One conversation new or potential business owners may want to have with their IT professionals is about what technologies exist that can improve their life. Below you will find some that are must haves…
Smartphones: Whether it is an Android, iPhone or even a Windows based phone, you cannot survive without one. These devices provide instant communication with your clients through email, text message and phone, along with the ability to browse the web and select from tens of thousands of applications to assist in your business. Your clients will not wait for you to get to your office to respond to an email. Even a quick, “I’m driving, will respond as soon as it is safe” auto-response is better than no response. The cost of a typical phone can range from 100 to 300 dollars per phone depending on features and term of contract from the carrier of your choice.
Credit Card Processing: If you expect to get paid, then you need to accept every form of payment possible, including plastic. Yes, you will lose a little bit on the sale, but you will gain an instant payment. If you are just getting started, without purchasing a machine or paying a monthly charge, you can accept credit cards anywhere you have a cell signal using the Square credit card application with your smart phone and the free reader device that they provide to you. No per-swipe fee, and less than 3.0% charge. Fast, secure, and in your account the next business day. Find it in your phones’s marketplace.
Reliable & Fast Internet: There are a lot of choices these days for fast internet, from DSL to cable to fiber, and the old tried and true T1 standard, but some businesses may find that a wireless broadband internet plan may be enough for them. We recommend Charter Business in most situations, but that varies depending upon what is available at the business location. One advantage to using a cellular based broadband internet connection is that you can take it with you, which is great for businesses that are not tied to one specific location. Typical 4G plans will provide over 5 meg down and up to 2 meg up. Verizon Wireless offers the MiFi devices for around 50 dollars with 5GB plans for 50 dollars per month.
IP surveillance: Sure it sounds like the CIA, but IP security cameras at your business will decrease loss of inventory, increase productivity, and may provide an insurance savings. You can even keep tabs on your employees using a smartphone or any web browser to view these camera. Recordings can be reviewed after events occur, and most systems can email you when there is movement in a particular location. Prices range from $150 for a single entry level camera into the $2000 range to cover an entire business. You can install yourself, or get an IT provider to handle this for you for the most professional results.
Email: This is a no-brainer, but many small businesses will cut corners here. A Hotmail account will work for sure, but who wants AcmeWidgetCo@hotmail.com on their business cards. At the very least, your business should use a service that allows for linking a domain to your mail, such as Google Apps (Gmail) or Microsoft Office 365. This gives you a professional appearance, and provides for important features such as linking of your smartphones, sharing of calendars between users and so much more. Microsoft Office 365 costs about 5 dollars per person per month and gives you up to 20GB of storage.
Anti-Virus & Security: Far too often this is overlooked, or taken for granted. A business that is vulnerable to viruses or malware is a business that could experience costly downtime and repairs, not to mention, open yourself up for compliance violations and potential fines or legal issues depending upon the field you are in. The components of a secure network are as simple as a quality firewall like those offered from Cisco, Watchguard or SonicWall, an anti-virus software package from Trend Micro or Symantec, and taking the time to apply updates to the Operating System (Windows, Mac, etc) and support software (Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, JAVA).
Backup: When disaster strikes, you need to be prepared for it. Having backups of your important files will insure you are not out of business when a computer or server fails. Backups technology can be as simple as an external USB drive or remote backup solution, or on the other end of the spectrum, as complicated as auto-loader tape drives. One thing is for sure, ANY attempt to backup your data is better than none. For automated cloud backup solutions, consider Servosity or Mozy Pro.
Here at Homeland Secure IT, we utilize a vast array of technology and we also help many small and medium businesses and even home offices stay up to date. If we can help you with decisions regarding your Greenville or Upstate technology infrastructure, please call us at 864.990.4748 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer sales, service, repair and consultation of everything from computers to VoIP.
What is your “must have” business technology? I would love to hear about it. VoIP phone systems? iPad, Android or Windows based tablet computers? A favorite app (We love TiKL & Waze)?