5 Strategies to Improve Workplace Collaboration

A work environment that doesn’t encourage teamwork is one of the top 5 reasons people quit their jobs, according to research by Ernst & Young. Many businesses face growing collaboration needs with aging technologies.  We need solutions — secure, reliable, scalable, and cost-effective — that make workplace collaboration efficient, effective, and enjoyable.

Here are 5 strategies to help improve workplace collaboration.

1 Use a Chat-Based Workspace

Team members often get stuck waiting for the feedback and sign-off they need to drive a project forward. Back-and-forth scheduling for conference calls burns up time and energy. When they finally do get on a call, edit documents, and send out the revised versions, they’re often stuck waiting again for sign-off.

Productivity changes when your team can quickly get coworkers and decision-makers on group or private chat, or in an online meeting with co-authoring. Teams can review, discuss, edit, and approve documents in real time.

2 Improve Online Meetings

Technology mishaps should be a thing of the past, especially struggling to participate in virtual meetings.  Too often, difficulty with connections or the joining process interrupts and delays meetings. These problems discourage people from working together and creates a barrier for our increasingly mobile workforce.

Empower employees to have better meetings with a single meeting application that integrates with the rest of your productivity software.
A positive meeting experience produces positive results for you and your organization.

3 Break Down Work Silos

All too often, team members are heads-down in their work and unaware of the knowledge and efforts elsewhere in your business. Lack of information and duplication hurt morale and have a material cost to your business.

Using a social network tool brings conversations online. Your team uses social networking in their personal life; bringing social tool into your business provides a means for your team to share ideas, information, and interests. With remote and hybrid workers, you can encourage and capture the informal conversations that foster collective intelligence, collaboration, and innovation.

4 Simplify File Sharing

Haven’t we had enough of emailing files and waiting for feedback and revisions.  The process of juggling messages and multiple copies with edits is an inefficient relic from the days of typewriters and routing slips.

Take advantage of the collaboration features of cloud-based file services:

  • Access documents anywhere, whether online or offline
  • Collaborate in a single document that’s always up to date
  • Seamlessly share large files
  • Use built-in chat functionality to discuss edits within a document
  • Control permissions of contacts inside and outside the company

5 Move from a Patchwork of Apps to a Productivity Suite

In our new mobile society, we are accustomed to downloading apps at home and in the office. The result: a hodge-podge of applications that all do different things, have different sign-ins, and may not deliver the security and compliance you want and need.

Moving to, and fully utilizing, a productivity suite gives your team the right tools to get their work done, the resources to communicate and collaborate, the integration to eliminate duplicate data and effort, and the security to protect your information, your people, and your business. Do not just deploy; help your team understand the apps, tools, and features they can use to be more efficient, productive, and successful.

For more on the topic, check out the eBooks and whitepapers in our Library. Better yet, schedule an introductory call and connect with our team of Cloud Advisors.

Upgrade to Google Drive for Desktop before May 18, 2021

On May 18, 2021, older versions of Google Drive for Desktop (formerly Drive File Stream or “DFS”) will no longer function.  To continue using the application without interruption, you need to Upgrade to Google Drive for Desktop version 40.x or higher before this date.

To upgrade your version, use one of the following options:

You can read more about additions and improvements in the Google Drive for desktop release notes.

Thought Leadership: Teamwork

TeamworkWith more people working remotely, and our expectations about Teamwork and working together in physical locations is changes, we need to focus on how we keep our teams working together, effectively and productively.

Here are some articles and blog posts that cover Teamwork (links open in new tabs):

Cloud-Forward solutions provide tools that enable teamwork and collaboration and empower teams. Contact us or meet with a Cloud Advisor to learn more, discuss your challenges and goals, and explore opportunities that foster results.

4 Approaches to Better Meetings

Without a doubt, meetings remain an essential part  of running your business. They ensure your teams stay on the same page with the information they need to get things done; they connect you with your customers; they help build stronger relationships. Unfortunately, meetings can also waste time and resources—ultimately costing your business.

Here are 4 ways to ensure meetings work to your advantage.

1 Define the need
Meetings without a clear agenda are often unproductive.  Ask yourself these 6 questions to determine whether a meeting is necessary.

  1. What is the action item of the meeting: decisive or informing?
  2. What is the size of the meeting?
  3. Is the meeting simply to inform a handful of people, can a memo or email share the information?
  4. Will the meeting solve a problem?
  5. Is there a better alternative, such as using a tool with real-time chat or team announcement features?
  6. Will canceling a meeting negatively impact your employees’ abilities to complete their work?

2 Simplify for success
A positive meeting experience produces positive results for you and your organization.

  • Follow a clearly planned agenda to minimize distraction from your primary purpose and keep your meeting on track
  • Make your expectations crystal clear, and this includes expectations for meeting participation
  • Keep meetings short to improve how employees do their jobs and help steer tangential discussions back on track
  • Ensure all members understand their role to create accountability

3 Meet like a pro
Lessons learned help improve success, particularly with growing use of inclusive meeting technologies.

  1. Provide a clear agenda
  2. Keep time in mind: start and end on time
  3. Ease the burden of not-taking by recording or capturing a transcription of the meeting
  4. Provide visuals to help members follow along
  5. Send a post meeting recap: Reiterate key discussions and decisions; thank members for participating
  6. Define clear action items and outcomes

4 Manage online meetings
Online meetings are here to stay.  If managed well, online meetings create new possibilities for involving team members and sharing information.

  • Ensure everyone has the right technology, invites, and call-in info.  Make sure attendees will be able to see, hear, and speak clearly
  • Keep attendance focused on those that need to be there, avoiding unnecessarily large meetings
  • Welcome members and outline how you plan to manage interactions, who speaks when, and use of the chat window
  • Use the mute features to minimize distractions
  • Keep your meeting secure using passwords and other features
  • Reduce uncertainty by recording the meeting or keeping a transcript for future reference

 

Meeting attendees will follow your lead, so make sure it’s a strong one. By continuously honing your meeting strategies and skills, monitoring what does and doesn’t work, and actively pushing to convert decisions into action, your meetings will become more effective over time.

For more on the topic, check out The Ultimate Meeting Guide. To review your meeting tools, conference room setups, and methods, schedule an introductory call and connect with our team of Cloud Advisors.

Modern Workplace: Benefits and Challenges

The modern workplace brings together teams, information, and processes to empower our teams and enable our businesses. Powered by cloud, getting the most out of our systems requires more than simply moving from one system to another. Managing adoption, ensuring users understand how to use tools effectively, increases individual and team productivity and efficiency.

5 Benefits

Most of our businesses realize benefits when we create our modern workplace.

1 Faster and more reliable communication
The modern workplace improves our ability to communicate. Beyond fast Internet connections, the integration of voice, messaging, audio/video conferencing, file sharing, real-time collaboration, and other tools lets us work together and share information in the ways that work best for us. Secure access from virtually anywhere enables us to work where we are most productive.

2 Enhanced efficiency and productivity
The modern workplace ushers in efficiency and productivity in many ways. Automating tasks and workflows, improved access to files and information, and embedded AI help users complete work more effectively.

3 Lower costs; Higher profits
Technology-driven increases in efficiency and productivity decrease operating costs. Reduced travel, faster time to market, quicker customer response times, and faster and more effective decision-making all result from the reliability, mobility, and productivity of a modern workplace.  These benefits save time and money, and drive revenue and profits.

4 Greater transparency and interconnected operations
You can replace complex, bureaucratic processes when you match access to data and information with updated processes that take advantage of integrated, secure applications, tools, and services. Whether simple file sharing or ensuring you have one record of customer information across your systems, the modern workplace helps connect, streamline, and simplify.

5 Improved security
Modern workplaces are more secure. Integrated, layered security is embedded into the architecture of cloud services, designed and built to meet your security and data privacy needs. Beyond the traditional focus of protecting physical computers in specific locations, security for the modern workplace protects the systems, networks, applications, data, and processes. You also protect your people with identity and access management that removes the physical boundaries of security.

3 Challenges

Moving to a modern workplace, like any, change comes with challenges.

Resistance to Change
Even when they understand the objectives and benefits, some members of your team will hesitate to embrace change. Helping team members understand how the changes will benefit them individually —  how it will enable them succeed — improves buy-in and acceptance. Offering tools to help them learn and apply new features and capabilities supports their personal growth and overall adoption of new apps, tools, and processes.

Inadequate Training
Turning on a new app, tool, or process is not enough. “One and Done” sessions are not effective.  To fully benefit from your modern workplace investments, your team needs to understand your apps and tools as they use them. Individuals retain and apply learning best when they have time to use what they have learned. Adoption plans that provide training and support relevant to a person’s role and responsibility in small, manageable doses, over time are most effective.

Mismatched Technology
Technology for the sake of technology leads to disaster. Picking the best technology that is not the best fit creates problems. Start your selection process by defining your business goals and objectives. Identify the types of technologies you need and want to support your objectives. Then select the specific technologies that match your prioritized needs and wants.

Your Next Steps

Email us or complete our contact form to discuss how your modern workplace can help your business thrive and grow.

The Business Case for Teamwork Solutions

CollaborationHow our teams work, and our businesses run, continues to evolve. Teamwork — communication and collaboration — brings people together to share information, work together, and accomplish common goals and objectives. When you have a place to create and make decisions, you empower your team to achieve.

Market Dynamics

Finding secure, easy ways to connect across teams and locations is a high priority if you want to create a competitive advantage in today’s quickly changing business landscape.

83% of knowledge workers depend on technology to work together

72% of workers will work remotely, full or part time

35% of knowledge workers still collaborate on documents using email

 

Cloud Forward teamwork solutions enable you to customize your workspace, keep your team secure, and communicate more effectively.

Challenges You Face

Most businesses see the value of Cloud Forward solutions, but migrating to the cloud does not ensure results. Real value requires changing some of the ways you work, leveraging features, and enhancing individual and team productivity and effectiveness.

Communications: How can you bring teams and resources together?

  • Enable real-time communication
  • Provide secure mobile access
  • Empower teams to work remotely

Mobility: How can you enable employees to work from virtually anywhere, on any device?

  • Enhance mobility within your company
  • Reduce overhead, and save money on office space, as employees work remotely

Secure Sharing: How can you make it easier to connect with customers, co-workers, and others?

  • Secure and preserve company data when sharing information with others
  • Distinguish between the information external users can and cannot access
  • Keep track of who has what information

Solutions that Drive Success

Adopting Microsoft 365 means more than migrating emails and files. Adopting Microsoft 365 involves managing change; educating your team on ways to use the teamwork technology to:

Get more done

Teamwork technology embedded in Microsoft 365 enables productivity solutions that:

  • Streamline teamwork
    Integrate team chats, meetings, and files in one place; increase productivity
  • Enable real-time teamwork
    Make it easy for teams to work together on documents; rapidly advance ideas and innovation
  • Connect applications
    Provide the tools and services customers use every day to collaborate; connect people, information, and ideas

Work better together

Microsoft Teamwork solutions enables collaboration solutions that help you:

  • Improve security
    Strengthen your overall security posture and improve compliance and reduce your use of unsecure apps
  • Work from virtually anywhere
    Use digital tools to empower teamwork across your mobile workforce, no matter where your people work or what devices they use

Build your business

Microsoft 365 makes it easier to set up and manage users, devices, and data within a highly secure, cloud-based productivity platform.

  • Use an integrated solution
    Save time, money, and the headache of managing multiple vendors and technologies for security and team solutions
  • Reduce costs
    Microsoft technology provides a nearly 80% cost savings over similar technologies provided by third-party vendors

Partner for Success

We understand that change is challenging. We also see that the results outweigh the effort when teams embrace and adopt new capabilities and improve how they work.  Empowering your team enables success.  Through our Managed Cloud Services, we co-manage your IT services and provide on-going education and support to help your team adopt and leverage new capabilities.  We help your employees succeed at their jobs; we enable your company to achieve your desired results.

Contact us or email us to learn more. Or, schedule a complimentary Cloud Advisor Session and discuss your goals, challenges, and opportunities.

Exchange Server Zero-Day Threat

On March 3, 2021, Microsoft issued an emergency Microsoft Exchange Server patch alert for multiple zero-day vulnerabilities that are being exploited by a nation-state affiliated group. The order impacts on-premise Exchange Servers 2010, 2013, 2016, and 2019. Older editions are past end of life and do not receive security updates. Microsoft highly recommends that you take immediate action to apply the patches for any on-premises Exchange deployments. The first priority is servers which are accessible from the Internet (e.g., servers publishing Outlook on the web/OWA and ECP).

To patch these vulnerabilities, you should move to the latest Exchange Cumulative Updates, followed by the relevant security updates on each server.

The vulnerabilities and risk do not exist for any version of Microsoft Exchange Online. The risk does not impact any version of Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Office 365.

As discussed in past posts, one of the benefits of cloud-based solutions is the integrated management of the environment. You are not depending on how well your IT provider of staff keep up with maintaining your systems and your security updates. Moving your infrastructure to the cloud shifts the burden of maintenance and operations, letting your team focus on activities that help your run and grow your business.

Want to learn more, contact us and schedule a complimentary Cloud Advisor session.

Cumulus Global Recognized as a Pioneer on CRN’s 2021 MSP 500 List

CRN®, a brand of The Channel Company, has again named Cumulus Global to its 2021 Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500 list in the Pioneer 250 category. The annual list recognizes leading North American solution providers that demonstrate innovative and forward-thinking approaches to managed services. These services help businesses and their teams improve operational efficiencies and navigate the ongoing complexities of new IT solutions while maximizing their return on IT investments. CRN’s 2021 MSP 500 list identifies the market’s key managed services players who are setting themselves apart with best-of-breed solutions that provide the business outcomes customers need.

“We are grateful for the award as a continued recognition of our commitment to helping small and midsize businesses attain their goals and objectives,” stated Cumulus Global CEO Allen Falcon. “With the added challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, our success, and our customers’ success, would not be possible without creative and innovative solutions, robust vendor relationships, and a team that puts our customers first.”

With cutting-edge approaches to delivering managed services, Manage Service Providers (MSPs) are an integral part of the success of businesses worldwide. They help empower organizations to leverage complex technologies, keeping a strict focus on their core business and balancing priorities and budgets.

“Effective MSPs enable companies to focus on their core objectives while improving the quality and reliability of their cloud computing capabilities,” said Blaine Raddon, CEO of The Channel Company. “The solution providers on CRN’s 2021 MSP 500 list deserve recognition for their innovative and forward-thinking approaches to managed services, and the ability to optimize operational efficiencies and systems to maximize return on investments.”

Cumulus Global, as a Managed Cloud Solution Provider, matches the best aspects of MSP services with a “cloud-first” perspective. Leveraging the economies of cloud computing, Cumulus Global offers robust, secure, productivity and digital transformation services more cost effectively than traditional IT services for small and midsize businesses.

The MSP 500 list will be featured in the February 2021 issue of CRN and online at www.CRN.com/msp500.

About The Channel Company (www.thechannelcompany.com)
The Channel Company enables breakthrough IT channel performance with our dominant media, engaging events, expert consulting and education, and innovative marketing services and platforms. As the channel catalyst, we connect and empower technology suppliers, solution providers and end users. Backed by more than 30 years of unequalled channel experience, we draw from our deep knowledge to envision innovative new solutions for ever-evolving challenges in the technology marketplace.

4 Pillars for Integrated Security

All of us have data and services in the cloud and on-site. Whether we have local servers or just our laptops, securing your business means an integrated security strategy. These 4 pillars for integrated security create a foundation that can be applied and adapted for your business.

4 Pillars for Integrated Security

1Identity and Access Management (IAM)

IAM protects users’ identities and controls access to valuable resources based on user roles and responsibilities, risk levels, and regulatory (or policy) requirements. IAM solutions are often a collection of logins, each with their own requirements and processes, such as multi-factor authentication.  Integrated IAM solutions simplify the user experience, improve security, and lower hard and soft costs.

2Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)

ATP protects against advanced threats and, if done well, helps you recovery quickly when attacked.  ATP is more than “next gen” email protection.  ATP applies to threats from infected websites and human behavior exploits. Integrating ATP into your security architecture helps prevent increasingly sophisticated attacks from succeeding.

3Information Protection (IP)

Information Protection shares the same acronym, IP, as intellectual property.  This fits well as Information Protection ensures your documents, emails, and other communications are seen only by those authorized to do so. IP uses encryption, advanced access controls, recipient validation, and other services to manage data visibility. Integrated Information Protection is key to security hybrid cloud/on-site environments effectively.

4Security Management

Security Management gives you visibility and control over your security tools, processes, and activities. As part of an integrated security architecture, Security Management empowers you to assess risk and compliance, manage services, and respond effectively.

Make it Happen

How do you know if your security architecture is up to stuff?  Do you have opportunities to simplify security for your team?  To save money?  Here is a roadmap.

ASSESS

Assess your current security architecture against your regulatory, industry, and business requirements. Ensure you have the necessary components, policies, and procedures. Assess the “user experience” and look for ways to simplify. If security is a burden, users will finds ways to sidestep the protections.

PLAN

Plan you updated security integration. Understand the impact on your systems, and your people, and how you will make the changes. Communicate your needs and plans, as communications is key to success.

EXECUTE

Make the changes.  Too often, needed solutions get delayed or dropped as other issues arise.

Next Step

Security, Privacy, and Compliance is a cornerstone of what we do. Contact us to speak with a Cloud Advisor; we are here to help.

Chrome and Google EDU Related Services

We understand that a sustainable Chrome device program requires planning and execution. Our Chrome related services and Google EDU Partner services help lift the burden. From concept and acquisition, through life cycle management and disposition, we can save you time and lower your total cost of ownership.

ChromeCycle Services

Looking to buy? Our purchase pre-registration services can secure discounts and ensure your units are available when you need them to arrive.

Have devices you no longer need? We can take them as trade-ins or buy them from you.

We designed our ChromeCycle services to reduce your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and improve the sustainability of your Chrome device program. ChromeCycle services cover your administrative, technical, and business needs for the full technology lifecycle for classroom/lab, 1:1, and BYOD initiatives.

With ChromeCycle, you can offload administrative time and lower costs:

  • Acquisition
  • Asset Lifecycle Management
  • BYOD Support
  • Disposition
  • Infrastructure Services
  • Protection Plans
  • Accessories
  • Custom “White Glove” Services

Learn more …

Google EDU Partner Services

Google for EDU Partner Services is a free set of services open to K-12 schools and districts, and small higher education institutions. The services are designed to help you get the most value from your use of G Suite for Education, G Suite Enterprise for Education, and Chrome devices.

By identifying Cumulus Global as your Google for Education Partner, you get:

  • Our Basic Services package and SLA
  • Automatic Savings for Chrome management and value-add services
  • Access to our ChromeCycle services

Learn More …