help defend your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
February 12th, 2014

Office365_Feb10_CMicrosoft Office 365 is an online service developed especially for businesses, to help them consolidate their office software into one perfectly organized cloud platform. This cloud version of Microsoft Office aims to provide a set of top-notch features that cater to the special needs of different business establishments through the acquisition of subscription plans.

What is Office 365?

Office 365 is an online subscription-based suite of Microsoft's popular Office programs. After users pick a subscription plan, they just have to connect online, set up a secured account, download the files they need, and roll on to work. In order to get the most out of Office 365, there are some features you should definitely know about.

Exchange Online

Exchange Online is available as a stand-alone install - you don't need to purchase a full Office 365 subscription - or can be a part of Office 365. It’s a hosted version of Exchange Server, Microsoft's messaging platform, which provides businesses with the essential digital communications they need.

This feature allows businesses to run email, instant messaging, calendars, address tracking, and more. It also allows you to connect to your version of Microsoft Outlook from any Web browser. Furthermore, you can access your email and edit your Outlook based calendars and contacts from your smartphones.

SharePoint Online

SharePoint Online is Microsoft’s new version of document sharing. It's available in many Office 365 subscriptions and allows users to find, analyze, manage, and share information, as well as collaborate on projects.

In addition, SharePoint online offers more social features, such as sharing your timeline in a Facebook-style status post and on your calendars. It has its own version of local syncing of data and HTML-based applications that you can also build or purchase.

Lync Online

Microsoft Lync Online, formerly known as Microsoft Office Communicator, is an instant messaging service that has replaced Windows Messenger for Exchange Server. The advantage of Lync Online is that it allows users, especially business owners, to be collaborative with a multitude of other users in real-time.

Getting everyone to be involved in a conference or meeting is easy because all of your contacts entered in Microsoft Outlook can be synced with Lync.

Office Web Apps

Office Web Apps are simply a Web-based version of the Microsoft Office Productivity Suite. Basic Web-based versions of Office include Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Note.

This feature is free of charge for SkyDrive users and comes with every Office 365 subscription. While it is useful for basic document creation and editing, the Web apps are missing some of the more advanced features of the installed versions.

If you want to know more about Microsoft Office 365 and its existing features, connect with us first.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 12th, 2014

SocialMedia_Feb10_CMarketing is an incredibly important lifeline and function of nearly every business. With successful marketing a company will likely be more successful and able to grow. Nowadays, social media has become a large part of marketing, especially platforms like Twitter. While at first glance, Twitter is easy to use, there is a one big mistake many companies make that can harm the reach of their content and posts.

Social media is an always evolving idea, so what works one day won't necessarily work in the near or foreseeable future. Combine this with the various changes and features of the different social media platforms and it is nearly impossible to master every service.

When it comes to Twitter, one of the most popular features is using @username to bring the tweet to the attention of the user and to tweet about them. When you do this you and the person will be able to see it, along with people who follow that person.

What is the #1 mistake Twitter users make?

The problem is, many people put the @username at the beginning of the tweet. What this does, as we stated above, is only make the tweet visible on your feed, to the user and their followers. Why is this a problem? Well, it comes from how most businesses use Twitter. They use it to share content, e.g., a blog article or a video, etc.; to essentially tweet about the person, not at them. You see this in many tweets, for example, "@microsoft's new blog is great. Read it!"

While you want to share the content with people other than those who created it, putting @user at the front of your tweet actually limits the audience to the person who created the content and their followers - in other words the opposite of what you intend, unless Microsoft is your target audience of course!

How do you avoid mistake tweets?

If you are looking to tweet about someone or the content that user has created, using the @user is still a good idea because it will bring to the content-creator's attention that you are sharing their content. This is a great way to form relationships and even have these individuals and businesses share your content. In turn, this can help increase the potential of your content being seen by a wider audience.

For many tweets it makes sense to put the @username first as it helps make the overall tweet easier to read. The problem is, this will also limit your audience. So, for those who want to have their cake and eat it too, so to speak, add a period before @username e.g.," .@microsoft's new blog post is great. Read it!".

What this does is ensure that the tweet isn't addressed only to the user, but can be seen by everyone.

Looking to learn more about utilizing Twitter or any other social media as a part of your marketing strategy? We have a lot to tweet about and can help you tweet too.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
February 11th, 2014

Security_Feb10_CIt's 2014, and that means that it's an Olympic year. This year the Winter Olympics are being held in Sochi, Russia. As with almost every other Olympics there has been a number of organizational issues to deal with to ensure the Games run smoothly. Unlike other events however, one of this year's big issues is hacking of the computers and phones of attendees and visitors.

Hacking at the Winter Olympics 2014

Well before the Olympics even started in Russia, the Russian government said that they will be surveilling phone and computer communications. Many scoffed at this, writing off the government as being overly ambitious and boasting about a nearly impossible task. The thing is, the Internet in Russia may not be as secure as many believe, being full of hackers. At least according to a report aired on NBC shortly before the games started.

In the report, reporter Richard Engel took new, never opened laptops and mobile devices to Russia and used them. He found that within 24 hours all of the devices had been hacked, exposing the data stored within.

In part of the segment, Engel and a security expert go to a local coffee shop in Moscow and search for Sochi on a mobile device. Almost immediately the device is hacked and malicious software downloaded. Engel notes that the hackers have access to data on the phone along with the ability to record phone calls.

In a follow-up segment, Engel explains a bit more about the laptop issues. When he boots one up and connects to the Internet, hackers are almost immediately snooping around the information, transferring from the machine to the networks. Within a couple of hours, he received a personalized email from a hacker welcoming him to Russia and providing him with some links to interesting websites. Clicking on the link allowed the hackers to access his machine.

One issue is that it hasn't been stated in any reports whether the Russian government is behind this, or if it's hackers out to steal information. While you can be sure that the Russians are monitoring communication during the Winter Olympics, it is highly likely that they are not the ones installing malware on phones, rather it's probably organized crime rings or individual hackers.

I'm not at Sochi so why do I care?

As a business owner half the world away you may be wondering why this news is so important to you, or why you should care. Take a look at any tech-oriented blog or news channel and you will quickly see that the number of attacks on devices, including malware, phishing, spam, etc. is on the rise. It's now likely a matter of when you will be hacked, not if.

Combine this with the fact that many businesses are going global, or doing business with other companies at a big distance. This has caused many people to go mobile and the tools that have allowed this are laptops and smart devices. Because so many people are now working on a laptop, phone or tablet, these devices have become big targets. The main reason for this is that many people simply don't take the same safety precautions they take while on the office or even the home computer.

Hackers know this, so logically they have started going after the easier targets. The news reports concerning Russia highlight this issue and is a warning business owners around the world should be aware of, especially if they are going to be traveling with computers or phones that have sensitive information stored within.

That being said, there are a number of tips you can employ to ensure your data is secure when you go mobile. Here are six:

1. Use cloud services wherever possible

Cloud storage services can be incredibly helpful when traveling. They often require a password to access and are usually more secure than most personal and even some business devices. If you are traveling to an area where you are unsure of the security of the Internet or your devices, you could put your most important data in a trusted cloud storage solution.

This is also a good idea because if your device gets stolen, the data is in the cloud and is recoverable. If you have data just stored locally on your hard drive, and your device is stolen, there is a good chance it's gone forever. For enhanced security, be sure to use a different password for every service.

2. Back up your data before leaving

Speaking of losing data, it is advisable to do a full system backup of all the devices you are taking with you before you leave. This will ensure that if something does happen while you are away, you have a backup of recent data that is recoverable.

3. Secure and update all of your devices

One of the best ways to ensure that your data is secure is to update all of your devices. This means ensuring that the operating systems are up-to-date and any security updates are also installed.

Also, ensure that the programs installed on the devices are updated. This includes the apps on your phone, including the ones that you don't use.

You should also secure your devices by not only having an antivirus and malware scanner but also requiring a password to access your device.

4. Watch where you connect

These days Internet connections are almost everywhere. In many public spaces like airports, coffee shops, restaurants, etc. many of the connections are open, or free to connect to, and don't require a password.

While this may seem great, hackers are known to watch these networks and even hack them, gaining access to every bit of information that goes in and out of the network. When you are traveling, try avoiding connecting to these networks if you can. If you really have to, then be sure not to download anything or log into any accounts that hold private data.

5. Know the risks of where you are going

Before you leave, do a quick search for known Internet security issues in the area you will be visiting. If you find any news or posts about threats you can then take the appropriate steps to secure your system ahead of time.

6. If in doubt, leave it at home

In the NBC report, Engle finishes by telling viewers that if they are at all unsure about the security of their devices, or are worried about their data, they should leave the device at home, or delete the data before going. This is a good piece of advice and maybe instead of deleting data completely, you could move it to a storage device like an external hard drive that you leave behind.

If you are looking to learn more about ensuring the security of your devices while you are away from the office contact us today. We have solutions to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
February 11th, 2014

GoogleApps_Fab10_COne of the harder tasks a business manager or owner faces is keeping tabs on what employees are working on. This has become even more difficult to track, with so many systems going online and collaboration on an ever growing number of projects. Take for example Google Drive, which allows users to share files with one another. This makes it tough to actually manage or view when a file has been created. In an effort to make it easier to track changes, Google has introduced a new feature to Drive.

Drive's new activity stream

In late January Google introduced their latest feature to Google Drive - the activity stream. This feature shows an overview of changes made to documents or files that you have access to.

The way many of us work in Drive is to have one folder that is shared among a number of users. This folder is usually copied onto each user's My Drive where they have access to all the files within the folder. Now, when someone edits a file that is in a folder that is shared with you, you see an update in the activity stream.

How do I access the activity stream

You may have noticed that there is a new icon on Drive's main screen. It's the information button ('i' inside a circle) right beside the cog in the top-right of the screen. If you press this, you will see a new bar slide in from the right-hand side of the window.

This bar will reveal a tab labeled Activity, a list which showcases recent activity in files that either you own or have access to. What's great about this is each entry shows:

  • The person who took action.
  • What that person did - be it edited a doc, created a new folder, added an item to an existing folder, etc.
  • When this change was made.
Below this information is an icon representing the type of data e.g., a word document or folder along with its name. Clicking on it will open the file or folder. If a document was created in a specific folder, you can also see the folder listed above the document, and if you click on it, the folder will open.

This small feature makes it much easier and quicker than before for managers or file owners, to see what has been changed or created. It's also a great tool in helping you find a document or file that you recently edited but forgot where it was actually saved.

If you find that the activity stream is a bit too distracting, especially if you work in a busy office, press the X under the cog in the top-right, or press the information button you pressed to open the screen, to close the ribbon.

Looking to learn more about using Drive in the office? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 5th, 2014

BusinessValue_Feb03_CMarketing is one of the most challenging aspects of business that companies face. One has to be constantly evolving and trying out new ideas and strategies in order to remain successful. Many businesses start with a website and social media platform, so that they can interact with customers and clients and create business relationships. While these can be effective, there is one really useful marketing tool that shouldn't be forgotten - the blog.

Define business blogging

When we talk about blogging, most people ask two questions: "What is blogging?" and "Is business blogging any different from personal blogging?"

A blog, a portmanteau of Web log, is usually a page on a website where authors post written articles. The content, usually called a post, can be incredibly varied, from along the lines of a journal style to breaking news or even thoughts and opinions to open up debate.

Business blogging is the act of creating content that is related to your business. The topics are usually narrowed down to relate to the products or services you provide. For example, you are reading this post on our blog, which largely focuses on technology in business. The vast majority of business blogs are not profit oriented (the company isn't out to make money directly from their blog articles) and is usually a part of their marketing plan.

Why do businesses blog?

There are 3 main reasons many businesses blog:

1. A blog can increase traffic to your website

One common complaint many business owners have about their website traffic, or the number of people who visit their site, is that it is lower than expected. There can be many reasons behind this, the most common being that the content on the website is static. Think about when it the last time you updated your whole site was.

Even if your site effectively explains what your business does, search engines generally look kindly on websites that are active. It is incredibly hard to keep re-writing your website, so one of the best ways to fix this is by blogging. When you create a new blog post, a new page on your website is usually indexed - added to the site structure, kind of like the index at the back of textbooks. This activity tells search engines that your website is active. Active websites will usually show higher in search results.

Blog articles are also great to share on social media services. By sharing content with your existing customers there is an increased chance of your name and profile being seen by people who aren't your customer yet but could be in the future.

If you have more people seeing your content in different places - search results, social media, etc. - you should see an increase in overall traffic to your website.

2. A blog is a great way to show your expertise

Think about the last time you needed to purchase a new item, say a computer. Did you pick the first shop you saw, then walk in and purchase a computer? Chances are high that you didn't. Most people research companies and retailers who have a good rating or who come across as an expert, and purchase from them.

As many people do this research online, it can be a challenge to establish your company as the expert in your field. Your blog can be the perfect tool to establish your company as a go-to expert. If you answer common questions and provide tips, there is a higher chance that your articles will be regarded as helpful and having potential customers contact you. What this means for you is an increased chance of conversion.

3. Blog articles have a positive long-term effect

When you search on the Internet you will often find a number of blog posts at the top, with some maybe even being from the last year or so. A well crafted blog post will often see a wealth of interest within the first few days of posting largely because of sharing via social media services and users who have subscribed to your posts.

If your posts get a fair number of shares, comments, etc. there is a good chance that search engines will begin to show it higher in results. What this means for you is that the post will continue to be seen in results for a of couple weeks to months or more, depending on keywords, etc. This translates to longer visibility, and a higher chance of traffic and leads in the future.

Of course, not every post will be a smash hit and bring leads pouring in, but an active blog that produces good content could prove to be of great value to your business. It will take time, but most bloggers do see increased payoffs.

Looking to learn more about blogging? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.