• Tech Tools

    Supercharge your Business with These Tech Tools



    Over the last several years, a huge number of great technologies and applications with the potential to transform a business have reached the market. Some of these tech tools have been a great success, others not so much.

    To help navigate this maze of products, we reached out to several tech leaders and asked them for their favorite tech tools or applications.

    Asana – Task Management and Accountability

    Phill Claxton is a startup maven who helps lead software-as-a-service businesses from their birth through massive growth.

    From Phill: With the crazy pace of startups and my time at IT Glue, my tech tool of choice has become ASANA.

    You are right; I am really busy and without a tool like this it is easy to forget things. I find ASANA a fantastic tool for tracking projects and recording information. It easily allows you to see:

    • what needs to be done and what is the most immediate priority in terms of due date
    • the integration with google docs means that documents can be linked to tasks for quick and easy access
    • tasks can also then be linked to your calendar

     

    For busy people like you and I, it really helps keep one organized.

    Mike: I completely agree with Phill. I use tech tools like Asana religiously to stay on top of the 10,000 things I’m doing. Alternates to Asana include Trello and Microsoft Planner (included with Office 365).

    Office 365 – Productivity Platform

    As the CEO of Fully Managed, one of Vancouver’s leading managed service providers, Joel Abramson has helped a huge number of companies harness the power of IT. His choice is Office 365, a productivity platform that’s becoming the standard for businesses.

    From Joel: Office 365 allows your team to combine the powerful productivity tech tools, they know and love (such as Email, SharePoint, MS Office and Outlook), with the next generation of collaboration and communications tools.

    Engaging a modern workforce is simple with Office 365. The platform is designed for full mobility, online and offline access and has deeply embedded collaboration features. Office 365 also includes a next-generation communications tool (Teams), audio and video conferencing (Skype for Business) and task management (Planner). Most importantly, all these tech tools are integrated and Microsoft is constantly improving them.

    Mike: Many of the experts I reached out to responded with Office 365 as their number one recommendation, some saying it’s no longer a supercharger – it’s the expectation for businesses. The cost savings alone, when compared to running Exchange on-premise, is often enough for most businesses. When they start to leverage the rest of the platform … supercharge!

    SharePoint Online (part of Office 365)

    Scott Lipscomb is one of the principals for Processive, a company focused on transforming collaboration and optimizing and automating business processes using Office 365. Their tech tool of choice: SharePoint Online.

    Scott’s thoughts: Over the last year, companies have started flocking to Office 365 in droves. And in nearly every case it’s been a cost savings against their IT budget. Smart organizations then reinvest those savings into process improvements utilizing the Office 365 platform, creating a great Win/Win situation.

    Users absolutely love the fact that they can access and collaborate on documents outside of the office and do it with the device and/or app of their choice without many hoops to jump through. For example, a worker can upload a file to a SharePoint Online site from their work PC and then go home and open it up in OneDrive on the home computer. If they’re on the go, they can use the SharePoint app on a mobile device to review changes or make updates. This may seem like a simple thing, but it’s a paradigm shift for a lot of companies and users are embracing it.

    Where else can SharePoint Online make a difference?

    SharePoint can replace custom web applications/forms developed to collect data from end users. It provides the input mechanism (forms), storage mechanism (lists) and the delivery mechanism (web parts and pages) all out of the box as well as a robust search mechanism.

    Most companies have several existing “dark” or informal processes that could benefit from some of the newer concepts that Office 365 enables. Namely, mobile access, single sign-on, co-authoring, social features, integration with other systems, etc. A reexamination of those processes in that context can offer some big improvements.

    Mike: I’ve helped many companies implement SharePoint and SharePoint Online. It’s a fantastic tool for structuring the organic knowledge and processes that grow all over your business.

    Zoho CRM – Customer Relationship Management

    Aliya Amershi is the CEO and Founder of AskaTechie.com, a marketplace for connecting small and medium business with the top technical talent. Being both a techie and businesses guru, she offered something a little different: a tech tool to supercharge your sales process.

    From Aliya: There’s a lot to be said about using a CRM, but let me break it down in a couple of sentences. Your customers and their data is arguably the most valuable asset of your business.

    So do you really want to be managing that using a basic spreadsheet? A CRM allows you and your team to collaborate in keeping your 1000s, maybe millions, of contacts up to date, whether they are a hot lead or current customer. It’ll identify where they are in your sales funnel or when they were last contacted in your marketing campaign. In addition, generating custom dashboards and reports can be done in a snap.

    When people think CRM they think of the super expensive and complicated Salesforce, which has its merits, but if you’re starting out, or are a small-medium sized business, then Zoho is the perfectly simple and cost effective solution.

    Plus, it can scale as your business grows with its many business extensions and integrations.

    Mike: Effective use of a CRM system should be a requirement for every business. Zoho is a great entry-level product and meets the needs of most businesses. Plus, it integrates really well with the other tech tools discussed in this article.

    Slack

    Martin DesRosiers is the President of Nucleus Networks, another of Vancouver’s top managed services providers.  Over the last several years, they’ve transformed their internal collaboration and communications using a product called Slack.

    From Martin: Most businesses struggle to find a way to bring people together. As many organizations now employ a distributed workforce, how do you create transparency and foster an amazing culture, especially if you have road warriors or multiple offices?

    Luckily, a tool called Slack can provide the transparency people crave, a platform to build a culture upon, and the ability for stakeholders to keep their fingers on the pulse of their business.

    Slack is more than just a messaging app, it’s a cloud-based productivity tool that can drive efficiencies and allow your business to make better decisions, quicker! Slack is composed of three main areas that can make an impact on your business which I’ll touch on briefly:

    Channels

    Channels can either be Public (everyone in your organization can see or contribute) or Private (select groups of individuals can participate in the conversation). Standard Channel topics include departments and/or teams, clients, partners, management, etc. There is no limit to what you can create and it allows you to create total transparency across your organization but also create private channels to triage things in real-time, regardless of where staff are located.

    Direct Messages

    Cluttering inboxes is a thing of the past, having real-time one on one conversations via Slack is the new norm. Whether you’re using the mobile, desktop, or web app, Slack allows you to communicate one on one with individuals, facilitating conversations through its platforms instead of the endless back and forth emails.

    3rd Party Integrations

    The biggest x-factor, in my opinion, is the vast/powerful integration ecosystem that Slack has created. It allows Slack to become the middle-layer, or the single source of truth if you will for all your business information systems. Curious on the latest client that’s coming on board? Check Slack, curious on who’s joining the company? Check Slack, curious on what leads are coming in from your website? Check Slack…you get the drill. Slack becomes that single pane of glass into all aspects of your business and as a bonus, it provides cutting edge communication and collaboration functionality that’s critical in everyday business life.

    Slack is one of those tech tools that can revolutionize your business. It’s one of those things that if you achieve 100% user adoption, 6-months later you look back and wonder how you survived without it. It’s an invaluable tool to communicate, collaborate and bring your team together. If you’ve yet to ‘Slack’, I highly recommend giving it a go!

    Mike: I couldn’t agree more.  Slack is fantastic.  Microsoft recently released Teams, their competitor.  Slack is more mature and polished but doesn’t have the same integration into Office 365.

    Your Next Steps

    Ready to engage the supercharger?  Implementing even one of these tech tools well can become a game changer, increasing productivity and lowering costs.  Most of them even come with free trials so you can take a test drive.

    If you still don’t know where to start, reach out to us and we’ll be happy to help you maximize your IT investment.

    Mike Knapp is an IT Project Superhero and Cyber-Security Simplifier with the goals of helping business be more successful and reducing the risk of cyber-attacks. He is a partner with Incrementa Consulting and the founder of Simple Security.

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