Microsoft to rebrand Lync as Skype for Business

Microsoft Lync will be undergoing a rebranding and reemerging as Skype for Business next year. Skype for Business will retain Lync’s enterprise security, compliance and control features while using the familiar, easy-to-use Skype interface consumers love. This merging of brands is another way Microsoft has aimed to increase collaboration and productivity with easy to use platforms.

All of the features consumers enjoyed for business will remain, but the Skype icons for calling, adding video and ending a call will be included. The name change will also include a “new client experience, new server release, and updates to the service in Office 365”. Microsoft’s rebranding of Lync will ultimately fuse enterprise UC(unified communications) needs with the usability people want.

Consumers can expect this change in the first half of 2015.

Tech Networks of Boston to partner with City Awake Boston

Tech Networks of Boston is proud to be a partner for City Awake Boston, a social impact festival taking place in Boston December 4th-13th. Our Roundtable December 9th, “The role of nonprofits in making media and making change” will be included in the list of events for the festival. City Awake aims to highlight and amplify the work being done by Boston’s impact sector and we are excited to be a part of it!

This Roundtable session will be on the role of nonprofits in making media and making change. Our featured guest will be Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT.

Producing and sharing media has become a key part of how individuals and organizations make change in the world. Center for Civic Media at MIT studies the use of media for change, and center director Ethan Zuckerman will introduce some of the tools the Center has built to measure and understand the ability of media to influence and shape dialogs online and off. Read more about the Roundtable here.

We will also be exhibiting at the ‪#‎CityAwake‬ Expo on Saturday, December 5th, from 2-5pm at District Hall.  As a headliner event of City Awake, the Social Impact Expo contributes to Festival’s mission by providing a platform for all local organizations, enterprises and individuals to showcase their initiatives, and to learn about and connect with others in the city. Uniting and strengthening Boston’s impact community will help to raise the city’s profile as the social impact Hub. You can register here.

Money saving advice from TNB

Nonprofits frequently suffer the hardship of not having enough money or resources to properly fulfill their missions.  With over 20 years of experience and service to nonprofits in the Boston area, we have recognized where nonprofits can get the most bang for their buck.

Have a fundraising event? Use Boston Charity Events! Tech Networks sponsors a free event listing service which promotes charity events and raises awareness for great causes. A monthly newsletter featuring listings from the site is distributed to over 10,000 Boston area event-goers. Nonprofit organizations of all types and sizes use Boston Charity Events to expand their reach, collaborate with others and reach their fundraising goals.

Plan for the future instead of spending money on short-term fix-its. Utilize strategic planning services or have your current IT state assessed in order to pinpoint recurring problems. By aligning your IT initiatives with your strategic priorities, you can find solutions to your problem areas and plan where you can save money in the long run. Continually tracking progress keeps your organization updated and everyone on the pathway to success.

Have someone do a utility audit. You can find ways to save money in your office by changing out the lightbulbs, installing insulation, updating your windows and updating your appliances to lower electricity costs. Tech Networks partners with the Climate Action Business Association (CABA), who provide the tools and resources necessary to help businesses take individual actions and steps towards becoming more sustainable.

Be aware of the discounts! Don’t be afraid to ask. There might be some discounts offered for prepaying a bill or paying within a certain amount of time. For example, TNB gives discounts to clients who choose to sign up for our automatic payment option.  Certain tech websites offer free or reduced software and licensing for nonprofits.

  • Mobile Beacon offers non-profits wireless internet access at a discount.
  • There are discounted programs for education, government and non-profits from many software publishers such as Microsoft, Adobe, Symantec and others. Right now, Microsoft is donating 250+ products and you can check them out here.
  • Some manufacturers such as IBM offer discounted or donated equipment to qualifying organizations.
  • Several cloud-based applications for CRM and donor management are available to non-profits at a discount.

Sites such as TechSoup provide donated and low-cost technology resources such as software and refurbished hardware and Salesforce.com for Non-Profits includes a pre-configured version of the software for organizations that track and manage individual donors, volunteers and clients. Microsoft Office 365 plans are also free for nonprofits!

Use volunteers instead of staff. There are many people who volunteer to support great causes, or simply because they enjoy doing something other than their full-time career. When seeking volunteers, offer free membership to your organization or some other perk. TNB offers PTO time in exchange for volunteer hours to encourage our employees to spend time helping our mission-driven clients. Having a strong volunteer coalition at your organization boosts morale and connects you with other members of the community, as well as your clients.

Nothing feels better than saving a little dough! Use these tips to help your nonprofit be more cost conscious in the long run and just in time for the holiday season.

Tech Networks to co-host Pro Bono tech consulting event Nov 3

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On November 3rd, 2014, Tech Networks of Boston, Annkissam and 501Partners will host an evening of pro bono technology consultations in a sales-pitch-free setting at the Cambridge Innovation Center. We would like to invite employees of local nonprofit organizations to take advantage of this opportunity to obtain assistance that is free of charge and has no strings attached.

A team of twenty nonprofit technology mavens have volunteered their services for the evening; nonprofit professionals will be able to receive one-to-one consultations on a variety of topics.  TNB is contributing the services of three key TNB employees this evening.

Kim Diorio, Data Analyst at TNB, specializes in designing/using/managing databases, designing/using/managing SharePoint sites and other online environments used for collecting and presenting data.

  • Cross-platform data integrations
  • Database design
  • Database development
  • Database implementation
  • Data-driven web applications
  • Strategic database planning
  • Systems integration
  • Usability / user experience

Kalman Gacs, Web Designer at TNB, helps clients articulate their goals and form a strategy for their branding website and other marketing materials to help meet those goals. He makes sure there is efficient implementation and that clean intuitive interfaces are built.

  • Web design / visual design
  • Usability / user experience
  • Web sites
  • Social media

Yves Denhel, Product Manager at TNB, will be offering pro bono consultations in these areas of expertise:

  • Identifying free and low cost technology resources
  • Hands on tech support
  • Laptop computers
  • Desktop computers
  • Internet access
  • Project management / project implementation
  • Systems integration
  • Software selection
  • Security / privacy

If you are interested, please register using this link. We hope to see you there!

Tuan Pham to serve on Microsoft SMB Partner Advisory Council

Tuan Pham, Strategic Solutions Engineer at Tech Networks presented as a SMB Cloud Champion expert at the SMB Nation 2014 Fall Conference in Redmond, Washington this past September. His impressive list of certifications and knowledge of MS cloud solutions have earned him an invitation to join the SMB Partner Advisory Council.

Participation in this council will give companies like Tech Networks of Boston a chance to work closely with Microsoft, helping them understand what small and medium businesses want and need from technology.

The partners in this Council will be first in line for new product and service offerings and will work with Microsoft engineering teams to discuss feedback.

 

TNB to host workshop on collaborative IT for small budgets

Tech Networks of Boston will be hosting a workshop on collaborative IT for small budgets at the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network Annual Conference on October 29 at the Sheraton Framingham Hotel and Conference Center.

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Susan Labandibar, President of Tech Networks, David Gleason, Vice President of Strategic Solutions at TNB and Tom McLaughlin, principal at McLaughlin and Associates will be introducing Collaborative IT and how it applies as a new model of technology management.

The goal of this workshop is to introduce and apply Collaborative IT as a new model of technology management.  Information technology is widely accepted as an integral part of contemporary management, but nonprofit organizations often see IT as a two-way back office function serving the staff, who then serve the clients, constituents, and other stakeholders.  For organizations with large budgets, this model can work well.  But small to medium sized nonprofits need a more economical model, which can often be handled by making day-to-day changes in the way certain aspects of Information Technology are managed.  This workshop will demonstrate how Collaborative IT can improve technology cost efficiency for all types of nonprofits.  It will help organizations develop cross-functional, inter-organizational collaborations that will use IT as a component of new programs and as a resource for outcomes measurement and performance management.

The MNN Conference is one of the largest gatherings of nonprofit professionals in the state and will present participants with the information, skills and tools they need to bring new tactics and energy to their organization.

Registration closes October 22 and we encourage you to join and spread the word!

Tech Networks formalizes strategic IT planning process

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Tech Networks of Boston has always been an advocate of planning ahead. “A stitch in time saves nine,” may be your grandmother’s cliché but has long been a mantra of TNB.

Now TNB is taking that thinking further — from, “planning avoids expensive damage control”, to helping our clients proactively see IT as a way to drive forward the hopes and dreams of their organizations with better outcomes and more efficiency.

To help clients kick-start the planning process, TNB now offers:

  • A team of dedicated Strategic IT Consultants to help you envision how Information Technology can help increase productivity, cut operating costs, innovate and scale.
  • A Strategic IT Planning Toolkit to help you connect the dots between your organization’s strategic initiatives and your plans for IT.

TNB’s Strategic IT planning services will enable our clients to adopt a proactive approach to technology investment and to better align technology requirements with our clients’ goals and missions, and improve budgeting process.

Please call us to kick-start your IT planning process!

Susan and CALC participate in the NYC “People’s Climate March”

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From left to right: Susan Labandibar of Tech Networks of Boston, Laury Hammel of the Longfellow Clubs, Bob Master of Commonwealth Care Alliance

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Susan Labandibar of Tech Networks of Boston and the Climate Action Liaison Coalition (CALC) were in New York City this past weekend for the “People’s Climate March”. They were among 400,000 people marching and calling for action against climate change. Early reports suggest this was the largest climate march in history!

This was a precursor to very important decision-making on Tuesday at the 2014 UN Climate Summit. The UN is meeting to come up with a plan for a new global climate treaty that would be signed at the end of next year. 140 world leaders, including President Barack Obama, are expected to discuss ways to tackle the growing threat of carbon pollution. CALC’s Executive Director Quinton Zondervan and Program Director Michael Green will also be in attendance.

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This is a timely matter as a report was released yesterday showing greenhouse gas emissions were up last year, proving we are not doing enough to stop climate change.

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Mobile broadband internet for nonprofit organizations

Tech Networks of Boston is happy to offer its non-profit clients mobile broadband Internet access for just $10 a month through its partnership with Mobile Beacon and TechSoup.

Mobile Beacon, a nationwide leader in providing low-cost, 4G mobile broadband service is now part of TechSoup’s Product Donation Program. TechSoup is a nonprofit organization that provides other nonprofits and libraries with the technology, learning resources and services they need to help fulfill their mission.

All TechSoup products and services are provided for a small administrative fee. The company offers more than 400 technology products, provided by more than 45 donor partners. Mobile Beacon becomes the first mobile broadband service provider to join the TechSoup donation program.

“Connectivity is a baseline requirement for nonprofits today – it’s how they connect with their communities, supporters and funders, and how they show their face to the world they serve. We are absolutely thrilled to have Mobile Beacon as the first connectivity solution on the TechSoup platform,” said Roger Abraham, vice president of Product Programs at TechSoup Global.

Through this partnership, Mobile Beacon is donating one 4G modem, USB modem or mobile hotspot for a nonprofit organization to connect to Mobile Beacon’s 4G service. Although 4G service is not included, it is available for purchase at a heavily discounted rate of $10/month for an unlimited 4G data plan.

The purpose behind the partnership is to help make affordable, next-generation mobile broadband service available to community anchor institutions, who in turn, can better serve their constituents. Mobile Beacon’s offering is meant to benefit nonprofit organizations, schools, and public libraries that lack traditional Internet access or have slow access or bandwidth constraints, and help them get connected both in the office and remotely.

“Broadband adoption is a critical national priority, and yet the research on this topic consistently shows that one of the major barriers to adoption is cost,” said Katherine Messier, managing director of Mobile Beacon. “Addressing that problem has always been the heart of Mobile Beacon’s mission. Now, through our partnership with TechSoup, we can make our low-cost 4G service available to a greater number of nonprofits,” she added.

Examples of how Mobile Beacon’s broadband service can benefit nonprofits and communities:

• Staff or volunteers can reach their databases remotely while conducting outreach in the community.

• Libraries can enhance digital literacy programs by creating webinars and loaner programs to provide remote access to disadvantaged patrons without internet access at home or persons with disabilities who cannot attend in-house training .

• Healthcare workers can access mobile electronic health records, and social service workers can submit caseworker reports securely.

• Schools can extend access beyond classroom walls to students without technology resources at home.

• Volunteer groups can take advantage of video and other web-based training tools for more cost-effective training and recruitment.

Interested 501(c)(3) nonprofits, schools, and public libraries may contact Tech Networks of Boston to find out if they are eligible for this program. You can also read more about this promotion here.

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. The average median score was 80!  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.