Tech Networks to offer early-bird Roundtable registration for MNN members

Tech Networks of Boston runs roundtable sessions approximately twice a month, on various topics of interest to our staff, our nonprofit clients, and our friends. These sessions tend to book to capacity very quickly, sometimes within 48 hours of when registration opens.

Tech Networks of Boston is now offering access to advance registration to employees of organizations that are nonprofit members of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network.

To find out whether the organization that employs you qualifies as a nonprofit member, take a look at the directory at http://www.massnonprofitnet.org/mnn-members/ . If your nonprofit organization is listed, then you are good to go.)

Employees of qualified nonprofits who sign up for special advance privileges will receive email invitations to TNB Roundtable sessions at least 24 hours before we open registration to the public.

To find out how to sign up, please follow this link:

http://www.massnonprofitnet.org/professional-directory/listing/tech-networks-of-boston-1

When you get to that web page, you’ll find another membership bonus: an offer of pro bono strategic technology assistance to nonprofit organizations that are members of MNN.

Enjoy!

Tech Networks to co-host pro-bono tech consulting event March 31

AnnkissamTech Networks of Boston, and 501Partners are hosting an evening of pro bono technology consultations in a sales-pitch-free setting at the Cambridge Innovation Center, and 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 nonprofit technology mavens have volunteered their services for the evening; nonprofit professionals will be able to receive brief one-to-one consultations on a variety of topics.  We strongly encourage you to solicit second, third, and even fourth opinions at this event!

Here’s a sample of the topics on which consultations will be available:

  • Assessing custom software services
  • Assessing software products
  • Cloud-based solutions
  • Constituent relationship management (CRM)
  • Data analytics
  • Data and organizational culture
  • Data-driven web applications
  • Database design
  • Database implementation
  • Database development
  • Decision support
  • Donor management solutions
  • Ethical issues for information and communication technologies
  • Evaluation/performance management software
  • Geographic information systems
  • Hands on tech support
  • Identifying free and low cost technology resources
  • Network administration / network engineering
  • Operational IT planning
  • Project management / project implementation
  • Salesforce for nonprofits
  • Secure remote access
  • Solutions for collaboration among nonprofit organizations
  • Strategic database planning
  • Strategic technology planning
  • Usability / user experience

Participation in this event is free of charge for employees of nonprofit organizations. Food and drink will be provided for all.

Please note that this event is by invitation only, and that you must have a confirmed registration in order to participate.  We hope that you will register and join us!

P.S. In order to prevent slack time for our mavens and overcrowding, we are asking you to sign up to arrive at either 6:00 pm or 7:00 pm, but not to sign up for both.

You can register for the event here.

Tech Networks formalizes strategic IT planning process

IT roadmap cover

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!

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

An Alliance for a More Sustainable Future

Roxbury Technology

Members of the TNB team paid a visit to Roxbury Technology’s manufacturing plant.

Roxbury Technology, LLC, one of Boston’s largest and most sustainable woman-owned businesses in the technology arena, and TNB have formed a strategic alliance. Together, we will now offer complete IT and printer services, including local help desk, remote monitoring, staff augmentation, onsite support, printer repair, and new and remanufactured computer equipment and supplies, including ink and toner, printers, and computers. 

Clients of both firms will now have the opportunity to recycle empty ink and toner cartridges for remanufacture and resale locally in Boston and the surrounding communities. Our onsite service technicians will soon distribute information packets at client sites containing instructions on how to purchase and recycle consumables and other equipment.

Click here to view the full Boston Techie newsletter.

New Executives Reinforce Tech Networks of Boston’s Commitment to People-Centric IT Care

Tech Networks of Boston (TNB) today announced the arrival of three new executive team members as part of its commitment to provide people-centric IT care services to its customers. Michael Fenter and David Gleason started with TNB this month, joining John Marchiony, who arrived in November, 2012.

The team at TNB adopted the mantra of “We’re Better Together” in 2010 with the launch of the company’s collaborative technology management initiative. Susan Labandibar, President and Chief Mission Officer, sees the expansion of the executive team as an important milestone in TNB’s evolution. “David, John and Michael will help prioritize the people element of our technology solution. All three are highly committed to caring for our clients, our colleagues and members of our communities.”

Michael Fenter, a 14-year veteran of a national managed IT services firm, joins TNB as Vice President of Technical Services. Fenter will harness his IT service and management experience to allow TNB’s clients to experience a mature information technology function that serves human needs.

As Vice President of Strategic Solutions, David Gleason will provide technical leadership and direction to help organizations discover and deploy effective solutions that help further organizational missions and goals. David has 30 years of consulting experience in the IT field, the last 8 of which have been in CTO and interim CIO roles for major nonprofit organizations.

John Marchiony, Vice President of Client Engagement, aims to ensure that people at all levels of the client organization feel empowered to learn, manage information, and communicate easily in a safe and supportive computing environment. Marchiony has contributed to the success of organizations like the Liberty Science Center, The Computer Museum, WGBH, and the United States Olympic Committee Paralympic Division.

Focus on Cloud Computing: Keep Your Own Copy

Cloud computing, the current stage in the Internet’s evolution, makes it possible to deliver everything from computing power and infrastructure to applications, business processes and collaboration as a service wherever and whenever you need it. Flexibility and efficiency make the cloud attractive.

Pros: Each of the essential characteristics is available to users on demand:

  • elasticity and scalability that allows users to adjust usage;
  • self-service provisioning;
  • billing and usage measurement enable a pay-as-you-go model.

Cons: Downsides of cloud computing can include issues of speed, data access and vendor dependence. Internet applications, and access to information can be slowed by your Internet connection which, of course, also can be interrupted. Many small organizations are   concerned about putting data—their second most valuable asset after people—in the hands of a subscription service.

Solutions: Often, the best solution incorporates a hybrid of cloud and local computing that balances the efficiency of cloud computing with the speed, reliability, and comfort of local computing.

NextTech is TNB’s service offering that integrates the two so you can keep your own copy of the cloud.

NextTech Combines Cloud and Local Computing

NextTech gives you the freedom of cloud-based services integrated with the comfort and safeguards of an office server network. This approach allows Tech Networks to manage the combined offering as a single service. The combination results in lower costs while increasing data security and greater flexibility to access data conveniently from anywhere, anytime.

NextTech most efficiently serves organizations with up to 30 users. It allows small organizations to take advantage of the benefits of cloud computing without leaving behind the convenience and speed of local software and access to your information.

Tech Networks takes it one step further, giving you a backup server in your office for your non-cloud applications or those you do not wish to upgrade, and for redundancy so you can work without your Internet connection if necessary.  Meanwhile, NextTech enables secure access to your documents from any Internet connection, along with powerful collaboration capabilities.

NextTech lets you upgrade your core Microsoft Office suite, store files in the cloud for easy access and collaboration, and save money by retaining your desktop applications that may not be cost-effective to upgrade.  It’s a hybrid cloud and premises-based solution we have designed  specifically for our clients to enable them to take the next step into the cloud.

Beyond convenience and collaboration, cloud hosting offers the security of a highly robust system with redundancy built in—which small organizations could not otherwise afford.  With its safety, convenience and collaboration features, NextTech may be your next step.

To find out more about NextTech, contact us at 617.269.0299 today.

A Day in the Life of a Deskside Support Technician

Sometimes your employees need a helping hand at their side.  Full-time Deskside Support from Tech Networks of Boston is the affordable alternative to hiring permanent staff.

Our technicians report day-to-day to your managers, observing your hours and policies.  They receive ongoing mentoring, career development and training from Tech Networks of Boston.

Here are just a few examples of issues our technicians resolve in a typical day.

8:57    Client manager needs a loaner laptop hooked up to the projector in the conference room for a meeting, starting at 10:30.

9:00    User can’t access e-mail.  Couldn’t access company wireless network.  Laptop froze and could only be shut down by removing the battery.

10:51  User can’t watch streaming videos on webpages, but YouTube works. Some videos appear briefly, then disappear.

12:44  New temporary employee arrives.
Provided employee a spare laptop; set up Outlook e-mail account, network drives and drivers.

1:19    User needs an account on an internal restricted-access network.

2:56    Update internal e-mail distribution lists by removing and adding users.

4:10    User is having trouble creating a table in Word.

Our Deskside Support technicians solve problems in client offices every day.  To learn more, please call us at 617.269.0299.

Click here to read the full June newsletter.

Link to Co-Workers with Microsoft Lync

Get the benefits of instant messaging, fully integrated with Microsoft Office.  Microsoft Lync is an easy, fast way for co-workers to connect, whether they’re in the same building or in different cities.  A Lync contact list contains only co-workers who are part of your Microsoft user list.  It makes business conversations easy without encouraging personal ones.

TNB client Supporting Strategies uses Lync to tie its workforce together.  Steve Schultz, COO, praises its ease of use and integration with Microsoft Office.  He also likes Lync’s simple “presence” feature.  Presence means “when clients call, I can take a quick look and see who’s working,” Schultz explains, “rather than sending a caller into voicemail.”  Presence is especially useful for employees working from outside the office.

The core of Lync is instant messaging (IM), in which on-screen messages offer more immediacy than e-mail, without the interruption of a phone call.  But Lync offers significant value added beyond its IM core, such as the powerful screen sharing feature.  “I can share my screen in Lync,” Schultz says, “so I don’t need GoToMeeting.  That saves me money.  It’s also very simple: I hit a button and I’m sharing my screen, not necessarily just one-on-one but with a group.”

Lync also makes it easy to create online meetings, whether they be group IM sessions, audio calls or videoconferences.  Lync users can set up meeting times via Microsoft Outlook as they would with any other meeting.  Participants can join the online meeting by clicking a simple link in Outlook.

Lync works with all major mobile devices for seamless business connectivity.  Microsoft offers mobile apps for the iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, iPad and more.  Move from your mobile device to your office workstation, and keep your conversation going without interruption.

At your desktop or on the road, Microsoft Lync’s powerful collaboration features have yet to be discovered for many organizations.  To learn more about Lync or about Office 365, call Tech Networks at 617.269.0299 today.

Click here to read the full June newsletter.