Now Copilot’s going to make your team work better together

Have you heard about Team Copilot yet? It’s the latest addition to Microsoft’s suite of AI tools and should be available later this year.

Think of Team Copilot as an advanced, AI-powered assistant designed to help your team work better together. While Microsoft’s 365 Copilot has been a personal assistant for individual tasks like drafting emails or recapping missed meetings, Team Copilot takes it to the next level by focusing on group activities.

There are three main ways Team Copilot can help your team:

1. Meeting facilitator

During a Teams video call, Team Copilot can take notes that everyone in the meeting can see and edit. It can also create follow-up tasks, track time for each agenda item, and assist with in-person or hybrid meetings when used with Teams Rooms.

2. Group text chat assistant

In group text chats within Teams, Copilot can summarise lengthy conversations to highlight the most important information. It can also answer questions from the group, making it easier to stay on track and informed without wading through pages (and pages and pages) of chat history.

3. Project manager

Team Copilot can help manage projects by creating tasks and goals within Microsoft’s Planner app. It can assign these tasks to team members and even complete some tasks itself, like drafting a blog post. It will notify team members when their input is needed.

You know that productivity isn’t just about individual work. It’s also about effective teamwork. So, by helping with group-orientated tasks, Team Copilot can make big improvements to your overall productivity.

It’s important to note that while Team Copilot is incredibly helpful, it doesn’t replace the role of a human meeting facilitator. It won’t lead meetings or ensure inclusivity, but it will create agendas, track time, take notes, and share files.

It’s more of a business insights assistant, helping with group interactions and meetings rather than censoring comments or keeping people in line. But hey, who knows what’s to come in future!

Team Copilot will be available in preview later this year for Microsoft 365 customers with a Copilot subscription. While it’s a work in progress, the potential it has to transform team productivity is huge.

Keep an eye out for its release and think about how it could fit into your workflow to boost your team’s productivity. If you have any questions or need further assistance in understanding how Copilot can benefit your business, get in touch.

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Be more productive with these Microsoft Edge features

Be more productive with these Microsoft Edge features

Improving productivity is a never-ending mission for most business owners and managers.

Whether it’s speeding up tasks or improving communication, every little helps. So it’s crucial to make the most of the tools you already have.

And while you might think of your web browser as just a means to access the internet, it can be so much more than that. Especially if you use Microsoft Edge in Windows 11. It has loads of features that can help supercharge your productivity.

Here are five of our favourites.

1. Split Screen for multitasking

Multitasking is a skill every business owner needs, and Microsoft Edge’s split screen feature makes it easier than ever. Whether you’re comparing web pages, researching multiple topics, or simply keeping an eye on different sites simultaneously, split screen lets you view two pages side-by-side within the same tab. It’s like having two windows open at once, but without the clutter.

2. Vertical Tabs for streamlined navigation

Too many tabs? Yeah… we understand that. Microsoft Edge’s vertical tabs offer a fresh perspective on tab management. By stacking tabs vertically along the side of the browser window, you can easily navigate between open tabs and access essential controls like close and mute.

3. Workspaces for seamless collaboration

Collaboration is key in any business, and Microsoft Edge’s Workspaces feature makes it easier than ever to work well with colleagues or clients. Create a workspace with a collection of open tabs, then share it with others via a simple link. It means they can open multiple tabs with one click. It’s perfect for brainstorming sessions, project management, or team presentations.

4. Collections for organised research

Gathering information from the web is a common task. Microsoft Edge’s Collections feature makes this easier, allowing you to easily save and organise text, images, and videos from web pages into custom collections. Stay organised, focused, and productive.

5: Immersive Reader for distraction-free reading

When you need to focus on reading an article or document online, distractions on the page can be a pain. Microsoft Edge’s Immersive Reader feature provides a clutter-free reading experience by removing ads, links, and other interruptions. Customise the text size, spacing, and colour scheme to suit your preferences, and even have the content read aloud for hands-free reading.

If your business doesn’t already use Microsoft Edge on Windows 11, this could be the perfect time to switch. Can we help you move over? Get in touch.

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Firewalls

Perimeter and device firewalls

This week, we turn our attention to the subject of firewalls, both at the perimeter and on your local computer.

Perimeter

A perimeter firewall serves as the first line of defence in network security. Acting as a gatekeeper between internal networks and external threats. It scrutinises incoming and outgoing traffic based on predetermined security rules, blocking unauthorised access while allowing legitimate communication. By monitoring for malicious activities, it prevents attacks such as intrusions, hacking, and data breaches. Implementing a robust perimeter firewall is crucial for safeguarding sensitive data and maintaining the integrity of IT infrastructure, making it an indispensable tool for businesses in the digital age. Its strategic placement on the network edge ensures a secure perimeter, fortifying an organisation’s cyber defences.

Modern perimeter firewalls will also be able to run add on software. To provide a range of additional features. Whilst for many with cloud based email, having anti-spam module enabled is probably a waste of time. Utilising the anti-virus module is always a good idea to try and prevent a virus right at the gateway.

Device firewall

It is important to have a firewall enabled on any device, even if your device is sat behind a perimeter firewall! This is to make sure that it is on if you take your device out and about

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Advanced End Point Security

Advanced End Point Security

Whilst all out packages include Anti-Virus. We are the first to admit Anti-Virus alone is not enough anymore, and will never ever keep you completely safe.

We supplement the Anti-Virus with some advanced end point (Computer) tools.

The first security measure is to make sure you aren’t an administrator on your computer.  Most people when creating their account will select the account to be an administrator account.  This in the main is not needed, and without the administrator permissions, then it is slightly harder for bad actors to do things with your computer.

Secondly we use a tool, that locks down the computer, and the software installed.  Most applications have a wide range of permissions and can do stuff it just doesn’t need to be able to do.  This is then used to make sure any compromise is fully utilised. Bad actors will do this, by making sure they can always access your network (persistence), as well as spread through the network searching for your data.

By locking everything down this should ensure your physical device is safe, and whilst all this means there are a few steps to go through if you want to install something new. The delay is normally less than 10 minutes, we firmly believe this is well worth waiting for. Achieving a safe cyber secure environment.

Of course the biggest issue for most businesses is a compromise of cloud accounts. And so we monitor the log in for unusual behaviour, like:

  • logging in from somewhere you aren’t
  • multiple logins from different locations. 
  • Multiple unsuccessful logins

This along with measures taken to help the computer user, should help keep you safe. But to make sure we also back it up (more to come in few weeks’ time).

For more info give us a call to arrange a complimentry Cyber Security Check

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Patch management

Patch Management

A lot of the time when systems are compromised in a Cyber Security Attack, it is because something that should have been updated hadn’t been! Patch Management.

So, this week we have a look at the various updates that need to be considered. Is your IT support company doing all of this!

Firstly, we will start with the Operating System.

No matter what flavour of system you are using they all need updating, this should include everything from your server, through to your mobile phone. Although manufacturers will rave about the improvements in updates, the biggest reason we think you should install these updates as soon as you can is that they patch critical security holes.

It is also worth bearing in mind that some of these may not be selected to be installed by default. Or your IT support provider may not automatically install them. On operating system updates one of the biggest things, we see is people not restarting their computer.  These updates if they require a restart, are not fully installed until the restart has happened.

Applications

Almost all applications have updates, and a good practice is to make sure these are up to date as well. Especially your web browser, a lot of attacks happen through web browsers this includes a method that bypasses MFA (2FA) So make sure you are updating all of your applications.

If you no longer need an application, then the best thing to do is to uninstall it

Lastly, something you probably have never considered is a piece of software that you won’t normally ever see.

FIRMWARE.

Firmware is software on many devices that control how the hardware operates, these should also be updated. You will find these not only on computers, and servers but switches wifi access points, telephones, printers – The list goes on, and on. You or your IT supplier should make sure these are kept up to date. They are available from the manufacturer, and the systems to keep these up to date have improved over the years. But some are still difficult to know when updates are available.

Whilst looking at the Firmware please remember that when a manufacturer stops updating the firmware this is normally because the device has reached end of life. And even if it is working properly, you should consider changing it,

If you want to make sure you are covered, please get in touch.

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Why IT needs to be monitored and managed

Why IT needs to be monitored and managed

Why does IT need to be Monitored?

To put it simply what isn’t measured (monitored), can’t be improved!

So we monitor a whole range of things. Some are basic physical items, such as storage space used.  We do this so if the drive is full we can run a script and try and free up some space to keep it working at it’s best. Other items may just raise an alert so we can track the history, like high temperature alert.

Other items we measure, is looking for cyber Security issues. This is just basic items, this supplements the security measures we also recommend (coming in a future post)

We monitor the software, as well, this is partly to make sure nothing is installed that shouldn’t be, but also what is installed is fully up to date.  Similar to our process for updating Windows itself.

If it is monitored it can be managed.

As mentioned above the items we can monitor can then also  be managed. The whole idea around this isn’t to monitor what the user is doing! But to ensure that the computer is always running as well as it can, and to make sure the computer is also cyber secure.

But it doesn’t stop with computers. We can also monitor and manage Network equipment to ensure that this is also running well, and securely.

What does this mean for your Business

Aside from knowing your employees are working on devices running as they should and securely. It also means they are able to work efficiently. And it also means that you can make decisions on when to update/upgrade equipment based on facts and not on a feeling.

You might want to look at our IT Support or IT Services Pages

In summary, IT monitoring and management are not optional; they are critical for business continuity, security, and growth. Organisations that prioritise these practices can harness the full potential of their IT infrastructure, drive innovation, and stay ahead in a rapidly evolving digital landscape.

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Before you replace your slow PCs…

Before you replace your slow PCs…

You rely on your team to be efficient and productive. But slow and sluggish computers can make it difficult for them to do their work – and could affect you personally too. Which impacts your business’s overall performance.

Before you jump to the (expensive) conclusion that you need to replace your PCs, there are several ways you can increase computer performance on Windows 10 and 11.

Here are just a few…

Restart your computer

Yes, it might be our favourite advice as IT support professionals, but a basic shutdown and restart can work wonders. Restarting your computer clears background processes, applications, and memory data. This often resolves common performance issues, especially if your computer has been running for a while.

Manage start-up apps

Many apps register themselves to start automatically with Windows 11, and this can slow down your computer’s start-up process. To regain some speed, consider disabling unnecessary start-up apps:

  • Open Settings
  • Click on Apps
  • Select the Start-up page
  • Sort apps by their “Start-up impact”
  • Turn off the toggle switch for any unnecessary apps
  • Restart your computer

This will prevent these apps from launching automatically during start-up and save valuable system resources.

Disable restartable apps

Windows 11 has a feature that saves and restarts certain applications when you reboot your computer. While it can be convenient, it may not be ideal for performance. To turn off this feature:

  • Open Settings
  • Click on Accounts
  • Go to the Sign-in options page
  • Turn off the “Automatically save my restartable apps and restart them when I sign back in” toggle switch

Disabling this feature can help improve your computer’s speed, especially if you have many applications that you don’t use regularly.

Uninstall unnecessary apps

Unused or unnecessary apps can clutter your system and slow it down. To remove them:

  • Open Settings
  • Click on Apps
  • Select the Installed apps page
  • Choose the app you want to uninstall and click the Uninstall option
  • Follow the on-screen directions if necessary

By removing apps you don’t need, you’ll free up space and resources for better performance.

Always be cautious about what software you install on your computer. Poorly designed or outdated applications can have a negative impact on performance. Stick to reputable apps (preferably those available in the Microsoft Store) because they have thorough reviews for both security and performance.

Before installing any software, do some online research to check for user experiences and potential issues. Trustworthy sources and well-known companies are your best bet.

Take the time to optimise your existing Windows computers before you consider upgrading your devices. Of course, rather than doing all of this yourself, why not get our team to do it for you. They can check every aspect of your computers and network to look for other hidden problems. Get in touch.

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Addressing the Dangers of Browser Extensions

Addressing the Dangers of Browser Extensions

How many browser extensions have you downloaded? Do you know the Dangers of these Browser Extensions?

People download browser extensions as common as they us mobile apps. Once downloaded they tend to not use them? There are over 176,000 browser extensions available on Google Chrome alone. These extensions offer users extra functionalities and customisation options.

Today we look at this and the risks to online security and privacy.

The Allure and Perils of Browser Extensions

Browser extensions are often hailed for their convenience and versatility. They can be a wonderful addition to the browser, and we use them to help use the systems we use every day. But the ease with which users can install these extensions is a weakness. Because it also introduces inherent security risks.
Next, we’ll delve into the hazards associated with browser extensions. It is imperative to strike a balance between the benefits and dangers.

What are the Key Risks Posed by Browser Extensions

Phishing and Social Engineering

Some malicious extensions engage in phishing attacks. As well as social engineering tactics. These attacks can trick users into divulging sensitive information.
This can include creating fake login pages or mimicking popular websites. These tactics lead unsuspecting users to unknowingly provide data. Sensitive data, like usernames, passwords, or other confidential details.

Malicious Intent

There are many extensions developed with genuine intentions. But some extensions harbor malicious code. This code can exploit users for financial gain or other malicious purposes. These rogue extensions may inject unwanted ads. As well as track user activities or even deliver malware.
These extensions often use deceptive practices. They make it challenging for users to distinguish between legitimate and malicious software.

Privacy Intrusions

Many browser extensions request broad permissions. If abused, they can compromise user privacy. Some of these include accessing browsing history and monitoring keystrokes. Certain extensions may overstep their intended functionality. This can lead to the unauthorized collection of sensitive information.
Users often grant permissions without thoroughly reviewing them. This causes them to unintentionally expose personal data to potential misuse.

Outdated or Abandoned Extensions

Extensions that are no longer maintained or updated pose a significant security risk. Outdated extensions may have unresolved vulnerabilities. Hackers can exploit them to gain access to a user’s browser. As well as potentially compromising their entire system. Without regular updates and security patches, these extensions become a liability.

Browser Performance Impact

Certain extensions can significantly impact browser performance. This can happen due to being poorly coded or laden with unnecessary features. This results in a subpar user experience. It can also lead to system slowdowns, crashes, or freezing. An extension’s perceived benefits may attract users. But they end up unwittingly sacrificing performance.

Mitigating the Risks: Best Practices for Browser Extension Security

1. Stick to Official Marketplaces

Download extensions only from official browser marketplaces. Such as those connected with the browser developer (Google, Microsoft, etc.). These platforms have stringent security measures in place. This reduces the likelihood of encountering malicious software.

2. Review Permissions Carefully

Before installing any extension, carefully review the permissions it requests. Be cautious if an extension seeks access to unusual data. Such as data that seems unrelated to its core functionality. Limit permissions to only what is essential for the extension’s intended purpose.

3. Keep Extensions Updated

Regularly update your browser extensions. This ensures you have the latest security patches. Developers release updates to address vulnerabilities and enhance security. If an extension is no longer receiving updates, consider finding an alternative.

4. Limit the Number of Extensions

It’s tempting to install several extensions for various functionalities. But each added extension increases the potential attack surface. Only install extensions that are genuinely needed. Regularly review and uninstall those that are no longer in use.

5. Use Security Software

Use reputable antivirus and anti-malware software. This adds an extra layer of protection against malicious extensions. These tools can detect and remove threats that may bypass browser security.

6. Educate Yourself

Stay informed about the potential risks associated with browser extensions. Understand the permissions you grant. Be aware of the types of threats that can arise from malicious software. Education is a powerful tool in mitigating security risks.

7. Report Suspicious Extensions

If you encounter a suspicious extension, report it. You should report it to the official browser extension marketplace and your IT team. This proactive step helps browser developers take prompt action. That action protects users from potential threats.

8. Regularly Audit Your Extensions

Conduct regular audits of the extensions installed on your browser. Remove any that are unnecessary or pose potential security risks. Maintain a lean and secure browsing environment. This is a key aspect of online security.

Contact Us for Help with Online Cybersecurity

Browser extensions are just one way you or your employees can put a network at risk. Online security is multi-layered. It includes protections from phishing, endpoint threats, and more.
Don’t stay in the dark about your defenses. We can assess your cybersecurity measures and provide proactive steps for better protection.
Give us a call today to schedule a chat.

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5 Ways to Leverage Microsoft 365’sNew AI Innovations

Microsoft 365 AI

Microsoft 365 has a powerful suite of cloud-based productivity tools. They can help you work smarter and faster. Microsoft has consistently been at the forefront of innovation. M365 was one of the very first all-in-one cloud tools, introduced as Office 365 in 2013. Now, Microsoft and its business tools are at the leading edge of generative AI.

The Microsoft 365 platform has been adding some amazing AI innovations. They sit inside tools like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, and more. If you know how to use them, these smart features can enhance your experience. As well as significantly boosting your productivity.

Next, we will explore some of the ways you can leverage Microsoft 365’s new AI innovations. So that you can get more out of your work.

Microsoft Copilot: A Game-Changer in Collaboration

Microsoft Copilot is the crown jewel of Microsoft’s AI innovations. It’s designed to be your virtual collaborator. It can help you generate code, write documents, and even craft emails more efficiently. This AI-powered tool is built on the foundations of OpenAI’s ChatGPT technology. This enables it to understand context and anticipate your needs. As well as generate content in a remarkably human-like manner.

Here are some of the tools in the Microsoft universe that incorporate Copilot:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • Outlook
  • Teams
  • Edge
  • Windows
  • Bing
  • Dynamics 365 Sales

How can you take advantage of the benefits offered by Microsoft Copilot? Here are a few ways to jump on the added efficiency and time-savings they bring.

1. Speed Up Document Creation

In the realm of document creation, Copilot shines as a versatile writing companion. It helps when drafting a report, crafting a presentation, or composing an email. Copilot provides intelligent suggestions, helping you articulate your thoughts more effectively. It speeds up the writing process. It also ensures that your content is clear, concise, and tailored to your audience.

2. Enhance Your Teams Meeting Experience

One of the key strengths of Copilot is its ability to enhance collaboration across teams. It can create coherent and context-aware responses. Such as a summary of meeting notes and an action item list.

Another helpful feature is the ability to catch up on what you’ve missed. Have you arrived late to a Teams meeting? You can just ask it to summarize the important points of the conversation so far.

3. Create PowerPoints with Ease

More people can become “PowerPoint Masters” with Copilot. The AI-infused features in PPT can create a slide deck for you based on text prompts.

It can tap into Microsoft’s stock images to fill your slides. Copilot will also suggest text to use based on your presentation topic. Do you have a PowerPoint that you need help with? The tool can reorganize your slides for a better presentation flow.

4. Enjoy Smart Business Insights in Excel

Another new AI innovation in Microsoft 365 is Excel Ideas. This feature can help you analyze and visualize your data with ease. Excel Ideas can automatically detect patterns and trends in your data. It will suggest charts, tables, and summaries that best suit your needs.

You can also use Excel Ideas to ask natural language questions about your data. Such as, “What is the average sales by region?” or “Which product has the highest profit margin?” You’ll get instant answers in the form of charts or formulas.

5. Save Time in Outlook with AI Help

We all get those long emails from time to time. The ones that you push to the bottom of your inbox for when you have more time. Well, the new Copilot feature in Outlook can help. Just ask it to summarize the key points of an email for you to save yourself reading time.

You can also use Copilot in Outlook to help write emails. It will save help by providing a first draft. As well as suggesting responses to emails in your inbox.

A Future of Intelligent Productivity

As we embrace the era of intelligent productivity, Microsoft 365 becomes more powerful. Its new AI innovations pave the way for a more efficient work environment.

By incorporating these capabilities into your daily workflow, you’re staying competitive. As well as setting the pace for the future of work.

Tap into the Future with Our M365 Services

Microsoft 365’s commitment to continuous improvement ensures that you have cutting-edge tools. The ones needed to stay ahead, innovate, and thrive. Especially in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. Embrace the power of AI. Unlock a new dimension of productivity with Microsoft 365.

Our team of M365 experts can help you ensure you’re getting the full benefit of these features. As well as new ones Microsoft is developing and rolling out in the coming months.  We’ll help your team save time and improve your bottom line.

Give us a call today to schedule a chat.Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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How Small Businesses Can Approach Workforce Technology Modernization

Technology plays a pivotal role in driving efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness. For small businesses, workforce technology modernization is both an opportunity and a challenge.

Embracing modern technology can empower small businesses. It can help them thrive in a digital era. Yet many of them don’t keep up with modernization. For example, over 30% of small businesses haven’t upgraded systems in 4+ years.

Some of the reasons SMBs don’t upgrade their tech include:

  • Limited funding
  • Unsure how to modernize technology
  • Stuck in the “old way is fine” mentality

The benefits of upgrading technology are many. One study found the following. That 45% of businesses modernizing tech saw improved ROI for IT investments. Other important benefits include improved employee retention and decreased cybersecurity risk. Not to mention the productivity and time-saving advantages.

Is your small business looking to modernize its workforce technology? Here are some steps to get you started.

Assess Your Current Technology Landscape

The first step in any technology modernization initiative is to conduct an assessment. You need to fully understand your current technological infrastructure. Identify existing strengths and weaknesses. As well as outdated systems and areas where technology could enhance business processes. Understanding your starting point is crucial. It helps in developing a targeted and effective modernization strategy.

Align Technology Goals with Business Objectives

Technology should not be an isolated component. But rather, a strategic enabler aligned with your business goals. Clearly define how technology can support and enhance your business objectives. Whether it’s improving customer engagement. Or streamlining internal processes and expanding market reach. Ensure that your technology modernization efforts align with your overarching business vision.

Focus on Cloud Adoption

The cloud has emerged as a game-changer for businesses of all sizes. Embracing cloud technologies can offer small businesses several benefits. These include scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness.

Consider migrating key applications and data to cloud platforms. This can enhance accessibility, collaboration, and data security. Cloud solutions can also simplify software updates and maintenance. This frees up resources for other strategic initiatives.

Invest in Collaborative Tools

Effective communication and collaboration are essential for small businesses. Invest in collaborative tools and platforms. These ease seamless interaction among team members, regardless of their physical location. Examples are video conferencing, project management, and document sharing tools. These tools can enhance teamwork and productivity. This fosters a cohesive work environment even in remote or hybrid setups.

Look at Cybersecurity Measures

There is an increasing prevalence of cyber threats. So, cybersecurity should be a top priority for small businesses undergoing technology modernization. Put in place robust cybersecurity measures. Focus on protecting sensitive data and customer information. As well as your critical business assets.

Cybersecurity measures include:

  • Firewalls
  • Antivirus software
  • Regular security updates
  • Employee training
  • Threat identification & response

Embrace Mobile-Friendly Solutions

  1. In a world where mobility is paramount, adopting mobile-friendly solutions is key. Ensure that you’ve optimized business applications and platforms for mobile use. This allows employees to work efficiently from various devices. This enhances flexibility. It also accommodates the evolving expectations of the workforce. Employees value the ability to work on the go.

Look at Remote Work Options

The global shift towards remote work has accelerated. Small businesses should prepare to embrace flexible work arrangements. Modernize your technology infrastructure to support remote work options. These provide employees with the tools and connectivity they need. As well as helping them maintain productivity outside of the traditional office environment.

Consider Automation for Efficiency

Automation can significantly improve operational efficiency for small businesses. Identify repetitive, time-consuming tasks. These can often be automated to streamline workflows. Look at things like customer service chatbots and automated invoicing systems. Embracing automation can free up valuable human resources. As well as reduce the risk of errors in routine tasks.

Provide Ongoing Training and Support

Introducing new technologies requires commitment. A commitment to ongoing training and support for your workforce. Ensure that employees have the necessary skills to leverage the new tools effectively. This may involve providing training sessions. As well as creating user-friendly guides. And offering a support system to address any issues that may arise during the transition.

Watch and Adapt to Evolving Technologies

  • Technology is a dynamic field. Staying ahead requires a commitment to watching and adapting to emerging trends. Regularly assess the technology landscape. Work with your IT provider. We’ll help you identify new solutions that could benefit your business. A proactive approach to staying current ensures your small business remains competitive.

Need Help Upgrading Your Workforce Technology?

Workforce technology modernization is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. It’s a strategic journey that requires careful planning. As well as alignment with business objectives. By embracing these practical strategies, small businesses can leverage technology. And use it to enhance their operational capabilities. They also position themselves for sustained success in the digital age.

Need help with workforce technology modernization? Give us a call today to schedule a chat.Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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