Flat Rate IT Support vs. Hourly

Hourly IT Support vs. Flat Rate IT Support

Before we delve into hourly IT vs flat rate IT, ask yourself this: would it be ideal to pay a home contractor one set price for a job, or do you want to pay for the billable hours as they come in, despite the amount of work done for the project and the length of time it takes? For many people, the answer is a set, pre-determined rate. When you work with an hourly structure, more factors come into play such as overtime, rented space, benefits, vacation pay, and in emergencies. Flat rate IT support gives you all the benefits and expertise of an hourly IT support team, without the fluctuating costs and raised rates.

What are the True Costs of Hourly IT Support?

At the end of the year, one heavy expense weighs on the minds of accounting departments and business leaders—IT expenses. When a company employs a full-time IT team, that the company pays hourly, the cost extends far beyond the hourly wage. When your IT system is not up to par, productivity crashes and efficiency lags. IT hiccups, security threats, software upgrades, and infrastructure maintenance all drain the bank account. Many times, companies require multiple services, departments, or experts to handle specific situations. Pay-as-you go services and hidden IT costs can cost companies anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000 or more per year. Think of the sacrifices the company has to make to maintain its current IT strategy when the current strategy consumes thousands of dollars of the company’s revenue. The problem with hourly IT support services is you never know how to plan for the true cost because one does not exist. Hourly IT services fluctuate, costs change, and IT failures are costly.

Benefits of Flat-Rate IT Support

A flat rate IT strategy does everything that a traditional hourly IT team does, but it does so with transparent pricing, predictable costs, scalable features and more. You pay for only what your company needs, and the costs never go up because someone got a raise, you had to hire and train new IT experts, your company had to deal with an IT disaster, or the team worked late to perform audits and patches. Flat rate IT allows essential personnel to effectively balance the budget and plan for predictable pricing. Flat rate IT does a lot more than the hourly IT support strategy you, and many other businesses, are used to. A flat-rate IT support system:

  • Provides the business with a dedicated help desk
  • Actively monitors, services and maintains the system even when the business closes its doors for the night.
  • Completes security, software and compliance updates without charging more to do so.
  • Does not charge for overtime, multiple technicians, or outside contractors.
  • Does not charge more for disaster and data recovery.
  • Guarantees an expected level of service.
  • Eliminates costly downtime and IT failures.
Business Technology Tips

Four Tips for Using Technology to Re-think Your Business

Sure you have a computer and a phone in your office, but are you truly using the power of technology to the fullest? With technology you can re-energize your business and help your business grow, improve productivity increase efficiency. Here are four tips for using technology to rethink your business.

Utilize the Cloud

Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft SkyDrive are popular cloud storage services that will file your documents online so they’re secure and accessible from anywhere. You can use the Cloud to manage different accounts and clients as well as different projects and team members. The Cloud offers you the chance to collaborate, share files, and work even while away from the office.

Track Your Traffic

With Google Analytics, you can see exactly what is happening on your website. You can see what other sites drive consumers to your site, what cities they live in, how much time they are spending on your website, and which pages they are looking at frequently. Tracking your website traffic is a great way to use technology to better understand your customer and what is attracting their attention.

Connect With Prospects

With video conferencing, you can now connect with prospects and partners all over the world. No more money wasted on travelling for meetings, or missing out on valuable work hours spent traveling – now you can see your clients face to face without ever leaving your office.

Communicate Easier

Email isn’t always the fastest form of communication – with mobile technology you can connect with your team through applications such as Slack and get an immediate, real-time response. This eliminates time wasted on waiting for an email response and you will be able to see who’s online and who’s not, so you can become more productive.

Wireless Internet Protection

How To Secure Your Company’s Wireless Internet

Internet security becomes increasingly important as the threats to your system grow. Malware, spyware, adware, viruses and hackers are detrimental to your hard drives, and have the potential to steal and take advantage of personal information, as well as other documents stored within your computer and on your network. To combat these issues there are several tips and techniques to ensure the safety of your company’s wireless Internet.

  1. Do Not Use The Default Password

It is prudent to security that you change the password that allows access to your router and wireless Internet from the default the manufacturer has set to something only people with proper authorization know. Hackers are able to obtain information surrounding the passwords associated with specific manufacturers; however, by changing the password to something new you are building up your security’s defenses and making it a little more difficult for someone to gain access to your network. In addition to this, all routers have different types of encryption that in turn require different types of passwords. For businesses it is recommended that the WPA2 encryption is used as it is the hardest for a hacker to break.

  1. Turn SSID (Service Set Identifier) Off and Change SSID Name

SSID prompts your computer’s system to broadcast where it is, in a way that tells the outside world its location and network name, and enables hackers to know important information regarding your wireless Internet. By turning this off, you are effectively cloaking your network and helping to prevent minor attacks on your company’s system. Changing the SSID name to something that is not common is also important to promote a healthy wireless network. Hackers have developed what is referred to as a “rainbow table,” which allows them to access WPA passwords that are normally associated with common SSID names. Which means that the more unique that your SSID name is, the more difficult it will be for hackers to take advantage of your network, as they will have to adapt their methods in order to infiltrate your wireless Internet.

  1. Use Mac Address Filtering

All devices that have the capacity to connect to the Internet have what is referred to as the “physical address” or the MAC (media access control) address. Routers have the ability to filter through devices and allow only wireless access to the MAC addresses that its system recognizes, those that you have pre-programmed. The benefit of this is immediately apparent, as your router will only grant access to specific devices that are known to both it and you.

  1. Enable Your System’s Firewalls and Use Anti-virus Software

In addition to the firewall that is on your computer, the wireless router that you have will also contain a built in firewall. Sometimes when these devices arrive, their default settings have these firewalls turned off. However, it is important that the firewalls are enabled because it acts as a barrier between intrusions that could be harmful to your wireless Internet and the personal information that is stored within your hard drive, and your company’s network. It is also important that all computers and devices that are allowed to access your network are protected by anti-virus software. By preventing these devices from being susceptible to outside attacks, this software will ensure that the network as a whole remains safe. Once a virus enters one device it will have an easier time infecting the surrounding devices that share the same wireless Internet, so making sure that each individual device is secure is prudent to the network’s overall security.

Maintaining a healthy wireless network is a result of a combination of steps and programs all working together to build a strong line of defense. Taking the time to guarantee that your router is working efficiently to promote security and is running in a way that does not put your network at risk is important. By following these tips, you are verifying that your company’s wireless Internet remains secure and protected from all outside threats.

Security Breach

What a Security Breach Will Cost Your Company

More and more often we see stories in the news regarding data breaches at major companies, from the Sony hack that put the data of millions of gamers onto the open marketplace to the Home Depot breach that put the credit card information of thousands of their customers onto the Web. The Ponemon Institute, which tracks such incidents, estimates that the average cost of a security breach is $3.5 million, with the lowest that they have knowledge of at $750,000 and the highest at nearly $31 million.

 

The volume of these attacks is on the rise, with credit card companies, banks and other financial institutions leading the list of companies that have to deal with hackers on a regular basis. Other companies aren’t safe either, though, as all information, of any kind, will command some kind of price on the black market. Hackers will go after any storage that they find is easy to breach in the hope of finding some sort of paydata.

 

This means that your company isn’t safe either – any data is a commodity, and its loss may hurt you more than it lines the criminals’ pockets. Having all of your client information deleted, for example, can spell the bankruptcy of your firm, and in more ways than you realize. Not only will you no longer be able to have their history and such, but you’ll have to go to them, hat in hand, and explain that their data is no longer secure. This is not only embarrassing, but it’s also a bad blow to your company’s reputation.

 

Reputation is important, especially if you have a bad one. You don’t want to be known as the company that lost data. Customers expect companies to realize all these threats and have security in place to prevent it, making it your responsibility to guard against them even if they are a lot more sophisticated than conventional means can handle. Sony is a good example: it took a public apology by the CEO and the board for a horde of angry gamers to stay on as customers, and even then many left and took their wallets elsewhere. The consequences for Home Depot are still a little unclear, but their stock took a tumble as shareholders started selling in anticipation of disappointing profit figures.

 

Security is no small matter. It can decide the future of your business. Unlike an individual, as an entrepreneur you can’t rely on free options or on downloadable programs; you’re going to have to enlist the services of IT security professionals who can set up a suite of protection for you and who will monitor your security situation at all times. It may not be cheap, but the alternative can cost you a lot more.

How the Apple Smart Watch Can Help You Stay Fit

Staying fit is not an easy task. Well, that is what the multi-billion industry wants you to believe. The truth is small changes can help you achieve your fitness goals, and awareness has a tremendous impact on your success. However, calorie counting and fitness tracking can be daunting and time-consuming, which suck the life out of fitness and your fitness goals. Fitness can be fun, and many of the activities you do already are contributing to your overall health. The new Apple Watch can help you track just how well you are doing and can help you identify how to do better. Apple lovers listen up. The new watch is your ideal health partner.

About the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch has an Activity app that helps you monitor and maximize your health and daily activities. The watch is ideal for athletes, active users, and people who want to improve their overall health. The app allows you to set goals for yourself; it provides you with updates about your progress throughout the day; it gives you a breakdown of your exercise stats; and it reminds you to get up and get moving. The app has three functions: Move, Exercise, and Stand. The watch keeps track of what you are already doing, such as walking to your car in the parking lot, hiking up stairs, and taking your 4-legged friend on an adventure. The watch is a fitness tracker and health coach in one.

Ring One: Move

The first ring is Move. Users can select the amount of calories they desire to burn in a single day, or the Apple Watch can suggest a goal based on current activity level and movement history. As you get closer to reaching your calorie goal, the ring closes tighter. The movement ring makes you more aware of the small movements you are taking each day to reach you calorie goal, but it also makes you aware of the areas in which you can improve. If you begin to fall behind, you will see it and can take the initiative to get up and move, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or park out a little further at the grocery store. The app permits you to adjust your movement goals up or down to fit your needs and lifestyle.

Ring Two: Exercise

The Exercise ring monitors how much time you spend exercising in a single day. The app monitors how much physical activity, above a brisk walk, you do in a day. Your daily goal should be thirty minutes for a healthier heart. As you approach your exercise goal, the ring closes. The app does not reset after you complete only ten minutes of exercise; it tracks your activity for the entire day. You can complete 30 minutes in a single session, or you can break it up throughout the day to fit your routine into your busy life.

Ring Three: Stand

The third ring is the Stand ring. The Stand ring keeps track of how much you are sitting throughout the day. It may surprise you just how much you really do not move around. If you sit for longer than an hour, the watch tells you to get up. The goal is to get you to move around every hour in a 12-hour period.

Monitoring Your Health

All of the information collected with the Apple Watch can be synced with the Health app. The Health app allows you to track your progress and create a plan that help you stay on track with your current and future health goals.

Man looking off into the distance with digital backaground

Using Technology to Achieve a Work-Life Balance

The continuous evolution of technology has made our work lives easier in many ways. Emails, the Internet and apps can get us in touch with one another in an instant and we never miss a call from a colleague, customer or your boss. This has its downsides too. Getting notifications about work 24/7 on your mobile device can negatively impact your personal and family life, leading to lots of stress and poor health. We start to feel that we never get a moment to ourselves to relax and unwind without a chance to truly leave work behind and immerse ourselves in our personal life. Don’t give up on technology, instead use it to create a work-life balance, and we have a few examples of how to do this.

How to Achieve A Successful Work-Life Balance:

Work Remotely

Technology has allowed the workplace to become much more flexible. If your employer will allow you, work from home a few days a week. This puts you in charge of your professional and personal life. Working from home can relieve stress of handling many tasks at once in the office with constant interaction from employees and a hoovering boss. By doing work from home a few days a week, the other days can be saved for meetings with clients, colleagues and other work that must be done on-site, as well as giving you social interaction that can be missed when you’re away for too long.

Save Valuable Time

In a time where we are constantly running back and forth to see clients, meetings or run errands, any minutes we can save are precious. The more time we save, the more we can spend with loved ones. Long commutes have actually been found to lead to divorce. Take advantage of technology that finds the quickest route for you to get from A to B. Use features like Google Maps, or apps like Beat the Traffic to find the fastest path for you so you can improve time management skills.

Video Conferencing

Employees who travel a lot risk their relationships with their loved ones because they are away so much. However, it is important to a company to be able to reach out to clients in other parts of the country or the world. Video conferencing makes it possible to meet with these important customers and have critical face-to-face interactions, while your employee does not have to set foot in an airport. Conference calls with several users can take place on a common virtual platform, which also saves a company money on travel expenses. 

Online Photo Sharing

Sometimes our work takes us away from relatives because we have to relocate. This makes it difficult for them to keep up with us as our family and children grow. In order to keep everyone in the loop, consider a photo sharing website like Shutterfly where you can share all of your pictures with whoever you invite. This keeps them more private than social media sites and allows loved ones to see you more than only on holidays.

 

Twitter

5 Ways You Can Use Social Networking to Build Your Brand

Social media is taking over in more ways than one. Not only is it a great way to build relationships with people on a personal level, but it is a great way to build relationships with people on a business level as well. Social networking is an inexpensive and easy way to connect with people, build your brand, and stimulate your business. It has the potential to turn even the smallest business into a global empire. Learn some ways to use social networking to build your brand.

 

Online Destinations

An important part of creating brand awareness is creating branded online destinations for consumers where they can select how they want to interact with your business. Some of the most popular ways that you can do this is through the free social networking and media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and blogs. With so many options, it is a good idea to test a few of them out and find out which ones work best for you and your consumers. You can always have a main destination and use the other ones to link people to it.

 

Target Audience

It’s important that you know who your target audience is or should be. Find out where they spend time, and then spend time there yourself. You can do Google searches to create paths to follow in order to find them. This would be done with the same keywords that consumers would use to find you. Join blogs and forums. Once you establish yourself in these places, engage in conversations and ask questions. Use this as a way to build trust with people and lead them back to your branded destinations.

 

Influencers

You should strive to connect with influencers in addition to your target audience. You can get in their view by following them on Twitter, retweeting their tweets, commenting on their blogs, and even shooting them an email. This will help to expose you to new audiences.

 

Entry Points

Entry points are an important thing to establish when trying to build your brand. The more entry points you have the better. They will draw more people to you and can eventually rank you very high in search engines. The best way to establish these entry points is to publish things that people will want to share and talk about. This includes valuable, meaningful, and useful information that will attract readers.

 

Balanced Promoting

Nobody is going to want to be bothered by you if you constantly promote your business and do nothing else. It’s important to have a good balance between business and pleasure. Your business will flourish much quicker if you balance out the time that you spend between self-promoting activities and non-self-promoting activities.

How Preferred Technology Solutions Can Help Your Business Grow

Whether you own a small startup, a healthcare office, a government agency, or a large corporation, your operations can benefit from an affordable and tailored wireless technology solution.

Wireless solutions is a strategy to help you conduct business anywhere, 24/7. When your business utilizes Preferred’s wireless solutions services, your market reach will grow along with your profit.

 

How Wireless Solutions Boost Your Business

Wireless solutions are affordable, secure, supported by an expert team, and easy to install without the threat of costly downtime. A comprehensive wireless solution strategy is a great addition to your current IT design and business model.

 

1. Employees can use their own devices

Desktops are not the only devices used in modern offices. Employees and business owners like yourself, are experts with tablets, laptops and smartphones. Mobile devices enable users to do more in less time. Most of a company’s communication occurs via a mobile device. Wireless solutions is the answer to increasing productivity and efficiency on the devices you and your employees use on a daily basis. Wireless solutions allows employees to use mobile devices to email, share files, meet with clients, collaborate remotely, and remain connected without being strapped down to an office chair and desktop.

 

2. A safe and secure connection saves your business money

When your business eliminates wiring, the savings increases overall. A wireless solution eliminates the need for costly maintenance, reduces the business’s operating costs, and cuts down on energy use. Wireless solutions increase productivity, which infuses your company’s bottom line.

 

3. An engineer will evaluate your needs and deploy the most effective system

When it comes to your company’s safe and reliable wireless solutions needs, trust only the experts. An engineer is assigned to your company, and he/she evaluates your business needs and growth potential. The engineer works with you to tailor a wireless strategy that complements your business needs and future potential.

 

4. Collaboration and connectivity increases among the employees

A wireless solution is the perfect companion for file sharing, remote access services, and project completion. Wireless connectivity allows employees to break free from the confines of their desks. Meetings, conferences, and group projects can be help anywhere in the office without weakening or dropping the connection. When employees have the means for mobility, they can remain connected, even when they are not in the office. When your company expands beyond the office walls, the market reach expands as well.

 

5. Dedicated support, protection, and technical services

Paying for a dedicated in-house IT team can be expensive, especially if something goes wrong. You can rest assured knowing the expert team that designed your wireless connection is the team that stands beside you and supports you if something happens.

The New Smartwatch From Pebble: Pebble Time

Pebble is known for the smartwatch and the Kickstarter fund raising site for creative projects. The new Pebble Time smartwatch has set a new Kickstarter record, raising $1 million in only 49 minutes, the fastest in Kickstarter history. Backers on the site can buy the Time for only $179, while the first 10,000 got it for only $159. Here’s what all the fuss is about.

 

About Pebble Time

The watch is named “Time” because time is the central guiding force. It doesn’t favor individual apps, but instead has adopted a timeline display of your most urgent notifications. The notifications are organized by what you need to know currently and then in the near future. Apps will still be there, and Time can work with the already existing software for Pebble. However, developers are focusing on moving in a direction that focuses on building software that is extension-style and provides information to a central shared interface. The goal is to steer away from a model that is app-centric, which is more appropriate for smartphones than a smartwatch accessed on your wrist.

 

Pebble Time Features

The Time is 20% thinner than the previous Pebble smartwatch model, and it now has a new color e-paper screen, where the past model was only available in black and white. Brilliant animations work at 30 fps on the e-ink display. Voice-activated controls can be performed via the Time’s built-in microphone, made with quick text responses in mind.

The straps are now 22mm, which means you can change them out easily with others in your collection. Plus, they come off without a problem because they are designed with quick-release pins, so you don’t need specialized tools to swap straps. The Time is much more customizable than its predecessor.

The Time is water-resistant like the original model, and it uses strong Gorilla Glass for the face and has three available colors for the steel bezel. Connect to devices via Bluetooth, with the aim being to see how the Time works with BLE accessories separate from any phone. Its physical buttons are still a part of the watch, as opposed to a touchscreen interface. The goal in mind with this design is so the user knows for sure that their information has been registered. Designers find this to be a perfect setup for situations where you’re setting a timer for running, dismissing an alarm or swimming.

 

Pebble Time OS

The Operating System for the Time has been completely rebuilt to support new software.

Information that will be displayed chronologically include weather, stocks and email notices to name a few. This Timeline interface will be accessed by the press of a button, allowing users to scroll to the next event in order, no matter what the app source is. If you need to go back to see what notifications you missed, simply scroll back and catch up on items like yesterday’s activity summary or the score of the game you missed. The new operating system will be able to store over 8 apps, which was the previous model’s maximum capacity.

Why Effective IT Solutions Are the Best Choice For Your Business

Not all IT service providers are created equally. When you’re investing in a service that is critical to the survival of your business, you don’t want to enter into it lightly. This is why you need Effective IT solutions to work with your already existing IT department, or as your soul technology solution. Preferred Technology solutions is reliable, with top notch experienced employees and solid leadership. Here’s just a few of the many reasons why you should be working with us.

 

Getting to Know You

At Preferred Technology Solutions, we do more than show up and plug you in. We have a systematic and individualized approach to diagnosing and delivering what you need. It starts with getting to know you in a direct conversation, without any robotic systems to deal with or only e-mails. We send only our enterprise-level engineers to talk with our clients first hand, so you know you won’t be speaking to a lower level employee without the correct knowledge as a go-between.

 

Our Unique Systemic Approach

We follow a simple and effective formula for that has lasted the test of time. Once we have had our conversation, we analyze everything from your business practices to the issues you may have, and where you will go in the future. From there we design a solution that is custom made for your situation, by using the latest IT products available and implementing ideal practice principles. Next, we procure the best available products from the trusted contacts that we have established over the past several decades to meet your needs. When we have procured the items we need, our plan is implemented and tested. Finally, support is ongoing as part of our practice.

 

What Services Are available

It’s easier to say what IT services aren’t available because we can meet all your needs. We offer a range of technology solutions from network security, to data backup and recovery, to cloud computing and unified communications. We only use the most current solutions that give you the most up-to-date security to protect your network and keep things running smoothly. If you can avoid technological breakdowns, you won’t be wasting any time. We know time equals money in the business world. Preferred Technology Solutions is available for tech support, on-site training and more.

 

Our Solid Leadership

What makes a solid company is solid leadership. Our president, Neil Melwed has over 30 years experience in the D/FW technology industry. He founded Preferred Technology Solutions with his wife in 1994. They believe in the principles of meeting clients specific needs, which is you get such personalized attention. Another important principle they believe in is consistent service before, during and after the sale of only the highest quality. The company has sponsored events such as the Teddy Bear Ride to benefit abused children of Collin County. Preferred Technology Solutions has established a solid reputation in the technology community and partnered with only the best companies such as HP, IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, Symantec, Sony, Juniper and more.

 

Do not hesitate to contact Preferred Technology Solutions for any of your IT needs, or even with a question to get you started!