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Category: Microsoft 365, IT News.

When we emerge from the coronavirus crisis, there will be many aspects of business life that will have changed for ever.

I’ve been incredibly impressed by how quickly so many people have embraced remote working, in particular through the use of teamworking platforms, enabling many organisations to go a long way towards maintaining business as usual for their customers and stakeholders.

Despite inevitable teething problems as the various technologies creaked under the pressure of unprecedented demand, just a few weeks later, telephone and video conferencing is the new normal. And as the long-term cost, convenience and productivity benefits become clear, remote working is here to stay.

But what’s the right technology to build your future ways of working around? Well, if you’re a regular reader of these emails, you’ll know that I’m a strong advocate of Office 365 (just rebranded as Microsoft 365), which means, for me, there’s a logical starting point to consider for your teamworking platform – and that’s Microsoft Teams.

While there are other great products on the market, Microsoft Teams is the fastest growing app in Microsoft’s history, with more than 330,000 companies worldwide using it. It’s a stable, secure and proven communications hub, enabling users to chat and collaborate from anywhere in the world, at whatever time, just as if they were sat around the same table.

But it’s Teams’ tight integration with other elements of Microsoft 365 that really sets it apart, meaning that you don’t have to switch apps when you want to work together on a document, for example. You can access all the familiar 365 resources within Teams and use Word, Excel or PowerPoint to instantly share your work with colleagues and co-author the next version. And if you couldn’t attend the meeting, you can catch up via the session’s recording, meeting notes and agreed actions, all stored in the same place.  Meeting organisers can also invite non-Team members who do not have an account, such as suppliers or other stakeholders, to attend meetings as guests.

If you’re still considering the best way forward for your organisation, there are some great videos online. Here is a link that I’d recommend to help familiarise yourself with Teams and how to successfully deploy it.

To access Microsoft Teams all you need is a Microsoft 365 account with the appropriate license plan. The PC Support Group can help you to install and deploy Microsoft Teams, or if you would prefer to do it yourself visit https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/microsoft-365/business

For an informal chat about Microsoft Teams, how to make the most of it, and how we can help, call us NOW on 03300 886 116 or email info@pcsupportgroup.com

Phil Bird

Managing Director, The PC Support Group

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Category: re-brand, Windows 10, Business, IT News, Latest, Microsoft Office, News.

As of April 21, 2020, the official branding of Microsoft’s business plans has changed.   Instead, Office 365 business plans for small and medium-sized businesses are now known as Microsoft 365. The new branding is to reflect Microsoft’s strategy of providing a single complete productivity platform for its customers.

Fortunately, from the viewpoint of current subscribers, the change from Office 365 to Microsoft 365 is not going to have much of an immediate practical impact. In general, the subscription you had on April 20 is the same as the subscription you had on April 21, only with a different name.

So, to be clear, here is a recap of the Microsoft 365  business packages available, along with their new titles.

A breakdown of Microsoft 365 for business

As was the case when the productivity suite was called Office 365, each subscription package of Microsoft 365 includes various familiar applications such as Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Each subscription package will also include various levels of services like Exchange, SharePoint, OneDrive, and Teams. You will have to decide which package is right for your business needs.

The least expensive subscription available is called simply Microsoft 365 Business Basic, formerly referred to as Office 365 Business Essentials. With this subscription package, you get access to the online cloud-based versions of the office apps only—no desktop versions. But the package does allow mobile apps. Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams services are included.

The next level package is called Microsoft 365 Business Standard, formerly called Office 365 Business Premium. It includes the basic office applications online, mobile, and on desktops. Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams services are included.

The next level package is called Microsoft 365 Business Premium, formerly listed as Microsoft 365 Premium. This subscription includes office applications online, mobile, and on desktops. Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams services are included. However, this package also offers Intune and Azure Information Protection services.

There is a fourth subscription package available called Microsoft 365 Apps for Business (formerly Office 365 Business). This subscription includes the office apps, but the only supported service is OneDrive.

If you’re interested in using Microsoft 365  for your business and would like help to find the right package, contact The PC Support Group now on 03300 886 116 or email us on info@pcsupportgroup.com or leave us a message here and one of our team will be in touch.

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Category: Business, IT News, Latest, News.

According to the Centre for Economics and Business Resources (CEBR), only 1 in 6 UK IT professionals are women proving that gender disparity is still very prevalent in the sector.

The survey, based on research from ONS, analysed 608,000 IT professionals of which only 103,360 were women.

The research also looked at gender inequality among different roles in the IT sector which showed that:

  • only 17% of IT directors were women
  • 29% of IT technicians were women
  • 7% of IT engineers were women

Last month the UK ranked 5th in the PwC Women in Technology Index for the G7 and placed 16th overall.  30% of the global tech sector were women whilst only 20% of the ICT graduates are women.  Researchers at PwC also found that women lacked the technical knowledge such as STEM-related skills and numeracy despite no differences in ability for these subjects which suggested the reason might be cultural.

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

The move to remote working is one of the most significant workplace trends of the past decade. By the end of 2019 more than half of the working population worldwide worked remotely at least once a week.

Previously businesses had time to plan their journey to remote working, organise the necessary technology and agree ground rules with employees. Now the Coronavirus crisis is rapidly accelerating remote working as businesses scramble to reorganise their resources.

For some, remote working is new, bringing fresh challenges in already worrying times. So this week I wanted to offer some brief advice and guidance for colleagues wrestling with these issues to help you to remotely manage your staff quickly and effectively. The challenge has two main elements, first, the technology required for effective communication and second the successful support and management of your people.

  1. Key communication tools. The key to the successful management of remote workers is good communication and providing platforms for teams to interact in real-time, to prevent individuals feeling isolated and disconnected from their workplace colleagues and friends.

Resources like Microsoft Teams and other videoconferencing services such as Zoom (https://zoom.us/)  are priceless – and not just for work. They’re equally valuable as a tool to bring groups together to socialise, during lunchtimes, for example, to share problems and fears too, as we all support each other in these troubling times. The video component, as opposed to teleconferencing, is vital, providing friendly faces, visible body language and the visual clues that are important in effective communication. Clearly ensuring good connectivity and a reliable service is essential to keep everyone in touch.

  1. Supporting and managing remote employees should include setting clear expectations, agreeing regular communications methods (but varying times of meetings to accommodate everyone’s needs where possible) and ultimately trusting employees. Empowered people respond positively, work productively and take responsibility for their time.

Personally I find proactively picking up the phone and speaking directly to my remote workers on a regular basis gives me a good indication of how they are feeling and whether they need any additional help and support.

And, for those businesses wishing to keep track of remote workers’ activities, there is an array of employee management software such as Monday.com and Clear Review.

The PC Support Group can help you to successfully implement remote working, for example by recommending the technologies and systems best suited to your particular business needs, those of your clients and the working patterns of your employees. For an informal chat call us NOW on 03300 886116 or email info@pcsupportgroup.com

 

Phil Bird

Managing Director, The PC Support Group

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Category: Ransomware, Business Continuity, Data Backup, IT News, News.

Today, Tuesday 31st March 2020 is World Backup Day- an annual reminder to all business owners to backup your data, which is essential in a world where ransomware attacks are on the increase for businesses like yours and ours.  The only difference in opinion here is that at The PC Support Group we think that every day should be backup day.

So, on this officially dedicated backup day – let’s think about it for a moment.  Your company data is your most priceless asset – the information you hold about your customers, your products and services, your finances and your people.  And loss of just some of it for long enough will sink your business!  Did you know that according to the World Backup Day website:

  • 30% of people have never backed up their data
  • 113 phones are lost and stolen every minute
  • 29% of disasters are caused by accident
  • One in ten computers are infected with viruses every month.

Still not sure that backing up your data should be a priority, then read this blog to find out more reasons why backing up your data is a necessity and not a luxury.

Now you’re convinced, you need to consider what options there are for backing up your data, namely two – on-premise or in the cloud.  And here’s a useful article to find out the pros and cons of your data storage options bearing I mind that it’s about what is best for your business.

It’s also important to remember that, while cloud file sharing and storage solutions synch your data across multiple devices, this does not add up to a robust backup system. So, if you’re assuming that your cloud synching and sharing services, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, are acting as your backup or are taking responsibility for automatically backing up all your data, then, please, think again!  If you are one of several businesses making this assumption, you’ll find this blog very useful indeed.

And not to forget, as your business develops, so will your data backup requirements. So it’s essential to periodically review your backup arrangements to make sure they reflect the needs of your business today.   Even if you’re happy with your back up processes, it’s a great idea to schedule regular reviews for peace of mind.

To find out how The PC Support Group can help protect your business with our IT support contracts including backup, contact our friendly and experienced team on 03300 886 116 or on info@pcsupporgroup.com

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Category: Ransomware, IT News, IT Security, Latest.

We all know that ransomware and phishing are huge challenges facing all businesses during normal times, but just to kick us when we’re down, there are scammers out there targeting our businesses on the back of the coronavirus whilst we are all extra vulnerable.

Remember, SMEs are the victims of 43% of all data security breaches, with some forced to close as a result of a ransomware attack. The loss of core IT infrastructure, essential data and business confidence forces clients to go elsewhere, and never has utilising that infrastructure, to keep business going, been more important.

I expect we’ll start to see companies approached by criminals to exploit the uncertainties and panic they’re feeling over their cashflow stopping and their struggle to keep their businesses going.

Businesses are desperate for detail, what will happen, when, what money they’ll get and how. So, any information will be jumped on and business owners everywhere may not think to stop and check it’s a legitimate source. One unconsidered click and you could be subject to a ransomware attack, corrupting all your data on top of all the other challenges.

That being the case it’s far better to take sensible cybersecurity measures to prevent a ransomware attack from succeeding in the first place. The Government’s National Cyber Security Centre provides great online advice to protect businesses from cybercrime.  So, rather than frightening ourselves instead, let’s focus on what we can do to protect ourselves and our teams.

  1. Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. There are currently no vaccines, pills or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores
  2. Watch out for emails with attachments claiming to provide CV19-related information. For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus. Other useful sites include and the World Health Organisation or WHO (https://www.who.int/) and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/)
  3. Watch out for texts and emails claiming to be HMRC, UK Government, or other official organisations; asking for bank details so that money can be transferred directly into your bank account or asking for a payment (e.g. an “admin fee”) in order to hand over a much larger amount of money. The details are still being worked out.  Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer. Valid information can be found at:
  1. Never click on a link or an attachment unless you’re certain that it’s safe. This is exactly what the criminal is trying to get you to do, so be absolutely,100% sure that it’s genuine. If this takes some investigation such as a phone call to the sender, it’s well worth it
  2. Add Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) which will add an extra secure layer to your email account on top of usernames and passwords and makes it almost impossible for hackers to intercept.

And most importantly, share this information immediately with all your staff so they are all vigilant and don’t inadvertently create an additional major challenge for your business.

If you’d like our help to improve your defences against cybercrime or any other aspect of IT or telephony support, call us NOW on 03300 886116 or email info@pcsupportgroup.com

 

Phil Bird

Managing Director, The PC Support Group

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Category: Business Continuity, Business, IT News.

For all businesses, regardless of size or sector, the well-being of our employees is paramount.

But as we all wrestle with the unique challenges created by coronavirus, the well-being of anyone affected will be best served if they have a job to return to and a bright future to look forward to. So, in these stressful times, all owners and managers will be focused on protecting the health of their businesses too, so that they are still a going concern when the crisis is over.

Late last year we shared with you the importance of business continuity planning, to ensure that you’re fully prepared in the event of a sudden crisis. A key element to consider was to enable staff to work effectively from remote locations other than the office –  a challenge that many businesses are currently facing of course. But the fact is that agile working delivers major business benefits and with today’s technology, it has never been easier to work away from the office. Here’s why:

  1. Agile working improves business performance as it results in more productive and motivated employees, who in turn provide better customer service to your clients. Agile working can cut costs and drive efficiencies too, for example by reducing expensive and time consuming business travel – lowering your carbon footprint in the process.
  2. There’s a host of great, simple to use tools, which enable employees to be able to work anywhere, anytime such as Office 365, SharePoint, OneNote, Microsoft Teams and VoIP telephony – and much much more. And, in the cloud, you can securely store and access everything you need to work productively 24/7.

The important thing is to select the right technologies and systems best suited to your particular business needs, those of your clients and the working patterns of your employees. We can help you make those assessments and make recommendations about the best way forward for you.

If you’d like to revisit your business continuity arrangements, our FREE, six step guide to business continuity is still available, just click on this link: Business continuity for SMEs – how to survive a major emergency and recover in style.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to chat about how The PC Support Group can help you to put the right technology in place to protect your business from the effects of unexpected events – and help drive efficiencies at the same time, call us NOW on 03300 886 116 or email info@pcsupportgroup.com

Phil Bird

Managing Director, The PC Support Group

For businesses who have chosen cloud-based data hosting services, there’s a temptation to relax and think “great, we’re paying someone else to take care of our data, we don’t need to worry about it anymore.”

Of course, using cloud-based services can deliver major benefits for businesses. But it’s vital to remember that all the data you have “in the cloud” is still stored in a physical data centre somewhere in the world, managed by your cloud service provider.

So, good data security practice means that it’s essential to have exactly the same knowledge about how and where your data is being handled “in the cloud”, just as if it was sitting on a server in your office!

Unfortunately, worrying research results published recently by leading hosting provider TeleData UK reveals that large numbers of firms are lacking this very basic information:

  • 42% don’t know the location of the data centre their provider is using
  • 25% don’t even know if it’s in the UK
  • 33% don’t know if the data centre is ISO compliant.

That’s alarming enough, but the standout statistic for me is that 43% of businesses don’t know whether the data centre they are using has a failover to a secondary location should an outage occur.

Let’s just think about the size of the huge risk that those businesses are taking. One day, everything’s rosy in the garden, customers are happy and business is booming – then bang! Suddenly they can’t access their data. They don’t know where their data is, they don’t know how long they might be without it – or if they’re ever going to be able to access it ever again!

Committing to a cloud service provider requires detailed due diligence and fact-checking to confirm the service is fit for purpose, that all risks and eventualities have been considered and minimised, and that all GDPR and ISO compliance requirements have been met.

I bet those businesses who don’t know where their data is stored, know every dot and comma about their alarm system – which company supports them, where they are based, how long it will take them to get to the office in the event of a problem. Yet many seem to know far less about their data, their most valuable asset.

At The PC Support Group, we specialise in Microsoft Office 365 because from our long experience we believe it’s the best – and a major advantage is its transparency – you can sign in (or your IT support provider can) and find out everything you need to know about the data centre where your data is stored. That’s hugely reassuring in my opinion.

If you have any concerns about how your data is being stored and handled or would like an  informal chat about how we can help provide peace of mind or improve your data security arrangements, call us NOW on 03300 886 116 or email info@pcsupportgroup.com

Phil Bird

Managing Director, The PC Support Group

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Category: Data Backup, IT News, IT Security.

Whenever I’m thinking about the topic for my next bulletin, my first port of call is always our support team. These are the folks who spend their days guiding our clients, resolving issues, fixing problems – so they know better than anyone what’s going on.

Maintaining a robust backup is hard work, it’s important to not only build the correct solution for your business and trust your IT support provider to look after it, but to also maintain a sense of urgency as a business owner to ensure you’re doing everything you can to keep data backup and recovery front of mind.  Therefore, today I’m returning to the topic of backing up your data.  So, why is backing up your data absolutely essential for your business?

  • Without it you risk losing your most priceless asset – the information you hold about your customers, your products and services, your finances and your people
  • Loss of just some of this information, for long enough, will sink your business
  • Back up is an important element of GDPR – and serious breaches can result in severe financial penalties
  • By backing up, if a disaster happens – a cyberattack, a fire, flood or break-in at your premises – there’s a good chance you can recover, repair the damage and go again.

I could go on, but I know you know this stuff already!  Regular data backup – ideally on a daily basis – is absolutely central to business continuity and it needs to be regarded with the same importance as activating your alarm system when you leave the office.  If you are unsure about your backup arrangements – whether they’re fit for purpose, or whether it’s happening at all, now is the time for action.  Start by asking yourself:

  • Do you know exactly what data you hold – about your customers, your employees, your business, your suppliers, your finances, your products, and services?
  • How and where is it stored, and how is it secured?
  • Do you back it up, how, where to and how often?
  • What would happen if you suddenly lost access to your live data and onsite backups?
  • How long would it be before this became a serious issue – minutes, hours, days?
  • How often do you review your backup arrangements?

Another key consideration is the choice between onsite or offsite backup arrangements. For me, that’s an easy one. Onsite backup can be just as vulnerable as your live systems. That’s because once criminals have access to your onsite network they may also get access to your onsite backups. The answer is a secure and managed offsite backup solution.

And remember, as your business develops, so will your data backup requirements. So it’s essential to periodically review your backup arrangements to make sure they reflect the needs of your business today – and as far into the future as you can realistically predict. Even if you’re happy with your backup processes, it’s a great idea to schedule regular reviews for peace of mind. For an informal chat about how you back up your data and how we can help, call us on 03300 886116 or email info@pcsupportgroup.com

Phil Bird

Managing Director, The PC Support Group

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

The latest Netwrix IT Trends report has been published which outlines the top IT priorities for organisations in 2020; in which over 1000 IT professionals took part.

“74% of organisations name data security as the dominant priority for 2020.”

Given the rising number of breaches and the shortage of cybersecurity experts, it is no surprise that data security was seen as the highest priority.

The top IT priorities highlighted in the global survey included:

  • Maintaining data security                                                             74%
  • Automating manual tasks                                                             70%
  • Digital transformations                                                 57%
  • Cloud migrations                                                             52%
  • Increasing cybersecurity awareness among employees             39%
  • Adhering to compliance standards                         39%
  • Integrate existing solutions                         35%
  • Educate/train IT staff                         30%
  • Employ additional IT talent                         22%

To read the survey in full, visit netwrix.com