The top ten technology concerns for the SMB:

1.    Data

2.    Digital Transformation

3.    Cybersecurity

4.    Compliance

5.    Integration

6.    Cost

7.    Talent Scarcity

8.    Scalability

9.    Choice

10. Adoption

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1.    Data: Management, Analysis, Utilization, & Storage

Where do I put it all? How? What is it doing for me? How do we find it? Do I have capacity to store it all?

OneDrive, SharePoint and Azure Storage are the three storage technologies from Microsoft that can respectively provide personal, team, and organizational data repositories. Power BI can provide greater insight into your data. And connect to a wealth of resources with Microsoft Graph. Use Microsoft Teams as a ‘filing system’ and Azure Information Protection to classify and then share documents without worry for where any company data might be stored or located.

2.    Digital Transformation: Paperless Office | Remote Workforce | Keeping Up with Moore’s Law | Recognizing the Value of New Technologies (IoT, AI, AR, VR)

Everything is happening online. Can I avoid it? How can I determine the best investment?

Scan your paper documents with OneDrive right from your mobile device. Leverage the power of the cloud to speed up processes. AI is built into Windows 10, Microsoft Teams, and every other Microsoft application. Add LTE or 5G redundancy to your current internet access. And include WiFi probes to diagnose network performance and receive alerts to significant events or intrusions.

3.    Cybersecurity: Reducing the Attack Surface | Recognizing the Human Element

Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection helps with Safe Links and Safe Attachments. Multifactor Authentication reduces the risk of infection by a whopping 99%. Windows Defender AV is now a world-class antivirus solution, competing with the rest for the top spot in recent reviews, and now coming the MacOS. The best solution is a holistic one – don’t break up your security defenses into disparate services, but instead use the entire synergistic Microsoft ecosystem of security tools with industry best practices.

4.    Compliance: Abiding by Laws and Regulations | No GDPR in the USA – Not Yet | Govt. and Industry Regs

If you engage in business with any other business under the mandate of GDPR, then your business must comply, as well. And it’s only a matter of time before GDPR (in some form) comes to the US. Already we have HIPAA and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, so we must take measures to comply. If not, then the business can be fined heavily to the extent that it can possibly affect the longevity and integrity of the business.

5.    Integration: Will It Work with Existing Tech? | Connecting Widgets

The biggest mistake is to buy software the old-fashioned way – to supposedly ‘own it’. But these conventional and static versions of Office 2016/2019 do not keep current with continuous upgrades as they do with the Business and Pro Plus versions that come with Office 365 licenses. Keeping within a holistic ecosystem can avoid integration pitfalls. Use Intune and Windows AutoPilot Service to deploy new or existing devices to remote workers.

6.    Cost: Technology Is Not an Option | Average Tech Budget is 40 Percent

In today’s world, a business without technology is not in business. The average spending budget for SMB’s is 40% of overall operating costs. Using the cloud and subscription-based technologies such as Office/Microsoft365 reduce high capital expenses by leveraging lower monthly operating expenses instead.

7.    Talent Scarcity: Finding the Right Provider | Is Your IT Provider Skilled with the New Ways of the Modern Workplace?

This is a topic that confounds me. Too few of my peers are proficient with Office/Microsoft 365 as a single cohesive platform – most only see it as a perpetual expense for the MS Office software suite alone. But an IT provider must understand how to harmonize the entire Office/Microsoft 365 platform.

8.    Scalability: Ability to Grow Up or Down | Seasonal Peaks or Growing Pains

A CPA firm might need more resources during tax time and less afterward, or a new business might experience unexpected and exponential growth. Office/Microsoft 365 licenses can be added or removed, as needed.

9.    Choice: Which Tech to Choose? | So Many Vendors of Similar Tech

Again, it is my best recommendation to stay within the ecosystem of Office/Microsoft 365. In most cases, you will find an integrated solution that works with the rest of your Office applications. For example, build your own PowerApps application to enable your unique mobile force.

10. Adoption: Will My Employees Embrace New Ways? | If I Build It, Will They Come?

It’s got to be fun. It has to become part of your business culture. You can produce a thousand videos or online courses, but if they don’t watch them, then they don’t learn. There has to be a human element of enthusiasm when an engaged champion brings their excitement for apps such as Microsoft Teams to their peers. Who’s the next hero in your firm?

policy as change

 

Over the past few years, Microsoft has been conducting a marketing campaign that proposes the “Modern Workplace”. The premise is described as working within teams, but as geographically dispersed groups from anywhere at any time. But it seems that there’s been a bit of metamorphosis as they now refer to this movement by the generic term, “intelligent workplace”, especially with the advent of AI. The Microsoft 365 General Manager, Lori Wright, used this term in her recent blog post in celebration of the two-year anniversary of Microsoft Teams.

The article cites eight new features coming to Microsoft Teams, including:

1.    Customized backgrounds

2.    Content cameras and Intelligent Capture

3.    Microsoft Whiteboard in Teams meetings

4.    Live captions & subtitles

5.    Secure private channels

6.    Information barriers

7.    Data Loss Prevention (DLP) in chats and conversations

8.    Live events in Microsoft 365

 

But no matter the terms or the latest features, I’ve developed a passionate affirmation that Microsoft Teams is rightfully experiencing exponential growth and success as the new platform for collaborative teams. As a matter of fact, I now use Microsoft Teams as my support platform – end-users can break into a one-to-one chat with me at any time (from any device), which might become a 1:1 meeting, which might also include bringing on an additional meeting member whose presence we would find as available within Microsoft Teams by a green presence checkmark within their avatar; and I might share my desktop or an application with both of them to illustrate a point

Unfortunately, there are some organizations that refuse to embrace such pioneering changes as they are truly happening already in today’s intelligent workplaces. So I stand by a new policy – I cannot support any backward notions or static protocols – it goes against my impassioned principles to accept the old ways until the end of time. Without change, there would be no butterflies, only fossils.

And I repeat from my LinkedIn profile:

“To work with me means that you’ve decided to take your business to the next level. You don’t want to purchase, support, or worry about another on-premises server. But keeping your employees securely connected and productive regardless of location is invaluable to you.”

Even Satya Nadella’s “mobile-first, cloud-first” vision has evolved. He recently said, “It’s no longer about being device-first, it’s about putting the human first and it includes all the devices in their lives.” He goes on, “Computing is embedded in our world in every place and in everything,” he said. “There’s computing in every industry – oil and gas, retail, agriculture, financial services. And there’s computing in everything from connected cars to connected refrigerators, smart surgical tools, and even smart coffee machines.” Not a word about the Windows 7 machine on your desk because the computers in our lives have transformed.

 

As an Office Insider for Mac: Insider Fast, I get the latest updates quite early, but with the chance that it might roast my system =/

One of the recent benefits, though, has been the early arrival of the new Office icons. Personally, I love them – very smart design in my opinion. But there’s been controversy over the new overall design and its dramatic change from the norm that we’ve known for the last decade as the icons of Office. But just as we often see in the tech world, people are resistant to change.

I’ve actually had these for a little while, so I’m late to post about the icons in part because everyone else in the world was reacting. But I’d like to speak to change and not necessarily to graphic design.

Better yet, let’s allow a few iconic figures to speak:

 

“The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.”  Confucius

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

“One of my greatest fears is not being able to change, to be caught in a never-ending cycle of sameness. Growth is so important.” – Matt Dillon

“When I’m painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing. It’s only after a get acquainted period that I see what I’ve been about. I’ve no fears about making changes for the painting has a life of its own.” – Jackson Pollock