Why Now is the Time to Move to Cloud Collaboration

Cloud collaboration

Unless you’re a company of one, communication is the backbone of your organization’s productivity. But that backbone may soon break under the weight of obsolesce, making now the ideal time to look into how the cloud can shore it up today and brace it for the future.

[Read more…]

5 compelling benefits of Microsoft Surface Pro 4 to include in your business case

Surface Pro Hardware

Updated April 3, 2017

Case

When Microsoft entered the hardware industry and introduced specs for the initial Microsoft Surface Pro, some were skeptical about whether it could compete in the marketplace. Now that the latest generation of Microsoft Surface devices has been adopted by thousands of companies worldwide, success is undeniable. Many users have switched to Surface and given it glowing reviews for increasing their productivity.

Regardless of what hardware you are switching from, outfitting your workforce with an alternative model or brand will likely require a strong business case. Fortunately, it is not difficult to make for Surface devices. Here are four compelling reasons to equip your workforce especially with the Surface Pro 4.

1. Greater versatility, lower management costs

The Surface Pro’s ability to be both a laptop and tablet is its greatest attribute. The juggling act between desktop, laptop, and tablet is expensive for organizations. Not to mention a burden on employees who spend time transferring files between devices. Also, data security challenges are inherent in loading confidential data onto USB sticks as a means of file transfer.

Add to this the beauty of the hardware: users love the hinge design, which feels great and props the screen at any desired angle. The keyboard snaps on and holds tightly thanks to neodymium magnets, and the keyboard and touchpad are top-rate for long days of use—a big differentiator from other detachable keyboards.

After years of dealing with headaches like short battery life and lugging around heavy laptops, the road warriors at high tech and electronics giant TeleSign recently adopted Surface. “Compared with other devices of the same size and weight, [Surface] has far more functionality and far lower management costs,” says Paul Stovall, Director of Enterprise Sales. In addition to eliminating presentation hiccups and making the sales team much happier, introducing Surface has also taken care of TeleSign’s IT challenges managing and securing their iPads.

2. Boost workforce collaboration with features like shareable screen markups

Doctor taking notes on Surface ProBetween the portability of Surface and features like the Surface Pen, OneNote and screen markups, teams are finding Surface helps them collaborate faster and smarter. We’re seeing this play out in a variety of ways and industries; for example, at Seattle Children’s Hospital, doctors and nurses are now taking notes with the Surface Pen, keyboard or dictation using Cortana, which means most records are completed and available to others the minute practitioners leave patients’ rooms.

New York-based SHoP Architects uses Surface in a completely different way: they have Surface devices in their conference room and common areas to stimulate staff collaboration and streamline their process for developing ideas. “What’s important is not the time as much as the energy that gets lost from the original sketch,” says John Cerone, Associate Principal, Director of Virtual Design and Construction. He says his team is finding the stylus and touch screen features very valuable for capturing design ideas: “Pen-to-screen or hand-to-screen is the most intuitive interface.”

3. Software optimization and capacity that eliminates hours of work

The design of the Surface was optimized to run Office 365 and Windows 10 as efficiently as possible, and we’re hearing many reports of time savings related to this and its other software capabilities. One example is Enterprise Fleet Management, which equipped its sales team with Surfaces. Enterprise’s team estimates better access to files and software saves them about an hour each day and makes their sales presentation much more polished. “An hour a day saved hundreds of salespeople adds up to significantly more selling time and better customer service. In addition, our closing ratios have gone up 35 percent in the last year, and the Surface has certainly contributed to that sales increase,” says their senior vice president of sales and marketing Tom Chelew.

Surface users are also happy with the incorporation of Cortana personal assistant, which responds to voice commands, as well as new convenience tools in the revamped Internet Explorer, renamed Edge. Plus, Surface is no slouch when running resource intensive applications such as SolidWorks, used for design.

4. Impressive streamlining and time savings from improved security

Surface’s optimized implementation of Windows 10 also makes it fast and easy for users to login and access their work. It has organization-wide benefits too: the Windows Hello biometric login feature, part of Windows 10, eliminates forced company-wide password resets, which most employees loathe. Meanwhile, the ability to move between desktop accounts and cloud services such as Office 365 and the Windows Store with a single Microsoft login decreases reliance on additional passwords.

Paired with Device Guard, the biometric security feature protects against lost devices and hacking by keeping user information safe, making getting up and running as easy as logging into another device and accessing content on the cloud. As Forrester’s David Johnson told Computer World UK, “Microsoft is fundamentally improving security at the OS and hardware level. It has done a really good job implementing all the security features that companies like Intel can provide.”

For its light weight and power alone, Microsoft Surface is a no-brainer for outfitting a mobile workforce. But it has much wider application than this, and it opens multiple avenues for greater productivity. Given the growing importance of security, mobility, and cloud, Surface’s winning combination of software, hardware and stylus make it a solid device for organizations of all sizes and shapes.

5. New savings

Microsoft has introduced new savings for the 2-1 by up to $300 depending on your country and model SKU*.

For example in Canada, the higher end version with Intel Core i7 with 256GB of storage, 8GB of RAM that was introduced at $2,099 is now $1,799 CAD, getting you $300 savings.

In the US, new $100 savings are available on most models!  You can now get a new model for as little as $799 (Intel® Core™ M 4GB 128GB (w/o pen).

If you think this is a prelude to the release of new Surface Pro devices, don’t hold your breath. There is still no release date for Microsoft’s flagship device but the company has been dedicated to offering our customers the best price possible for Pro 4.

To learn more about Surface Pro 4 and new pricing, please go here. 

MS Surface CA_SMERCH_2

 

More with less: supporting the expansion of Unified Communications

More with less: supporting the expansion of Unified Communications

Any discussion of unified communications begins by looking at the struggles IT organizations face today, says Wiam Girgis, Softchoice Senior Solutions Architect.

That’s because, he notes, unified communications solutions—the integration of voice, video, mobility and presence services across endpoints, devices, and applications—are helping organizations to overcome some of today’s most significant challenges, in particular doing more with less.

“Many organizations are trying to expand their business while containing or reducing expenses,” he notes. “Many businesses have remote workers or are looking to expand customer service across multiple geographic locations, so the need for unified communications becomes more important.”

And, like compute and storage, organizations are moving communications to the cloud to seek flexibility and efficiency. Because of this, Girgis adds, “Businesses are finding appeal in solutions that take their communications far beyond the dial tone.”

This blog is part of a three-part Cisco ‘Ask an Expert’ series that looks at how hybrid IT is influencing the technology topics of the network, data center, and unified communications. We discuss with Girgis the benefits of unified communications, but also look at the challenges organizations face around successfully deploying unified communications (UC) solutions on their networks.

[Read more…]