In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:
>An amazing new feature from Microsoft Streams
>How can AI power up your Teams meetings?
In this episode of the Power Up Project, we’re talking about Microsoft Stream introducing facial detection and automatic transcription.
Hey, welcome back to the Power Up Project. I’m your host for this episode, Ben Love. And today we’re going to be talking about one of the Microsoft products that we’ve mentioned before, which is Microsoft Stream. It’s kind of like a private organisational YouTube, if you will, where you can upload your videos. But specifically we’re going to be talking a bit about some amazing new features that Microsoft have brought to Stream where they’re really bringing the power of a lot of their artificial intelligence and machine learning abilities to bear on the Microsoft Stream products. Now, the good thing is of course you don’t need to worry about it being AI and machine learning and all of this jargony stuff. All you need to know is that there are these great new features in Microsoft Stream. So let’s get started on that.
There’s a couple of little things that I think are really powerful here, but I’m kind of AI stuff, so I’m going to touch on these other ones first. The first thing is that you can watch videos in Microsoft Stream on the go, that is on your mobile device, while you’re offline. Now this is fantastic. So, that means that there is a little caching feature building in there so that your device can actually pre-download some of these videos for you so that if you’re sitting on the plane or your bandwidth is rubbish, wherever you happen to be travelling, you can still get access to those videos and watch those videos. Now this could be particularly useful as well combined with another excellent little feature that’s come through, which is when you use Microsoft Teams to conduct meetings, for example, video conferencing meetings and we’re all using Teams, right? Because, it really is the big thing at the moment. It really is where Microsoft is putting a lot of their focus. It is also the thing that’s going to be replacing Skype as well, and that particular timeline is accelerating. So, if you do use Skype for some of these things and you haven’t yet had a look at Teams head on over to have a look at Teams, it’s something you really need to be doing.
So of course, given that we’re all conducting our video meetings and our conference calls using Teams these days, one of the powerful features of that is that we can record the meeting. So, just click on the record button in our meeting there and Teams will automatically capture what happens there, the video, the audio, so on and so forth. But the good thing now is what it then does with that video recording, because what it does now is it automatically puts it into Stream. It automatically puts it into your Microsoft Stream video library. That means that it can then be made available to anybody on your team who happened to miss the meeting. There’s always somebody isn’t there, there’s somebody who says they’re going to be at the meeting, but then now they, I don’t know, they call in sick, which is fine, or they get called out on an important client meeting or you know what? They just don’t turn up. We’ve certainly had that in the past. So at least this way the meeting is automatically recorded, automatically uploaded into your Microsoft Stream video library for that person to catch up on. And of course now they can also catch up on it on their mobile device and even offline, which I think is pretty cool.
So let’s move on to some cool new AI powered features though. The first one is facial detection. Now this is a bit of AI that Microsoft to bringing to bear on Stream videos, which they’re really using for what they call speaker timelines. So what that does is it means that the video will be annotated with information about which speaker, as in which person is speaking when. And, it does that by using this facial detection technology just to identify that there are different faces speaking and whose turn is who or which particular face is speaking at a particular point in time. Now this is particularly powerful because if you want to search through all of your video libraries or if you want to open a particular video and skip to just the point where a particular person is speaking, then with this annotation put in place, you can now do that. And that falls in nicely too with the next cool bit of tech they’ve brought in, which is speech to text auto transcription. So simply as it sounds, Stream will now automatically provide a written transcript of everything that is said during the video recording.
So again, this makes the video infinitely more searchable. So, as you develop a larger library of videos within Stream, this will give you more power in searching through those videos, across those videos I guess, to find the one you’re looking for. Or if you’re drilling down into a specific video, but you want to find the point in that video where a certain topic is discussed. Again, you can search through this automatic transcription to find the particular time code and the particular place in that video where that topic is discussed. So there’s some great new features that have been brought to Microsoft Stream there, brought to your own private little YouTube, I guess little video library for your business. It is a very powerful tool, it works very, very well. Either on the desktop environment or on the mobile App and now with these new features that have been brought in, it means that all of that content that you’ve got in there is infinitely more searchable when you do want to go back and find that particular piece you’re after.
Now here at Grassroots IT we use Stream a lot. We record a lot of our internal meetings. We record training materials, we record a whole pile of those things there and that’s how we get a huge amount of value out of this particular tool. I’d love to hear how you’re using video in your business, particularly if you’re using Microsoft Stream. And if you have had a look at these new features that they’ve got in there, such as the speech to text auto transcription, I would love to hear how valuable you’re finding those, if they are adding any value at all, and if so, how you’re using them.
Thanks for listening to this episode of the Power Up Project brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit IT. Please leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts and until next time keep powering up.
In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:
>a new feature of the Microsoft Teams’ suite: the Shifts app
>How the Shifts app can help with rostering your frontline staff
In this episode of Power Up Project, we talk about using Microsoft Teams to roster and schedule your frontline staff.
Welcome back to the Power Up Project. I’m your host, Ben Love. And today we’re going to be talking about a great new feature in Microsoft Teams, which is called Shifts. Now, this is a fairly new-ish feature to Teams. It used to be a separate product from Microsoft called Staff Hub, but they’re kind of phasing that one out and integrating the functionality into Microsoft Teams. As a side note, they are doing with a whole lot of other stuff as well. So if I haven’t said it before, I know I have, but for the sake of repeating myself ’cause it’s important: Microsoft Teams is getting a huge amount of attention from Microsoft. So if you haven’t had a look at it yet, go and have a look. Pay attention because this is turning into a bit of the focal point for what they’re doing over the next few years. But look back to the topic at hand. We’re talking about a feature in Microsoft Teams, which is called Shifts. Now, Microsoft used the word Shifts, and they refer to frontline staff and how you can use Shifts to schedule your frontline staff.
Now, that’s the Microsoft. It’s a little bit American with the lingo there. To my way of thinking, I kind of think of a more, for those businesses who are using casual and rostered workers, particularly maybe around industries like retail and hospitality where you have different staff coming on at different times of day to meet different peak loads in your how busy the store’s going to be and so on. So what this feature lets you do is roster or create the shifts, I guess, for these particular team members. And it really is a very simple tool, but it does seem to work so, very, very well. So if you are in Microsoft Teams already, you will find it there, down the left hand side is one of your options there. If you can’t find it, give me a call. We’ll find it for you. It’s in there, okay? So what you do is you go into Shifts, and the first thing you do is you create a schedule. And this schedule is for a particular team and covers particular data ranges. And then plain and simple, you can allocate or assign certain employees to different shifts on that schedule. So once it’s on there, the team member themselves will see that appear on their calendar within Microsoft Teams.
But more than that, from within there, they can also manage some of it themselves. They can update their own availability. They can request shifts. They can request time off. They can make shifts available for swapping and they can swap shifts with other team members who are also part of that schedule, part of that roster. So it’s available in the Microsoft Teams desktop interface, so the version that you use on your computer, on your laptop or desktop computer. It’s also definitely there in the mobile app for Microsoft Teams because that’s a big focal point for how it’s really intended to be used. A lot of shift workers, a lot of rostered workers wouldn’t necessarily have their own computer that they would sit down at to access these tools, but they would probably have their own mobile devices, their own smartphones. It really is becoming such a ubiquitous way to communicate and coordinate amongst all of our staff. So if you are in the sort of business that works with rostering your staff, maybe have a look at Microsoft Teams Shifts. Have a look if it will suit your purpose. I think it will in a lot of cases. It is quite simple but it does seem to tick a lot of the boxes that you need in that particular scenario.
I’d love to hear how you go with Microsoft Shifts. I’d really love to hear if it does suit your business and if so, how effective you have found it. I’d also really be interested to hear if you do look into it, but you decide that it doesn’t suit your business. And I’d really like to understand from you why it doesn’t suit your business. What is it about how Microsoft have built this particular feature that doesn’t quite match the way you operate? Let me know.
Thanks for listening to this episode of the Power Up Project, brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit IT. Please, leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts, and until next time, keep powering up.
In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:
>What is Microsoft To-Do all about
>How simple is it to use Microsoft To-Do
>Can you integrate Microsoft To-Do with other Office365 applications
In this episode of the Power Up Project, we’re talking about keeping things simple with Microsoft To-Do lists.
Hey, hey. Welcome back to the Power Up Project. I’m your host for this episode, Ben Love, and today we’re going to be talking about powering up your business with Microsoft To-Do. In fact, we’re gonna flip that around a bit and we’re gonna talk about keeping it simple with Microsoft To-Do.
Now when I say Microsoft To-Do, I’m talking about a product from Microsoft. You see, back in about 2015, Microsoft bought I guess one of their competitors, they bought another tech company called Wunderlist. Now Wunderlist was, and to a degree probably still is, I guess, a really popular application and app you could have on your phone which basically did to-do lists. So, pick up the groceries, buy milk on the way home, book the dog in for a haircut, all of that sort of stuff.
So Microsoft bought Wunderlist back in 2015 and since then has been working on their version of it and converting it over to their version of it, which they’ve called To-Do. So, Microsoft is obviously very creative when it comes up to naming their products, so that’s what we got stuck with. Microsoft To-Do. Essentially, though, it is a very powerful product. It is very simple and a lot of the power comes from that simplicity that you can have a look at this product yourself. It’s out there. Go and have a look. ToDo.microsoft.com is the website. There is also a mobile app. You can log on to that with your existing Office 365 account if you have one. If you don’t you can log on with any Microsoft account, such as a Hotmail account or apple.com, it’ll all link in there together.
So let’s run through a couple of the features of this very simple organisational tool. The first thing you can do in Microsoft To-Do is you can create multiple lists. Now a list is simply that. It is a list of to-do items that helps you organise all of your to-do’s a little bit better. So your list might be shopping list, for example. Or your list might be organising for your upcoming holiday. So you can create all of these separate lists and within a list you can add these items.
Now when you add an item, it’s very, very simple. They call them tasks, actually. So when you add a task, there is quite simply a little plus button that says, add a task. You tap on that and you type in your task. Once you’ve typed in your task, it will then appear in that list and you can then work with some more detailed information within that task if you want, but you absolutely don’t have to.
Next to the task that you’ve created, is a nice big dot, or check box that you can tap on to say, I’ve completed this task. Now when you go into one of these tasks that you’ve created, you can add a certain amount of additional information about that task. You can add a reminder, you can add a due date, you can add attachments which is interesting. That’s a fairly new feature addition. You can also add a repeating schedule on this particular task, so it’ll keep coming back for you.
One of the other things you can do in there is that you can add steps. Now a step is essentially a sub-task. So you can add all of these steps if you wish. So your top level task might be publishing new episode of the Power Up project podcast. And then underneath your sub-tasks, or your steps as they’re called, you would have things such as identify the topic, research topic, record audio, edit audio, publish podcast episode and as you go through those steps, you can take each of those off individually until you’ve completed the actual task.
So you can see, it really is a very simple to-do list organising application. There are a couple of little features, though, that I find quite compelling. One of those features is that you can invite other people to share on of your lists. So for example, if you share a grocery list with your significant other, then you could both have access to it. So, whoever happens to drop into [Wooley’s] on the way home this afternoon has access to that up to date list.
The other really compelling feature for me is that Microsoft To-Do integrates very, very tightly with a lot of the Office 365 Suite. For example, Microsoft Outlook. So in Microsoft Outlook, you might be familiar with tasks, is what they’re called. If you go into your tasks, you will actually realise when you’re using To-Do that the two are synchronising. They’re essentially one in the same. So if you add something into Microsoft To-Do, it will appear over in Outlook as a task and vise versa. You can keep both sides of your life there very well synchronised and you can work with those To-Do lists from whichever interface you like.
Of course one of the nice things about being able to-do that within Outlook is within Outlook you can do a lot of dragging and dropping. You can drag those tasks, those to-do items onto your calendar, for example, to block out time. You can drag emails into the tasks area to make a task out of that particular email. So there’s a lot of this integration that you can do within the various Office 365 applications.
So, in summary, Microsoft To-Do could be a very useful and simple, yet powerful tool to help you stay organised and stay on top of all of those lists that you have been keeping on little scrapes of paper or various other little apps and note keeping places all over the place. So check it out To-Do.microsoft.com.
I would love to hear how you go with Microsoft To-Do and how much of an impact it helps you make on your organisation.
Thanks for listening to this episode of the Power Up Project, brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit IT. Please leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts and until next time, keep powering up.
In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:
〉How can the holiday break help you and your business for the upcoming new year
〉Why it is important for you and your business to enjoy the holiday downtime
In this episode of The Power Up Project, we talk about why your business needs you to take a break.
Welcome back to The Power Up Project. I’m your host Ben Dampney and today we’re going to power up your business
〉Canva is a web-based graphic design application perfect for creating awesome marketing graphics
〉Allows collaboration and provides a very user-friendly alternative to other complex graphic design tools
In this episode of The Power Up Project, we’ll be talking about a free, web-based app called Canva. Hello, I’m Annie, and today I am taking over the sound waves from the two Bens to talk to you about a topic that’s quite close to my heart. I’m the community manager at Grassroots IT, so I look after our branding and marketing. And, today I wanted to talk to you about a free web-based graphic design programme called Canva. In the history of graphic design programmes and software, years ago, there was a programme called Quark. It was really expensive, and really took some special skills from graphic designers in order to be able to use it.
Then, Adobe came on the scene, with their programmes such as Illustrator, and InDesign, and Photoshop, and really took over the industry. They have an amazing array of creative programmes, and many of them are still used today by most graphic designers. But what happened in 2012 was that a new guy came on the scene, an Australian company that brought in a free, web-based app called Canva, and really, what this did is brought the power of graphic design to everyday people and their businesses.
So, Canva is a free, web-based app, and it really enables people to put together their own graphic images, which they can then use on social media, or blogs, or websites. Now, I should put in a disclaimer here, that I think it is really important that you employ the services of a professional graphic designer in order to put together your branding strategy, so when it comes to things like logo, and colours, and fonts, you are putting out the right message into the world about who your business is and what the personality of your business is. I’m also very passionate about that branding message being consistent across the different channels.
Now, where Canva is great, is that once you have your branding strategy in place, you can then put together your own images, for social media channels. You can use it to make posters, or business cards. You can create images or you can create PDFs that you can send off to a printer, to have professionally printed. When you’re within the Canva app, it is super easy to use, and you have access to lots of different functionality. There are many fonts, and colours, and lines, and graphics. There are thousands of stock photographs that you can access for a small fee. There are predefined templates that you can customise for your own designs. There are different templates for various social media channels, so for example, if you want to create a Facebook post, it is the right dimensions for a Facebook post, or Twitter, or YouTube channel art, et cetera, et cetera. You can think of it. Canva’s probably got it.
Now, while the free version of Canva is awesome, we’ve taken as step up, and we use the paid version, which is called Canva for Work. Now, while it is a paid version, it is not super expensive. It’s about $150 per year, which is a small percentage of some of those professional design packages. You can pay that monthly or yearly. You can pay an additional charge if you want multiple team members to access that same account.
Now, where Canva for Work comes into its own is, I think, its ability to resize images. So, if you for example, set up an Instagram image, and then you decide you also want a version of that image to appear on Twitter and on Facebook, you can, with the click of a button, copy and resize that image, and it will automagically put it into the right dimensions for those other social media channels.
Now, if you’ve spent time fiddling around with images, trying to get them the right size, then you will know that this is worth its weight in gold. So, I think that is awesome. One of the other features of Canva for Work is that you can upload your own fonts, and you can set up basically a canvas of colours, so that all of your branded colours are in one place, and it’s really easy for you to access, to set up new templates and new designs for your business.
Now, if you just want to dip your toe in the water, there is a 30-day free trial, so head on over to Canva and have a play. Get creative, and see what you can create for your business.
Thanks for listening to this episode of The Power Up Project, brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit IT. Please, leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts, and until next time, keep powering up.
〉What is Microsoft Officevibe?
〉How can it help you and your organisation?
In this episode of The Power Up Project, I’m going to introduce you to a great little tool called Office Vibe.
Welcome to this episode of The Power Up Project. I’m Ben Love, your host for this episode. Today, I want to talk to you about a great tool that we use here at Grassroots IT called Office Vibe. Now, Office Vibe is a web based application that helps you to measure and monitor your employee engagement. Now, this can be extremely useful for your managers at a HR level at all different levels of the organisation because, I mean, let’s face it. We all think we’ve got a good handle on our team culture. We all think all of our staff are beautifully engaged, but the fact of the matter is that there will be a lot of stuff happening there in the organisation that you are not aware of.
A tool like Office Vibe can actually help you uncover that information because if you don’t have the information, you can’t do anything with it. If there is a problem emerging there with your team engagement, with your team culture, if you’re not aware of it, you can’t fix it. What Office Vibe does is that it will automatically and very, very anonymously survey your team on a regular basis across a wide range of questions of different areas which all come back to that engagement piece, and then it will present you with reports both a high level number, but then also broken down into different areas of engagement. And, not only that, it’ll take it the next step further, but it will help give you advice and guidance on how you can address individual areas of your staff engagement that may need a little bit of work.
We found it to be an extremely valuable tool. I have certainly uncovered a various things happening within my organisation that I wasn’t aware of, but with the benefit of people being able to submit anonymous feedback, people feel a little bit more empowered I guess to share that information. And so, I can take that information, and then I can make changes within the organisation. I can work within individual people. I can take whatever steps I need to help increase employee engagement and help make this a better place for everybody to work.
If you do have staff, I would encourage you to think about having a look at Office Vibe. You can find it on the internet. It is free for a lot of users. You can pay a little bit more to get some premium features. I don’t. I just use the free functionality and it does a great job for our purposes.
Thanks for listening to this episode of The Power Up Project brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit IT. Please leave us a review wherever you get your podcast and until next time, keep powering up.
〉There is a new Autosave Feature in the desktop versions of Microsoft Office apps
〉What you need to look out for in your workflows if you’re used to the traditional saving methods Microsoft Office
In this episode of The Power Up Project, we talk about the new auto save feature in the Microsoft Office apps.
Hey, welcome to The Power Up Project. I’m your host for this episode, Ben love. So, Microsoft have just released a great, new little feature into the Microsoft Office apps. By that I mean Word and Excel and so on, that you use as part of your Microsoft Office 365 subscription.
The new feature that they’ve released is auto save. Now, this is something that those people who’ve been using the web app versions of this software for a little while now will be very familiar with, but it is new to those of us who are using the desktop installations of Word and Excel and so on. Essentially, what it means is that rather than having to remember to click save on your documents progressively as you’re using them, the system simply automatically saves your changes as you type. It literally does it in near real time. So, it’s a constant type thing.
Now, I personally think this is a fantastic feature. Like I said, I’ve been relying on this feature for a while now, when I use the web apps of Word and Excel, which I do a fair bit. But it’s great that it’s now there with those desktop apps. You can tell if you’ve got it and if it’s turned on by having a look in the very top left hand corner of your application.
For example, if you have Microsoft Word open, have a look in the very top left corner there when you’ve got a document open in Word, and there’ll be a little toggle switch, which turns auto save on and off. Now, it does default to on and it will really only work actually for documents that are saved in your OneDrive or that are saved within SharePoint. But honestly, for a lot of us, that’s really where our documents are all saved these days. For those people, it’s just going to be there automatically for you.
If you do have your document saved on a traditional file server, for example, or if you have it saved locally on your computer on the C: drive, for example, the auto save feature is not going to do what it should. It’s not going to be able to work its magic.
Now, this sounds like a great new feature. But anecdotally this is catching a couple of people unawares. The particular situation here is if you’re the sort of person who takes an existing document and uses that almost like a template. You might open up an existing letter that you had written to a client, you might make some changes to that for different client, and then you might click on the Save As button, and save a new version of that for the new client.
Now, that was all well and good when we had to click on the Save button. But if you think about that, what’s happening now is that with auto save turned on as you’re typing, you’re actually going to be saving those changes over the top of your original letter, and you probably don’t want to be doing that if this is the way you’ve been using your documents.
If you’re the sort of person who does that, if you do open up a previous document that you’ve used and intend to use that almost like a template for a different purpose, what I’d suggest you do is maybe copy that document first. Copy paste, duplicate that document on the file system and then open up the copy so that you can do that auto save. Either that or as soon as you open up that document, before you start making your edits, click on Save As and save it as a new document. So that as auto save then does its thing, you will not lose that original content.
Thanks for listening to this episode of The Power Up Project brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit IT please leave us a review where ever you get your podcasts and until next time keep powering up.
〉What are Dashboards?
〉How can dashboards power up your business?
In this episode of the Power Up Project, we talk about the power of dashboards. Welcome back to the Power Up Project, I’m your host Ben Dampney. Today, we’re going to power up your business with dashboards.
Dashboards are a single page that show key pieces of data in an easy to digest format. They can range from graphs, charts, gauges to heat maps or flashing alerts on a page. This can be a webpage, it can be an online document, it can be an updated Excel spreadsheet, for example. Now, every business can benefit from financial dashboards. They give you a visual representation on a single page of current and historic financial performance. These can be created in most modern financial accounting packages, such as Xero. They can also be generated using Microsoft Power BI connected to older packages that do not include this sort of functionality, things like MYOB or Reckon for instance.
The beauty of financial dashboards is they turn numbers into gauges and graphs that can be read easily and allowing you to quickly understand your financial metrics. However, I’d encourage you to think about the key metrics or performance indicators in your business. For our IT business, outside of financial reporting, we’re actually interested in a couple of different indicators. We have a dashboard that shows client servers if they’re down, service tickets that require attention, and clients that are awaiting a response from us around a service item. Being aware of these items and numbers allows us to ensure that key components of our customer service delivery don’t get overlooked. We actually have a big screen in our office that shows these key metrics, and everyone at any point in time can look up and see exactly where those key indicators are at. Ideally, we’re trying to get to zero, which is green, which means no one’s waiting for us to do work for them, we’re proactively managing our clients and their systems.
Now, another dashboard we have shows us engineer billable time and open tickets. It’s a great way to ensure our engineers are being utilised correctly without being overburdened. We can also use this dashboard to make employment decisions, as we can easily see trends in engineer workloads, if one’s getting too much work for instance, we can then look to employ someone based on some of these metrics.
Another example might be for a transport company who may be interested in average weekly trip times, vehicle service intervals, driver load times, all of which can affect your profitability and ideally let you know what your utilisation is of your vehicles and your staff.
Now, in all instances, I’d encourage you to ensure that the dashboard you use is clean and simple. This is a really important part of dashboards, in my mind, the critical part. They need to show the five or six key drivers that will have the most effect on your business. Now, these should align directly with your business goals. If you follow the trends in the dashboards you have, you have information that enables you to manage your business with precision, rather than feel. You feel busy, but what does the stats and dashboard exactly show you around your staff utilisation, your sales delivery, etc.?
So I encourage you to check out dashboards, they’re awesome. Power BI’s a really simple tool to use, there’s lots of plug-ins and templates you can go and grab it and start straight away. Xero has some great financial dashboards that you can look at and set up. There are many other products out there that will do dashboards according on your data .
Thank you for listening to the Power Up Project, brought to you by Digit IT and Grassroots IT, and please remember to leave a review for us wherever you found this podcast. Until next time, keep powering up.
My three takeaways from running our live event, The Small Business Download, in October 2018, including:
〉Being with other people who understand that you “don’t know what you don’t know”
〉The value of collaborative learning
〉Finding the low hanging fruit
〉Join us for a free webinar on 22 November: Office 365 in the Real World
In this episode of The Power Up Project, we recap on The Small Business Download 2018.
Hi. Welcome to this episode of The Power Up Project. I’m your host, Ben Love, and today we’re going to be recapping on a recent live event that we hosted, called The Small Business Download 2018. This was a fantastic event. It was a learning event which we put on for our clients, our partners, anybody else who wanted to come along. We had a panel of five industry experts, covering a range of business and technology topics, who were there to talk to us, to take questions, do a little bit of workshopping, even, at the end of the night there, around some of the problems and questions that our attendees had.
So what I wanted to share with you today is the three top takeaways that I really got out of the entire thing. The first one, you don’t know what you don’t know. Now, this is obviously a truism which we’ve all heard before, but what I’d say about this is that one of the real values of investing time in events such as The Small Business Download is that it gives the gift of being in the company of other business leaders who recognise that, at some level, there are things that they don’t know, so they are consciously making the decision to invest the time, the money, the effort, to come along to events like this and to learn.
Now, this may sound fairly self-evident to a lot of you out there, but a lot of people do not go out of their comfort zone to put themselves in the situation where they will potentially learn something that they weren’t aware of previously. A lot of people are confident in their own knowledge, a lot of people are quite comfortable that the way they’re doing the job right now is the way that it should be doing, and so they don’t take that next step. So the first lesson that I really learnt out of this is just reinforcing that, that you don’t know what you don’t know, and it’s good to step outside and just expose yourself to some opportunities, cross-industry perhaps, to see what else is happening out in the big wide world.
Lesson number two that I took away from The Small Business Download 2018 is that collaborative learning is powerful. Now, one of the wonderful things about getting all of these people in the room, facilitated by our panel of five experts, was that we had people there across a broad range of industries, across a broad range of organisational profiles of size, of nature. We had some commercial organisations, we had educational institutions, we had non-profits, and everybody was there, sharing in the experience and collaborating together. There was a lot of sharing of stories, war stories in some cases, successes and victories in others. There was a lot of questions that arose from one industry, which interestingly enough, some people were able to map into an entirely different industry, to gain a unique perspective on something that may have been sticking them up for a little while now. So lesson number two was collaborative learning can be powerful, cross-industries, cross-organizations.
And number three, and this is the great one, and this is my important takeaway for you out of this episode, there is plenty of low hanging fruit. So some of the things that we touched on, on the day, in a very tactical sense are, for example, that a lot of people are not using a large part of their Office 365 subscription. A lot of organisations will subscribe to something like Office 365 for a particular component, such as the email for example, but with the money that you are paying every month, there is a vast list of other products and services that you get access to, and a lot of people aren’t even aware of what else is out there and aren’t integrating those things into their business processes or getting any value from them at all. Now, that’s just one very tactical example.
For other people, it was about education. Some of the people I was talking to on the day there, they realised that they already had the tools in place in their business, they already had the technology implemented, they had processes and workflows put in place, but there was a missing piece there, to really drive the organisational change and get the value from the technology, and that was education. They identified that there was a need to bring in some more training for themselves or for their people back at the office on how to use these tools, how to get the most from these systems, and how to really leverage them in their day-to-day operations. So that was another really good piece of low hanging fruit for some people, that a little bit of education and training into the organisation could yield very, very large results.
At the end of the day, though, I think the message that everybody really came away from The Small Business Download 2018 with was that it’s really all about the people. It’s not really about the technology. The technology is just a tool. It’s like giving a builder a hammer. It’s actually the builder who has the skills, the knowledge, the experience, to put together the house. The hammer is just the tool, and it’s the same with all of our organisations. It is all about the people. So we need to not get too distracted by the technology, we need to not get too distracted by the operational metrics we put in place, by all of these other things that we’re told that we need to put in place in the business. Those things are important, don’t get me wrong, but what we really need to do is remember to keep front and centre that everything we are doing here is about the people. It’s about our staff, it’s about our clients, it’s about our suppliers, our industry partners, and our community around us. That’s really what everything came back to on the day.
So thank you for listening to my recap of The Small Business Download 2018. I had three key takeaways for you from that. The one I really want to leave you with as your next action steps out of this episode is that there is plenty of low hanging fruit. Have a look at your subscriptions that you already have in place, such as Office 365, and see if there are parts of that product, parts of that service, that you’re not using and not getting that value from. And the other piece that went there was about education. Have a look at the tools you’re using and your processes, and have a look at your people, and have a think about whether bringing in a little bit of extra training, a little bit of education, mentorship, might actually help your people get a significant amount more value out of the systems that you already have in place.
Are you looking to save costs and increase efficiency in using your existing business tools? Join our Free Webinar with Mia McIntyre to learn how real businesses in the real world utilise their Office 365 tools to reduce costs and increase efficiency. Click below to register
〉Why data encryption is important for data security
〉Simple steps on how you can start protecting your data
In this episode of The Power Up Project, I’m going to be talking about why you should be encrypting the data on your laptop.
Hey, welcome to this episode of The Power Up Project. I am Ben Love, your host, coming at you directly from Orlando in Florida. If you can hear ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ playing gently in the background there, please excuse the distraction. Today’s topic is encrypting the data on your laptop hard drive. I’m going to start with the first question around that though is ‘Why would you do that?’ Well, we all know that encryption is basically scrambling the data that you have stored in such a way that only you can read it. If that data gets into somebody else’s hands, they will not be able to read it. Why would you want to do that? Well, let’s say that you lose your laptop. Let’s say that it gets stolen from the office. Let’s say that you leave it in a taxi.
That means if you have an unencrypted hard drive, it means that the person who stole that laptop can very easily take that hard drive out of your laptop, put it in another computer or put it into a little USB caddie, and they will have full access to every bit of information that’s on that hard drive. Now, that’s quite terrifying, particularly if you work with really sensitive information, particularly if you have personal information for your client, such as credit card details or healthcare related information. You can really see it could be a very smart idea to make sure that your laptop hard drives are encrypted.
Now, in Australia, we also have a thing called the Mandatory Data Breach Notification Scheme. This is basically a law that states that if information is lost from your organisation somehow and that information has the potential to cause significant harm for other people, then you must notify the authorities. Now, this can be quite a daunting thing to face for organisations, but one of the great ways to make sure that you don’t have to notify is to make sure that the data on that laptop hard drive is encrypted because in that case, nobody will actually be able to read the data. Now, I’m not a lawyer, that is not legal advice, but that is anecdotally what we’re seeing happening in the industry. We can probably agree by this point that it is a good idea to encrypt the data on your laptop hard drive. How do we do that?
Well, in Windows 10 Professional and Windows 10 Enterprise, there’s a great little feature called BitLocker. On macOS, there is a feature called FileVault. They all do basically the same thing. Basically, they run behind the scenes there and will encrypt every bit of information on your laptop hard drive there so that you and only you can access it. Now, there are various requirements to be able to turn on BitLocker in Windows 10 primarily around the hardware in your laptop. You need a little thing called a TPM chip, but most of the business grade laptops that are out there that Grassroots IT works with will have a TPM chip in there. The macOS hardware already has everything that it needs in there as well, so you should be good to go.
After that, there’s just a few little settings that need to be turned on to enable that file encryption. Now, that can either be turned on manually per computer or if you have a fleet of computers in your organisation where we need to turn on BitLocker, we can do so centrally with what’s called a group policy. We can talk to your IT person. We can just push that out to all the machines in your network and make sure that’s done. It is a very easy process to step through, it is very secure and reliable, and it will potentially save you a whole lot of heartache further down the track. But, the question remains then: ‘Are there some cases where you might not want to encrypt the data on your hard drive?’
Look, I’m going to leave that open and say yes, there are. I can’t think of any of those particular scenarios right now off the top of my head to be honest, but I’m sure there are edge cases there where you don’t want to enable encryption. It would be a good idea to think about it, have a chat with your IT people, and you’ll probably come back and find that the answer is yes, that you do want that enabled. In summary, why would we want to encrypt the data on our laptop hard drives? Well, to keep that data safe in case we lose our laptop or our laptop gets stolen. How do we do it? We simply turn on a feature called BitLocker for Windows or FileVault in the macOS.
Thanks for listening to the Power Up Project, brought to you by Digit IT and Grassroots IT. Please remember to leave a review for us, wherever you found this podcast. Until next time, keep powering up.