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If you regularly use Skype for Business in your organization, you may now know that Microsoft has begun replacing Skype with Teams. Microsoft Teams is a new platform that acts as a hub within Office 365 and brings together chat, meetings, notes, and integrations with other Office 365 applications like SharePoint.

Depending on how your organization is handling this transition, you may already be using Microsoft Teams and be rerouted to it for your chats, meetings, and presentations. The Teams UI is certainly different from Skype! Here are some quick tips on starting a chat, voice call, or video call with another person, and presenting your desktop to others when in a meeting or call.

Start a chat with a user in Teams

  1. Go to the search bar at the top of the Teams application.
  2. Begin typing the name of the person you want to connect with.
  3. Select the user when they appear.
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SpireTech is continually seeking innovative solutions to keep our clients up to date with current options. One of the products we’ve been offering is called FileCloud, which can serve as a file server replacement (when only cloud is needed), or as a hybrid that combines both cloud and on-premises file access that is compatible with Windows servers, workstations, and also Macs. It enables employees to work anywhere, anytime, without the need for VPN software that can sometimes be slow and/or clunky.

Why Might You Choose to Use FileCloud?

FileCloud brings Enterprise level features and capabilities without complex or costly software licensing requirements. The FileCloud price is competitive with other major file sharing platforms, and at the same time allows you to meet data security or compliance requirements in a variety of ways.

FileCloud Sync

The FileCloud Sync app provides the same features you see in some of the major file sharing applications that you may have used in the past, without the worry of not knowing where your data is actually stored and who it is that can access it.  Read more...


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used with permission from HP Technology at Work

Is your team having a communications breakdown? Or maybe just leaning too heavily on endless email threads? From workflow management apps to all-in-one collaboration tools, here are some of the many services available to help your colleagues cut down on email (yay!), get work done more efficiently, and—here’s the best part—have more fun.

Group messaging

  • Slack: is so popular that there’s a good chance your office is already using it. If not, this cloud-based tool should be the first one you look into. Its themed channels for teams, customizable alert settings, archiving, and search capabilities make it a robust tool for both real-time messaging and storing old conversations for easy reference. Many people are also using Slack channels for personal use outside of work, so your team will probably adapt to it easily.
  • Workplace by Facebook: Speaking of systems that are popular outside of work, Workplace by Facebook lets your staff instant message, group chat, create team groups, and use newsfeed features with tools they are already familiar with from social media.
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used with permission from Microsoft Office Blogs

Today’s workforce is spread across more locations than ever before: 37 percent of workers telecommuted to some degree in 2015. Companies occupy multiple locations, and business partnerships span the globe. In addition to physical separation, teams in the same company are separated by projects and departments. These barriers unfortunately lead to communication silos, furthering separation and limiting teamwork and collaboration.

Silos can have a significant (and detrimental) effect on your business. They create barriers between teams, often disrupting communications across your entire organization. But that’s not all. Let’s look at the wider impact silos can have across your company.

  1. Limits communication and impedes culture—Siloed teams eventually inhibit your company’s culture. Employees crave communication, collaboration and a thriving work environment. They want to feel comfortable being themselves and feel like they’re part of a team. In fact, 47 percent of workers find it motivating when colleagues discuss workplace success.
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used with permission from SBA.gov, by Anita Campbell

streaming-tech-crmAsk the typical small business owner which methods his or her company uses to communicate with customers, and email is likely to be at or near the top of the list.

But what happens as your business grows? If your business is anything like mine, the volume of email starts reproducing faster than a warren of rabbits.

Without even realizing it, you and your team may be spending hours each month hunting through inboxes just to find and organize important information. Email becomes a source of frustration; important communications are buried in individual team members’ inboxes, while the rest of the team doesn’t have a clue who is communicating about what with the customer leading to duplicated effort and potential opportunities falling between the cracks.

In short, email becomes the problem instead of the solution. As valuable as email is, businesses were never meant to be run out of inboxes That’s when you need specific software applications to help organize the flow of information and track and streamline activities.  Read more...


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used with permission from Microsoft Office Blogs

im-collaborationImplementing an instant messaging platform is important for productivity for teams of all sizes. Enabling a system for quick, informal, easy-to-reference and mobile chats keeps teams connected for nimble collaborations—resulting in a major value-add to your business.

How much value, exactly? Businesses that have embraced instant messaging practice have seen remarkable improvements in productivity and streamlined communication. According to a survey of employees using chat services conducted by SoftwareAdvice.com, 75 percent saw decreased call and email volume, and 66 percent noticed quick resolution for simple questions. When it comes to productivity, 21 percent noted either moderate or significant increase.

As company-wide IM benefits become clear, more and more businesses are getting on board. If you’re interested in these benefits but are wary to ensure proper implementation and use throughout your company, provide best practices for your employees to reference to increase productivity and reduce frustrating growing pains.  Read more...


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used with permission from Microsoft Office Blogs

workfromhomeIn the last decade, the mobile workforce has increased by more than 100 percent—not that surprising when we consider the abundant improvement in technology over that same time period. Telecommuting offers wonderful benefits to companies and workers alike, with an improved work-life balance topping the charts. Not only that, but a 2015 Gallup poll shows that telecommuters are more likely to be more engaged in their jobs, and being engaged can lead to higher profitability, mobile productivity, customer engagement and other positive business outcomes.

But mobile teams experience problems of their own. At the forefront is the disconnection that naturally occurs when team members work separate from the rest of the team. Not only do telecommuters sometimes miss out on deeper relationships with co-workers, they don’t get to experience office culture and can easily miss important announcements. A case study conducted among full-time telecommuters at a Chinese travel agency even showed that mobile workers were up to 50 percent less likely to receive promotions.  Read more...


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The latest update to our PortlandCloud.com portal brings a whole new look to CTERA’s hybrid cloud appliances, and several new features to cloud drive! Here are some of the highlights:

All-New User Interface

User Interface
Snazzy new interface with HTML-5 goodness.

The entire user interface has been redesigned with mobile and touch interfaces in mind. It will scale to fit your screen and present the most information to you regardless of whether your on your office computer or working on your phone or tablet. The CTERA mobile app for Android and iPhone has also been updated to bring your experience up to date regardless of how you access the portal.


Online File Preview

AutoCAD "color wheel" in-browser preview
AutoCAD “color wheel” drawing browser preview

Cloud drive now lets you view all types of Office documents, CAD files, DICOM medical imaging files, and image files in your browser without having to download huge files and open up slow-to-load editing programs. The builtin lightweight previewer will allow you to see changes at a glance saving you valuable time.  Read more...


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ctera logoSpireTech has launched an Enterprise File Sync and Sharing (EFSS) service using private portal and server technology from CTERA networks.  The new features include VPN-free office-to-office server synchronization, and fine-grained control over synchronization of data to iOS, Android, and Windows mobile devices.

Our solution is unique in that can integrate with low-cost storage appliances located at your office, for fast local file storage and server capabilities.  The local server can be accessed from anywhere via the web, mapped drives, and integrates with a private portal for employee and partner access.  Appliances can synchronize shares with each other, workstations, other servers and mobile devices without the use of a VPN.

Services like Dropbox and Google Drive have long provided businesses with the ability to collaborate and share their documents with employees and their clients. The problem with services like these is knowing who has access to your data, and where it is located in their networks.    Read more...


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ctera-devicesSpireTech had been searching for a cost-effective solution for Cloud server connectivity for our clients for several years.  Everything we looked at was either too expensive, did not provide security and control over where the data resides, or did not work as advertised. When we came across the Ctera product, we were very intrigued and began a multi-month, rigorous evaluation process – along with customer demos, onsite trials, and evaluations.  Our clients have used the words “enamored” and “love” to describe the product.

The Ctera cloud-attached server appliances allow you to backup, share, and collaborate on your documents from anywhere!  They install in your office and allow your employees to gain access to your files through your private cloud portal, hosted by SpireTech – No VPN required! The Ctera C series appliances, coupled with a reliable offsite backup in our data center, provide you and your employees with secure access to their data.  They are very cost-effective, and can replace or augment existing servers you may have in your office.  Read more...

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