Author: Ivan Widjaya

Over the past few years the role of cloud companies has become extremely important. This is because dozens of companies, big and small have starting using the services of cloud companies when it comes to storing of huge amounts of data and retrieving the same as and when required.

Before getting to know more about the various high performing cloud computing companies in 2016, it would be better to have some brief idea about cloud computing from the layman’s point of view. Put in plain and simple words when we talk about cloud companies we are referring to those service providers who help customers to store data and also use software which could be residing outside their computing system.

Easy accessibility from any part of the world, at any point of time is perhaps the biggest advantage as far as cloud computing is concerned. It certainly helps lower the IT infrastructure cost apart from improving the efficiency and productivity of various organizations which avail this facility. Hence there has been a big growth in the number of new entrants into the cloud computing business while existing ones have consolidated their presence.

Here is a look at some top companies which have done well in the field of cloud computing services, cloud technologies, and everything else in between.

Amazon.com

Amazon box and a cat
photo credit: Jeffrey / Flickr

Amazon is known as being one of the biggest online retailers. However, if one looks at their growth as reported in reputed online outlets like CMC Markets it would be obvious that they are also making their presence felt strongly in the cloud computation business. They are offering their services under the nomenclature Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The revenues of AWS have grown tremendously and have touched $5 billion mark in 2015 and 2016 looks even more promising. This has resulted in smart rallying of AWS stock prices and the long term outlook is also extremely promising.

The earnings for the year 2016 should show a growth of around 35% which is far higher than the market average of 18%.

Salesforce.com Inc

Salesforce logo
photo credit: Guillaume Maichrzik Muteba / Flickr

This is a corporation which is headquartered in San Francisco and it has become a reputed player in the field of Customer Relationship Management or CRM. They play a big role when it comes to providing end to end solutions in sales for automation, managing of critical operations, customer support and service just to name a few.

The earnings have grown in 2015 by 26% and the current year estimates also look quite encouraging.

Facebook Inc.

Facebook(let)
photo credit: FACEBOOK(LET) / Flickr

Facebook started operations in July 2004 and it has been a powerful driver of growth in the field of cloud computation and storage of data and information. Whether it is fostering and developing social networks, posting of pictures, exchange of messages, listening to music, interact with likeminded people Facebook is the place to be in.

The company has been able to post quite impressive results. It has shown a revenue growth of 27% which is far ahead of the market average. It certainly is a stock worth buying.

Microsoft Corporation

Microsoft
photo credit: Mike Mozart / Flickr

Microsoft is better known as a broad spectrum technology service provider. Though software is the biggest driver of growth over the past many decades, online services and consultation, certification and training also are areas where it has growth quite satisfactorily. Its earnings are quite vibrant and the growth story continues to be robust. All this is reflected in the stock growth rate which has been quite impressive and is expected to remain so for the next few years too.

They are strengthening their online presence quite strongly and the results will be evident in the next few months.

Rackspace Hosting Inc

Rackspace:Solve
photo credit: Garrett Heath / Flickr

Rackspace is the leader in the world as far as web hosting is concerned. They have entered into agreement with AWS – Amazon Web Services which will certainly go a long way in improving their earnings in the year 2016.

The 2015 growth of around 20% is also quite impressive when compared to the market average. Hence there are reasons to believe that the share growth will also get reflected shortly and the process already has started. Hence when all the above factors are taken into account, Rackspace Hosting Inc is a name to watch out in the area of cloud computation and cloud storage.

These are just a few and there are quite a few other companies and incorporations which also will come into the limelight as far as providing of cloud based services are concerned.

Read Full Article

When it comes to businesses in the current age, there are more than enough questions which are constantly asked and many of them revolve around saving money. However, while businesses are currently looking for ways to save money and cut back on their general costs, they also must be comfortable with the idea of continuing to grow and come up with revenue producing strategies.

Cloud meeting

The biggest thing you will want to consider is the following few questions when it comes to holding meetings online in order to potentially save your organization money while also improving production and efficiency.

Costs Of Attendance And Travel

The truth of the matter is, while the entire world is able to actually go anywhere for any reason, the costs of traveling has gotten more and more expensive over time.

According to the US News, you don’t just have to worry about the anticipated costs of travel, but you also have to be aware of the unexpected costs of travel that can creep up as well. Plus, when you start to think about the costs of regular travel, you still aren’t even considering the crazy costs that can happen such as being injured or getting sick when traveling, having delays and effects on meetings, or even the possibility of the meeting being all for nothing in case the plans of the party you are meeting happen to change on short notice.

Basically speaking, traveling can be a pretty big gamble and certain companies will spend a considerable amount of time and effort making travel one of their priorities. By having the ability to connect with people face to face, you can literally look them right in the eye as if they were only a few feet from you and then you can go right back to your life afterwards without any sort of travel costs involved in the process.

Traveling Takes Time

When you think about the fact that traveling costs money, you know it can be a considerable expense. However, there has become an even greater cost on your employees when they are forced to travel and that cost is the time that your employees are robbed of and will never get back.

Just trying to get to the airport will take a considerable amount of time to wake up early, beat traffic, arrive hours before the flight to check in, clear baggage, sit around for layovers, and then try to get to the hotel or motel in a reasonable amount of time. This is all before you even consider the time it will take to actually fly and be in the air or be in the taxi.

Cloud conferencing

As simple as all of this might sound to some, it is a complete and utter waste of the employee’s time. That means it is a waste of the employer’s time, because when they are supposed to be getting work accomplished, they are instead stuck wasting time. Video conferencing small business solutions offered by providers like BlueJeans Network can be used as a real substitute for face-to-face time, saving employer’s money on paying their employees to travel. The only thing employees need to do is boot up their computer and log into the cloud – regardless of their location.

Costs Of Stress On Employees

People are routine and they are creatures of habit. When you take them out of their element they need to spend considerably more amounts of energy and effort just to accomplish the same things. Not only does this mean it can take them longer to get into a routine, it can be more difficult to actually accomplish some of the very things that individuals are able to do without even thinking about on a daily basis.

On top of all of the relative inefficiencies of stress, according to Forbes there are even more potential problems as too much stress on the body from traveling could wind up causing employees to become sick and could cost employers with respect to paid time off, increased insurance costs, and general lost time for work getting done. Instead of dealing with sick employees and the stress that follows with travel, it might make more sense to just log into a computer and have online meetings.

Takeaway

Travel used to be the only way to do business and it used to be the norm specifically because employers and businesses didn’t have any other option. When it comes time to potentially save money and be better at what your company does, however, it certainly makes sense to consider making the switch to cloud-based meetings.

Read Full Article

So your brilliant idea has gone from just that, an idea, to a solid business plan that’s ready to go. For the last couple of months you have done nothing but think about how this idea could turn into something excellent. You have gone through the possible difficulties, but the business idea you have is very solid and can stand as a standalone company.

You moved on to the business plan and laid out every single detail. The business plan is not just a small outline, but you have built out all the pieces to make sure your new business, and company, can grow successfully. If that’s the case, your next step may be to start a company website.

Company website security measures

Now, one major concern that you should be aware of is cyber security.  In essence, building a company website is one thing, but securing it is another thing.  Many businesses focus on the former but neglect the latter.  What gives?

Perhaps what’s important to them is what’s seen by the eyes. But, just like any other thing in life, what’s not seen by the eyes will most likely to give you headaches. In term of website building, cyber security is often neglected.  Not providing adequate protection to your business website will potentially ‘disrupt’ your business – in a negative way.

But how bad can it be? Well, consider this: Did you know that 43 percent of cyber attacks are on small business?  What would be the main reasons, do you think? Well, let me tell you something: It’s because many small business owners don’t realize that cyber attack would be destructive.  Therefore, attack preventions are limited, even non-existent on some small businesses.

Three steps to creating a cloud-secured company website

Cloud-secured website

1. Cover the basics

Craft your brand

If you are going create a new company and want to have a company website, one of the key steps is to make sure your branding is complete and aligned. Once you have set with a logo, colors, and general branding, then you can move ahead with your company website. Your website’s look and feel have to go along with the branding of your company, so that’s why it’s key to have your branding done before you start your website.

Pick a domain name

The next step is to pick a domain. You need to buy a domain to register it as your company website. Head to the many online services, or even use these Groupon Coupons for Namecheap, and pick out your company’s URL. It’ll stay with you for a long time so pick one that you love!

Design and develop the website

The next key step to design and develop the website. You can use services that have templates, and make it simple to get your website up and running. Designing your website can be fun and it should be! Like we mentioned, the branding dictates the overall color, design, and feel of your website. At the same time, you have a lot of room for creativity and expression. At the end of the day it is your own company website so make sure it is personal, you like it, and it makes you as the owner very proud!

2. Host on secure cloud hosting

Today, essentially all web servers are located in the cloud.  However, not all use the best practices in securing hosted data and websites.  That said, it’s better for you to focus true cloud hosting providers: Fully secured, scalable, customizable, and distributed.

Read this for knowing the difference between true cloud hosting and “fake” cloud hosting.

3. Screen your website’s incoming traffic in the cloud

Not only securing your website’s hosted data, but you should also securing the traffic that comes to your website from the “cloud”. Using CDNs like Google Cloud CDN, Cloudflare, Incapsula, MaxCDN, and other top CDN providers can boost your website’s security and speed.

Takeaway

It’s about time that small businesses should focus on both the frontend and backend of their websites.  While branding and design are important, those are rendered useless if you’ve got hacked – just ask these victims.

That said, securing the backend of your company website is very important; don’t let your business becomes yet another statistic.

Read Full Article

Software As A Service (SaaS) companies nowadays are faced with a pretty high competition. This was not the case in the past as we only had a few such companies on the market. At the moment we are faced with such a high competition that the smallest things end up making a huge difference.

Most of the business will be handled online, through the help of the cloud and even finding clients is directly connected with the visual image created on the internet. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise to notice that the companies that buy a domain name that is not appropriate will end up facing huge struggles in growing.

Cloud domain name

Choosing The Correct Domain Name

While there are so many things that can be mentioned, everything online starts with the domain name. It is vital that you take all the time that you need in order to make a correct choice. In most situations we see SaaS companies going for the standard format of using the company name in one way or another and then buying the .com domain. That is definitely an appropriate choice but how about taking it to the next level?

One of the most interesting things in the recent evolution of domain technology is the appearance of various extra domain name extensions that are quickly gaining popular. While some of them like .guru and .ninja may seem like a good joke, one domain extension in particular is incredibly useful for the SaaS providers.

We are talking about the .cloud domain name.

This domain extension makes a lot of sense because of the fact that it highlights a huge part of the service that is offered by the company. Since most of the software services offered will be provided through the use of cloud technology, why not clearly highlighting this from the moment the interested client visits the domain?

Ubuntu Cloud screenshot
Ubuntu.cloud

Need some examples of great SaaS companies that use .cloud domain name? Here are some: Ubuntu.cloud, Fashion.cloud, and Weebly.cloud

Memorizing The Domain Name

Every single company out there wants to be memorable. Branding is always a very important thing for the future growth of the company so any step that would make branding better helps, especially when thinking about the huge competition on the market.

Because of the fact that domain extensions .cloud are brand new on the market, the visitors are going to remember this much faster than the regular .com domain, which is basically a standard in all industries. If you want to offer anything that is based on the cloud it is a good idea to focus on getting such a domain name. This is actually something that works with much more than just SaaS companies.

Conclusions

Although we highlighted only two things about the domain name that is chosen by the SaaS company, it should be more than enough to highlight the importance of this choice. Whenever the domain name is not memorable and does not stand out, the potential clients will not remember it. That is why you have to be sure that you will make a choice that is suitable for the business, one that helps branding and promotions.

Read Full Article

Virtually every business relies heavily on their internet connection. They use the web to reach their customers, and most firms now keep all of their data on local severs, or in the cloud. Therefore, they are heavily dependent on having a fast and reliable internet connection, and Wi-Fi network.

Broadband cables

Choose the right provider

The most important step is choosing the right type of provider. You need a firm that specialises in providing broadband for companies rather than for private individuals.

Your needs are very different from those of a homeowner, so it is very important to use a provider whose focus is business broadband. Only they have the necessary expertise to provide you with the fast, reliable connection that a modern business needs.

The small business broadband package that is available from woav.co.uk is a great example of the type of service you need to be looking for. This UK based company offers a range of different packages that they adapt and tailor to meet the needs of any size, or type of, firm. They provide true round the clock support, which is essential for most businesses.

Keep your hardware up to date

It is very important to keep all of the hardware that you use up to date. That includes your routers. Doing this will ensure that everything works efficiently, and help to keep your data secure.

Update your browsers

It is also important to use the latest browsers. Make sure that all of your employees update any browsers that they use, and do so across all of their devices.

Test your speed regularly

Usually the loss of broadband speed is something that happens over time. Therefore, it makes sense to check your internet speed using something like Speedtest.net on a regular basis. Just click here for access. That way if it your connection speed starts to deteriorate you can spot the issue early and get it sorted out before it begins to have a negative effect on your business.

Secure your network

If you have not already done so, put a good password on your network. Doing so will make sure that other people, outside your company, are not using up your bandwidth.

Restrict programmes that open on start up

Certain programmes use a lot of bandwidth even when they are just running in the background. If you are not going to be using them all the time, it does not make sense to have them open, or on standby.

Stopping any non-essential programmes from starting up when you turn on your devices is a good way to ensure that you do not waste any bandwidth.

Cut out interference

One of the simplest steps you can take to improve your broadband signal is to have an iPlate fitted to your phone socket where your router plugs in. This reduces interference and ensures the signal that goes to your router is as clean, and therefore as strong, as possible.

Talk to your provider

You also need to remember to talk to your provider. They are there to help, and will give you advice about how to improve your broadband connection.

Read Full Article

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a trend that’s catching on quickly with employers and employees alike. Not only does allowing workers to use their own devices on the job create a much more enjoyable experience for them, it also helps to keep costs low for employers making it a win-win situation for everybody involved. However, when it comes to implementing BYOD in the workplace, it’s important to take a number of cloud security factors into consideration.

Own laptop

Mobile devices come in all shapes and sizes from laptops to smartphones, which is why finding security solutions that work with all of them is absolutely crucial when your employees are accessing information from the company cloud on their own devices.

Understanding BYOD Risks

BYOD schemes pose a number of different security risks. With some of these risks widely recognized and others not so easily understood, it’s crucial that you have a good grasp on the type of risks which you’ll be faced with once you allow your employees to work from their own devices.

Lost or stolen devices that employees bring to work is one of the main concerns for many employers, along with the risk of many devices – particularly laptops or Android devices – being vulnerable to viruses and malware. Because you can’t lock down employees’ own devices as you would those that are company provided, it’s vital to have a set of policies in place for any workers who choose to bring their own device to work.

Security Software

Although your employees are providing their own devices, it’s important that you step in to make sure that the data that is going to be stored on these devices is protected.

Secure cloud
photo credit: FutUndBeidl / Flickr

There are many different anti-virus and security software options available for all types of mobile devices, and you should make it company policy that if an employee wishes to bring their own device to work from they must have a security software program of your choosing installed on it. You can get a range of business and retail data security programs which can be used on every type of mobile device to protect any sensitive data stored on them.

Remote Controlling

Since the risk of losing a device or having a device stolen when company data is stored on it poses a huge threat to BYOD employers, it’s crucial that devices which can only be controlled or wiped remotely via the cloud should such an event happen be allowed by employees for work.

Thankfully, most modern mobile devices easily allow for such control in the event of loss or theft, such as iPhones and iPads which can be tracked, blocked, or completely wiped using the Find My iPhone feature from a separate device. Other mobile devices have other security features to protect data in the event of loss or theft, such as restrictions on passcodes – i.e. the device is wiped after ten unsuccessful passcode attempts.

When you understand the risks and how to deal with them, the benefits of BYOD can far outweigh the disadvantages!

Read Full Article

If your work in any way involves a website or web based system, you have almost certainly encountered a CMS, or content management system. Whether you have experienced a CMS for managing your own personal blog, like the back office area of WordPress, or you’ve used an enterprise level SAP content management systems like Weaveability SAP CMS, the concept of a back end area where new content can be added, content can be categorised and managed, and other functions can be carried out without the use of any coding, is probably not new to you.

Cloud CMS - WordPress

CMS use has become completely mainstream, to the point where it is quite easy to forget that not so long ago these platforms were not so commonly used, and managing content was vastly more difficult (and usually required in house web developers). As we head into a cloud CMS utopia where content can be managed effortlessly and your CMS can even stream directly to other sites (something Facebook is beginning to do this year with its new Instant Articles service), it is nice to look back at some of the now simple tasks that used to present a real headache to site owners:

Localised Site Versions

These days, if you want to have versions of your site that are displayed for different local audiences, perhaps with different languages and currencies, it is quite easy to organise this in your CMS. You can make sure content is consistent between your different versions, queue content for translation, and all kinds of other things that make having localisation that actually works cohesively simple.

Before CMS platforms were in wider use, you would have had to develop your own ways of doing this, or simply have had separate sites, which you’d manage separately, leading to inconsistencies over time. You may not even have bothered with having different versions of your site for countries who spoke the same language, assuming that people in the UK could just put up with US English and dollar currency references. Now, you can easily manage localisation so non language-based localisations like these become far more ‘worth it’.

Web Developer Handover

When a site is fully developed, if it sits on a CMS, it can then be easily handed over to a content team who don’t need to have even the basic CSS and HTML skills the developers would have had to have used to change content in ‘the old days’. Not only can content be added but new static pages and whole new sections of the site can be added easily by non technical users.

Ease of Collaboration

If you have a large team, collaborating to produce and publish content using a CMS is very easy, thanks to inherent QA processes and tools. This means people all over the world can be working on your content, as well as people you may have outsourced content creation to – in the cloud. And, as long as you’ve set up their access right properly and have sound approval and moderation processes, this will work effortlessly.

Cloud CMS use has definitely changed how businesses run their websites, intranets and online services, and while this is no secret, it can be interesting to remember just how difficult things like these used to be to manage or do!

Read Full Article

Since the rise in technology and the new marketing opportunities that has provided for us, you may believe that as a result more traditional offline marketing is dying out. However, that is most definitely not the case.

Today, in order to create a winning marketing strategy you need to combine both traditional offline marketing with the more modern online marketing and use cloud technology as a facilitator.

McDonald's Pick n Play ad campaign

Traditional offline marketing refers to the advertising that has been used by companies for many years, primarily in print such as newsletters, billboards, flyers and newspaper print ads. Digital Marketing refers to those that take place via technology on social media, emails, text messages, websites and so on.

Offline may not have the influence it once had, but it is still very powerful, especially when coupled with digital. Both forms of marketing have the same purpose, to get your service or product in front of the customer. That means going to where the customer is, which primarily is online now due to the rise in smartphones. However, although it may appear they don’t stop scrolling through them 24/7 they do spend much off their time offline as well.

That is why traditional and digital can be combined to complement and strengthen one another, but how do you do this?

Firstly your online marketing can be used to direct customers offline, for example your social media pages could advertise a talk being given by a company or an event you are part of. Likewise offline can be used to direct people online, this can be done by adding your Twitter handle, Facebook page, website etc to leaflets, flyers and business cards. If this seems like a good idea you hadn’t thought of yet then check out Leaflet Printing from Helloprint to get you started!

Not stopping there, cloud technology takes it even further:  The cloud enable marketers to merge online with offline marketing. But how the cloud can combine/merge two seemingly different world?

The cloud as a facilitator

First thing first: What the cloud has got to do with online/offline marketing campaigns?

Here’s the answer: According to the recent forecasts, over a third of digital content in 2016 will be stored and distributed via cloud computing (source). As content is the backbone of today’s marketing campaigns, it’s safe to say that marketers are increasingly use the cloud for delivering their marketing messages.  But it’s not stopping there – tech and marketing continue to evolve: Enter IoT.

The recent rise of IoT (Internet of Things) has push the boundaries of marketing even broader: Not only digital marketing, the cloud has also connected to traditional offline marketing like billboards.  Suddenly all devices can now ‘talk’ to each other via the cloud.  Using IoT, marketers can reach out to people within the proximity of a traditional offline marketing platform, such as the billboards, by sending messages straight to their smartphones. Using your mobile device, you can now interact with billboards.

Example #1: McDonald’s Pick n Play campaign

Here’s one cloud marketing integration example: McDonald’s launched Pick n Play, allowing people to play a digital pong game.  If you last for 30 seconds, you’ll win a free coupon redeemable at a nearby McDonald’s restaurant.

Example #2: Lidl Surprises

Lidl are a good example of how to combine the two. The stores #LidlSurprises was a campaign designed to alter the public’s perception of its products. Previously they had relied solely on door drops and leafleting to get across its price message. But this campaign centered all its activity around the #LidlSuprises with the hashtag appearing on TV, print and in-store promotions.

Example #3: Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke

Offline, such as outdoor poster campaigns and leafleting, can be an effective form of repeating your message to the consumer. Whilst online, such as social media, enables more engagement with the customer. It allows the brand to start a conversation with their customers and share interesting and relevant content with them that will increase their engagement.

Take the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign for example, this was incredibly popular on social media because people were able to share their photo. The result was 235,000 tweets from 111,000 fans using the #ShareaCoke hashtag.

But, despite the obvious success this campaign had on social media it was still advertised offline as well. The original act of purchasing the coke is completed offline, before the countless photos taken of the bottles are shared online. Therefore advertisements appeared on billboards, TV adverts and print.

Takeaway

These campaigns by hugely successful companies show that offline and online both work perfectly separately, but even better together – thanks to the cloud. To ignore either will put you at a huge disadvantage, and as a result you will fall behind as your competitors get way ahead of you.

Read Full Article

Cloud services have revolutionized the way small businesses operate. The cloud makes it possible to perform all sorts of business tasks more efficiently and for less money. Take a look at these four cloud services that are essential for small business and why you should start using them.

Cloud computing

Mobile File Storage

The number one reason to use cloud services in your business is for secure and simple file storage. Your employees can work from any computer and store their files and documents in the cloud. Then, these files can easily be accessed at the office or on the go. The cloud provides a secure location for files so your employees don’t have to worry about losing their files no matter where they work.

When files are stored in the cloud, it provides the perfect opportunity for collaboration in your business. This is because you can give multiple employees access to certain documents so they can work together, even simultaneously, on a project. Mobile file storage is also great for sharing files between employees without the hassle of emailing them or exchanging flash drives.

Online Backup

This is another important cloud service for businesses. With the cloud, your business never has to worry about losing important files and information again because you can use an online backup tool to automatically duplicate your files. Many cloud services are available that allow you to do this for an affordable price.

Losing files was a major business risk in the past, especially when businesses wanted to migrate servers or change their backend software in any way. This risk is virtually eliminated with the cloud. You can even use cloud services to program automatic backups on a continuous basis.

Online backup services are also a good idea for businesses that are going paperless and looking for ways to be environmentally friendly. When your business uses the cloud, your employees don’t have to print as many documents as in the past because they don’t have to worry about losing files and they can collaborate more easily.

Online Meetings and Chat

In addition to file collaboration, cloud services can help your employees have meetings with recordings retained for your files. Employees can hold online meetings face to face without leaving their respective cities. Then, many cloud services store recordings of meetings for employees to watch at later dates. This is a great way to keep all your employees on the same page about projects, even if they miss a day of work, because the recordings can be referenced at any time.

Beyond recordings of meetings, cloud services can be used in your business to facilitate chat, email, and other forms of communication. You no longer have to buy cellphones for your employees or rely on face-to-face interactions. This provides better flexibility in all aspects of your business.

Time Tracking

Time tracking services are another benefit of using the cloud in your business. If you have hourly rate employees, it’s important to have some sort of time tracking service. Cloud-based invoice management with Sage is an easy way to keep track of your employees’ time. Employees can use this cloud service to log their time whenever and wherever they work. Plus, billing becomes a lot simpler with all your employees’ time cards in one place.

Cloud-based services cut down on the costs of business hardware and software, whether you are implementing a time-tracking cloud service or simply using the cloud for file storage. Switching to the cloud is one of the best things you can do to lower your overall business operational costs. Cloud services are becoming more and more prevalent, so you have lots of options to choose from, depending on your needs.

As you can see, there are all sorts of benefits to using cloud services in your business that you should not ignore. If you have not switched to the cloud yet, start here with these four essential services. You’ll see boosted profits and productivity, as well as better business management possibilities.

Read Full Article

For many, although they may actually enjoy their chosen career, the work environment does little to motivate. Studies have shown that badly designed offices can have a negative effect on workers’ mental state. Similarly, companies who do nothing to enhance employees’ wellbeing in the workplace find that productivity remains below average and have a higher staff turnover.

Embracing the cloud

A few simple and relatively inexpensive changes should mean greater employee satisfaction, higher motivation and increased productivity – incorporating the cloud along the way.

Visual

What do your employees see around them? Blank walls are hardly exciting, whereas some aesthetically pleasing works of art or panoramic photographs of nature can raise mood levels. Even photos from the last office party can create happy memories and raise a smile. These can be rotated periodically, so that they don’t become ‘white noise’. Avoid posters with memes, as they are clichés and can irritate.

Another important thing that impacts visual is lighting.  The ambiance of the room impacts employees mood, so you need to mix-and-match.  The easiest thing to do this is by using smart lighting that’s controlled via the cloud. By letting your lighting “learns” your desired pattern throughout the day, you can easily setup the ambiance in every room of your office – it saves much energy, too!

If you’re replacing furniture and your budget allows, opt for wooden pieces, rather than metal or laminate, as they add warmth. There are companies on-line that specialise in second-hand office furniture. And don’t be afraid to mix and match, as employees are individuals, so can’t their work stations be different?

Music

While research is somewhat contradictory, the general consensus is that the right music improves productivity. A study on surgeons showed that they were more accurate while operating to music, whether their most or least favourite, rather than when no music was playing. Introducing music may not please everyone, as it does require a level of multi-tasking, so the best option might be to provide ear phones with a limited volume. These could be used with a company music channel on your network, providing a selection deemed appropriate (no death metal, please), streamed via the cloud.

Chill Space

It’s important to provide an area with lounging furniture and refreshment station, so that employees can have some comfortable down time during their breaks. Open-plan offices can make staff feel exposed and vulnerable, so allowing them some quiet time in a cosier space can help counteract the negative aspects. If appropriate to the work environment, you could include some devices for watching TV or browsing the internet.

Thoughts & Goals

Regardless of whether you’re a director or clerk typist, your opinions should count. It can be intimidating approaching a manager to discuss ideas, so it’s important to have a facility where everyone can anonymously suggest improvements. Rather than a private box, put a large notice board in the break room or other secluded area. Staff can write their comments on sticky notes. This way everyone can see the posts, which will encourage discussion and interaction. It makes employees feel more valued and part of the team.

Another idea would be to have a white board mounted in a prominent area and every day one or more members of staff could write one of their work-oriented goals for the day. A final idea would be to email everyone a ‘joke of the day’, to help them start the day with a smile (or groan). Even corny puns can have the desired effect.

If you want to, you can take those digitally through cloud-based collaboration tools like Celoxis and Bitrix24 in which employees can communicate about work and everything else in between, sending messages to one another and posting work-related stuffs or simply funny cat videos – not too much, though!

Creating a pleasant work environment isn’t difficult or costly, yet it can reap dividends in productivity and staff attitudes.

Read Full Article

If you are entering the world of website ownership, or are simply wondering whether the service you currently host your website or service on is still the best solution for your needs, then understanding the differences between the common types of web hosting is important. By choosing the right type of web hosting, you can offer a better service to your users and will not have to worry about things like loss of service, users being unable to access services because you’ve exceeded your bandwidth, or not having enough space for all of your content.

Cloud hosting

The Emergence of Cloud Hosting

For larger sites and things like SaaS (software as a service) web services, having a dedicated server to host the site was historically the best approach – rather than using shared hosting (where many sites share server resources), which was typically a cheaper option used by smaller business sites and blogs. This all changed when cloud computing gave new options for hosting, one of which being a virtual private server (VPS).

Here, we look at what a VPS solution is, and why it offers benefits above those offered by a dedicated server for most larger websites and web based services:

What Is A VPS?

A VPS is a virtualised server which offers the user the same experience as having their own dedicated server, but is not tied to physical hardware. Where in a traditional dedicated server environment you would hire the server itself and the host would run it and do any maintenance on it, with VPS you are hiring the virtual server and the underlying hardware comes from a cloud – that is, resources are allocated as needed from a range of physical servers in real time.

From your end as a website owner, you are still managing one single server, but none of the limitations of using a single piece of physical server hardware apply.

What Are the Benefits of VPS Hosting Over Dedicated Servers?

There are a number of reasons why VPS is often the better solution.

From a business perspective, it is generally cheaper, as you are only paying for the resources you actually use and the hosting company can assign the resources of their physical servers far more efficiently – in a traditional dedicated server set up each site is reserving all of the resources of its physical server at all times, which is more costly and less efficient.

Another significant benefit is the inherent resilience and redundancy of this kind of set up – a server hardware failure will not bring down your site.

Takeaway

If you are currently using a dedicated server or were considering using one for your next website, then it can be a very good idea to do some investigation into the option of using a VPS solution instead, such as VPS hosting from Best Web Hosting. This could potentially keep your costs down and your site up, and offer the best solution for managing your website or service.

Read Full Article

The ability to remotely monitor employees and ensure data theft prevention measures are strictly adhered to are two critical issues that should be on the forefront of every manager’s “must-do list”.

With the recent upswing in cloud-based SaaS monitoring software and services, there’s simply no reason for a modern business to use old school methods for user activity monitoring. This pertains in particular to what they’re doing with their time, and when they’re accessing important company and/or client data.

Employee productivity in the cloud

One must also consider worst-case scenarios, such as a disgruntled employee seeking revenge after being dismissed and even “moles” infiltrating the company to steal your client lists or other important data.

Increasing productivity: Monitoring employee user activity and enhancing overall cloud security

This is an easy step for medium and large sized businesses to implement. They’ve seen what happens when you extend too much trust to employees. Smaller business owners and managers often worry they’re creating an unhappy environment for employees by monitoring and recording their every move.

Unfortunately, this mentality is what leads to wasted company time, horseplay and even worse; money and data theft. Prevention, in this case is nothing more than realizing that as much as you love them, you don’t really know your employees as well as you think you do.

Without proper monitoring systems in place, you never know what’s happening when your back is turned.

Always ensure your cloud monitoring system is setup to record everything your employees are doing including:

  • All applications being used including time opened and time closed.
  • Websites being accessed through the company servers.
  • Each and every file accessed and/or downloaded and uploaded.
  • Every keystroke made on company devices.
  • The signature of each approved device used to access the company cloud and physical servers.
  • Printed document tracking including what’s been printed, how many pages of each, and which printer was used.

This kind of monitoring is further bolstered by requiring employees to fill out a task completion worksheet as they finish individual tasks, so you can use the analysis tools provided by the SaaS to break down every conceivable cost associated with keeping individual employees and departments on the payroll.

Additional SaaS Features Should Include:

  • In compliance with current AES specifications to ensure bulletproof cloud security standards.
  • Set up alerts to allow you to be notified immediately when security violations occur.
  • Ensure management is able to remotely seize and disable a user device that’s been compromised.
  • The ability to access and playback history in the event a problem or data breach isn’t noticed right away (this is where most free SaaS programs and cloud storage providers fail, as live desktop monitoring alone can eat up thousands of gigabytes of storage bandwidth every month).
  • Customization services in case you require monitoring or security measures that aren’t included by default from the service provider.

When considering whether to go in-house or external, it’s important to consider the time spent creating and refining a monitoring and cloud security system of your own versus putting it in the hands of companies who employ the best IT specialists in their field and whose reputation hinges on providing the utmost in data integrity and employee management solutions.

Few businesses are equipped to handle the behind the scenes grunt-work required to keep the backend of such a system functioning flawlessly.

Business cloud management

Look for a Provider Willing to Grow With Your Company

SaaS providers like Teramind are committed to helping small businesses grow too. If you think you can’t afford to employ a paid SaaS in your company right now, think again.

Most reputable services will offer free user activity monitoring and data theft prevention services for 3 – 5 users while you start and/or continue to control your business.

There’s absolutely no reason to go it alone anymore. SaaS providers are constantly improving their offerings and the cost of creating and deploying an internally-maintained system is just far too great for most companies to justify.

Read Full Article