Blog

March 11th, 2015

During the month of March, place your orders of $50 or more with MIS and you’ll receive a free box of Thin Mints. Do you need to replace computers, laptops, tablets, switches, wireless access points, license renewals, or servers? If you do, we can help. Reach out to Ruth Ann (678-535-3358 and ramoore@mis-solutions.com) or me (678-730-2706 and dwynegar@mis-solutions.com) and we’ll help you find what you’re looking for.

Dedicated to serving you,
Derek

March 10th, 2015

Screen Shot 2558-02-24 at 2.04.30 PMIf your organization is currently running either Microsoft Windows Server 2003 or Exchange 2003 on any servers in your office, you need to know about a dangerous security threat to your organization that must be addressed very soon. Please take a moment to read this important announcement.

As your IT Provider, we are aggressively reaching out to all clients that use Server 2003 to alert you to this serious security risk to your organization and inform you about what you need to do now to protect your company.

Windows Server 2003 and Exchange 2003 Replacements MUST Be Made By July 14, 2015

Microsoft has officially announced that it will retire all support on the Server 2003 operating system on July 14, 2015. That means any business with this operating system still running will be completely exposed to serious hacker attacks aimed at taking control of your network, stealing data, crashing your system and inflicting a host of other business-crippling problems you do NOT want to have to deal with.

This is such a serious threat that the US Department Of Homeland Security has issued an official warning to all companies still running this operating system because firewalls and antivirus software will NOT be sufficient to completely protect your business from malicious attacks or data exfiltration. Running Server 2003 will also put many organizations out of compliance.

Unless you don’t care about cybercriminals running rampant in your company’s computer network, you MUST upgrade any equipment running this software. To assist you, Derek and Ruth Ann will be reaching out to you to discuss options. If you have any questions before then, please call Derek direct at 678-730-2706 or email dwynegar@mis-solutions.com.

March 10th, 2015

Screen Shot 2558-01-13 at 2.49.29 PM

Take my Trivia Challenge and you could win too!

The Grand Prize Winner of Last Month’s Trivia Challenge Quiz was John Bedard with Bedard Law Group. He was the FOURTH person to answer our quiz question last month: In the Wizard of Oz, what was the name of the Good Witch of the North? The correct answer was C) Glinda!

Now here is this month’s trivia question:

Which of these characters turned 40 years old in 1990?

A. Charlie Brown
B. Bugs Bunny
C. Mickey Mouse
D. Fred Flintstone

The FIRST person with the right answer will receive a $25 gift card to Starbucks.

To play, email or call Kary at 678-730-5527 or email: kfaucher@mis-solutions.com.

March 9th, 2015

Screen Shot 2558-02-24 at 2.00.09 PMIce, Ice Baby. We hope you fared well last week with the ice, closings, closed roads and power outages. During the midst, several clients asked, “What could we do differently to better prepare? “ To answer that, here are some ideas for you:

  1. What is the most important communication tool for your business? If it’s email, then perhaps consider hosting email outside the building. If it’s phones or other systems, have you considered a cloud based application? These are great questions and if you’d like to discuss your options, please talk with us to learn more ways to leverage technology for storm preparedness.
  2. Your Communication Plan – Did you have one? When weather or storms affect business, do you have a good communication plan to let your team, clients and vendors know? Who is responsible? Are you periodically reviewing your plan with team members so that everyone knows what to expect? For example, here at MIS – we rely heavily on email as our first tool for communication. Texting is our backup plan. Additionally, we have an inclement weather process outlined in our handbook that we follow. If you’d like a sample, let us know.
  3. How did your team do? Take time to meet with your team after an event like this year’s ice storm and figure out what went well (celebrate that), what could have been better and what will your team do differently next time? Update your plans, communications and training sources accordingly.

If there is something our team could have done better or differently to assist you in times like these, please let us know. We are here to serve.

– Jennifer

March 9th, 2015

A study of computer programmers at Bell Laboratories showed that the star performers outperformed moderate performers by a margin of 8 to 1. If that holds true in your organization, the conversion of five of your moderate performers into star performers would be the equivalent of adding 35 moderate performers to your workforce. Where are you going to find the five additional star performers? You don’t find them. You develop them.

The Bell Labs study identified nine work strategies that characterize star performers. All of them are qualities that can be inculcated through a good corporate education system. According to researchers Robert Kelly and Janet Caplan, these qualities are:

  1. Taking initiative: accepting responsibility above and beyond your stated job, volunteering for additional activities and promoting new ideas.
  2. Networking: getting direct and immediate access to coworkers with technical expertise and sharing your own knowledge with those who need it.
  3. Self-management: regulating your own work commitments, time, performance level and career growth.
  4. Teamwork effectiveness: assuming joint responsibility for work activities, coordinating efforts and accomplishing shared goals with workers.
  5. Leadership: formulating, stating and building consensus on common goals and working to accomplish them.
  6. Followership: helping the leader to accomplish the organization’s goals and thinking for yourself rather than relying solely on managerial direction.
  7. Perspective: seeing your job in its larger context and taking on other viewpoints, like those of the customer, manager and work team.
  8. Show-and-tell: presenting your ideas persuasively in written or oral form.
  9. Organizational savvy: navigating the competing interests in an organization, be they individual or group, to promote cooperation, address conflicts and get things done.

Star performers considered initiative, technical competence and other cognitive abilities to be core competencies. Show-and-tell and organizational savvy were on the outer edge of their circle of importance. Middle performers placed show-and-tell and organizational savvy at the center. While star performers were focused on performance, middle performers were focused on impressing management.

Star performers and middle performers also showed marked differences in their attitudes toward networking. The middle performers waited until after they had encountered problems before looking around for someone who could provide help and support. The star performers built a network of helpers and supporters in advance, so they could call on them immediately when needed.

The study concluded that “Individual productivity… depends on the ability to channel one’s expertise, creativity and insight into working with other professionals.” Star performers emerge from educational systems tailored to the individual company and the individual job.

March 9th, 2015

Do you have questions about how to use an application better? Do you have questions about cloud computing or which systems you need to upgrade this year? Do you have questions about your services or latest invoice? Is it time to look at a new phone system? If so, here’s a quick list for reference:

March 3rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2558-03-03 at 11.31.57 AMYou will learn:

  • The 3 most common ways IT services companies charge for their services, and the pros and cons of each approach.
  • A common billing model that puts ALL THE RISK on you, the customer, when buying IT services; you’ll learn what it is and why you need to avoid agreeing to it.
  • Exclusions, hidden fees and other “gotcha” clauses IT companies put in their contracts that you DON’T want to agree to.
  • How to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting to avoid disappointment, frustration and added costs later on that you didn’t anticipate.
  • 21 revealing questions to ask your IT support firm BEFORE giving them access to your computer network, email and data.

Claim Your FREE Copy Today at www.MIS-Solutions.com/ITBuyersGuide Or Call 678-745-5109 and ask for Becky or Jennifer.

March 3rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2558-03-03 at 11.25.47 AMWe all have a number of passwords for all the online services we use. You name it: banking, online bill payment, e-mail, social networks, shopping and more. You know it’s incredibly easy to lose track of them all — unless you are committing one of the greatest online security offenses by using one password for everything. One of the best — and most secure — ways to handle your passwords is with a password manager.

It’s not uncommon for password managers to get overlooked when it comes to online security. There is a lingering — and false — concern that keeping all of your passwords in one place can potentially open up all your protected accounts to intruders — if they are able to break into the password manager. It’s a legitimate concern, but password managers use powerful encryption to keep your passwords safe. They are specifically designed to keep you even more secure than you otherwise would be.

Many password managers — including LastPass, KeePass, Secret Server and 1Password — do much more than simply “remember” your passwords. They also offer password-creation assistance. Some managers offer the option to generate a secure password for you. They are compatible with a number of platforms and they are packed with customizable tools to keep you safe.

March 3rd, 2015

Mike Michalowicz headshotWord of mouth — the better-than-anything-you-could-pay-for form of spreading the word about companies and products worth supporting. Your customers do your marketing for you, and you simply continue delivering the high-quality product they’re raving about.

But how do you get your customers to do it?

On May 9, 2013, an article was published by a journalist who’d stopped in Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York City and asked what was new. The staff offered the journalist a taste of a new product that would launch to the public on the day after the article was published. On May 10, 2013, the Cronut™ was born. There were customers waiting outside the little bakery, lined up to sample the delectable baked good they’d read about.

By the end of the week, the line outside the bakery was 100 people long. People stood in line to sample the Cronut™ they’d heard about from their friends. And they didn’t just buy one Cronut™; they bought lots of them — as well as all of the other unique, handmade pastries the shop produces. The Dominique Ansel Bakery is a small business. They don’t have a big marketing department who dreamed up the Cronut™ as a publicity stunt. They simply embrace the creativity inherent in baking, and word of mouth pulls customers from all over the world into the little shop. It’s organic. It’s natural. It’s the power of word of mouth.

Another great example of a company whose customers are ardent fans is a well- known jewelry store (whose name I can’t share with you). Their policy for purchases of engagement rings is pure genius. A couple selects a ring — say a diamond of one full carat. The jewelry store has a secret upgrade policy, and they supply the client with a stone that’s just a little larger than the one they paid for. When customers take their one-carat ring to an appraiser, they discover that it’s a carat and a quarter. The customer — stunned at having received more than they paid for — returns to the jewelry store, at which point the jeweler thanks them for their business, tells them about the secret upgrade and — here’s the genius part — asks the customer not to tell anyone about the secret upgrade.

But the customer does tell. The customer tells everyone he can think of about the spectacular customer service he received and about the exceptional value the jeweler provided. That customer ropes in hundreds more customers, and the jewelry store doesn’t do anything except make customers happy and wait for new customers to pour in. It’s brilliant.

Whether customers are sharing a Cronut™ with a friend, or whether they’re swearing a coworker to secrecy about the jewelry store’s secret upgrade they swore not to divulge, if you can get your customers talking about you, your company and your brand you’re starting a marketing trend that can not only become self-sustaining, but can also brand, then you’re starting a marketing trend that can not only become self-sustaining, but can also bring more customers than you’d ever dreamed of — right to your door.

March 3rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2558-03-03 at 11.13.04 AMLove it, hate it or call it the gold at the end of your rainbow, e-mail is here to stay. Over the past two decades, it’s become deeply ingrained in our day-to-day business communication. It’s basically a requirement. Despite a number of software advances and changes in the online communication landscape, e- mail is more important than ever.

This was recently confirmed by a study conducted by Pew Research. They found that e-mail is indispensable among those who are Internet-connected at work. These days, that covers a lot of people. In fact, 61% say it plays an integral role in their job. Additionally, 46% say e-mail access keeps them more productive (while another 46% say e-mail has no bearing on their productivity one way or the other). Only 7% say e-mail hurts their productivity.

In 2014, social media analysts warned that e-mail was on its last legs and that it would soon be overtaken by other online services. However, as this study seems to confirm, that is not the case. In fact, in the workplace, it’s very much the opposite. The Pew study found that social media, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, benefited only about 4% of those in a connected workplace.

Even among the millennial generation, and those who regularly use social media networks in their personal lives, it hasn’t been something fully translatable to the professional environment as a productivity factor. This doesn’t discount uses for social media in the workplace — as a marketing or customer outreach tool — but no social media platform has come close to replacing e-mail as the go-to communication tool.

That doesn’t mean Silicon Valley start-ups aren’t trying. They are always at work trying to find that next four-leaf clover in online communication, hoping to develop that so-called “e-mail killer.” So far, nothing has stepped up that can achieve what e-mail can, particularly for businesses.

For many businesses, it comes right back to the fact that e-mail works. It’s a proven platform and it remains the business communication “golden child.” It’s the same reason phones and fax machines aren’t extinct. They serve a purpose and they help us get things done. That doesn’t stop businesses from always looking for ways to streamline that process.

Another reason e-mail works: accessibility. E-mail is used on nearly a universal level. Social media platforms, while many are incredibly popular, can’t touch the truly global reach of e-mail. Have you considered how e-mail impacts your job? Does it keep you productive? Or are you ready to move on to the Next Big Thing?