Benefits of Business Intelligence


Business Intelligence is easily one of those hot button words in the business world. With the ever-advancing models, even the most technically inept person can understand it. That said they are extremely accessible, so the question isn’t how, but why! Here a few benefits to implementing a BI system: INVENTORY

BI Software takes out the guesswork and helps to order what you need when you need it. This is great because it eliminates the burden of you having to keep extra stock. INSIGHT

Knowing your stats over a set period of time is super beneficial! This information can be advantageous since it gives you insight into your customer's behaviors and trends. It will also help you edge out the competition.


Trying to track down various data and merge/compare them to some sort of report that makes sense and gives useful information is a major time suck. A Business Intelligence System will take all of this data from one source and is accessible on one dashboard. It is then printed out in one neat, easy-to-understand report.


Going with your gut is not always the best option. You shouldn’t be gambling unnecessarily when it comes to your company. A BI system gives you accurate, streamlined, real-time data. So you can play out scenarios from a vantage point!

The Benefits of Phone and CRM Integration


Before we begin talking benefits it’s important to understand what exactly Customer Relationship Management (CRM) even is! CRM is all about developing and fostering the rapport between you and your customers (or potential customers). You are trying to build a strong foundation in order to grow. You need to understand your customers and be able to address their needs. This will help you retain your customers, provide better services, help your staff know how to handle customer support.

Integrating CRM into your phone systems will help your staff work together and share important data. It will help your sales funnel, manage deals, and help to measure performance. It will also help up your level of professionalism. Integrating your CRM and phone systems will help you handle incoming calls and follow up. It will also be possible to more effectively route your calls. It will also help you handle team productivity: tracking outbound call, the amount of time a customer is on hold, how long a sales call takes, etc.

If you haven’t already integrated your CRM with your phone system, we can’t recommend it highly enough!

The Basics of a Data Center


In its simplest form, a data center is where the tech lives! It’s the physical place you can point to and say ‘This is our internet.’ The equipment that is used to communicate, process and store data for all the digital activities that take place in a company lives in the data center. Size can range from multi-story buildings to the room size of a broom closet. Think of these centers as machines working to make all your digital needs and communications keep going, just like people work in your office to keep everything else running! They are vital and very important, in other words. Let’s break it down into three parts, Mechanical Infrastructure, Electrical Infrastructure, and IT Equipment.


This is your cooling infrastructure. You wouldn’t let your computer sit out in the hot sun. So why wouldn’t you do something to keep your IT equipment from overheating! The cooling infrastructure removes the heat generated by the IT equipment so that they don’t shut down. They are called Computer Room Air Conditioners, and they live in the same space as your Data Center and equipment.


This is what powers your equipment. It has to be connected and running at all times, or else your equipment, and consequently, the internet will shut down.


This is the meat of what fills up a Data Center! The magic happens here, internet, emails, communication apps. None of this would work without the equipment. There are three main components to your IT equipment, servers, communication gear and storage equipment. Servers are basically very fast, super-powered computers that live in racks. The communication gear handles the transfer of data. Storage is where the data is stored.

3 Things You Must Learn When You Work From Home


Everyone dreams and fantasizes about being able to work from their home, even if only as a part-time escape from the office. Sleeping in every day, living in your sweatpants, taking three-hour lunches… Ah, the life! Well friend, slam on the brakes! Because while that is how your friends who ‘work for the man’ may envision your life as a part-time-stay-at-home-er, that is a quick recipe for FAILURE. Let’s take it back to the basics for now. While there are many useful tips to work remotely AND be productive, I’ll save those for a future post. Instead, I’d like to hammer home three points, all of which are absolutely necessary for you to successfully work from home (and make all your friends jealous). ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS

This extends beyond having a labeled filing system. While that’s a great start, you need to learn to be organized in all aspects of your life. Creating schedules, juggling multiple deadlines, knowing where things are in your home office so you are prepared, the list goes on. Having a dedicated space is great and will really help you create good systems that are easy to navigate. But we aren’t all so lucky, some of us have to use the dining table as our home office. And for those of us who aren’t so lucky (and in actuality, all of us regardless!) should pick up and religiously read a copy of David Allen’s ‘Getting Things Done’.


There’s a reason most offices don’t let you bring your dogs and babies to work. Barking and crying do not a productive day make! (Unless you are a Mommy blogger, which in that case you may just have fodder for a future post.) You must create a space free of distractions and noise, you know, a place of peace! Try to avoid the kitchen counter or table, although the dishwasher humming and whirring can arguably be white noise.

Choose a place where you can figuratively and literally block out the noise and find some peace in order to get through your daily tasks.


Here’s another biggie, because without it all the peace and quiet in the world won’t get you anywhere! One of the biggest traps people who work from home fall into is pushing things off because they aren’t supervised. They are in a place they are very comfortable, and it’s easy to get lazy. Practice discipline, and if you lack it, it’s time to start listening to motivational talks!

Some practical tips that have helped me are to, create a daily schedule, leave the tv and Netflix off during working hours, stop considering obsessively checking emails ‘productive time’, and don’t let friends bribe you into playing hooky because you’re the boss’. But I won’t tell if every great once and awhile you take the afternoon off to go catch a movie with a friend, after all, there have to be some perks to working from home!

There you have it, homework! Find a way to get a hang of these three things and you will be well on your way. And now and again if you want to take a morning conference call in your pajamas, I won’t tell.

How To Spot Malicious Email


Guest Post By: Derek Anderson of Biztek Solutions I have received two emails this week from different senders that I have never met. Both were cleverly worded to deceive me into clicking on a malicious link that would launch code and infect my computer. Luckily, I didn't click on the link as both emails were suspicious on the surface. I wanted to share an example of both emails with you so that you can be aware of what to look for and to educate your team so that we can prevent any compromise to security. Actual sender name and email account removed for privacy.

Example 1:

Subject: RE:RE: Invoice #721052 from Derek Anderson Body (curse words removed): Derek Anderson **** you , we won't pay ****. On Thu, Nov 17, 2016, at 4:27 PM, wrote: Here's the bill... I'm waiting for the payment Bill # 721052 (malicious link removed) As you can see, this email was designed to look like the sender is responding to a bill payment request sent by me. The email was all text and not in the format of a typical reply email.

How did I know this was spam?

1. I did not recognize the sender 2. The invoice sequence does not match the sequence we use 3. If I did send an invoice, it would say it came from Biztek Solutions, not Derek Anderson

Example 2:

Subject: RE:RE: phone for Derek Anderson Body: Derek Anderson, I tried to call the number on the business card you sent me. Are you sure your number is correct because the call didn't go through? On Mon, Nov 21, 2016, at 2:14 PM, wrote: Here's my business card , give me a call about the contract. Derek Anderson Business Card (malicious link removed)

Again, this email was designed to look like a response to an email I sent. It followed the same format as the invoice email. I knew this was spam because, again, I did not recognize the sender and I had previously received the other email.

Both emails were designed to entice me to click on the link at the bottom, one for an invoice and one for a business card. The links in both emails went to different infected websites, but both would have produced the same result, infecting my machine with a Cryptowall like virus that would encrypt and lockout my files and hold them at ransom until I pay up.

Use this tip of hovering your mouse over the link to verify the destination of links you click. This will work in emails and web pages.

How Did This Happen and Why Did I Receive These Emails?

The sender's email accounts were compromised in some way, likely by viruses on their computers. Both senders email domains were not configured with proper anti-spam security called an SPF record. The SPF record only allows email to be sent from specific servers which prevent hackers from simply using your email address and sending from any email server. Had these senders had an SPF record on their domain, the hackers would not have been able to send email using their account. I received the emails because my name and email address were likely stolen from another company's website or database, likely from a website that I entered my name and email address and then a hacker gained access to that site's database. Unfortunately, these things happen all the time. While there is not much I can do to prevent receiving these emails if a website I entered my information in was compromised, we do protect our domain and clients domains with SPF records to prevent emails like this being sent out to unsuspecting recipients.

I urge you to always be aware and suspicious of emails that you receive to prevent infection of your system. Remember, malicious emails can come from someone you know, so if there is something suspicious about the email, call the sender to verify they actually sent the email.

Tis The Season To Buy Cellular Service


The Christmas season is typically the best time to get a “deal” on mobile phones, but here are a few lumps of coal to watch out for. The number one mistake people make when switching a mobile phone provider is trying to buy based on the "advertised" price. That price is rarely what you end up paying unless you're very savvy. The instore sales team is trained to "upsell" you with monthly features you don't need, larger data plans, cell phone insurance and "easy monthly payments" for your new phone.

I just saw T-Mobile offering Beats headphones saying “$0 down and let future you pick up the bill.”

AT&T is now pushing 30 payments on your new phone, instead of the industry standard 24 payments, which gives them 6 more months of the cellular plan.

Verizon is pushing their "limitless plans"...further confusing the process because unless you have “safety mode” (meaning your data is slowed way down…you’ll pay heavily for Big Red).

My experience? Unless you live where there are more deer than people, Sprint or T-Mobile are the best value for service, but they'll still try to sign you up for Netflix/Spotify, (or Beats headphones).

If your business has more than 75 mobile users…let us know, we might be able to help you with controlling expenses without changing cellular providers.

As always leave any questions you have in the comments below!

Email Plugins That Make You More Productive


If you’re like us your business is all email, all the time as we receive hundreds of emails a day (sometimes more). Here are some of the best Gmail plugins we use. (and some even work in Office 365!) Sanebox-- (Gmail/Office 365) $12 monthly This is MAGIC for our email boxes and saves us at least a couple of hours weekly by automatically sorting the emails I need to see now and what I can see later. The best part? You can try it for free for 2 weeks to see if you like it…trust us it’s worth it.

Inbox Pause—(Gmail only) Free! Sometimes we need to work in email, but we can’t focus if it keeps coming in! With Inbox pause, all new emails are held so we don’t see them (but automatically responded to so no one is ignored). I can then focus 100% on what I need to do and answer when I can.

Boomerang—(Gmail/Office 365) $15 monthly We send a TON of emails and then hope people answer. With Boomerang, we can send the same exact email again at a later time if there isn’t a response within a specific time frame (1 hour/2 hours/days etc). Most people get too many emails and they miss a few, this way we don’t get ignored.

Rapportive—(Gmail) Free! Linked In is an invaluable tool for us. Rapportive shows us an email contact’s Linked In profile, directly in Gmail, so if we’re not connected, we can easily request to connect and if we are, we can see any important changes about them, instantly.

Charlie App—(Gmail) Free! This is one of those things that until you have it, you never realize how much you missed it. “Charlie” looks at are daily appointments and sends us a summary about those people/companies with data pulled from their social media and news sources, so we always got something interesting to say when we meet.

So we are sure you’ve got a couple of cool “life/email hacks” that we missed so share them in the comments below.

Business Intelligence and How it Affects Businesses


Having data is great, but unless we understand it, what good is it? That is where business intelligence comes in. BI isn’t just for large corporations, it can be used for small-medium sized companies and it’s changing the way those companies make decisions. Intelligence analysts have been trying to make data clear and understandable so they can match their readings to an actionable end result. These are also called ‘business architects’. They are creating the software necessary to perfectly use Business Intelligence to refine the ways their respective companies do things. They take data, which can seemingly just be random numbers, and give you the reports and dashboard to have the data work within your business narrative.

We all have seen BI at work in our real lives every day. For instance, e-commerce enhancements such as related items or what other customers who bought this also bought… Behind the scenes, business architects were at work. They took a lot of data, made it understandable, and created a plan to use that data to serve the company. They had an end goal in mind and used Business Intelligence to increase sales and profits in this case.

BI helps you to really know your customers. Knowing them will allow you to build better relationships with them. With budgeting, time and the right tools, you can turn your data into something that better serves your company and customers. Business Intelligence, by receiving real-time information, is helping companies make complicated decisions.

The Good and The Bad of Video Conferencing


Traveling is expensive but your business has to run! And when you have offices or branches across the country (dare I say… world!) you need solutions that don’t require the burden and expense of travel. Technology is our friend, and rapidly growing in a way that helps facilitate connection and makes it easier than ever. Video conferencing has really come along and is a great tool to connect your remote employees and branches.

So how does video conferencing work you ask? It connects people in real time via video AND audio over the internet. It makes document sharing, presentation and virtual meetings possible. But it’s not without its flaws. Below we will discuss some disadvantages and advantages of video conferencing.

The Bad

1. The first is probably rather obvious, lack of intimacy. You lose that human touch with video, and if there’s a bad connection it can be extra hard to pick up on body or emotional cues. 2. Time Zone issues also come up. If you have an office in say Los Angeles, and in Australia, your Australian employees are probably sleeping when your LA employees are at work onto their second cup of coffee. 3. There can also be high costs in setting up video conferencing. When you start talking extras and fancy features for video conferencing, they all come at a cost! 4. While technology is our friend, it too has its flaws. Hardware, software or network issues can mean a bad connection. If you don’t have IT on site at each meeting location your employees may have a tough time troubleshooting and resolving.

The Good

1. The first is a potential for dramatic savings in travel expenses! Sure we all would love to live in an airport and travel all the time, but that is EXPENSIVE. And companies can save many, many dollars if they implement virtual meetings instead. 2. The ease of communication is a huge benefit. File sharing, media sharing, screen sharing, remote sharing, e-voting, conference recording, the list goes on! 3. Productivity can also increase since you are eliminating the time-suck that can be travel. Meetings can be done anywhere, are more efficient and collaboration tools help decisions to be made more quickly. 4. There is also a time convenience with video conferencing. Anytime, anywhere! No room to host a meeting? Your online space IS ALWAYS available.

I think the good outweighs the bad when it comes to video conferencing. It’s a great tool to bring together your remote branches and employees that otherwise wouldn’t feel as involved and it will make your company more efficient.

5 Ways To Make Remote Employees Feel Like A Part Of The Team


Working from home is not uncommon now. With technology, wifi, smart phones and the myriad of options, it makes sense to outsource parts of your business. One of the downsides can be a loss of camaraderie. Luckily, there are ways to help bridge that gap and have your virtual staff feel like a part of the team! OPEN COMMUNICATION LINES

Make sure to keep your communication lines open! You may all be working on different time zones, but that’s no reason to drop all lines. Try weekly video conferences with Skype. Or a social network site for your employees where remote staff feels as if they can reach out to other team members. Track your projects through Asana, where comments and notes can easily be exchanged between team members.


We all know the risk of doldrum from working at home. Show your remote employees that you care. Send them a gift card to their local coffee house to nudge them out of doors. Or help pay for space at a co-op so at least a few days a week they can work from a place where social interaction is encouraged.


What better way to have your remote employees really feel important than to send them as a representative of your company? Find events in their areas where they can attend. Create speaking and appearance opportunities.


Encourage your remote employees to involve themselves with not only your company, but with other remote employees. Create a reward and incentive system that pushes friendly competition and opens lines of communication.


Take the time to make sure remote employees get the same benefits as in-person employees. Celebrate birthdays, insist they take holiday! You want your remote employees to feel included and invested in your company. So spend the extra time and dollars to implement some of these steps. You will be creating an inclusive culture!