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Last month, we wrote that this new service from Microsoft promised to be a disruptive technology.  We’ve since learned that discounts will soon be announced on your first year of service.  While we aren’t able to disclose those numbers or timing yet, let’s say the traditional telecom and PBX vendors should be quaking in their shoes, because the savings before the discounts are substantial. 

The convenience of being able to use your bluetooth headset with your computer, the Teams app on your phone, or a compatible desktop phone to make/receive business calls from anywhere without being tethered to the office promises to be a game-changer and key enabler for WFH moving forward.  Since it’s integrated with Microsoft Teams, you don’t need to change your mode of working from one communication device to another.   

We’ve already had several clients express interest in moving to Microsoft 365 Business Voice, and projects are starting soon.  If you want to learn more or get on the list, get in touch! 

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We’ve had a few clients ask us about remote worker policies.  We view this as an HR issue with possible legal implications, so you’ll want to seek advice appropriate to your firm.  We’ve all had to relax the standards around eligibility and physical environment during Covid, but the policies around attendance and security still apply.  Here’s some food for thought if you have yet to implement a remote work policy. 

Working Remotely: 

Working from home is a privilege and may be allowed in some circumstances subject to the following guidelines. If your supervisor approves your working from home on a particular day instead of being present in the office, you must comply with the following guidelines:  

  • Eligibility Not all positions are eligible for working remotely. If your position involves frequent or important interaction with other employees or clients, it may not be possible or practical for you to successfully work remotely. If you are unable to work at your normally assigned position and time, working from home must be pre-approved by your direct supervisor.  
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We are going to remove Windows 7 systems from SpireTech support effective July 1, 2020.  Microsoft ended support for Windows 7 on January 14th, 2020.  We have been giving everyone some extra time to get those last stragglers out of their networks, but that time is coming to an end in two months.   

Each client primary contact gets a monthly report that includes a system inventory.  If you are still seeing Windows 7 systems in your network, please work to remove them. If you are sitting at a computer still running Windows 7, please request a replacement or upgrade. 

SpireTech has aggressive discounts available from Dell for new systems, please let us know if you require assistance obtaining new hardware or migrating files from old systems.  We are minimizing site calls during the Covid-19 crisis, but we can arrange delivery to your location and perform work remotely.  SpireTech has a flat-fee of $300 per system for labor associated with migrating Windows 7 machines and new computer setups. 

We do not wish to create additional financial hardship for clients.   Read more...


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With recent headlines, has your company considered what might happen if your employees needed to work from home suddenly?  Does your company have policies and procedures in place for working remotely?  SpireTech can help you get ready.

Things to consider might include:

  • A revision to your employee manual adding work-from-home policies, including computer security, timekeeping, communication, and home office standards
  • Setting up VPN, OneDrive for business, or SharePoint access to company data
  • Configuring BYOD (Bring-your-own-device) and MDM (Mobile device management) policies using Microsoft 365 to secure company data
  • Technical documentation and instructions for employees to setup work-from-home access
  • Installing company software on home computers when appropriately licensed, such as Office 365, which allows up to five devices per user
  • Implementing multi-factor authentication and secure password policies
  • Setting up office chat using Microsoft Teams or Slack
  • How employees will access business phone lines, forward calls, and check voicemail from outside the office
  • Determine which software will work from outside the office, and which won’t

If you’d like some help getting your staff ready to work from home, get in touch to start the conversation.  Read more...


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We are starting to hear from clients interested in IT capital expenditures or projects they want to accomplish before the end of the calendar year for both operational and tax deduction purposes – in many instances equipment purchases and IT projects can be strategically structured to make the tax savings substantial. If you are also looking at end of year IT spending, we encourage you to get in touch as soon as possible so that we can help meet your goals and timing.  Read more...


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used with permission from Tektonika (HP), by Karen Gilleland

“Gimme the dough—or you’ll never see your files again!” In this scenario, the thug in the mask is ransomware, and it’s only one of the ways cybercriminals attack businesses—which are often left vulnerable due to poor business security or cybersecurity practices. Alongside the devastating effects cyber attacks can have on individuals, cybercriminals are sucking billions of dollars out of the economy, and you do not want your business in that position.

Toward the end of 2017, the US government passed H.R.2105, a law aimed at helping businesses beef up their cybersecurity by providing guidelines about effective tools and strategies to combat the rise of cybercrime. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has been charged with developing a comprehensive set of guidelines by October 2018, but what can you do while waiting around for that to happen? Start firming up your IT environment with the following tips, of course.  Read more...


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used with permission from Tektonika (HP), by Karen Gilleland

Unlike fine wine, your cyber assets don’t get better with age. Any PC more than four years old is not only costly to keep, but it’s also hack-friendly tech that could pose serious office security risk. Old PCs lack the built-in security triggers needed to repel the thousands of malware threats discovered each hour. With new technology, you could avoid 70–80 percent of the top malware detected.

Down-level hardware could potentially jeopardize your business—and that risk carries a price tag far exceeding an investment in state-of-the-art technology. As Two River Community Bank put it, “The risk just isn’t worth it.” There’s no reason to stick with outdated hardware, especially when computing power is growing exponentially and faster than ever. Older hardware may be costing you precious time, and the longer you delay updating old equipment, the further behind you’ll fall in the skills, knowledge, and technology needed to compete with companies on top of the curve.  Read more...


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used with permission from SBA.gov., by Anita Campbell

When it comes to online advertising, there’s a powerful technique called “retargeting.” On Google Adwords the approach has another name. Google calls it “remarketing,” but no matter what you call this method, it can be a game changer.

Retargeting enables you to show your ad to someone who has visited your site or seen your product online, even after they have left your site.  You can also use this technique to turn an abandoned shopping cart into a sale. That’s because retargeting allows shoppers to see the product several times again in ads across the Web.

There are other marketing objectives you may want to consider, too. You can set retargeted ads to appear to users who visited your site, encouraging them to come back and register or sign up for your newsletter.

You are not limited to Google AdWords if you want to do retargeting.  Read more...


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used with permission from HP Tech@Work

8 business trends for 2018 – and beyond

As the calendar rolls over into 2018, we’re looking into the crystal ball at business trends that will shape the upcoming year – and years to come.

Community engagement over social media interaction

Despite the proliferation of smartphones and connected devices, companies are recognizing that social media and virtual connections cannot replace the value of live, in-person interaction with their customers, or the communities they’ve created.

Smart companies will recognize that social media and technology can enhance the value, and effectiveness, of face-to-face interactions, making them even more meaningful.

Generation Z making waves in the talent pool

Generation Z – those born after 1998 – reaching an age where they’re entering the workforce, and their influence on business is starting to be felt. Estimated at nearly 70 million strong, the upper reaches of this group are into college or joining the workforce, and will soon outnumber their Millennial predecessors.  Read more...


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Did you know your organization could be subject to data breach notification laws and possible fines for data breaches and losing sensitive client data? The exact laws and regulations do vary by state and industry, among other factors. But the fact remains that poor cybersecurity can lead to grave consequences, either financial or for your reputation.

Common sense advice is that any organization should establish and maintain a plan for managing cybersecurity risks. This security plans should be informed by applicable laws and regulations.

Are you concerned about the state of your security and your ability to protect your organization’s sensitive information? Managed IT services can help. Managed IT services are the constant remote monitoring of your IT network and technology services, such as:

  • Automatic software updates and security patches for your computers and servers
  • Up-to-date anti-virus, anti-malware, and anti-spam solutions for your devices and email
  • Secure, tested offsite backup and storage solutions for your data
  • Monitoring of your network to detect security threats in your network traffic and devices
  • Next-generation firewall management, updating, and reporting

Data breaches, cyberattacks, and the nasty consequences of these security threats have dominated the news recently.  Read more...

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