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What You Don’t Know Can’t Help You

I expect you have heard the old saying:

“What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” — Anonymous

In the cloud-y world of IT services and solutions, the lesson is better expressed as:

“What you don’t know, can’t help you!” — Allen Falcon

For a long time, small and midsize businesses (SMBs) moved to the cloud to replace existing services with more efficient, secure, and accessible cloud services. This was good for a while, but the landscape has and will continue to change. Now, when we talk to SMBs like yours about current IT services and the cloud, we talk about your business objectives and priorities. We talk about your growth opportunities, challenges to overcome, and how we can help you and your business succeed.

Today’s cloud services reflect your need for business results.

Cloud services, like Microsoft 365 Business, include a range of additional apps new to Office and, in most cases, unique to the cloud.  These apps give you access to value-add tools designed to help your business, such as:

  • Outlook Customer Manager: A simple contact manager and CRM tool that integrates with your existing inbox, calendar, and contacts
  • Bookings: An app that allows customers to easily self-schedule appointments from available time slots
  • Listings: A marketing app to build online pages and presence on Facebook, Google, and other platforms
  • MileIQ: Automated mileage tracking app for expense reports and/or tax filings
  • Connections: An easy-to-use app for simple email marketing tasks and campaigns
  • Flow: Automate processes, work flows, and approvals

These apps are joined by low-cost add-on services that let you to consolidate and simplify your IT environment — and save money.  For example, in Microsoft 365, adding PSTN conferencing gives you a standard telephone bridge for any Skype for Business or Teams conference call.  You can replace paid conferencing and web meeting services like WebEx, Zoom, and GoToMeeting with a tool that truly integrates with Outlook, your inbox, and your calendar.  At a cost of only $4 per user per month, and the ability to limit your purchase to users with a defined need, you can dramatically lower the cost of audio and video conferencing while providing a better experience for organizers and attendees.

Clearly, Microsoft 365 is not simply “Office in the Cloud.”  The value-add apps, low cost add-on services, and more than a half dozen additional security features in Microsoft 365 create a more robust ecosystem for productivity, efficiency, and growth.

The Challenge is Adoption.

Adding value only happens when your team is aware of, and knows how to use, the broad range of capabilities in services like Microsoft 365.  Getting your team from Point A to Point B, and then Point C, takes effort.

Here are some ideas to help you empower your team and enable your business:

  • Don’t Overwhelm:
    • Presenting too many capabilities, or too much training, all at once can overwhelm your team. Instead of understanding how they can do their jobs more efficiently, they may feel lost.
    • Not knowing where to start leads to paralysis.
  • Start with the Familiar:
    • Even the traditional Office applications (Word, Excel, etc.) have features that are unique to the Microsoft 365 versions and ecosystem.
    • Refresh your team’s knowledge of the apps they already use and know, adding these incremental productivity features into the mix.
  • Focus on Capabilities Specific to each Role:
    • Not every person needs every app or feature.
    • Focus on matching specific features, apps, and capabilities to the people on your team that will benefit the most.
    • Lessons and learning should be relevant to each team member’s job.
  • Provide Continuous Learning for Continuous Improvement:
    • Make learning an on-going activity that happens in small, manageable events.
    • 3 to 5 minutes per day, less than 20 minutes per week, can provide team members with ideas and insight they can put to immediate use.
  • Create a Culture of Learning:
    • Incent participation to set clear expectations and establish value for the learning process.
    • Monitor team member participation and progress.
    • Provide feedback and encouragement, particularly to the “leaders” and “laggers”.
    • Encourage team members to share their knowledge with peers.

Getting more value from your existing IT and cloud solutions starts when your team understands what is there for them, and how to use it to their advantage.  Improving adoption improves results, and need not be a major cost or time commitment.


Cumulus Global offers a self-paced, video learning system that tailors content to roles within your organization.  For more information, contact us for a brief call with one of our Cloud Advisors.


 

Office 365

SMBs Benefit from Office 365 Business Premium Enhancements

Office 365One of the value propositions we see with Microsoft Office 365 is the aggressive manner in which Microsoft continues to add services, features, and apps to the service without changing price.

This week, Microsoft announced the addition of two new capabilities to the Business Premium license:

Outlook Customer Manager

A simple CRM tool for small businesses, Outlook Customer Manager lets you track your customers, contacts, sales activities, and important events from your Inbox.

Microsoft Bookings

Microsoft Bookings offers convenient, flexible online options that make it quick and easy for customers to schedule appointments with your small business clients. A customizable public webpage allows customers to find available times and book appointments, anytime. A private calendar enables your small business clients and staff to manage their schedules; automatic confirmations and reminders help to save time.

Myth Busting

Myth-Busting Monday: Cloud is All or Nothing

Office365-Logo-and-textCloud computing is too often touted as the Holy Grail and the absolute future of information technology and services. The term “cloud computing” is overused to the point that most small and midsize business (SMB) decision makers remain confused about which products and services are actually “cloud”.  With the hype and confusion, comes the misperception and fear that moving your business to the cloud is an all-or-nothing decision.

Nearly All Cloud Implementations Start with a Hybrid Approach.

While diving into the deep end can be fun, you are safer and will have more fun if you first learn how to swim. We recommend that you start by moving specific applications or “workloads” to the cloud in a way that integrates with the rest of your systems and services.

For many, the first splash comes from email, calendars, and contacts. Moving from Exchange/Outlook to Office 365 gives you first-hand experience with the convenience, reliability, simplified management, and mobile accessibility of cloud solutions. We will include flotation devices, such as advanced spam/virus protection, email archiving/ediscovery, and encryption services to make sure you comply with regulations and policies. With unlimited support, you have a life raft to ensure your team will swim, not sink.

Your second swim is where the business value of cloud begins to grow. You improve your ability to collaborate, with additional communication tools and file sharing services. With tools ranging from Skype for Business and OneDrive to Sharepoint and Planner, you can streamline businesses processes. Your team learns to work together more efficiently.

Future swims quickly compound the business value of your cloud services, as you move business processes and applications.  The focus is to simplify your IT while improving the way you work. You can scale your resources to meet your needs, without big capital projects and without wasting your existing investments.

Start by defining your business goals and objectives, using these to drive your IT and information services priorities. From there, we can create a roadmap to the cloud that is pragmatic, effective, and affordable.


Looking to create or update your cloud strategy? Contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation Cloud Advisor session to review your goals and create a roadmap.


This is the fourth of a multi-part series designed to help companies better asses the opportunity and value of cloud-based solutions.


Myth Busting

Myth-Busting Monday: Cloud Means Less Control

Office 365 CloudCloud adoption continues to grow. Many business and IT leaders still have the misconception that moving data into the cloud means giving up control of your data or your technology.

In fact, when you move into Office 365 and other cloud services, you still have control over your IT environment. You have the admin tools to control the who, what, where, when, and how of your information and systems.

The role of your IS team shifts from technical issues to business issues.

When you move to the cloud, you give up most of the time spent maintaining hardware and upgrading software.  You no longer need to focus on maintenance, repairs, daily admin tasks, and upgrades. You free up the time you need to focus on improving business operations, developing new analytics and insights, and launching new and agile initiatives.

When you move to the cloud, you stop spending ever-increasing capital dollars on servers and storage while trying to match capacity with need.  Cloud solutions let you focus your IT spend on specific capabilities for specific roles and needs within your organization.

Moving to the cloud lets you think strategically and select solutions that support and respond to the needs of your managers and staff.

Think about how you want to improve your business, and contact us; we will help you select and deploy the cloud solution that can make it happen.


This is the second of a multi-part series designed to help companies better asses the opportunity and value of cloud-based solutions.  Contact Us for more information or a free Cloud Advisor session.


SMB Cloud Pioneer Cumulus Global Takes on Microsoft Cloud

Microsoft 0365 icon
A pioneer in cloud computing solutions for small and mid-size businesses, Cumulus Global (www.cumulusglobal.com) announced today the addition of Microsoft Cloud Solutions to its portfolio of solutions. The addition of Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Azure services expands the range of cloud platforms, services, and applications that Cumulus Global provides directly to its customers.

“We are excited to have Cumulus Global join our partner network,” stated Jennifer Heard, vice president, Worldwide Corporate Account and Partner Sales at Microsoft Corp.  “As a born-in-the-cloud solutions provider, Cumulus Global understands that any successful migration to the cloud depends on user adoption of enhanced collaboration and information access capabilities. This opens up massive opportunities for partners and helps our mutual customers realize the true value of their solutions.”

In addition, the company is an authorized Microsoft Surface reseller, offering the tablet-based devices as a replacement for traditional desktops and laptops.

“As a cloud solutions provider, we have always focused on giving our customers solutions that help them succeed, directly or as a broker,” notes Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global, “Our relationship with Microsoft empowers our customers with a broader range of solutions that we can directly design, plan, migrate, manage, and support.”

Beyond email, file services, and collaboration, Cumulus Global is offering platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a- service (IaaS) solutions. The company has existing relationships in place to assist with integrated CRM solutions.


For more information, or a free consultation, contact us today.