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  • Make the Most of Your Time in the Cloud

    20 Oct 2017
    admin
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    Although the cloud has been readily available for public use for over 20 years, not everyone realizes the extent that it can benefit their organization.

    The term was coined in the late 90’s and is essentially a metaphor for the Internet, referencing the location of data, services, and applications not found on a local hard drive. By storing and accessing information in the cloud businesses can experience a number of benefits, but before you consider making the move it’s important to learn the basics in order to maximize your investment and your profits.

    Benefits of the Cloud

    Cost Savings

    In a more traditional environment individual organizations host their applications and data on an internal server, resulting in significant expenditures for the costs associated with installation, maintenance, staffing, replacement and infrastructure. Cloud computing reduces or eliminates many of these costs with external hosting often based on a pay-as-you-go model, where you only pay for what you use.

    Scalability

    With the cloud, long gone are the days of having to worry about having enough computing power and capacity. The cloud evolves as your business evolves, helping to minimize the list of speed bumps that your businesses faces through growth periods.

    Accessibility

    Information, services, or applications which are cloud based can be accessed on any Internet-enabled device such as a smartphone, laptop, or tablet, whether in or out of the workplace. This enhanced flexibility can help to increase productivity and employee satisfaction, while strengthening collaborative efforts through the secure sharing of documents and other files among team members.

    Security

    The two major threats to the integrity and safety of your sensitive data are theft and damage, both of which can be addressed with cloud computing. Hardware failure due to system malfunction or disaster such as fire or flooding is avoided as multiple backups and redundancies are integrated into cloud services. Threats from hackers or thieves are impeded by teams of industry professionals dedicated to the implementation of the most up to date security solutions for added peace of mind.

    Data storage is a key element in any business plan, and cloud computing provides many significant benefits which can help propel your business forward and stay ahead of the competition.

     

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  • How to Avoid Interruptions in Meetings

    10 Oct 2017
    admin
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    Every meeting has a common flaw: interruption. One of the common mistakes you may face is being so eager to be in the presence of the person you’re meeting with, you feel as though you can anticipate their responses and answer them before they ask.

    The following are some of the lessons I’ve learned (the hard way) about interrupting:

    1. W.A.I.T.
    2. Silence is not bad
    3. Write your thoughts

    1) W.A.I.T. (or as my brother-in-law has taught me) Why Am I Talking?

    To add your two cents to the conversation, you may have caught yourself adding a point that was not relevant just for the sake of being a part of the dialogue. Sometimes this addition doesn’t add any substance to the discussion and interrupts a significant train of thought. Instead of speaking out, W.A.I.T. and consider if what you have to say is really adding to the meeting or if it’s just you blurting out how sunny it is outside.

    2) Silence is not bad

    Although sometimes a five second pause may seem like five hours, silence is not always bad. After knowing how to read different personalities, it will be easier to spot when a customer is marinating on a thought. Again, interrupting about the weather is still not relevant.

    3) Write your thoughts

    The prospect/customer is excited about what you have to offer and goes on and on about their problems. Beautiful!

    Do you have all the answers in the world? Yes? Perfect (no you still shouldn’t interrupt).

    Write down any questions they have and bring them up after they’ve finished their point. Interrupting the potential customer may cause you to miss important points.

    Interrupting is a bad habit and may show whoever you’re speaking with that you’re not listening. This has been a key lesson for me in my two years at AOS. Try these suggestions out and let me know what you think.

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  • Be Aware of These 5 Symptoms of an Inefficient Print Environment

    25 Sep 2017
    admin
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    Most small and medium sized businesses don’t have an accurate picture of what they’re spending on print. Operating in an inefficient print environment hinders productivity, slows down workflows, and drives up costs. Fortunately, if you can identify the inefficiencies and eliminate them, you can realize significant cost savings.

    Here are the most common symptoms of inefficiencies in the print environment to be on the lookout for:

    1. Your workplace has acquired a collection of cheap desktop printers. A telltale sign of an inefficient print environment is the proliferation of inexpensive desktop printers. While these printers may seem cost-effective on the front-end, the long-term costs to operate these devices are astronomical and do not make financial sense. Even worse, the purchase of supplies to keep desktop printers in operation often goes untracked, making it almost impossible to figure out how much your organization is spending.
    1. Documents are frequently left on print output trays. Documents that are left on print output trays are an obvious sign of waste. Also, abandoned documents create a serious security threat for your business, especially if these documents contain sensitive information. In fact, 90 percent of businesses have experienced a security breach due to unsecured printing.
    1. The acquisition of print supplies is not handled centrally. When you don’t have someone actively monitoring and approving the purchase of print-related supplies, you’re at the mercy of your employees. When print supplies are purchased on an ad-hoc basis by various employees, the costs can skyrocket, and you’ll very quickly reach a point of ungoverned waste.
    1. There are no guidelines in place for printing in colour. Printing in colour costs considerably more than printing in black-and-white. If you don’t make black-and-white the default choice, employees will often print in colour, regardless of how the document will be used.
    1. Your organization relies on paper-intensive processes. Although we live in a digital world, 40 percent of businesses still rely on paper documents. Moving to digital processes will speed up workflows, increase productivity, and benefit your bottom line.

    If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms of an inefficient print environment, a Managed Print Services (MPS) provider can help. Contact us today to uncover your actual printing costs and more ways to optimize your print environment.

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  • What it’s Like to Work at AOS

    23 Aug 2017
    Robert Hinschberger
    464
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    Starting a new job can be accompanied with a variety of emotions for plenty of different reasons. You’re excited to tackle new challenge and learning the ins and outs of the product and/or services your organization offers. Meeting your co-workers opens the tunnel for new friendships but may bring on the thoughts of whether you’ll fit in and be accepted. Is your boss going to align with your preferred leadership style or will you have to adapt to align with their needs without sacrificing your performance?

    You’ve been offered and accepted a position but perhaps questions may linger if you made the right choice – especially if you don’t get off on the right track. If there’s one thing I’ve brought along in my young life is that confidence can do you wonders in the short run. However, it is your mentality that ascends your motivation and attitude that will determine how well you perform in the long run. This blog will take you through the entrance of a new employee with AOS and Xerox and an inside view of what it feels like to be a part of their culture and organizations.

    Let’s start with Xerox and the comprehensive five phases, ten-week training module they enroll new sales reps in. Reps in different agencies from around the country train together offering a collaborative and interactive training schedule while also offering a competitive resource. We’ll call the training expert Taylor, for confidentiality purposes. Taylor, as everyone does, deserves a holiday and it happens to be the first two weeks of the Phase 1 training in which they instruct and coordinate. So, what occurs?

    Insert different Sales Development Coaches and other experts from around the country to facilitate the daily conference calls. You can view the pros and cons with this presented situation and how you decide to handle it may influence how you feel about it. Some pros include the ability to get a new perspective each day, meet influential individuals within Xerox (you never know when a move East or West may be in your future), and an increase in flexibility and independence in controlling your training.

    Cons include aspects that come with having your training typically hosted through this one person. Taylor knows how they want to control each call, understands their slides, and the system that has been set up. However, when you take a step back though and look at the bigger picture, you realize some important points that need to be included with this blog:

    1) Those stepping in for Taylor are now having the opportunity to share their experiences and expertise with the newest batch of sales reps

    2) These coaches get to try something new – even the smallest change in one’s routine may be accepted, enjoyed, and encouraged.

    3) Xerox has the ability and the confidence to allow others to showcase the training and mentor. I’m sure there are more reasons that could be cumulated in round table fashion but it’s a highlight that needs to mentioned and provides confidence in myself moving forward with Xerox.

    At AOS, it’s apparent that the world we live in is a result driven business and that your motivation and attitude will follow you through your failures and successes. In a short four weeks, I’ve seen the highs and parts of lows, but the composure needs to be there to realize that highs are not forever and lows aren’t that low if you have the right attitude to motivate yourself to change. There’s a locker room mentality with chirps and laughter throughout.

    It’s clear AOS has high expectations of itself and has risen to the occasion. However, what’s most important is that within the bullpen there is a true team atmosphere – these guys (and girls) are here to win, improve individually every day, and support each other.

    To conclude, it’s been a fun, challenging, and fast first month. Let’s be clear – It’s not just the sales team at AOS- it’s the entire agency. Everyone embraces their role in the company and is a positive team member. Enough can’t be said when you walk in feeling welcomed and want to be part of a success story. Happy selling, friends.

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  • Ransomware: A Growing Threat

    20 Jul 2017
    admin
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    Ransomware: A Growing Threat, AOS Group, Grimsby, ON

    It seems that every day, more companies are falling prey to cybercriminals. Reaping a record $24 million last year, ransomware attacks are on the rise, locking companies out of their computers unless they pay a fee. Fortunately, you can take steps to avoid becoming a victim and to ease your recovery if you do get attacked.

    An Ounce of Prevention

    Preventing ransomware attacks involves both software and human intervention. First off, your software systems should always be kept up to date. As security threats are recognized, manufacturers will release patches to secure your system. Installing these patches reduces your risk of becoming infected with ransomware or other malicious software. Anti-virus software also provides a valuable barrier against attacks.

    Additionally, many attacks are done via phishing emails or malicious ads. It’s important to train employees to not automatically click on attachments, links, pop-ups, or banner ads, but rather to look for signs that they may not be legitimate. Hovering over URLs, checking return addresses and other techniques take only seconds, but can save your company the time and money associated with a ransomware attack.

    A Pound of Cure

    No matter how diligent you are, you could still become the victim of a ransomware attack, so it’s essential to take steps to ease the recovery. Experts recommend that you do not pay the ransom – instead, you should unplug your system and restore it to factory settings, deleting everything – including the ransomware.

    To ensure a smooth recovery, you should make backups of all of your data frequently; every day if possible. Backup copies should be stored offline or on a cloud server, to insulate them from your network. While it will still take time to recover, all your data will be safe. Storing essential data separately from other data may help you speed the recovery process.

    Ransomware attacks are extremely profitable and are becoming one of the most frequent types of malware attacks. Taking the time to secure your system and to prepare for an attack can help you avoid becoming a victim or recover more easily if you do.

    To learn more, ask us about our no-obligation technology assessment service.

     

     

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  • Using Technology to Help Your Business Work Smarter…Not Harder

    29 Jun 2017
    Matt Nash, South Niagara Account Manager, AOS Group
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    As the saying goes, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! If you’re a small to medium-sized business finding it hard to stay competitive, relevant and more productive in this fast pace digital world, maybe it’s time to start using technology to your advantage. If going digital scares you and your staff don’t worry, transitioning can be painless and easy to do for even the technologically-challenged. Using technology to help with your office’s inefficiencies will allow you to work smarter and not harder, giving you more time back in your day and more time to be profitable.

    For starters, social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube will give your business 24/7 visibility outside of your normal operating hours. For example, Facebook’s sophisticated online marketing platform is a great way to promote your business’ latest offerings, sales and events. For as low as $4.00 your Facebook advertisement can reach as many as 1,400 potential customers locally within your target demographic. Facebook makes scheduling your posts for certain days of the week at prime time hours easy to do. Only 10 minutes of work on this social media website will give you the most bang for your buck, giving your company more visibility, generating more sales!

    Another way to get you and your business up-to-date with the times is by upgrading your office technology. I have helped many of my clients see the light with the new Xerox VersaLink and AltaLink series of multifunctional devices. Gone are the days when a printer is only used as a printer. Xerox’s ConnectKey platform (operating system) gives users more productivity and customizability than ever before. Take advantage of the Xerox App Gallery and download, scan and print from Dropbox, Office 365, Google Drive and more!

    Tired of manually archiving files and documents? Spending too much time and money on retrieving documents offsite? The Xerox App Studio allows you to create customized apps to meet your workflows needs. Using document management software you can now scan and digitize records using a Xerox ConnectKey-enabled device. Employees now gain immediate, secure access to digital documents using their IDs. Multiple users can now access the same updated document simultaneously, streamlining workflow. Records are replicated in the cloud for disaster recovery, offering 99% uptime and access anywhere in the world. Office technology now makes improving what once used to be a daunting task to something that is time-effective and effortless.

    This is the future of work. The digital world is not going anywhere, only increasing everyday. Start allowing the technology to work for you, not you working for it. The truth is, change won’t happen overnight. However, this short-term learning curve will provide you and your office increased productivity, profitability and peace-of-mind.

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  • Scanning Can Change Your Business

    1 May 2017
    admin
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    Paper can cost your business significant amounts of money each year. Today’s improved scanning technology can help you reduce your reliance on paper, increase your productivity and reduce your costs.

    Change the Way You Scan

    Scanning has changed dramatically in recent years, and now can be used to leverage your business to the top. With tools such as a Xerox ConnectKey-enabled multifunction printer, you can scan directly to email, allowing the recipient to open, view, and save the document. Other options include scanning to network folders or the cloud, allowing for one-step sharing of your documents to anyone, anywhere across the world.

    With as much as 50% of employee time spent on finding documents, scanning can save you time and money by translating hardcopy documents into easily searchable pdf files. This makes finding the document you need as easy as typing a few keystrokes.

    Scan on the Go

    Scanning is no longer tied to the physical machine in your office. With the Xerox Mobile Link app, your phone or tablet can act as a scanner and fax machine, transmitting your data to the cloud or a printer while you’re out in the field. This also means you can travel with just your phone or tablet without sacrificing productivity.

    Turn Workflows into Apps

    Paper-heavy tasks such as invoicing can really take a hit on your bottom line. These workflows can be easily streamlined with an app accessed on your ConnectKey MFP. These custom-created workflows can be as simple or complex as your business requires to get the job done.

    Scan Securely

    Security must be a top priority for businesses today. ConnectKey technology provides built-in encryption for all your scanned data and documents can be further protected by passwords. With security protocols in place, scanned documents become even more secure than their paper counterparts.

    Scanning can change the way you do business. From sharing, to security, to one-touch workflows your employees can spend more time doing their jobs and less time looking for the necessary materials. With the increased productivity and decreased costs, scanning can be just the solution your business has been searching for.

    Does your business rely primarily on paper-based processes?  Your documents could be in jeopardy!  Play our Documents in Jeopardy gameshow and test your document knowledge.  You could win an iPad PRO!

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  • Managed Print Services: How to Get the Right Provider for Your Business

    23 Feb 2017
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    Have you been thinking about partnering with a Managed Print Services (MPS) provider? Businesses of all sizes are turning to Managed Print Services (MPS) to help them gain control over their print costs and streamline their print environments and processes. Finding the right MPS provider for your unique business needs is key to a lasting and beneficial relationship.

    Measure of Success

    A good MPS provider will conduct a full analysis of your print environment giving you insight into your current state. They will also provide easy-to-use and understand metrics for reporting costs, performance and improvements. Don’t be afraid to ask for references. Past clients will be able to tell you a lot about how their partnership worked for them.

    Growth and Change

    Over time, your business will grow and change. Will your MPS provider change with you? Make sure you are working with a provider that will make it easy and affordable to add additional services over time. With the ever-changing pace of business, you’ll want your MPS provider to keep up. Mobile solutions, digital conversion, digital workflows, and other changes can help keep your business up to date with the help of your MPS provider. Your provider should also be on top of the latest security risks and protections to help safeguard your business.

    Getting Started

    When you make the decision to partner with an MPS provider, you want to see your investment pay off. By asking the right questions upfront, you can be sure you’re getting the services you want and need. When you find an MPS provider that aligns with your business goals and desires, you can reap the benefits of improved productivity, reduced costs, and a future-proofed business.

    Are your documents under control…or are they in jeopardy?  Take two minutes and test your knowledge, and you could win and iPad Pro!

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  • Is Managed Print Services Right for Your Business?

    27 Dec 2016
    admin
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    Managed Print Services (MPS) is a solution that can help businesses of all sizes save money, reduce their impact on the environment, and increase productivity. Although defining MPS may not be as simple as you think, the results are crystal clear—enhanced visibility, and greater control over office printing.

    The Printing Realm

    Printing accounts for a great deal of time and expense, with experts estimating the average business spends up to 15 percent of their annual operating budget on printing. Managed Print Services facilitates management and optimization of your entire print fleet, including print output and all supporting processes. It also encompasses:

    • Consumables and other supplies.
    • Print equipment, including networked and non-networked printers, scanners and high volume print equipment.
    • Documents produced by in-house staff and mobile workers.
    • Maintenance, technical support and other print-related requests.

    Choosing the Best Managed Print Services Provider

    Selecting the right MPS provider will yield the best results. In addition to managing your printers, an experienced, knowledgeable partner can perform a number of other vital functions, including:

    • An initial assessment to determine the current state of printing within your organization. The assessment includes a cost analysis, inventory, and printer mapping to identify areas of waste, and highlight any necessary improvements.
    • Streamlining your printer fleet, eliminating printers that are inefficient or ill-placed, and adding or replacing equipment to better suit your needs and budget.
    • Tracking supply inventory, in order to replenish stock of consumables before they run out.
    • Digitizing processes that are unnecessarily time consuming, such as approvals, or routing.
    • Shrinking your carbon footprint through reduced energy usage, rules based printing, cartridge recycling and energy efficient equipment.
    • Provide secure access to printing for mobile workers.
    • Steadily monitor your print environment, updating processes as needed to reduce print costs, and improve productivity.

    The benefits of Managed Print Services reach far beyond your printer. Choosing the right MPS provider is the key to your success, allowing you to focus on your business, knowing your print infrastructure is streamlined and operating at peak efficiency.

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  • How to Prepare for Disaster With a Recovery Plan for Your Business

    29 Nov 2016
    admin
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    How to Prepare for Disaster With a Recovery Plan for Your Business, AOS Group, Grimsby, ON

    If your business is like most, you need access to various systems, applications, devices, and documents each day to successfully operate. If one – or all – of these go down due to a disaster, your business would be unable to function, costing money, harming your reputation, and possibly resulting in lost clients. Developing a disaster recovery plan can help mitigate the effects of an outage.

    IT Failure and Recovery

    For IT solutions to be effective, you must plan in advance. Paper documents that cannot easily be backed up are very difficult to recover. By converting key documents to digitized files, you significantly increase the chances for a quick and full recovery.

    You must also identify which operations are most critical for your business. While you may be unable to function without your phone system, older archived files may not need to be recovered quickly. You should work with your IT team to develop a protocol establishing priority for essential systems and outlining a timeline for recovery for all your systems.

    Non-IT Solutions

    When systems fail, it’s not enough to have IT protocols in place. You must also have planned for the non-IT side of disaster recovery. First and foremost, you need to be able to access the contact information for those who can aid in fixing the outage. If you only store this contact information digitally, you could be in trouble. Keep a current list of all important contact information for IT teams, providers, and employees printed and accessible.

    Work with your staff to delegate tasks that can help facilitate accurate and successful communication to those who need to know how the outage will affect them, and the estimated timeline for recovery. Protocols should be developed for both short-term and long-term outages for full coverage in any situation.

    Disaster recovery plans are essential to keep your business running. Early planning can help avoid long-term ramifications of a service outage.

    Have you taken our SMB Office Challenge yet?  Find out how you compare to other SMBs just like you and receive a FREE copy of our 2016 Office Print Policy Guide full of money-saving best practices you can start using today!

    SMB office challenge

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