it support

M2M: How Does It Affect Your Business?

M2M: How Does It Affect Your Business? 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

M2M Technology Laser PrinterThe proliferation of networked devices is a rapidly expanding sector that provides immense benefits because of a single vital factor: Data acquisition. Interconnected devices (can also be referred to as smart devices) can acquire data based on user behaviour. Take automated thermostats, for example. They observe homeowners’ habits (time when they turn up the temperature, preferred room temperature, etc.) and then use those data to function automatically. More importantly, these devices are equipped with the kind of technology that businesses can leverage for better services and improved profits.

What Is M2M?

Machine to machine technology (M2M) is focused on the way machines (devices) communicate with each other. This technology isn’t really new. In fact, it’s been used before the dawn of personal computers and Internet in applications like telemetry and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA). The automated communication of data through both wireless and wired systems allows businesses make more informed decisions as the needs arise.

Modern M2M connects devices to remote computers. It uses the cloud to manage devices and collect data. Take delivery trucks for example. Companies need to be able to track where trucks are in real-time so they can identify which orders have been fulfilled. Monitoring the vehicles’ locations can also help dispatchers plot the most cost-efficient routes and even detect when certain trucks experience problems. M2M communication makes all of these possible.

How Can It Benefit Your Business?

In an era where almost everything is connected to the Internet, M2M technologies make life easier for business owners and their employees. Automation transforms the business environment. By relying more on machines to do the work, we can be guaranteed of more accurate data, which translates to better business decisions.

Relying solely on manpower can have consequences due to human errors. Often, machines that utilise software and programs can do a much better job because they expedite the entire process. While they still require human supervision, the reduced error margin makes them a great way to cut costs. Among others, the ability to remotely manage machines allows businesses to:

Fix problems as soon as they arise.

Equipment, like office printers, can trigger a signal to manufacturers when it’s run out of ink or when it’s damaged. Most of the time, employees won’t know the problem exists until they are about to use the device, and that makes things worse because they can’t print documents they need right now. M2M technology can help avoid this kind of delay.

Reduce costs and reduce the carbon footprint.

Warehouse managers don’t need to go to each site to check machines. That significantly reduces travel costs and carbon footprint. They can be on top of things even from a remote office.

Make employees better prepared to deal with problems.

For businesses that handle repair men sent to houses and offices to fix problems, M2M communications help troubleshoot issues remotely and determine the problem, so that they know exactly what to bring. This keeps them from wasting time and helps them provide swift customer service.

Automate business processes.

Automation is an important aspect of running a business, as having the means to accomplish tasks with minimal human supervision can save a lot of time and money.

Optimise business practices.

Through data acquired from M2M technologies, companies can now figure out better ways to get things done more efficiently. Going back to the delivery truck example, it’s easier to calculate optimal delivery routes and monitor the location of each truck in real-time. This will be crucial in answering customer inquiries and even deal with complaints.

Real-time view of crucial assets.

Communication between devices allows management to view and manage assets in real-time. That includes identifying the exact physical location of items. This kind of information can then be used to manage costs.

Make businesses more proactive instead of reactive.

To improve customer experience, businesses need to not only respond to problems immediately but to anticipate future problems and provide the solutions right away. Going back to the printer example earlier, sensors that report the amount of ink available lets users to order a replacement even before they realise they need it. The same thing applies with cars. Sensors for suspension wear and tear and other engine parts will help manufacturers address the need more efficiently. This also prevents expensive repair costs because car owners will immediately know if there’s a problem.

Provide a hard return on investment (ROI).

Because of the valuable business intelligence (BI) it provides, businesses can save time and costs, as well as find opportunities for innovation and drive customer engagement. All these lead to better ROI.

What Does These All Mean for Australian Businesses?

Businesses know what M2M can do for their bottom line, however, what are the chances of actually taking advantage of these?

Ideally, M2M technologies will play a huge part in enterprises especially with the foreseen growth of Internet-connected devices in the next six years. Cisco predicts that there will be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020. Asia-Pacific (APAC) is also seen as one of the frontrunners in terms of adopting this technology. In fact, APAC placed second in a survey of regions that consider M2M crucial to businesses. 31 percent of businesses deem it important compared to North America where only 24 percent considers it critical. Europe topped the list at 42 percent.

Out of all the respondents, a total of 40 percent considers M2M important and these companies hope to find more business opportunities, improve existing products and services, and respond to customer concerns in the quickest way possible. The numbers could still use some improvement but they’re definitely a good sign that many enterprises in Australia are aware of the benefits M2M technologies can bring to the table.

Laptop computer

How to Choose the Right IT Support for Your Business

How to Choose the Right IT Support for Your Business 2048 1536 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

Laptop computerSimply put, a lack of IT support will hurt your business and severely affect your daily operations. Instead of focusing resources on more urgent matters, you’ll be tied up with problems that shouldn’t be there in the first place. Plus, without dedicated IT support, the best you can hope for are “quick fixes” – but those “quick” fixes are often no more than a Band Aid, with more costly problems looming.

Just one problem: In-house IT support can be costly. Among the problems you may face are budget constraints, keeping up with the trends and finding the right people. That’s why it’s beneficial to get outside help.

What’s in It for Your Business?

Outsourcing IT support will help you control costs, increase productivity and minimize risk.

  • Controlled costs: Monthly expenses for IT support are fixed so you’ll know exactly how much goes out of your pocket. You will also be able to foresee possible expenses and allocate funds appropriately. As a result, cash flow is managed better.
  • Increased productivity: Instead of finding the one or two employees who “know a thing or two” about troubleshooting, those employees can focus on their own projects and deadlines. That, in turn, leads to increased productivity.
  • Minimized risk: When things go wrong, either with your hardware or software, business shuts down. Now, you’re facing a potential loss of profits, expensive repair costs and once-loyal customers who are now concerned about working with you. And that doesn’t include the possibility of security breaches, both for you and your clients. Working with an IT company gives you peace of mind.

Steps to Find the Right Support

  1. Create a plan: What is your main goal? Why do you think seeking professional help will benefit your business? Is there a specific area you wish to improve or a problem you want resolved right away?
  2. Who’s using them?: Before hiring anyone, go to their respective website, and see if they list previous and current clients. Are these businesses similar to yours? It’s better to work with an IT company that has helped similar companies because you’re more likely to have the same needs and issues. Word of mouth is also an effective way to find the most competent people.
  3. Are they certified?: Make sure anyone you’re considering is certified. You can usually find this information on the company’s website or various social media sties. Look for those who are Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP), and Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS). You should also look for those with CompTIA Network+ certifications.
  4. Narrow down your search. Once you’ve pinpointed several finalists, reach out to each company and ask questions. Document everything so you can go back to and discuss with the team before you make the final decision.
  5. Think of your business’ future. Find a provider that will be in it for the long haul. IT system maintenance is essential to your business – and you need someone who will stick with you for several years. You need the right people to maintain reliable IT systems for years.

Things to Watch Out For

  • Tech people who only speak in jargon: These people are either hiding something or masking the fact that they don’t really know anything. Reliable IT providers will ensure that you know what you’re getting into, so they’ll explain what needs to be done in simple and clear language.
  • Support providers who don’t like to get their hands dirty: IT support providers must be willing to get involved in your business’ daily operations. They need to immerse themselves so they can figure out the best way to take care of your IT needs.
  • Those who like using quick-fixes and insist that their solutions are the ONLY ones that matter: Short cuts are dangerous because not every detail is scrutinized. Avoid support providers who like doing these. At the same time, those who refuse to seek a second (or third) opinion and insist on doing only what they are familiar with will only cause you more problems.

Are Internal IT Departments Dead?

Are Internal IT Departments Dead? 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

computer-beavis-butthead-struggleThere, I said it. It became clear in a recent conversation I had with a business owner that the future of the in-house IT department is limited at best.

The client in question owned a business with over 40 full time employees, including its own IT department of about three people and Tim (not his real name), the IT manager. But I’ll talk more about this in a second, because I have a question to ask you.

Why is McDonalds is successful? Don’t look down yet, I want you to ask yourself why.

This is a tough question for most people. You know, because the food sucks. So it’s not due to the quality food, nor is it cheap (anymore).

It’s because it is so consistent. The service provided as well as what you get—it’s the same! No matter where in the world you are! Isn’t that just a little crazy?

Consistent, predictable– a staple option for when you just want a quick bite. And what is it that makes this possible? GREAT SYSTEMS! When your teenage son or daughter get their first job at McDonalds, they undergo the same exact training experienced by everyone else. It’s ALL documented in a pretty scary-thick training manual.

So let’s return to the business owner, and the tumultuous history of their now-gone IT department. When all IT staff were at the ready, the ship sailed just fine. But one day Tim, their experienced IT manager, abandoned ship for a better offer. With two weeks’ notice, this created considerable problems.

For one, Tim had not found the time or inclination to document procedures. Verbal communication and emails meant Tim left with most of that information in his brain. What followed Tim’s departure was grim, to say the least. The cost of their IT department on the business skyrocketed. Costs like:

  • Hardware and software. Tim had formed relationships with suppliers, and understood the discounts and when to order. When Tim left, sporadic sourcing pushed costs way up.
  • Maintenance costs. By not maintaining hardware and software, more bugs and failures began to pop up. This meant more down time for staff, and a frustrated IT support team.
  • Training. Because the IT department was now so busy, the owner hired another technician. With no documented procedures, it was up to the existing IT team to train them up, frustrating for all involved. Most staff usually take a few months to settle in and be independent performers, and that costs you money. If you couple that with the need for other staff to train them, to fill them in, then that cost continues to go up.

Now this post is not suggesting Tim was at fault, nor can business owners always predict these things will happen. We hire people we like, and who are good at what they do. Sometimes life, and these situations, just happen. It’s a learning experience for all involved.

That’s kind of why companies like Greenlight exist. Managed Service Providers offer some distinct advantages to keeping IT Support in-house.  Here are just a few:

  • No key-person risk. MSP’s have one job, fixing or looking after your technology needs. That’s pretty much it. We need more IT managers than other companies, and document everything. That means consistency in the service we provide, and that if someone internal moves on, it does not affect our clients.
  • Economies of scale. With a bigger team servicing more companies, MSP’s offer leverage. Reduced costs to you as a business owner, AND you get to tap into the ‘cream of the crop’ when it comes to expertise.
  • Better use of YOUR resources. You can invest the money you would spend on an IT department into things that make more sense for your business. Whether it’s a bigger or better sales or marketing team, or R&D to make your products and services better than the competition. Whichever way you look at it, you get better results for less money.

Do you agree or disagree? Let us know. And if you’ve got your own IT department in-house, give us a call on (02) 8412 0000. We may just be able to save you some money as well as a few headaches.

Why Every Company Should Consider Co-Managed IT Services

Why Every Company Should Consider Co-Managed IT Services 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

You’ve always done it yourself. But now, things are coming to a head. You’ve stretched your IT department too thin, and you’re concerned about the level of service that they can offer to your expanding list of customers. Not only that, but you simply can’t afford the new equipment and staff you desperately need to properly service your clients. You’ve reached your breaking point. What do you do?

Thankfully, there’s an easy solution. Using co-managed IT services can get rid of the stress and expenses that arise when your IT department needs grow faster than you do. Unlike managed services, co-managed services offer all the benefits of managed services, but with fewer downsides. Here are seven great advantages to using co-managed IT services.

Benefits of Co-Managed IT Services

Lower Equipment Costs

Paying for equipment, software, and remodelling costs are all major expenses that a business often bears when expanding its IT resources. However, when using co-managed services, the company running these services will be the one bearing these costs, meaning that you no longer have to make an expensive capital outlay to keep your IT department up to speed with your customer needs, according to inTechnology.

Lower Labour Costs

Using co-managed IT also allows you to reduce your labour costs, according to essent.com. Without a co-managed IT plan, you may end up having to hire additional specialised tech support and paying out the increased higher salaries. While training your own staff is an alternative, this would lead to your business having to foot the bill for training and certification. In addition, these newly trained IT staff members will struggle to cope with both their previous roles and IT demands. By using co-managed services, you’re relieved of the burden of having to either train or hire specialised IT staff, saving you money on labour costs.

Less Downtime and Risk

Using co-managed services allows you to reduce the downtime and the amount of risk that your IT department faces. By utilising a co-managed services provider, you will have available to you superior troubleshooting services. These providers have the experience to effectively solve complex issues or problems that crop up far more easily than in-house IT services, and are equipped with a specialised suite of tools that can also offer better solutions. In addition, they are often able to address potential problems before they can cause a negative effect on your business, reducing downtime for your business.

Better Efficiency

Co-managed IT services can provide better efficiency due to their concentration on IT. Unlike a business that has one or two in-house IT personnel, companies that offer co-managed solutions have far more experience and knowledge in the IT business. They have worked out the best practices and their specialisation results in less time wasted and more productive employees, meaning that tasks get done far more quickly and efficiently than if they were done in-house by your business, according to Essential Link.

Better for the Environment

Guess what? Using co-managed IT services are actually better for the environment. Because of the centralised nature of co-managed IT services, your business saves on expensive energy costs that it would have incurred from running the necessary equipment. This also means that you utilise less fossil fuels and reduce your carbon footprint.

Customization and Control

Co-managed IT services offer all the benefits of ordinary managed services, but with a higher level of customization and control, according to the Utility Company. Co-managed IT allows IT departments to extend their capabilities through partnerships to shore up key areas of service and support, while in turn being able to have a high level of customization and control over the entire process. As a result, co-managed IT service users get the best of both worlds – the benefits of using managed services but the choice of a far higher level of input and transparency.

Better Focus

Your co-managed IT service provider will allow you to concentrate on your most important area – your business! Instead of having to worry about IT needs, a co-managed IT service provider will take care of those worries for you, even more efficiently and effectively than you possibly could. With a real “fix it and forget it” approach, your service provider will take all of the stress and technical details while you concentrate on more important aspects of your business.

Using co-managed IT services is a great way to increase the efficiency and productivity of your IT service department without putting a big strain on your budget, and can actually end up saving you money in the long run. By speaking to a company that offers co-managed IT services, you too can release the strain on your overburdened IT department and raise the standards of your IT services.

Still got your attention? Get in touch and we’ll be happy to provide you with an overview of how we could help your business.