Are you ready to mobilise your business?

Are you ready to mobilise your business?The advent of so-called smart technology has transformed the way we live our lives in little more than a decade. Computing tasks which used to require hefty chunks of desktop hardware can now be completed with devices that fit snugly into a pocket. It has changed the way people communicate, socialise and consume, as lives are increasingly led on the move.

If the world has gone mobile, it makes sense for your business to follow the trend. The ability to conduct all kinds of transactions from any place at any time is not merely an issue of keeping up with the Joneses, it is about making use of technology to work in smarter, more efficient ways. As the world speeds up, businesses need to follow suit.

Added Agility

For consumer-facing businesses, it is a matter of keeping up with customer expectations. In a world where people are now used to having the world at the fingertips at the touch of a button, instant response has become the norm. Mobile technology can make your business agile enough to meet those demands.

For B2B-facing operations, mobile offers a new level of efficient, responsive working. Establishing the right kind of communication networks with clients and suppliers means no one need ever be left waiting on a response to an urgent query. Meetings can conducted across huge distances, and orders and requests can be processed the moment the need arises.

Getting set up

The first step to making a business mobile is migrating at least some IT operations onto the cloud. One of the big advantages of cloud computing is that it frees users from having to connect to a physical server in a fixed location; as long as you have internet access, you can perform all of your computing tasks from anywhere. Whether that means using a hosted desktop service or moving all your operations onto a cloud server, it means all aspects of your business are ready to be conducted on the move.

Accessing your business in the cloud whilst on the move also requires the right kind of hardware. Investing in Smart phones and tablets for your mobile workforce makes sense because they are designed specifically for on-the-move use. Touchscreens are far easier to use in transit than even the most slim-fit laptops, whilst having 4G-ready devices is an absolute must if you are to be free of dependence on wi-fi connections.

Increased productivity

The final consideration is making sure that everyone in your mobile team can communicate properly. The ability to make calls and reply to e-mails on the go has been taken for granted for many years now, but mobile technology offers much more.

VoIP services – in a nutshell, communicating directly over an internet connection – have the advantage of costing less than ordinary mobile telephony, whilst also offering video and conference calling on the go simple and straightforward.

If you are interested in learning more about how to mobilise your business, Cloud 4 offers the full range of services you will need. Contact us to find out how our cost-effective services could help to improve your productivity, and your bottom line.

4 Simple Ways to Deal With a Challenging Customer

JPEG image-F1B78757104C-1Service providers now have to compete globally for business, both in terms of their service pricing, and also in the quality they provide. Now and again, a challenging customer can disrupt your normal activities, and learning to deal with these disruptions is an essential acquired skill.

Rather than rising to the bait, it’s your job to keep your cool, even when a customer is angry. Additionally, the systems you use to carry out your work are a fundamental part of healing these broken relationships; there may be something you can improve that will stop the same thing happening again.

1. When something needs to be discussed, reach out by phone

Email is a great business tool, and it lets us communicate globally with unbelievable efficiency and speed. But when a relationship starts to falter, and a customer becomes more demanding, there’s no substitute for a phone call. Overseas call charges can be a barrier to effective communication, so consider a VoIP service to bring the cost of calling down.

2. Set clear customer service boundaries

Offering good service means being available to customers, but that doesn’t mean you should put your life on hold. Demanding customers may expect you to drop everything to help out of hours, or send emails at 10pm asking for an urgent call. A hosted desktop is a great way to make sure you can work from anywhere, but make sure you set some boundaries – don’t let customers have a monopoly on your time.

3. Improve visibility of their project

If you offer professional services on a remote or freelance basis, it’s easy to get out of sync with your client. Sometimes, tensions arise because there’s a mismatch between what’s been offered and what the client thinks has been accomplished. If you use cloud file sharing, you can quickly update them on progress, without the worry that a file will bounce back. Make sure you use version tracking, so the client always knows which revision of the document you’ve sent.

4. Bid them farewell

As your business matures, you’ll realise that there are some people you just can’t please. It might be down to a mismatch of personality, or it may be that their needs have shifted over the years. If you really can’t satisfy a customer, knowing when to close their account can save everybody a lot of time. You can get on with the work you’re best at, and they can choose a different provider who’s more able to give them what they need.

Learning to love difficult customers

Nobody likes arguing with fee-paying clients, but they can actually teach you a lot about business. A difficult client could help you develop your negotiation skills, or better define what you can and can’t offer.

Next time you come up against a difficult customer, think about ways you can improve your IT services to communicate more effectively with them. There are times when you’ll just have to part company with a difficult customer, but if you spot ways to get around the problem and improve the relationship, the outcome of that change will benefit everyone.

How Cloud Computing Can Save Your Company From Downtime and Disaster

If there’s one thing that can cripple a business, it’s downtime. Web hosts sell their services with uptime guarantees for a reason. Every business critical service needs to be online when people are working; increasingly, that means it must be up 24/7/365.

Achieving 100 per cent uptime is extremely difficult; so called ‘Acts of God’ can take out racks of server in a flash. Yet despite its reliance on off-premise data centres, the cloud is your best bet for keeping essential services online, and ensuring constant access to the services and information you need.

Cloud redundancy

Cloud platforms are inherently robust. In fact, they were designed to withstand catastrophe. Instead of storing data in one place, software distributes cloned copies among a group, or farm, of servers. If one server goes down, the others are able to step in and cover for it, creating a seamless experience for your business.

There are rare examples of cloud downtime, but these are unusual enough to hit the headlines. All cloud providers invest in constant system monitoring to keep the chance of downtime to an absolute minimum. Cloud redundancy is still exceptionally good, particularly when you consider the cost of obtaining anywhere near the same uptime figures in the pre-cloud era.

Protecting your profits

Occasionally, your users will encounter issues with internal infrastructure. The power goes out, the phones go down, or the heating system fails completely. Prior to cloud migration, these kinds of catastrophes would have forced a complete business shutdown. Now, the cloud allows us to come up with workarounds.

If you have hosted desktops, your employees can work elsewhere, irrespective of whether their main PC is functional. If you use cloud backup for files, those files are synced to multiple devices, so you can access them from home in a pinch. In a disaster, you can keep working, avoid losing touch with customers, and keep the emails flowing using your reliable hosted Exchange service.

The Cost of Downtime and Disaster

Different businesses have different concepts of downtime, so it’s difficult to measure the cost of critical systems going offline. However, industry estimates give us some idea of the compounding effect of unavailable services.

The Ponemon institute estimates that unplanned downtime cost US businesses $5,600 per minute. For the world’s largest companies, it could be double that amount. While your business may be operating on a smaller scale, there is always a financial penalty when critical services are unavailable, and you will lose revenue if you don’t act fast.

Trust Cloud4

Cloud4 offers SLAs you can rely on, and we provide round the clock support so that your calls never go unanswered. Whatever the scale of your business, we’re here to assist you in keeping business critical services online. To find out more, contact our friendly team today, and have a chat about cloud migration. It could cost less than you think, and prevent huge unexpected cost if the worst does happen.

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3 Big Brands That Do Amazing Things in the Cloud

When we use our phones and tablets, we may not consciously use cloud technology, but most big companies rely on cloud infrastructure to get things done behind the scenes. If you’re not yet using cloud storage for business, these innovators could change your mind.

Instagram

It’s hard to imagine that Instagram was once an iOS-only app, since it’s now ubiquitous on Android phones and tablets too. Shortly after it divertified its user base, it was purchased by Facebook, itself a large user of cloud storage.

Instagram used to store data on Amazon servers and used a cloud-based content delivery network to push photos out around the globe. It now stores all of that data in Facebook’s data centres. Despite the fact that Instagram has terabytes and terabytes of photo data in storage, it can pull out a single picture in a matter of seconds to anywhere in the world.

Speed and efficiency is critical, since billions of pictures and videos need to be accessed in the blink of an eye, any time. We don’t even think about the cloud technology that goes into Instagram’s service, nor do we wonder how Instagram staff migrated 20 billion of our pictures while the service was still live.

BBC

The BBC is more than just a national broadcaster. It’s also an innovator in the digital space. Its iPlayer product is undoubtedly a world leader in streaming technology, and the service gained more ground when it was migrated to a public cloud platform.

Prior to the migration, it took the BBC’s iPlayer team around 9 hours to put a video online. This was mostly due to the vast amount of rendering and processing power required. Since the cloud migration, this delay has been slashed to around 15 minutes.

iPlayer copes with millions of requests every day, and it makes content available to hundreds of different devices, all with slightly different specs. The cloud migration allowed the team to deliver content in a more flexible way and cope more effectively with periods of high demand. Phil Cluff, team lead at BBC Media Services, estimated in 2014 that the new cloud version would last at least 10 years before it needed to be changed.

Airbnb

Some websites disrupt their peer group, while some disrupt an entire industry. Airbnb is a holiday home rental site that offers peer-to-peer renting and vacations, and it relies on cloud computing to keep its site ticking over.

Airbnb uses RDS, a database technology that allows them to avoid bottlenecks in the cloud. It has allowed Airbnb to keep up with its own rapid growth, and to cope with the huge amounts of content generated by property owners in their listings. With an emphasis on big, beautiful photos and lots of holiday home details, the company needed a way to ensure it had a flexible solution that did not break the bank.

Cloud computing scales beautifully and inexpensively, even for very large websites like Airbnb. On a smaller scale, it can be useful for small businesses looking to increase and flex computing capacity, week by week.

Realise Your Potential

Could your business be more elastic, more responsive or more efficient? While you may not need cloud computing on a massive scale, our hosted products could make a significant impact on your business’ performance. Contact Cloud4 today and take your first step to a more profitable, efficient future.

Are tablets killing the desktop PC?

IDesktop PC for businessesn the second quarter of 2013, PC shipments suffered a drop in shipment by 10.9%, selling only 76 million units. This slump was caused by the increase of inexpensive android tablets, which provide everything that many PC users need in a cheaper, lighter and smaller form factor. Continue reading Are tablets killing the desktop PC?

There’s an app for that! – Or maybe there’s not.

mobile business apps for productivity

In a televised advertisement for the Apple iPhone 3G, the famous trademarked quote “There’s an app for that” was said to describe the library of the Apple App Store. This sparked the beginning of the App wars between Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Phone Store.

Google beat Apple at their own game. While Apple’s staple quote might suggest that they hold the most amount of apps, Google’s Play Continue reading There’s an app for that! – Or maybe there’s not.

Say what? My employees are not productive enough?

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Cloud4 Computers at Leigh Business Expo 2014

Leigh Business Expo 2014 logoOn Friday the 11th of July, Cloud4 Computers will be attending the first dedicated Leigh Business Expo among 50 other local businesses. The event is being held at Leigh Sports Stadium between 8:30am to 3:00pm and, what’s more, is that it’s completely free to attend. Continue reading Cloud4 Computers at Leigh Business Expo 2014

Ever wondered what’s the best broadband for your business?

Closeup of a TFT screen with www adress being typed.If you’ve ever shopped around for a good broadband deal for your house then you might have come across “Business Broadband” packages from various internet service providers (ISP’s). But what is a business broadband package and why should your business choose it over regular broadband?

Continue reading Ever wondered what’s the best broadband for your business?

Why Your Business Will Benefit From Sharepoint 2013?

SharePoint is an intranet collaboration tool, developed by Microsoft, which can greatly increase business efficiency and productivity. For a web-only application, there are an unprecedented amount of features which can be added to your business SharePoint site to help you with your busy business day.

Continue reading Why Your Business Will Benefit From Sharepoint 2013?