Archive for May, 2013:

Why Your Business Needs a Mobile App to Stay Competitive

Posting Date: 05/29/2013  |   Filed Under: Social Media, Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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Mobile applications are quickly becoming a necessity for small businesses to stay competitive. The key functions of a mobile app are to directly generate income, to increase brand awareness and serve as a customer service channel that promotes your business. A recent study revealed that 49% of tablet and smartphone owners are using mobile apps to find local information. By adding portability and location targeting to busy consumers, mobile apps can support purchase transactions, deliver turn-by-turn driving directions, offer coupon deals and promote social media interactions. With one tap of the screen, a customer can call you directly resulting in actual customer engagement and commerce opportunities for your business. If you don’t have a mobile app in place, you might be missing out on 49% of a potential client base.

How to Make a Mobile App That Will Benefit Your Business

  • Customer Interaction should be interactive, easy and engaging. Enable the customer to arrive at the service they want in the fewest number of taps. This can make a positive impression on new customers who will become repeat customers.app
  • Promotional Features should give customers the incentive to use the app by offering special discounts, deals and reward points. Promotions should increase sales and develop customer loyalty in the process.
  • Discounts and Location-based Features are the things consumers are always looking for with mobile apps. Consider combining these two features with a location finder and check-in process that presents the customer with a discount at your location.
  • A Social Media Feature should be as “friendly” as possible. Facebook and Twitter integration can encourage real time interaction between app users and their friends and help your business develop a fan base on social media sites.

Will Your Business Be Left Behind?

The trend in mobile usage is growing at an unprecedented pace. Whether it’s on an iPhone, behindiPad or an Android, everyone is using these devices to connect, gather information, take action and spend money. In the recent past, creating an app was a costly proposition that placed it outside the budget of small businesses. This situation has clearly changed as more small businesses are using mobile apps to attract customers. Currently, there are over one million apps available via Apple’s App Store plus a variety of tools that enable businesses to create their own mobile app. Simply put, think of it as the equivalent of a website twenty years ago. With so many people using it, shouldn’t your business be a part of it?

Developing a mobile app can be an overwhelming task for a small business owner. But the fact is that if you want your business to stay competitive, then it’s time to explore the advantages of mobile apps. One of our computer professionals can create a mobile app for your business today.

Best Practices for Disposing of Old Computers

Posting Date: 05/29/2013  |   Filed Under: Data Back-up, Security, Technology, Tips, Uncategorized  |   No Comments
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Newer and faster laptops, phones and tablets are being released every day it seems, but what are we supposed to do with the outdated devices we no longer want to use? The security of proprietary and personal information and environmental issues are the primary concerns when disposing of unwanted computers. Here are some guidelines we recommend when phasing out computers from your business or home.

Deleting a File Does Not Actually Erase Information

When you delete a file from the hard drive, the operating system only deletes the information deletethat describes where the file is located. Simply deleting files, emptying the recycle bin or reformatting the hard drive is not enough to cover your digital tracks. In addition to documents, photos, videos, and private information that is accessible on your computer; there is also your Internet browser’s cache, cookies and history; email contacts and messages; and the recycle or trash folder.

Don’t take a chance with the security of your business and personal information. A Geeks On Call technician can complete any of the following strategies when trying to secure your personal information on an old device.

  • The most cost-effective and commonly used strategy is the use of a software utility that overwrites the hard drive with random characters and binary data anywhere from three to more than 30 times. These utilities are typically referred to as data destruction software, hard drive eraser software or disk wipe software.
  • Another effective but more costly solution is degaussing. This is the erasure of information through the use of a powerful magnet. Degaussing disrupts the magnetic domains on the drive, which erases your data while also rendering the drive permanently unusable.
  • The physical destruction of a hard drive is the only way to absolutely and forever ensure that the data is no longer available. There are contractors who will perform this task on site, using the appropriate tools and safety precautions. We do not recommend this type of hard drive destruction by consumers.

Donate or Recycle Your Old Computer

Extending the computer’s lifespan through re-use provides the highest environmental benefit. There are many donation programs that bridge the digital divide by providing schools, non-profit organizations, military personnel, low-income families and students with needed recycletechnology.

When you donate or recycle an unwanted computer, there are a lot of details you will need to be concerned with such as; maintaining the security of information that was stored on the computer, locating local technology recyclers and refurbishers, and tax guidelines for charitable donations. Don’t feel overwhelmed by all of these details. Let your local Geeks On Call take on the burden. One of our professional technicians will be happy to explore the various options available to you when deciding how best to dispose of an unwanted computer. Here are some considerations when donating or recycling a computer:

  • If your computer is less than five years old chances are it can be put to good use. Most organizations have specific technology needs, so inquire in advance regarding donation guidelines.
  • Most charitable contributions are tax deductible and computers are no exception. Business donors can generally deduct the un-depreciated value of the computer and individuals can deduct the current market value of a computer. Remember to retain your receipt for tax records.
  • Consider donating your unwanted computer to a refurbisher who is equipped to repair and upgrade older computers. Certified refurbishers ensure that equipment works well and will pass on ready-to-use equipment at little or no cost to individuals and organizations. It is recommended that you remove your hard drive from any system that you donate to a refurbisher to ensure the security of your data.
  • Even if a computer cannot be reused or refurbished there are reputable technology recyclers that can ensure valuable raw materials are recovered from old computers and that any waste is disposed of in an environmentally-safe and responsible manner.

Let your local Geeks On Call do all the work for you. Our technicians are trained experts in making sure your personal information is secure and responsibly disposing of unwanted devices.

What Are Managed Services?

Posting Date: 05/29/2013  |   Filed Under: Data Back-up, Internet, Security, Technology  |   No Comments
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The term “managed services” is generally defined as the practice of outsourcing day-to-day management responsibilities with the strategic goal of reducing costs while improving operational efficiency. A managed services provider typically refers to an outsourced information technology company that assumes responsibility for one or more aspects of a client’s IT functions. These responsibilities can range from a single specific task, such as managing network security or offering help desk support, to the complex management of running a client’s entire IT infrastructure. Most managed service providers bill a flat or nearly-fixed monthly fee benefiting clients with predictable IT support costs.

How Managed Services Can Immediately Benefit Your Business

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Computer systems now form an integral part of most businesses’ ability to function. Can you remember the last time a computer crisis kept you from your “real job” – managing your business? It might be time to consider the immediate benefits of outsourced managed services for your business’ IT needs. Here’s a list of the top five benefits you can take advantage of by working with a managed service provider:

  • Control IT Costs by working with a managed service provider to create a customized IT service plan that suits your budget and the needs of your business. A service plan can help business owners reduce IT operational costs while actually providing a higher level of IT service for their business. Plans can be customized by the number of support hours required or the level of monitoring and maintenance that is needed each month. Capital expenditures for equipment will be reduced in addition to staffing costs.
  • Manage Labor Costs if you do not employ IT professionals in your business, you likely have a designated “go-to” person in the office that handles the technology issues for everyone. You can eliminate the time this person is spending on IT issues so they can get more of their actual work done.
  • Quickly Implement New Technologies with the help of a managed service provider. Skilled IT professionals can save you both time and money with the efficiency of on-demand services. Also, a managed services provider will have a strong understanding of your business and your technology, allowing them to understand your technology needs as well as your budget. This will save you time in trying to understand new technology, and money you may waste on buying products you do not need or that will not work for your specific network.
  • Increase Efficiency and Stay Competitive through economies of scale. Most managed service providers can provide small to medium sized businesses with access to technology and expertise usually only available to large companies. Your managed services professional can assist you with identifying the products and services that would benefit your business and are available in an option that will fit your needs.
  • Security can require constant vigilance. Is your firewall up to date; are you protected against malware; do you audit your servers; are you using the latest customer transaction systems for credit, debit, e-checks and wire transfers? Outsourced security monitoring leads to less down-time, enhanced efficiency and greater profits for your business.

Be Proactive and Consider Managed Services Today

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Are you ready to forget about those IT headaches? Whether you only have a few PCs, a network or more than one server, you are probably ready for a managed service provider. Geeks On Call’s managed service experts can work with you to assess your IT needs and develop a customized plan for your business. As a business owner, don’t you want to stay productive by focusing on the actual management of your business – not spending time fixing problems or worrying about what you will do if your systems stop working? Geeks On Call is here to help. Give your local Geeks On Call office a call and one of our computer professionals will be happy to help you.