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As machine learning, digital storage, and analytics software get more advanced, data is becoming more valuable than ever. Even businesses that don’t rely on data to operate are starting to find ways to get more value out of their information. Microsoft’s newest platform is an excellent example of that — and it’s free!
What is Power BI?
Released in the spring of 2016, Power BI is Microsoft’s business analytics platform. Regardless of whether or not data is stored within a Microsoft platform, connecting Power BI to a database allows you to create detailed graphs, charts, maps, and more. For example, if you upload sales records, dragging and dropping two columns is all it takes to map out where your product sees the most demand.
Recently, Microsoft announced a brand new feature for business owners who want to get more value out of their software subscriptions. The Office 365 adoption content pack collects information about how your employees use Microsoft productivity software, and feeds it directly into Power BI’s analytics. There are four types of insights you can work with:
These metrics give you visibility into how much each O365 platform is being used. You may be paying for OneDrive accounts for the entire organization, only for Power BI to reveal that less than a quarter of your team is using it. Compare enabled users and active users to get a clearer picture of your investments.
You can also see exactly how employees are using communication solutions. If nearly everyone on the team is accessing Skype for Business from a mobile data connection, it might be time to reduce your investments in cellular-based minutes.
Microsoft has several collaboration platforms, and without proper guidance, employees are likely to use the easiest one rather than the best one. Power BI shows you how much time users spend time in their own Word, PowerPoint, and SharePoint documents compared to the time they spend in documents from colleagues. This shows you which platforms encourage the most collaboration and which ones are struggling.
– The activation insights give you under-the-hood visibility into which versions of O365 users are running, and what devices they use to access them. That may seem like trivial information, but it can have huge impacts on cyber security.
Power BI comes in three different plans: Desktop, Pro, and Premium. Best of all, both the Desktop plan and the Office 365 adoption content pack are totally free. If you like what you see, consider enlisting us to set up and optimize either a Pro or Premium Power BI deployment — we’re only a phone call away!
Wikileaks, the website that anonymously publishes leaked information, recently released a number of documents alleging widespread surveillance by the US government. The released documents claim that the vast majority of these efforts took place via smartphones, messaging apps and…TVs? Let’s see just how worrisome they really are.
What devices and apps are supposedly vulnerable?
Wikileaks labeled its ongoing release of 8,761 classified CIA documents “Year Zero.” Nestled among those files are tools and correspondence that explain how operatives could snoop on communications, downloads, and browsing history. Here is a list of the “affected” applications and hardware:
- Windows operating systems
- Samsung Smart TVs
Those are some very big names, right? Thankfully, it’s mostly hyperbole. The reality of the situation isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds.
Two considerations before freaking out
First, almost all these exploits require physical access to devices before anything can be compromised. For example, news organizations repeatedly reported that WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram and Confide all had encryption protocols that had been subverted by the CIA. That is 100% false.
What the documents actually revealed is that the CIA was aware of security gaps in Windows, iOS, Android and Samsung’s Tizen OS, which allowed the agency to snoop on messages before they were encrypted. Messages sent in these apps are still totally uncrackable as long as the devices they are installed on haven’t been physically compromised.
Takeaway #1: Physical security is still one of the most important aspects of cyber security. Most data security regulations require certain physical security protocols as a deterrent to breaches that take place via theft of social engineering — and for good reason.
The second reason not to worry is the hardware devices and operating systems that supposedly left encrypted messages vulnerable haven’t been sold for a long time. For example, only Samsung TVs from before 2013 were vulnerable to the always-on microphone bug — which was patched in an OS update years ago.
But what about iOS — surely that’s the scariest reveal of them all, right? Not quite. Only the iPhone 3G, discontinued in 2010, was susceptible to exploitation. Furthermore, Apple immediately responded that they were aware of this vulnerability and patched it in the version of iOS that was released in 2011.
Takeaway #2: Updating software is critical to keeping your data safe. As we saw in the Year Zero leaks, just one piece of outdated software can cause a domino effect of other vulnerabilities.
In reality, the most recent Wikileaks releases shouldn’t change your approach to cyber security at all. As long as you consider data security a never-ending battle, you’ll be safer than everyone too lazy or forgetful to lock up their server rooms or update their operating system.
But running a business doesn’t always leave you a lot of time for fighting a “never-ending battle,” does it? Fortunately, that’s exactly what we do for our clients every single day. To find out more about how we can keep you safe, call today.
Google and Microsoft have both set impressive milestones in the tech industry. These industry giants continually roll out innovative solutions that simplify the lives of users around the world, especially with G Suite and Office 365. This raises a question: Which is a better option for your business?
Cost and commitmentG Suite offers two pricing plans: $5 and $10 per user per month. The $5 plan offers company email addresses, video and voice calls, integrated online calendars, online documents, presentations and spreadsheets and more.
The $10 plan offers all the features of the $5 plan plus unlimited storage or 1TB per user for less than 5 members, advanced admin control panel for Google Drive, and audit and reporting insights for Drive content and sharing, to name a few.
- Office 365 offers a number of pricing plans, including:
- Office 365 Business Essentials ($5.00 per user per month)
- Office 365 Business ($8.25 per user per month)
- Office 365 Business Premium ($12.50 per user per month)
- Office 365 ProPlus ($12.00 per user per month)
- Office 365 Enterprise E1 ($8.00 per user per month)
- Office 365 Enterprise E3 ($20.00 per user per month)
- Office 365 Enterprise E5 ($35.00 per user per month)
We’ll compare two plans from Office 365 with the same pricing as G Suite below; you can find more details about Office 365’s other plans here.
- Office 365 Business Essentials will cost $5 per user per month with annual subscription. Monthly subscription will cost $6 per user per month, meaning you’ll save $1 user per month with G Suite.
- Office 365 Enterprise E1 will cost $2 less than G Suite’s $10 plan
Google Apps are designed for cloud-based collaboration. For instance, Google Docs lets you make permanent changes in the file or provide feedback using “suggestion” mode. Other advanced features in G Suite include machine intelligence in Google Calendar (which helps you find a time when invitees are free), Dynamic layout suggestions in Google Slides, and better file management and granular content ownership.
Microsoft apps, on the other hand, are designed based on desktop versions of their products with enhanced cloud capability — you’ll be able to use cloud versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook and more while still being able to work offline. More advanced integration with Microsoft’s cloud solutions like SharePoint, Dynamic CRM, and Azure are also available.
G Suite leverages machine learning capabilities to detect suspicious logins and block most advanced types of spam. It automatically scans every email attachment before you download it to prevent the spread of viruses.
Office 365 utilizes Exchange Online Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), a new email filtering service that targets specific advanced threats like unknown malware and viruses in real time to protect against malicious URLs.
While both Office 365 and G Suite offer a clean interface, the difference lies in the way emails are organized. Gmail lets you apply multiple labels to an email and offers 30GB of storage space across Gmail and Drive.
Office 365 uses classical folder structure to categorize emails and offers a 50-GB inbox in addition to 1-TB storage space. Unlimited storage is also available in its Enterprise E3 $20 per user per month plan.
G Suite’s integration with CRM, productivity and customer service software gives you plenty of options. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about Office 365, as Microsoft hasn’t been adopting a developer integration approach when compared with Google.
Both G Suite and Office 365 offer 24/7 phone and email support. However, G Suite also offers live chat support and forums to seek clarification, give feedback and request additional functionality.
To sum up, G Suite is a better solution if you need native integration with third-party apps and support for various operating systems and devices. Despite that, Office 365 makes sense if you prefer a number of options when it comes to your pricing plans or need integration with other Microsoft cloud solutions. No matter the solution, maximizing productivity is imperative to stay ahead of competitors. If you need help finding the right solutions to enhance efficiency, just give us a call; we’re happy to help.
While an impressive arsenal of weapons can help you win a battle, you need diligence, perseverance and sacrifice to win the war. But when that war is waged in the arena of calendar management, you’re dealing with a whole other monster. When scheduling meetings, uncontrollable factors like varying schedules and department-specific time constraints mean that the same war strategy won’t yield the same successful results. Allow Microsoft FindTime to lead your organization to victory in the battle of cross-organization meeting arrangement.
Before any meetings take place, you’ll need to download Microsoft FindTime first. Fear not, because this Microsoft Outlook add-in is easily downloadable and is 100 percent free. FindTime was developed to help you and your guests do just that — find time! Coordinating all attendees’ schedules, FindTime will iron out a time that works for everyone.
Just the thought of having to organize a meeting across your organization can stir up anxiety and elicit a huge sigh… Sigh! Why? On top of handling your own hectic schedule, you’re expected to juggle your attendees’ schedules as well. This would be the moment when telephone calls start to flood in and emails start to go back and forth, rarely heading toward a unified decision.
Bid adieu to all of that with Microsoft FindTime. Simply compose a new email or reply to an existing one and click the New Messaging Poll at the upper right hand corner. From there, choose the attendees, propose a couple tentative meeting times, and let the voting begin! Once a consensus is reached, a confirmation email is automatically sent to everyone attending.
What makes it even easier is that attendees can take a look at the visual summary that tallies all the votes, and who voted for what times. This lets you see what times the majority of people have chosen, giving you a chance to rework your schedule in advance if and when necessary.
Another plus is that to receive a Microsoft FindTime invitation, your friends and family don’t need an email address or even an Internet connection! Participants aren’t required to have Office 365 either; only the organizers need to access Office 365. This means that you can reach out to your friends, loved ones, and colleagues to organize your meetings, set up playdates, and even plan surprise birthday parties — the possibilities are endless.
For more info about Microsoft FindTime, feel free to send us an email or give us a call! Our experts will gladly answer your questions. We believe that time is money, and money is the last thing you’d want to jeopardize. Allow us to help safeguard your assets by ensuring that all the time you spend on the clock doesn’t go to waste. Every minute counts.