Posts Categorised: Business

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Category: Business, IT News, News.

Big changes are gathering pace as the telecoms industry ditches its expensive and unwieldy legacy infrastructure to take full advantage of the tremendous benefits of cloud-based telephony or VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).

In 2020 BT will begin phasing out its old-style landlines and will then switch them off altogether in 2025.  So, if you’re one of the millions of UK organisations now’s the time to make the move to the cloud.

Even without the news from BT, the advantages of VoIP telephony are so game-changing for SMEs. VoIP allows you to make voice and video calls anywhere in the world, from any device – all you need is an internet connection.

With VoIP you’ll get:

  • significant reductions in business phone line and contract bills
  • next generation technology that’s simple to transition to and easy to use and maintain
  • flexibility to use your own devices, keep the same number across all devices, add and remove users at speed and work from any location
  • access to the latest versions, updates and mobile working features
  • integration with your other business systems
  • a great phone system to boost productivity and agility, without ANY capital investment

The only things you need to do is check your current contract (don’t accidentally fall into renewal) and then find a qualified supplier with VoIP experience preferably one that doesn’t tie you in for any length of time, so you can easily change if your provider doesn’t deliver the service you need.

The PC Support Group has been providing VoIP services for the last few years to both existing and new customers across the North West.  Please feel free to contact them here to discuss your options.

 

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Category: Business, IT News, IT Processes, IT Support, Latest.

The entries for the inaugural Managed Services & Hosting (MSH) Awards 2018 have been assessed and finalists selected in each of the seven categories. The winners will be announced at the UK Managed Services and Hosting Summit 2018 on 19 September in London.

The awards build on the momentum of the highly successful series of Managed Services and Hosting Summits, which have taken place for the last eight years.  They recognise excellence within the dynamic and innovative ICT sector.

John Garratt, editor of IT Europa, one of the award judges said:

“The entry quality level is very high, and this is perhaps not surprising, given the level of new thinking that is a feature of the sector. We want to use these awards to help publicise the tremendous work going on in the managed services sector and build understanding among customers and potential customers.”

North West based IT service provider, The PC Support Group is one of seven finalists in the Best SMB MSP Project category.  They provide fully managed IT support to SMEs across the Liverpool and Manchester areas.

Phil Bird, managing director with The PC Support Group said:

“We are delighted to have made this finalist list once again especially as we are currently undergoing an expansion plan to bring our award-winning service to more SMEs across the North West.”

Phil continues:

“We know we are great at what we do and we receive brilliant testimonials from our clients all the time, so it is equally fantastic when we get recognition from the sector.  We are proud to provide a world-class IT support service, helping SMEs grow their business through technology.”

 

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Category: Business, IT News.

It is no secret that the tech industry is very much a man’s world.

In 2017, only 17% of employees in the UK tech sector were female which proves there is still lots to do to encourage women into the sector.  Even the best tech organisations are struggling to close the gender gap when it comes to finding appropriately skilled candidates which include Millennials (young person reaching adulthood around the year 2000) and Generation Z (the next generation after Millennials) females, who are our first generation of digital natives.  The truth is, while retention is an issue, there are simply fewer women opting for a career in tech.

In particular, one of the biggest headaches for tech leaders today is finding app developers as organisations everywhere are developing their own apps to meet the needs and demands of their audiences as well as to keep ahead of their competition.

According to Elizabeth Gooch, founder and CEO of eg solutions, who pioneered the back-office workforce optimisation market, there are three barriers for girls and women entering the technology sector:

  • Gender stereotyping – there is still a perception in schools that boys are better at science and maths and consequently, young girls are put off STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects
  • Lack of awareness of careers  and role models within the IT sector
  • It’s geeky image

Encouraging a passion for STEM subjects in women, and an interest in technology, will have a positive impact on the continued growth and prosperity of the tech sector.  Not to mention, the benefit of having a more inclusive working environment.  Every piece of research done on diversity in teams demonstrates they outperform and out innovate homogenous teams hands down.  The benefits will be an increased female talent pool in the tech sector which will be more representable of the female population.

Research conducted by Debut, a student and graduate careers app, reveals that the UK education system needs to educate females on the positives of entering the STEM industry; and the variety of roles there are out there – whether its video games, programme or app developers, digital marketing or coding as well as many more.  By targeting the younger generation, educators and tech companies are creating a new workforce of successful tech executives that will change the perception of the industry.  Perhaps a reminder of the inspirational women in tech throughout history would also not go a miss.

 

Capability is not the issue, rather, it seems that external factors play a bigger role in dissuading women from opting for science-related careers.

The media certainly hasn’t helped encourage females to pursue careers in STEM-related fields with popular sitcoms such as Big Bang Theory and The IT Crowd – which has gone on to have 4 series and became a cult television series; where geeky techies are pre-dominantly IT coders.

On a positive note, there are a great number of organisations that aim to get young girls into computer science and engineering and interestingly, the NHS is Britain’s biggest STEM recruiter, according to Indeed.

Careers in the technology industry represent some of the fastest-paced, most interesting, and best-paying careers available. Further – these roles know no boundaries and can be done in any country.

There truly is something for everyone in tech.

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Category: Broadband, Business, Customer Service.

How many bosses get told “sorry, you are still in contract” when querying their telecoms supplier. But are you really and do you have any options to get out of it?

If you are not sure whether you are in contract or not with your telecoms supplier, or you’d like some tips to help protect yourself before signing any new deals – here is a guide.

There is an onus on the telecoms supplier to prove the contract end dates. Just because the system says so does not mean it is correct. There could be data entry errors, or it could be deliberately misleading you. Reasonable proof would be a call recording or a copy of the original signed document or e-contract.

If your telecoms supplier refuses to provide that then it probably has something to hide.

There are a number of rules laid down by Ofcom to protect consumers and businesses with less than ten employees. This should be higher – how many 11 person businesses employ a qualified contracts person or company lawyer? The protection bans automatic rollover of contracts and provides the customer the ability to cancel contracts because of prices rises and/or failures to offer promised broadband speeds.

But some suppliers will try to find ways round these protections. On automatic rollovers some contracts say “tick this box to keep tariffs after contract end date”. There is no mention that by ticking this box you are agreeing to an automatic renewal. But that’s exactly what you are doing – you are renewing for that same term again. Effectively the telecoms supplier is getting you to waive your rights by ticking the box.

Others obscure price rises by only publishing it on the website or hiding it in the small print on invoices. Ofcom has ruled that you can opt out of a contract if the price rises – as long as you give notice within 30 days of being told. Therefore, if you miss the notification you miss the chance to cancel.

There are other some other tricks to watch out for including:

– Automatically restarting your contract if you change or add something;
– Adding new services that have their own contract so end dates never align, meaning cancellation is almost impossible as you’ll never be out of contract on all your services at the same time;
– Having different terms for each element of the contract. For example, having calls for two years and in small print the lines are for five years;
– Changing the Terms and Conditions – but only stating this on the website;
– False inducements to purchase – for example ‘we promise to save you money’ but when you get your invoices there is no saving.

Also, check your notice period. Whilst they may not be as difficult as “only on the third Thursday before Pentecost” there can be great variations from 30 days to six months. The worst we have seen is one requiring three years’ notice! And look at the penalties you may have to pay if you cancel early. If the company has given you a free installation in return for a three-year contract and you cancel after one year then it is perfectly reasonable to ask you pay for the installation. Again, small businesses are protected by Ofcom rules on the calculation of penalties but many a telecoms supplier ignores these and rely on ignorance. So how can you protect yourself and reduce the risks?

1) Check if the supplier is signed up to the telecoms ombudsman as that offers free binding arbitration to consumers and small businesses if there is a dispute. Obviously if you have real doubts then consult a lawyer it could save you money in the long run.

2) Send an email listing your understanding of contract and ask them to confirm that in a conflict between their T&Cs and the email – the email takes precedence and only on that basis are you accepting contract. Within the email you could include:

– Contract duration and notice period;
– That prices are fixed for duration – any changes gives you freedom to cancel without penalty whenever it is spotted;
– Only the charges specified in the contract may be levied – this stops hidden costs such as call set up fees and likewise any changes in T&Cs;
– Repeat any claims made (e.g. you will save money) and state that they are a condition of the contract and if they fail to meet these then the contract is null and void;
– The contract will not rollover at the end of the term without your explicit prior consent.

How many people have ever compared their bill to the prices in the contract? The longer you are asked to commit for the contract the more closely to should read the small print. Some suppliers promise to pay any penalties you may incur by switching but then fail to follow through. If you are offered this incentive, do make sure you get it in writing. State clearly that any failure to do so will make your contract with them null and void.

In conclusion, it is fair to say many of these points could apply to a range of services, not just telecoms, but a telecoms supplier is guilty of often seeking to bamboozle customers with jargon. It relies on people not spotting things, and then being unwilling to challenge. And for those who do challenge – then the supplier will draw out the process for as long as possible. So, be aware of what you are sighing up to, what your rights are, keep an eye on your bills and be ready to challenge your supplier if you spot any changes, inconsistencies, or failures.

Article from Real Business, SME website dedicated to high growth businesses and entrepreneurs www.realbusiness.co.uk

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Category: Business, Cloud Computing.

As any business owner will know, finding a process that can reduce costs, while increasing productivity, is the holy grail of opportunities. It’s true of any area of business, from transport, to working hours, to buying the milk for the teas and coffees. It’s certainly true when it comes to employing efficient IT services within your company.

So where does today’s topic of conversation, Office 365, and its range of cloud-based services, come in? Is this a sales pitch for an unnecessary service that’s just a repackaging of what you already have? Or is it different? Here at The PC Support Group, we’re constantly looking for ways to improve the services we offer to our clients, so Office 365 makes sense to us because it offers you several key strengths, such as:

 

Less initial cost: you’ll be able to spread your outlay, with no need to invest in additional hardware like local servers, or to pay hundreds up front for Microsoft Office license/s, instead you can get it all online for a manageable monthly amount.

Flexibility of service: it’s much easier to add more or less to your service whenever you need it. Instead of needing to buy additional hardware or software, just increase the allowance on your monthly subscription. It’s also equally simple to reduce the allowance, compared to being left with surplus hardware or software. Very helpful during upsizing/downsizing and seasonal staff changes.

Flexibility of working: each staff member can access all of these services from multiple devices and locations. So whether all your staff are in the same room, or scattered around the globe, they can be equally connected and productive. This includes features like syncing calendars, working on the same document together and the latest video conferencing services through Skype.

Guaranteed updates: when you buy a physical copy of Microsoft Office, you’ll be left having to buy a new copy should a later version come out. With an Office 365 subscription, you’ll always receive the latest version of Office applications as well as any other cloud-based services.

 


What is Office 365 and The Cloud?

In short, making use of cloud systems, moving from on-premise physical storage and software to off-premise online storage and software, is the future. It’s where the majority of files, data and applications will soon be stored and accessed, with the Office 365 cloud services from Microsoft offering a leading option for any business to consider. Office 365 is a subscription service allowing you access to cloud storage (known as One Drive for Business) as well as online use of all the familiar Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint from any device or location.

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It’s estimated that by 2018, over 75% of businesses will be using
cloud storage as their primary source of data management

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By having your key data and applications stored on a centralised online location, backed by Microsoft’s infrastructure, security systems and staff, you’ll be highly protected. Additionally, you can control exactly who has access to each file and level of navigation, meaning you can strategically store certain data for different levels of the workforce. This is great for organisational efficiency and security, with each employee receiving access only to the exact files they need.

 

The key services in the Office 365 package

One Drive for Business – a cloud service for data storage, giving businesses the facility to not only store files, but allocate levels of access for users, with designated rights and privileges. Also provides a platform for collaboration – multiple staff can be working on the same document at the same time.

Microsoft Office applications – the latest version of all the familiar Office software such as Word, Excel & PowerPoint. Instead of buying a Microsoft Office licence for £150-300 to last a few years, you get it as a monthly subscription, giving access on up to five devices per user, including Apple devices.

Skype for Business – Interactive messaging and video conferencing through Skype’s Business edition.

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Microsoft say that over the past five years, Office 365 & cloud services

helped small & medium businesses to reduce their IT workload by 42%

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Additional cloud services available with Office 365

SharePoint – a more advanced document sharing & management system, with document flow and approval, sign-offs and systems. It really aids business processes and can help create entire systems.

Microsoft Azure – gives access to cloud file servers, on a per-second basis, at an increased/decreased server power as and when you need it. Ideal for when you need a lot of processing power.

 

The future of business IT systems

The beauty of Office 365 is you can build the exact package for your needs and the service is fluid enough to change with you with minimal fuss. It makes financial sense, keeps you at the cutting edge, offering elite security and support access. It’s also worth noting that you don’t have to commit to moving everything into the cloud. It’s about mixing and matching cloud and on-premise IT to deliver the most effective solution for your business in terms of cost and productivity.

Given the PC Support Group’s key aim of combining business insight with IT knowledge, we’d love to speak to you in more detail to see if Office 365 is the ideal fit. We offer various IT solutions, and by working with a suitable IT partner you’ll be able to create the perfect solution in terms of cost, functionality, flexibility and security. Solutions that help you to move forward significantly as a company.

Please get in touch today if you’d like to know more about how using the Office 365 platform and its cloud-based services could help your business to take the next step in its productivity.

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Category: Business.

Award winning IT Support

As we all look forward to a prosperous New Year it’s worth taking time to recognise the achievements of 2015 and giving yourself a well-earned pat on the back.

At The PC Support Group we were pleased to win the “Service Provider of the Year” title at the 2015 Network Computing Awards. We’d love to tell you why too – but first of all, let us explain a little about us. There’s a point to this, read on…

• The PC Support Group specialises in providing “corporate quality” IT support to small and medium sized businesses throughout the Northwest of England. We have grown continuously and sustainably for nearly a decade and we now have hundreds of customers from diverse sectors

• We have achieved this success through our unique structure which combines advanced support technology with local, friendly, professional delivery to provide a flexible, high quality service at an affordable price. The unwavering focus of the business is to remove our client’s worries and concerns about their computers and anything that communicates with, runs on, or connects to them

• Our support technology enables us to monitor and manage all our client’s computers simultaneously and proactively work on them preventing problems before they occur – saving time and money. Most problems can be fixed remotely, often within minutes, but we also have engineers based in offices throughout the Northwest ready to visit clients when needed

• We don’t patronise our clients, we work with them to achieve their goals through technology, not despite it. And we don’t try to confuse with technical jargon. Our staff understand people and business, not just technology. The PC Support Group’s unique structure provides our clients with superb support and a level of service that is the envy of the industry

• The PC Support Group is also a member of the Apple Consultants Network and has qualified engineers ready to provide Apple Mac support and assistance with other Apple devices. The sheer scope, scale and quality of our offer to SMEs make us different from the rest. And it makes us the best.

That’s a lot to say – it’s a long marketing message! Certainly too much for Twitter’s meagre word count and anyway, with the information highway being fast and overloaded these days, your target market wants quick soundbites they feel they have the TIME to read! That’s where winning awards comes in and why it’s been so fantastic to win something just about every year.

What better soundbite than “Award-Winning IT Support” to encapsulate what you do and the fact that you’re excellent at it too?

Many of our awards have been won as a result of passing scrutiny by a panel of judges.  For example, being listed in the MSP Top 100 Managed Service Providers in the world, etc.

Those won by vote are just as useful.  We write to all our customers and contacts to tell them we’ve been nominated in the first place (we don’t always find out who has done so) and to ask them to vote. A legitimate reason to drop an e-mail, to remind people who we are and let them know we’re good enough for a nomination which, in itself is something to shout about – and the world of online social media gets to know about it too!

On awards evenings there is plenty to tweet about as the excitement builds but none to over-ride the joy of winning! What a great feeling going up to that stage to collect a smart glass trophy knowing that so many people have believed in your service excellence to vote for you in droves!

Now, if writing to tell everyone we were nominated is a very useful exercise – it can’t top writing again to thank them for voting and helping us win. It can’t top the new tweets, other online social media output, press releases, and a news item by the local chamber – complete with superb photos and, of course, the all-important winners logo. That smart trophy has taken its place with the others we have won down the years, and the logo is a permanent fixture on our website, our e-mails and all our marketing literature.

Indeed, from our latest corporate photos, the one we chose for our Social Media header was one of the team holding aloft all the trophies and certificates we have worked so hard for – from Excellence in Customer Service to being listed in the Top 100 Managed Service Providers in the world. Well, they say a picture paints a thousand words!

As we said earlier, nothing says you’re superb at what you do as quickly and easily as an award and we’re grateful to everyone who ever nominated us, voted for us, or judged us to be so over the years.

Spam Detection in Emails

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Category: Business, IT Processes, IT Purchasing, IT Security, IT Training.

If you’re in the habit of checking the news online you will have noticed that almost daily now there are reports of data breaches by attackers. Cyber security headlines are all too frequent and alert us to the skill and persistence of hackers.

Many organisations still rely on traditional security controls in the form of technology such as anti-virus software and firewalls, etc. to protect their critical assets but it is now clear that this is not enough. The increasing importance of employee security awareness is often overlooked with companies providing little or no basic awareness training.

Personnel and processes are often disregarded when it comes to improving security, partly because the security risk they pose to an organisation is difficult to measure and track.

These days, this a crucial issue with cyber security, but businesses that (very sensibly) put in place IT software security often struggle to get senior management to address a risk that they haven’t been able to quantify, or even prove exists.

The problem is that as the technical, on-line security of organisations increases, attackers are looking instead to a much weaker area: employees.

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The eBay Hack: Should you be worried?

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Category: Business, IT News, IT Support, Latest.

Ebay, the world’s biggest internet auction site, is the latest large organisation to be the victim of a cyber hack.

Blaming what they call an “Achilles heel” for the encrypted user information being taken, the company quickly advised users to change their password in order to prevent personal information falling into the wrong hands.

It’s thought to be the biggest reported hack ever in terms of the number of people affected (approximately 223m worldwide). Although it’s believed that financial data is not at risk, it’s still a major concern that data such as phone numbers and email addresses could be exposed to hackers.

So how does this news affect you, the eBay user?

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Work Smarter Not Harder

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Category: Business, Cloud Computing, Mobile Computing.

We believe that businesses of all sizes can start to work smarter and more productively by embracing the concept of remote working and really harnessing the power of technology.

Many companies have been reticent about using remote working, and it’s not really expensive or difficult to implement. Companies of every size need to evaluate where and how greater connectivity can improve their business

Having access to systems, files and emails whilst away from the office brings a range of business benefits and cost savings – from increased productivity and greater staff motivation to more effective use of time.  So, what can you do?

Enable your staff to work from anywhere…

An amazing 80 per cent of businesses report that employees do not have full access to business systems that would make their work easier and more efficient, including the technology to work away from the office.  The ability to work effectively from almost any location is one of the biggest changes happening in workplaces today and can increase productivity significantly.

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Broadband Fibre

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Category: Broadband, Business, IT Support.

If your business relies on the internet, then you need to ensure you have a broadband service that is dependable. Many small businesses simply look for the cheapest option and that usually translates to a broadband package designed primarily for residential use. Business broadband packages generally offer a more reliable and more secure service.

Choosing the right package can be daunting but many internet service providers (ISP) now offer exclusive packages that address many of the concerns about running a business online, or being reliant on the internet for information or communication purposes.

Here are some aspects you should consider before selecting a broadband package for your business:

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