Sunday, September 29, 2013

They only want email


I still find it hard to believe that there are people out there who believe Microsoft is going to bring Small Business Server (SBS) back. They seem to think that SBS was this massive revenue source for Microsoft when the reality is it was an ever diminishing product that was becoming harder and harder for Microsoft to engineer and support.
However, that doesn’t temper the vitriol that these resellers sprout forth about how Microsoft has screwed them, their business and their customers. I understand where you are coming from, I really do. SBS was a great product but the decision to retire it was a business decision. SBS was Microsoft’s product and they are entitled to make that decision because they are responsible to their shareholders first. (Underpinning your business on a single product from another business also doesn’t make much sense to me either I’ll also say.)
That still doesn’t seem to console these people, who I believe are not only displaced from reality but are running scared of the changes happening in the IT space. Why? Well, when you dig a bit deeper into the demands they make, what they are really seeking is an on premise mail server. The major reason they cite is that their clients ‘only want email’. Although most pine for the return of SBS they deride Companyweb (i.e. SharePoint) and many other features that made SBS what it was. So it is all about an on premise mail server for most.
You know what? I have come to believe the real reason is NOT that their customers ‘only want email’ it is because these resellers don’t have the skills to do anything but email! That’s right, now that SBS has left the scene, they are petrified that they might actually have to improve their skills and justify what they charge. They are scared that they might actually have to start learning something new. They are scared that they might not be up to that challenge. It is far easier to stay in a nice familiar world where technology doesn’t change than face the reality that change is what makes the technology industry such an interesting and profitable place to be. Most of these people I’ll bet moved into their own business with skills transferred from working for someone else. Problem is, now the technology world has changed and those original skills are in decline and it is time to learn new ones, but guess what? They can’t.
I’d like someone to explain to me how you can add value to ‘basic email’ services? I can understand the added value implementing something like eDiscovery, Legal Hold, and so on that comes with something like Office 365 but how do you add value with supporting merely sending and receiving emails? The only way I can see you make revenue after setting these things up is maintaining them, but how can that compete with web based email services from people like Microsoft and Google? How can that even compete in the long run with free web based email services?
If your game plan in technology is mere maintenance and you don’t have the scale then you are a small player in a race to the bottom when it comes to price. Please explain to me how this makes business sense? You are going to lose and yet these people still seem to believe that supporting ‘basic email’ services is a business? Really?
The other problem with the statement ‘my clients only want email’ is that I don’t know one business I deal with ANYWHERE that only wants JUST email. They need a range of technology tools to solve business pain points. To me the statement ‘my clients only want email’ rings of resellers who aren’t proactive with their clients, who are simply selling technology rather than business solutions and who isn’t engaged with the clients to understand what opportunities there maybe in the future. And you know what? Sooner or later those clients have a change of management, grow or shrink in size, get taken over or merge with another business and things change. When that happens, they turn to their incumbent reseller for technology advice and then what? A reseller only skilled at ‘doing email’ just doesn’t cut it anymore so the customer chooses someone else in a blink of an eye.
It is sad that so many technology resellers consider themselves so ‘advanced’ with technology because they waste their time installing some beta software when in fact they have become the main frame guys of the modern era, who simply want the status quo maintained because they are too scared or don’t have the skills to improve their qualifications with new products. They bemoan the reality of their business model becoming a commodity but fail to do anything to expand beyond services they have always provided.
Resellers that say ‘my clients simply want email’ signals to me that it is not in fact their clients that want this, the fact is that the reseller probably does not have any skills beyond this. Worse still, they are also not prepared to grow beyond this limitation. That is why they spend so much time lashing out at Microsoft, hosted email services and other technology solutions. Far more would be achieved, in my opinion, if they took that energy and directed it to up skilling and facing the business reality that is the current technology market.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Google Plus gets big

In part 6 of my recent series on posts on social media in business I noted that Google Plus is one network that you can’t ignore.

The above graphic (which I found on Google Plus) demonstrates the reach that Google Plus has achieved. If you believe this then it has a similar reach to Facebook, which is saying something.
Clearly there is big difference between raw and active users when it comes to business benefits, yet the numbers alone indicate that, as I mentioned in my previous post, it is not a service you should be ignoring.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Social Media and your business–Part 7

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Social Media and your business – Part 1

Social Media and your business – Part 2

Social Media and your business – Part 3

Social Media and your business – Part 4

Social Media and your business – Part 5

Social Media and your business – Part 6

So far this series has spoken about the different social media tools that are available, how they work and where they potentially integrate into a business. In the last part of the series I’ll look at the strategies that you should go about applying social media in your business and then round off with some conclusions.

The first point to remember is that social media does not replace the need for a web site or any of your existing online marketing. It is designed to supplement and enhance these. Your web site is still typically the central place that you market your business. It tells prospects about how you can help them specifically. Think of it like a digital brochure.

Before you dive head long into social media stop and ask yourself what you are trying to achieve? In short, determine your goals. What do you want social media to achieve for your business? Do you want it to generate more sales? Better customer service? Or improved exposure for your business? If you don’t know what you are seeking to achieve how will you ever achieve it? Thus, the most important step in the process of utilizing social media for your business is to define you goals up front.

The secret to successful social media (and with most other things in business) is consistency. Once you start using social media you must continue to use it on a regular basis. Nothing looks worse than something that hasn’t been used for months. I’m sure you’ve seen blogs and Twitter accounts that haven’t been updated for months and months. Nothing looks worse does it? This means you need to incorporate your social media strategy into your daily businesses processes. Determine how often you can post things to your blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc. and then ensure you do that. Consistency is the key to success.

Just as importantly for business success is to measure the results of social media. Most of the platforms (especially YouTube) provide inbuilt metrics. If not then there are plenty of third party tools out there that you can use to measure the success and impact of what you are doing. As they say, if you can’t measure it then perhaps you should not be doing it. Track what works and what doesn’t, then adjust and improve what does. Remember, social media is not something that you can generally set and forget, you’ll need to adjust it over time.

The final piece of advice that I’ll provide in this series before signing off comes from Seth Godin and I think it is very important that you heed what he says in this video about social media.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0h0LlCu8Ks

I hope that you have received benefit from this series of blog posts on social media in business I have created. I’d encourage you to connect with me via all the services that I have mentioned here. Most of these you’ll find on my web site (www.ciaops.com) in the bottom left of the home page. Alternatively, you can always send me a good ‘ole email (director@ciaops.com) as well.

There is so much more information, strategy and tactics I am able to share about social media in business and I hope to do that either upcoming blog posts, however if you’d like to speak with me directly about social media in your business or perhaps like me to present to a group of interested people, again just contact me.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read what I write and I look forward to seeing your business out there in social media-verse generating success.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

CIAOPS Virtual Tech Meeting–Reminder


Just a quick reminder about the CIAOPS Virtual Technology Meeting next week featuring Mark O’Shea (Device and Platform Lead, Paradyne Pty Ltd). Details are:
On October 18 Microsoft will be unveiling a range of updates to their server line up, with a big focus on new capabilities that help customers take advantage of public and private cloud technologies. During this online event Mark will cover new capabilities of the Windows Server Essentials 2012 R2 product, as well as how some of these technologies are now more broadly available to larger enterprises as well.
You can register at:
https://ciaops1013.eventbrite.com.au/
So come and join us for a what will no doubt be a great presentation by Mark along with technology news and discussions with other IT Professionals.



Social Media and your business–Part 6

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Social Media and your business – Part 1
Social Media and your business – Part 2
Social Media and your business – Part 3
Social Media and your business – Part 4
Social Media and your business – Part 5
I’ve now covered off important established social media services like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Linkedin but there is one more service which is now just starting to emerge that I believe you need to keep an eye and perhaps even have a dabble in. When you think about everything that I’ve spoken about in previous posts which major Internet service business haven’t I yet mentioned? In short, Google.

Google has recently come to understand the importance of social and as such now has its own social network called Google Plus and I believe this is the real dark horse of the social media set currently.
At the moment Google Plus is pretty much populated with technical types, it lacks the general appeal of something like Facebook and the business acceptance of Linkedin. However, that should be no reason to rule it out of your strategy. Google has very deep pockets and a wide ecosystem of products it can incorporate with Google Plus, and this is exactly what it is doing.
Google Plus allows you to post updates and ‘circle’ friends like most other social networks but it includes things like the ability to create communities, events and and host Google hangouts (video meetings). Another very important aspect of Google Plus is that it looks great! If you haven’t already have a look at the Google Plus app for iOS and you will see what I mean. Making it ‘nice’ indicates to me that Google understands the audience it is targeting with this service.
So what relevance is that to your business? Well to my mind if you spend your time with Google properties you will generally get rewarded with higher results in Google search. No hard evidence on this fact but it makes sense you think about it. This is one of the reasons that I moved my blog here to Blogger.
The tipping point for Google Plus will come when the ‘Facebook-crowd’ discovers it and stars piling in. As yet I have not seen that happen, however I have seen a a growth in the number of people using the service, although many don’t find it yet as valuable as Facebook. The few people that I know who used it regularly certainly sings its praises. A good example to look at for active content is probably that of Jeff Jarvis (of What Would Google Do fame):
https://plus.google.com/+JeffJarvis/posts
You can of course look up my profile as well at:
https://plus.google.com/111274076974722661501
(I am not special enough to get a +Name for my profile, alas).
As with most other social media properties I recommend you sign up and have a look at what is on offer and see whether it may have business benefit. There is certainly nothing to be lost by using Google Plus and pushing your content through there. I have had many great conversations around blog posts inside Google Plus and for that it works really well. The side benefit I believe is better Google search ranking, but again that is just my belief.
In the next part of the series I’ll start diving into some specific strategies and recommendations for your business when it comes to social media.
Social Media in your business – Part 7
If you need some help with your social media strategy or would like me to speak about social media at your business or association please don’t hesitate to contact me (director@ciaops.com).



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

SharePoint 2013 Support for Windows Server 2012 R2

If you still REALLY wanted to do on premise SharePoint, beware that SharePoint 2013 Server and I assume by association SharePoint Foundation 2013 is currently NOT supported on the latest server release – Windows Server 2012 R2.

See this blog post for more details:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/wbaer/archive/2013/09/22/sharepoint-2013-support-for-windows-server-2012-r2.aspx

You are going to have to wait until SharePoint 2013 Service Pack 1 is released. The availability date for this service pack has not yet been released.

Social Media and your business–Part 5


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Social Media and your business – Part 1
Social Media and your business – Part 2
Social Media and your business – Part 3
Social Media and your business – Part 4
In the last post I spoke about how critical I believe YouTube is for business social media but now I’m going to really go out there with this idea according to most businesses I speak with. Here’s what blows most traditional business people’s mind – what if you allowed your normal electronic communications to be public? Yes, public.
I have spoken before in this blog about how I believe information should be shared not siloed. This especially refers to all those private email conversations you have throughout the course of the day which contain information that could really benefit someone else. By having that information locked away in something like email limits the benefits it provides and decreases its business value.

To me this is where a service like Twitter can reap business benefits. Let me start with my own examples.
I have been using Twitter for some time now and as you maybe aware every post I make here on this blog also ends up being broadcast on Twitter. A while back I wrote a post about configuring Adobe PDF searching in SharePoint Foundation, after which I was contacted by VP at Adobe about the information I had posted (all good feedback). He had been monitoring Twitter for mention of his business. Where else would I have had an opportunity to directly contact a VP from Adobe? Not via email I can assure you.
Another example, I have tweeted something to Mary Jo Foley and had a reply. Not about anything major but the point is that unlike email, using Twitter I am able to get direct access to an individual normally that I would never get via email.
The big thing about Twitter is that it is public. I have had experiences where you complain about stuff in email and it never gets responded to. You call up customer support and get the run around, however if you do the same on Twitter, because it is public, you generally get a reply.
Perhaps a good example of this is Westpac’s Twitter account:
https://twitter.com/westpac
Here, Westpac has a team of people responding to queries and complaints. They constantly monitor the Twitter-sphere for mention of their brand. In short, they are making their customer service far more public. That of course has risks but done correctly it can be a huge market advantage and again garner increased trust and transparency with your brand, which in turn generally corresponds to more business.
I’ll also bet you didn’t realize that every tweet made creates a unique page on the web? Here’s an example:
https://twitter.com/directorcia/status/382272042780745729
The more pages about your business, from your business, to your business, etc all help your internet search results and driving traffic to your business.
So now if you answer someone’s question on Twitter everyone can potentially see and engage with you. If you find interesting information and post it to Twitter people will start following you and listening to what you say. Likewise, you can find people on Twitter that post information that interests you and follow what they have to say. Again, the power of being public.
A great example of this is that a few years ago a major hosted email provider had an outage. Their web site claimed their service would be back up in 15 minutes. They were in fact down for days. Firstly, I used Twitter search to monitor if anyone else was able to gain access (Twitter search is always great for finding out what is happening right NOW). This confirmed the fact that it wasn’t only me having the issue. As the delay on the services returning to normal continued I wrote a blog post about how I believe a smart business could use Twitter to find disgruntled customers of this ISP and then offer them a deal to switch. Low and behold, a day later that exact scenario can to fruition! Now all of my posts went to Twitter and mentioned the ISP in question so I don’t know whether someone read them and took up my idea or they came about through their own volition. In any case, that is great example of how you can user Twitter search to target an audience with a need and generate business.
Although Twitter is generally limited to 140 character tools like Flipboard make Twitter such a rich and inviting experience. Using Flipboard your Twitter feeds create a magazine on the topics that are relevant to you.
For many in business sharing more information publically is something they struggle to see the benefits of. I at least hope that this post has demonstrated some of the positive ways that a service like Twitter can be used to lift your business profile and start an engagement with people that you may be missing out on. It should also hopefully prompt you to start following other people of interest on Twitter as a means of discovering important and relevant information.
I encourage you all to follow me on Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/directorcia
to gain a better understanding of what information can be made available.
Just before I get onto some general social media strategies I need to speak about the emerging dark horse of social media that I would suggest you need to pay attention to as it has the potential to be the most important social media platform of all. Any ideas? You’ll have to wait till the next part to find out.
Social Media and your business – Part 6
If you need some help with your social media strategy or would like me to speak about social media at your business or association please don’t hesitate to contact me (director@ciaops.com).























Review–Sonivo Universal Induction Easy Speaker

Full disclosure – the review unit was supplied by Mobilezap. You can find this device and others at the Mobilezap category page. Information about this specific unit can be found at:
http://www.mobilezap.com.au/39404-sonivo-universal-induction-easy-speaker---black.htm

I must admit that I am a little puzzled by this product. Generally speaking I listen to audio from my phone via a headset. When I do occasionally listen to the phone speakers they are generally loud enough. This unit certainly does amplify the sound from the speakers but I am still puzzled as to why you would use one of these.
I will also admit that most of audio listening I partake in is podcast or audio books rather than music so perhaps I am not the target market for this device. The device is certainly easy to use and works right out of the box as described. You simply turn it on, place the phone on top and it amplifies the sound from the speakers.
Although the documentation with the device shows the phone lying flush with the device I found that I had to angle my Nokia Lumia off centre to get it to work best. If I didn’t do that then the volume was too low and you got a lot of background noise. Not a major issue but a little bit puzzling given all the other images I saw of a phone on the device.
I think this device would have a good home on your desk where you could easily place your mobile on top to amplify audio. It looks very modern and would easy suit most environments. The device charges easily via a USB cable and has a conveniently located on off switch.
What I would have liked to see perhaps is an actual volume adjustment on the device. Perhaps a volume wheel like you find on alarm clock as well as an on/off or mute button. This would be handy if you were listening to audio at your desk and you needed to silence it quickly to answer the phone.
All in all, a stylish piece of kit that wouldn’t be out of place on any desk. It is easy to use and does what it claims, however a few more additions would have made it a little bit more convenient in my opinion.








Monday, September 23, 2013

Social Media and your business–Part 4

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Social Media and your business – Part 1

Social Media and your business – Part 2

Social Media and your business – Part 3

So far in this series I’ve provided an overview of what social media in business is (Part 1). I’ve looked at business to business social media (Part 2). Finally, I’ve talked about business to consumer social media (Part 3). Now I want to talk to you about what I believe is the most powerful social media site for your business. Any ideas?

I believe, without a shadow of doubt, that the most important social media your business should invest time in is YouTube. Why? Simple, if pictures say 1,000 words then video says 1,000,000 pictures, it is that powerful. Most people don’t have time to read so using video is a sure way to capture and interact with an audience.

So how can you use video? Before I tell you my story let me show you two excellent examples of what can be achieved with some imagination and creativity.

Will it blend - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRr7N7A4Wc0

Want to prove how strong your blender products are? Make a video blending just about everything.

Dollar Shave Club - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUG9qYTJMsI

Selling something for only a $1? Tell people why your product is so much better than what they use now and they will come.

Both of these are excellent examples of what can be done with a little creativity, humour and a focus on your product. Sure, not every product video goes viral like these but how do you know if you don’t give it a go?

I think that apart from the product videos the other huge opportunity YouTube offers you business is creating informational videos.

Here’s a random one on guitar lessons I just found. Remember that YouTube the second most popular search engine in the world. You should see creating informational videos like these as a way of building trust with your ‘tribe’. Again, people are much more likely to buy from you if they trust you. So anything that builds trust is a positive.

YouTube also provides the ability for viewers to rate videos and have conversations around them that you as the author can also contribute to. Thus, you could post up an informational video, viewers could ask questions and you could answer. Again, generating more interaction, brand awareness and an opportunity for your business to engage.

My journey with YouTube started when I wanted to show people how to reboot their servers. They’d always be calling up asking how to do this. I’d create individual emails, but they’d still call. I created a document and emailed to them, but they still called. I uploaded that same document to a web site and provided a link, but they still called. However, when I created a video and posted it on YouTube they generally didn’t call back.

So that solved my initial issue but I didn’t count on the power of social because my video was used by other tech companies to help their customers reboot servers. They embedded it on their website, send customers links and from there it grew. Users also found my server reboot video by simply searching the Internet. When all these avenues of referral started to gather momentum, I then began to understand the power of the network effect. I began to understand how critical YouTube is to your social media strategy and growing your business.

Creating videos is dead easy these days. You can use just about any mobile, webcam or PC to capture something. You can get screen capture software like Camtasia to record what you do on a screen. Once you have recorded something you can upload it to YouTube and share with the world. You can embed the video in you web page, you can send it as a link and more.

As with any social media you need to think before you act. You need to understand the audience you are targeting and what appeals to them. You need to understand how to drive business from your videos to the bottom line. However, there is no doubt that YouTube is probably the most powerful tool you have at your disposal when it comes to this. My advice is don’t delay. Sit down today and develop a YouTube strategy for your business. You won’t get it right the first time  but keep at it and give your audience what they want.

Did I also mention that you can monetize your YouTube videos so that you receive income when people watch them if you want? You have this option as the creator of the video but if the video goes viral then that too may be a good money spinner.

I hope you can begin to understand the benefits that YouTube can bring to your business. You obviously need to do it right but you need to be doing it. Once you have a few videos you can create your own channel and drive even more business there. Have a look at my channel:

http://www.youtube.com/directorciaops

and see what I upload. Look at the different type of intros and extros I’ve used. It is a constant experiment to find what resonates with an audience. Like me you’ll be surprised when people actually subscribe to your channel for updates and start asking you to do more. It is a monster, I’m telling you so get into it today! I could go on for days about YouTube in your business but I hope you get the picture.

In the next part I’ll tell you why using emails is NOT a good way to communicate with your customers.

Social Media and your business – Part 5

If you need some help with your social media strategy or would like me to speak about social media at your business or association please don’t hesitate to contact me (director@ciaops.com).

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Social Media and your business–Part 3

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Social Media and your business – Part 1
Social Media and your business – Part 2
In the last part of this series I spoke about how you should consider Linkedin as business to business social media. In this post I’ll talk about what I consider business to consumer social media.

To my way of thinking this means Facebook. I am by no means an expert on Facebook and I really don’t use the service extensively at all, however given the sheer number of people who are on the service, I believe EVERY business need to have a presence there.
Facebook more than any other network is where you can speak directly to consumers. A great example to look at is Starbucks:
http://www.facebook.com/Starbucks
As of this post there are over 35 million (yes I said million) people who ‘like’ Starbucks on Facebook. This means when Starbucks posts something to Facebook these 35 million people will see it in their newsfeed! That’s a huge audience in any one’s terms.
Next time you are standing around in public have a look at what others are doing. Most likely they are totally engaged reading something on their phone. I’ll bet that 90% of the time they’ll be looking at Facebook. That’s why, as a business, you need to be there. Facebook has over a billion users, most access Facebook multiple times a day for 30 minutes at a time and they do so on their mobile device. How many marketing bulls eyes does that score? Just about every one.
On the Starbucks page, people who like Starbucks can find others who like Starbucks (i.e. fostering community). They can also offer special deals to people who visit the page. They can push out news and other interesting stories. Most importantly, all of this goes directly to people who have opted in to receive this information. Starbucks knows they like Starbucks because they ‘liked’ the page!
So if you have a business that sells to consumers you need to ensure you have a slick Facebook page. That means spending some time getting the graphics right and working out what content you are going to post up there. Importantly, once you start telling people you are on Facebook you need to BE on Facebook to interact with your ‘tribe’.
An important thing here is that you shouldn’t be mixing your personal social media with business social media. If you have a personal Facebook set up a separate business account. Here is some information on doing just that:
http://allfacebook.com/facebook-business-account_b5986
You can also create pages for your business and its products. Here is a good starting point:
http://www.pcworld.com/article/240258/how_to_make_a_facebook_page_for_your_small_business.html
Once you have all your business pages and account set up then you need to start attracting people to these so they can ‘like’ and ‘follow’ the information you post. You do this by posting interesting information that appeals to your target market.
One very powerful option Facebook offers over a business like Google when it comes to advertising is extremely targeted marketing. Because Facebook know exactly when people login, all their details, where they go inside and outside Facebook when you purchase ads on Facebook you’ll find you can provide a level of targeting that is unrivalled. If you haven’t tried then invest a few dollars to see what I mean.
So the Facebook crowd is generally going to be very different from Linkedin and your message and information need to reflect that. Every business I believe needs to have a Facebook presence but it needs to be separate from any existing personal Facebook account.
If you feel Facebook is right for your business, as I said early in this series of posts, ‘listen’ and look at what others are doing. See what your competition does and doesn't do. See what the big boys (like Starbucks) is doing. See who is doing it well and follow their lead. However, whatever you do don’t neglect Facebook as a social media channel for your business, the number of subscribers justifies any investment.
In the next part of this series I’ll talk about what I believe is the most important social media network you must be part of, so stay tuned for more.
Social Media and your business – Part 4
If you need some help with your social media strategy or would like me to speak about social media at your business or association please don’t hesitate to contact me (director@ciaops.com).

37 pages? Really?

Having not yet upgraded my iPad to iOS 7 (never be the first kid on your block to apply software updates is my successful philosophy), I did however have to agree to updated terms and conditions for the iTunes store when I downloaded something.

When I do I MUST agree to 37 pages! REALLY? 37 pages? Who the hell is going to read this? If I have question about these who do I ask? 37 pages? REALLY?
Now Apple isn’t the only one that does this, but man, imagine what it would be like if we all sat down and read every terms and conditions we came across? There’d be little time for anything else! Problem is, there could be something in there that isn’t good (like perhaps selling my personal details) but I’m just going to agree so I can make the message go away and get my software right?
There must be a simpler ‘plain English’ way to present these terms. No?
37 pages? REALLY?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Social Media and your business–Part 2


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Social Media and your business – Part 1
In the first part of this series I spoke about how social media is a conversation. In simple terms, ‘listening’ and ‘speaking’. In the next few parts I’ll cover some specific locations where you can ‘listen’ and ‘speak’ using social media.

The very first place that I think any business or professional should be considering is Linkedin. You should think of this as business to business marketing.
If you haven’t already got a Linkedin profile then you should create one. If you already have a Linkedin profile then you need to make sure that it is completely filled out and current. You can also create a business profile and have your employees connect their profile to that business but I don’t see that as a priority.
Once you have your Linkedin profile up to date then you should find a few Linkedin groups to join. These are groups based around a specific interest in which people ask and answer questions. When you join a group take some time to ‘listen’ to what others are saying and asking. When you are ready dive in and contribute. The way to get the most benefit is to offer help to others. Make suggestions, propose some good resources, share your experience and more.
Once you have joined and group and decided that it is worthwhile, contribute and keep contributing. The secret with social media is to be consistent with your contributions. If you don’t find the group of interest then move on.
The next step should then be to start connecting with others you know who are already on Linkedin. Spend a few minutes everyday working through the Linkedin directory and connection suggestions to find people you know. When you do connect make sure you don’t use the generic Linkedin connection greeting, personalize it so people know it comes from you.
After a while you should start asking your connections for testimonials and referrals. Testimonials are typically just a paragraph about how you have helped the person. Have a few pre-canned testimonials ready to offer because most people’s response to a request for a testimonial is – ‘What would you like me to say? Do you have any suggestions’. As the boy scouts say, Be Prepared.
Now, as you make new contacts and meet people through face to face networking or business ensure you connect with them in Linkedin as a matter of course. If you do some work for them ask for a Linkedin testimonial at the conclusion of the job, again as a matter of course. Using social media successfully in business means you need a system and then leverage that system. Don’t just do things randomly, create a process for every new contact you meet to get them into Linkedin, provide a testimonial and so on.
Likewise, don’t be shy in giving others testimonials if they deserve it. Don’t be shy at introducing one contact to another in Linkedin. As with the groups philosophy, always be looking to help others. By doing so you’ll get much more in return.
There is of course so much more you can do with Linkedin but hopefully there are some starting points. Firstly create an account, ensure it is complete and current, join and contribute to relevant groups and start building your contacts from inside and outside Linkedin. If you send me a connection invite to my Linkedin account
http://www.linkedin.com/in/ciaops
giving me a reason to connect with you (i.e. doing more than just using the generic greeting), perhaps like mentioning how much you liked this blog post, then there’s a good chance that I’ll accept the invitation.
Remember, consider Linkedin as you business to business opportunity. Create a system around it and continue to work at it regularly.
In the next part I’ll talk about what I consider to be a business to consumer social media strategy.
Social Media and your business – Part 3

If you need some help with your social media strategy or would like me to speak about social media at your business or association please don’t hesitate to contact me (director@ciaops.com).

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Visio and SharePoint Online

I see a growing use of Visio but what many don’t appreciate is the power that combining Visio with SharePoint Online brings.

Firstly, you are going to need an Office 365 plans that includes SharePoint Online Plan 2 because only this includes Visio Services. The plans that currently incorporate SharePoint Online Plan 2 are:

- SharePoint Online Plan 2 (stand alone)

- Office Web Apps SharePoint Online Plan 2

- Enterprise E3 Suite

- Enterprise E4 Suite

Visio services basically allows Visio drawings to be displayed directly in a web browser.

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In the above SharePoint Online document library I have 3 Visio files:

- demo.vdw

- demo.vsd

- o365-plan-choice.vsdx

If I select the older Visio VSD file:

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I’m asked to either open the file or save it locally.

If I however now select the older VDW file:

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because I am using an E3 plan that include SharePoint Online Plan 2 with Visio services, that Visio drawing opens in a browser with the functionality of a Visio viewer.

If I now select the newer VSDX file:

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you see once again, thanks to the magic of Visio services, the file opens up in a web browser.

So in summary, only older VDW and newer VSDX files can be opened directly in Visio services with SharePoint Online Plan 2.

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With Visio services you can also embed a web part into a SharePoint Online page and display any compatible Visio diagram directly in a web page like show above.

Also don’t forget that Visio diagrams can contain things like links so when someone clicks on a image in the diagram (like on a server in the above screen shot) it can take them to another page (maybe a list of the specifications for that server, also in SharePoint Online).

If you like what you see get into SharePoint Online Plan 2 and Visio. Very cool!

Social Media and your business–Part 1

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I recently gave a presentation about social media in business. I also discussed the presentation with a few other people would couldn’t attend and regretted missing it. So I have decided to detail the presentation here on my blog in a number of parts. Here is part 1.

Let me ask you what you believe social media in business is? Many would say that it is a waste of time. Other would claim they don’t understand how it can be applied within a business. Still more are using it but find it hard to quantify the results. Finally, some just don’t know where to start.

If you doubt the power of social media in business today then take a few moments to watch this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eUeL3n7fDs

When you watch this video what is it that strikes you most? For me it is the ‘numbers’, typically the sheer scale that social media can reach. Never before in human history has a single person been able to interact directly with as many people as we possibly can today.

All the answers about what social media are great but I believe the best answer to the essence of social media is that it is simply a conversation.

A conversation is composed of two parts:

1. Listening

2. Speaking

Likewise, this is what social media is about, ‘listening’ and ‘speaking’. You can do one or the other exclusively or both together if you want. It is your choice about how you decide to interact.

The first step you should be taking when it comes to social media for your business is ‘listening’. This means you need to find what is worth listening to. Maybe that is someone’s blog (like this one) or maybe someone’s Twitter account or even perhaps a products Facebook page. It doesn’t matter, simply start by listening to what other have to say about subjects that interest you and your business.

Because there is so much out there start small. Find a limited set of things to follow and importantly adjust these over time. Like a business, you have to find what you receive the most value from and discard what you don’t. Like when you attend a party, you can’t be part of every conversation at the same time. You need to find the best conversations you can and ignore those that aren’t worthwhile.

Once you have ‘listened’ then you can start ‘speaking’ with social media. For your business, the idea is that you need to work out those who are interested in what you have to say. Your ‘tribe’ as Seth Godin would say. Once you have found your ‘tribe’ determine what their needs and interests are. Boring and irrelevant conversations are not something most people want to be part of. Like when you sought value during the ‘listening’ phase earlier, if you elect to use social media to ‘speak’ then you need to provide value to others listening, otherwise they won’t listen for long. Before you open your mouth, know thy audience is key.

In the next part of this series I’ll go into more details about the major social networking platforms and how they should fit into your business so stay tuned.

Social Media and your business – Part 2

If you need some help with your social media strategy or would like me to speak about social media at your business or association please don’t hesitate to contact me (director@ciaops.com).

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

CIAOPS Virtual Tech Meeting–October


Registrations are now open for the CIAOPS Virtual Tech Meeting on Wednesday the 2nd of October. You can register at:
https://ciaops1013.eventbrite.com.au/
This meeting will features a presentation by Mark O’Shea (Device and Platform Lead, Paradyne Pty Ltd). Details are:
On October 18 Microsoft will be unveiling a range of updates to their server line up, with a big focus on new capabilities that help customers take advantage of public and private cloud technologies. During this online event Mark will cover new capabilities of the Windows Server Essentials 2012 R2 product, as well as how some of these technologies are now more broadly available to larger enterprises as well.
There will also be the usual news, product updates, general discussion as well as questions and answers.
So if you want to get the latest on Microsoft Servers from Mark make sure you register now.
The resources from the latest meeting are also available at:
http://blog.ciaops.com/2013/09/ciaops-virtual-technology-meeting.html
I look forward to seeing you on the day.






Monday, September 16, 2013

Office 365 Best Practices Analyser Beta

Bet you didn’t know that office 365 had its own Best Practices Analyser (BPA) that can check your setup. We’ll here’s how to run it.

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Firstly, login into you Office 365 portal as an administrator.

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Select tools at the bottom of the menu on the left hand side as shown.

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Currently the second item under Checks on the right is the BPA. Select this hyperlink to continue.

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You’ll then need to accept the End User Agreement for a number of software packages that will be installed on your system.

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These updates will then be downloaded to your workstation.

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The downloaded software packages will then be installed. Some of these include the .NET Framework 4.5,

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Windows Management Framework 3.0.

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You’ll then need to reboot.

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After logging back in, the installation will continue.

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You’ll also get the latest Windows azure AD module for PowerShell.

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When all the prerequisites have been installed you’ll then be prompted to install the BPA.

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It will download some more files.

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You’ll have to agree to another End User Agreement.

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Once installed you can then run the BPA.

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You can run the BPA as the currently logged in user (if any) or specify a different set of credentials.

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You now start a new scan.

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Provide the login details to Office 365. I would suggest that this needs to be an Office 365 Global Administration account.

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Wait a few moments while the scan runs.

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And finally get the results.

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Which you can expand for more detail as shown above.

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You can also elect to save the results to a HTML file on your system for later analysis.

Remembering that this software is still beta I would have to say that it currently takes too long to get the results from the BPA. You really need something that is quick. I understand that it needs a lot of current software to run its tests and on many existing Office 365 systems that software will already be in place, significantly shorting the set up time. However, I would still like to see the process shortened.

Try it out for yourself and see what you think!

Business risk


I was privy to a conversation recently about the risks involved in working with a customers IT systems.
The scenario is as follows: you are called in to a new customer who wants a backup solution for their business. You quote and install such a system. The customer doesn’t want you to maintain the system, they say they’ll maintain it themselves. You dutifully provide the instructions on doing this, get paid, and hear nothing further from this them.
A few months later you receive a letter in the mail from a law firm representing this customer. They claim that you did not install and configure the backup correctly. As a result, when the customer needed to recover from a disaster they couldn’t. You are therefore being asked to make good the substantial losses that customer has sustained in their business due to the failure.
So now what do you do? Well, the very first thing you should be doing is contact your business insurance representative to see what assistance they can provide. A good business insurance policy will generally take care of all this for you. However, let’s say that you decided (unwisely) that business insurance doesn’t provide any value, now what? The word ‘panic’ springs to mind.
Let’s say that the matter does end up in court in front of a judge, What are they going to ask you? They are going to want to know what evidence you have to support your case. If everything was done verbally then it comes down to your against the customer’s. That is pretty risky isn’t it? Even if you have business insurance you may still need to testify and provide evidence as to what actually happened. Can you? You may be in a spot of bother if you can’t.
It is important to remember that you can NEVER eliminate risk you can however MINIMISE it.
So in this situation how can you do that? Well, even before you start work for the customer you should have some sort of signed agreement with the customer that spells out exactly how the relationship operates. But beyond that you must DOCUMENT what you do.Yup, I know it is a pain and takes extra time but you know what? You’ll be glad you did id you ever need it.
In this case you should create documentation around exactly what you did, what the customer agreed to, and who was responsible for what. If the customer decides to take responsibility for their own backup, then that should be noted and agreed in writing by both parties. Even if the customer doesn’t want to sign something to that effect, you should still have documentation on your side to confirm the fact that this is what transpired.
If the matter does go before a judge and you can point to wealth of documentation and process around how you handled this job then you certainly have a lot of positives on your side. That doesn’t mean the matter will be decided in your favour but it certainly provides you with much firmer ground to stand on.
I’m sure that plenty of resellers THINK they have good processes but do they? Ask yourself whether you documentation and processes would stand up to scrutiny in court? Ask yourself whether others in your business are being as thorough with information and documentation? Even though they may move on, it is still up to you to ensure that the information about each and every job is maintained, irrelevant of who performs the work, because at the end of the day it is YOUR business on the line.
No insurance policy will relieve you of business risk and as such you should be doing everything in your power to minimized such risk. My question to you is, are you doing everything you can to ensure risk is minimized in your business? What processes and procedure do you have around relevant documentation and record keeping? Is it something you do casually or is it a central part of the professional way you conduct business?
Chances are, if you treat risk minimization as a central part of your business you will never need to worry. A self-fulfilling prophecy!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Microsoft double shot exam available


If you planning on taking a Microsoft certification exam between now and May 31, 2014 then you should sign up for the double shot offer from Microsoft at:
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/second-shot.aspx?WT.mc_id=MSLS_secondshot
This means that you can take an exam and if you don’t pass then you can retake that exam again at no cost.
I would commend all resellers here in Australia to take up this offer because I’ll have some news soon on a new round of exam cram sessions that I will presenting.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Review–Belkin trifold iPad case

Full disclosure – the review unit was supplied by Mobilezap. You can find this device and others at the Mobilezap category page at:

http://www.mobilezap.com.au/34516-belkin-suede-trifold-case-for-ipad-4-3---black.htm

Initially I had the ‘magic’ Apple iPad cover which was fine until it ripped and I dropped my iPad and it ended up scratching the back which that cover doesn’t protect. I then moved to using the Apple iPad ‘magic’ cover and a hard shell back. Problem there was the hard shell tended to snap where it was thinnest (i.e. around the speaker and other parts that needed to be exposed.

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The Belkin trifold iPad case is a pretty good option if you are looking to protect your device. Firstly, it look very professional and includes an elastic strap on the inside to hold a few pieces of paper.

The cover is a neoprene like material which is quite spongee and does a pretty good job of protecting the unit.

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The iPad clips very securely into the holder on the inside of the cover, being held in place in each corner. All the device button, connections and ports are still easily available even when the unit is in the cover.

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Like the original Apple cover you can fold the case cover around and stand the iPad up as shown above.

I would have liked to have seen the cover made a little stiffer to give it some more rigidity when propping up the device. I would have also liked to have seen some form of pocket or shelve in which I could have put my business cards. That way I’d always have my important business information when I have my device.

These however are minor downsides to what is a very nice case that will well protect your iPad in the wild.

CIAOPS Virtual Technology Meeting September–Resources

Thanks to everyone who attended the meeting yesterday. I hope you received value for your time. As promised here is the Yammer presentation in glorious YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ea1iuYe1Amw

Here is also the list of links and other resources mentioned in the part of the meeting not recorded:

Microsoft buys Nokia

SkyDrive Pro upgrade

Inbox upgrade

Issues at Google with people leaving

Steve Balmer leaving

Lync Q&A

Troy Hunt on 4 Corners

New exam for Office 365 for SMB

Make Yammer your Office 365 default social network

New Apple phones

Stay tuned for details on the October meeting.

If you would like to present or would like to see something specially presented please don hesitate to contact me directly (director@ciaops.com).