Windows support for XP and Office 2003 ends today….What you need to know!

The day has finally come…support for Windows XP and Office 2003 will end today, April 8, 2014. We recommend you replace your old machines to benefit from dramatically enhanced security, broad device choice for a mobile workforce, higher user productivity, and a lower total cost of ownership through improved management capabilities.

What this means for you: You will no longer receive security updates or program updates for Windows XP. You will still be able to use the operating system, but you will no longer be able to update your machines or get technical support.

Common Concerns: If you continue to use the older machines your computers could be subject to malicious attacks and reduced data security.

What you can do: Contact TNB for quotes for some newer machines and to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8, and take advantage of the trade in offer!

Trade-In Offer: If you would like to earn some money back from your old operating system you can follow a few easy steps:
1. Buy a new Windows 8 tablet, phone or PC
2. Get a quote for your old device
3. Mail your old device to Clover Wireless
4. Receive cash back in the form of a Visa prepaid card or check.
If you are interested in this buyback program you can get started here.

Tech Networks of Boston recommends you upgrade your old machines at your earliest convenience. We want to ensure your operating systems are up-to-date and remain secure to enable your organization to operate at the most proficient level.

Make the transition to a Cloud based environment to combat Climate Change

Threats from extreme weather can cause a real disruption to small businesses. Research conducted by the American Sustainable Business Council  has shown that small businesses are highly vulnerable yet a majority are not taking the proper steps to increase their preparedness. Since many small businesses only have one location, an event that prevents customers, vendors and employees from accessing the building can result in significant lost business. Even more damaging, having centralized data can threaten a business’s security by temporary power loss, or worse, power spikes and flooding could lead to a complete loss of your customer information and any improperly backed up data.

Many coastal cities on the Eastern seaboard are preparing for storm surges and other impacts associated with rising sea levels and extreme weather.  This calls for small businesses to plan ahead and make sure they are not vulnerable the next time extreme weather hits. We recommend you to move your company’s data off site by using Microsoft’s 365 cloud platform. This will remove the need for any onsite server, reducing your vulnerability as well as your energy costs. Microsoft will back you and your customers’ data to their network of servers, allowing it to be out of harm’s way and allowing you access from anywhere.

Small businesses can also increase their extreme weather preparedness by guaranteeing access to the internet. Having more than one viable point of connection provides an alternative when extreme weather brings their main line of connection down. Towerstream is a leading wireless service provider delivering advanced, reliable, high-speed internet access to businesses at a lower cost than traditional providers. They guarantee 99.99% network availability through their Service Availability Guarantee and have built their infrastructure to withstand any extreme weather events.

A secure business is a prepared business. Let Tech Networks initiate your company to be proactive in making the transition to a cloud based environment, and use Towerstream to prevent any future obstacles for your IT department. Having a reliable, secure, updated network will keep your company ahead of the curve and operating at its full potential.globe

Greenovate Event, Small Business Meetup: Greening Your Bottom Line

Full house at the BSA! Business leaders giving feedback to the City of Boston Climate Action Plan.

Full house at the BSA! Business leaders giving feedback to the City of Boston Climate Action Plan.

This morning at the Boston Society of Architects space, CALC in conjunction with The City of Boston’s Greenovate team hosted a small business meetup where companies could learn how to take advantage of the city’s environmental programs. Panelists included Steven Rumpler from Boston Main Streets and Todd Cowger of Rise Engineering. Also in attendance was a small group of climate champions who have taken advantage of the opportunities afforded by the Greenovate platform; they each shared their experiences of both success and challenges they faced.

Individuals in attendance were encouraged to share the way their small business led the way in sustainability and what programs and incentives they already use to save their company money. Tech Networks of Boston offers employees an MBTA program in which TNB reimburses half of their MBTA pass and we also have a smart car available for company use. This saves our company travel expenses going to and from client sites, and is a great incentive for employees to stick to using public transportation. These are just some of our green office initiatives.SmartCar

The last part of the meetup focused on suggesting changes to existing programs to further help small business sustainability. This included increasing outreach to small businesses to make them more aware of the advantages of “going green”, consequently saving them money as well as benefiting the environment. Individuals also suggested expanding bike programs to outlying areas and giving commuters more time-sensitive options. If you are interested in contributing to the effort to help shape the 2014 Climate Action Plan, you can email CAP2014@Cityofboston.gov.

We are proud to announce we are now a Certified B Corporation

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Thanks to you, we have received a certification that enables us to put our stakeholder commitments at the forefront of our business goals. Our 18 years of service to community-based non-profits earned TNB 118 points out of 200 on our B Corp certification. B Corporations are a new kind of company who use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. To maintain this status, we must continue to operate with top social and environmental performance, creating higher quality jobs and improving the quality of life in our communities. We will continue to use our B Corp status to continue to fulfill our mission to enable organizations to use innovative and effective tools to serve human needs.

Meet a Boston Techie: Joe Snowden, VP of Business Development

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Joe Snowden by TNB offices

While sales people often focus on getting clients to sign on the dotted line and move on as quickly as possible, for the past 30 years Joe has been invested in long-term client satisfaction across several industries. Joe is experienced at transforming the “back offices” of organizations in order to make sure clients get what they need. For instance, while working for a Home Improvement Contractor, he implemented a fulfillment calendar to make sure he was able to make and keep promises to clients. Joe quoting Epictetus, says “‘We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.’ I have learned to listen to client needs… as I listened to the problems of our clients, I saw right away the parallel between IT and my prior work for a chimney company.” In chimney repair, allowing for a lapse in repairs can cause catastrophic failure, endanger households and cost many times as much as completing routine maintenance. Joe joined TNB in May and has been an evangelist for longer-term thinking here as well. By asking the right questions, Joe has helped clients see the importance of investing in planning and improvements in infrastructure that have helped save them money, improve efficiency and better focus on their missions. 

Why “Planning” is So Popular

According to an NTEN report, mentioned here in a previous blog post, only 5% of organizations who struggle with their IT have a separate IT budget.  Among non-profits who excel at integrating IT with their mission, 40% have a separate IT budget.Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 9.09.15 AM

These same successful NPOs enjoy more efficient operations and more effective fundraisers. You can see complete details and analysis of this report online at www.nten.org.

Tech Networks is a strong advocate of planning. Our TechPlan model is designed for NPOs without internal IT staff and we are committed to making sure they do not get stuck in the frantic and frustrating “just-fix-it” mode.

Tech Network’s new approach to planning puts the client in charge by assembling a team comprised of members of client organization and TNB staff.

How Some TechPlan Clients Waste Time (…and how you can save some)

It is not uncommon for our TechPlan clients to have overlooked the importance of IT planning in their broader planning efforts. As a result of this oversight, clients often use up their TechAdvisor hours putting out fires (i.e. making emergency repairs) rather than making more substantive upgrades to their systems and planning.  Maximizing your investment in IT resources requires a plan that takes you from waiting to see if something breaks, to having a plan in place designed to protect two of your most valuable resources…time and money.

We know just how hard it can be for some organizations to transition from the reactive “IT maintenance and upkeep” mode to a more proactive “strategic and cost-effective planning” mode, we’ve developed a “Four Step” process to show you the way.
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66% of Non-Profits Surveyed Utilize Technology Plans

66% of 2012 non-profits respondents have made a technology plan. That figure represents a 30% increase in the last five years. (The 7th Annual Nonprofit Technology Staffing and Investments Report, NTEN, April 2013)

66% of 2012 non-profits respondents have made a technology plan. That figure represents a 30% increase in the last five years. (The 7th Annual Nonprofit Technology Staffing and Investments Report, NTEN, April 2013)

In a 2010 survey of 2,654 nonprofit organizations by NTEN only 40% had a technology plan in place. When asked again in 2012, that number had risen to 66%.

Why the sudden surge in IT planning?  Planning reduces emergency repairs and the extra costs, lost productivity, and stress that they cause. Strong planning can also ensure that IT spending is allocated in a way that truly supports the mission of the organization.
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One indicator of poor IT planning is the correlation between “infrastructure spending” and “repairs required.” Almost every dip in infrastructure investment results in a dramatic increase in emergency repairs and service costs (see charts on the right). Better planning by the non-profit in the example could have prevented this unfortunate situation. Read inside how you can team up with Tech Networks to improve your planning.

Extreme Weather and the Small Business Bottom Line

Five foot storm surge in Boston

 

Water, water everywhere!

If the last thirty years are any indication of the future, it looks like Boston could be in for more flooding.  Sea levels in Boston are rising at three to four times the global average1.  Annual precipitation has increased ten percent.2 -The amount of rain that falls during severe weather events has increased 74%3  What does this mean for our small business community?

In conjunction with the American Sustainable Business Council , the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts and A Better City, we are pleased to present “Extreme Weather Events and the Small Business Bottom Line.” Boston’s leading climate adaptation experts will  brief the small business community on possible near-term climate change effects in our city.

  • How does climate change create risks for Boston’s small business community?
  • How does the City of Boston plan to protect property, road access and municipal services during severe weather events?
  • What measures can you take to protect your business and educate your employees?

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The cost of this event has been generously underwritten by The American Sustainable Business Council.  Your $15 donation will benefit CALC. Please click here to download the invitation or click here to register.

To download the full invitation, please visit here!

 Brought to You By

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Meet a Boston Techie: Tyrone McIntosh, Client Care Specialist

TyMc-WebChances are that you have already heard Tyrone McIntosh’s friendly voice if you have called the Help Desk at TNB. Tyrone, who goes by “Ty,” is our Client Care Specialist.

Ty serves as the first point of contact for people calling the Help Desk for technology support and care. After listening to the caller’s challenge, Ty creates a ticket and assigns the case to our Help Desk engineers who can provide prompt and thorough resolution. 

Working at a small nonprofit before joining TNB, Ty was once at the other end of the line. As a result, he is acutely aware of the time and monetary constraints faced by many clients. “I can empathize with a lot of callers. For me, every issue is important! Even a seemingly insignificant thing like the printer not working could lead to a missed deadline for a grant proposal and a big difference in an organization’s finances,” said Ty.

A people person, Ty enjoys the human interaction that is the core component of his job. Ty believes in giving back to his community. When not helping clients resolve their technology problems, Ty can be found taking photographs and volunteering for his church in Hyde Park.

Click here to view the full Boston Techie newsletter.