Video Conferencing for Startups and Small Businesses—10 Hacks to Maximize their Value

shutterstock_130099673

Whether you operate a startup on a shoestring budget or have a successful small business, chances are good that you’re always looking for ways to save money, maximize your investments and get your clients, customers and your team excited about what you do. In order to do that, sometimes meeting face to face is necessary—but it can also be cost prohibitive. Between trains, flights and/or the cost of driving a car, plus the actual time you’ll spend traveling (which can be pretty unproductive even when you have the luxury of being able to work on the go), sometimes the benefits of seeing a client in-person just don’t add up.

That’s where video conferencing comes in. It gives you the power to bring everyone together—without the cost of a plane ticket. That said, video conferencing can have its pitfalls and problems, but with a few quick tips you can avoid some of the bumps in the road and get even more from your system.

  • Video conferencing for startups and small businessesGet comfortable with the camera—Looking good in front of the camera isn’t just a matter of putting on a suit and coiffing your hair, so take some time before your debut to practice your camera skills. For instance, learn to concentrate on the camera instead of the screen, slow down your movements, stop nervously picking at your nails, and learn to smile. After all, your clients will see everything that you’re doing, and you don’t want to distract them from your message.
  • Work on your presentation voice—No one likes being shouted at or wants to struggle to hear what you’re saying. So before video conferencing with your clients, test out your mic and figure out how moving around a room changes what people hear. Try speaking softly, loudly and somewhere in between, and ask a co-worker, friend or family member to weigh in on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to sound.
  • Check your settings—As you work on your on-camera mannerisms and presentation voice, don’t forget that you can improve both the way you look and sound by making a few quick adjustments to your webcam’s video settings. With the ability to tweak brightness, exposure, color, white balance and microphone volume, among other things, you can deliver a performance that’s as close to perfect as possible.
  • Location, location, location—Even if you work in an environment that’s all about the hustle, you should seek out a quiet place where background movements won’t distract attendees from your message. As an added bonus, with less motion in the background, your video will also look smoother.
  • Update your technology—With every new iteration of video conferencing technology that comes out, the quality of your experience will improve—either though ease of use, video quality or another factor. By simply updating the version of the technology you’re using, you can get a better conferencing experience. (The good news is that updates are usually included with your technology, so it’s just a matter of clicking a button.)
  • Get wired—For smoother, more consistent audio and video, try to use a wired Ethernet connection instead of Wi-Fi. In a pinch Wi-Fi will do, but it often results in more lag time and interference, which can reduce the quality of your audio and video, frustrate guests and give you a somewhat less than professional look.
  • Check your bandwidth—Depending on the type of video conferencing you want to do, you may need to increase your bandwidth to get the upload/download speeds you need for a quality experience. Although these numbers are subject to change and may depend on the video conferencing service you use, you can consider these numbers (shown as upload/download) the absolute minimums you should aim for:
    • Video calling with screen sharing: 128kpbs / 128kpbs
    • High-quality video calling: 400kpbs / 400kpbs
    • HD video calling: 1.2Mpbs / 1.2Mpbs
    • 3-person video calling: 512kpbs / 128kpbs
    • 5-person video calling: 2Mpbs / 128kpbs
    • 7-person (or more) video calling: 4Mpbs / 128kpbs
  • Connect early—The importance of this cannot be overstated, especially if you’re conferencing with clients. After all, you don’t want to waste your client’s time and look like a novice by fumbling around with your technology in the process.
  • Encourage interactivity—People are often hesitant to share what’s on their minds when they feel they’ve been put on the spot, but the point of video conferencing is to simulate an in-person meeting experience, which is typically full of questions, comments and asides—all of which can be important to building trust, understanding and creating lasting relationships. In order to encourage this type of banter, let everyone know that they’re free to ask questions at any time. Then, if there’s an opportunity to engage someone in the conversation naturally—just as you would if you were in a room together—do so.
  • Record your meetings—The best way to improve your meeting skills is to see how they read from the other side of the camera. When possible, record both the audio and video of your meetings and evaluate them in the same way that a football team would go over their plays the day after a big game.

Finally, don’t forget to send a follow-up email. Just as with any other meeting, don’t assume that clients will take notes or even fully grasp the information and concepts addressed in a meeting. In order to hedge your bets, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and provide them with a follow-up message containing the salient points of the discussion and an outline of any next steps, expectations or responsibilities. This way, everyone will have seen and heard the information, and participants have something concrete that they can refer back to. It’s a win-win that costs little in terms of time, and allows you to stay in front of your team and clients long after the meeting has ended.

Contact the Atidan team for additional information about Microsoft Office 365 and Skype for Business office365@atidan.com

Content from Microsoft https://blogs.office.com/2015/09/02/video-conferencing-for-startups-and-small-businesses/

Yammer for Teams – Upcoming Enhancements Review

Open collaboration and teamwork is why Yammer has become so popular. Atidan is excited to support our clients with the upcoming next generation of Yammer as part of the Office 365 suite. A fresh new look and feel is coming soon to assist users to focus on their individual tasks and teams. Yammer’s default experience has been the home feeds which were intended for broad network-wide sharing. Now, to encourage better teamwork and user empowerment, Groups are getting a major refresh including:

  • Discovery feed—updating the current home feed experience to focus on group updates and discovery. The renamed Discovery feed surfaces conversations you’re missing out on from relevant groups and enables you to stay connected to the most interesting content from other teams across your company. Updates in the Discovery feed clearly identify which groups the conversations come from and give you the ability to quickly navigate to and join the groups you’re not already a member of straight from the feed.
  • Real-time group activity—giving you better peripheral vision into your groups no matter where you are in Yammer. Real-time indicators in the left-hand navigation pane call your attention to group activity as it happens, alerting you to all your currently active groups and teammates.

Optimizing Yammer for teams 1

The Discovery feed surfaces group conversations you’re missing out on and makes it easy for you to navigate to and join groups from the feed. Group activity shows up in real time in the left-hand navigation pane.

  • Immersive group experience—Because Yammer groups serve as a home base for teams, we’re giving them a greater sense of place and making them more engaging with a full-width header, a cleaner look to focus your attention on high impact activity and content, and a wider feed for your team conversations.
  • Next Group notification—Getting through the most important updates in your groups quickly is key when you’re juggling multiple projects. When you’re done viewing the new conversations in each group, a banner appears prompting you navigate to your next group, so you can get through your projects faster.

Optimizing Yammer for teams 2

Groups have a greater sense of place and are more engaging. The Next Group notification prompts you to move on after you’ve viewed the new conversations in a group.

Taking major steps to reorient Yammer’s mobile apps around groups to meet the needs of fast-moving teams. Over the coming months, you’ll see significant changes to your mobile experience, including a better way to get through your group content and new capabilities that boost mobile team collaboration.

  • Group Updates feed—The Group Updates feed provides a simple workflow through relevant content in your groups, so you can catch up on urgent conversations and discover what others are working on. You can navigate easily between the feed and your groups, as well as join groups you’re not already a part of from the feed itself. The Group Updates feed will come to Android first with iOS following shortly after.

Optimizing Yammer for teams 3

The Group Updates feed provides a simple workflow on mobile, enabling you to quickly catch up on your groups and easily navigate between the feed and your groups.

  • Yammer for Apple Watch—As announced last week, Yammer for Apple Watch provides instant notification of your conversations and activities at a glance and lets you take quick action, so you have fewer to-dos at the end of the day. It’s a great companion app for the Yammer mobile and web experiences.
  • Powerful new photo-sharing and markup—Translate images into action with the ability to attach multiple images at once and even mark up the parts of the images you want to call out with your finger to help others see what you see.

Optimizing Yammer for teams 4

Translate images into action by marking up photos with your finger and sharing them with your team.

  • Attach files from external file storage services—Yammer’s mobile apps let you find and attach all your files, including those stored on external services such as OneDrive and Dropbox, as well as files stored in Yammer and on your mobile device.
  • Inline at-mentioning—Bringing others into the conversation has never been easier with inline at-mentioning now available on mobile. Yammer’s type-ahead functionality suggests people and groups to address while you compose your message, removing the need to at-mention them separately.
  • Search and invite coworkers by email—Finding your coworkers on Yammer is possible, even if they haven’t started using Yammer yet. Searching by name or email enables you to find existing members and invite new members to join Yammer from your Yammer mobile app.

All of these experiences take place against a backdrop of continual improvements in Yammer, such as a new responsive design optimized for larger screen sizes and faster performance on web and mobile.

Stay tuned for even more enhancements through the end of 2015 and into 2016. Please contact the Atidan team at yammer@atidan.com for information and a free trial experience.

Credit to the Microsoft Office team blog:

https://blogs.office.com/2015/08/13/optimizing-yammer-for-teams/

Microsoft Power BI Launched – Bring Your Data to Life

Atidan is pleased to be a part of the business intelligence revolution – for over ten years we have worked with powerful visualization tools starting with the early versions of SQL Server and many third party tools. Now, it is even easier than ever to collect data from almost ‘anywhere’, create ‘stories’ from your data, create insights with simple drag-and-drop gestures, and share your dashboards and metrics internally and externally. Contact us today to see the latest release of Microsoft Power BI.
Microsoft Power BI is a collection of online services and features that enables you to find and visualize data, share discoveries, and collaborate in intuitive new ways. There are two experiences now available for Power BI: the new experience, generally referred to as Power BI, and the previous experience which is referred to as Power BI for Office 365.Power BI

The new experience is centered on PowerBI.com, an online service where you can quickly create dashboards, share reports, and directly connect to (and incorporate) all the data that’s important to you. The new experience also introduces the Power BI Desktop, a dedicated report authoring tool that enables you to transform data, create powerful reports and visualizations, and easily publish to Power BI. The new experience extends to all your mobile devices, too.

Note   If you were using the previous experience and want to migrate to the new experience, you can download this migration guide to understand and prepare for the migration process.

The following sections provide an overview of the new experience, along with introductions and links to learn more about the details and capabilities of each offering.

Power BI – the new experience

In the new experience, Power BI displays dashboards on the Power BI service that are interactive, and can be created and updated from many different data sources. Three elements are primary to the new experience:

In the new experience, you create dashboards that keep you informed about what’s most important about your business. Just like a dashboard in your car displays important information about your vehicle, such as its speed, its fuel level, or how healthy the engine is, dashboard in Power BI display important information about your business.

Dashboard in Power BIIn Power BI, dashboards display tiles that represent important information about your business. Tiles are based on reports (just like gauges are based on vehicle data from the engine, the fuel tank, or the battery). You can select a tile to explore more information from the underlying report.

Power BI - dashboard to reportThe new experience also introduces a dedicated report authoring tool:

With Power BI Desktop, you get a powerful and dedicated report authoring tool that enables you to connect to and combine data from lots of different sources, using Power BI Desktop’s Query Editor. From the datasets you build with Query Editor you can create rich reports and visualization within Power BI Desktop. And when you’re done, publishing to the Power BI service is easy.

Power BI DesktopThere’s a lot more to learn about the new experience, and plenty of content to help you . The following links provide information about the new experience, and start with overview information (to get your familiar, oriented, and comfortable) then move into specifics. A separate section is dedicated to the Power BI Desktop, and those links also go from overview to specifics.

Getting Started – the new experience

The following links provide guidance on the new experience in Power BI.

Using Power BI Desktop

The following links start with an overview of Power BI Desktop, then describe common tasks and capabilities that Power BI Desktop provides.

Microsoft Office 2016 for Apple Mac Launched

Microsoft Office Mac 2016 - Atidan

There’s a lot to love in the new Office for Mac

Microsoft announced that a totally redesigned and rewritten version of Office is now available for the Macintosh for all Office 365 subscribers who have the Office subscription (E3, Business, Business Premium, etc.). Including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote, every application now has a metro interface and many new features.  Please contact the Atidan team to learn more at office365@atidan.com
A MacBook showing a new Word for Mac document with the navigation pane.

Word

Create, polish, and share beautiful and professional documents
The state-of-the-art authoring and reviewing tools in Word make the creation of polished documents easy. The new Insights pane shows relevant contextual information from the web inside Word.
The Design tab enables you to manage layout, colors, and fonts across a document.
Get more done by working together using built-in tools to share and review documents. Several people can work on the same document simultaneously and use threaded comments to have a conversation right next to relevant text.

Excel

Analyze and visualize numbers in new and intuitive ways
The new Excel for Mac enables you to turn numbers into insights. Familiar keyboard shortcuts and data entry enhancements like formula builder and autocomplete immediately make you more productive.
Excel also helps you visualize your data by recommending charts best suited for your numbers, and letting you quickly preview the different options. New PivotTable Slicers help you discover patterns in large volumes of data.
A MacBook showing a new Excel for Mac spreadsheet with charts.
A MacBook showing a new PowerPoint for Mac presentation.

PowerPoint

Create multimedia presentations and present your ideas with confidence
Walk into your next presentation with complete confidence. The new Presenter View in PowerPoint displays the current slide, next slide, speaker notes, and a timer on your Mac, while projecting only the presentation to your audience on the big screen.
A new Animation pane helps you design and fine-tune animations, and refined slide transitions ensure the finished product is polished.
Easily share your presentation and invite others to work on the same presentation simultaneously.

OneNote

Harness your thoughts in your very own digital notebook
Capture, organize, and share your ideas with digital notebooks that you can access on any device. Find things quickly with a powerful search engine that tracks your tags, indexes your typed notes, and recognizes text in images and handwritten notes.
Bold, italicize, underline, highlight, insert files, pictures and tables—format your notes like you want.
Easily share notebooks with friends, family, or colleagues so everyone can work together on travel plans, household tasks, or work projects.
A MacBook showing a notebook open in the new OneNote for Mac.
A MacBook showing an inbox in the new Outlook for Mac.

Outlook

Stay organized with an email and calendar experience that’s fast and looks great
Managing your email, calendar, contacts, and tasks has never been easier. The new Outlook for Mac has push mail support so your inbox is always up to date.
The improved conversation view automatically organizes your inbox around threaded conversations, so you’ll never hunt for related messages again. And the new message preview gives you the first sentence of an email just below the subject line, so you can quickly decide if you want to read it now or come back later.

Latest Microsoft Office 2016 Beta Features

The Atidan team continues to test the latest Office 2016 Beta and are pleased to share the enclosed updates. Contact us at office365@atidan.com for free trials and additional information.

New charts in Excel—There has been a lot of enthusiasm for the new charts in Excel we delivered. The six new charts include Waterfall (shown), Histogram, Pareto, Box & Whisker, Treemap (shown) and Sunburst.

Office 2016 Preview update  1

Office 2016 Preview update  2

Real-time typing in Word—Real-time typing is now in Word! You can see where others are working and what they are typing as they type it. To try this, save a document to OneDrive for Business and invite your colleagues to join you in a simultaneous authoring session.

Insights in Excel and PowerPoint—Last month we delivered Insights in Word and Outlook, and we just brought it to Excel and PowerPoint. As a reminder, Insights, powered by Bing, brings you contextual information from the web right into your Office experience. Fact check or explore terms without leaving your spreadsheet or presentation. Just right click any word or phrase and select “smart lookup.”

Office 2016 Preview update  3v2

Tell Me—Tell Me is an entirely new way to find the commands you need. Just type what you want to do in the Tell Me box at the top of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook, and you will get a set of results that let you take the desired action directly from within those results.

Convert Hand Written Equations to Text—Use the Insert Equation feature to write math equations in Word, Excel and PowerPoint with a digital pen, a mouse, or even your finger, and Office automatically converts it to a “typed” format.

Office 2016 Preview update  4 v2If you haven’t joined the Office 2016 Preview, it’s not too late, you can join here.

https://blogs.office.com/2015/07/01/office-2016-preview-update-2/

Today’s post was written by Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office Client Applications and Services Team.

How Does The Cloud Change The Way We Do Business?

shutterstock_98557346
“Crawl, walk, run” is what we are advising clients of all sizes when it comes to the cloud. Atidan is helping to deliver a variety of cloud services including backup, test/development servers, production servers, application and mobile services, advanced security solutions and much more. Contact us for a no obligation analysis and briefing to find out your best path to the cloud.
 

This article excerpt, by Stewart Parkin, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1AM21pt 
How has the cloud revolution enabled businesses to be more efficient and cutting edge? Let’s count the ways. There are many.
Effective and Inexpensive
First of all, the cloud has made businesses more cost effective by allowing them to store unlimited amounts of data inexpensively. Companies don’t have to spend exorbitant amounts of money to access cloud technology. A major capital expenditure is not necessary to access cloud based applications. This cost saving allows businesses to be more efficient and streamlined. This is just one of the many benefits of what the cloud has to offer.
Performing Varied Functions
For example, customers can have instant access to information and services using only a laptop or using their smartphones. The cloud allows them to perform a variety of functions online ranging from shopping, reading, participating in discussions, and many more, all in one place. Cloud technology essentially offers the end user a one-stop portal. There is no need to flip through the yellow pages of your old phone company.
Mobility
The same is true for a company’s employees. They can have instant access to company files and information allowing them to interact with the home office, suppliers and customers. The data they need can be accessed instantly in one convenient place on the web, saving them time and making them more efficient.
In fact, access to cloud-based applications also allows employees more mobility and freedom. While traveling the globe, all they need is access to the Internet via a laptop or their smartphone, or just have to pop into an Internet café to access their data in the cloud. Their data and important documents and files can be safely stored and accessed in the cloud, allowing them to travel without worries, with peace of mind.
Instant Access
Collaboration is a breeze thanks to the cloud. Businesses can share information with their suppliers and employees, allowing them to access important data instantaneously. Sharing information, ideas and data has never been so easy.
Improved Technology
In addition, the cloud has helped businesses in a variety of other ways, including compliance and risk management, customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, E-commerce, help desk and support services, document management, disaster recovery, and supply chain management. All of these tasks have been made easier thanks to the advent of the cloud. As the technology keeps improving, there will be many more ways in which the cloud can help companies become more efficient.
So, for these and many other reasons, the cloud has changed the way we do business. What’s there not to like? The cloud has changed the way we do business for the better.
Contact Atidan today at azure@atidan.com to find out more about our cloud solutions!

7 new Exchange Online Protection enhancements

cropped-shutterstock_107337191.jpg

Post was written by Shobhit Sahay, technical product manager for the Office 365 team.

The Office 365 Exchange Online Protection (EOP) team has been hard at work on new features that reflect our continued commitment to provide advanced security, reliability and protection of your email, and a simpler and more efficient user experience for email admins. Today, we’re pleased to announce seven new EOP features, including:

  1. Scheduled EOP reports
  2. Domain-based email traffic support
  3. Simplified block and allow
  4. Quarantined message preview
  5. Bulk release
  6. Improving backscatter detection with Boomerang
  7. Non-delivery report (NDR) backscatter storm prevention

Scheduled EOP reports and domain-based email traffic support

Two new EOP reporting features have been included in this update. First, customers can now schedule EOP reports to be delivered via email on a weekly or monthly basis. For tenant admins, this means you can schedule EOP reports to arrive in your inbox on a day that you specify and choose from four types of EOP reports:

  • Mail traffic summary (aka sent-and-received mail)
  • Spam detections summary
  • Rule matches
  • Data Loss Prevention policy matches

7 new Exchange Online Protection enhancements 1

The new scheduled report feature is easy to set up on the Office 365 portal for EOP or Exchange Online customers.

To get started, go to the Office 365 portal and click Reports, then select the type of report you want to schedule. From the report page, click Schedule this report. It’s that easy! You’ll find more information about scheduling EOP reports and the customization features that help you obtain the specific data you need here.

7 new Exchange Online Protection enhancements 2

Scheduled EOP reports are delivered to your inbox on the day of the week or month you specify.

The second new reporting feature enables admins to assess email traffic at the domain level through PowerShell. For large customers with many domains, this feature makes it easy to view domain-level aggregation of mail traffic. To obtain mail traffic breakdown by domain, use the ‘Domain’ parameter with  Get-MailTrafficReport and Get-MailTrafficPolicyReport in PowerShell. More information about domain-based email traffic support is available here.

Simplified block and allow

We simplified the process for EOP or Exchange Online admins to block or allow emails from an individual sender or an entire domain. The new simplified block-and-allow lists replace the need to write a complex transport rule to bypass spam filtering or modify the Spam Confidence Level for a sender or domain.

Located in the Spam Filter section of the Office 365 Exchange Admin Center, you’ll access this feature by clicking the Protection link, making it easy and intuitive to find. There, you can create, edit and maintain block-and-allow lists for senders and domains.

spamallowlist

Simplified block and allow is currently in preview with first-release customers and will be deployed worldwide by the end of the month.

Quarantined message preview and bulk release

As part of our efforts to revamp our quarantine feature area to further protect against email containing malware or viruses, we released our new quarantined message preview earlier this month. You gave us the feedback that you need more information to determine if a quarantined message is malicious or legitimate. The new quarantined message preview allows you to see the body of a message without triggering any malicious content. This new visibility provides an improvement over previously just seeing a quarantined message’s sender, recipient, subject and date.

Two months ago, we released our bulk release feature, which has received widespread positive feedback from customers. Now, admins can quickly and easily select up to 500 quarantined messages to release or not release, which can be especially helpful in addressing large email campaigns. The bulk release feature can be accessed either through the Office 365 quarantine area or via PowerShell.

Backscatter spam improvements

Backscatter spam—when you receive a non-delivery receipt for an email that a spammer sent using your forged email address—is a growing source of irritation for end users and a challenge for email admins. We have stepped up to backscatter spam with two new protections:

  • Improving backscatter detection with Boomerang—In addition to basic backscatter protections in Office 365, we recently rolled out Boomerang, our Microsoft-branded mechanism to better detect backscatter spam. Now deployed for both hosted and on-premises mailboxes, Boomerang provides greater security and smarts to fight backscatter spam.
  • NDR backscatter storm prevention—This feature, deployed in May, addresses backscatter on a mass scale by automatically deleting the majority of a spammer’s large-scale email campaign, leaving just a handful of forged messages so that the responsible admin has visibility on the attack. NDR backscatter storm prevention is especially helpful in preventing spammers from spoofing well-known, executive email aliases, which are often targeted to add an appearance of legitimacy to spam or to direct mass hate emails.

Contact the Atidan team at office365@atidan.com for additional information about security and special offers on Office 365 deployment and support!