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IT Information

We will add some relevant IT information here. This could be anything from new industry technology, to how we chose our supplier partners.

Tech thats saves desk space

Relevant both in the workspace and with the current situation we are finding ourselves in. Is there any way to maximise desk space and minimise tech clutter? Yes.

HP Desktop PC and Monitor stand

Desktop PC

These compact PC's are fantastic. At ABM we use the brand HP as we have found they are far more resilient and offer great specifications. As an added note, you can also use them as a monitor stand.

Monitor Arms

Monitor Mount

There are tons of variations. But we have found the ones that save space best, are the arms that clip onto the back of the desk. This one is adjustable so you can move your monitors around.

HP smallest laser printer in the world

Tiny Printer 

They may be small, but they are mighty. HP have developed the world's smallest laser printer. (35cm width, 16cm high and 19cm depth.) Smaller printer options are available, but they will not have the same high - quality printing capabilities.  

Headset Phone

Headset Phone

Perfect for a small desk space. You can dial as usual, pick up calls and redirect to other people in the building. The headset offers comfort for long calls, and means you have free hands to make notes.

Mini USB Keyboard

Mini USB Keyboard

First things first, this keyboard is wireless and so you don't have to worry about messy cables. It is also a smaller version of a normal keyboard. We have found people either love this way of working, or really hate it. 

Is is time to upgrade your server?

When anyone mentions 'server', immediately the first reaction is dread followed by, 'cost' and then 'downtime'. At ABM we have been supplying comprehensive server solutions for nearly 20 years. Meaning we know how to save a company money where required and how to complete a server migration with as little downtime as possible (if any at all). Here is our process for understanding what a company will require from their server.

Destroy your server in anger

Initial meeting:

After viewing your complete infrastructure, including your current server solution (if applicable), we will chat with you about your business plans for the future. If growth is expected, how do you envision your company success in 5 years time? This gives us a good idea of what you require your server to achieve. The solution we provide will support you now, and your vision for the future.

Evaluate server:

Running a diagnostic review of your server helps ABM to understand if there are any current problems with how your infrastructure is set up. It will allow us to see if we can complete a straight migration, or if we will have to start again with a fresh configuration.

Techies conversation:

At ABM we live by clear communication. This is why after our initial contact, we will come back to the office and discuss our thoughts on your systems. It allows a meeting of minds to ensure that ABM source a complete product, and plan for any specific eventualities with your infrastructure. We will decide how much memory we think you will require, how many drives, where your email will sit, discuss users and finally, calculate room for growth.

Start anew or migration?

Migration is the ideal solution when upgrading a server. This is because there is no down-time. However, with older or malfunctioning servers this might not be an option. To complete a migration the server requires: A fully functioning Active Directory, and a server that is capable of migration (server might be too old for the technology). Another consideration for migration is how you want to proceed with supporting your business emails. If any of these issues mentioned are present in your current setup, we will have to provide an alternative solution. This involves starting your server setup from scratch. It is not as scary as it sounds, it just means there will be down-time while the upgrade is completed. But unless you work 24/7, this likely wont affect day to day running. We can arrange to complete the work at the weekend. If you are a 24/7 business, no fear. We have solutions to keep your business operational.

Source the tech and quote:

A server should last your business for 5 years at least, and so it has to be right. A lot can happen in this time and you should never be held back by outdated or inefficient technology. This process has been fine tuned over ABM's many years in business; all of our server solutions have been successful.

If all of this IT jargon makes you uneasy, we understand! It can be complicated. Here at ABM we like to be transparent with people to ensure a better business relationship. This is all extra information that we thought we would share about our process. As you can see, we manage everything closely ensuring we don't waste any of your time or resources. If you are interested in discussing your options, please do not hesitate to contact us. The initial consultation to determine your requirements and supply you with a quote is free of charge!

Technology Trends 2020

As in every industry there are obvious patterns people follow depending on different factors in their environment. This article shows a collection of predicitions for 2020 technology trends and how they may change business. 

1

5G

Ultrafast mobile networks have already been partly deployed across the UK. However, very few devices support this. Later in 2020 many new phones will use 5G as standard. This will ensure online data will load faster, tasks you complete on your phone outside of the office, will become more efficient, and video chats for business meetings on the run will allow for faster business practises.

2

Voice Assistance

Since the explosion of voice assistants, we communicate more and more with our technology. Whether it be to add something to notes, or arrange a meeting with an associate, it will continue to improve. Even getting to the point where you can ask your device to book an appointment and it will call and book a time and date for you. (This is not specifically scheduled for 2020.) 

3

More Cameras!

An image says a thousand words. Driven by what we see rather than what we read. It indicates that we have adopted a more cynical approach to our media. This is expected considering the market in saturated with information. To capture the perfect image or video, phone cameras will advance further. Apple have even got to the point where their new phone has four cameras!

4

No Chunky Metal

Storing and transporting technology is no longer an issue. Even the amount of desk space required for technology has decreased. The lightweight and slimline designs will continue further. Decreasing cluttered workspaces and increasing out of office work capabilities.   

5

Edge Computing

Ever increasing is the need to process data quickly. Due to technology drastically improving, it is clear we have no time to wait around for loading screens or action completion time. Our fast - paced world wants efficiency. 2020 shows a jump in businesses investing in high powered tech.

6

Blockchain

Large data leaks have been a major issue. The invention of blockchain couldn't previously be put to practical use for securing data. However, ICBC, Alibaba Group and China Southern Airlines, all now use blockchain. Large companies will invest to keep data secure and then this will eventually filter down to all businesses.

Need vs Want : Laptops

The 'need' laptop in this article is a basic spec laptop. It will allow you to get the job done and the cost is reasonable. The 'want' laptop has a higher specification and will increase efficiency, but costs more. Which would you choose?

HP 240 G7 laptop

Need - HP 240 G7 laptop 

For a basic laptop for your business environment, ABM's recommendation is that you find a specification that includes: Windows 10, a sata drive, Ryzen 3 and 4GB. You can choose between a Windows 10 home or pro edition. If you are a small business without a server, the Windows 10 home might be all you require. However, if you plan to expand, you will require a Windows pro set up. This comes with added encryption. A sata drive is a very basic storage system, it slowly writes and reads data, therefore your laptop will do its job, just not as quickly as something with a solid - state drive. Ryzen 3 is a processor. Meaning it receives input and provides an appropriate output. Ryzen 3 is the lowest processor we would recommend to use the laptop seriously for business. Others will be to slow. Finally, 4GB RAM is simply the amount of memory your laptop has. This is not fantastic, but if later this becomes an issue, you can add more memory. (If the laptop has the capability.)  

HP Elitebook

Want - HP Probook or an Elitebook

One of the harder aspects of business, is being able to predict your requirements ahead of time. Going with what you 'need' in the moment, might seem to save you money. But later when growth escalates, you don't want your efficiencies to slip and you find you are losing time because of your slower tech. With this in mind, a more efficient laptop that will last as you grow will have these specifications or higher: Windows 10 pro as it has better encryption and is built for server integration. It is specifically designed for business use. It is best to select an Intel solid state drive. This is an electronic storage system, meaning it reads and writes data much faster than a mechanical drive. A core i3 or higher is best for your processor type, as once again, it is the more efficient option. Lastly, 8GB of RAM or higher. You should have no issues with memory for some time.  

My Top 3 Business Gadgets

As much as technology might frustrate people, you cannot deny most of the time it does make life easier. Running ABM smoothly is a challenge. As with any business you have to wear many 'hats' and coordinate with lots people. To help with this process here are my top 3 gadgets suggestions.

Acer KA270H Monitors

Acer Monitors 

I know as a company we go on and on about the importance of monitors. But it does improve efficiency and it doesn't have to be an expensive change. I have three 27" Acer monitors all lined up, and it drastically improves my workflow. For example, I can have the bank up on one monitor, with the spreadsheet relating to my payments on another, and then the accounts software I use on the third. These sort of tasks (that require information sourced from multiple places), are far easier to complete, not to mention less mistakes occur.

IPhone XS Max

iPhone XS Max

After using a variety of phones, I always end up coming back to the iPhone. Don't get me wrong, there are other great options. But for me I find the iPhone consistently seamless with the corporate world. The reason why I chose the max is because a big screen is always appreciated, not just for typing but for my eyesight as well.

HP portable

HP 2 - in - 1 'laptop'

This is essentially a tablet with an attachable keyboard. Because it is a HP device it has all of the functionality of my office - based PC. This is a really handy piece of kit. Designed solely for business people on the move. The screen is touch screen and with the stand you can easily adjust for easy viewing. (unlike other tablets) The keyboard is ideal for updating any documents. (personally, the touch screen keyboard experience slows down my typing ability.) This is the lighter, thinner and more adaptable option to carrying a laptop. 

Future Technology Trends 

While no one can be certain of what the future holds, it is clear to see that technology will continue to advance. We have created a requirement for a more efficient infrastructure. Whether this be for learning, connecting or even completing simple tasks; We are asking for 'better' every step of the way. This article details a number of technology elements that will likely be popular when created.

Predicted within the next few years...

1

Immersive Experience

Businesses will offer an immersive experience for the 'try before you buy' aspect of sales. Creating a space where you truly believe you are using a product or service.

2

Meaningful Marketing

Companies will have more in depth knowledge of people and where their product or service fits into someone's life. Therefore, allowing the company to know when you can capture your target audiences attention.

3

Blockchain

Used currently for cryptocurrency purposes, in the future this secure environment will likely be used in many other industries. It will allow for permanent and unalterable records for all transactions. Great for accountability.

Predicted to arrive after 2030...

4

Completely Smart

At the moment people are loving the smart tech they have. Including speakers, lighting, security and thermostats. However, in the future we will potentially have everything from smart appliances (like ovens) to smart toilets and beyond.

5

Hyper Automation

Many processes within a business still create a level of inconsistency. Complete automation will ensure unexpected processes are flagged and questioned before going ahead. This will increase efficiency and stop mistakes from being made.

6

Human Augmentation

Both cognitive enhancement and physical enhancement will enable us to improve our skills and capabilities. It will allow for more effective communication with smart technology and smart infrastructures. But allegedly it will improve human to human interaction as well.

Stop your IT systems from overheating

In warmer weather you run the risk of letting your technology over heat. If you have a fantastic AC system then chances are you won't have to worry. If your server also gets a blast of cold air, it is unlikely it will get to hot. However, in most office environments fans are supplied, cooling employees down, but leaving technology to fend for itself. 

What are the tell-tale signs of overheating technology?

Over heating technology advice

1

Slow

Your technology will constantly hang and it will take a while to get your tasks completed.

2

Fan Sounds

If you can hear your fan making some strange sounds and running at an increased rate, this means either you need a clean out of your tech (for dust), or it is too hot.

3

Restarts & Crashing

Are you experiencing systems crashes or random restarts on a hot day? There is a high chance these are connected, and you don't have any other problems with your systems.

4

Temperature

Does your technology feel warm or hot to touch?

How to combat overheating technology

1

Ventilation

If all of your technology is in an enclosed space, (e.g. your router, server, printer etc) potentially in a server cupboard or cabinet, have the door open to allow the hot air to flow out and circulation to keep flowing.

2

Shut Down

If you can allow the device to be off for a little while to cool down, please do. If you can't do this, make sure you shut down any printers, laptops and PC's at the end of the day. It gives them the time to completely cool down.

3

Air Conditioning

Investing in a small air conditioning unit is a very good idea. Especially when it comes to keeping your server cool. Having this shut down unexpectedly can cause a lot of problems.

4

Clean

Cleaning the inside of your device is very important. Dust can sit inside the machine and on the fan stopping your tech from cooling itself down efficiently. 

Good to know cables, in your office environment

There are dozens of different cables, with a variety of connectors, it can get confusing with what goes where. This article aims to clear up a few important and commonly used cables around the work place. If there are any more you would like to know about, you can send us an email or fill in our contact forms.

USB A, B, Micro and Mini Cables

USB type A, B, Mini and Micro

Used to connect external devices to a main device. For example; USB A: keyboard to PC, USB B: Printer to computer, USB MINI: Cameras to PC and finally, USB MICRO: Mobile to computer. 

VGA and DVI Cables

VGA and DVI

VGA can carry analogue signals and DVI both analogue and digital. These cables become less popular, replaced by HDMI to display. However, they basically complete the same action. Transmitting video from a source.

RJ11 Telephone Cables

RJ11 or Telephone Cable

They look similar to RJ45 networking cables, however, are smaller. These are not used for ethernet connections. Instead telephone connectivity. Used for ADSL, telephone and modem. 

RJ45 network cable

RJ45, Network or Ethernet Cable

Used to transfer data and connect necessary technology together. For example, computers, printers, routers and storage areas.

Power Cable

Power Cable

Supplies power from the mains to your technology. Also known as a kettle lead. There are a variety of types. including cherry and figure of 8.

HDMI Cables

HDMI to HDMI or Display Port to HDMI

Stands for high definition multimedia interface. It can provide connection between your laptop and a larger screen. Or your monitor and PC. 

Helpful Steps To Take, Before Calling Your IT Company

Many IT recovery cases are serious and should be left to professionals. However, there are several basic issues that could be remedied yourself. We don't encourage changing settings and generally trying to fix something technical. But following these simple steps can help to discount some problems. 

  1. Turn off and on - Not everything can be turned off and on again. PC's and laptops are fine as long as you do a complete, safe shut down. If you can't and the PC has completely frozen, you will have to proceed to hold down the button. You can also power off routers and switches, however, this will affect everyone else in the office, so check everyone has saved and finished what they are doing.
  2. Cable check - Lots of people call and get worried because their technology doesn't turn on, or flickers. This could be because the cable is loose or has been unplugged. Please check the cables, and potentially, if using an extension lead, swap this out too. Be careful about what, and who else, is plugged in to it though.
  3. Others affected - As an IT technician it is good to get a full picture of an issue. This way we can decide where we need to look and where we don't. Saving time for the company, and therefore on the cost of support. Part of this process is checking if anyone else in your office is having issues. Ask around to see if they are experiencing the same problems. 
  4. Works elsewhere - If you can, it might be a good idea to test if the issue you are having, works on another computer. This can easily isolate your PC as the problem or allow the technician to look further afield if necessary. 

If you are unsure and do not feel comfortable completing these steps, that is okay! While they do not take too much time, it is helpful to saving on company costs and getting straight to the issue. But, if you would prefer guidance through these steps, we are here to help and will talk you through it.

If you have any questions please check out our common IT questions page and fill in the form.

Administrative Professionals: Technology Required

The 22nd marked a day celebrating admin professionals nationwide. We thought it might be a good idea to put together a list of technology perfect for employees working in this sector. If what you read requires any further discussion, please contact us. We can advise and quote your company on all of these factors.

Height Adjustable Monitor

Dual Adjustable Monitors

As mentioned, many times previously, dual screens are honestly a ‘must have’ for your desk. For people working with numbers, spreadsheets, calendars etc 24” sized (and above) monitors would probably be best. Why? Limited strain on the eyes and larger room for more content, makes for efficient processes. Height adjustable monitors are also a great idea. Sitting at a desk can really ruin your posture and cause lots of health issues. Having an adjustable monitor can reduce strain and muscle tension. Employees will feel more comfortable.

Silent Wireless Keyboard and Mouse

Quality Keyboard & Mouse

Notably one of the most annoying sounds is a keyboard tap and mouse click. This can cause high levels of stress and aggravation, especially for someone constantly using these accessories. Invest in a high -quality soundless keyboard and mouse.

Elite Desk HP PC

Lower Specification Machine

Administrative professionals generally do not require a very high specification machine. Generally, they have basic storage requirements, have low functioning software and use basic applications. This is one way you can save money in an office environment. Ensure you don’t pay extra for a high spec machine for job titles that don’t require it.

High Quality HP Printer

High Quality Printer

Lots of companies try and be as paperless as possible. This is fantastic; however, it is found that lots of administrative tasks, still require a paper trail. Having a high-quality laser printer and copier is a good idea. Not only does it reduce ink wastage, is more economical to run, and prints at high speeds, but also creates presentable work.

applications for admin professionals

Applications

Lots of the time administrative professionals rely on sharing their data to several places and to different people. They also mostly rely on calendar functionality and remembering large amounts of information. Ensuring they have the right tools to complete their tasks is very important. Some of these could include professional Microsoft applications, drop box or SharePoint and applications like a dictaphone, note organiser and complete task management.

Dual Screens For Efficient Working Environments

Why is having double, or even triple screen capability the best investment for task productivity?

Dual Monitors

Since moving to a dual screen environment my level of content output has increased massively. Not only does it improve productivity, but I find my environment much less stressful. When I work from home on a laptop or with my one screen set up, I find myself day dreaming about my desk at work. Who would have thought it?

Just as an example, every week I complete KPI's for ABM. This requires me to have an internet browser open, an excel spreadsheet and website statistics. The basic gist of the task is to collect large amounts of data and to transfer it onto a spreadsheet in a presentable format. On one screen I can complete this task in 3 hours. With dual screens I have this done in 2 hours no problem!

An hour can make a lot of difference. With a busy work schedule, and several tasks to complete before the end of the day, this hour can be the difference in completing another piece of work. Time is money.

Let's look at a few statistics:

The university of Utah completed a recent study, confirming that with two monitors, task productivity increases by 25% and with three monitors 35.5%.

This is a link to a study from Dell. They have created a whitepaper detailing lots of statistics and information about dual screen usage. 

What are the true benefits to multi - screen environments?

  1. Productivity - As mentioned this is a major factor in the dual screen environment. 
  2. Cross Referencing - Instead of flicking through tabs on one screen, trying to find your document and then the information you might be using in another tab. You can have them open side by side. Most tasks require two or more sources of data. For instance, to write this blog post, I had my internet tab open with statistics on dual screen efficiencies, and this website blog page.
  3. Multi - tasking - Lots of people find themselves doing two or even three things at once. Most employees and employers have a large range of tasks that require completing before certain deadlines. Having two or three screens allows you to do this effectively. Everything is open in front of you and you can switch easily between jobs. 
  4. Email / Calendar Monitoring - Most companies require constant checking of their emails and calendars. At ABM, our email is always required to be open ready for support. However, for other companies this could be to receive orders or to ensure you don't miss an appointment. 

The Drawbacks

  1. Job Title Requirements - Research suggests that not all job roles will require a multi - screen environment. For example, studies show that its best for writers to have one very large screen rather than two or three. This is because they don't need to do anything else but concentrate on writing. It is up to you to truly decide if you require this for your job. 
  2. Distraction - Having two screens means you can view two windows open at once, your work and potentially another personal search. Many people could look like they are still working, whilst actually having another personal tab open on the other screen, to minimise when required.
  3. Costs - Depending on your choice of screen depends on the costs involved. Most likely, different job titles will require different sized monitors. The larger and higher quality the screen, the more money you will spend. Jobs in design and video editing would obviously benefit from higher quality monitors. Whilst admin and accounts would likely not need the same expenditure. If you are kitting out a new office you will spend more buying two monitors for each employee rather than one. But truthfully if you implement it slowly to see how effective it is, you can spread the costs.
  4. Graphics Card / Ports - Your PC requires a graphics card that will support your use of two screens. As well as ports to plug in the monitors.

Overall there are negatives and positives. But truthfully the drawbacks can be easily fixed. Simply manage who requires two or three screens. Monitor internet usage if you truly believe your employees are completing personal tasks. There are affordable monitors on the market that still look good! You don't always need to go for the 24" plus, full HD monitors. At ABM we have some affordable options in stock available for purchase. Most modern PC's have a graphics card that support this function and ports for the screens to. 

If you want to try this function out, we can look into your environment and lend you monitors. Throughout this time observe satisfaction and productivity and then decide. We can quote you for screens, fitting and testing if you require. 

This opinion may be bias, but it is truthfully worth the business investment. Many companies who have made the transfer have said they would never go back.

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Unit 8 - 9 Temple Bar Business Park
Strettington
Chichester
West Sussex
PO18 0TU

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Phone: 01243 773113