Apogee Solutions https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk IT Services & Support Basingstoke, Hampshire Mon, 01 Jun 2020 12:51:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/cropped-apogee-favicon-32x32.png Apogee Solutions https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk 32 32 Apogee is a Microsoft Solutions provider offering Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365 solutions https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/apogee-is-a-microsoft-solutions-provider-offering-microsoft-365-and-dynamics-365-solutions https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/apogee-is-a-microsoft-solutions-provider-offering-microsoft-365-and-dynamics-365-solutions#respond Mon, 01 Jun 2020 12:45:01 +0000 https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/?p=664 Ease of use combined with cost-effectiveness in terms of deployment and running costs means that Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) has gone on to become an integral part of the...

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Ease of use combined with cost-effectiveness in terms of deployment and running costs means that Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) has gone on to become an integral part of the modern workplace. However, the reality is that for businesses to get the most from Microsoft 365, careful setup and ongoing management is essential. In order to provide clients with the necessary expertise and skill set, at Apogee Solutions, we’ve spent a considerable amount of time developing our knowledge and solution offerings around Microsoft 365. As a demonstration of this commitment, we are proud to have attained the qualifications and experience necessary to achieve our Microsoft Small and Mid-market Cloud Solutions partner status.

Microsoft 365 consists of a comprehensive range of productivity apps for your business. As businesses grow and develop, other tools are required in key areas such as customer relationship management. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales is specifically designed to help businesses with this requirement. Built on Microsoft’s new Power Platform, Dynamics 365 apps are tightly integrated with Microsoft 365 to deliver a seamless experience for businesses.  

If your business is currently using manual processes, excel spreadsheets or another legacy CRM solution for customer relationship management then Dynamics 365 Sales could be the perfect fit for you. Apogee has a detailed roadmap to guide you through the move to Dynamics 365 Sales. Onboarding and integrating could not be easier, especially if you have previous experience with Microsoft technologies such as Microsoft 365. At Apogee Solutions, we have taken the time to build up the expertise and skills necessary to deliver and support Dynamics 365 sales deployments. This way, we can comprehensively support you throughout the integration process.

Ongoing development of our expertise and skill set means a lot to us and our customers. It ensures we can stay aligned with your goals and deliver tailored, expert solutions to meet your needs. It ensures we differentiate ourselves from other solution providers; filling you with the confidence that Apogee is best suited to work with your business. As an added benefit, through our Microsoft partnership, Apogee has direct access to a full range of Microsoft resources, enabling us to extend this support and advice to your business.

If you would like to learn more about how Microsoft 365 or how the Dynamics 365 Sales CRM solution can work for your business, please get in touch with Apogee. We will discuss your business requirements and provide the help needed to ensure you get the most benefit and return on investment from your technology.

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How to host a virtual event for your business https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/how-to-host-a-virtual-event-for-your-business https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/how-to-host-a-virtual-event-for-your-business#respond Mon, 18 May 2020 10:45:33 +0000 https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/?p=642 Whether you’re hosting a virtual event because your physical one can’t go ahead or because you want to grow your digital presence, creating an online experience will grow your brand...

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Whether you’re hosting a virtual event because your physical one can’t go ahead or because you want to grow your digital presence, creating an online experience will grow your brand awareness and customer relationships. Here we’ll consider what a virtual event is, the types of virtual events, the plans you have to put in place and the benefits it has for your brand and audience.

What is a virtual event?

A virtual event can be defined as an organised experience that takes place online rather than in a physical location. A virtual event is entirely digital, not an element of a physical event that’s streamed or recorded. Events can include discussions, Q&As, webinars, podcast recordings, performances, conferences and shows.

Technically, all you need for a virtual event is an internet connection, a hosting platform and a topic for discussion. As long as your viewers can access the internet and follow the event link, you’ll be able to host your event however you like. Depending on the level of promotion you do beforehand, your virtual event can be viewed by just a handful of people or distributed to thousands of viewers.

What types of virtual events are there?

Virtual events can take place in any format depending on the goal you want to achieve and the experience you want to create. Product demonstrations, tutorials and classes are great for audience interaction. If you’re launching a new product and getting a lot of questions about it, showing how it works will help your audience with their buying decision. Classes encourage your audience to join in with you, whether this is running through a new software you’ve produced or teaching a cooking class. By following your tips and instructions, your audience receives added value to your offering.

Conferences and trade shows are usually larger events held throughout a day or week. They include different sessions on certain topics with expert speakers and visual aids. Viewers can register for these events and receive a similar experience to a physical conference. This type of virtual event is a good replacement for shows that have been cancelled.

For in-depth topics that require explanation and examples, webinars and workshops are a great option. Involving keynote speakers like professionals from your business or industry experts will build awareness and excitement around your event. With expert knowledge and skillset to share with viewers, you can develop a strong reputation as opinion leaders.

For journalists and industry professionals, interviews and performances are a common virtual event. Where you would usually host a Q&A or interview on stage between a reporter and expert, you can do it virtually in front of an audience of similar scale. Musicians, actors and artists opt for online gigs and performances to give their fans what feels like an exclusive piece of content.

Creative institutions like galleries, museums, theatres and conservation centres often host tours and behind the scenes of their locations. This type of virtual event is ideal for enthusiasts of your brand and children who want to see something they admire like art, sculptures or animals. Restaurants and manufacturers can do the same to show fans how they make their products.

Things to think about when hosting a virtual event

Hosting a virtual event brings with it a number of considerations. There are issues surrounding engagement, profit, technology and promotion that must be planned and executed effectively. 

How do you keep people engaged?

It’s easy to keep your attendees’ attention at a physical event as they’re immersed in the experience with little distraction. People get together to watch a speaker, network with others and receive a catered lunch. When your audience is sitting in their own homes, it’s difficult to hold this level of attention for a long period of time. They have families, phones, television and chores that mean they’re less likely to remain engaged in your session. This is where shorter, bite-size virtual events are more appropriate than all-day conferences. 45 minutes is a reasonable amount of time for educational sessions that require detailed explanations and examples. Using visual aids and examples will avoid being bored by a never-ending presentation. 

How do you make money from virtual events?

Ticket sales are your main source of revenue at a physical event, with food, merchandise and products following closely. With a virtual event, you can’t offer these valuable additions so many won’t want to pay for online events in the same way. Without anything to show from their event, like a fun pen, t-shirt, free food or useful resources, you can’t expect to charge for your virtual events. It’s more important to think about the value you want to provide and the experience you want to create. If you deliver something that’s educational, entertaining, emotive and interactive, your audience will give you their custom and support in return.

How can people access the event?

You need to decide where you’re going to host your virtual event. There are lots of software platforms that allow you to do this depending on the format of your event. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube live streams are great for performances, interviews and Q&As. For webinars, workshops and conferences, you may want to choose one that enables you to present to your audience. For classes and tutorials with a personal experience, you can use video conferencing software like Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams. Consider if you want your event to be accessible after it’s finished. If attendees had to register, you could email the link over to them for them to watch again. Otherwise, you could post it on your website and social media to reach a wider audience.

When is the right time to host a virtual event?

It’s important not to rush into hosting a virtual event. If your physical event has been cancelled, take time to make sure you can deliver a comparable experience online. Understand that it won’t be the same and things will have to change that need a lot of consideration. Viewers’ availability will change if the event date changes so you may not get your original number of attendees. Time zones will play a part as now people from all over the world can sign up and access it. Choose a time that’s suitable for everyone, and if this isn’t possible, make your content available online afterwards for those that can’t attend the live thing.

What contingency should I have in place?

Think about how your event could go wrong and how you can fix it virtually. You should make you sure you have the relevant technology and software in place that can improve the experience. Technology will always be temperamental no matter how much you plan and organise. You should consider disruptions that may occur so you know exactly how to solve them quickly without impacting the audience experience. Your connection could drop, noises in the background could occur, speakers may echo and your screen could freeze. Having a trial run of your event will allow you to test and iron out any issues before the real thing. Make sure you can share your presentation visuals or files smoothly. Ensure you have file backups or printed visuals if there’s some sort of data loss or connection.

Benefits of hosting a virtual event

There are so many benefits of hosting a virtual event for your audience. It’s a cost-effective solution that requires a much lower budget than a physical event. You don’t have to spend money on a venue, catering, equipment, legalities and staff members to keep the event running smoothly. They also save a lot of time. You don’t have to meticulously search for venues and resources or spend time training, hiring and sorting out staff logistics.

If your event has to be registered for, you can gather data of individuals that are interested in your brand and offering. This is a great opportunity for lead generation as you can follow up with communications that lead them onto the next stage of your customer journey. By providing a new and fun experience to your customers, you can increase audience engagement online. You can reach a wider audience of those who may stumble upon your event from social media. This is great for building relationships through added value and developing brand awareness. 

Virtual events are a great way to give your audience valuable experience with your brand. You have an opportunity to educate, entertain, inform, guide and support your customers by sharing your expertise and skill set.  While there are a lot of considerations to make, you can save time and money while gaining so much in customer engagement and brand awareness.

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How Folding@home is helping find treatments for the coronavirus https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/how-foldinghome-is-helping-find-treatments-for-the-coronavirus https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/how-foldinghome-is-helping-find-treatments-for-the-coronavirus#respond Tue, 28 Apr 2020 12:47:45 +0000 https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/?p=577 As cases of those testing positive with coronavirus continue to increase, it’s crucial that scientists have the ability to study the virus and how it can be treated. The government...

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As cases of those testing positive with coronavirus continue to increase, it’s crucial that scientists have the ability to study the virus and how it can be treated. The government has pledged to make coronavirus tests widely available among essential workers and their households in the UK, with health secretary Matt Hancock wanting to reach 100,000 tests a day. With the strain the NHS is currently under, officials have warned that this number isn’t yet possible. The UK is struggling to hit 20,000 tests with a week left of the April-end goal. 

Scientists are working harder than ever to simulate the dynamics of COVID-19 proteins. We must understand the complexities of the virus to begin to develop treatments and therapeutics. These calculations require all the processing power they can get to develop treatments for the virus. This is where Folding@home comes in; we all have the ability to help scientists run protein folding at home to continue developing treatments for the coronavirus.

What is Folding@home?

Folding@home is a distributed computing project that involves citizen scientists, aka the general public, to test virus proteins on their own computers. As scientists need to gain such a vast view of how and why proteins behave the way they do, they need access to an immense amount of computing power. This processing power is used to run simulations and calculations to understand how protein structures move and interact with one another. With the information and data they produce from the tests, scientists construct detailed reports of their findings which are shared with larger scientific corporations who have the power to create therapeutics for diseases.

Folding@home existed way before the coronavirus pandemic occurred. The project has been running since 2000 and helped to test proteins of the Ebola and Zika viruses among others. Folding extends to neurological diseases and cancer including Alzheimer’s and breast cancer. In 2007, Folding at home achieved a Guinness World Record for the most powerful distributed computing network in the world. As of 2020, Folding@Home has reached a capacity of 1.5 ExaFLOPS, surpassing the world’s fastest supercomputer, IBM’s Summit. The scale at which Folding at home is running shows how much help this distributed network is doing in the fight against protein diseases.

How does Folding@home work?

Proteins are incredibly complex structures that can’t be figured out by looking at a single picture. They continuously move and interact to create different patterns and structures that determine the impact they have on the human body. Folding@home works on the basis of understanding protein folding; a process by which proteins ‘fold’ into shapes to create strong structures that determine how they act and the impact they make. Proteins exist throughout our bodies, including our blood, hair and nails, and the function they have is determined by their ‘fold’.

Viruses contain proteins too. Viral protein folds function to prevent our immune systems from fighting the virus whilst they reproduce themselves. Using protein simulations when working on the Ebola virus, the Folding@home motions uncovered potential druggable sites that were previously difficult to locate in the single snapshot other experiments were producing. Folding@home wants to do the same with the coronavirus. 

How can you get involved with Folding@home?

As you and your business’ servers, desktops and laptops might be sitting idle at home or in the office, Folding@home is a great way to make your resources useful. By downloading the Folding@home software onto your computing device, scientists can run COVID-19 protein simulations that help us better understand the virus and develop therapeutics. The software is completely free and doesn’t require any science on your part! All you have to do is volunteer your computer to join the growing distributed network across the world.

If you want to get involved in the COVID-19 simulations, please consider volunteering for Folding@home. With your additional processing power, scientists can understand how the coronavirus works so we can develop treatments and therapeutics. You can learn more about how Folding@home is helping to fight the coronavirus.

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How to work from home with children https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/how-to-work-from-home-with-children https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/how-to-work-from-home-with-children#respond Thu, 23 Apr 2020 08:47:57 +0000 https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/?p=569 Schools all around the UK have been closed from the end of March to prevent children and staff from catching and spreading coronavirus. Many schools are doing whatever they can...

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Schools all around the UK have been closed from the end of March to prevent children and staff from catching and spreading coronavirus. Many schools are doing whatever they can to remain open for the children of key workers and vulnerable children, with members of staff staying in school to support their needs. Children of non-essential workers, essential workers with the ability to work from home and children that are safe to be at home will be joining their parents or guardians for the foreseeable future. 

If you’ve been joined at home by a small colleague or two (or more!), you’re likely to feel overwhelmed by your new working life. Whether you’re self-employed or working for an employer, juggling your full or part-time role with childcare is a challenge. Family life is hectic at the best of times without throwing work into the mix. Without freedom of the outdoors and the school day to keep your children stimulated, your work life is likely to be impacted by lockdown. Here are a few tips to help you find balance while working from home with your children.

Be transparent with your children

It’s a confusing time for children whose lives have suddenly been put on hold. Depending on their age, your child will know differing levels about the coronavirus and its impact on the world. It’s important to be open and honest with them about what’s happening, why they’re at home and that you still have to work. Before engaging in conversation about the virus, you will need to gauge their level of understanding to know how in-depth you should go to explain it. You could ask what they know already and if their friends are chatting about what’s going on. Ask if they have any questions and answer as truthfully as possible, without causing any other worries. You don’t want their concerns and anxieties to build up so keep the conversation productive with things they can do to help themselves and everyone else. 

Focus your conversations on hygiene. Make sure they know that the safest thing to do is stay at home and wash their hands. There are lots of great resources online to help them learn about spreading germs and practice their handwashing technique. If you have an older child, they’ll already know what’s going on but may not have the information from the right reputable sources. If they have questions that you don’t know the answer to, send them in the direction of the government and NHS websites. If you think they’re getting overwhelmed by it all, try to limit their exposure to the news so their anxieties don’t grow.

Be flexible with your routine

Nothing is normal right now so you can’t expect your work life to stay as it is in the office. Establishing a new routine will help you gain some form of normality in this strange climate. You might have to speak to your employer about your child commitments and that your work hours will be out of the ordinary. If they agree, you could work earlier in the morning or later in the evening outside of the typical 9-5 hour day. If your child is still young, nap times are ideal to get in up to an hour of work or more to fit in some calls or emails.

You could create a flexible schedule that your family can stick to. Having time slots for breakfast, lunch, dinner, exercise, free time and learning will help you and your child stay motivated. Try not to be restrictive with what you do in those slots – just chat to your child about how they’re feeling and what they want to do that day. This could be playing in the garden, watching a film, doing some crafts or going for a walk. If you commit to specific lists everyday and life gets in the way, you can feel like you’ve failed to achieve your goals.

Establish working boundaries

At the beginning of each week, plan out your work schedule and tasks so you know what calls, meetings, emails and projects need to be worked on. Mark out these hours and fit in time with your child around them. Let your child know that you’re going to be occupied during this time and that you need to concentrate on work. If you know you’re about to go on a call, you could set your child up with an activity that can take an hour or so. After you’re done, check in with them and give them some attention. If you give them your time, they’ll give you yours. 

Your work hours could be within their daily film viewing slot. Give them blankets and their favourite snacks so they have something to look forward and stay occupied while you’re working. If they want to be in the room with you whilst you work, you could put some toys or a puzzle near your workstation. This way, they can see you but aren’t demanding your attention. 

Increasing their screen time is fine

Screen time gets a really bad wrap. With so much more time to spare during the day, your children are bound to spend more time in front of their screens. Whether it’s the TV, tablet, phone or electronic game, screens are great for stimulating their learning and holding their attention. There are so many great resources available for children online including games, puzzles, talks, podcasts, bedtime stories, videos, TV shows and movies.

However, with more screen time, you’ll need to increase your internet safety measures if you haven’t already. Thinkyouknow.co.uk has some great resources for the online and offline safety of children of all ages, parents and teachers. 

Not everything has to be educational

With your children out of school, you might feel the pressure to fill their days at home with lessons. No one expects you to be a teacher while you’re still working from home; free learning through play and exercise is just as important. Depending on the age of your child, you might want to check how many hours of actual studying they need to do a day. For younger children, it might just be an hour or two and for older children, it might be more.

Stay up to date with your child’s nursery or school as a lot of institutions are streaming classes over video or live channels. These virtual classrooms might be the solution for you if you’re struggling to devote a couple of hours a day to teach your children. Twinkl has brilliant resources for children in early years, KS1, KS2 and KS3/4. They’ve put together a COVID-19 school closures home learning hub with resources for children, parents and teachers as well as wellbeing and support. You can print resources or download them digitally depending on what you have available at home. 

The key to working from home with children is to be realistic about what you can actually do. No one expects you to be a brilliant chef, employee, teacher, personal trainer and entertainer rolled into one. The situation you’re in is a unique one but it’s only temporary. That’s not to undermine the challenges you’re facing right now, but try to find the silver lining in all of this. You’re able to spend a great deal of time with your child at home that you wouldn’t usually experience. Looking forward to the small things like going for a walk, making lunch and watching movies with your children will help you get through the day. 

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What technology and security do I need to work remotely? https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/what-technology-and-security-do-i-need-to-work-remotely https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/what-technology-and-security-do-i-need-to-work-remotely#respond Thu, 26 Mar 2020 13:47:33 +0000 https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/?p=517 Working from home is the norm for many people, but for most of us, it’s something that takes a lot of adjustment to find what works for you. Those of...

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Working from home is the norm for many people, but for most of us, it’s something that takes a lot of adjustment to find what works for you. Those of us that have the ability to work from home are very lucky to do so, but that doesn’t mean it’s without its flaws. Remote working when you don’t have the equipment and technology you typically have at the office is challenging.

If your business doesn’t have a remote working policy, now is the time to prepare one. This policy should detail all the technology, security and remote measures your employees need to take when working away from the office. To help you get started, here are the key technology and security measures you should have in place to ensure you can work remotely efficiently and productively.

The technology you need

The technology you have at home is bound to be limited compared to what you have in the office. This doesn’t mean you can’t establish a good setup with some simple hardware and software additions that you probably already have. If not, your employer may be happy to source these for you to ensure you can do your job effectively.

Laptop or desktop computer

The most obvious technology you need for remote working is a laptop or desktop. Whether you choose a laptop or desktop depends on what is best for needs. If you have a desktop at work and can’t bring it home with you, use a laptop but ensure you transfer any files stored on its hard drive in advance of needing them. The advantage of a laptop is that you can set it up wherever and whenever you want. With a desktop, you’re limited to a flat, large surface in your home. Desktops typically perform better and have larger storage capacity. A laptop isn’t great for your posture unless you can elevate it to eye level; the smaller screen may also cause eye strain. Weigh up the options and choose which is better for you.

Monitor and HDMI cable

When you’re used to working from one, two or even three monitors at your desk, being restricted to a single laptop or desktop can take some adjustment. A monitor isn’t essential for everyone, but if you’re using a desktop you definitely need one. If you’re using a laptop, you may choose to use a monitor as a secondary screen. If you’re using a monitor as your secondary screen, you can use a TV if you have one. Don’t forget you need an HDMI cable to connect to your laptop or desktop to the monitor itself.

Keyboard and mouse

A keyboard isn’t essential if you’re using a laptop but it may be worth it if you’ll benefit from a wider surface area to type. A mouse is a useful addition to a laptop for more control over your movements. A wireless mouse ensures you’re not restricted or tangled by cables connected to your device – but it does need batteries so makes sure you’re stocked up with the right type. A keyboard and mouse are both necessary for a desktop computer. As mentioned, you can get wireless and cable versions depending on your preference.

Headphones and webcam

If you’re making a lot of calls whilst remote working, it’s a good idea to get a set of headphones. Earphones are fine but can become uncomfortable on longer calls. If you can, invest in noise-cancelling headphones to ensure no outside interference can disrupt your calls. If you’re making video calls on your desktop, you’ll need to get a webcam as they don’t have one in-built. This will ensure you can remain connected to your team and see familiar faces during the day. If you’re using a laptop, you won’t need a webcam as they have them installed already.

Google Docs and Adobe Suite

Moving on from physical devices, the software you use is just as important when working remotely. Without access to physical documents in your office, it’s wise to set up Google Docs to ensure all your team have access to documents they need. With your documents online, you can create, edit and share each other’s work without the need for multiple versions of docs or printing. You don’t need access to Microsoft Suite when using Google Docs so this can save you a great deal of money if you don’t already have it installed on your device. If you’re creating design documents, you’ll need access to Adobe Creative Suite. If your business already has this software, you just need the login details to be able to access it remotely. 

Skype, Zoom, Teams, or Hangouts

Video conferencing software is an essential part of remote working. It ensures you remain connected to your team throughout the day and can align on business activities or just have a general catch up. Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts are all great tools you can use for free. All you need is a strong internet connection, webcam and headphones to be able to hear your colleagues clearly.

Broadband and ethernet cable

Internet connectivity is pretty important when you’re working from home. Most of you will already have wifi, but it’s important your package can handle your usage. Ensure it has good running and download speed to manage activities including calls and file sharing. The further away from your router, the weaker your connection will be. If this is the case, you can get a wifi extension that will connect your device to the router. Alternatively, you can use an ethernet cable that will connect your devices to the local network.

The cybersecurity you need

As well as the technology needed to work remotely, the issue of cybersecurity is critical. Your cybersecurity in the office is likely to be advanced, but away from that, you’re probably limited. Without certain software and protection measures in place, your business is at risk of an internal or external attack. This can result in theft, data corruption or loss that seriously impacts your business’ ability to operate.

Secure connection

When you’re working remotely, it’s important to connect to a secure network. If you have strong wifi at home, you should remain connected to this at all times. Ensure it’s password-protected to stop other parties from connecting to it. Make sure you’re not working from an unsecured public network. This opens up your applications to threatening forces that can destroy your data or device.

Password and authentication

You must make sure that all your accounts are protected with strong passwords. You shouldn’t use the same password for everything; if a hacker gains access to one account, they’re likely to try them all. Use passwords with upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols to ensure it’s tough to crack. Where possible, you should also use multiple-factor authentication. This adds an extra layer to the protection of your accounts, so even if a hacker has your password, they won’t make it past the other layers of protection. This isn’t necessary for all your accounts, but have it in place for business-critical and sensitive data.

VPN connection

Your business may have a VPN in place so all remote workers can access the folders and drives regardless of their geographic location. A VPN is a secure network that allows you to connect through your wifi and gain access to the business’ network and files that are stored there. A VPN also encrypts your data so it’s another level of privacy added to your remote setup. 

Antivirus and firewalls

Install firewalls and antivirus software to your desktop or laptop to prevent cybersecurity attacks. Firewalls provide a barrier to protect your business from unsecured external networks. Antivirus software is the next level of security that acts as a shield to protect your device and its data from malware like phishing, trojan and viruses. This software does expire so make sure you’re always protected.

Update your devices regularly

Your devices will recommend updates regularly so make sure you install them automatically when they appear. Updates are essential to fix any bugs in your device and keep it protected with the latest security additions. This will speed up your device, clear storage space and fix security vulnerabilities.

Backup your data

Failing to backup your data is one of the biggest cybersecurity mistakes you can make. Without another location of your business-critical information, hackers can easily destroy data that would ruin your business. Make sure you backup your data regularly to multiple locations automatically. You can use external hard drives and the Cloud to ensure it’s protected. Use strong password protection and multiple-factor authentication. You should also have recovery systems in place so your data is salvaged should disaster strike.

Email filtering

When you’re working remotely, you’re likely to have a lot more emails entering your inbox as face-to-face communication becomes limited. You’ll be at risk of phishing attacks and unsecure sites that can install viruses into your device and network. Install email filtering software to filter your ingoing and outgoing emails to check for spam, malware and untrustworthy links.

There are plenty more ways to establish the ideal remote working environment but these are the essential technologies and cybersecurity measures your business needs. Ensure your employees receive cybersecurity training so they can protect the devices and software in your remote working policy. Check with them to see what they already have at home and what they need to work remotely. This guide is a great place to start developing your remote working strategy and remain secure from threatening forces.

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How to stay connected whilst remote working https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/how-to-stay-connected-whilst-remote-working https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/how-to-stay-connected-whilst-remote-working#respond Mon, 23 Mar 2020 10:29:12 +0000 https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/?p=494 Whether it’s ideal or not, most businesses are having to step up their remote working processes. Where face-to-face communication is limited, it takes a shift in your normal way of working and engaging to make sure your business stays connected while working out of the office.

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Whether it’s ideal or not, most businesses are having to step up their remote working processes. Where face-to-face communication is limited, it takes a shift in your normal way of working and engaging to make sure your business stays connected while working out of the office. A full remote working policy isn’t something a lot of businesses will have put in place; if your business has, it’s likely to involve a few individuals on a consultancy basis, not your entire workforce.

Having to send your team, whether all of them or some of them, away from the office will undoubtedly disrupt your working life. It’s not something we would have expected to go through without much time to prepare the right processes. This has caused problems for many trying to ensure you have everything necessary to run your business seamlessly. This is only achievable with the right communication, software, processes and expectations in place. Here are some ways you can stay connected while working remotely:

Choose your communication channels

Establish the communication channels you’re going to use during your time working from home. Where you would pop your head up or walk to your colleagues’ desks to ask a question or have a chat, it’s no longer possible. Set your communication boundaries at the beginning of remote working so all your team know how and when they can catch up with each other. It doesn’t all have to be work related – set up some time to have general chit chat about how your day’s gone and what’s happening in each other’s lives. These are the core interactions that will certainly be missed not being in the office.

Make sure all your team have access to a mobile phone so you can always jump on a call when you need to. Phone calls tend to be the most productive when chatting to one person individually or in private. Ensure your team have each other’s contact numbers before sending them away so everyone is accessible. For both mobile and video calls, make sure team members have a strong broadband connection and good wireless coverage in work areas, otherwise, be sure to provide Ethernet cables for those that need them before leaving the office.

Video calls are great for wider group meetings of more than three or four people. You can share screens and present information so you’re all viewing the same thing. Teams, Skype, Google Hangouts and Zoom are great video conferencing software that offer different benefits. Trial them to see which works best for your needs. Decide on certain meetings or calls where you all put your cameras on – it’s nice to see a friendly face to boost morale. If some team members are pulled out into other meetings, record the ones you’re having with the wider team so they can catch up and stay in the loop.

If you’re used to physical documents or documents that are all on your computer storage, consider moving them to the Cloud or Google Docs. This will allow you to access your documents online without storing them directly on your device. You can also share links to documents quickly and easily so everyone can see the relevant projects and make contributions.

Avoid emails internally where possible – they can clutter your inbox and get distracting with notifications constantly popping up in the corner of your screen. It can get confusing following long trails of emails with all sorts of people CC’d in when a simple phone call or meeting could be held. If you need to email, reserve it for times when comms need to be in writing and documents need to be sent externally.

For written internal communications, use instant messaging apps to drop someone a quick message that doesn’t demand a phone call. Apps including Teams, Skype, Hive, Slack or Yammer are great for regular check ins and quick messages. These platforms are great digital workspaces too. You can set out all your tasks and assign them to the relevant people with the right deadlines and briefs. You can then tick off what you’ve achieved and move things around to stay on track.

Be responsive

It’s really important to be as responsive as possible when you’re working remotely. It’s not fair on your colleagues if you leave an hour or so before replying. You have to remain prompt and timely to help everyone maintain their pace of work. You have to be willing to sacrifice some of your time during the day for these communications. You’ll feel like you’ve lost valuable minutes that could have been filled with your tasks, but it’s the right thing to do for your team.

Be realistic as to what you can actually achieve in a day. If you know you’ve got a lot of meetings lined up, prioritise your tasks and move the deadlines you have control over. If you overreach and fall short, it can be really demotivating. Remember to tell your team when you’re moving away from your screen for a long period of time or will be offline. This ensures they know when to contact someone else and not wait around for you.

Set realistic expectations

Moving away from the software aspect of remote working, simple shifts in your daily schedule can take some transitioning time. You may experience a drop in productivity if you haven’t got your team around you as a daily motivator. On the other end of the spectrum, you could feel totally focused and productive being alone in your home. Without distractions of the office, you could get more work done than usual. But this won’t be the case for everyone – this is where your regular communications come into play so you all know who’s done what.

As your workforce have more flexibility when working remotely, you’ll want to maintain structure and objectives that must be met. Start the week off by creating a schedule for everything you want to achieve for the week. Break it down into individual days and even mornings or afternoons- but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t complete it. Unexpected things come in throughout the day that demand your attention away from planned tasks.

Incorporate rules into this schedule to keep everyone on track. It could be a video call at 9am every day, a phone call at 4.30pm at the end of a Friday, or a project deadline at 2pm on Wednesday. This way, everyone will be aligned and on track to hit your goals. Ensure the senior members of staff take time to fill in their wider teams on any client and customer communications. While people are out of sight, they may be out of mind – it’s easy for you to forget to pass on messages to the relevant individuals.

If your business is new to remote working, it can take a lot of getting used to. Put measurements in place so your workforce can reflect on how you’ve performed. If you haven’t hit all your daily or weekly targets, why is that? Was the work you did produce to an exceptional standard? What do you need to do tomorrow or next week to reach those goals? It’s about trying things out and seeing what works best for your business. There isn’t a one size fits all solution to remote working and it will take time to figure out how it works for your workforce.

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What we learnt from Reading business expo https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/what-we-learnt-from-reading-business-expo https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/what-we-learnt-from-reading-business-expo#respond Fri, 28 Feb 2020 12:15:35 +0000 https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/?p=444 We had such a great day meeting visitors at Reading business expo on 25th February 2020. We saw lots of familiar faces and plenty of new ones too – all...

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We had such a great day meeting visitors at Reading business expo on 25th February 2020. We saw lots of familiar faces and plenty of new ones too – all raring to chat about IT solutions. Lizzy and Simon were keen to let you all know how Apogee Solutions can take care of your IT management. We chatted about security, consultancy and connectivity over plenty of cups of tea. Simon even had to lend a hand to the event space to find a new switch – never a dull day!

Our key takeaways from the day

We had loads of interesting conversations with visitors at our stand and around the expo but a few key topics really stood out. This included the pressure to manage full IT solutions with limited time, the need to secure business data and technology, and not being able to approach IT companies with general questions.

Managing a full IT solution with limited time

A lot of our visitors were sole traders or businesses with one or two employees. They told us they don’t have much IT support and what they do have, they manage it all themselves. These businesses have a big workload already so IT is an area that causes them time restraints and issues. With sole traders feeling pressured to manage your own IT, we assured you that Apogee can take full responsibility of your IT solutions with our expert support. Our IT consultants create a bespoke package for your business that helps you achieve your objectives with the right technology.

Securing your business data and technology

Security was another big talking point during the Reading business expo. With more businesses making sure they have the right IT security, this topic was as popular as ever. Security, in particular cybersecurity, is crucial for businesses in the digital era. Your data and technology must be protected from internal or external forces that threaten your business. We talked you through Apogee’s comprehensive cybersecurity and Cloud IT solutions. Our experts implement solid network security strategies, data storage and recovery, file encryption so your business is covered from all angles.

Lack of full-range IT support

A stand out issue was the lack of full-range IT support that companies are receiving. We expressed that even if you have an existing IT company – particularly if they’re not offering end-to-end support – you can still come to Apogee for guidance. We assured you that we offer the full package, not just certain elements. If you require the full-service IT solution, we can support you every step of the way. If you just need a friendly team to answer your burning queries, we’re here too. We’re passionate about IT and want you to give you the right technology for success.

Why you should partner with Apogee Solutions

Apogee Solutions is the IT department that you can add on to your company. We’re outsourced support with in-house commitment. Apogee is the quality, trustworthy partner your business can rely on. We offer enterprise-level solutions that are affordable and accessible. Apogee gives you the correct security as well as peace of mind that your data is always protected.

How to get in touch with us

If you weren’t able to meet us at Reading business expo, we’ll be exhibiting at Basingstoke business expo at Oakley Hall Hotel on 26th March 2020. We’ll keep you updated on details closer to the time so follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. If you enjoyed our chat at the expo and want to discuss how we can work together, get in touch with us now.

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How scammers launch phishing attacks via VoIP https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/scammers-launching-phishing-attacks-voip https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/scammers-launching-phishing-attacks-voip#respond Fri, 21 Feb 2020 10:42:49 +0000 https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/?p=220 In a voice phishing (vishing) scam, scammers may pretend to be a bank representative, a government official, or any type of legitimate entity requesting confidential information via Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) platforms. With expanding avenues of cyberattacks, remaining vigilant is more important than ever. Learn why vishing campaigns are effective.

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In a voice phishing (vishing) scam, scammers may pretend to be a bank representative, a government official, or any type of legitimate entity requesting confidential information via Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) platforms. With expanding avenues of cyberattacks, remaining vigilant is more important than ever. Learn why vishing campaigns are effective.

VoIP makes it easy to create fake numbers

More cyber criminals are launching vishing scams because it’s easy for them to hide their tracks and the risk of getting detected is minimal.

Using a fake number, scammers can contact your employees, pretend to be a representative of a bank or government agency, ask for sensitive information — such as salary information, account numbers, and company intellectual property — and get away with it. Scammers can also manipulate local numbers to emulate multinational banks, which they will then use for various VoIP scams.

VoIP is easy to set up and difficult to track

It isn’t difficult to configure a VoIP system, which makes it easy to make fraudulent phone calls or messages. Scammers only need to know the basics of a VoIP setup.

VoIP hardware such as IP-PBXs, IP phones, and routers are also inexpensive and quite easy to access. Hackers can conveniently connect these equipment to PCs to record phone calls and steal information from conversations.

Additionally, fake numbers are difficult to track because they can be ditched at any time. And with advanced voice-changing software widely available nowadays, a vishing scam is much easier to pull off.

Caller ID can be tampered with

In some vishing scams, attackers don’t even have to terminate a number to cover their tracks. Instead, they can trick users into thinking that they’re talking to a legitimate Microsoft technical support staff, a PayPal representative, or a fraud investigator simply by tampering with the caller ID.

VoIP scamming is cost-efficient

Traditional phones are still used for phishing scams, but they don’t compare to the efficiency that VoIP affords, which allows attackers to target victims all over the globe at a fraction of the cost. Cybercriminals resort to VoIP scamming because the price per call is much lower. Vishing scammers are sneaky and resourceful, and they will exhaust all possible means to attack your systems for profit — and that includes your VoIP channels.

Protecting yourself is simple

To protect against VoIP-based scams, set stringent policies on information sharing and impose strict security processes for all business communications. Informed and aware employees are key to making sure that scammers are held at bay. Protect your company against all types of scams by getting in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org.

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Here’s how to speed up Google Chrome https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/how-to-speed-up-google-chrome https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/how-to-speed-up-google-chrome#respond Mon, 17 Feb 2020 10:42:42 +0000 https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/?p=221 Google made its foray into web browsers with Chrome in 2008. With its remarkable speed and ease, Chrome was welcomed by many users. However, over time, the browser becomes a bit sluggish, especially if you’ve installed extras such as extensions. Follow these easy steps to ramp up your Chrome browser's speed.

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Google made its foray into web browsers with Chrome in 2008. With its remarkable speed and ease, Chrome was welcomed by many users. However, over time, the browser becomes a bit sluggish, especially if you’ve installed extras such as extensions. Follow these easy steps to ramp up your Chrome browser’s speed.

Clear your browsing data

Chrome stores cached copies of websites you visit so it can load the page faster when you visit them again. It also keeps a database of your browsing history and cookies for the same purpose. As you visit more and more websites, these pieces of data accumulate in Chrome and can slow the browser down.

Thankfully, the solution is easy: clear your cache. Simply access your browsing history by entering chrome://history in your address bar. From the left panel, select Clear browsing data. Choose which data to delete by clicking on the checkboxes of all items you want deleted, like cached images or cookies. You can also select the time range that will be affected by the deletion. You can delete your history for the past hour, the last 24 hours, the last seven days, and from the beginning of time. Once you’ve selected the files you want to delete and their corresponding time range, click Clear data.

Disable extensions

Extensions are downloadable programs from the Chrome Web Store that you can add to your browser to give it more functionality and a personalised touch. For example, you can add an extension that blocks ads, one that shortens URLs, or one that shows your most important tasks of the day. While these extensions are useful, they can slow Chrome down if there are too many installed at once.

Most extensions will show on Chrome’s address bar, and you can quickly uninstall them by right-clicking on their icons and selecting Remove from Chrome. You can also manage all extensions by typing chrome://extensions in your browser and hitting Enter. From there, you’ll find a list of all the extensions you have (even those you don’t remember installing). Simply scroll through the list and click Remove to delete the extensions you don’t need.

Remove ads and malware

Sometimes, Chrome slows down because of malware or adware extensions. Extra toolbars, recurring pop-up ads, and web pages redirecting to other addresses are clear indications of these. Google once had a downloadable app developed for Chrome that scans and removes unwanted programs called the Clean Up Tool. In 2018, Google discontinued that app and made malware scanning even easier. Just type chrome://settings/cleanup in your browser, and click on Find to detect and remove harmful software on your computer.

A top-performing web browser benefits your business in many ways, including enhancing your employees’ productivity and speeding up communication. If your web browser is performing poorly or takes forever to load a page, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us so we can identify and fix the problem right away.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org.

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Benefits of technology business reviews https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/benefits-technology-business-reviews https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/benefits-technology-business-reviews#comments Fri, 14 Feb 2020 10:09:31 +0000 https://www.apogeesolutions.co.uk/?p=1 Most small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) don’t possess the resources to run and maintain their IT infrastructure, let alone assess whether it’s still driving value for the company. However, if you want to ensure everything is running smoothly, it’s important to conduct technology business reviews whenever possible.

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Most small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) don’t possess the resources to run and maintain their IT infrastructure, let alone assess whether it’s still driving value for the company. However, if you want to ensure everything is running smoothly, it’s important to conduct technology business reviews whenever possible.

A technology business review reveals the strengths and weaknesses of your company’s IT framework. It’s often performed by a third-party IT consultant who will give an objective assessment of your technology and provide recommendations to help you meet your goals. If done properly, technology business reviews allow you to:

Save money

Every review starts with a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether an implemented solution is worth the continued investment. If there are technologies costing you a fortune in management and maintenance fees, consultants will advise you to cut them from your budget. The best ones will recommend cost-effective alternatives so you can do more with less.

Increase productivity

System-wide reviews of your IT infrastructure show you what processes are hindering business operations. This allows you to formulate solutions to increase productivity. For example, if employees are mainly sharing files via email, consultants might suggest cloud collaboration platforms, like Office 365 or G Suite, that store data in a centralised location for seamless file sharing.

Enhance security and compliance

Technology business reviews can also uncover security risks within your business. Consultants look for missed patches, poorly configured networks, and other software vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited by cybercriminals.

They’ll then compile their findings to create a more robust cybersecurity strategy, usually, one that involves implementing advanced solutions like intrusion prevention systems (IPS), file access restrictions, and patch management software.

If you operate a business that’s subjected to data regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), consultants will also pinpoint IT practices and solutions that are non-compliant and customise a strategy that ensures the privacy, integrity, and availability of your data.

Implement technologies that fit

Considering that new technologies are released at a breakneck pace, it’s important to pick those that will help you achieve your business goals. Technology business reviews keep you up to date on the latest technology trends and gauge the impact of implementing them so that you can make informed decisions.

Whether your goal is to increase profits, productivity, security, or all of the above, technology business reviews can put you on the right track. Our seasoned IT consultants can conduct these reviews for you and develop a strategy that gives you an edge over the competition. Just give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org.

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